Books like The Viscount's Betrothal validate my decision to subscribe to the Harlequin Historical line. I love that I can find hidden gemlike books by...moreBooks like The Viscount's Betrothal validate my decision to subscribe to the Harlequin Historical line. I love that I can find hidden gemlike books by newer authors in my monthly shipment that are up my reading alley. This was a nice, shorter, but satisfying love story. Readers who enjoy the spinster motif likely will be well-pleased with this book. Decima is a character who is likeable and textured. She has valid insecurities that she struggles with, being very tall (5'10"), very freckled, and on-the-shelf for several years at the age of twenty-six. She failed to catch her first season, and lost confidence. It didn't help that her brother is over-bearing and controlling. Yet, finally, Decima is going to make her bid for freedom. She's tired of matchmaking attempts that go awry when the male object fails to fall for her due to her abundant attributes. She plots her escape and ends up snowed in with a delicious Viscount. From the beginning, Adam seems to find her attractive, and she fears it's just the 'port in the storm' phenomenon. But their mutual chemistry is strong and seemingly undeniable. I liked how Ms. Allen kept me on the razor's edge here. There were plenty of nicely sensual moments that didn't end in consummation, which was appropriate considering that Adam is a gentleman, and Decima a lady, and he couldn't at that time marry or make her his mistress. I like that they both struggled with their desire for each other, and the powerful connection that formed between them. I liked the interactions between them that consisted of playing in the snow, bonding over their mutual appreciation of horses, and putting together makeshift meals when they are snowed in. I appreciated how they nursed their respective employees (who were sick and had a broken leg). And they also did some matchmaking for them after they realized that Pru and Bates were in love. I also found the wit and the dialogue to be well done. This is the kind of Regency book I like when I reach for a lighter read. Very period, with nuances that keep the story moving and appeal to me in their portrayal of the lives of members of the ton, especially those who are on the fringes for their perceived lack of what is fashionable.
I like that Decima was realistic. She had moments where she doubted her attractions after having it reinforced for so long that she wasn't in society's mode of beauty. But, at the same time, she took charge of her life and was determined to be happy. I like how she interacted with others--showing a kind, loving personality, but finding the courage to stand up for herself against her bossy brother. Decima was a good heroine.
I also liked Adam. He was honorable, but manly. Although he had a mistress when the story started (and has some discreet assignations with widows that was mentioned), he was not an out and out rake, and he took his responsibilities seriously. He was a very likeable, decent guy, and very attractive and sexy. He saw the appeal in Decima pretty early on the story, and wanted to figure out how they could be together. Things get complicated when he gets trapped into a betrothal, but Adam is determined to find a way for Decima to be his own. I liked his solution to the problem, also playing matchmaker to his fiancee', Olivia (who is afraid of him and not at all attracted to him, only marrying him because her mother demands it), and Decima's gorgeous but diminutive best friend, Henry, when he realizes they are in love. I thought it was a pretty good idea, and the fact that he wasn't going to give up on winning Decima's hand endeared him to me.
It took me a while to read this book because I've been busy with other things, but I certainly looked forward to reading it when I obtained an opportunity. I'd recommend it to fans of lighter, but not fluffy regencies in the traditional mode, but with a nice dose of sensuality (fueled by the well-written chemistry between Decima and Adam).(less)
I enjoyed reading this book. I think the writing style probably wouldn't work for everyone, but it has a trad regency feel that I like in a regency ro...moreI enjoyed reading this book. I think the writing style probably wouldn't work for everyone, but it has a trad regency feel that I like in a regency romance.
Unfortunately, the title and blurb are a bit misleading. The hero, Ben, really isn't that much of a rake. He's illegitimate, and that has affected him so that he doesn't 'spread his seed' liberally. He has affairs, but he is discreet about it and careful to take precautions. Charlotte is a virgin, but she's not as young and naive as the title conveys. She's five and twenty, very intelligent, and tough-minded, and she holds her own.
I thought the chemistry between Ben and Charlotte was a big plus in this story. They do a lot of verbal sparring. Charlotte has been attracted to Ben since they first met, but she doesn't want to be. Ben feels the same way, much to her surprise. She had determined that she would stay a spinster and devote her life to educating young women. She had no desire to marry. And Ben isn't a marrying man anyway. The last thing she'd do is be any man's mistress. If you're like me and you hate the whole mistress angle, don't worry. Actually, Ben doesn't hold any dishonorable intentions seriously. He knows better. He actually turns out to be quite honorable. For many reasons, I just didn't see him as a rake, which is a good thing for me.
There is a bit of suspense, but it's not the major part of the storyline. However, there were things that occurred in the previous books that were discussed and alluded to that left me in the dark regarding the suspense angle. Not enough to frustrate me or spoil the read though. I'm not real big on suspense being too prominent in a romance book, so I was happy that the focus is on the sparring/chase/advance/retreat between Ben and Charlotte. There are some passionate kisses and a well-done love scene, and the author shows very clearly that they are both crazy about each other. I believe the author did a good job in keeping this story period. There was enough sexual tension to make this a lively romance, but the characters acted as people of their times in how they conducted themselves (very important for this reader).
I think that the narrative relies a bit too heavily on internal dialogue, and less on actual conversation and action, and that would be a negative for some readers. I would have liked more of both, but overall, I thought this was a good read. I enjoyed it, and I had a smile on my face as I finished the epilogue, which was very sweet.
