Definitely get out the Kleenex when you read this book, because it will make you cry. If you don't, then I think you're a more stoic person that I am!...moreDefinitely get out the Kleenex when you read this book, because it will make you cry. If you don't, then I think you're a more stoic person that I am!
I loved this story. It was a great pleasure to listen to it on audio, narrated by the author himself. He seems like a very interesting person to know and to talk with. All the heart of him, his soul, pain, laughter, confusion, and fire that he had in him when he wrote this story emanates from him as he narrates this novel, and I was along for the ride. I actually didn't want to get out of my car when I got home this afternoon, because I wanted to finish this novel. Fortunately, it was near the end when I got home. Even though I was happy to finish it, I wanted it to go on forever. I could easily listen to further adventures of Arnold Spirit.
On an intellectual level, I was aware of the disheartening conditions that Native Americans (or Indians as Arnold calls his people) face on many reservations in the United States, but hearing it first-hand, it struck home to me how hard that life is. It was hurtful to see that Arnold was raised not to reach for any goals, to believe that as an Indian, his future was a big, black void. That he was less than anything. I screamed, "No. No. No!" But I could understand why Arnold had to change his whole mindset and learn to hope and to believe. I think it brings home how blessed many of us Americans are. Sadly, we forget that not all Americans have even the simplest of things we take for granted, such as food to eat every day, more than one pair of clothes, a decent education (Arnold's Geometry textbook at the reservation school is thirty years old) and the ability to get to school without having to walk twenty miles. Not to mention the very short average life-span of a Spokane Indian due to the ravages of alcohol. I know what it's like to be a 'minority' in this country, and everything that comes with it, but I didn't know what it was like to be an Indian, and that was an excellent learning opportunity for me.
This book is very angsty, and it's also very funny. I felt like I was there with Arnold when he goes through his milestones and horrible tragedies. I cheered him on at his successes, and cried with him when he cried. I loved him. I still do. Arnold's a part of me now. He'll stay in my mind forever, even though I will move onto reading other books, and I'm glad for that.(less)
Oh my goodness. This is one of those that has a sappy romantic like myself sighing. A lonely, isolated man. A woman who 'has it together' or so it see...moreOh my goodness. This is one of those that has a sappy romantic like myself sighing. A lonely, isolated man. A woman who 'has it together' or so it seems, but is a wreck on the inside. And they find each other.
The Beauty and the Beast retelling doesn't get old for me. After all, I am a die-hard romantic and a die-hard fairy tale lover. Pepper Pace does both so well here. Yet, instead of the Beast being grumpy and surly, Christopher is the sweetest teddy bear (although he probably resembles a Grizzly bear) imaginable. I loved him!
Pace challenges the reader here. Our Beauty has a significant weight problem. And the weight problem isn't her issue, but the emotions underneath it, the ones that caused her weight issues, and the results of them. If you've ever been overweight, you know how it is for Ashleigh. The comments that hit like barbs, because someone thinks they have the right to say something or the fact that they are insensitive, because they've never struggled with weight problems. The assumptions made about you because of your weight.
On the other side, she doesn't make Ashleigh into a completely harmless victim. Ashleigh has some shallowness issues to work through. But that's the beauty of this story. She is able to see the beauty beneath the horrible scars and disfigurement that Christopher has. I truly loved the emotional connection between Christopher and Ashleigh. And there was also a very sensual component to this book, for romance readers who need that in their stories. Lots of spice and hot love scenes to go with an emotional love story that feels so authentic and timeless.
When I got to 38% on my Kindle and love declarations were made, I wondered what else could happen in this book. Well, plenty. This is a love story about not just two people finding each other, but also also finding their way to healing. Making a life together in spite of obstacles they both face.
When you read these kinds of stories, the stubborn person in you is determined to be upset if the problem is fixed, such as the heroine losing weight, or the hero getting his disfigurement repaired. But is that truly fair to the story for the characters not to go through that passage 'just because'? After all, it's easy to stay where you are. Even harder to take that step of faith to change something about yourself for the right reasons. In this case, the resolution made so much sense and only added to this story.
If I could change anything? That's a matter of personal tastes, and I'm sure many will disagree with me. However, I could have done without some of the graphic language in the love scenes. While they were scintillating and the chemistry powerful, I guess I didn't need to read certain terms when it came to body parts. That's a small quibble.
I'm personally no grammar stickler, but there were a couple issues there. I feel bad even pointing them out because a 100% accurate book doesn't necessarily tell a story that I love, like this somewhat imperfect one does. Overall, I found the writing very poised, professional, and so emotionally-stirring that I couldn't help but give this a five star rating.
This was a beautiful love story. That's kind of ironic, because this story is about how what's on the surface doesn't show you everything. That what is at the heart is worth fighting for in the end.
Highly recommended to romance readers who enjoy a more sensually descriptive love story, or just any old sap who can't resist a tried and true love story.(less)
This was a total impulse buy that paid off. I loved this book. It was one of those stories that I couldn't put down, and I was compelled to read, even...moreThis was a total impulse buy that paid off. I loved this book. It was one of those stories that I couldn't put down, and I was compelled to read, even though I had already started some other books. It couldn't believe how fast I read it, within about four to five hours.
I love medieval romances, so that helped. And I'm a sucker for the broken/scarred/hurt hero. Well, Roderick is all three. He comes back from the Crusades a broken man, although he had lots of baggage before he went there, with a father who did nothing but torment and treat him poorly and had driven his mother to suicide. Thankfully, his good friend that he makes during the Crusades saves his life and gets him medical attention, and the word that his father has died and he must find a bride to keep his land, gives him the strength to fight to get better and to come back to England.
There were times when Roderick descended into self-pity. I suppose this might not work for all readers, but it was realistic. If if a man had always been talked down to and ridiculed by his father, I wouldn't expect him to have the healthiest self-esteem. Yes, he might annoy some readers the way he pushes his son away and doesn't want to let Michaela in, but I loved Roderick from the first page. He's one of those heroes I really wanted to see happy. I could understand why he kept those he loved and who loved him at a distance, feeling he wasn't worthy and would fail them.
I adored Michaela as well. She had some moments of self-interest, but at the same time, I could see why she was motivated in such a fashion. She had been picked on her whole life because of her mother insisting that she had gotten kidnapped by The Wild Hunt. They called her Devil's Child and stuff like that. She was clumsy and tended to trip and run into things. Plus she grew up poor, although very much loved. One night at a party at her overlord's manor, she gets his attention by her bond with his daughter, Elizabeth, who hasn't talked since her mother died. Also her beautiful singing voice makes Michaela stand out. He invites her to come live with them as Elizabeth's companion. Because of this attention she gets from him, she fell in 'love' with her overlord, and he made some gestures like he was going to marry her, but married her arch-nemesis instead, humiliating her. So she decided to marry the Beast, who was the lord over the man who spurned her, a move motivated out of revenge against this man who spurned her, since he won't inherit the properties of Roderick, his cousin.
She goes to his rundown castle, determined to fulfill the required ninety days of residence before the marriage. When she finally sees The Beast, she is instantly attracted to him, scars, limping, and surly demeanor and all. She falls into his beautiful and bright green eyes, and likes his large, sculpted body, despite the fact that it's clear that his leg and arm are crippled. Their dance around each other made this book worth reading. There was an intense attraction between Roderick and Michaela that sparkled off the page. At times, Michaela was very much put into the role of the "Chaser," but it worked for me, because Roderick had never been loved in that way, so it was nice to see someone working for his affections. It was cute how Roderick was somewhat bewildered by his strong feelings for Michaela.
