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Bliss (de Saint Vallier Brothers #1)

4.01  ·  Rating Details  ·  327 Ratings  ·  31 Reviews
Hannah Van Evan was a young American who wished to learn about the world and to make her way in it. She was determined to improve herself, but was often baffled by exclusive turn-of-the-century high society.

Nardi de Saint Vallier was a gifted young Frenchman of noble blood who had given up his passion for sculpting. Hell-bent on self-destruction, he resigned himself to a
Mass Market Paperback, 373 pages
Published April 1st 1995 by Jove
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Any time I even think of Judith Ivory a/k/a Judy Cuevas' writing . . . all that comes to mind is that I'm totally in LOVE with her sense of prose. We've all experienced the feeling that "reading" in it's best sense is a movie that runs through the mind of the reader. Ivory makes this happen for me 100%. Her writing is clear and concise and instantly places the reader at the scene of whatever her fancy is for any particular story.

"Bliss" opens with Hannah Van Even applying for a position with Ms
Apr 22, 2012 Searock rated it it was amazing
Shelves: wishlist

Judy Cuevas, aka Judith Ivory is phenomenal!
Have you ever felt like
you opened the perfect book
for the perfect moment
for maximum enjoyment?
That's me, right now having just finished this wonderful book.

The novel is:
Dark and light.
Simple yet layered and complex.
Accessible while feeling at times esoteric,
as though I have a special grasp of it meaning and can to see into it's brilliance. It felt personal for me. I could relate to the metaphors and messages.

It plays with themes of art and beauty;
Verbose & slow. I did like the setting & the era (an old French chateau in the early 1900s), but there was no plot to speak of.

Despite the plotless nature of the story, my biggest complaint is the characters. Hannah was an idiot & Nardi was a whiner. (Also, I don't care if he never outgrew his childhood pet name -- "Nardi" is a pansy-ass monicker for your hero.) At one point we had a 25-page scene of conversation between the H/h as they discussed turnips, then translating telegrams
Meredith Duran
Jan 26, 2015 Meredith Duran rated it it was amazing
This book has remained my favorite historical romance since I started making such lists. Nobody writes like Judith Ivory (AKA Judy Cuevas). I'd heard that she stopped writing due to back trouble. If she ever put out a call for someone to type as she dictated, I'd offer to do it for free.
The first book in the series de Saint Vallier Brothers by Judy Cuevas. Unlike so many I was not in love with this book. It started slow for me and I kept going because of all the hype about it. I didn't totally hate it but I couldn't love it either.
Oct 05, 2015 MomToKippy rated it really liked it
Fans of Kinsale might very well like Cuevas/Ivory. It is lighter and more humorous but there is definitely some poetic prose and more than surface human interaction. Not quite as exceptional as Kinsale but very good. I even had to look up some words - always a plus to me.

Some flowery passages--

Struggling hero describes his love affair with ether consumption (apparently they did this as an alternative to alcohol - do not try this at home!)

"Sulfuric ether was sweet and hot, pungent and burning to
Jun 06, 2013 Kathy rated it it was amazing
Bliss by Judy Cuevas
"Words thrill me. I collect them. Some I save and fondle, just
waiting for that day when I will need just this specific word to
get a point across." (Judith Ivory/Judy Cuevas interview
with Margaret Fraser "Florida Romance Writers newsletter 1996.)

"Bliss" was written in 1995 by Judy Cuevas (later Judith Ivory), her second novel. I first read my first Judith Ivory book in 2009 so I was VERY late to this party, but it only took one book for me to realize that this author ha
May 19, 2010 Crista rated it it was amazing
I've never read anything like this before!!!!!