I've give this book a 3.75/5.0 stars because I thought it was good entertainment, and I really liked both Ben and Elizabeth. And I am a sucker for a good spinster/bachelor sparring and fighting their feelings for each other romance. I'd recommend it with reservations as expressed above.(less)
This was such a fun book. It had some elements that could have made it fairly angsty, but it was handled in such a way that I was able to sit back and...moreThis was such a fun book. It had some elements that could have made it fairly angsty, but it was handled in such a way that I was able to sit back and enjoy the Harlequin Presents-style drama.
Natasha is the prim, buttoned up type. She hides her lush curves and good blond and blue-eyed looks behind proper suits and tied-up hair, but Leo has had his eye on her for a while. Too bad she's engaged to his step-brother. But Leo gets his chance with Natasha when they catch Rico in a compromising position in his office--with none other than Natasha's sister. Leo is there to pick up the pieces of Natasha's bruised heart (or at least her ego). Rico was never good enough for her, but she was flattered that he wanted her, and not her younger, slimmer, and more flashy pop star sister. But apparently, Rico only wanted her for the fact that his mother liked her.
Leo has been cleaning up messes after his step-brother for far too long, out of loyalty to his step-mother, whom his deceased father loved very much. But the straw that breaks the camel's back is when Rico steals money from the business, and then cheats on his fiancee with her sister.
Leo is trying to be noble when it comes to Natasha, but he steals a kiss, or a few. And he wants more. When he finds out that she colluded with his brother to steal his money, all bets are off. She can't get access to the money for six weeks, so she'll spend those six weeks as his mistress, so he can work her out of his system. He couldn't believe he fell for her Miss Prim act, when she was more like his traitorous ex-wife all the time. But it turns out that what he saw with Natasha is what he got. When he takes her virginity, Leo is honor bound to offer marriage (yeah, that was the only reason!). But, Natasha isn't about to trust her heart to a man who doesn't even trust or like her.
There is a battle of wits and passions between this couple that I found highly enjoyable. It was such a refresher. Something about this kind of Harlequin Presents drama that keeps me entertained and takes me out of the mundane world. Yes, Natasha has some emotional ups and downs, but her insecurities felt realistic to her, considering that she was adopted by her parents when they thought they couldn't have kids, and then shuffled to the background when their miracle natural daughter came five years later. Since then, she's watched out for her sister, and kept her out scrapes, managing her pop singing career, and getting no thanks for it. So, it made sense that she doubted Leo's feelings for her.
Michelle Reid is a great writer. She pours passion and emotion into her books, that keeps my eyes glued to the page. This one was a little lighter for her, but not lacking in substance for me. It was a quick, diverting read that I loved. For me, definitely a five star read. (less)
I am really glad someone recommended Goodreads to me. I used to keep a writing journal, but I think I missed a few entries. This is the third book wit...moreI am really glad someone recommended Goodreads to me. I used to keep a writing journal, but I think I missed a few entries. This is the third book within a few months that I accidentally reread because I hadn't written down that I read it. I realized on the first page that I had already read it, but it was involving, so I thought, "What the heck."
Substitute Bride was published in 1981 (I was eight when it came out!), and that's apparent when you read it. However, it isn't trite and dated in my opinion. I was drawn into this story of Emma, who is a Cinderella. Her father died and she had to go live with his sister and her promiscuous, scheming daughter, who is engaged to be married to cold and dangerous Rick Conway, a rich plantation owner from Barbados. She's running around with another man behind his back, and makes Emma cover up for her.
When Emma meets Rick, it's instant dislike. Rick isn't a very nice guy, and he's very dismissive of Emma. Also, Blanche has been telling untrue tales of Emma, who is too busy running the farm to do all the running around and partying that Blanche has told Rick that she's up to. Because of working so hard all the time, she's pale and thin, and not looking her best. For a man who with an eye for beautiful women like Rick, she's easy to look through (or so he acts).
Blanche has gown out with her in-town squeeze, Rex, and told Emma to lie about it. But Rick shows up unexpectedly, and Blanche brings Rex home with her. Blanche makes it seem like the sleazy nightclub owner Rex is dating Emma, and Emma is forced to play along with it. This contributes to Rick's poor opinion of her. He says some rude things to her and kisses her brutally, then he stalks off with Blanche. Emma has decided that she wants nothing to do with this guy again, and talked her aunt out of being invited to the wedding (rather easily since her aunt wants to save the money anyway).
Rick is supposed to be in Australia for an extended time, so Blanche goes off to Paris with Rex, and threatens Emma into lying that she's off with their sick and dying relative. However, Rick shows up and spanks (yes he does, hard to believe as it is) the truth out of Emma. Let me tell you, nothing annoys me more than a hero spanking the heroine like she's a child. Emma is too scared of Rick to give him the butt-kicking he deserves. He railroads her into marrying him and going to Paris with him to show Blanche what she gave up. Emma decides that her bridges are burned with her family and uses this marriage of convenience as an opportunity to escape from the farm and start a life for herself. She knows that Rick holds her in comtempt, but she's not too fond of him either. As long as he keeps his distance, she can handle it until he divorces her.
