I read this because of Jackie's review, so I shouldn't really have been surprised at liking it so much, but I still was. In all fairness, I could easiI read this because of Jackie's review, so I shouldn't really have been surprised at liking it so much, but I still was. In all fairness, I could easily have felt that it was good as a NA romance without loving it, especially as I haven't yet read a NA romance I've liked. (Exception was the unusual in every way Someone Else's Fairytale, and that had no sex, so hardly fits the NA mould AT ALL.) What a lot of prelude-ification! Anyway, I was utterly taken with the book, and with Isabel and Marsh, and the fact that this is one of the least predictable set-ups ever. Isabel ... I have no idea whether or not she'd have been allowed go to college or med school at the ages she did in real life, but I found her character very credible all the same. I loved the way she started off dismissive of the psychologist who judged her insufficiently emotionally mature to do an internship, and only very gradually started to see that there was merit in the test, and finally to respect the psychologist herself. I loved Marsh and his family and would be amazed if anyone guesses what his part of the story reveals. (view spoiler)[ Crohn's disease - genius. It's an extremely serious disease, and I'm not downplaying that at all, but I utterly appreciate having the romantic lead in a novel with an inflammatory bowel disease. That's just awesome. (I especially appreciated it because I suffered from IBS - which isn't a disease at all, let alone a serious one, but can cause very painful and disruptive chronic diarrhea.) (hide spoiler)]. And it was funny, as well as smart. One of my favourite bits was when Isabel on the phone consulting over a difficult diagnosis, and shouts "It's not lupus!" Marsh says "It never is", which confuses Isabel totally, and made me laugh very happily.
It's probably a four-and-a-half stars, really, but I was not impressed with a rather tossed-off line about mental illness. Isabel says "Mental illness is hereditary, Marshall. There's dozens of ways that I could go crazy -- there's bipolar disorder, clinical depression, borderline personality disorder..." Granted, she's desperately upset by something she's found out, but still, this is a brilliant doctor, and that's a very inaccurate statement on several levels. Even worse possibly, though without his having any reason to be knowledgeable about it, is Marsh's reply: "First rule of crazy people is that they never think they're crazy. You're extremely self-aware for someone who thinks she should be headed to the asylum." Again, he's trying to comfort her, but I'm still not happy with the book leaving this erroneous crap as if it were fact.
It occurred to me after reading this, how true it was - in my experience - that very, very bright people often are in serious need of someone to call them on bullshit. (By "in my experience", I mean that I've been the caller, not the brilliant person in need of the service!) It felt right, even though there wasn't much evidence of what Isabel said about her parents and teachers having let her get away with anything when younger until she became a horror. Finally, there was a great description of the mother of all panic attacks near the end. Even though it had its role in pushing the story into the near-obligatory 75% point romance-is-screwed-up stage, I still found it easy to buy as the result of years of denial and repression, coming crashing down on Isabel so unbearably that she'd do anything to avoid its recurrence. Letters to Nowhere now on my to-read soon list....more
This is going to be one of the odder reviews, of a lifetime of frequent odd reactions to books. It'll be safe to read until I start using ALL the spoiThis is going to be one of the odder reviews, of a lifetime of frequent odd reactions to books. It'll be safe to read until I start using ALL the spoilers.
The reason it's odd is that I'm only giving it a 4 star rating as a consequence of having also read the next book in the series - if I'd rated it after finishing, or anytime during the not-great night's sleep that followed, I would have rated a lot lower. I was angry. Not just irritated that the story had taken a twist I didn't like, or annoyed at the tragedy of it all being dragged out: proper angry. Angry with Russ, with Linda, with -- well, with the author, obviously, but more with the characters. If I'd read this book when it was just published and there'd been a year or so to wait for the next, it might well have been the end of it for me and the series. Happily I already had book 6 (pause for me to call down more blessings upon the virtual head of Better World Books, and their charitable literacy programmes and their saving of discarded library books and their free international shipping). One factor that pushed me towards starting it was that I'd noticed something I'd written about that had felt off to me in book 4 was brought up again in book 5 and seen to have been intentionally indicating a character's lack of clear thinking. So I wasn't as surprised as I'd otherwise have been to find it was only page 23 (of book 6) that brought everything I'd been feeling (about one of my furious IT'S NOT FAIRs in book 5) and beautifully laid it out. This is of course a complete and utter spoiler, but I'm going to put in the end of the quote, which isn't spoilery, and would have caused me to run to update with "Willard Aberforth is my new favourite", had I been willing to put the book down for long enough.
