I need to reread this to give it the review it deserves. Stuart did it again, for certain. I shouldn't have liked this book because I don't like unrep...moreI need to reread this to give it the review it deserves. Stuart did it again, for certain. I shouldn't have liked this book because I don't like unrepentant rakes, but I did anyway. In fact, I loved it. This book really showcases the Georgian period in all its debauched, over the top glory, and has shades of Dangerous Liaisons, just enough for a fan of this book/movie to get a happy fix. Great secondary romance as well, with a female counterpart of Killoran in Barbara (Killoran's sometime lover), who was turned into a sex object at a very young age, and has learned that using her charms to control and ruin men is the only way to go. She falls in love with a younger, innocent country gentleman who is fresh to the wild, wicked city. Despite Barbara thinking she has men all figured out, he melts her heart of ice and looks into her heart to find the hurt child there and the lonely woman she had to become to survive. Other touches I loved were the fact that Emma is unashamedly Junoesque, and Killoran definitely embraces her tall and bounteous curves. Emma might be innocent, but she's a great match for Killoran, seeing something to love in him. And because she does, I was forced to look deep and find the good core in this dissipated, seemingly amoral libertine. If you like dark romances, give this one a read. Yet there is no question that there is happiness to be found for Killoran and Emma, for this book has the best epilogue I've ever read, particularly if you like the sappy, totally Happy Ever After epilogues.(less)
This is a dark romance novel, but is excellent all the same. It starts with Ghislaine, the heroine, trying to kill Nicholas, the hero. From that point...moreThis is a dark romance novel, but is excellent all the same. It starts with Ghislaine, the heroine, trying to kill Nicholas, the hero. From that point on, you cannot put the book down. This book has wounded, anguished characters who are brought together out of hatred, but find love and fulfillment together. I am a sucker for romances where a person is wounded and damaged, but manage to find a love that heals and fulfills them. Nicholas is definitely a rake, but he is a three-dimensional character who compels you to understand and appreciate him. Gilly is also flawed, but her struggles have made her a stronger person. The passion is sizzling, and yet the core of it is a true love. This book is a must read if you want a romance that will touch you on many levels and want a meaty read that will captivate you so much you can't put it down.(less)
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)
Okay, I am officially a Georgette Heyer reader now. I can see why she is touted as the best of the best when it comes to historical romance. This book...moreOkay, I am officially a Georgette Heyer reader now. I can see why she is touted as the best of the best when it comes to historical romance. This book was thoroughly enjoyable. I tell you, Avon is a very singular hero. I have read few books with a hero whose dialogue was so expressive, yet ironic at the same time. His wit is so sharp that it could cut diamonds. What's really interesting is that Avon is considered the worst of the worst when it comes to being a debauched rake, yet you never see him looking or acting anything less than elegant. I really admire that Heyer was able to convey this about him without going into his dirty deeds. All that occurs before the book begins. In fact, so much is conveyed and not expressly shown in this story, and done with remarkable skill. I have to say that I read this story, looking to Ms. Heyer to teach me (as a writer) the ability to create powerful dialogue that shows and does not tell. Avon is quite the character. He is definitely a dandy and a fop, wearing bright colors, dripping with lace and jewels, and high-heeled shoes. He even carries a fan that he uses. But he is a man of his time, with a masculinity that is not questionable. And to think we don't have to see him bedhopping to believe in his masculinity!! I thought that Ms. Heyer did a fantastic job in showing Avon's transition from being a cold man with a heart of stone to a loving person. You see this in his manner changing towards friends and family. And you see it in how he interacts with Leonie, who gives him her steadfast, unconditional love from the very beginning.
Avon is bent on revenge, but he exemplifies the saying, "Revenge is a dish best served cold." He waited over twenty years to obtain his revenge on his enemy. When the tool of his revenge stumbles into him on a Paris street, it takes a while for you to see how he/she plays into it. Avon concocts a shallow, bored, remote demeanor that is very misleading. The whole while, he is feeling and seeing everything that goes on around him. He sees right through Leon's facade, realizing that she is a girl. Her unique coloring, Red hair and black eyebrows, immediately brings to mind his worst enemy, Saint-Vire. Yet it takes the reader a little while to put the puzzles together. You are not bored though, as the story unfolds and you get to realize what Avon's plan is. For the lines in this story are so laugh out loud funny, you might want to be careful where you break out this book. I'm sure people thought was I was crazy in the moments I read this story in public, because I would burst out into hilarious laughter. As for the revenge plot, you have to read this book until nearly the very end to see how marvelously and skillfully Avon executes his plan for revenge. I have to say, 'Bravo.' And to be honest, it couldn't have happened to a better person.
One of my favorite characters in this story is Rupert, Avon's younger brother. Why? Because he made me laugh so hard. He had the best lines. I firmly believe that Loretta Chase must have thought of him when she wrote Bertie in Lord of Scoundrels, although Rupert is not nearly as unintelligent as Bertie is portrayed to be. Rupert does a very good job as serving as comic relief in a story that would have been quite dark without these moments of humor. Because of his contribution, I cannot even consider this a dark read. This is also in part to the back and forth dialogue between characters which has the cadence and the humor that endears comedic movies of the 1930s and 40s to this reader and movie buff. The scene with the horse that Rupert 'borrowed' and its livid owner who comes to Avon's home for redress was laugh out loud hilarious. Definitely like a scene from 1940s slapstick comedy at its best. Some of the characters that add to the wonderful atmosphere are Fanny, Avon's sister, Marling, her staid husband, and Hugh, Avon's less staid, but certainly moral friend, who often disproves of Avon's behavior, but is a steadfast friend all the same.