Another thing I loved was the toddler Leo. He was so cute. I just wanted to take him out this story as my own baby. I loved his baby talk, and how loving he was. As Roderick's acknowledged son by a prostitute in the Crusades, he had a big role, since he was Roderick's heir. Also, the interplay with Roderick as he tries to keep his distance out of fear of destroying his son the way his father destroyed him was pivotal in the evolution of this story. Just reading the scenes with this cute little boy made this book so much more enjoyable. I'm so serious. This kid was so adorable. I liked the way Michaela bonded with him and helped improve the relationship between Roderick and his son. Like any baby, Leo loved his father unconditionally, but was somewhat kept at a distance that was somewhat confusing for the toddler. I was glad that this changed significantly over the course of the book.
Hugh was also a great character. His steadfast friendship and aid to Roderick. His love and care for Leo. His flamboyant tastes in clothing. His potty mouth and irreverent humor. His bad advice to Michaela about how to snare Roderick's affections. It gave this book another appealing layer.
There is a thread of the paranormal that runs through this book that intensifies at the climax. I thought it was very interesting, and also unnerving. It was very cool. Now I have to read the short story in Highland Beast, which is about a character who shows up in this story.
I really, really liked this book,and I would highly recommend it to fans of scarred/wounded heroes,and heroines who are determined to get their man, but aren't obnoxious about it. I'm glad I was able to spend a few hours with Roderick, Michaela, cute little Leo, and Hugh, who made me laugh, and also choked me up with his devotion to Roderick. It was time well spent.(less)
Reading this book this week turned out to be a serendipitous thing. I needed a book like this in my life right now. I'm kind of homesick, overworked,...moreReading this book this week turned out to be a serendipitous thing. I needed a book like this in my life right now. I'm kind of homesick, overworked, stressed, and tired. And a great book really helps to lighten my load. There are things about this book that I loved that I could go hoarse trying to explain to someone who doesn't 'get' why people enjoy Diana Palmer's writing.
Every writer has a formula. Find me one who doesn't if you want to dispute this statement. Sometimes the formula is disguised as anti-formula, but it's still there, all right. I think some authors get lambasted much more than others for their formula. Heck, I've been reading Diana Palmer for about 20 years, maybe more. I will freely admit that she does have a formula. And my retort to a mean-spirited anti-Diana Palmer reader is, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." Why do I say that? Because she can write a book that can make me laugh, stir my emotions, turn on the heat, without being overly descriptive, blatantly sexual, or outside of pretty much any reader's sexual comfort zone, and make me cry or feel like I might cry, and I end the book happy that the couple found their happy ending together. Do I love all the elements in her books? No. But I can't say there is a writer in my list of favorites where I can say that I don't dislike some aspect of what they have included in a story. That's including my absolute faves (including Diana Palmer): Anne Stuart, Kresley Cole, JR Ward, Christina Dodd, Nalini Singh, Lisa Kleypas, Laura Kinsale, Sherrilyn Kenyon/Kinley MacGregor, Simon R. Green, Jim Butcher, Manly Wade Wellman, and many more.
If I were to weigh the things I don't like about Diana Palmer's writing against what I love, she'd still and does make my list.
What I don't love/like: --excessively hairy men --cigarette-smoking men --minimum of ten year age difference between hero and heroine --tendency for hero to be verbally abusive (but I can see why most of them are that way. She writes very tortured heroes who have a history of being betrayed by a woman in some way. The most verbally abusive ones had a bad experience with a mother, and that can really mess a person up. She does the 'I am mean because I don't want to be in love' hero very well, in my opinion. There are a couple that I felt were worthy of being brained to death with my titanium shovel that I keep handy for jerky heroes, but most of them, I can end the book feeling like they've made up for their bad behaviors.)
What I do love about her writing: --she can make laugh like crazy. She is such a funny writer. I love to laugh. You do the math. --she has wholesome characters (and is not afraid for them to have old-fashioned morals) --she tries to introduce information about different cultures (and peoples of different cultures) into her stories (although I wish she would have some Black characters move to Jacobsville). --she writes extremely poignant, emotional stories with characters I feel for and care about --even though her heroes can be mean at times, they do repent and show their remorse and go on to be very loving and caring to their heroines, and they are not physically abusive or sexually cruel --personally, her gentle heroines (often disparagingly called doormats) don't bother me. I like them. Some are more tolerant than others, but she has some pretty smart alecky heroines who can give tit for tat, and score some verbal darts to keep them neck for neck with the hero. Her heroines are usually very kind, and are often very tormented. I love a tortured hero (a lot), but I also appreciate a tormented heroine. I like to see her get the happiness she deserves at the end of the story. I like her heroines. They are really good women who don't always get the best shots in their life. They make lemonade out of lemons, and that's to be admired. --she's not afraid to write a virginal, less-experienced, or celibate hero, or a hero who might have a sexual dysfunction, for that matter. --personally I think she has tried to do different things with her writing. Yeah, the rare Diana Palmer hater out there who reads this review might disagree with that, but how many Diana Palmer books have you read to dispute this? I've lost count of how many of her books I've read.
Argh!! Why do I always have to go into Diana Palmer defense mode? I love her, and that's good enough for me. I think it's because I think she's a dear, sweet lady, and I just want to hug her. Her books have brought so much joy into my life for more than half of my time on this earth. Even when I cast my most critical eye on her books, I still love what she does, because she's such a good storyteller. It says something when an author can have similar storylines, but still engage a reader's interest and enjoyment. I can't say I love all her stories to the same degree (only one story got a C rating from me by this author), but I always enjoy reading them, and the time spent on them. And they stay on my keeper shelf.
Well, Woman Hater is an older book that somehow got past my Diana Palmer radar. Thank you, HMS, for bringing this one to my attention. I was lucky enough to find it on Amazon used for a decent price, and I bought it. I'm so glad I did. This story does have a hero who has a grudge against women. Yet surprisingly, although he blew hot and cold, he wasn't cruel to Nicole. At the most, he kept her at a safe distance, until his passion seemed to get out of control (which happened frequently). You could tell that he genuinely liked and respected her from the beginning. He was very sweet to her, and really wooed her very gently and showed her the adoration a hero should show to his heroine. When she needed him, he was there for her.
I enjoyed hearing about life on the ranch in Montana, the interactions between Winthrop and Nicole (great chemistry from the beginning), and the secondary characters. I wanted to be in Montana in the fall, during a bad blizzard, stuck in the ranch house with Winthrop, Nicole, his brother Gerald, and various other cast and characters. I was sitting at the car dealership this morning, laughing out loud, and not minding the long wait for my car. In fact, I was happy to wait because I had some actual reading time for this book. I admire how Ms. Palmer can write romances that are very genteel in their love scenes, but very sensuous at the same time. I don't know how she does it, but I do find her love scenes stirring (did I say that out loud?)
Nicole has some very troubling issues with her family. I felt really bad for her because of what happened with her mother and father. I had to give her props for walking away from what she did, gaining her independence, and her own life, and sticking to what was right. I don't know how you can call a woman who could do what she did a doormat or weak. I certainly don't. I liked how she came to terms with her father, who had a 'Peter Pan' syndrome like you wouldn't believe. She had to open her mind and heart to seeing that he wasn't the villain that she always thought he was.
