I need to reread this to give it the review it deserves. Stuart did it again, for certain. I shouldn't have liked this book because I don't like unrepI need to reread this to give it the review it deserves. Stuart did it again, for certain. I shouldn't have liked this book because I don't like unrepentant rakes, but I did anyway. In fact, I loved it. This book really showcases the Georgian period in all its debauched, over the top glory, and has shades of Dangerous Liaisons, just enough for a fan of this book/movie to get a happy fix. Great secondary romance as well, with a female counterpart of Killoran in Barbara (Killoran's sometime lover), who was turned into a sex object at a very young age, and has learned that using her charms to control and ruin men is the only way to go. She falls in love with a younger, innocent country gentleman who is fresh to the wild, wicked city. Despite Barbara thinking she has men all figured out, he melts her heart of ice and looks into her heart to find the hurt child there and the lonely woman she had to become to survive. Other touches I loved were the fact that Emma is unashamedly Junoesque, and Killoran definitely embraces her tall and bounteous curves. Emma might be innocent, but she's a great match for Killoran, seeing something to love in him. And because she does, I was forced to look deep and find the good core in this dissipated, seemingly amoral libertine. If you like dark romances, give this one a read. Yet there is no question that there is happiness to be found for Killoran and Emma, for this book has the best epilogue I've ever read, particularly if you like the sappy, totally Happy Ever After epilogues....more
This is a dark romance novel, but is excellent all the same. It starts with Ghislaine, the heroine, trying to kill Nicholas, the hero. From that pointThis is a dark romance novel, but is excellent all the same. It starts with Ghislaine, the heroine, trying to kill Nicholas, the hero. From that point on, you cannot put the book down. This book has wounded, anguished characters who are brought together out of hatred, but find love and fulfillment together. I am a sucker for romances where a person is wounded and damaged, but manage to find a love that heals and fulfills them. Nicholas is definitely a rake, but he is a three-dimensional character who compels you to understand and appreciate him. Gilly is also flawed, but her struggles have made her a stronger person. The passion is sizzling, and yet the core of it is a true love. This book is a must read if you want a romance that will touch you on many levels and want a meaty read that will captivate you so much you can't put it down....more
I started this book with a strong dislike for Fortitude Ware. He was a dissolute, playboy rake with two illegitimate children. He rubbed me the wrongI started this book with a strong dislike for Fortitude Ware. He was a dissolute, playboy rake with two illegitimate children. He rubbed me the wrong way. Also the Georgian setting is so in your face, bawdy and vulgar. The nobles pretty much do nothing but fight, fornicate, and drink. This is one of the first Georgians I read, so I had to get used to how relaxed things were compared to the more sedate and elegant Regency period, and the very proper Victorian period.
However, my feelings started to change with the strength of Jo Beverley's writing. I've found she's either an author you love or you don't. My first book by her, An Unwilling Bride, left me rather indifferent because I didn't really care for Lucian at all, and I found Beth rather cold and a bit unlikeable. This book didn't leave me indifferent but rather annoyed at how 'low down' Fort was. I couldn't understand why Elfred would have spent most of her life in love with him. But wanting the answer to this question kept me reading. Slowly Fort started to show some depth. Yes, the fact that he had two kids by two different women that he didn't even interact with (although he did support them) really left a bad taste in my mouth (deadbeat, apathetic fathers are a pet peeve of mine). But he did have some good sides. His loyalty to the crown, his love for his sister. Despite thinking Elfred was a fancy lady, he treated her kindly, although he was furious at her deception when he found out. Okay, I started to thaw towards him.
Elfred was an interesting character. She was very spoiled and willful. But she's a Malloren. They are a strong-willed, dramatic family. Her antics kept me reading as she went through all these changes to get her man, who is the enemy of her powerful brother the Duke of Rothgar.
The turning point in this book for me was the emotion that grew between Elf and Fort as he started to see her as a woman he could love, although he resisted at every turn. Fort didn't want to be in love, particularly with a woman who was in the family of his enemy, but his heart didn't listen to his mind. The climax left me breathless as Elfred follows Sting's sage advice: "If you love someone, set them free." I felt my heart breaking as she let him go, yet I was hoping that he would come back to her. Well this is a romance novel and I gave it five stars, so you can guess what happens, but Beverley sure does let the moment resonate and have you holding your breath waiting to see if Fort will come to his senses and follow his heart.