Leonie is a character that I liked, although at times her ingenue nature was a bit much for me. The older I get, the less I really enjoy the very young, vivacious, extremely audacious-mannered heroines. I did not let that lessen my enjoyment of this story, for Leonie is the perfect foil for Avon. This older, very jaded hero needed a very young, sweet heroine with a zest for life. He would not have fallen in love and committed to a happy ending as a happily married man otherwise. In fact, I think his cold heart would have grown colder through the years, probably pushing everyone away who loved him, had it not been for Leonie's advent into his life.
Leonie is the character that everyone loves. I suppose she might be considered a 'Mary Sue' by some, but again, I don't quibble, for this story needed a character like her for it be successful. Also I reject the notion that an old fashioned, feel-good story doesn't have its place in the world. They most certainly do. And at the end of the day, the escapades of this hoyden do make you smile and feel good.
This novel gave me a very good look into 18th century life in France and England, for which I was grateful. It is said that Heyer's book stand up against the most stringent historical accuracy sticklers. She is a testiment to the genre of historical romance, which is always taking hits as being low-brow fiction. I wonder why this has not been made into film, for I feel it would make a wonderful movie. And it has an appeal outside of those readers who enjoy romance.
This book was a joy to read, and it has made me an eager fan of Heyer. I would love to read more of her books, and since I've heard that she had some older, sensible heroine (one of my favorite types in historical romance), I expect to enjoy those books just as much, if not more.
For those romance fans who haven't read Heyer, take it from me. You really should give her a try. I don't think you'll be disappointed.(less)
I don't even know what to say! I loved this book so much. I savored it, stretching it out, not wanting it to...moreDo What Thou Wilt, But Don't Fall in Love!
I don't even know what to say! I loved this book so much. I savored it, stretching it out, not wanting it to end. I was completely immersed in this book. I was no longer in Texas, modern day. I was in France in the 1700s.
I don't know how Ms. Anne Stuart does it. She can take the most objectionable type of hero, and make me fall in love with him. Let me say, I am a devout Christian. I can't even imagine even pretending to worship the devil, or to hold orgies in which one does things that are unspeakable, just because you can. That should have turned me off of Lord Rohan. But, with Ms. Stuart's incredible writing skill, it wasn't even an issue for me. I am very glad that she didn't dwell on those aspects, although they were there in the background. This is a book about a rakehell who was the leader of festivities along the lines of the real Hellfire Club, so that aspect had to be present. But, I didn't have to see him doing any of that. I was fine that I didn't. Now, he definitely did some fornication (even after he met Elinor). I was okay with that, because that was who he was, before he fell in love. Once, he had Elinor in his heart, that was over for him, even if he didn't want to admit it to himself for her. And I was gratified that he didn't allow anything to go on there that wasn't between consensual adults.
No question about it, Elinor and Rohan are one of my favorite couples now. Anne Stuart-wise, and period. There was something so delectable about their interactions, the by-play between them. Even though Francis was sixteen years older than Elinor (old enough to be her father, and he was quite active at that age, in his own words), Elinor was able to hold her own with him. Elinor had some serious pluck. I love a heroine who is strong, and no question about Elinor's strength. She is no Xena, and she didn't have to be, in order to captivate Rohan, and to make me love her. She is true to herself, forthright, and brave (in ways I can't even fathom). Francis was a very bad boy, but he had a core of him that was good and decent. He did things for Elinor that he really had no reason to do. He showed her love even before he knew what the word meant. How could I not love him for that? The sexual tension in this story was off the charts, and the love scenes aren't even until near the end. That's talent to me. I felt the sizzle through every conversation, the exchange of glances, the way Rohan pursued and Elinor fled. It was magic on the page.
Yes, I know. It's clear that I love Anne Stuart so much, that some may doubt my objectivity. But, I will say it if I don't think a book by a favorite author is my favorite. But, with Ruthless, there is no question that this one is a stellar read. I wish that Ms. Stuart released books every year. When she doesn't have books out, I mourn the dearth, and I pine for her books. I have especially longed for her historicals, because she writes them so well, with the dark aspects, the multi-faceted characters, the writing subtlety that conveys so much, the intensity that I crave in a romance story. I am happy to say that this book truly makes me happy. I am still replaying the scenes in my head. The skillfully nuanced courtship of Rohan and Elinor, and the powerful love story here. The sad, heartbreaking things in their pasts. I got choked up a few times. I was touched on such a deep level, I feel it right now as I write this review. I think that readers who enjoy meaty, intense, darker historicals with strong, vibrant characters will be very happy with Ruthless. I foresee myself rereading this book soon and often. Bravo, Ms. Stuart.(less)
The Raven Prince was a sweet, sensual, delectable book that I've had sitting on my tbr pile for years now! In a way, I don't regret that, because I re...moreThe Raven Prince was a sweet, sensual, delectable book that I've had sitting on my tbr pile for years now! In a way, I don't regret that, because I read it at the right time. This lovely story took what could have been dark and melancholy subject matter, and made something upbeat and whimsical, yet no less moving.
Anna and Edward are characters that get shoved into closets and overlooked when it comes to romance novels. They are both over thirty. Neither is drop-dead-gorgeous. Neither are shining diamonds of the ton (who usually bore me to tears anyway). Neither is especially wonderful to the world--except for me. I prefer reading about the misfits, the 'ugly ducklings' and 'raven princes'. I liked the fact that although both Anna and Edward have had some very tragic, lonely times in their lives, neither of them are particularly whiny about it. They have moved on to live their lives, even though deep down, they hoped for better. Anna was married for years to a man who made her feel inadequate because she never conceived, even going so far as to cheat on her. When he dies, she settles into widowhood, supporting her mother-in-law on his dwindling investments. In fact, she reminded me of the story of Ruth and Naomi from the Bible in how she cared for her mother-in-law and loved her. The time comes for her to get a position, and there are few to come by in Little Battleford. However, the mysterious Earl of Swartingham needs a secretary, and his estate manager, Hopple, is desperate enough to hire a woman.