I liked Winthrop. I think he was flawed in a very human, relatable manner. Like him, when I am hurt by people, I tend to withdraw into myself. I am not one to put myself out there to get hurt again and again, so I don't blame him for keeping women at a distance, when his love turned her back on him because of a potentially crippling injury. That would really destroy a person's pride and ability to trust. He saw Nicole working for his brother, and part of him fell in love with her then and there, although he couldn't admit it to himself. She never left his mind, and he was afraid to love her. But for all that, he did what needed to be done, and showed his love in a way that brought tears to my eyes.
Ah, this sap loves the romance of that kind of story. I had to give this to be a five star read because it was really enjoyable. I laughed, almost cried, felt for the characters, and I was so interested, I didn't want to put it down. If you can find this one, definitely give it a read. If you haven't read Diana Palmer, but you've heard really ugly things about her, don't let that dissuade you if you want to give her a try for yourself. No, she might not be everyone's cup of tea. And that's okay. However, I assert that Ms. Palmer has earned her fans' loyalty in her many years of writing. I'll speak for myself. She's definitely a woman who has my steadfast loyalty.(less)
The Twilight Before Christmas: Finally I have gotten to read Kate Drake's story. So that leaves me one more Drake sister book to complete (Dangerous Ti...moreThe Twilight Before Christmas: Finally I have gotten to read Kate Drake's story. So that leaves me one more Drake sister book to complete (Dangerous Tides--Libby's story). All in all, I found The Twilight Before Christmas to be a great story. I can't give it 5 stars, because it did drag a little in some parts. It's probably a 4.25 star story. What I liked about it: *Matt's adoration for Kate was very endearing. It was funny how he felt like he made a fool out of himself in front of her, and how she made this very physically-accomplished guy act clumsy and wreck three cars. I like that although he became enamored of her when she was fifteen and he was college age (I'm going to assume he was maybe 19 or 20), he didn't act on it, but left to her grow up. Plus he joined the military and Special Forces. Some might argue that this was just an infatuation, but the fact that he had these feelings for so many years suggests that this is not the case. When this book rolls around, Matt is in full hero-in-pursuit mode, although gentle and wooing about. Matt was a very nice guy. *The humor in this story was great (which I alluded to above). Poor Kate thought that Matt's brothers were laughing at her, because she always felt clumsy and inadequate around Matt in their interactions. They were really laughing at their brother, and how stone cold cupid-struck he was for Kate. This story had lots of other family interactions that made me laugh. Christine Feehan really is a funny lady, for all the angst and darkness in her stories. *Family and friends--always a good thing for this reader, although sometimes I get a little bored with some of the descriptions of various denizens of Sea Harbor. I like the Drake books best when they focus on the family and immediate friend interactions than talking about such and such and who did what around town. I felt a little cheated because we didn't really see too much Damon in this story. He's a cool character for me. What can I say? I love nerdy guys. And Damon, well, he's brilliant. Smart is sexy. So: I.Wanted.More.Damon! Loved seeing all the Drake sisters. What a cool bunch of women. Since I read Hidden Currents just before this book, it was nice to see the beginnings of the bond between Jackson and Elle. Sadly, no Ilya or Alexsandr :( I love me some Jonas, and he's in this one a lot. You can tell he has it bad for Hannah. *Very cool gothic, scary, creepy angle. The ghostly villain, shall we say, reminded me of the creepy Old Man from Poltergeist II. It goes without saying that it was a bit scary in moments since I refuse to watch that movie since I saw it the first time. The backstory behind the haunting was very interesting, and Ms. Feehan utilized it very well to tell us a little about the history of Sea Harbor and a bit about the Drake ancestors who settled in this seaside town. The scary parts probably dragged out a little too long for me, but overall, I enjoyed it. *Kate and Matt--Although I could see where Kate was coming from with her fears that she was a mis-match for Matt, the man was clearly in love with her and adored her. Say yes already! I doubt the man was going to change his mind after being in love with her for what I estimate is over ten years. So that part was a bit frustrating for me. Great love scenes (as usual).
All in all, a nice story, and just right for this time of year. I liked the message about religious tolerance and the fact that we can all be united in some way, even if we don't share the same beliefs.
After the Music: After the Music was the second story in this volume. I loved it. Music is in my heart, and I am definitely getting the impression that Ms. Feehan is a big music fan. She really seems to get the power of it, and how it can consume a person, and how great it is when someone is gifted to bring music to life in a wonderful way.
This has a very prominent gothic theme to it. I'm not a big fan of romance stories where accidents happen and you spend the whole story trying to guess who the culprit is. But I think this one was well-done. By and large, I enjoyed the time spent sifting through the clues and trying to figure out who the villain was, and discarding suspects. It got a little frustrating when the mystery plot seemed to be a frequent cause of coitus interruptus in this story. As frustrated as this made me, I'm sure that it was worse for Dillon and Jess. Although I liked that there wasn't insta-sex in this story, and there were actually plenty of love scenes, especially for a short story. My one issue is that the kids were in the house and they knew what they were up to. Okay, I admit I'm a prude about such things (when it comes to unmarried couples)!
This story has some really dark elements in it. Dillon is a widower who lost his wife after she was shot with her lover, on a night in which their house burned down and killed seven others. Dillon was accused of the crime, tried, and acquitted. The worse part is all the people who died (including Dillon's wife) were involved in Satanic worship, drugs, and sexual orgies, and the ringleader actually grabbed Jessica and tried to use her as a sacrifice. Whew! What was really hard for me is to understand that all this was going on with kids in the house. I'm very particular about kids and what they should be exposed to. I admit I don't have any, but I do feel that kids should be protected from stuff like this. Dillon carries a lot of guilt because he felt he should have intervened more when his wife started this downward slide into addiction and dark religious practices and sex with other men. He was too busy traveling and performing and making music. Compounding his guilt was his fascination/fixation/love for Jess while he was married, which I want to make clear that HE NEVER ACTED ON THAT. They were really good friends, and they bonded in their mutual love for music and the kids.
Dillon is a bit on the tortured side, but it's not dragged out or annoying in how it's executed. He had been scarred horribly by the fire that happened eight years ago, which took his family (Jess and the kids away). He had some long years of recovering, and he has lost some of his dexterity in playing instruments, but decided to compose and sing when some of the old bandmates convince him to make another record to reinvigorate their careers. So the bandmates are in the house, along with Brenda (his dead wife's sister), and her husband. You have to decide which one of them is perpetuating the accidents that endanger the twins and Jess.
Dillon and Jess are one of those couples I really wanted to see together, which is why the coitus interruptus kept bothering me. And also why I could get pass the fact that they were having their interludes with young, impressionable kids in the house (thirteen year old twins.) I was rooting for things to work out for them because they were such a good couple and so in love. I think they were soulmates.
I won't keep blabbing on and on, since this is a short story. I liked the execution of this one, and the whole paranormal element was good. As I said earlier, I loved the music elements. Both Dillon and Jess are very talented musicians, which you get to see in this story. I thought the kids were fun and interesting. Their dialog seemed likely for kids that might be on the intelligent, more mature side. Jess and her mom did a great job raising them, because they were good kids. I liked how the bonds were rebuilt between Dillon and his kids. Although the gothic mystery romance genre is not my favorite (with a few exceptions, including Jane Eyre, and most books by Anne Stuart), I really enjoyed this one. I'd give After the Music five stars.
So my total rating for this collection is: 4.75 . It would have been higher if The Twilight Before Christmas didn't have the draggy parts. (less)
This is a truly lovely romance story about two scarred people who find each other. There are parts that made me so sad to think about how Gillian was...moreThis is a truly lovely romance story about two scarred people who find each other. There are parts that made me so sad to think about how Gillian was treated by her family. I was pretty curious to see how Ms. Kurland would handle a blind hero in a medieval romance. Think about it. How difficult that would be for a blinded knight? How could he run his keep, and keep what he earned by blood and sweat, in a world where might means right? I think she did a great job of dealing with the blindness issue. There's a part that is very realistic, although those who dislike heroes who are not 100% physically capable probably won't like it. But it made sense the way things happen.
