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
Another solid historical, with well-fleshed characters, interesting plotting, diverse sex, and unremarkable chemistry. Yeah, we're in a bit of RomanceAnother solid historical, with well-fleshed characters, interesting plotting, diverse sex, and unremarkable chemistry. Yeah, we're in a bit of Romancelandia when it comes to plausibility, but stringent historical accuracy is not why I read romances. I enjoy the mixed-class romances, even as I'm a little, "...really? Reeeeeeeally?" about it all.
(view spoiler)[And, yes, I'm still here for the Duke of Montgomery, who has that merest soupcon of Lymond/Wimsey air, i.e. blond fop who hides behind appearances to outsmart everyone, and I am definitely looking forward to his book, which makes me all the more impressed that Hoyt goes as far as she does in making him legit villainous. He saved the day a bit in the previous book, even after being all ominous and control-y, but here he is outright the source of bad things that happen to the protagonists. I wouldn't be surprised if there ends up being a deeper motive we find out in his book, but in the meantime, I'm kinda enjoying him being exactly as ruthless as the story tells me he is. So often characters are described as ruthless and manipulative and heartless, but their actions don't back it up. Yes, yes, I do not advocate kidnapping and forced marriage in real life, and I tolerate it from this character in part because I'm fairly confident in some sort of redemption arc, but in the meantime it's an awfully fun read. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>...more
A solid historical, with characters who are distinctly grown-ups, without a whiff of Almacks (yes yes wrong time period - it's more of a comment on toA solid historical, with characters who are distinctly grown-ups, without a whiff of Almacks (yes yes wrong time period - it's more of a comment on tone than anything), and pleasingly diverse sex moving beyond virginal tab a/slot b. Hoyt handles the presence of a voluminous cast of characters who are either sequel bait or previous protagonists with aplomb (much better than Balogh's endless begats in the Bedwyn/Bedford/whoever serieses), and each book stands alone while definitely aggressively seeding the next books.
Perhaps oddly enough, it's the plot and set-up here that's more engaging than the romance. Sure, the romance is the driver behind everything, but the characters' histories and motivations are more interesting to me than their chemistry. A viscount falsely accused of murder and held in Bedlam for years, an actress and her son and their tangled history with nobility - good stuff! I will fully admit, though, that even when he was being particularly villainous, the Duke of Montgomery was more interesting as a character to me than either of the protagonists. Quelle surprise that he's ultimately got his own book, too.
Having read on in the series, I can say that this is a good jumping-on point. There were clearly references to earlier books, but they did not diminish my understanding/enjoyment of this book. There was also sufficient groundwork laid for the books to follow that I feel I benefitted from having read this first. ...more
**spoiler alert** Oh, this was a spite-read after about ten paragraphs. Loathesome, *loatheseome* hero who started by having sex with the heroine unde**spoiler alert** Oh, this was a spite-read after about ten paragraphs. Loathesome, *loatheseome* hero who started by having sex with the heroine under intensely dubious circumstances, drugged and kidnapped her, belittled her constantly, took advantage of her head trauma to trick her into marriage knowing full well she would not have consented otherwise because, y'know, he *destroyed her life's work*, went through a wide variety of restricting her movements and actions "for her own good," and there was only the barest whisper of a grovel to make up for this. True, the heroine was often literally too stupid/too "occupied with thinking smart things" to avoid poisoning her dinner guest, so I can see where the hero would want to shake a little sense into her, but that sympathy only goes so far.
This book actually *explicitly acknowledges* in the text that he has the legal right to force her to do all of the unpleasant things listed above, that love (or at least the heroine's desire to bone the hero a lot, which is what it seemed to be more than love) was not enough to protect her from the hero forcing his will on hers when they disagree. It's there! In the words! And yet that all gets brushed away because of one paragraph of the hero going, "I was wrong and bad." Which, of course, immediately turned into an exercise in self-flagellation where the heroine had to comfort *him* because of...how...hurt...he was? that he acted poorly? and now understood that he was in the wrong? But then he goes on to say he'll never change! Believe him when he tells you! Run away!
Okay, the espionage subplot was kinda engaging, but ugh. Seriously. This hero deserved zero good things. None. ...more
I enjoyed aspects of all these stories, some very much so, but very little of that enjoyment was based on the romance. Not that most of the romance-yI enjoyed aspects of all these stories, some very much so, but very little of that enjoyment was based on the romance. Not that most of the romance-y bits were BAD, but they weren't the point of most of these stories.
Rose Lerner: queer hero, Jewish heroine, complicated identities and relationships and how those all interact, and a soupcon of BDSM. Here. For. It. All. So much.
Jeannie Lin: the first Lin historical I've read, and it won't be the last. Reeeeally didn't care about the romance, but I was totally here for the sheltered heroine dressing up as her brother and getting involved in a murder mystery while out on the town.
Isabel Cooper: elf hero blah blah magic romance whatever. I'm here for the Depression-era scamming of the slimy preacher. Would read more about Sam and her schemes to provide for her family any day of the week.
Molly O'Keefe: I wish it leaned a tad less heavily on the novel it clearly followed, and again I'm less interested in the romance between the two leads than I am about the addiction/redemption narrative they want to share. Also I do love a good comeuppance of a particularly nasty villain.
Joanna Bourne: I'm here for the thief/underworld shenanigans and the consequent scheming, but mostly I'm here for a bit of Hawker origin story. Even as a supporting character, he pops more than the leads and is more intriguing. Makes me want to go back and read the rest of this series. ...more
Even though I enjoyed the characters and their romance, I must admit I was totally here for the intrigue plot more than the romance. Rose Lerner is unEven though I enjoyed the characters and their romance, I must admit I was totally here for the intrigue plot more than the romance. Rose Lerner is unusual enough as a romance author that she will have things go awry for her characters (i.e. the various Bad Things that are often plot drivers/sources of conflict in romance novels that almost always work out for the best in the end), that Bad Things will happen, that characters will have to deal with the consequences of the Bad Things, and they *still* get their happy ending. I find this delightful, but this also meant that I was never quite sure how the intrigue would play out, as the easy answers were not guaranteed.
I also greatly enjoyed that the heroine was never going to unfrost, was always going to be difficult, and she learned to be cool with that. Even *better*, though, was the moment when the hero, who was generally cool with the heroine being prickly but never understanding *why* and therefore upsetting her with his reactions to certain things (leading her to think he didn't actually like her being prickly, making her more uncomfortable with that, etc etc etc), finally realizing that his reaction and expectations of her (and other Spoilery Character(s)) were based on his perspective as a financially comfortable (white) (cis) het dude in a society that values his categories above all other categories, even if he had his own personal difficulties and insecurities. It's maybe a little sad that a hero recognizing that he was maybe not in the best position to judge the heroine/another person's reactions to certain situations, that he should trust their own, y'know, lived experiences was so unusual as to be delightful, but it was. Delightful, that is.
Also points for a former prostitute heroine who a) definitely had sex b) definitely learned how to enjoy sex on her own terms even as she c) definitely viewed it as a business transaction, d) definitely experienced social repercussions for that transactional sex and e) definitely exerted control over her own sex life both when she was financially dependent on it and afterwards.
Basically I loved the structure and trappings of this book, even as I didn't particularly give two hoots about the characters themselves, when it's usually the other way around. ...more