When the two meet, there is a connection. Not exactly love at first sight, but something that develops into much more than what an Earl should feel for his secretary. I liked that both Edward and Anna looked past the superficial to what mattered in life. Anna saw Edward's smallpox scars, but more importantly, she saw a strong, beautiful man, even if he was a bit surly. Edward saw a vivid, attractive women although she had a plain face to the rest of the world. He liked being around her, talking to her, being with her. He liked her for who she truly was, giving her an acceptance her deceased husband had denied her.
Ms. Hoyt managed to take some aspects that wouldn't have appealed to me and to build a lovely romance. In theory, I didn't like the idea of Anna meeting Edward in Aphrodite's Grotto, pretending to be a lady of pleasure. I hate the idea of prostitution, and I especially hate when the hero in a romance book that I am reading goes to a brothel. What Ms. Hoyt did here was pretty cool. If she was going to have Edward go to a brothel to deal with his unseemly, lustful urges for his secretary, why not have his secretary be the woman he slakes those urges on? Those love scene were very well-written and "fan-yourself-now" steamy.
Anna discovers passion for the first time, and has to pay the price of passion--the knowledge that it is gained without knowing she is loved by the man she is with. Edward enjoys his time with the mystery woman, but his mind always goes back to Anna. Why does she come to mind when he's with this other woman? How can he feel such passion for her when his mind is fixated on Anna?
I liked how Ms. Hoyt deals with the double standard that society holds to regarding prostitution. A woman is the one who is sullied, but men are just doing what comes naturally. It drives me crazy! Anna helps a sick prostitute and has to deal with a bit of social stigma because of it, because that woman is dirty and beneath her. I was glad she was brave enough to do what was right, showing what a 'good woman' truly is. I do have to say I didn't like some of the double standards that Edward showed. His anger at finding out Anna was his mystery woman, and the way he put her on the "pure, innocent" pedestal, but had no problem slaking his urge on the professional woman who he always called whores. It's just my personal issue with the subject. I hate prostitution, but I hate it because I don't think a woman should have to use her body that way. Even moreso, I hate the hypocrisy of society when it comes to prostitutes. They didn't get 'sullied' by themselves. So, I particularly liked when Anna tells Edward off when he lectures her for taking in the sick prostitute, Pearl. The way I look at it, the oldest profession would go out of business if people didn't pay for sex, so it goes both ways for me, with a higher burden put on people who pay for sex. Anyhoo, societal rant aside...back to review.
I liked the subtle humor here, a light touch that brightened this story and kept it from being too melancholy. As much as I like angst, sometimes it's nice to have a fun read that's also deep and manages to move me at the same time.
I don't think I have much more to say here. I really enjoyed this book. I liked Ms. Hoyt's ability to write clearly, beautifully, but never floridly. She captures the Georgian era, but isn't heavy-handed about it. I knew I was reading a historical romance, and I believed in the setting. I definitely want to read more of her books (good thing I have been accumulating almost all of them over these few years). The elegant simplicity of her prose made this a swift and enjoyable read. This was historical romance that was enjoyable from beginning to end--I never felt the plot drag or my attention start to wane with this book. Although some of their moments of blindly holding on to misconceptions and fruitless determinations frustrated me, I never lost respect or liking for Anna and Edward. I could see that they had built barriers to love out of fear of heartbreak, and to keep themselves safe from further loss. Because I felt like I knew and cared for them, I found their passion very hot, but it also was a sweet, deep love story, so it satisfied me on both levels. In fact, I loved the characters for all their imperfections; I felt that they were normal, relatable people who deserved a happy ending. I was glad I got to see them get their happy day in this book.
Thanks to my Secret Santa Julie for selecting this book as one of my Christmas presents to read for the Lisa Kleypas group!(less)
I started this book with a strong dislike for Fortitude Ware. He was a dissolute, playboy rake with two illegitimate children. He rubbed me the wrong...moreI started this book with a strong dislike for Fortitude Ware. He was a dissolute, playboy rake with two illegitimate children. He rubbed me the wrong way. Also the Georgian setting is so in your face, bawdy and vulgar. The nobles pretty much do nothing but fight, fornicate, and drink. This is one of the first Georgians I read, so I had to get used to how relaxed things were compared to the more sedate and elegant Regency period, and the very proper Victorian period.
However, my feelings started to change with the strength of Jo Beverley's writing. I've found she's either an author you love or you don't. My first book by her, An Unwilling Bride, left me rather indifferent because I didn't really care for Lucian at all, and I found Beth rather cold and a bit unlikeable. This book didn't leave me indifferent but rather annoyed at how 'low down' Fort was. I couldn't understand why Elfred would have spent most of her life in love with him. But wanting the answer to this question kept me reading. Slowly Fort started to show some depth. Yes, the fact that he had two kids by two different women that he didn't even interact with (although he did support them) really left a bad taste in my mouth (deadbeat, apathetic fathers are a pet peeve of mine). But he did have some good sides. His loyalty to the crown, his love for his sister. Despite thinking Elfred was a fancy lady, he treated her kindly, although he was furious at her deception when he found out. Okay, I started to thaw towards him.
Elfred was an interesting character. She was very spoiled and willful. But she's a Malloren. They are a strong-willed, dramatic family. Her antics kept me reading as she went through all these changes to get her man, who is the enemy of her powerful brother the Duke of Rothgar.