I thought the emotion and love between Gillian and Christopher was so touching and poignant. The power of it transcended the words on the paper and went right to my heart. There are no love scenes in this book. And to be honest, they are not necessary. Yes, I love a good love scene, but a book that has a powerful love story doesn't need one.
This book was also good for the way you see scared, shy Gillian grow into a strong, beautiful woman. She was described as being unattractive, but part of it was because of her lack of self-esteem and belief that she was unworthy. There is no magical makeover. You see Gillian's inner beauty bloom as she is carefully tended and loved by Christopher. It brought tears to my eyes.
Christopher is a wonderful hero, thoughtful, intelligent, kind, and strong. He's been in a funk because of his loss of vision, but you don't hold that against him. It's perfectly understandable.
The humor was the perfect balance to the often dark subject matter. Colin, who has his own story in From This Moment On, is Christopher's best friend and companion. Christopher always knows when Colin is around because he can smell him. Colin's not too fond of bathing, so he has a characteristic odor. Despite my being a stickler for good personal hygiene, Colin won me over for his kind heart behind a gruff exterior. I loved his back-handed matchmaking for Gillian and Christopher.
This was a great medieval romance. Highly recommended.
This was a very atypical romance. Larence is not the alpha male, brash, arrogant, brawny type hero. He's a virginal nerd who has a bad limp. I loved h...moreThis was a very atypical romance. Larence is not the alpha male, brash, arrogant, brawny type hero. He's a virginal nerd who has a bad limp. I loved him to death. He was the most wonderful man who believed in dreams and had his head in the clouds. He had a heart as big as Texas, which he did a terrible job of protecting. He was brilliant and cerebral, and had the traits of those kinds of people, being somewhat forgetful and oblivious at times. He was so adorable to me.
He was the only man who could have cracked the shell that hard as nails Emmaline had around her heart. She grew up poor and would do just about anything to prevent going back to that. She had no problem sleeping with men if that would advance her career endeavors. She would sleep with business clients to get secrets she could use to make more money on the stock market. Although she wasn't what you'd consider a typical woman for the Victorian period, she was realistic to me. There have always been women who lived outside of the expectations that were established for them in society. I didn't want to like her for the above reasons, but she grew on me. I fell in love with her because Larence fell for her.
This unlikely couple go out into the New Mexico wilderness to search for the famed city of Cibola. I love those kinds of stories, and teamed with this beautiful love story, this book was irresistible for me.
If you like atypical heroes and heroines, and can enjoy a beta hero who wears his heart on his sleeve and doesn't let go of his dreams, you'll love The Enchantment.(less)
This is a beautiful and very underrated romance novel. I fell in love with the story from the first page. This was my first read by Emma Jensen, who d...moreThis is a beautiful and very underrated romance novel. I fell in love with the story from the first page. This was my first read by Emma Jensen, who doesn't write anymore. I could not be more saddened by that fact. A great talent has been lost to the literary world.
Entwined is the story of the relationship between Isobel, who is a tall, ungainly spinster with carrot red hair, and an unfashionably curvaceous body, and Nathan, Duke of Oriel, who was badly injured in the midst of his spy work for the government. He is now scarred and blinded. Instead of Nathan being a mean, embittered jerk as a result, he is a very wonderful man. He realizes very quickly what a jewel that Isobel is (in fact, he runs into her when she goes into his office to return money her drunken father stole, and is very captivated by her womanly physique). Although he hires her initially as his secretary and personal assistant (she is the only one who knows he's blind), he offers her marriage very soon afterwards. It was easy to fall in love with both of these characters because of their good hearts and unique personalities.
I have a weakness for less-than-perfect characters, so I was so glad that this book was listed on the All About Romance Special Title Listing for Beauty is in the Eye and also Less Than Perfect. I made a note to grab this at the used bookstore, and I am so glad I did. If you are a reader who loves a good marriage of convenience book where two people come together for a common purpose, and initially are not in love, but fall deeply for each other and find togetherness and a wonderful future, you would love this book. There are no big misunderstandings or foolishness. There is a spy plot, but the relationship between Nathan and Isobel is what captured and kept my interest. They face the world as a team, and it's so wonderful how deeply Nathan and Isobel care for each other and take care of each other. The term 'help-mate' is wonderfully exemplified by this couple in this novel.
It's been a while since I read this book (and I really should pull it out for a reread), but I really love this story, and I consider it a favorite out of the many historical romances I've read. It might be hard to find, but it is definitely worth the read.(less)
The Hand-Me Down Family was my first foray into Christian romance in a long time. I was excited to read this one, because I've enjoyed books by Winnie...moreThe Hand-Me Down Family was my first foray into Christian romance in a long time. I was excited to read this one, because I've enjoyed books by Winnie Griggs in the past. In addition, I am a big enthusiast of marriage of convenience storylines.
All and all, this was a pleasant read. I did have some moments where I felt like things were moving at a sluggish pace. Also I had issues with how the spiritual messages seemed to be somewhat cut and pasted in. What I mean by this is, I felt like Ms. Griggs was motivated to stick in passages where the characters were praying or recalling Bible scriptures. This could be due to my time away from Christian romance, and being unused to this motive of including spiritual content into the message.
I am not a big fan of overt preachiness or what I call PSA's (Public Service Announcements) in a fictional story. I think that the moral and a message should be neatly integrated into the story, and spread throughout, much like one would put a small amount of salt in cookie dough to give it that piquancy to balance out the sugar. The reader can then ponder the story and delve through to get the message out as they enjoy the narrative.
In this story, I felt that the spiritual aspects might have been a little too blatant. Again, I have to admit that this is coming from a person who reads very little Christian fiction (although I would like to read more that is good and entertaining and has a good underlying message). Thus, I can't judge Ms. Griggs, and probably need to read more of the Love Inspired and other Christian romances in my tbr pile to get a feel for how this is done.
My disappointment with the lack of subtlety in the spiritual aspects was balanced out by my interest and attraction to the characters and the sense of inadequacy that they struggle with. Callie has a disfiguring mark on her cheek, a port-wine birthmark. She is very self-conscious about it, and wears bonnets all the time to keep it concealed. My heart went out to her. It is very difficult to be different, especially if your differences are overt and obvious. In my opinion, she seems to overcompensate by trying to be a good Christian and to be perfect in every other way. Her marrying Leland and taking on his young daughter is part of her do-good complex. At some points, it made her come off as being self-righteous. As a committed Christian, it is a tough road to walk, because you do have to hold yourself to a different standard, and your choices reflect your beliefs. Callie definitely showed a deep faith in God, but she seemed to spend time trying to get Jack to do things to express his faith for the benefit of the children they were raising together. I found this frustrating. Everyone's walk is different, and it bothered me on a personal level that she was somehow forcing her beliefs on how a Christian should act on Jack. I do agree that the parents serve as spiritual role models for kids, but it seemed kind of hypocritical to force Jack to act in a way that wasn't true to who he was. I think all of us believers have been in situations where we were the 'less spiritual' person and we've been nudged and lectured by the 'more spiritual' people in the church or group. It's not a good feeling, and it can cause people to stay away from the church or groups to avoid that feeling of pressure and inadequacy. Which brings me to Jack.