"Oh, my dear Ms. Fergusson." She turned around at that. "You are a very good priest in many ways. And someday, if your self-awareness approaches half your awareness of others, you might be an extraordinary priest." He folded his hands. "I do not think that day will be today, however."
Not only is Willard Aberforth a favourite for saying what I'd been so wanting to say, he's a lovely example of how good this author is at taking characters from unpromising starts to show how true compassion can co-exist with apparent close-mindedness. He's almost an Anglican one-man Spanish Inquisition on his arrival, and he's a valued spiritual advisor and friend (with whom Clare shares almost no *opinions*) not that long after. Very well done.
All Mortal Flesh also still contained some of the little snarky bits that I found so delightful in earlier books, though they were scattered a little more sparsely, for obvious reasons. I especially liked the bits about Elizabeth de Groot. Clare asks Aberforth what she's like, and he says, "'An elegant lady. Dignified. She has a lovely sense of tradition.' Clare translated that to mean so high church she makes the archbishop of Canterbury look like a guitar-strumming folksinger." When Elizabeth arrives in St. Alban's, petite, with a perfect "ash blond mane" and wearing "a little black suit with her collar that looked like Chanel, if Chanel made clerical garb", causing Clare to feel messy, uncouth, and gawky, we get this lovely line: "'I'm Elizabeth de Groot.' The woman smiled pleasantly. No wonder. It was undoubtedly a wonderful thing to be Elizabeth de Groot."
Right then, a few snarls behind a cut, and there'll be a review of book 6 soon. Soonish, maybe. (I have been reading only books with huge emotional impact lately, apparently, and have still to write up my reread of Crown & Court Duel and my final of Zack Emerson's Echo Company books, Stand Down.) (view spoiler)[ I HATED that Russ reacted the way he did. Even cutting him a massive amount of slack for what he was going through, he - just, no. Everything Aberforth said about what Russ had done, in trying to get Clare to admit that she was angry, all spot on. And Linda? I hadn't liked the little we'd got of her before, though it was filtered through, of course, but she was gradually revealed as a pretty horrible person. a) Her utter, unshakeable self-righteousness about Russ's betrayal (which it was), in the face of her having had an affair with Lyle - LYLE - made me sick. b) when she reappeared (I'd been pretty certain that what had looked as if it might just be Russ in denial was going to be true and she would be alive) the reason she hadn't told her sister about disappearing off the grid (at a time she knew her sister was worrying about her) was that she didn't want to have to bring her sister along on her little jaunt. Nice. Unselfish and considerate. Russ has told her that a woman who looked like her was found dead in their house, causing everyone to believe that she was dead and her response was "If this helps us realise what we mean to each other, then it will have all been worth it, huh?" As Russ thinks, "Not to Audrey Keane." And back to the "I always put our marriage first, I always put myself and my needs second - now it's time for you to do the same" line, with him supposed to be wrong for cracking and asking her if that's what she'd been doing when she slept with Lyle. Of course having Linda really die right after was a right authorial punch in the head to Russ, but given the apparent impossibility of his ever recovering any degree of emotional stability, it was as much of a punch to the reader.
Nothing like being quite so susceptible to manipulation-by-author, eh? I was powerless, and that ending: "And she was lost again." nearly did me in. Clare is very human, and very apt to make mistakes, but that was just too sad. (hide spoiler)] ...more
Right, I’m going to be upfront and admit that I might have hate-read this, in which case I deserved every bit of readerly suffering I got. Well, I didRight, I’m going to be upfront and admit that I might have hate-read this, in which case I deserved every bit of readerly suffering I got. Well, I didn’t hate-read it, obviously, because I thought I’d like it before starting, but hate-finished sounds a bit odd.
