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)
Lair of the Lion is the first historical I've read by Christine Feehan. It's hard to believe I read my first Feehan book last January. Since then, I'v...moreLair of the Lion is the first historical I've read by Christine Feehan. It's hard to believe I read my first Feehan book last January. Since then, I've glommed her backlist. She's one of my favorite authors now. This isn't one of my favorites, but it was a good, enjoyable book. I think my problem is, I really don't care for gothic romance, in general. I think too much time is built on going into the mystery and the dark forces out to get the heroine. I like my romance to focus on the attraction and the unfolding relationship between the hero and the heroine. If the story can do that and have some tension and suspense at the same time, I'm all for it. I think Anne Stuart does this better than any other author, so I usually love her gothic romances. But I digress.
There were elements to this story I really enjoyed. I liked that Ms. Feehan wrote a historical that was set in Italy, not the usual UK setting. I liked that her characters were Italian and had the aspects of this culture. I think she did a great job of establishing the scene: the ever-present air of menace, a remote occasion, a heroine who doesn't know who she can truly trust because danger is all around her. I also liked the medieval setting.
As usual, I love her heroes and heroines. In this story, Isabella really shines. What a strong heroine she is. She was brave enough to go to the beast's lair to get help for her brother from their enemy. Several times, she put herself in danger to protect others, her selfless love for Nicolai. But she also showed a lot of pluck, telling this big, scary guy off with no qualms, when he deserved a good tongue-lashing. Nicolai was as scrumptious as most of Feehan's heroes. Tortured to boot. I almost felt like he could have been in this book more, because he was usually hiding in the shadows or dealing with threats. But when he was in the book, and interacting with Isabella, it was great. Oh, yes. And the passion. Check. That's always there in a Christine Feehan book. Well-done in that regard. And the secondary characters were well-drawn and added significantly to the story. Ms. Feehan kept me guessing who was behind the sabotage that was occuring. I didn't guess the right people, and that's always nice when it happens.
So, I won't go on and on about this book. I don't have that much to say. It was an interesting premise, with the curse that destroyed generation after generation of marriages and wives, because of a terrible event in the past. That dark legacy hanging over the people in Don De Marco's holding. Isabella being the key to their salvation. I didn't quite get all the nuances of Nicolai's condition, but it was interesting, nonetheless. And I love cats, so it was very nice to see all the lions and how dangerous they were. Very unique spin on the Beauty and the Beast story, without trashing the essential elements of this tale. Not my favorite by Ms. Feehan, but a very good book. I'll keep this one and add it to the collection.(less)
I felt like there was something missing from this book. I liked it, but I think it could have been better. The storytelling seemed basic--not somethin...moreI felt like there was something missing from this book. I liked it, but I think it could have been better. The storytelling seemed basic--not something I'm used to with Ms. Kenyon. I get that this was supposed to be short story, but it was a little too barebones for me. The characters (other than Aidan) just didn't seem to come to life for me, which is atypical for a Sherrilyn Kenyon story. My biggest issue is the short length. I think that keeping this short really restricted the complexity of this story, and it really did need more depth. I think this would have been a great novella, but it falls short of greatness as a novella, unfortunately.
What I liked:
*Aidan was a good hero. I could see why he was so bitter and sad. He'd been let down by people he was supposed to trust, people he'd do just about anything for. It was interesting that he was a movie star, what that entailed. I did appreciate how Ms. Kenyon wrote about the negative aspects of fame, although Aidan always had a good head on his shoulders. If he was a real guy, he'd be a movie star I'd respect as a person. I would love to see that movie Alabaster, that he was in. It sounds good. *Leta was good too, although I thought that I could have used more elaboration about her backstory. It was a nice change for the heroine to be the one driven by vengeance. *There was a good romance here, although I needed more depth to be great. *It was good to see Deimos again. I liked him in The Dream Hunter. Hope he shows up again. *I liked how we got to see various people who we've met in the Dark-Hunter world celebrate Christmas. It brought back some happy memories of reading their stories, and made me eager to read the following books in this series. *I loved the fantastical elements, especially the worlds that Lyssa created. Very freaky and weird. Nice touch.