The turning point in this book for me was the emotion that grew between Elf and Fort as he started to see her as a woman he could love, although he resisted at every turn. Fort didn't want to be in love, particularly with a woman who was in the family of his enemy, but his heart didn't listen to his mind. The climax left me breathless as Elfred follows Sting's sage advice: "If you love someone, set them free." I felt my heart breaking as she let him go, yet I was hoping that he would come back to her. Well this is a romance novel and I gave it five stars, so you can guess what happens, but Beverley sure does let the moment resonate and have you holding your breath waiting to see if Fort will come to his senses and follow his heart.
Again, this was not a book I thought I'd love when I started it. But it ended being a five star read for me in the end. It opened my mind to the possibilities of the Georgian period, which was one I wasn't overly fond of. I really need to get back to those Malloren.(less)
I loved this story. Yes it was short, but it was also sweet and very well done. I'm a sucker for the plain, aging spinster meets the rake storyline, a...moreI loved this story. Yes it was short, but it was also sweet and very well done. I'm a sucker for the plain, aging spinster meets the rake storyline, and I think Ms. Stuart always does great with it. I don't know...Not too many writers do rakes as well as I like. But, Ms. Stuart, she definitely does. A rake is mad, bad, and dangerous to know. But the best part about a rakish hero is seeing him fall in love with the one woman who makes him want to give up his debauched, profligate ways. Hard to do in such a short format, but she managed here, in my opinion. I love her use of language, and how she built the tension so well for a short story. I'm not sure what to expect about the Heavenly Host, except they are far from heavenly. I can't say too much without spoiling the story, but it met any expectations I have for Anne Stuart's writing. I'm glad to see her writing more historicals, although I love her contemporaries too. What can I say? I love her writing, period. She writes a killer short story, says Danielle, with a happy smile on her face.(less)
This is a wonderful book, with the following caveat: Gabriel is a very cruel hero. He is a bitter man. So full of anger at his father that he often us...moreThis is a wonderful book, with the following caveat: Gabriel is a very cruel hero. He is a bitter man. So full of anger at his father that he often uses Cassie as a verbal punching bag. His father is after him to marry, so he picks a bride that he is absolutely sure will aggravate his father. Cassie is a poor, overworked tavern maid that he finds on the docks in America. He thinks she isn't virtuous, but it turns out that she is. He doesn't make her over or clean her up, but delivers her to his father in the condition he finds her. Then he abandons her.
At first, his father is pretty mean to Cassie. But Cassie's wonderful and kind heart wins his regard. He is also impressed with her determination to better herself by reading and learning how to be a wife of a noblemen. When Gabriel comes back, he realized what a gem he's married.
This is one of those books that I loved for the heroine, and for the beauty of the storytelling. Gabriel could use a hard knock upside his head with a shovel. That what I use as code for an uber-alpha hero who needs to be taken down a peg. The sensuality is steaming, although it seems whenever Gabriel makes love with his wife, he is driven by angry passion and rarely by tenderness. Gabriel does everything he can to drive his wife away, and finally he succeeds. It is then that realizes how much she means to him and goes to get her back. The ending of this book is so poignant that it is another reason I love it so much. I definitely recommend this book if you can handle a hero with a serious chip on his shoulder who has a tendency to be mean to the heroine. If so, it's worth reading, and I consider it a keeper.(less)
I loved this book. Lucas was one unique (for me) hero. He is a bonafide dandy, but very much a man. That was odd for me at first. I haven't read as ma...moreI loved this book. Lucas was one unique (for me) hero. He is a bonafide dandy, but very much a man. That was odd for me at first. I haven't read as many Georgians, so the spiffied up, lace-bedecked, bewigged, powered, high-heel wearing hero was a different thing for me. But this man makes it look good. And he's got this long, black hair. (Fanning myself). Okay back to the review: He is rather ruthless, but at the same time, is a good husband for tormented Anna. He makes mistakes but manages to love her and to help her to heal.
I love the scene where they meet. Their eyes connect across the ballroom floor. Anna is not ugly, but is rather modest in her looks, but something about her appeals to Lucas. He pursues her very determinedly, and desperate to escape her situation, and swept off her feet by this handsome, sought-after duke, Anna quickly says yes to his proposal.
Anna was in a terrible situation that marriage to Lucas helped her to escape. But now she has to deal with a husband who thought she played him false. Boy that scene was pretty hot (that makes me feel kind of guilty to say that, but it was). Her prior situation keeps threatening to destroy her marriage, and she is counting down the time until it does. Poor Anna. You really feel for her, and you wish for her to open up to Lucas about her issues, but she's afraid to. And Lucas takes that to mean she's likely to be another faithless wife. It's a complicated situation, but Ms. Balogh writes it so well.
I love the books where the couple gets married early and has to get to know each other, and you watch their love grow over the course of the book. This marriage starts off a bit rocky, but I love how committed both of them are to the marriage. Lucas sowed his wild oats with other men's wives, but he is committed to fidelity with his own. That made me like him more (not the sleeping with other married women before his marriage, but his willingness to be faithful to Anna). He's a great reformed rake. Very arrogant and commanding as a duke is wont to be. They are raised for it. Sigh! Lucas--the best duke ever written in romance novels.
It's probably pretty clear that this is still my favorite Mary Balogh novel. I hope she writes more like this. If you know of some that are similar, please let me know.
Lucas is such a great dad. I love how he's always carrying around his baby daughter. Something about daddy heroes for me. Those are my favorite scenes in the book.
This is a book that could be reread many times and I doubt it would get old.