Again, this was not a book I thought I'd love when I started it. But it ended being a five star read for me in the end. It opened my mind to the possibilities of the Georgian period, which was one I wasn't overly fond of. I really need to get back to those Malloren....more
It was great spending Christmas with the Mallorens and family. I loved the descriptions of English traditional Christmas celebrations. There is somethIt was great spending Christmas with the Mallorens and family. I loved the descriptions of English traditional Christmas celebrations. There is something very enthusiastic and dashing about Georgian England. It lacks the stifled air of the Regency period, often steeped in hypocrisy in that people in the ton did what they wanted, they just pretended they didn't. With the Georgian period, people were a lot more freewheeling. That's not to say there weren't boundaries that one didn't cross. And Ashart was rather good about that last part, a cultivated rake from a young age.
At first, I didn't care much for Ashart. He was arrogant and kind of rude. I could see why Genova thought he was attractive, because he was dashing and masculine. But, I wasn't sure about his suitability as a romantic hero. He didn't move me just yet. Somehow that started to change. Genova got to know Ash better during their impromptu engagement after being caught in a compromising position. I begin to see that Ash was rather sad. His grandmother had raised him and fed him on the milk of vitrol, aching to get her vengeance on the Mallorens for her daughter (the Marquess of Rothgar)'s sad demise. She poured most of the Trayce's funds and all her energies into doing so, and did her best to corrupt Ash. The good thing is, she didn't really succeed. Deep down, Ash was a good guy. He began to see that making peace with the Marquess of Rothgar was the right way to go. They were actually first cousins, and not all that different. In fact, Rothgar was to be admired.
As much as I liked the romance, I really enjoyed the dynamic between Ash and Rothgar. In fact, Rothgar almost stole the show from Ash. I have been reading this series out of order, you see. I've only read Something Wicked, Elf and Walgrave's story, and I got a tantalizing glimpse into Rothgar, more as a stern, dangerous to his enemies, and wickedly manipulative and cunning older brother to Elfred. In this story, he is more relaxed (newly married to Diana, Lady Arradale), at peace with himself, and it spurs him to settle an old feud that has some valid roots, depending on who's looking. But, the cost has been too high, and it's Christmas time. He wants his family reunited, with pax ruling throughout.
This story was short, but it has some depth to it. It's a suprisingly complex mix of romance, family interactions, and a very good Christmas story. Ash has to figure out why his ex-lover dumped a baby on him that she claims is his, but couldn't possibly be of his blood, and deal with his nearly life-long enemy in Rothgar, or sue for peace. And then there is the inconvenient attraction to a young woman who he can't have without marriage, and he needs to marry a substantial heiress (which Genova isn't). Genova is determined to make Ash accept responsibility for his offspring, reconcile her duties as companion to his quirky, elderly aunts, and enter the lion's den of the powerful Malloren family. On top of that is the compellingly intense feelings for Ash.
Jo Beverley has a way with words. She doesn't write romance quite like anyone else. Her books aren't for all tastes, but I love the feel of her books, like I'm there in the past. She captures the passion of the characters, in more ways than one. When Ash and Genova come together, you can see the sparks and feel the burning desire between them, and the way love wraps itself around their hearts and entwines them together.
This was a very very enjoyable reading experience, and it was almost five stars, but the ending was a bit abrupt for me, although I did like the resolution of Ash and Genova's issues.
Some of my favorite aspects:
*Rothgar, Ash, and Genova bonding over their fascination with clockworks. (I know it sounds boring but it wasn't) *Genova's presepe, which is an Italian Nativity. I liked how Ms. Beverley used this as a metaphor to show Genova's longing for family and the stability of her own home. Her father was in the Navy, and she and her mother traveled all around the world with him. Setting up the presepe was a tradition every Christmas, and each year another animal was added. When her mother passed away, and her father remarried, his wife didn't want it in her house, calling it 'shabby'. It broke Genova's heart, and she knew she wasn't going to be a part of her father's new family. When she goes to stay with her friends, the Trayce aunts for Christmas, she takes the presepe with her, essentially wandering with all that is left of her family, hoping to find a new, safe home for herself. The part in which she sets up the presepe at the Malloren Christmas festivities (and everyone is delighted with it) brought a tear to my eye (I've already admitted to my sappy nature). We have our own Nativity at home, set up with pride in a place of honor on a table in our living room. *All the kisses and sensual moments were well done. Very good chemistry. *Fun Christmas festivities, with lively explanations of their roots. Just what I need to keep me in the Christmas spirit. *Seeing the Mallorens again. Reminds me to get back into this series.
Definitely a fun read, and more than worthy of a rating of 4.5/5.0 stars.
Well. I wrote a review, but it never got posted. Let's try this again.