I think every author has a book that's not so great. Unfortunately, this is probably the one I'd name for Ms. Kenyon. I think she's a very talented author, and I enjoy reading her books. I just needed a richer longer book for this one to shine as brightly as it could have. (less)
I adored this story. It has all the elements that make Sherrilyn Kenyon irresistible as a writer for me: imaginative story and setting, well-drawn, li...moreI adored this story. It has all the elements that make Sherrilyn Kenyon irresistible as a writer for me: imaginative story and setting, well-drawn, likeable characters, flawed hero who is deeply tortured both physically and spiritually, a deep, emotional connection between the hero and heroine, and the promise of redemption and a bright future. It took me about an hour plus to read this story, but the joy of reading it will last longer. You have what looks like a hopeless situation initially that becomes a catalyst for a wonderful love between Adron and Livia. Livia is being forced to marry a really old man by her father. In order to be suitable as his bride, she must be a virgin. In her culture, women are kept extremely innocent. Thus, she has not even been alone with a man who is not her relative, much less had physical contact. Together her and her maid come up with the idea to find a man and sleep with him so she is no longer a virgin. She goes to a bar and finds Adron, the most beautiful man she has ever seen. However he is deeply scarred both physically and emotionally. She seduces him with a kiss, and he decides to take her home. From there, their lives become intertwined in the most beautiful of ways. This story accurately portrays the challenge and the agony of being disabled (the hero was badly wounded and tortured as a League Assassin. Each day is excruciating pain and limitations due to the fact that his internal organs sustained massive injury). He wanted to die but his brother would not kill him. But at the same time, he won't kill himself because he knows how much his parents and family love him. My heart just went out to him for his situation. Knowing people who deal with disabilities every day, I could see that this was real life, although in a fictional story. That is why I loved the ending of this story so much. I read Fire and Ice in the Man of My Dreams anthology, and even though I don't plan to read the other stories, it was definitely a worthwhile purchase and a keeper for me. (less)
To Beguile a Beast takes a tried and true romance theme and does it justice. In this case, the Beauty is the fugitive mistress of a powerful duke, who...more
To Beguile a Beast takes a tried and true romance theme and does it justice. In this case, the Beauty is the fugitive mistress of a powerful duke, who takes her children to start a new life, not as a kept woman, but as a legitimate housekeeper. The Beast is a naturalist who was tortured by Indians in the colonies, as the result of an ambush against British soldiers.
The writing flows and compels. The romance not only involves Helen and Alistair, but also the bond that develops between Alistair and Helen's troubled children, Jamie and Abigail. I guess I am just getting older, but lately I really appreciate the idea of a hero or heroine who has children meeting someone who embraces those kids and makes them part of their life in all ways, founding their own parental bond. In this case, I loved how this relationship develops between Alistair and the children. I felt bad for them that their father wasn't really a dad to them at all. He didn't even talk to them or acknowledge them, although they didn't lack materially. They were just possessions to him. Whereas Alistair does spend time with the kids and genuinely cares about them.
As much as I liked this book, I didn't love it as much as The Raven Prince. I think the subject matter might have been a bit more dicey for me. I don't really like the idea that Helen willingly committed adultery with a married man. I understand her actions were those of a young, starstruck girl-woman, and she fully accepted the accountability for those actions. I didn't judge her for her actions, I just felt disappointed for the choices she made, but probably nowhere as near as she did. She threw away a lot for a man that wasn't worthy of her love, and paid the price for it. The one good thing that came out of it was her children, and she decides to make tomorrow a different and better day for herself and her children, which definitely shows character in a person. From a creativity standpoint, it makes sense to have a story for once about the 'other woman', but my deep-seated issues with infidelity give me a bit of heartburn about that. I'm never going to take that subject likely, so I do always feel a twinge when I read a book and the characters go down that road, past or present. Conversely, I didn't like that Alistair gave Helen such a hard time about her past when he finds out. I mean, he really rubs it in her face. Considering that his past is hardly lily white (a man who admittedly has slept with prostitutes (another ick factor for me), it was sort of like kicking a puppy. I know part of his issues were jealousy because he will never be a duke or have the powerful, accepted status in society as a duke. And also, his issues with his disfigurement. For all my disappointment with him, I did love how he rallies around Helen in her time of need and works to ensure the safety of her children from their father.
The other issue I had was I guess I expected the duke to be a bit more sinister. I was waiting for other shoe to fall, and when it does, it's a bit of a thunk instead of a bang. Helen seemed very afraid of the duke, and when he appears, he doesn't have even a smidge of the presence that Alistair has. Stylistically, I would have liked a little more Gothic flavor here. The book sort of begs for it, really. I suppose it's just my melodramatic/drama hound nature. I just felt like I wanted something deeper, more intense in this novel. Maybe more angst and flair than it had. Having said that, I do like the crafty way that Alistair deals with the situation. I love a hero who has as much or even more brains than brawn and uses them to solve a tricky problem.
Despite my misgivings, I found this to be a pleasant, highly enjoyable read. The powerful passion between Helen and Alistair made for good reading, along with the relationship between Alistair and the kids. As before, Hoyt sets an authentic historical tone that really works for this reader. The story of the beast finding love with the beauty will always be timeless and beloved to this die-hard fairy tale lover, and Elizabeth Hoyt gives it a different spin and gives it justice overall. (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 am working my way through the Anne Stuart's Out-of-Print Gems collection on my Kindle, and it's wonderful to spend time with my favorite author of all time. I already read The Soldier And The Baby and chose this one next. I remembered not loving it the first time I read it. I don't know why, it just didn't stick with me.