Rick drags Emma to Paris for the confrontation (and a mini-makeover and shopping spree), and then off to Barbados. Emma's health and looks improve as she is able to rest and eat good food, even though Rick ignores her and she's contantly digged at by his mother and sister. He goes out of town a lot for business, as well. Rick's younger brother Ben takes a liking to Emma, which provides some friendship. The trouble is Ben starts to develop feelings for her, which she doesn't return, since she has started to fall in love with her husband. Soon Miles, who is the brother of one of Rick's flames, also takes a shine to her. Rick shows up to see the two men fighting over his wife, and he decides to take her to his remote island for revenge, although Emma likes it there. He also decides to make their marriage a real one, discovering some truths about Emma and his feelings for along the way.
This is standard vintage Harlequin Presents fare. These books entertain me. I feel no shame about it. The writing is good, and the characters are well-developed. I like the sights and scenes, with the exotic locales. These are my soap operas--good drama doses. I thought that Rick was a real jerk initially. He did come around by the end of the book, but he needed someone who was tougher than him to show him how a bullied person feels. It makes you wonder why people can't see what's right in front of their faces. But a proud, hard man like him wouldn't want to fall in love with a simple girl like Emma, and he fought it pretty hard. Emma was a nice person, too nice for him. The good thing is he figures that out before it's too late, and determines to show her that he can love her the way she deserves.
This veteran historical romance novel-reader asks this question: Do we really need any more rake heroes? No! They make me yawn and roll my eyes. But w...moreThis veteran historical romance novel-reader asks this question: Do we really need any more rake heroes? No! They make me yawn and roll my eyes. But wait! What about Adrian, Viscount Rohan? Okay, maybe we can have a few rake heroes, as long as they are masterfully brought to life as Ms. Anne Stuart did with Adrian.
Yes, yes, yes! I know you will wave a hand at me and say, "You like all her books, so your opinion isn't really valid." I guess if you feel that way, you should probably stop reading this review. But, if you want to hear me out, then keep reading.
Once again, I was in raptures. Adrian is a man who doesn't deserve a woman like Charlotte. He knows it, she knows it, we know it when we're reading this story. Heck, Ms. Stuart knew it. But, I wanted him to have Charlotte so bad. Usually when the hero is an arrogant dog, I want the heroine to take his heart and stomp on it into a mushy consistency that resembles a tomato dropped from the second story of a building. Yes, I am vindictive like that. With Reckless, I was reading feverishly, anxious to see how this predator would get his prey. Adrian was so bad, in a very good way. I loved the cat and mouse game he played, how he stalked Charlotte into the garden of no return (at least if you wanted to stay celibate). I love bad boys, but I usually love the bad boys who are physically dangerous, not the skirt-chasers. But this is one bad rake that I really loved.
Another reason that I wanted Adrian and Charlotte to get together so much was because Charlotte was so in love with him. I thought she should have this man she pined for so badly (but always in a dignified way). I didn't want her heart broken, or for her to be used and abandoned, but I wanted her to have a little happiness in her life. In the scenes where Charlotte's loneliness and feelings were so poignantly displayed by Ms. Stuart’s writing, I felt my heart clench. Charlotte didn’t wear her heart on her sleeve, but Adrian knew and so did her cousin Lina. She was the consummate wallflower, awash in her isolation, in a world of perfect budding beauties; her on the wrong side of thirty, six-foot tall, and freckled, and penniless to boot. Normally I want to give the heroines who chase after the rake a good slap on the back of their head to bring them to their senses. But, in this case, I wanted them to end up together. Even so, I liked the fact that in this book, Adrian pretty much did all the pursuing; it was just up to Charlotte to surrender, and boy did Adrian make that an easy thing to do.
Their scenes of intimacy were so sexy, and so beautiful. It’s hard to describe. You could think of it as sex scenes, but there was another level there. A connection that was forming between them that I oftentimes find missing with other books with this theme. Those stolen interludes were gratifying to me, even if I knew that their time together was illicit and might end badly.
I loved that this was just the beginning of their courtship. Adrian had to go through a sea change. It’s easy to say that the right sex partner will change a rake’s heart. I don’t believe that, and I never will. But, I could totally believe that Adrian’s time with Charlotte had changed him. Something clicked inside of him when it came to Charlotte. I wonder if she was there in his mind the whole time, but she was marked ‘off-limits’ for whatever reason; and when he saw her at the Heavenly Host Revel, he decided he was going to take what he truly wanted, and damn the consequences. Even though it was so wrong of him to seduce Charlotte, I ain’t mad at him.
Being a stubborn knucklehead, Adrian does some stupid things in his relationship with Charlotte, and they both know it. I loved how Charlotte wasn’t afraid to stand up to Adrian and tell him he was being stupid. She wasn’t like putty in his hands, well at least not all the time. That powerful attraction between them held sway, but not to the point of idiocy; and, as I always demand in a good romance, it was mutual. If Charlotte was a fool for love, so was Adrian.
The secondary romance was so good. I loved Lina and Simon together. I wanted to cry for Lina and for what she’d gone through in her marriage, and how it had sent her into a very disagreeable (at least for me) lifestyle. I can’t decide if I would have liked it better if she enjoyed it or not. If I don’t like promiscuous heroes (and I don’t), I definitely don’t like lascivious heroines. With any topic that is not to my taste, it has to be done well, and it was here. I loved and respected Lina, even if I didn’t like the choices she made. This character was in Anne Stuart’s hands, and I was sighing and hoping that she would get her HEA. I loved Simon too. I liked that he called Lina on her nonsense, and she did the same for him. She opened his heart to love, and he did the same for her. They had a powerful attraction that opened the door for something more. I could totally see this couple having a happy life together, because they had a connection that surpassed the superficiality of their disparate roles in society.