Jack has always lived in his older, 'better' brother's shadow. He got all of Leland's hand-me downs, and now it looks like he'll have to take on Leland's responsibilities by marrying his by-proxy wife and taking care of his young daughter, along with the two children of his sister and her husband, since all three adults perished in the same fire. He wants to do right by the children, but at the same time, he regrets having to leave behind the independent life he has made for himself, with his own business and a good name unassociated with his family. He is very insecure about his place in the world in comparision to his brother, and it manifests in his behavior. I had trouble with this part, but his feelings of coming short and his resentment about it, combined with his feelings that God didn't answer his prayers to help him to matter as much as his brother, cause him to turn his back on his faith. He doesn't stop believing, but he has a very separate relationship to God. He adopts a 'God helps those who help themselves philosophy' and doesn't pray or go to church. I struggled with this concept, but then I came to the realization that believers can tend to blame God for not coming through in ways that we may think He should, but with maturity, we realize that God was listening, but He just knew better than us, and that's why He didn't give us what we wanted. And eventually we come to thank Him for how He does answer our prayers.
I liked the aspect of this book in which Jack's feeling of not measuring up enables him to see and to understand Callie's insecurity about her birthmark. From the beginning, he shows that her birthmark doesn't bother him and encourages her to show her true face to the world. He was withdrawn in some ways, because of his fears of not measuring up and wanting to stay uninvolved, but at the same time, he was a very sensitive and caring person, and showed very good fatherly traits in how he interacted with the kids.
Some of the parts in which Callie is treated less than kindly because of her birthmark just about broke my heart. The intolerance that people can show is very sad. Even Simon, who is one of the orphaned children, says some pretty ugly things about her birthmark and makes Callie cry in a scene that is very heart-wrenching. I liked how Jack supported her and stood up for her and always made her feel beautiful and worthy.
There is also a retired schoolteacher, Mrs. Mayweather, who serves as a source of strength to the floundering couple. It is her suggestion that they marry to take care of the children, and she gives encouragement them to get past their issues in ways that are sometimes on the underhanded side. For instance, she makes Callie have to take her bonnet off in front of all the women to put on a strand of pearls that she gives the bride to wear on her wedding day. At first, I thought that was pretty mean, but I could see why she did that. She didn't want Callie to be ashamed for what she couldn't change about herself, and to hide it from the town so that they would accept and like her. That made a lot of sense to both Callie and myself after the fact. She also tells Jack some things he needs to hear and gives him nudges when necessary. She really ends up being a very important character in this story in the way she aids both Callie and Jack in their emotional growth and their coming together as a couple.
I feel that the romance part could have been a little more developed. As a Christian romance, I didn't expect any lovemaking or sensuality, but I was surprised that the only interaction that we get to see is a brief kiss that is barely described. I was thinking that more could be shown and not stray from being a sweet romance. I am a big believer that chemistry in a romance novel doesn't have to be tied to the bedroom. There can be a strong attraction shown in every interaction between the couple. I didn't really feel that big of an attraction between Jack and Callie, other than their respect and caring for each other. Although we do get to see Callie and Jack spending time together, more of the time is devoted to discussing the kids and issues with the family, and less getting to know each other on a personal level.
I was glad I got the opportunity to read this book, and it was a moving read for me. I had a few issues that I felt kept it from being a favorite of mine, but I would consider it a keeper for the good message, the well-drawn characters, and the poignancy of seeing Jack and Callie deal with their issues of lack of self-worth and worthiness in the world. It was definitely a worthwhile read.
I loved this book. I had heard many criticisms about it not being as good as the others, and Phury not being as fleshed out. I have to say that I have...moreI loved this book. I had heard many criticisms about it not being as good as the others, and Phury not being as fleshed out. I have to say that I have a real understanding of Phury now. His torment is very much internal and revolves around his sense of failure, his not being able to "get there on time", as my mother so wisely said as we discussed the book last night at dinner. He failed in helping his parents, he failed in getting his brother back faster. Boy does he have a whopping case of Survivor's Guilt.
I went through the whole gamut of emotions as I read this book: anger, sadness, joy, rage, helplessness, you name it. I was right there next to Phury every step of the way. And most of all, I felt his isolation. I firmly believe that he is the least understood of the brothers, and in some ways has been given less understanding. I would never justify drug abuse, but pretty much all the Brothers, possibly excepting Wrath, have had some pretty destructive habits.
I hurt for him when he was kicked out of the Brotherhood, but at the same time, I knew it was for the best. He could not grow if he didn't leave that safety net behind. And in my understanding of addiction, you cannot enable the addicted person. Zsadist said some harsh things to Phury, and maybe they needed to be said, and at the same time, I am so glad that Phury confronted him on never saying thanks. It needed to be said. Phury has been in a vicious cycle, as my sister said. He always feels the need to play the Knight in Shining Armor, yet continually goes without having his own needs met. It has taken a toll on him and I believe, lead to him seeking solace in drugs.
These Brothers are very highly sexed individuals, so I cannot imagine how difficult it must have been to spend many, many years celibate, and Phury did not have Zsadist's issues with sex to lessen his sex drive. The red smoke was a coping mechanism that started to consume him. But what is most telling is that when Phury gets the chance to have all the sex he wants, as the Primale, he is tormented about it, and hedges at doing his duty. I interpreted this as Phury being a romantic, pure and simple. Also it tied into his Savior complex issues. He was just burned out, and the last thing he wanted was to be responsible for forty more people, and their offspring. Plus, he wanted one woman, Cormia.
Once again, I am utterly impressed with JR Ward's ability to tell a story. This book shone from the first sentence. I love how she starts the book from the Omega's perspective, showing a little of his side of things, and showing some vulnerabilities, and what seems like 'humanity' in him. It leads so well into a major shift in the storyline. And what a shift it is.
I read this book late compared to other reads. I did that on purpose. I wanted to stagger my reading of the wonderful series because I did not want to go a long time before a new installment came out. Since I am very active in the romance novel fan community, I have heard many comments about this book, a lot of them less positive. Another area of major complaints was with Cormia. I don't understand why. I adored Cormia. I think she is PERFECT for Phury. They are both innocents in some ways, and their coming together could be nothing but destiny. I was quite annoyed that Phury wouldn't yield to this destiny, but understanding his Savior/Failure complex, he felt his was not worthy of her, and would only destroy her if he gave into his love for her.
Cormia was not a doormat, as has been implied. She is a soft, sweet woman, with a backbone of TITANIUM. This is made clear in how she steps up and is not afraid to tell off the Primale. I can't blame her for being intimidated by a houseful of enormous, formidable warriors. Going from a world of white and blandness to a world full of color, textures, emotions, and sensations. In fact, I loved seeing her immerse herself in this world. I enjoyed her innocent childlike enjoyment of simply running around on the lawn, and swimming naked, smelling roses, and watching movies for the first time. If anything, I wish that Phury had spent more time with her enjoying these moments. Whenever Phury was off "lighting up" I was telling him, go "play" with Cormia. However I did like that we got to see John Matthew interact with and be attracted to Cormia and to realize that his destiny lay in another direction as far as mates, a tough, strong woman that makes his heart beat faster. That person being Xhex.
It was nice to see Cormia and Bella interact and become friends. Cormia picks up right away, that Phury is mooning over Bella. She feels that Bella is a rival for his affections, because right away, Cormia feels possessive of Phury. He is her man, and she does not want to share him with anyone, much less her Chosen sisters, or Bella. But soon, she realizes that Bella is a true friend, and that Bella wants Cormia to win Phury. I loved their girl-bonding moments.