Update: When I went home for Christmas, I saw that my mother had found my copy of this wonderful book. I was so happy. It was like another Christmas present! (less)
This book was incredible. I love the premise of a race of humans who can transform into dragons (or vice versa). Christoff was a sexy, dangerous hero...moreThis book was incredible. I love the premise of a race of humans who can transform into dragons (or vice versa). Christoff was a sexy, dangerous hero who stakes his claim on his Smoke Thief Clarissa right away. What a vivid, wonderful book.(less)
This was a very enjoyable reading experience! I especially appreciate how much they just talked to each other and got to know each other at the beginn...moreThis was a very enjoyable reading experience! I especially appreciate how much they just talked to each other and got to know each other at the beginning. I miss that in romances. Constant is a wonderful heroine, and it was great for Kameron to realize how much he didn't deserve her, despite the fact she loved him dearly. The story is quite interesting, but a twisty-turny path to happy ever after. I recommend it.
I quite enjoyed this book. Andrew is the type of hero I wish I saw more in romances. He's a complete nerd and a bit of a mad-scientist inventor thrown...moreI quite enjoyed this book. Andrew is the type of hero I wish I saw more in romances. He's a complete nerd and a bit of a mad-scientist inventor thrown in. He's a hot nerd, though, with a very sexy body and beautiful reddish hair. He sounded very very yummy to me, anyway. I loved the fiery chemistry between Andrew and Celsie. At first they thought it was mutual dislike but it turned out to be the beginning of a deep love. Although superficially they are different, there was a meeting of the minds, and a mutual respect that I believe a couple should have. I like that they were both misfits and felt like they would never be understood or accepted by society, although for different reasons.
Celsie is a tall, slender woman who feels like she's not very attractive, but Andrew definitely found her attractive from the beginning. Celsie supported Andrew's desire to invent, and Andrew supported Celsie's crusade to protect animals that few care about, such as cart horses, and dogs used to turn the spits that meat is roasted on. I could see some of myself in both of them. I am a bleeding heart and I love animals, and hate their unnecessary suffering. I am also a bit of a nerd who can get lost in the things running around my brain, like Andrew. Andrew's deep dark secret was a bit odd. I felt like more time could have been spent on wrapping that up. I don't want to spoil anyone so I won't go into detail about that.
Loved the aphrodesiac storyline. Imagine jumping someone's bones like Celsie did Andrew. That was funny and steamy. I loved glimpses of Lucian, the Duke of Blackheath, who schemes and connives to get his younger siblings married and settled. He's a great character, and I fell in love with him when I read The Wicked One, which is his book and the last in the series. It's interesting to see how things work out in this to start his relationship with Eva. They are definitely a match made in Heaven, or perhaps a place south of there.
I loved the Georgian setting, which is like Regency but a lot more wild and free-wheeling. Part of me wishes this book was about fifty pages longer so we could delve deeper into Andrew's abilities/curse, whatever you want to call it, and have a more leisurely climax. But overall, I am very happy with book and enjoyed it because it reminds me of the great historical romances I used to devour several years ago, and seem less in the offering recently. (less)
Nigel is not really a good guy. He deceives Cassandra and takes advantage of her to get her to marry him. He spends the rest of the book proving that...moreNigel is not really a good guy. He deceives Cassandra and takes advantage of her to get her to marry him. He spends the rest of the book proving that he can be a good husband to her. It was a really good book. Great secondary romance involving Nigel's right-handman, who is quite intimidating.(less)
Well. I wrote a review, but it never got posted. Let's try this again.
This is a romance book, but it is also a book about choices and sacrifice. At le...moreWell. I wrote a review, but it never got posted. Let's try this again.
This is a romance book, but it is also a book about choices and sacrifice. At least three of the characters in this book had to make choices and sacrifices that destroyed their reputations and their credibility to achieve a goal. As this book begins, I saw Charlotte on the crux of changing her life irrevocably. And it only gets more hairy. I asked myself why it bothered me that she was going to do what she did. Should I have worried so much about that. Reputation is important, but is it that important to me that I truly regretted what Charlotte did, even knowing why. I was involved in this story, but not necessarily in a good way at some places. I guess that's makes a book successful for me. When I read this book, I wasn't just marking time. I was feeling a lot, and suffering along with Charlotte. She showed courage, and that courage translated to me as I read. I don't look at fiction books as a guide for behavior, but I do believe that almost every book I read has some gem that I can ponder and let it help me in some way. That might sound strange to most people, but not to me. It is rarely a literal thing. Most often, it is an encouragement in my own walk of life. From this book, I took the idea that I had to take advantage of the adversity I face to let it build me up instead of tearing me down. That courage is not being unafraid or uncertain. Courage is doing in the face of that fear. And the fears are many in life. If we let one fear overtake us, we will fall beneath so many. It's a domino effect. The reasons don't have to translate directly to my life. But deep down, that human experience always does.
As far as the romance, I felt the potency of it. Charlotte and Dand, both seemingly hardened to such a thing, found love together. A common goal brought them into each other's sphere, and love found its way into both of their hearts. I like to think that a mutual respect was the foundation to that love. When others around them saw little but the facade they projected, they looked deeper and saw the whys and not the whats. Considering the path that their lives had been forced into by circumstance, that was a rewarding thing in this book.