I can’t say there is anything I didn’t love about this story. I mean, the suspense part wasn’t that necessary to the romance (in my mind), although it tied into the story. I don’t read romance of this sort for suspense, so I was more fixated on the progression of Charlotte/Adrian and Lina/Simon’s romances than that aspect. I loved seeing Francis, now Marquess of Haverstoke, and Elinor, his Marchioness, again, who are Adrian’s parents. I like how Francis is now a stern father, and Elinor a loving, indulgent mother. It was kind of interesting seeing Adrian getting called on the hot seat in front of his father. Made me laugh!
Gosh, I adored this book. It was a rapturous romance, and with a theme I usually don’t like. I am just not into rakes. But, some authors can deliver a story of a rake and the good woman who turns him around so well, that I am in, hook, line and sinker. Anne Stuart is my favorite author of all time for a reason. I think I’d better shut up now. I may end just babbling incoherently about how happy I feel when I read one of Ms. Stuart’s books. She only gets better (which is quite a feat), in my humble opinion. This one definitely goes on my best of 2010 list. (less)
I enjoyed this book a lot. It was rich with depth and with characters that I was interested in reading about. Callie was tired of being trapped by soc...moreI enjoyed this book a lot. It was rich with depth and with characters that I was interested in reading about. Callie was tired of being trapped by society's expectations, and the box she'd been put into, and decided to claim some happiness for herself. I liked that Gabriel liked her for who she was. He was drawn to her, even though she didn't fit society's ideas of beauty. She became the one woman he couldn't resist, and it wasn't hard for me to believe that was the case as I read this story.
I think Ms. MacLean did a great job of writing this novel, that was recognizably full of honest and real emotions. Normally, I don't care for the Regency hoyden, who gallivants around town doing things that women just didn't do. But, this book wasn't quite like that. Callie was a woman of her times. But, she was a woman who was trying to claim some happiness for herself. She never felt anachronistic in her morals. She was just tired of trying to live up to others' expectations. So, despite this being a theme I'm far from fond of, I wasn't bothered by Callie's hijinks. I really liked and felt for Callie. Some readers complained about it constantly being repeated that she was plain and plump. I didn't really see that. I think that it was mentioned as much as necessary, especially considering that's the box that Callie had been put into. I felt for her, seeing how insensitive people were in their treatment of her. It felt authentic. Women are often treated in such a fashion, when they don't fit into the mode that society defines for them. If you're not married, don't have a man, or a boyfriend, then what's wrong with you? You must be flawed somehow. You have no purpose in life. Sadly, that's still the case.
This was a very sexy book. There are some pretty spicy scenes, and they are quite well-done. The chemistry between Gabriel and Callie felt authentic. I could see why they were attracted to each other, and why they fell for each other. Those love scenes really kept me on the edge as I read.
I liked Gabriel a lot. Although he was a rake, he showed himself to be fairly admirable in his behavior. There were some lines that he knew he shouldn't be crossing with Callie, but the way this book was written, you could see that he couldn't resist his feelings for Callie. I didn't find Gabriel especially tortured. But, I don't guess all heroes have to be. He did have some baggage with his mother running off and leaving him, and you could see how that affected him, making him afraid to give his heart to a woman. But, with Callie, it was natural for him. He couldn't hold that back from her.
I liked Nick, Benedick, and Juliana a lot. I hope that Ms. McLean writes stories for them as well.
Reading Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake was a very pleasant experience. It wasn't a particularly dark romance (which is my favorite), but it was nuanced and had an intensity between Callie and Gabriel that made it a fairly compelling read. I think Ms. MacLean is a very good writer, and it's clear she makes an effort to write a high quality historical romance that manages to entertain but also has an underlying message. She treats important elements of historical romance with respect, but writes a story that is fun, sensual, and engaging, and she earned my respect for doing so. She's definitely going on my to-read list.(less)
A young wife convinces her friend to have a baby with her husband, but then hightails it off with her lover, leaving pregnant friend to deal with angr...moreA young wife convinces her friend to have a baby with her husband, but then hightails it off with her lover, leaving pregnant friend to deal with angry husband, who thinks the friend had something to do with the wife leaving. She dies soon after in a fiery car crash, leaving a friend pregnant with the baby of her husband. What a tangled web!
Not a fan of adultery theme in romance, but this one was so well done. I couldn't help thinking, why didn't they do artificial insemination? Did the husband really have to sleep with her friend to get her pregnant? I guess it's best not to ask that question, but to enjoy the story. It sets things up for future interactions (as the hero realizes that his obsessed with the heroine, and she was in love with him for years prior to the baby-making encounter).
The hero is very possessive of the heroine, despite the fact that he was married and the heroine is merely the surrogate. However I imagine sleeping together would forge such bonds (and since he was her first lover and the father of the baby, it probably engendered possessive feelings). The hero walks a tightrope of being a cruel hero versus a caring hero. He demands that the heroine live under his roof and allow him to take care of her. He pokes his head in often to see how her baby bump is growing. And he is livid when she insinuates that he might not be the baby's father after all, even though that is basically giving him a Get Out of Jail Free card. Yes, he's a very alpha hero, and happens to be a high profile lawyer (or barrister as they call trial lawyers in England).
