1. An interesting premise that takes up where normal romance novels just leave off.
2. Characters that aren't entirely lily whitWow, what a ride.
1. An interesting premise that takes up where normal romance novels just leave off.
2. Characters that aren't entirely lily white and pure.
3. ANGST 4. ANGST 5. MOAR ANGST!!!!
1. Inability to tell what time period this was until Austen was mentioned 75% of the way through the book.
2. The romance was immature from the beginning, so there was no basis for proclamations of "love."
3. Jarring use of anachronistic words.
My normal priorities for how I rate a book: 1) Did I forsake my life to finish the book? and 2) How much did I cry?
If the book hit those two hard, then I'll forgive just about anything. But even THIS book (though it hit those two hard) couldn't make me forgive all the problems.
Usually, romances with "Y wronged me and so I will seduce his/her female relative X as REVENGE RAWR!" have the romance between the seduction and the HEA be relatively immediate. So basically the hero gets a clue that he's in lurve soon after he beds the girl and then he spends the rest of the book fighting his feelings. The girl, meanwhile, is a longsuffering martyr who, with doe-like eyes, forgives all after an "I love you" and a little nibble on her clit. *yawn*
This book turns that on its head a little bit, starting 3 years after the revenge has been taken. The dude courted her, married her, bedded her, told her he didn't love her and he was taking revenge on her brother, left her, went to his mistress, and that was that.
THAT'S new and different for this trope.
And her? She didn't retire to the country. Oh, no. She's been living with him for three years in London IN THE SAME HOUSE but never speaking. I suppose it must be like living in a walkup. Anyhoo, she's so pissed off (cuz she was 18 and her heart was broken, and really, what woman ISN'T going to be heartbroken and pissed off?) she wants a divorce. The only way she can think of to get him to give her a divorce is by building herself a reputation as a flagrant adulterer/mistress/harlot.
That's REALLY new and different for this trope.
All the actual problems begin when dude decides he wants to keep his wife. It's because he realizes he LURVES her. Well...why? He could never be arsed to talk to her in three years ALTHOUGH THEY LIVE TOGETHER and he totally didn't care what she did and he totally kept a mistress their entire marriage. So what does he actually know of her other than the sweet 18-year-old he married and (emotionally) abandoned the next morning?
So I didn't buy his "Oh, I LUUUURRRRVE you!" and she had no reason to, either. What I liked is that she put his feet to the fire. What I didn't like was that she didn't keep them there until his feet were cremated and he was forced to walk on charred ankle stumps.
Anyhoo, so she "loves" him too but it's a crush she never got over and she's mistaking it for love. That's her problem.
Her other problem (although no other romance reader in the world will agree with me) was that she was faithful to him and her reputation as a whore was carefully constructed and totally false. Man, why didn't she find a lover? Might as well be hung for the sheep as the lamb. Maybe find someone else who actually loved her. I dunno. I just wish she hadn't felt the need to keep her legs closed when everybody thought they were open.
My next two problems were structural. Firstly, there was NO indication about what time period this was until about 3/4 through the book. There was no date stamp. There were no fashion, decorating, political, or cultural references to give one a clue as to the time period. And let me tell you, this was very disconcerting. The dresses were dresses. If, even ONCE, mention had been made of an empire waist or a slim skirt versus a hooped one, then that would have served the purpose. But no. Then, toward the end, Byron and Austen were mentioned. Nice. Thanks.
Secondly, there were words like "narcissistic" and "egotistical" and "jogging" (as in, that trotting-run-thing people do but I don't know why) and "sashay" (although this might have been okay in the late Victorian period, but since I didn't know the time period...). Really?
So apparently I'm one of those people who don't like a wallpaper historical. I didn't think it bothered me, but in this instance, it really did.
On the other hand, I read it straight through and I cried copious tears. COPIOUS, I tell you. She managed to be a martyr without actually being a martyr, so I was good with that.
The rest of it annoyed me too much to forgive it by losing sleep and making me cry. ...more
**spoiler alert** This book had logic problems galore. There was one gigantic plot hole that, if closed, would have ended the book at the halfway poin**spoiler alert** This book had logic problems galore. There was one gigantic plot hole that, if closed, would have ended the book at the halfway point. (The hero can freeze hearts, so why didn't he do that when the villain was revealed?) The heroine's logic was flawed and she came close to being TSTL. And there was very little distinction amongst the female voices.
That said, it was a really cute book. It was even suspenseful in parts. It was engaging and I read it in one sitting. I laughed because some of the lines are clever. So yes, I LIKED it and I will read the author's followup. I do like the world she created. It's actually quite lovely and the heroine's ability to make object animals is utterly inventive....more
Every time I see this cover, it doesn’t register that I’ve read it. I don’t change the shelf to reflect it, so I think I haven’t. Then I read the blurEvery time I see this cover, it doesn’t register that I’ve read it. I don’t change the shelf to reflect it, so I think I haven’t. Then I read the blurb and remember that I found it vaguely confusing, with plot holes that could have been easily fixed with better editing.
But I don’t remember it being horrible, so 2 stars for “it’s okay.”...more
This was just too cute. The author's dry tone appeals to me and the understatements of the twins' destruction were funny. (Okay, I3.5 stars (B to B-)
This was just too cute. The author's dry tone appeals to me and the understatements of the twins' destruction were funny. (Okay, I admit that part of my delight in this book was the fact that my son isn't that rambunctious and there's only one of him.)
