It's a good thing I'm here for the plot and not the chemistry, because *oooooooh* I find this type of hero offputting. Sure, he's ultimately respectfuIt's a good thing I'm here for the plot and not the chemistry, because *oooooooh* I find this type of hero offputting. Sure, he's ultimately respectful of the heroine, but that only comes after multiple scenes of him deliberately pushing her boundaries because he enjoys seeing her angry and/or because he can't stand being told no. It takes the heroine going nearly catatonic with trauma not once but TWICE for him to finally back off. I'll accept her word that she ultimately found him attractive, but the first quarter of the book had my shoulders around my ears every time they interacted.
And, okay, fine, yes, once they ultimately got around to the sexy bits, I found Hoyt's tendency for non-historical-romance traditional sex well-served. Let's hear it for masturbation in front of a partner, dirty talk as its own act, turning the repeated asking of consent into a sexy thing, oral sex - the whole shebang!
Also wow was this book a lot heavier-handed than the previous in its sequel baiting. As it's for Montgomery's book, I find I mind less, and it is always in service of the plot, but it's a little unusual. He continues to do legit bad things, which is narratively v. v. interesting to me. ...more
I get that part of the whole thing of the Bridgerton books is that everybody's got an ~idea~ that is preventing them from love, and the journey of theI get that part of the whole thing of the Bridgerton books is that everybody's got an ~idea~ that is preventing them from love, and the journey of the book is them overcoming that. I even liked how Quinn handled some of the more patently ludicrous ~ideas~ in the early books (hero being convinced he was going to die, getting all hung up in the Cinderella pastiche) and also the more down-to-earth (hey maybe it's in poor taste to lust after/marry my closest relative's widow), but, ugh, I just have no patience for the version of love at first sight that is presented here, i.e. the kind that disregards the objet d'amour's status as an independent thinking human being. And, yes, I get that the whole *point* of the book is showing how the hero moves past this to a fuller version of love, but it made me very, very short-tempered with the hero until he got to that point.
I mean, there's a cracking fun plot here with blackmail! and treason! and kidnapping! and arranged marriage! and a perfectly amiable (if very plot device-y) gay character! Don't bog me down with your stupid "I saw her neck and therefore whatever delusions she has of being in love with someone else will have to go away and stop bothering me" time wasting. ...more
Given how grating I found Hyacinth in earlier books (there's independent, and then there's "I know better than you and will tell you how to live yourGiven how grating I found Hyacinth in earlier books (there's independent, and then there's "I know better than you and will tell you how to live your life in the way that best amuses me," and I have very little patience for the latter"), this book went down easier than I thought it would. I thought the bits from Violet Bridgerton both in this book and On the Way to the Wedding talking about how she saw Hyacinth and Gregory grew up, the youngest of a very large family that lost their father before they could ever really remember him, were spot on and very kind constructive criticism. Quinn has a very nice touch on that maternal relationship, making the character foibles/flaws that drive the plot spring from very human, very real places, not just ridiculous notions (i.e. clearly I am going to die before the age my father did, no I'm still not over that one). ...more
An excellent palate cleanser after the distasteful-to-me To Sir Phillip, With Love. Look! It's real grownups with real grownup problems and a rake demAn excellent palate cleanser after the distasteful-to-me To Sir Phillip, With Love. Look! It's real grownups with real grownup problems and a rake demonstrating actual on-screen seduction skilz in bed! I was not particularly enraptured by either hero or heroine, but I solidly enjoyed them being grownups together, from the intimacy to the sex to the being responsible in running a business/estate/etc. It was such a refreshing change to have a romance where the titillation in the sex scenes is not even remotely tied to the heroine's inexperience (not that there's anything wrong with the "she had never felt this way before and daaaaaaamn it was nice" thing). Let's hear it for grownups finding love! ...more
I question the choices that position the tragedy of a woman's suicidal depression primarily as a burden to her husband, then later that husband throwiI question the choices that position the tragedy of a woman's suicidal depression primarily as a burden to her husband, then later that husband throwing his misery in his first marriage in the face of his second wife as evidence that she should never complain about how he treats her, because he's so much happier in the second marriage.
Too much "women are unknowable foreign creatures who are only good for banging and taking care of things I'm not interested in, like the house or children" to make this a frothy delight. Congratulations on not beating your kids, dude. That doesn't actually make you a good father or husband. ...more
Hands down my favorite of the Bridgertons. Not only does it feature some really outstanding secret pining, not only does it strongly revolve around wiHands down my favorite of the Bridgertons. Not only does it feature some really outstanding secret pining, not only does it strongly revolve around witty repartee, not only does it involve the hero and heroine bonding over a mutual passion for writing, but perhaps most thrillingly, every time it seemed like it was going to steer into irritating romance tropes (keeping secrets long past plausible and digging the hole deeper to keep that secret, the hero being high-handed and controlling "in the heroine's best interest," basically any situation that has the heroine put on the defensive by the hero because of the assumption of his superiority, which can often be exacerbated by the set-up of having the heroine secretly pine for the hero), Quinn swerved away definitively. Not only did this keep the plot moving at a good clip, not only did it allow for natural character development of both hero and heroine in which they grow together as people, not just people-who-want-to-bone-each-other, but oh, it led to really great conversations between the hero and heroine. Who *talked* to each other! Admitted real weaknesses to each other! Who respected each other's opinion! None of this "it could all be solved if they just had a conversation" nonsense. They *have* that conversation, and oftentimes making it right is more complicated than just that conversation, because these are pretty solidly fleshed out characters.