Strangely, this was a book I couldn't put down (although I freely admit I love the pregnancy theme). I pondered the convoluted relationship between the hero and the heroine, and the wife, who actually didn't even really want a baby, but felt like she should want one because she thought that's what the hero wanted. He wanted a baby because he felt like his wife was heartbroken about being barren. Poor heroine is in the middle. Her mom needs surgery for her health, and by having the baby, she is able to afford the surgery. Of course, this makes her look like a gold digger to the hero who sees her faults with a magnifying glass, yet is able to overlook his wife's faults (including an ongoing affair) pretty easily. He has decided that she saved her virginity to trade for a higher paycheck (That makes no sense except to a HP hero). I have decided that the hero fell madly in love with the heroine and was tormented by the fact that he loved her instead of his wife. That is why he is so possessive and borderline domineering of her.
Ah, Life According to Harlequin Presents. I have a list of things I won't be doing after twenty plus years of reading these books. But we won't get into that.
Although this is probably a book that most people wouldn't want to read, I really enjoyed it. Thus it has a spot on my keeper shelf.
Mild spoiler: They named the baby Justine, since the hero was a barrister. I thought that was very cute. :)(less)
This is my favorite antebellum-set historical romance hands down. It's safe to say I don't like this time period, and typically I try to avoid it. But...moreThis is my favorite antebellum-set historical romance hands down. It's safe to say I don't like this time period, and typically I try to avoid it. But this book sounded to interesting to turn down. It was worth the read. I love a good marriage of convenience story, and this is one of my favorites.
In some ways, it reminded me a little of Dark Torment by Karen Robards, which has long been a favorite of mine, in that the heroine is a plain Jane spinster, and the hero is more or less an indentured servant that her stepfather buys off the auction block. Other than that, it goes in a different direction than Dark Torment. In this case, they marry almost immediately, at the behest of her stepfather.
This is a book about strangers becoming spouses, lovers, and friends. I was pleasantly surprised at the passion in this book. Meredith thinks herself unattractive, but it is clear that Jeremy feels a passion for her, although he doesn't want to be married to her or love her. However, they make the best of their situation.
I liked the way this book dealt with the slavery issue. Meredith family owned slaves, and she wasn't particularly happy about it. When Jeremy takes over running the plantation, his goal is to free all the slaves. He has some opposition from people in the community, but he is determined and comes up with a workable solution to the slavery issue. That was a bonus for me, as the slavery issue is a painful subject for me, and it undermines my ability to care about a hero/heroine who owns other people and doesn't feel angst or realize that human bondage is wrong.
What I loved about this book was the passion and the love between Meredith and Jeremy. It wasn't expected, but it was powerful, and it changed their lives and united them much deeper than their marriage of convenience did. Each scene between them showed the current of intense feeling running between them, even long before they actually consummated their marriage.
Meredith and Jeremy where characters I liked and admired, and wished well for. Even after this book ended, I could imagine them having a good life together, raising their family, and running their plantation with honor, and not on the backs of enslaved labor.
This was a sure keeper for me. Unfortunately I read it from the library. But I hope to find my own copy someday.(less)
I have to say that Kim really made this book for me. I admired her for her emotional integrity and fortitude. I liked that she took a painful past and...moreI have to say that Kim really made this book for me. I admired her for her emotional integrity and fortitude. I liked that she took a painful past and used it to be stronger and didn't mull on the past. She isn't a wallflower at all. She's actually very fashionable and feminine, although she does have a few insecurities about her extreme height and being teased about it in the past, also from what her ex-fiance' did to her. I like that she was able to stand strong against Blaise, who is a bulldozer in most ways. She was very attracted to him from the beginning, and fell deeply in love with him, but she didn't let that compromise what was important to her as a woman. I especially loved that she was clear about what she wanted out of a relationship and from a man, and didn't play emotional games.
I really liked that through Kim, this story reflects that some young women's values don't follow the trends and shouldn't have to. That some women do still believe in sex having to meaning something for them personally, and aren't afraid to wait or afraid to stand up for what they believe they deserve. This wasn't done in a preachy way, as Kim doesn't condemn other women who are happy with no-strings sexual relationships; she just knows it's not for her. I found that this was refreshingly dealt with, and the message was clear enough without being PSA-like.
This story had me crying near the end, and I won't say why. I think that it's worth reading about for oneself. It relates very closely with Blaise and his issues. He's a man that I feel has some emotional scars that have caused him to cut himself off from love. I loved that Kim was brave enough to be real and to challenge his perceptions,and not in a pushy way. But in a way that made him realize that he couldn't continue to live his life the way he had and be a whole person.
I thought that Helen Brooks was effective at having a modern voice with this novel, but also showing that people can have their own values that cause them to step outside of what is expected for a 'modern' person, when it doesn't ring true for themselves in particular. That's a good message for this reader. Outside of that message, I enjoyed reading about the relationship between Kim and Blaise. They had a strong relationship that involved not only passion and love, but mutual respect. And the ending was very romantic and sensual, exactly what I hoped for.
This was a very good book. Thus a 4.5/5.0 star rating.(less)
Laura Kinsale is back....finally! And this book was a breath of fresh air. I felt as though I was watching one of my beloved BBC period historical mov...moreLaura Kinsale is back....finally! And this book was a breath of fresh air. I felt as though I was watching one of my beloved BBC period historical movies when I was reading this book (hint, hint). Instead of writing a historical romance in the modern style, Ms. Kinsale wrote a romance that reads like historical fiction. There is a strong romance here, but it is well-integrated into a story about two people who have led full lives, although their hearts have always been entwined since they were teenagers.