Most romance readers would probably not like that most of the book happens with the hero and heroine apart, but I was fine with that. I was also fine with the wide swaths of time passage. I did get impatient with the hero's willful ignorance, though.
I can't say much is WRONG with the book. I really enjoyed it, but it's not a re-read or on the keeper shelf. Hence, 3.5 stars....more
The saving grace of this book was the concept and the dragon family interaction. Other than that, it was like a middle-grade book got los2.5 stars
The saving grace of this book was the concept and the dragon family interaction. Other than that, it was like a middle-grade book got lost in the erotic romance section of the bookstore.
The characters had quirks--oh boy, did they have quirks--but quirks do not interesting characters make. They needed depth to go along with their breadth.
It also needed the writing to be more sophisticated. The vocabulary, along with the characterization and plot, was appropriate for a middle-grade book.
The heroine was continually referred to as a girl. Her rage, which at the beginning was well justified, at the end made her simply childish (which was not explained away well enough by the sole line, "She was a wartime leader, not a peacetime one").
And the GIRL was leading (and had been leading for two years) an ever-increasing army and garnering financial support and allies of neighboring kingdoms. I grew VERY impatient with the fact that her army could not seem to function without her. She has a trusted officers' corps and they were timid without her leading them. That's a cheap way to point to the heroine's kick-ass awesomeness. An army who can't function under its second-in-command needs a new second-in-command. That, too, made her look childish and weak.
There were other problems of logic and structure, but I kept getting distracted by the writing.
So, yeah. Middle-grade. I'd let my kid read it except for the sex, which seemed kinda thrown in as an afterthought and...childish. For an adult, it was in no way as sophisticated as the concept promised or as it should have been written.
But the little dragon family was cute and I DID actually finish the book in one sitting, so SOMETHING kept me there. That something is why this is a 2.5-star instead of a 2 star (which is a "meh" in my grading system). I have to acknowledge that I kept reading....more
This has all my favorite tropes: longsuffering/martyr bluestocking heroine, brooding/angry unappreciated hero, sekrit bebe, evil families, Big SecretsThis has all my favorite tropes: longsuffering/martyr bluestocking heroine, brooding/angry unappreciated hero, sekrit bebe, evil families, Big Secrets Being Kept. It bordered on gothic in parts.
Now, all this is a tightrope to walk--especially when I figured out the sekrit bebe issue from the beginning (although I can't be sure the author tried that hard to conceal it) and the mine plot just as quickly after the villain's name popped up.
This book was published in 1993. In recent years, I haven't read any one of these tropes that was done halfway decently, much less all of them. The prose was lovely, and the hero and heroine were well drawn. The evil families and the villain were a bit cardboard, but what we got from the main characters made up for it.
But the only thing that's important to me is that it had me bawling from beginning to end. Well done, Ms Sutcliffe....more
This is a road romance and it was better than okay but still has issues that relate more to me, probably, than the book. It was something I would haveThis is a road romance and it was better than okay but still has issues that relate more to me, probably, than the book. It was something I would have enjoyed more when it came out in 1993, because I wouldn't have needed to know WHY the heroine decided she loved him. Now I'm much older, and I realized while I was reading that though I still love my alphaholes heroes (and this one was mild by Anne Stuart standards), I needed a little more introspection on the heroine's part leading up to her epiphany. I also didn't like that the heroine's badassery was watered down.
I don't think my tastes have changed that much. I'm just THAT jaded.
And now that's one fewer paper book on my TBR pile. On to the next......more
This was very cute and very funny and very cry-y. It would have been a 4-star if I could understand the logic of why Audrey kept her secret after ZachThis was very cute and very funny and very cry-y. It would have been a 4-star if I could understand the logic of why Audrey kept her secret after Zach told her it was a scam. I mean, I know the whole plot was built on her keeping the secret, but her actually doing it after there was no need to was...weird. And not really consistent with the character, even as she had been drawn so early in the book.
In an inferior book, this would have annoyed me enough to give it 1 or 2 stars, but I found it overall delightful (heh) in spite of the huge gaping lack of logic....more
The 2-star rating isn't because it wasn't good. It was. For whatever reason, I love descriptions of farm life, and these were well done. In fact, afteThe 2-star rating isn't because it wasn't good. It was. For whatever reason, I love descriptions of farm life, and these were well done. In fact, after reading the front matter, I suspect it was this novel's raison d'etre. It had a very Places in the Heart feel, and since I love that movie, no problem.
The problem was, and why I rated it 2 stars, is that the book was supposedly about Julia and James. Except it wasn't. It was a continuation of the couple, Sarah and Luke, in the previous book, The Rainbow Season. Julia and James were basically secondary characters because there wasn't enough conflict for them to take up that many words. In addition, the tertiary couple was more well-drawn than the supposed primary couple, who were pretty cardboard.
And so I've rated it two stars, because there COULD have been more conflict and there SHOULD have been development of the primary couple, but the author apparently didn't want to let Sarah and Luke go. Had it been billed that way, it would've been 4 stars....more
It was a sweet read--if I remember correctly. I would have rated it 3 stars except I couldn't remember I'd read it (I believe 3 months ago). I had toIt was a sweet read--if I remember correctly. I would have rated it 3 stars except I couldn't remember I'd read it (I believe 3 months ago). I had to re-read the blurb and think about it for a minute. Since I remember UNLOCKED (and would still rate it the same), that I can't remember this one (with a more memorable title) earns it a lower rating than I would have otherwise....more