Cormia did help Phury in ways that the other characters could not. Her love and peaceful nature helped him to deal with his demons as he detoxed from two hundred years of drug abuse. That was a grand moment for me. I love Phury and I hated seeing him on that awful downward spiral. The scene in the bathroom was one of the most painful scenes in a book I've ever read (and since we are talking about the Black Dagger Brotherhood books, that's saying something.) It made the final triumph of Phury so much sweeter. That is not to say that Phury doesn't have a hard struggle ahead, but he is not alone in it, as he soon finds out.
It was painful to see Phury and Zsadist so at odds in this book, but I realize that this had to happen for their relationship to evolve and to heal. I was so glad at the scene near the end where Zsadist comes and sings again for his brother, accompanied by the other Brothers. I was practically crying, but also smiling at this. In fact, had this not been in the book, I would have been severely disappointed. And we also find out that although it seemed that Zsadist washed his hands of Phury, he never did abandon him. That was also great to experience.
I loved seeing Cormia and Phury interact. There was chemistry and fate in their interactions, although neither really seemed to grasp it. I think their relationship is one of the sweetest, most innocent in this series, and for that, it earns a special place in my heart.
Now for the other character's in the book. It was so great to see more of the triad: John Matthew, Qhuinn, and Blaylock. I wish there was more of Blay's viewpoint, but maybe that will be in the next few books. I just love John Matthew so much. I am happy that he is healing, slowly but surely. Not there yet, but he's going in that direction. His sense of shame for what happens to him, should not be a burden he has to bear, but I was so glad that he knows that there are people there to love and support him. His heartbreak about the loss of Tohr is readily apparent. And his joy at his return was sweet.
Qhuinn is such a complex character that we are just getting to know. He is a tortured guy just as much as the other brothers. I don't like his habit of picking up any person who's interested, but it makes sense in light of his self-worth issues. I cannot believe how callous his family was. It hurts to see "a male of worth" treated in such a way. And it shows the deep decay and rot in the society of the Glymera that a terrible person like Lash is lauded, whereas a really good, worthwhile person like Qhuinn is disparaged because he happens to have odd-colored eyes. Come on now. His relationship with Blay is so moving to me. I wish I could wave a magic wand and work things out for them, but that's not meant to be. Time will tell how things resolve in their case.
Now onto Rhev. Goodness I am fascinated and attracted to his character. He is complex with a capital "C." I loved how Ward seemed to put Phury and Rhev forward as contrasts to each other. The interesting thing is that they are like different sides of the same coin. The interesting thing is that Rhev is the "dark knight," whereas Phury is the "white knight," yet in some ways Phury might be more tarnished. I don't like that Rhev is a drug-dealer and pimp. Basically he is a smooth criminal. But he is also a really good person with valid motivations. This book only made my appetite for him grow. There are so many questions about him I want answers to. I can't wait to see him find his shellan to love him. His loneliness is heartbreaking, although he does have his good friend Xhex. But even with Xhex, he has to maintain a distance that leaves him in the solitary wasteland of his own inner sorrow.
Xhex has just a small part in this book, but it makes me hunger for more. She is a really cool, interesting character. I am dying to see her and John Matthew get together. They are made for each other, although one might shake her or his head at the thought of it. The bathroom scene with them was short, but WOW! Chemistry!
Other great moments: Qhuinn finding his place in the world of the Brothers. That was so cool. Go Wrath! Also loved the advent of the oh-so intriguing Lassiter. I can't say the evolution of Lash was a great moment, but it made for good reading.
I feel I could write ten pages about this book, but I won't belabor the point. I love this book. My life has been enriched in the reading of it. And although not all the moments I experienced in the reading were fun, I have no regrets in following these characters on their dark journey, with the hope of light at the end of the tunnel. In fact, it was some of the most enjoyable hours I've spent in the past several days.
This my favorite in the Seven Brides series. For some reason I just adored Jefferson, although he was grumpy and hard to get along with. He was so hot...moreThis my favorite in the Seven Brides series. For some reason I just adored Jefferson, although he was grumpy and hard to get along with. He was so hot to me. I like heroes who have injuries or are missing limbs, scarred, etc. He is missing an arm from the War Between The States. Jeff is quite bitter because he fought for the losing side in the war, and self-conscious about his missing arm. But boy he is so sexy that missing an arm is not a detraction (it's an added bonus for me). Violet is from the North and she is strongly anti-Southern because of her family having ties to the abolitionist movement and also due to losing a family member in the War, so there's already tension, but there was some serious chemistry and attraction between them. This drove the book and made it very enjoyable. I could read another 300 pages about Jeff because I just loved him as a hero. I liked that Violet could handle him despite him being very alpha and grumpy at that. It was also good because Jeff was stuck trying to help Violet watch his troublemaking nieces. From what I remember, the family calls them the "Terrible twins." It was pretty funny watching some of their antics, which tended to throw this unlikely couple together. Definitely a keeper in all ways. I like that they show up in later books, and in Fern, Violet makes a comment that she's been pregnant for most of their marriage (Jeff is pretty virile, as you can guess.) (less)
I can't tell you how much I love this book. It's a special love story, with characters you will never find in another book. Carter McKoy has my comple...moreI can't tell you how much I love this book. It's a special love story, with characters you will never find in another book. Carter McKoy has my complete and utter devotion. He may not attract all romance novel fans. He doesn't talk, not that he can't. He just doesn't. He's a recluse. He's a virgin. But he's a survivor. His family was horribly murdered while he was forced to hide out. His parents told him to survive and that's what he did. His strength of will and character are what attracted me to him and earned my eternal devotion. He's a beta hero, but he's no pushover. He's capable and resourceful, and reading this book only shows just how endowed with these traits he is. One day he decides to find a wife. His chosen bride is Bailee, who has the choice of getting married to one of the men who shows up for the wife lottery or possibly being hanged for killing a man who tried to assault her and her friends. The town is so small and devoid of women that the lawman would much rather marry off the three women criminals than see them hung. It turns out to be a very fortunate day for both Bailee and Carter. Carter takes home his new bride, and the love story begins. It's a true, simple love story. Although they are not alike, Carter and Bailee are true soulmates. They embody what a marriage should be. Watching them grow to know and to love each other and take care of each other is a true joy. They truly meet each others' needs. If you want to read a different kind of romance with a very unique hero, but one that shows the true spirit of romance, read this book. I doubt that you would be disappointed. They don't call Jodi Thomas the queen of Texas romance for no reason.(less)
I really loved this book. I thought it was so neat to have a deaf hero, and to see how he has compensated and become a very strong, capable man during...moreI really loved this book. I thought it was so neat to have a deaf hero, and to see how he has compensated and become a very strong, capable man during a time when people with disabilities were discounted and not even considered worthy of having their own properties and running their lives. I also enjoyed the relationship between Mairi and Robert. Lyn Stone knows how to write romantic and sensual, and interesting love stories. A must read.”(less)
Sebastian is one of the sexiest heroes ever written. Gosh the man just makes me melt. Out of all the Wallflowers, Evie is my favorite, hands-down. I t...moreSebastian is one of the sexiest heroes ever written. Gosh the man just makes me melt. Out of all the Wallflowers, Evie is my favorite, hands-down. I thought she was an interesting character and I wanted to know more about her, although she didn't seem to say much. But what she did and didn't say sparked my curiosity about her. I knew I was eager to read her book. I was overjoyed that Ms. Kleypas paired her with Sebastian. I saw a possibility there between them, don't ask me why. Literally, I said, "Yes!" when I read the excerpt for this book and saw that they would be paired together. I loved how at first Sebastian kind of didn't see Evangeline, but when he saw her, he really saw her. He is the most considerate, divine husband for such a former rake. He is crazy about Evie and can't seem to keep his hands off of her. He sees to her every need and is very honest about his shortcomings. I was glad that Evangeline didn't just give herself away lightly to Sebastian. She treated herself with worth and that was what Sebastian needed from a woman, for a rake who could have any women he wanted (except for Lillian, a lesson he learned well in Autumn).