Nardi de Saint Vallier is a "burned out" French sculptor. He is ether addicted and is destroying himself. Hannah is a "ruined" woman who has come to France as the companion to an art dealer. Hannah and Nardi meet on the grounds of an old French chateau as Nardi is being "watched" as he "detoxifies" and Hannah is helping her employer look through the old, worn down chateau looking for anything that could be auctioned off. This is the backdrop for thi
Yossra kerkeb
Dec 08, 2015 Yossra kerkeb rated it really liked it
Bliss is one of the novels you pick up unexpectedly hoping you'll get something out of it. I've been through a reading slump lately and haven't finished the last couple of novels I began. I just don't want to make myself read, I want to want to read, and luckily for me I picked up the perfect book.

This novel sets in the early 1900s in Normandy, France. First of all, I love the period and the setting, I don't read enough historical novels that are based outside of London and I'm starting to th
4.5 stars
This took me a LOOONNGG time to finish...not sure why. Judy Cuevas aka Judith Ivory writes beautifully (I've read The Proposition by Judith Ivory and Beast by Judith Ivory and so far, The Proposition is my favorite). One thing that may be a drawback is all the French used, while generally translated, it was still quite daunting to someone who speaks no French. I did the best I could with it and enjoyed it, for the most part. Also, the middle of the book dragged. The last 100 pages were the best and I didn't know how this was going to w
Feb 25, 2010 Tina rated it really liked it
Not going to do a huge review. I do want to say that it took a long time to read this book. Not because it was a slog or that it was slow or anything, because that is definitely not the case. But because Cuevas' prose is really, really lovely, you really need to pay attention to her writing and her words. She takes her time with the story/plot. Instead you really get immersed in the characters and their sense of time and place.

I loved how very unconventional (for historical romance) her charact
Jun 04, 2012 RIF rated it it was amazing
Cuevas/Ivory is so so good. Back when I first read bliss it was so different, light years beyond mainstream romance. It still stands the test of time. She and Kinsale spoiled me royally over the years (many thanks)! Books under Cuevas are more experimental in setting and subject but all of her books are truly wonderful. She is the best of the best.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 03, 2013 Jynt rated it really liked it
Shelves: the-3s-and-4s
It was mostly interesting. The chemistry between the two characters was there; they made a lovely couple. Hannah was odd though. Firstly, what on earth is her body shape? I cannot imagine a woman who is described as petite and slim, but has huge breasts and a huge butt. It put to mind an extremely scary image of a distended female body which was disturbing. Secondly, Hannah came across as a practical, strong person at first. Yet, apart from the initial introduction where she showed spine and bra ...more
Mary Kate
Feb 07, 2015 Mary Kate rated it liked it
Hmm how to articulate how I feel about this book? IT comes highly recommended by all my favorite authors. Honestly though, Cuevas/Ivory just doesn't do it for me. She doesn't capture the love that so many other authors do.

Hannah's character wasn't very likable. I guess it's because I like to relate to the characters and I just couldn't relate to her. She has this crazy naivete about her that the Cuevas is constantly harping on, she's also very vain and wants lots of money. The ending was super c
It was such a wonderful surprise to find a historical romance that wasn't built around the sexual tension between the h/h. Rather it reads like literary fiction following the life of Hannah, a young American girl with an unsavoury reputation, now a companion to a rich and accomplished older woman who is an art critic and valuer. Hannah accompanies her employer to a crumbling French castle to help inventory and evaluate its contents and there runs into the mysterious Nardi, younger son of the fam ...more
Mar 08, 2014 Jultri rated it liked it
Shelves: tortured-hero
The start of the book was intriguing and Cuevas writing was rather captivating. I love Nardi as the all too human hero, battling his demons and his self-serving family members. Hannah appeared initially as a sunny, intelligent and irrepressible energy source, but turned out to be this impulsive, immature creature with rather loose morals for someone from her era, all too willing to go the distance with any attractive rich male in sight. What's worse was that she was completely unapologetic about ...more
Susan (the other Susan)
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jane Stewart
I enjoyed this story. There were some very good lines and some thought provoking ideas.