I think that listening to a book the second time adds to the experience. I would admit that the robotic voice of Kindle Text to Speech in itself isn't a dramatic aid, but hearing the words of an author spoken out loud employs the auditory senses. Anne Stuart's writing feels good to the ears. She is a spare writer, but she is a master at creating imagery with a minimum of words. And atmosphere. This book seethes with Gothic atmosphere, and it's a perfect fusion of "Beauty and the Beast" and "The Phantom of the Opera." Except Megan is neither the unearthly beauty and pure-hearted goodness of Belle nor the sheltered innocent, and easily victimized Christine Daae. Regardless, this story still works. Megan is a mature woman in her twenties who is wearied from taking care of her immature father who had done something very bad with this construction company, involving the architectural designs of reclusive Ethan Winslow. He manipulates his daughter into going to plead with Winslow to save his skin. Megan knows her dad is manipulating her, but it's a set habit to take care of her dad. Ethan Winslow's world is a dark place with a shadow lover, and a small-minded, vicious town fed into a frenzy by a religious fanatic preacher. Megan knows Ethan is no good for her, in the end, but she is drawn to him in a way that she cannot deny. His lonely heart cries out to hers.
Readers who enjoy that vibe of Beauty and the Beast and Phantom of the Opera with a tortured, disfigured, lion with a thorn in his paw recluse will find themselves drawn to the story for that reason. However, Stuart adds her own stamp to the novel with the Gothic elements and the suspense and tension of Megan being initially imprisoned in Ethan's house and surrounded by strange phenomena and even stranger people.
Despite the short nature of this story, Stuart deals with serious themes of prejudice, the danger of intolerance and mob mentality and violence, and the misuse of religion (not faith or belief in God, which is a very different thing). Ethan is a very angry, vengeful man. He has reason to feel that way, but loving Megan opens a possibility for him to have a real life outside of the prison of the strange house he designed and the prison of his mind and past.
I hate prejudice and bigotry and my heart went out to Ethan for being despised for something that he had no control over. The small-minded meanness with its ugly results of the townspeople was infuriating and sad that they could see no other way to be, and that they felt justified in their hatred of Ethan for no reason (although he did taunt them some).
This story was very romantic. It touches on the fantasy of the shadow lover who is both dangerous and alluring, and the appeal of being in a world of their own making. Their sensual encounters are well-written and passionate, drawing me into the story as I listened, and I could vividly see the story unfolding in my mind.
The characters are sketches in some ways. You can assume more about their personalities than Stuart reveals. I don't mind though. I am easily able to fill in the blanks based on their descriptions, actions and mannerisms. I liked Megan more this time. I can appreciate her personality more now at my age. I respect her independence and her intrinsic sense of right and wrong, and that she's not an innocent girl. She knows what she wants and is mature enough to know what she's sacrificing to have it. And even though I stubbornly wanted Ethan to go after her, I think she showed a lot of bravery to go after the man she wanted, especially with the fact that he would never be the Prince Charming one expects in the fairy tales. He's her Dark Prince, and that's better, in my book.
While this won't ever be a favorite of mine by Ms. Stuart (too many contenders for that), rereading has upped my rating for this novel. I can appreciate it in a way that I didn't before. I think that it has a lot to say about society and the petty mean-spiritedness that people are capable of, and its costly effects to all involved. The atmosphere is fantastic, dark and sinister and Gothic. But also enticing and seductive. The dark can be both depending on the person, their frame of reference. I know for me it is definitely both. I love the night, the velvet of the dark sky, the cooler breeze, and the quiet and settled feel of the nighttime. I feel a sense of peace communing with nature in the dark. But sometimes, the dark inspires fears of the unknown. The things that go bump in the night. Both are evident in this novel. Ethan will always be a creature of the night, but Megan is fine with that. they can create their own world in the night, where their love is inviolate.
This book is pretty darn awesome. Zsadist is definitely one to seduce a reader if you love tortured, sexy heroes. The only disadvantage is too much Le...moreThis book is pretty darn awesome. Zsadist is definitely one to seduce a reader if you love tortured, sexy heroes. The only disadvantage is too much Lesser narrative. Otherwise I love it! It is full of passages that wrench at your heart as you read Zsadist's sad but ultimately triumphant story. You really root for Zsadist to accept the unconditional love that Bella has for him, as you see him give all of himself to her because he cannot help but love her, even believing he is far from good enough for her. And the relationship is not one-sided as Zsadist helps Bella to heal from her captivity with the Lesser. He is the only one that can help her through this ordeal. But long before she was kidnapped, she was drawn to Zsadist. You see the seeds of their connection start in Lover Eternal, and to be honest, that's what made me keep reading Lover Eternal. I was so fascinated by the interaction between essentially The Beauty and the Beast played out in this sophistocated, urban vampire universe. I knew that their relationship would be explosive and captivating, and I was right. The scenes of Bella and Zsadist during her needing are enthralling and sexual, but also tender and poignant. I don't think any man could love a woman more than Zsadist loves Bella. The ending will make the sternest, most cold-hearted person tear up as Zsadist very clearly shows just how much Bella means to him. And the gift that Bella gives Zsadist is just the icing on the cake. This is a wonderful love story.(less)