This is a romance book, but it is also a book about choices and sacrifice. At leWell. I wrote a review, but it never got posted. Let's try this again.
This is a romance book, but it is also a book about choices and sacrifice. At least three of the characters in this book had to make choices and sacrifices that destroyed their reputations and their credibility to achieve a goal. As this book begins, I saw Charlotte on the crux of changing her life irrevocably. And it only gets more hairy. I asked myself why it bothered me that she was going to do what she did. Should I have worried so much about that. Reputation is important, but is it that important to me that I truly regretted what Charlotte did, even knowing why. I was involved in this story, but not necessarily in a good way at some places. I guess that's makes a book successful for me. When I read this book, I wasn't just marking time. I was feeling a lot, and suffering along with Charlotte. She showed courage, and that courage translated to me as I read. I don't look at fiction books as a guide for behavior, but I do believe that almost every book I read has some gem that I can ponder and let it help me in some way. That might sound strange to most people, but not to me. It is rarely a literal thing. Most often, it is an encouragement in my own walk of life. From this book, I took the idea that I had to take advantage of the adversity I face to let it build me up instead of tearing me down. That courage is not being unafraid or uncertain. Courage is doing in the face of that fear. And the fears are many in life. If we let one fear overtake us, we will fall beneath so many. It's a domino effect. The reasons don't have to translate directly to my life. But deep down, that human experience always does.
As far as the romance, I felt the potency of it. Charlotte and Dand, both seemingly hardened to such a thing, found love together. A common goal brought them into each other's sphere, and love found its way into both of their hearts. I like to think that a mutual respect was the foundation to that love. When others around them saw little but the facade they projected, they looked deeper and saw the whys and not the whats. Considering the path that their lives had been forced into by circumstance, that was a rewarding thing in this book.
Overall, although I didn't like some of the aspects of this story (It has me wincing emotionally in parts), I loved the romance between Charlotte and Dand, and I loved their characters, and their willingness to sacrifice so much for doing the right thing. That's the core of this book, and that's what calls to me as a reader. So I count this as a well-written, enjoyable read....more
I loved this book. Lucas was one unique (for me) hero. He is a bonafide dandy, but very much a man. That was odd for me at first. I haven't read as maI loved this book. Lucas was one unique (for me) hero. He is a bonafide dandy, but very much a man. That was odd for me at first. I haven't read as many Georgians, so the spiffied up, lace-bedecked, bewigged, powered, high-heel wearing hero was a different thing for me. But this man makes it look good. And he's got this long, black hair. (Fanning myself). Okay back to the review: He is rather ruthless, but at the same time, is a good husband for tormented Anna. He makes mistakes but manages to love her and to help her to heal.
I love the scene where they meet. Their eyes connect across the ballroom floor. Anna is not ugly, but is rather modest in her looks, but something about her appeals to Lucas. He pursues her very determinedly, and desperate to escape her situation, and swept off her feet by this handsome, sought-after duke, Anna quickly says yes to his proposal.
Anna was in a terrible situation that marriage to Lucas helped her to escape. But now she has to deal with a husband who thought she played him false. Boy that scene was pretty hot (that makes me feel kind of guilty to say that, but it was). Her prior situation keeps threatening to destroy her marriage, and she is counting down the time until it does. Poor Anna. You really feel for her, and you wish for her to open up to Lucas about her issues, but she's afraid to. And Lucas takes that to mean she's likely to be another faithless wife. It's a complicated situation, but Ms. Balogh writes it so well.
I love the books where the couple gets married early and has to get to know each other, and you watch their love grow over the course of the book. This marriage starts off a bit rocky, but I love how committed both of them are to the marriage. Lucas sowed his wild oats with other men's wives, but he is committed to fidelity with his own. That made me like him more (not the sleeping with other married women before his marriage, but his willingness to be faithful to Anna). He's a great reformed rake. Very arrogant and commanding as a duke is wont to be. They are raised for it. Sigh! Lucas--the best duke ever written in romance novels.
It's probably pretty clear that this is still my favorite Mary Balogh novel. I hope she writes more like this. If you know of some that are similar, please let me know.
Lucas is such a great dad. I love how he's always carrying around his baby daughter. Something about daddy heroes for me. Those are my favorite scenes in the book.
This is a book that could be reread many times and I doubt it would get old.