Overall, although I didn't like some of the aspects of this story (It has me wincing emotionally in parts), I loved the romance between Charlotte and Dand, and I loved their characters, and their willingness to sacrifice so much for doing the right thing. That's the core of this book, and that's what calls to me as a reader. So I count this as a well-written, enjoyable read.(less)
I started this book a while ago, and put it down for several months. It was really good when I started reading it, but I am a mood reader so it wasn't...more
I started this book a while ago, and put it down for several months. It was really good when I started reading it, but I am a mood reader so it wasn't fitting my mood. I finished it yesterday and I was ready to read it then. Agnes Mackenzie is a heroine after my heart. She has purpose and drive, but also a heart. She can be ruthless when needed, but for the best reasons. She is tough and a warrior. I wish there were more genuine women warriors in romance. I also liked the hero, Edward. He is a scientist and a thinker, but also a man of action. Both characters embody elements that I love about Scottish people: passion, pragmatism, loyalty to the end, and love of family. The love scenes come late in the book, but they are well written and emotional. You want this couple to be together, and I loved that Edward supported Agnes's mission and was willing to change his own life to be with her and to help her fulfill her mission. I highly recommend this older romance for a reader who likes Scottish romances, strong heroines, sexy, cerebral heroes, and a good bit of adventure thrown in. This is part of the Clan Mackenzie series which starts with Highland Rogue, and is followed by Betrayed, if you like to read books in order.(less)
It was great spending Christmas with the Mallorens and family. I loved the descriptions of English traditional Christmas celebrations. There is someth...moreIt was great spending Christmas with the Mallorens and family. I loved the descriptions of English traditional Christmas celebrations. There is something very enthusiastic and dashing about Georgian England. It lacks the stifled air of the Regency period, often steeped in hypocrisy in that people in the ton did what they wanted, they just pretended they didn't. With the Georgian period, people were a lot more freewheeling. That's not to say there weren't boundaries that one didn't cross. And Ashart was rather good about that last part, a cultivated rake from a young age.
At first, I didn't care much for Ashart. He was arrogant and kind of rude. I could see why Genova thought he was attractive, because he was dashing and masculine. But, I wasn't sure about his suitability as a romantic hero. He didn't move me just yet. Somehow that started to change. Genova got to know Ash better during their impromptu engagement after being caught in a compromising position. I begin to see that Ash was rather sad. His grandmother had raised him and fed him on the milk of vitrol, aching to get her vengeance on the Mallorens for her daughter (the Marquess of Rothgar)'s sad demise. She poured most of the Trayce's funds and all her energies into doing so, and did her best to corrupt Ash. The good thing is, she didn't really succeed. Deep down, Ash was a good guy. He began to see that making peace with the Marquess of Rothgar was the right way to go. They were actually first cousins, and not all that different. In fact, Rothgar was to be admired.
As much as I liked the romance, I really enjoyed the dynamic between Ash and Rothgar. In fact, Rothgar almost stole the show from Ash. I have been reading this series out of order, you see. I've only read Something Wicked, Elf and Walgrave's story, and I got a tantalizing glimpse into Rothgar, more as a stern, dangerous to his enemies, and wickedly manipulative and cunning older brother to Elfred. In this story, he is more relaxed (newly married to Diana, Lady Arradale), at peace with himself, and it spurs him to settle an old feud that has some valid roots, depending on who's looking. But, the cost has been too high, and it's Christmas time. He wants his family reunited, with pax ruling throughout.
This story was short, but it has some depth to it. It's a suprisingly complex mix of romance, family interactions, and a very good Christmas story. Ash has to figure out why his ex-lover dumped a baby on him that she claims is his, but couldn't possibly be of his blood, and deal with his nearly life-long enemy in Rothgar, or sue for peace. And then there is the inconvenient attraction to a young woman who he can't have without marriage, and he needs to marry a substantial heiress (which Genova isn't). Genova is determined to make Ash accept responsibility for his offspring, reconcile her duties as companion to his quirky, elderly aunts, and enter the lion's den of the powerful Malloren family. On top of that is the compellingly intense feelings for Ash.
Jo Beverley has a way with words. She doesn't write romance quite like anyone else. Her books aren't for all tastes, but I love the feel of her books, like I'm there in the past. She captures the passion of the characters, in more ways than one. When Ash and Genova come together, you can see the sparks and feel the burning desire between them, and the way love wraps itself around their hearts and entwines them together.
This was a very very enjoyable reading experience, and it was almost five stars, but the ending was a bit abrupt for me, although I did like the resolution of Ash and Genova's issues.
Some of my favorite aspects:
*Rothgar, Ash, and Genova bonding over their fascination with clockworks. (I know it sounds boring but it wasn't) *Genova's presepe, which is an Italian Nativity. I liked how Ms. Beverley used this as a metaphor to show Genova's longing for family and the stability of her own home. Her father was in the Navy, and she and her mother traveled all around the world with him. Setting up the presepe was a tradition every Christmas, and each year another animal was added. When her mother passed away, and her father remarried, his wife didn't want it in her house, calling it 'shabby'. It broke Genova's heart, and she knew she wasn't going to be a part of her father's new family. When she goes to stay with her friends, the Trayce aunts for Christmas, she takes the presepe with her, essentially wandering with all that is left of her family, hoping to find a new, safe home for herself. The part in which she sets up the presepe at the Malloren Christmas festivities (and everyone is delighted with it) brought a tear to my eye (I've already admitted to my sappy nature). We have our own Nativity at home, set up with pride in a place of honor on a table in our living room. *All the kisses and sensual moments were well done. Very good chemistry. *Fun Christmas festivities, with lively explanations of their roots. Just what I need to keep me in the Christmas spirit. *Seeing the Mallorens again. Reminds me to get back into this series.
Definitely a fun read, and more than worthy of a rating of 4.5/5.0 stars.
**spoiler alert** First of all, I want to thank Emery Lee for the opportunity to read her book. This was not a typical read for me, since I don't tend...more**spoiler alert** First of all, I want to thank Emery Lee for the opportunity to read her book. This was not a typical read for me, since I don't tend to read a lot of historical fiction that is not romance. The Highest Stakes was a good stepping stone for me into the historical fiction genre, with a good, strong love story for my romance-loving palate.