After the lovers get together they are separated. I was impressed with the author's method of separating them. It was well done, not like many authors who rely on vague communication causing a separation. On the other hand, I had two problems with the story. One, the author used many French phrases in the book. Some were explained in English and some were not. I wish she would have explained all of them. I fel
Jun 16, 2011 Melowin rated it it was ok
This is not a lighthearted romance. Cuevas takes you through a lot of mud, up until the very end, before things are resolved. There are good stories in here, tales of self-discovery for each of the main characters, recovery for Nardi, a certain amount of redemption. But as a reader, if you're expecting a tale of romance, it is one of a darker variety. You first meet Nardi as a drunk bombed-out on ether, throwing up in his future potential father in law's piano. He makes the deal with the devil t ...more
Apr 16, 2014 Isolde rated it it was amazing
Esto es simplemente una maravilla. Un tesoro escondido entre tanta romántica mediocre que se escribe hoy en día. Esto es ambrosía pura. Perfección. Sensualidad. Un libro de primera e insuperable.

Gracias Sra. Cuevas por sus espléndidos regalos!
Dec 06, 2014 Sheridan rated it really liked it
Cuevas/Ivory does it again--an interesting, nontraditional romance involving an American girl and a high-born French sculptor in Normandy and Paris at the turn of the century (the one before last).
Sep 09, 2015 Julie rated it liked it
I wasn't overly thrilled with this storyline, for I always felt uncomfortable with the developing relationship between Nardi and Hannah, all the while thinking "This can't end well" and well, it did but not like you think it will. I really was not "into" either the hero or heroine, there wasn't a lot to like in him and she was hard to pinpoint. Kind of an odd book, but I love this author and am going through her entire backlist.

Sep 28, 2013 Giedre rated it really liked it
Judy Cuevas/Judith Ivory is spectacular. It's the third book of hers I've read, an once again I'm amazed at this writer. Bliss isn't a light-hearted romance, tho. It's not one you breeze through while eating bonbons. It's one you relish, each word and each scene. I can't wait to read the older de Saint Vallier's book.
May 12, 2015 Spitz rated it really liked it
Shelves: historical
Marvelous, unusual historical romance, with the setting of a grand, crumbling chateau in Normandy in 1903. The sculptor with an ether addiction was portrayed in impressive detail. But after he and the heroine become lovers his character loses focus and the ending is overdramatic and unsatisfying.
Kathryn Barrett
Feb 13, 2013 Kathryn Barrett rated it it was amazing
One of my all-time favorite historical romances. Judy Cuevas (Judith Ivory) wrote books that really pushed the envelope--an addict hero in Bliss was certainly unheard of at the time.

4.5 stars! Brilliant writing and great storytelling as usual! I really enjoyed this book! I took away half a star because I wanted a ending more to my liking.
Lorenda Christensen
Apr 10, 2012 Lorenda Christensen marked it as to-read
I really need to find a book store. Not available electronically.
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“Sulfuric ether was sweet and hot, pungent and burning to the palate. It did not smell the least, to Nardi, of turpentine, but rather of large, white, oversweet flowers, fat, fleshy, prehistoric in their size and substance. He thought of these flowers as fringed, mouthed, and pistiled with sticky aroma, with pink-tipped, translucent styles and stigmas that moved in flower throats like beckoning fingers. Lush, languorously heavy, meltingly ephemeral, an indulgence to the New World tropics or an Old World greenhouse - something akin to night-blooming cereus. Ether, to him, was the nectar of such flowers, gathered and carried in the mouths of foot-long bumblebees, its aroma as old as Egypt, as modern as white walled hospitals, as personal and familiar as his own vague euphoric befuddlement.” 0 likes
“Against the blue day, her image lit upon his eye, as splendidly colorful as the butterflies. It pleased Nardi to think of her in this way - her energy as swift as sailing as the swallowtails', and erratic and hypnotic as the flit-and-flutter of skippers. She was both as ordinary as orange tips and as exotically impossible as the monarchs that made their way here every year across the Atlantic. This was her spirit, a thousand butterflies of every category and variety, crossbred into one magnificent specimen. Lepidoptera Hannaeus.” 0 likes
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