I’m uncertain about whether to start with why I kept reading (the rational part) or why I hated it, but I think the former is probably preferable. Also shorter! Mostly I kept reading out of fascination for the suspense story-line, after this:
Yeah, it was going to sound frigging crazy when he tried to explain. "Hi. I think I just saw the international terrorist that I spent four months tracking in ‘96 taking a cab out of Logan Airport. Yeah, that’s in Boston, Massachusetts, that teeming hotbed of international intrigue." Yeah, right.
Book was published, as I obviously immediately checked, in 2000. I almost wondered if the author had had any uncomfortable talks with Homeland Security for it, but one hopes not.
The story of Tom, the bestest Navy SEAL guy, whose psych evals haven’t been peachy after he received a brain injury, and his determination to trust his ability to recognise this terrorist, was the only thing in the whole book I liked. And I did like it - both the thriller aspect, and the decency of this guy’s refusal to give up and let his superiors convince him that it’s just his paranoia making him think he saw the terrorist, despite the serious risk to his future in the Navy. What I didn’t like was the way the story got buried in not one, and not even two, but three romances that I hated. That’s a lot of material with which to bury the story right there.
Romance number one was the main one, between Tom and his never-forgotten love/crush/sexual goddess of his dreams/whathaveyou, Kelly. She was just 15 and he had graduated high school, about to head off for the Navy, when he barely escaped her extremely obvious interest and did the Honorable Thing. As well as being just 15, her father was also the employer/best friend (I’m coming back to that!) of his great-uncle (and only responsible parent figure he had, with whom he lived). So, her father (Charles) = massively wealthy, son-of-a-bitch drunk, while his uncle (Joe) = lifelong good guy and gardener for Charles. Not my idea of how best friendship looks, but then a lot of things in this book don’t look the way I think they should. Anyway, Kelly’s been married and divorced (never having gotten over her feelings for Tom, really - and BTW, might I just add that simply because the female is the Peeping Tom doesn’t make it a bit less intrusive and creepy), and is a doctor. Oh, of course, she’s been taught to bottle up her emotions by her classic Old Money New Englander father, and that might have had something to do with the failure of her marriage too. But, I could probably have got over all of the weirdness, if this had been a story of two people who weren’t at the right age or stage of life to be together and now have a second chance. I like that story. Unfortunately, a few things killed any liking I might have had for this one; the first being the fact that it relied on the two being UTTERLY UNABLE to resist each other, NO MATTER WHAT. That meant they stayed in (obviously close) physical proximity just for the sex until they could get over their problems. Don’t find this sexy or romantic or anyway appealing. Especially as it seemed that Kelly mostly had to realise that she could be a bad, wanton hussy all she wanted with Tom, and actually doing it in a real relationship with him didn’t make her a Good Girl again. (Seriously.) Unfortunately for any last shreds of patience I might have had, her desperate desire not to be a Good Girl seemed to be all about The World knowing her good-girl image was wrong. Including, “I want to go down on you at the movie theater” and “I want to do it everywhere -- in the closet of the guest room at a party…” All of which made me very cranky on the part of cinema patrons who just wanted to go to a film and any poor hosts who unwittingly invite them to a party.
That’s that pair. The WW2 story - or triangle - involved Joe, Charles and the most cardboard-cutout sexy-but-tragic French Resistance woman ever, and my *least* favourite trope ever, namely (beautiful/desirable) women ALWAYS fall for the charming devil rather than the good guy. (As a complete aside, the girls told me about the Nice Guy trope just after I’d read this and I was intensely worried for all of about 10 seconds until they explained that the Nice Guy trope/meme is not the same thing as an actual nice guy. Fascinating stuff, and they’re very good at keeping me up to date with this kind of thing!) Here’s a little quote that kind of sums it up:
Joe had been a good-looking man, too, but Charles had had a magical air about him. He still had it, even at eighty. Even back when he was drinking and at his most cruel and verbally abusive, even then, the spark didn’t quite go out.
NO. (His drinking, cruel and verbally abusive days weren’t long behind him btw - not long at all.)