I have to confess I did not grow up with horses. I actually never really had contact with them until I was in college. So, I became a equine aficionado later in my life. Without a doubt, The Highest Stakes is a book for horse-lovers. It is very clear that Ms. Lee loves, understands, and respects horses; and is very much an equestrienne. I appreciate the detail that she put into describing people firmly immersed in horse culture, and in giving this horse-racing novice a crash course into the horse-racing industry. Now, don't expect me to be down at the horse tracks every weekend. That's not going to happen. But I must say, I have a lot more respect for what goes into horse-racing. I am just as much a horse-lover as I ever was, maybe a little more after this book. In fact, I loved reading about the details of equine husbandry. I can certainly see how it becomes an obsession that can drive people in many ways, like it did with the three main characters in this story: Robert, Charlotte, and Philip.
On top of the foundation of horse-racing, this is a story about human nature: the dark sides, and the fundamental urges within people that drive them to achieve what they want most in life. For Robert and Charlotte, they just wanted each other. A mutual love of horses was their intial connection, and a great love blossomed between them from that starting point. Their road to happiness was a very crooked, even heartbreaking path. Many times, I felt like I was being twisted into painful knots as I read about all the troubles that this couple faced. I wanted to keep reading, crossing my fingers that things would work out; and at times, I was afraid to read one more page, for fear that their love would be driven past the point of survival. Fate seemed against them at many turns, although there was also a providential guiding hand that kept them working and striving towards their future together. I came to love and respect them both very deeply. I respect Ms. Lee that she was not afraid to put this couple through so much over the course of this book, even if it didn't always make for comfortable reading for me.
Philip was by far the most complex character. I must confess I still don't quite have him figured out. He manages to be a very self-serving person, but at the same time, he has a core of honor. Towards the end of the book, I really wanted to hate him, but I found I could not, because he was such a fascinating person, and truly did want to be a good man. He made some wrong decisions that really hurt two people that he cared about. At the same time, he played an important role in their destinies, and in some ways, helped to drive them to achieve the successes they obtained in the horsebreeding fields. One thing was for certain, he came very close to stealing the show, despite the fact that I really loved Robert and Charlotte's characters.
The writing was very good. Ms. Lee firmly establishes the Georgian period, and she doesn't have to spend a lot of detail describing what the characters wore, or what their houses looked like. Instead, she weaves in a time table of important events that occur in the background of this story, and which involve Robert and Phillip to no small extent. It felt very authentic, yet she always kept this book readable. To be honest, I am not sure that this book would appeal to readers who have no interest in horses. But that's okay. I am glad that Ms. Lee wrote a book about a subject that she clearly has a lot of passion for, and did it well; for her passion for horses is quite infectious to those who have the slightest inclination in that direction.
Quite frankly, this book came very close to being a five star book. I think that for readers who don't mind some very complicated obstacles between the hero and heroine, it probably would be a five star book. Unfortunately, I just don't like when the hero and heroine are together while they are married to other people. I really regretted that Robert and Charlotte's first time together occurs after she is forced to marry Philip. I can see that this was a realistic choice for Ms. Lee to make in plotting her story, but it just left a bad taste in my mouth. I would have preferred for Robert and Charlotte's happy ending to be unmarred by this. I freely admit that adultery is my huge pet peeve and it's hard to get past that when I am reading a romantic story. Despite that fact, I cheered on the couple for being able to get their happy ending. My other issue was that I found the ending to be a little abrupt. I was very glad to see Robert and Charlotte to achieve many of their life goals, but I would have preferred to see a little more page time spent on their reunion and how they dealt with Phillip. I did like the letter. It was a nice, and very fitting way for some of the denouement to be incorporated into the story.
The Highest Stakes was an excellent book. I was emotionally and intellectually involved with this story. It is very clear that Ms. Lee put a lot of heart and soul into this book, making for a great reading experience. Highly recommended to horse-lovers, fans of historical fiction, and those who love a good star-crossed romance.
This is a book that would probably not get published today because of the un-PC content. There is a (in my opinion) fairly violent rape scene, because...moreThis is a book that would probably not get published today because of the un-PC content. There is a (in my opinion) fairly violent rape scene, because the heroine was being flirty and the hero didn't like it, and because he thinks she is a spy for her native French countrymen, which are his enemies. I cringe when I think about it.
I enjoyed this book as a fiction book because it's really a great adventure book, and it really immerses you in the history of that time. It's been so long since I read it, so I'm not sure it's a great romance, from what I remember. I think it's more of a saga in which you see a spoiled young woman go through some really tough circumstances and mature into a woman who can take care of herself, no matter what life throws at her. Because I love reading about different parts of the world in a fiction setting, this book also found favor with its vivid descriptions of traveling/living aboard ship and on the various Caribbean islands. The villain (who is the heroine's stepbrother and is completely lusting after her the whole book) was memorable and I felt a little sympathy for him in some parts, although at the same time he deserved what he got.
I don't think I liked the hero very much (probably because of his actions toward the heroine), and the fact that they spend a good amount of time apart.
So I give this a higher rating because it was a very interesting historical book. The romance wasn't the highlight in this one.(less)
This was quite good. I loved the historical details, and the mystery was very interesting, with some distinct elements I haven't encountered in anothe...moreThis was quite good. I loved the historical details, and the mystery was very interesting, with some distinct elements I haven't encountered in another mystery book thus far. Mrs. Westerman and Mr. Crowther are a good combination. Also liked Jocasta, Sam, and Boyo. Recommended to fans of historical fiction and mystery.
I found the world that Mary Jo Putney created in this book to be very imaginative and unique. I loved the unicorn aspects, since I have been an avowed...moreI found the world that Mary Jo Putney created in this book to be very imaginative and unique. I loved the unicorn aspects, since I have been an avowed unicorn admirer my whole life, and the fact that the hero of this book was also a virgin was great. In this universe, the Ton are Sorcerors and Sorceresses, and that was pretty interesting. Spells are everyday, common occurence, although some don't realize that magic is being used all the time.