This book has a very wonderful transition in character. Sebastian doesn't all of a sudden become a golden boy. He'll always be acerbic, and devious. But he puts those traits to excellent use. I believe that he had the ability to be a decent person deep inside, but he just needed purpose. St. Vincent found that purpose in marrying Evie and taking over her father's gambling establishment. And it was great to see that incredible mind of his, and his energy, and creativeness go to work. His keen eye sees the opportunities in things, and good comes of it. One of the reason that Lisa Kleypas is one of my favorite authors is the way that she can write such wonderful heroes. They are not just dukes and earls, and even if they are peers, they still have an industrious core and the desire to be about something. They have depth and integrity and a core of strength that I find very attractive. Another reason is her divine touch with romance. This woman understands the power of a love story. Both traits of hers are clearly evident in this story. We also see Evie grow and become more self-confident. She went from being the shy type with a stutter (although she had to have a lion-heart to approach the worst rake in London and proposition him into marriage. Go Evie). We see how she has supported her friends and been there when they needed her. It's great to see her get something for herself and be cared for in return. Evie sees something in St. Vincent, and isn't afraid to work toward bringing that out. Watching this relationship unfold between these two very unlikely people was a divine pleasure for me. If there was any shortcoming with this book, I wish it had more love scenes (the passion is fiery between Evie and St. Vincent, I wanted more of those scenes), but otherwise this is a wonderful book and my favorite in the series.
**spoiler alert** I liked this book quite a bit. But, to be honest, I expected to like it more than I did. It was very good, and I liked both the hero...more**spoiler alert** I liked this book quite a bit. But, to be honest, I expected to like it more than I did. It was very good, and I liked both the hero and the heroine. Samantha really did help Gabriel to come to terms with the loss of his sight, his disfigurement, and his loss of his place as 'golden boy' in his society world. I think one of my major issues was the events after the climax. Hmm, I think I would have preferred that he not regain his sight. Sounds bad, huh? Getting his sight back made things too easy, I think. If he didn't get it back, then he really would have to change for good. But, his change was good for him, overall, but he didn't really lose anything to make a significant epiphany. Also, I didn't like how he didn't recognize Samantha when he sees Cecily again. If he was really that much in love with her, why wouldn't he have felt that connection? He had sex with her as Cecily, he'd had sex with her as Samantha, and the light bulb didn't come on. I was a bit surprised with that, considering that he was so in love with Samantha, and searched for her for many months after she disappeared. Also, I thought he was pretty callous to Cecily. She offers herself to him, and he takes what she's offering, but comes right out and coldly says, "I'll never love you." It made me wonder if he really had changed. It seemed like something the old Gabriel would have done.
This was a perfectly good book. But I don't think it's near my favorite of Teresa Medeiros's. Gabriel was, and ended up being just too much of a golden boy type for me. A man of privilege used to getting exactly what he wants in life. He suffers for a season, but he returns right back to his previous place in life, with few lessons learned. At least, that's my opinion.
This is one of those books where I wondered what really had been accomplished. If you don't think too hard and don't expect too much evolution and change in your heroes, you'll probably be fine with this book. I would have liked to see a little more in Gabriel after what he went through. I do have to say I loved Sam the dog, and Samantha, the heroine, and it was engaging and well-written. Thus, the four star rating.(less)
Not too many romances have a hero who's describes as 'loutish,' has pervasive body odor, and is clueless about wooing a woman. I was a bit worried whe...moreNot too many romances have a hero who's describes as 'loutish,' has pervasive body odor, and is clueless about wooing a woman. I was a bit worried when I heard of this book. I didn't see how a hero would BO would possibly appeal to me. But, I loved it. It's very funny, but also touching. Alienore is so afraid of getting married to Colin (her betrothed), she runs off, dressing as a man. She ends up being reluctant squire to Colin, who is determined to make a 'man' out of her. This book is connected to This Is All I Ask, as Colin is Christopher's best friend. Colin really endeared himself to me in This is All I Ask. So, I was excited to read his story, BO aside. Colin turns out to be a great hero, and makes a wonderful husband. Minor spoiler: love the scene near the end when he finds out Alienore is pregnant and faints dead away! Too funny!(less)
This book is so good. I think it straddles the abyss of women's fiction (I hate women's fiction) but in such a good way. I say that because although i...moreThis book is so good. I think it straddles the abyss of women's fiction (I hate women's fiction) but in such a good way. I say that because although it's a romance, it's also a story about two sisters and their journey to finding a home and stability. The writing was so effortless and the storytelling utterly addictive. The characters snuck their way inside your heart. Venus is a very unique but completely likeable heroine. Her upbringing is quite unusual, and she is a piano prodigy who ends up being a lounge singer. Her sister is the delicate, vulnerable type that men love to prey on. But you can't resent her or hold it against her. You want to give her a hug instead. Did I mention they are part Japanese? She had me there. I love reading books with characters of Asian heritage. Let me tell you about Gib. He was utterly wonderful. He is such a sweetie. He's missing part of his hand and possibly more on the sexually inexperienced side. He's strong but also kind and loving. I really loved the romance between Venus and Gib. They are two people who have been through bad times and you want them to be happy, together.
I can't say enough good things about this book. It doesn't have any suspense or uber-dramatic moments, but they are not necessary. You just want to read about these great characters that Deborah Smith has created.(less)
I loved this book because the hero Draker wasn't a rake, and he was socially awkward, in fact, having the disposition of a big bear with a thorn in hi...moreI loved this book because the hero Draker wasn't a rake, and he was socially awkward, in fact, having the disposition of a big bear with a thorn in his paw. He thought he was unlovable by women, but he couldn't stay away from Regina. Regina was fascinated and drawn to him despite her determination not to marry. And honestly, so was I. For some reason I like heroes who are a little grumpy and unapproachable. I found him very sexy in fact. Regina looked and acted like a perfect princess and was very mannerly, but she had a dark secret that has tormented her. I was really glad to see them come together and find happiness. This is my favorite in The Royal Brotherhood Trilogy.(less)
**spoiler alert** I ended up rebuying this book after I gave it away because the hero was married while he started a relationship with the heroine. Ad...more**spoiler alert** I ended up rebuying this book after I gave it away because the hero was married while he started a relationship with the heroine. Adultery is one of my pet peeves. However, I regretted it, because this was a very good book. The heroine has scarred vocal chords, and is very self-conscious about the way she talks. She bonds with the hero's son, who also has a disability (I believe he is deaf). This was a very intense, emotional book. I wish that the hero had fessed up that he was still married, but otherwise, I really enjoyed it. So I had to rebuy it. That is a lesson to me. That's why I don't get rid of books that I love or like very much. In the long run, it ends up costing more because a lot of my old favorites become hard to find, such as, Desire Has No Mercy, which I finally got another copy of. This is vintage Susan Napier, and she's always good.(less)
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)
This is probably more of a 3.5/5.0, but I rounded up to a 4/5. I liked that the hero was a veterinarian, and he was a really sweet guy. You may not li...moreThis is probably more of a 3.5/5.0, but I rounded up to a 4/5. I liked that the hero was a veterinarian, and he was a really sweet guy. You may not like the hoydenish heroine, but she really did have her reasons for running around in pants: She was trying to protect her horse from her brother's machinations, so she stole him and ran off with him, dressed as a boy. I liked Ariadne, and I felt that her actions were justified, even though she was going against social mores and codes for that time. She was between a rock and a hard place, and her brother was a lowlife. Good thing she encountered Colin, who protected her when she intervened when a jerk was beating a cart-horse to death.