Update: When I went home for Christmas, I saw that my mother had found my copy of this wonderful book. I was so happy. It was like another Christmas present! ...more
Nigel is not really a good guy. He deceives Cassandra and takes advantage of her to get her to marry him. He spends the rest of the book proving thatNigel is not really a good guy. He deceives Cassandra and takes advantage of her to get her to marry him. He spends the rest of the book proving that he can be a good husband to her. It was a really good book. Great secondary romance involving Nigel's right-handman, who is quite intimidating....more
This book was incredible. I love the premise of a race of humans who can transform into dragons (or vice versa). Christoff was a sexy, dangerous heroThis book was incredible. I love the premise of a race of humans who can transform into dragons (or vice versa). Christoff was a sexy, dangerous hero who stakes his claim on his Smoke Thief Clarissa right away. What a vivid, wonderful book....more
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 thrownI 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. ...more
This is a wonderful book, with the following caveat: Gabriel is a very cruel hero. He is a bitter man. So full of anger at his father that he often usThis is a wonderful book, with the following caveat: Gabriel is a very cruel hero. He is a bitter man. So full of anger at his father that he often uses Cassie as a verbal punching bag. His father is after him to marry, so he picks a bride that he is absolutely sure will aggravate his father. Cassie is a poor, overworked tavern maid that he finds on the docks in America. He thinks she isn't virtuous, but it turns out that she is. He doesn't make her over or clean her up, but delivers her to his father in the condition he finds her. Then he abandons her.
At first, his father is pretty mean to Cassie. But Cassie's wonderful and kind heart wins his regard. He is also impressed with her determination to better herself by reading and learning how to be a wife of a noblemen. When Gabriel comes back, he realized what a gem he's married.
This is one of those books that I loved for the heroine, and for the beauty of the storytelling. Gabriel could use a hard knock upside his head with a shovel. That what I use as code for an uber-alpha hero who needs to be taken down a peg. The sensuality is steaming, although it seems whenever Gabriel makes love with his wife, he is driven by angry passion and rarely by tenderness. Gabriel does everything he can to drive his wife away, and finally he succeeds. It is then that realizes how much she means to him and goes to get her back. The ending of this book is so poignant that it is another reason I love it so much. I definitely recommend this book if you can handle a hero with a serious chip on his shoulder who has a tendency to be mean to the heroine. If so, it's worth reading, and I consider it a keeper....more
I started this book a while ago, and put it down for several months. It was really good when I started reading it, but I am a mood reader so it wasn't
I started this book a while ago, and put it down for several months. It was really good when I started reading it, but I am a mood reader so it wasn't fitting my mood. I finished it yesterday and I was ready to read it then. Agnes Mackenzie is a heroine after my heart. She has purpose and drive, but also a heart. She can be ruthless when needed, but for the best reasons. She is tough and a warrior. I wish there were more genuine women warriors in romance. I also liked the hero, Edward. He is a scientist and a thinker, but also a man of action. Both characters embody elements that I love about Scottish people: passion, pragmatism, loyalty to the end, and love of family. The love scenes come late in the book, but they are well written and emotional. You want this couple to be together, and I loved that Edward supported Agnes's mission and was willing to change his own life to be with her and to help her fulfill her mission. I highly recommend this older romance for a reader who likes Scottish romances, strong heroines, sexy, cerebral heroes, and a good bit of adventure thrown in. This is part of the Clan Mackenzie series which starts with Highland Rogue, and is followed by Betrayed, if you like to read books in order....more
The Raven Prince was a sweet, sensual, delectable book that I've had sitting on my tbr pile for years now! In a way, I don't regret that, because I reThe Raven Prince was a sweet, sensual, delectable book that I've had sitting on my tbr pile for years now! In a way, I don't regret that, because I read it at the right time. This lovely story took what could have been dark and melancholy subject matter, and made something upbeat and whimsical, yet no less moving.
Anna and Edward are characters that get shoved into closets and overlooked when it comes to romance novels. They are both over thirty. Neither is drop-dead-gorgeous. Neither are shining diamonds of the ton (who usually bore me to tears anyway). Neither is especially wonderful to the world--except for me. I prefer reading about the misfits, the 'ugly ducklings' and 'raven princes'. I liked the fact that although both Anna and Edward have had some very tragic, lonely times in their lives, neither of them are particularly whiny about it. They have moved on to live their lives, even though deep down, they hoped for better. Anna was married for years to a man who made her feel inadequate because she never conceived, even going so far as to cheat on her. When he dies, she settles into widowhood, supporting her mother-in-law on his dwindling investments. In fact, she reminded me of the story of Ruth and Naomi from the Bible in how she cared for her mother-in-law and loved her. The time comes for her to get a position, and there are few to come by in Little Battleford. However, the mysterious Earl of Swartingham needs a secretary, and his estate manager, Hopple, is desperate enough to hire a woman.