Simon is the biggest strength of this book. I admired him tremendously. I really appreciate an honorable hero, and Simon is definitely that. It's nice to read about antiheroes, but I find that too many romance novel heroes are unprincipled, in either their dealings with women, or their life philosophy. As romance novel readers, we have come to accept heroes who sleep around and don't commit to women, because they are just waiting for the woman they love to change their ways. I don't mean to judge this, but I grow weary of it at times. Honor is a multi-faceted thing, and a lack of honor can show in many ways. I think rakes show a fundamental lack of honor, even though they may only sleep with women who "know the score." Simon is not like this at all. He is not perfect, but he really does care about doing the right thing. He takes his sense of responsibility very personally, even to the degree of offering to marry the heroine who's reputation has been harmed by their association, even though she easily could leave the Ton and build a life elsewhere without anyone knowing she has been "ruined."
So it really fitted Simon when a spell cast by an evil warlock turned him into a unicorn. In my mind, unicorns are synonymous with purity and nobility, and I don't mean being born a royal or peer nobility. I loved the scenes where he is in unicorn form, and finds himself irresistibly drawn to the heroine, who is a virgin, but is also his soulmate, although he doesn't know it.
Every scene that Simon was in sizzled and kept my attention. To me he is a one of a kind hero. The heroine, Meg, was interesting and likable, but she didn't really stand out to me from other heroines. The secondary characters were all very interesting, and you cared about them. The villain was a detestable piece of work that you despised.
I can't give this book five stars because the resolution fell a little flat for me. One of the major reasons was a pet peeve of mine. I am a big proponent of world building and establishing the rules in a fantasy or urban fantasy book. It's obligatory, just like writing a mystery must include introducing all the possible subjects before the killer is revealed. Ms. Putney did build a fantastic world and did lay down the rules of this world, but towards the end, she shifted gears in a way that felt very abrupt. All of a sudden, the worship of the earth as a Goddess became part of the mythology of this story, when initially it didn't seem as though this was the belief system of these sorcerors and sorceress. Initally the world was setup with characters who lived in a magical world, but seemed to follow a Judeo-Christian belief system (and she didn't make this clear that it was merely for show but they were in reality pagans. You really do believe they worship the Judeo-Christian God). Then all of a sudden, the origin of their magic and the root of their beliefs became more pagan. That was too jarring for me, and really got me off track as I read the climax of this book. So I can say that I enjoyed this book and found it to be a keeper, mainly for Simon's character, and for the innovative world that Ms. Putney built, I can't say it was exceptional. Very good, but not exceptional. So although I was a bit disappointed with this book, I would love to read the other books in this series at some point to see where she goes with this series. I do have to thank Ms. Putney for creating the wonderful Simon. (less)
Devil's Kiss is the first in the Hellraisers historical paranormal romance series by Zoe Archer, and she has created an interesting world and an intri...moreDevil's Kiss is the first in the Hellraisers historical paranormal romance series by Zoe Archer, and she has created an interesting world and an intriguing storyline that will keep me coming back to this series.
I loved how immersive this story was. I felt like I was in the Georgian period, where anything goes, if you have the money, power and status to make your own rules. With this background, the character have validity and their choices and motivations make sense. Whit is a hero that really sucked me in. He is not a good man, but he is a man that you want to be good, to make the right decisions in the end. I have to say that force of his personality pulled me right into this story. I found Whit very magnetic. Ms. Archer does an excellent joy of portraying the tug of war that Whit has between his good nature and his darker one. I don't think gambling was his vice in itself, but the desire to control fate and have power to manipulate fate and circumstances. Losing his family so young and becoming an Earl so early in his life gave him this vacuum inside, this feeling that he is being buffeted by fate, so that living on the knife's edge became the only valid lifestyle for himself. It's probable that he might have been a thrill-seeker, explorer or adventurer if he hadn't inherited his title. I found him quite fascinating as a character. I could see why Zora found him so irresistible and fell in love with him even though he's not a good man by any stretch. This aspect of the story, as well as the manner in which Archer establishes her story in the Georgian period reminds me of Anne Stuart, and that's always a good thing.
Zora was a great character. I loved her strong personality, her determination, her independent spirit, and that she doesn't give up on what is important to her. She always felt strange and disjointed in her Romani family and life, although she does value it. When the giorgo men show up in her camp, her eyes are drawn to Whit, and she can't look away. He compels her in a way no other man has. His obsession with her isn't one-sided at all. And she becomes the only means through which he can regain his soul back from the devil. Zora is a good woman, but she's also a vital, primal woman, not a plaster saint. It means that much more when she stands up for what is right when it is so easy to choose self and do what is wrong in the process.
When I read romance, I want the bond and the relationship between the characters to be meaningful, real, and deeply emotional. I felt all that with Whit and Zora. Although they share a very primal sexual attraction, there is also an intellectual connection, and an emotional bond. Zora could have walked away and left Whit to his fate, but she cared for him and wanted to help him get free from his devil's bargain; or she could have destroyed him when she realized that his actions might bring on the end of the world. But love kept her with him. As for Whit, although his actions towards Zora weren't honorable initially, he shows that she is very important to him, her love and her light keeps him grounded and gives him the strength to fight for his soul and to do the right thing. The love scenes are very sensual and well-written, and they fit very well into this intense story about dark passions and desires.
This series has gotten me hooked, probably from the first page. Ms. Archer promises to deliver forthcoming books that avoid being predictable, and where the main character could perhaps be the worst villain of all, if he chooses wrongly. I like that kind of risk-taking when I read a story, especially when it's well-written as Devil's Kiss is.
For this very enjoyable, well-written book, I have to give a rating of 4.5/5.0.