Third relationship was almost appealing in comparison to these two, but it wasn’t even remotely credible. And also more than a bit nasty, for various reasons. (Muses, maybe, but he keeps calling her by the name of the comic book character he draws using her as the model, even when telling her he loves her. Naaaahh.) And then he lost more points by this: “He truly didn’t want to hurt her, but the idea that he was the first -- ever, only, because there was only one first time -- was a total turn-on.” I keep thinking of 10 Things I Hate about You recently, and what came immediately to mind was a modified quote and “There has been NO PLOWING”.
So, not a win for me. (Ya think??) It’s a very battered pb and I used it for the abusive-reading-relationship times only - i.e., while brushing teeth, so it was spread out over a very long period, which probably helped me finish. It wasn’t all hate, either, although it was perfectly obvious from the beginning that Tom was competent and had recognised the bad guy and was going to save Massachusetts from a very serious terrorist incident. Still a decent enough suspense story there. Pity about the romance. ...more
Lia Silver is a friend's pen name, so no rating, as per my friend-rating-policy.
Some day I'll have to write a -- thing - somewhere, about what I do anLia Silver is a friend's pen name, so no rating, as per my friend-rating-policy.
Some day I'll have to write a -- thing - somewhere, about what I do and don't like in straight romance romance, so when I say vague things like "more romancey than my preference" it'll mean something. This day isn't that one though, and I'll just have to leave the romance part at more romance than I usually like. That said, though, the book has a lot more going for it than the romance, and I definitely enjoyed it despite the fact that it isn't really my generic cup of tea. I was very fond of both characters, who were nice, and the ending - while not at all a simple HEA - was deeply satisfying. They deserved what they got, and I was delighted that it was each other and more. I also liked the details of werewolf lore, which were just fun. (view spoiler)[ For whatever reason, the differences between born werewolves and made werewolves, and the consequences of which type changed you, just made me happy. (hide spoiler)] Obviously the mental health problems Laura, Roy and then (view spoiler)[the rest of their eventual pack (hide spoiler)] had were handled very well.
I'm looking forward to reading about the not-too-secondary character in the next book, especially as (view spoiler)[I was very, very afraid that DJ was going to die. Was very happy he didn't, and can't wait to find out more about his romantic interest. Love his family too. (hide spoiler)] I mean, come on - Werewolf Marines? I'm there. ...more
I really expected to love this one, and am a bit baffled as well as disappointed that I didn't. Part - or, really, a lot - of it was down to Shelby, AI really expected to love this one, and am a bit baffled as well as disappointed that I didn't. Part - or, really, a lot - of it was down to Shelby, Alex's sort-of, maybe-he's-blown-it, can-he-have-a-girlfriend? girlfriend. I got to the point where her repeated "I had venomous snakes as teething toys in Australia was just super-irritating, and it didn't say much for the relationship that she kept telling Alex about it. I also found it incredibly convenient that she just happened to be who she was, in such an unlikely and out-of-the-way spot, where Alex also just happened to be. Incredibly convenient. Finally, there was something off about the way Alex kept thinking of her as "my girlfriend". As in, "I have to go rescue my girlfriend", and "there's no other way I can save my girlfriend" and on and on... Maybe it was supposed to indicate how poor Alex felt about the actual possibility of having a real relationship, but still, when the situation is a big old disaster, wouldn't you just think of her as Alex.
I did love seeing Sarah in her recuperative stage, as the cuckoos as "family" is such a great concept and so well handled here. Best thing in the whole book, and it was a really good best thing. Pity the rest didn't come near to matching it for me....more
I CAN'T EVEN. *Excellent* concept, mostly fascinatingly explored, but... The kids they were before Travis "died" were heart-breakingly wonderful - butI CAN'T EVEN. *Excellent* concept, mostly fascinatingly explored, but... The kids they were before Travis "died" were heart-breakingly wonderful - but Travis maybe regressed instead of staying that way, and his (ex-)gf ... Don't know. One scene I could never manage to read, and it was too much in a bad way. I think. Might manage more coherent version of "I don't know" sometime or might not....more