Callie and Trevelyan love each other. They always have. But, that doesn't mean that their road to true love runs smoothly. Trev has a lot of secrets, and he's a wanted man. He doesn't believe that he's worthy of Callie. Callie's heart is wary of love, because she's been jilted three times, four if you count Trev running off and leaving her. Callie is a rich spinster with a serious avocation for cattle breeding. That in itself was a refreshing touch. Usually you will read about a heroine in historical books who is horse mad, but Callie is more into livestock, particularly cattle. She has a nearly encyclopedic knowledge about animal husbandry. Her beloved prize-winning bull Hubert plays a fairly large, and humorous role in this story, and the things that Trev does for Callie regarding Hubert show his devotion, although his plans often go awry.
I liked the depiction of small town English life: the social hierarchies, the gossip chain, which was quite powerful, and the interesting (and humorous) characters all added texture to this book. Even Callie's suitor, Major Sturgeon, who happened to be the first man who originally jilted her, managed to show some layers. At first, he was courting Callie (anew) for her money, but he seemed to want more from their union, even though she was happy enough to marry him, allow him his affairs, and access to her money, as long as he didn't expect intimate relations between them. He had a past with Trev that makes their connections to Callie even more complicated, in addition to being rivals for the same woman.
I admit that I was frustrated with the obstacles that kept Callie and Trev apart, particularly their stubborn insistence that they couldn't be together. Trev didn't believe he could offer Callie a good life, even though he had money. His name was mud in England, and she is the daughter of an earl who once slashed his face with a riding crop and ran him off after catching he and Callie in a compromising position. Callie has been rejected so much, she doesn't think much of her looks and the ability for a man to love her, even though Trev says numerous times how much he loves her (even before she does). I wanted to yell at them to just take what they wanted--each other. Run off together, already!!! I just had to keep reading.
It's hard to say if this book will appeal to some readers of historical romance. The relationship between Trev and Callie is the lynchpin of this story, but their love story unfolds slowly through their interactions with each other and the various characters that they encounter in their complicated lives. For readers who like that sort of dynamic, a fuller story in which the main couple plays their roles, I think they would enjoy this book. It felt very authentic and period, which I am always happy about when it comes to historical romance. This was no modern love story wrapped up in costume drama. The characters were people of their time, with all the expected social values, expectations, and hangups. I loved the mostly subtle, but sometimes laugh-out-loud humor. Die-hard romantic that I am, I found the deep, intense love between Callie and Trev irresistible, and I felt their longing and frustration for them to be together, even though circumstances seemed to work against them at every turn. They were committed to living their lives apart, but it was clear their lives weren't complete without each other. Even though the love scenes aren't terribly detailed, I felt the passion between Callie and Trev. I really rooted for them, and I loved the end of this book. It wraps everything up very nicely, with a very happy ending for this couple, on many levels.
Lessons in French was a sweet, delicious, and unique love story. I'm glad that Ms. Kinsale took a chance and wrote something that is quite different from her other books. I'd nominate this one for a movie in a heartbeat!(less)
I couldn't stay away from this book any longer. It sat on my bed, calling my name, and I dived in. This is a good book for those who like the English-...moreI couldn't stay away from this book any longer. It sat on my bed, calling my name, and I dived in. This is a good book for those who like the English-Scottish conflict romances. It's got a healthy dose of the politics of that situation, but not so much that it's boring. The focus stays on the growing romance between Grace and Lachlan. Their relationship doesn't start out ideal, either.
First of all, Grace has a skin condition (I think it was probably eczema), that she was self-conscious about. She also stutters, has really bright red hair, and limps. She's 26 yrs old, and firmly on the shelf. A big fan of Plain Jane stories, I was wondering where things would lead as I read this story. Would this be a 'makeover' story or the kind of plain jane tales I prefer where the hero sees the heroine as she is and loves her for the person she is. Luckily this fell into the second category. Grace's lack of looks wasn't really an issue for Lachlan. His issue was his weariness at all the fighting and intrigues, his distrust for his bride who may or may not have been his deceased brother's lover and murder. He is attracted to her voluptuous curves, her brown eyes, and her bright shiny hair. He also finds himself attracted to the courage she shows, despite the fear that she has.
Lachlan is one of those hard heroes that you have to warm up to. He fully intends to keep his mistress, although he will take full advantage of having a comely wife to get with child many times over. There is an almost adultery scene, but I was gratified that he couldn't do it in the end, because all he could think about was how it felt to be with his wife instead. Yay! But I was pretty annoyed when he was allowing his mistress to fondle him at the table with his wife. Grace was a cool customer about it. I probably would have brained him with a tankard. But all ended up well with that situation. Lachlan soon comes to realize that he doesn't want any other woman but his wife.
Grace is considered an outsider initially, but she slowly wins over her husband's people, first by saving a boy from a severe burning, and then by saving the son of a neighboring clan, who could be an enemy of the Kerr clan. However, there is sabotage trying to make it seem like Grace is trying to bring down the clan. I liked that Grace remained steadfast and true to herself the whole time. She didn't jump off the handle or do anything stupid. She showed the maturity of a woman of her age, and trusted that her integrity would shine through.