I think my bar was set high because the first book I read by Ms. Harmon was The Wicked One, which I adored, so that's why I couldn't rate this one as high. However, this is a nice, enjoyable read, with a hero who is a working man--a veterinarian. He walks with a limp from an old war injury, and carries some emotional baggage from what he saw during the Napoleonic wars (another point in this book's favor). Yet, he is a very good man that I definitely fell for as a hero. Back in those days, veterinarians didn't have much social caliber (not that this has changed much), but they were very important due to the livestock industry, and the fact that people used animals as transportation. Veterinarians probably did a better job than human doctors at treating illnesses and diseases, because the educational process was better for animal medicine. When I read this, I was impressed, because you could tell that Ms. Harmon did research the horse-breeding and veterinary medicine archives for this period. Kudos to her. Pretty solid read, and worth your time, especially if you have an interest in animals, and beta heroes, for that matter.(less)
Simple Jess is a simple love story. People tend to think of simple things as unworthy. Not the case at all. In a world where everything is complicated...moreSimple Jess is a simple love story. People tend to think of simple things as unworthy. Not the case at all. In a world where everything is complicated, murky, and it's hard to tell what is real and what isn't, the simple gets taken for granted. Kind of like Jesse Best.
Merriam-Webster lists these definitions of Simple, which I will hide in a spoiler if you don't care to read them...(view spoiler)[
I am a person who puts a lot of importance in education and in using your brain. I can blame that in part on my upbringing, but not completely. I have internalized that message way too much. I think that this book was therapeutic for me. In the rat race of life, I often forget to value what there is in my life that is free from elaboration, unconditional, without guile, fundamental. I put too much importance in achieving, only to feel bereft when those things fail to deliver. At the end of the day, I can still be loved, even if I am not the MVP at my job, don’t have millions of dollars in the bank, listed as a MENSA member, or on Maxim's Hot 100 or People's most beautiful list.
Jesse is the reminder of the steadfast things in life. The pure items of worth and beauty that seem diminished when we look in the horizon and see the greener grass that doesn’t belong to us. His heart is full of love. He’s a man who can be trusted to do what he promises. His ability to forgive is not based on his lack of intelligence but in the strength of his loving heart. When Althea needed help he gave it to her, asking for very little in return. And Althea saw that what Jesse lacked was much less than what he possessed.
Althea thought being alone and independent was better than relying on anyone else. She’d always felt like the unwanted addition since her father left her and went off to remarry another woman. She was the spare relative that had to prove she was worthy of being around. She didn’t want that feeling for her son, and she jealously guarded him, afraid to allow anyone else to influence him. But Jesse showed her that it was okay to trust in someone else, with her son and with everything that was truly of value. It took the kind words of Granny Piggott to get her to see that we need people, even those people who are the hardest to deal with.
I thought about the strange magic that is love. Our tendency to believe that our soulmate will come in a certain package or a specific way. That is if we even believe that love is possible for us. But God has other plans for us. I feel that in this story he was telling me that he gives beauty for ashes. Even though Jess was born diminished, and many folks took every opportunity to remind him of that, he had been given much in return for what he lacked. And that was more than enough to see him safe, loved, and content, and a blessing to others in his life. Another reminder to me that being content is the goal. Appreciating what seems merely adequate, when beneath or through a different set of glasses is pure riches.
I appreciate the simple beauty of this story. In the simplicity, I found true richness of storytelling and a resonance on an emotional level that makes me smile as I type the final words of this review. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
When I read a book, I want to become involved emotionally. A book that does that is more likely to be highly rated. Such was the case with The Duke an...moreWhen I read a book, I want to become involved emotionally. A book that does that is more likely to be highly rated. Such was the case with The Duke and I.
I have a sickness, an infatuation for tortured, dark, conflicted heroes. The happy-go-lucky guys don't capture my imagination nearly so much as their darker counterparts. Fortunately, Simon was tortured enough to keep me happy.
The beginning of this book was brilliantly done. I was already captivated with Simon, the future Duke of Hastings. My heart cried for him. I wanted to see him overcome the obstacles that were unfairly set before him, to become the man he was capable of being. And boy, did he become quite a man.
Imagine my surprise, that for all my affinity for Simon, that the star of this story was Daphne? She started out very mild, sweet (typical Regency heroine), not necessarily standing out. But, by the end of this book, I loved her. She was just the woman that Simon needed. He was what she wanted, and she was going to get her man, and wouldn't settle for less than all of him. She had mettle, and she wasn't afraid to challenge Simon to change the future, and to shake free from the chains of the past, which held him prisoner. Perhaps he never would have found true happiness and joy if Daphne had not hammered (gently and not so gently, at times) at the walls around his heart.
The event that puts a strain on their marriage could be read in different ways. I like that Ms. Quinn put that scene in. It was a brave move on her part. And there is enough ambiguity there to wonder if there was some culpability on Daphne's part. And it turns around some of those ever-present outcries we often get about sexual dynamics in romance.
I liked that Simon had his so-called 'flaw'. I don't tend to care for perfect characters, because I don't enjoy rooting for them nearly so much as the flawed/less-than perfect ones. I loved that Daphne accepted that about him, and thought he was wonderful for overcoming the obstacles he faced, and that she thought he was brilliant. She loved him so much, enough to fight for him, and she did many times. In fact, I'd call Daphne the Knight in Shining Armor of this book. Go, Daphne!
What was underwhelming about this book?
Well, I thought some of the humor aspects were a bit off. I couldn't find the balance between humor and angst. On the plus side, I did like the family dynamics, and the humor they brought to the situation. Those were some of my favorite humorous moments. I liked very much that Daphne's family were useful weapons in her arsenal to win her fair prince. Simon had never felt the loving bonds of family. He was captivated by the Bridgerton family dynamics, good and bad.
I must say that Anthony annoyed the crap out of me. He was a bit of a hypocrit. I think that he forgot that Simon was a man he respected, and that he cared about his best friend. When he saw that Simon and Daphne had an attraction to each other, Simon became his enemy. He refused to believe that Simon could be honorable. I know what you're saying. I realize that Anthony took his responsiblity to protect his sister seriously. But, if Simon could look at the situation from Anthony's vantage point, I would hope that Anthony would try to do the same. I didn't see him doing that. I do have to say that I really admired how well Daphne stood up to her over-protective brothers, especially when they tried to interfere in her marriage. She put her foot down, and she needed to, or that wouldn't even stop, for as long as she was married.
The other thing that bothered me about this book was that at times, it seemed to lapse into a modern voice. I know I shouldn't be so picky, but that's a rather large pet peeve of mine. However, I do have to say that for the most part, Ms. Quinn does the Regency period very well.
I thought this was a good book, and probably my second favorite novel by Julia Quinn, after To Sir Phillip with Love. I don't go for the lighter Regencies that much, but this had enough angst in it to keep me pretty happy. Although I read it for a challenge, and to get it off my tbr pile, where it had been languishing for several years, I ended up reading it very quickly, and I enjoyed it very much.