All that, and there are balls and wacky hijinx and ugly duckling discoveries and female friendships and more. A delight. ...more
A Cinderella pastiche that does a very nice job of moving the plot beyond the broad strokes of the fairy tale, allowing for the heroine to have enoughA Cinderella pastiche that does a very nice job of moving the plot beyond the broad strokes of the fairy tale, allowing for the heroine to have enough agency to *leave* when the stepmother situation becomes unbearably abusive. Sure, this means her reconnection with the hero becomes marginally less plausible, but this is a *frothy* *Cinderella* *pastiche.* I don't need gritty realism here, and I will take the implausible encounters that allow for an actual conversation/relationship between the protagonists to develop.
Minus points for more of the hero using his power over the heroine (both class and gender here) to manipulate her into doing what he wants her to do. This is at least briefly acknowledged as skeezy, but it's quickly dismissed, because of course the situation he's manipulating her into is wonderful for her. It's like she's still got her feet in the real(ish) world (I am a servant who will never be believed and is wildly subject to mistreatment) while he's running around in a fairytale, and he has to blackmail her into jumping storylines to a place where a servant is treated as one of the family.
The hero and heroine themselves are quite nice, but good christ with the references to other books in Balogh's repertoire. There are portions that areThe hero and heroine themselves are quite nice, but good christ with the references to other books in Balogh's repertoire. There are portions that are nigh-unreadable if you are not intimately familiar with the entire Bedwyn saga, not only because their family tree is ludicrously convoluted with everyone having their own special backstory, but also because you have zero emotional attachment to all of these characters making cameo appearances in their happily ever afters. Apparently I had the same commentary on Simply Perfect five years ago, even as I totally didn't remember reading the book (or any of the characters) until goodreads reminded me. ...more
Put it down 10% in because of dickbag hero; picked it up again and enjoyed it in a procrastinatey manner. Then, about 65-70% in, I was committed enougPut it down 10% in because of dickbag hero; picked it up again and enjoyed it in a procrastinatey manner. Then, about 65-70% in, I was committed enough to keep reading but spent the rest of the book yelling at the heroine to tell the hero exactly how much of a giant dickbag he was being. To my surprise and moderate gratification, she did, as well as a couple of other well-executed put-downs. I just - ugh. This book is built around the conceit of the hero and heroine saying goodbye to each other (well, let's be honest - the heroine shutting the hero down) multiple times (for good reasons that even the hero acknowledges are good reasons) but both of them regretting the goodbye, and the way the author gets them back together repeatedly is to have the hero repeatedly say, occasionally even explicitly, "I don't believe in her no." Which no matter how much you know he's right, she doesn't actually want to not see him again, I just can't get on board with a hero who ignores the heroine's no (thankfully never sexually, and how low a standard is that to have?) and where the narrative actively supports him in that. Blergle. ...more
Delicious hurt/comfort, with a particular relish of the hero rescuing the heroine from a wretched situation and showering her with both material comfoDelicious hurt/comfort, with a particular relish of the hero rescuing the heroine from a wretched situation and showering her with both material comforts as well as the support and opportunity to reclaim her dignity - a particular weakness of mine....more
This is the book I wanted The Secret History to be. I vastly prefer Cassie to whateverhisnamewas as narrator, and this book satisfies my fondness forThis is the book I wanted The Secret History to be. I vastly prefer Cassie to whateverhisnamewas as narrator, and this book satisfies my fondness for both lyrical musings and messing about with genre structure....more
False advertising; this is super not a mystery - just straight-up historical fiction. Reminded me a great deal, in feel if not in details, of The FallFalse advertising; this is super not a mystery - just straight-up historical fiction. Reminded me a great deal, in feel if not in details, of The Fall of Atlantis, though a much quicker read. The transitions between the two first-person narrators was occasionally a little clunky, and there were moments that felt like Greenwood just wallowing in all of her clearly extensive research, but the Amarna dynasty has more than enough intrigue and oddities to make a rip-roaring yarn. Also, the respectful, consensual, of-age threesome/non-monogamous relationships of all sorts of gender combinations were a delight, particularly in the midst of all sorts of pedophilia/incest that, even in the context of being par for the course and traditional in the royal family at the time, were still considered creepybadwrong....more
A vast, vast improvement on earlier books in the series, though that is faint praise, indeed. (And yet, and yet I still read them all.) The pacing isA vast, vast improvement on earlier books in the series, though that is faint praise, indeed. (And yet, and yet I still read them all.) The pacing is still weird, but Lackey went with the bold choice of actually having things happen at multiple points during the story. In fact, I somewhat wonder if this is the start of another sub-arc in the overall Elemental Masters series, as otherwise there are large swathes of the book that seem disconnected from each other. The training montage/lavish house party/wallowy descriptions of luxury and food at the heroine's new home base works much, much better if it's the origin story for this heroine. One of the other strengths of this book over previous - the jettisoning of the strict adherence to romance novel relationship pacing - also makes me suspect future books about Rosa, who is also one of the least irritating heroines in this series in quite some time. Rosa will get her tied-with-a-bow happy ending at some point, just not yet. Which is good. Lackey doesn't compromise Rosa's established character traits to force a romance happy ending, which makes for an overall better book.
So, hey. Hope for the future! Because of course I will still be reading. ...more