This book might not be to the taste of those romance readers who don't like a lot of history and politics in their romance. But I felt it was well intregrated into the story. Lachlan is in a dicey situation. He has loyalties to some of the English rulers but also the Scottish rulers. This book is set during the time when King David has returned, but also there is Robert the Bruce with his agendas, and some of the Scottish leaders want Scotland to be free of English rule, and some want Scotland under England. And right in the middle is Lachlan. He had been fighting his whole life according to pre-decided loyalties because of his French grandmother and his Scottish father who turned into a womanizing drunkard. Plus his brother wasn't the best man either, being a womanizer himself, and also very self-serving, going off and making political alliances he shouldn't have. All Lochlan wants is a home and a family. Although he is not happy at the edict from King David to marry Grace, she turns out to be the key to having the home he always longed for.
At times I was frustrated at Lochlan's lack of faith in Grace, in the face of clear evidence that she had proven her loyalty. I tried to tell myself that it was reasonable for a man who had buried a faithless wife and was cuckolded by his brother, and who spent most of his life involved in court intrigues, to be distrustful. Thankfully, Grace shows her solidarity to Lochlan and her new home not by going through any changes, but by being herself and being steadfast in her loyalties to the husband she quickly falls in love with.
This was a beautiful story, and the writing is fairly artistic in some passages. I think that Ms. James really poured her heart into writing a story that would touch the reader and give them entertainment that engaged the mind and the senses. Highly recommended for fans of Scottish-English conflict romances, arranged marriage, and plain jane themes in romance.(less)
**spoiler alert** Curry isn't quite a Hero I Can't Stand. But he's close. He was very mean to Eleanor in some of the things he said. He was afraid to...more**spoiler alert** Curry isn't quite a Hero I Can't Stand. But he's close. He was very mean to Eleanor in some of the things he said. He was afraid to let her get close and was hurtful to her. He didn't value her the way he should have, even though she enriched his life tremendously. That's why I was glad that Eleanor did leave him and he had to earn her love. Curry came to the realization of what he had let slip away from him. I guess that's why I liked the book a lot despite Curry being jerky. The one thing I wish was that Ms. Palmer had given Eleanor a male suitor that could have really given Curry a run for his money. It was pretty obvious that her friend wasn't going to stand up very well against Curry. That's one of the reasons I love Lawless. Cash Grier was a more than worthy rival for Crissy's affections.(less)
I enjoyed this book the first time and on the reread. The heroine is a bit obtuse. I think it was fairly obvious how in love the hero was with her. Ho...moreI enjoyed this book the first time and on the reread. The heroine is a bit obtuse. I think it was fairly obvious how in love the hero was with her. However, she is used to being in the shadow of her flamboyant, more attractive sister. She thinks the hero married her to have a dogsbody to run his house. I really liked the forced marriage theme, a favorite of mine for some bizarre reason. This book has a classic line that shows how much the hero loves her. He says something to the effect that when he lets her go to the beloved (he thinks she's in love with another man), that he doesn't like that the man will see how her eyes change colors when she climaxes. I was pretty shocked when I read this book as a young, impressionable girl in my early teens. Loved it though.(less)
I picked this one up because I love ugly duckling stories, and I was intrigued by the fact that the ugly duckling of the Roses, as they were called, w...moreI picked this one up because I love ugly duckling stories, and I was intrigued by the fact that the ugly duckling of the Roses, as they were called, was the one Rose that St. John Worth wanted. I didn't realize that they had a turbulent history until I started the book. Ardith thought St. John's proposal five years ago was a joke that he had planned with two of his drunk cronies. It broke her young, insecure, love-struck heart. At that point, she abandoned any attempt at a season and fled to her Aunt Sibley, an independent spinster who raised her to be the same. Five years lady, she is a woman of consequence, with an independent life as Aunt Sibley's heir. She is content running her estate, raising horses, and taking care of the tenants and the country folk who are in need of medicine but don't trust the local doctor. She's managed very well to avoid St. John and any other suitors. However, when she leaves her sister's house, who has just given birth to her third daughter, she ends up caught in a bad snowstorm, and is forced to see shelter at St. John's house. Unfortunately, he is there. From that point on, she'll find him very hard to avoid.
I ended up loving this book. It just had that certain something that kept me turning the pages. There is built in angst and pathos for Ardith's situation. She is tall, dark, lanky, strong-featured, and not feminine enough compared to her older, prettier, blond, perfect sisters. She has given up on the idea of marriage because she feels she lacks those qualities that a man would want in a bride. St. John's cruel trick was the final factor that convinced her of that fact. And then, there is the fact that she has come to treasure her independence. Her father doesn't know what to do with her. He's not even allowed through the gate of her estate, nor is St. John. She has total autonomy. However, St. John's renewed presence in her life makes her second guess her determination not to wed, and that he was just playing a trick on her.
I really loved and felt for Ardith. She was very insecure about her charms as a woman, and it was clear why as I saw how her family treated her. As if there was something wrong with her and she'd never measure up. Even her father made jokes about her not being pretty or womanly, although he admired her pluck. I liked that she was a capable woman. She was very skilled at healing, running an estate, and was a much admired and respected horse-breeder. When she showed her doubts at her lack of beauty or social charm, I didn't find it annoying, because it wasn't in a self-pitying way. She had made the most of what she had, and she had determined to have a good life, even if she wasn't going to be some man's beloved, beautiful society wife. The secret hurt that she'd experienced from St. John felt very real to me. Even more so because it was a misunderstanding, but her low self-esteem, caused by the way her family treated her, made it worse.
St. John was a dear from the beginning. I felt bad for him, because he truly loved Ardith. Even five years later, he was very much in love with her, but stayed away out of respect for her. When he got his chance to woo her, his chance at finally having her as his bride, he didn't let the opportunity pass him by. He wasn't afraid to use whatever means available in his arsenal. I loved how he stood up for her with Ardith's overbearing, but very thick-headed father. He even fell out of sorts with him because he wasn't going to back down, and was willing to defend Ardith, even if it put him in her father's bad graces. I appreciated the fact that St. John loved Ardith for who she was. He wanted her in his life, and was willing to make compromises to make sure she was happy in their life together. Even so, he was no pushover. He showed determination and a sense of grace and honor in his pursuit of Ardith. He was very patient, even when Ardith was stubborn to trust in him. He understood the uphill battle to win back her trust and was in it for the long hall. He was a really good man. A man any woman would be glad to have as her beloved husband. I was cheering for him to win Ardith's heart back into his keeping.
Another aspect I enjoyed was the humor. I love the way that a good trad regency brings in the funny aspects of the speech and the everyday interactions of the characters. Ms. Savery captured the feel of the period very well. She used a few phrases that were new to me, but I forgot to write them down to look them up, but they made me feel she had done her research on this period, going way beyond just window-dressing. Poor Ardith's hands were full managing her sisters' issues, since her father was pressing for a grandson, even willing to bribe the first couple who gave him one. Her sisters (except the one who just gave birth) fled to Ardith for protection when their marriages were under strain from their father's edict, and it was funny seeing how Ardith's loyal gatekeeper showed no respect for title or rank in turning away both Ardith's dad, St. John (who won him over with his devotion to Ardith), and her sisters' spouses. This book was laugh-out loud funny in more than a few scenes. Ardith's dad was not an intelligent man. And he was so set in his ways. He just had no clue how to deal with a stubborn, independent daughter like Ardith.
This book was a nice breath of fresh air. An impulse buy from the clearance rack that more than paid for its spot on my keeper shelf. I am usually lured in fairly easy by the plain Jane theme, especially when the hero is smitten and wooing the plain Jane, so that got my attention. But the good writing and engaging story and characters kept my interest. I'd definitely recommend this one.(less)
I picked this one up as an impulse and was very pleasantly entertained by this story. I loved the aspect of the hero, Lord Rothbury, being in love wit...moreI picked this one up as an impulse and was very pleasantly entertained by this story. I loved the aspect of the hero, Lord Rothbury, being in love with Charlotte for six long years. She thought of herself as a wallflower, and was stuck on his best friend, Lord Tristan, who saved her mother and herself from a carriage accident, for that whole time.
Adam, who is known as Rothbury for this whole book, watched her grow from a skinny young girl into a willowy young woman, admiring her from afar, even loving her bookish, spectacled appearance. You see, he didn't think he was good enough for her. Rothbury comes from a family of degenerate rakes, and was taught to act the same way his whole life. Although rakes are not my favorite heroes, there was heart to this hero, so that I liked him, even from the beginning. He was a rake because he had been taught to be one, and really didn't know any other life.
The plot is rather convoluted, which is strange. It's not exactly as the blurb says. Mainly it's about the interaction between the on-the- shelf young woman, Charlotte, and Rothbury, who wants what he can't have, her. She doesn't realize how in love he is, because she can't imagine why a sophisticated man of the world would want her. Especially since she was was lead on slightly by Lord Tristan, that he would offer for her, but then he offers for another girl instead.
Charlotte approaches Rothbury with the offer of friendship, which was mainly a ploy for the author to have Charlotte and Rothbury interact, which they probably wouldn't have otherwise. What I found refreshing is that Rothbury didn't spend this whole book trying to get Charlotte in bed, and she didn't spend the book chasing or throwing herself at the rake so she could find out 'what it was all about.' I am very sick of this overused storyline in historical romances nowadays, and frankly it irritates me because it's unrealistic that a gently bred young virginal woman of good family would risk her reputation and future that way. Instead it was more of a friends to lovers story, and full of humor and quirkly moments which I found enjoyable. It was also very sweet how Rothbury really loved Charlotte, but wasn't sure how to let her know that, and didn't feel he had the right to. Plus he thought she was still in love/like with Lord Tristan. He saw her in ways that others didn't see. This is a couple you really want to get together instead of being annoyed at them the whole book.
Although there are few love scenes, the passion of their kisses was very well written and made the pages heat up. The love scenes towards the end were not long or graphic, but they were very intense and hot (for this reader). The love and passion that Rothbury shows Charlotte was very appealing. I think that there was some silliness in this story that wasn't needed for plot exposition, but it didn't ruin the story. I really ended up liking this book. It's a lighter read, but it has the emotional elements that I really enjoy. Plus I found this rake to be a lot more moral and honorable than some of the other heroes in this genre (even though he didn't see himself that way).
I will be adding Olivia Parker to my list of authors to buy, because she really succeeded in telling a romance story here that appealed to me, when I was starting to feel that a lot of the new releases were not to my taste.(less)
This is my favorite book by LS. It's funny, when I read this book, I had not discovered the appeal of the 'bad boy' yet. I was thinking that Abigail w...moreThis is my favorite book by LS. It's funny, when I read this book, I had not discovered the appeal of the 'bad boy' yet. I was thinking that Abigail was better off with the nice guy she was nursing. But she ends up falling for Jesse, and so do I. This book was steamy but in a different way from nowadays. The steam was the sexual tension that did not rely on descriptive love scenes, but the attraction between the characters.
Reading LS is an experience because you don't get out of her books without your heart being tugged on. This book is no different.(less)