When the two meet, there is a connection. Not exactly love at first sight, but something that develops into much more than what an Earl should feel for his secretary. I liked that both Edward and Anna looked past the superficial to what mattered in life. Anna saw Edward's smallpox scars, but more importantly, she saw a strong, beautiful man, even if he was a bit surly. Edward saw a vivid, attractive women although she had a plain face to the rest of the world. He liked being around her, talking to her, being with her. He liked her for who she truly was, giving her an acceptance her deceased husband had denied her.
Ms. Hoyt managed to take some aspects that wouldn't have appealed to me and to build a lovely romance. In theory, I didn't like the idea of Anna meeting Edward in Aphrodite's Grotto, pretending to be a lady of pleasure. I hate the idea of prostitution, and I especially hate when the hero in a romance book that I am reading goes to a brothel. What Ms. Hoyt did here was pretty cool. If she was going to have Edward go to a brothel to deal with his unseemly, lustful urges for his secretary, why not have his secretary be the woman he slakes those urges on? Those love scene were very well-written and "fan-yourself-now" steamy.
Anna discovers passion for the first time, and has to pay the price of passion--the knowledge that it is gained without knowing she is loved by the man she is with. Edward enjoys his time with the mystery woman, but his mind always goes back to Anna. Why does she come to mind when he's with this other woman? How can he feel such passion for her when his mind is fixated on Anna?
I liked how Ms. Hoyt deals with the double standard that society holds to regarding prostitution. A woman is the one who is sullied, but men are just doing what comes naturally. It drives me crazy! Anna helps a sick prostitute and has to deal with a bit of social stigma because of it, because that woman is dirty and beneath her. I was glad she was brave enough to do what was right, showing what a 'good woman' truly is. I do have to say I didn't like some of the double standards that Edward showed. His anger at finding out Anna was his mystery woman, and the way he put her on the "pure, innocent" pedestal, but had no problem slaking his urge on the professional woman who he always called whores. It's just my personal issue with the subject. I hate prostitution, but I hate it because I don't think a woman should have to use her body that way. Even moreso, I hate the hypocrisy of society when it comes to prostitutes. They didn't get 'sullied' by themselves. So, I particularly liked when Anna tells Edward off when he lectures her for taking in the sick prostitute, Pearl. The way I look at it, the oldest profession would go out of business if people didn't pay for sex, so it goes both ways for me, with a higher burden put on people who pay for sex. Anyhoo, societal rant aside...back to review.
I liked the subtle humor here, a light touch that brightened this story and kept it from being too melancholy. As much as I like angst, sometimes it's nice to have a fun read that's also deep and manages to move me at the same time.
I don't think I have much more to say here. I really enjoyed this book. I liked Ms. Hoyt's ability to write clearly, beautifully, but never floridly. She captures the Georgian era, but isn't heavy-handed about it. I knew I was reading a historical romance, and I believed in the setting. I definitely want to read more of her books (good thing I have been accumulating almost all of them over these few years). The elegant simplicity of her prose made this a swift and enjoyable read. This was historical romance that was enjoyable from beginning to end--I never felt the plot drag or my attention start to wane with this book. Although some of their moments of blindly holding on to misconceptions and fruitless determinations frustrated me, I never lost respect or liking for Anna and Edward. I could see that they had built barriers to love out of fear of heartbreak, and to keep themselves safe from further loss. Because I felt like I knew and cared for them, I found their passion very hot, but it also was a sweet, deep love story, so it satisfied me on both levels. In fact, I loved the characters for all their imperfections; I felt that they were normal, relatable people who deserved a happy ending. I was glad I got to see them get their happy day in this book.
Thanks to my Secret Santa Julie for selecting this book as one of my Christmas presents to read for the Lisa Kleypas group!...more
Pretty good. Nothing special. The last story by Miranda Jarrett was a bit tedious. The best part of it was the backstory of the beginning of Admiral LPretty good. Nothing special. The last story by Miranda Jarrett was a bit tedious. The best part of it was the backstory of the beginning of Admiral Lord Nelson and Lady Emma Hamilton's affair. I liked Cornick and McPhee's stories the best....more
Okay, I am officially a Georgette Heyer reader now. I can see why she is touted as the best of the best when it comes to historical romance. This bookOkay, I am officially a Georgette Heyer reader now. I can see why she is touted as the best of the best when it comes to historical romance. This book was thoroughly enjoyable. I tell you, Avon is a very singular hero. I have read few books with a hero whose dialogue was so expressive, yet ironic at the same time. His wit is so sharp that it could cut diamonds. What's really interesting is that Avon is considered the worst of the worst when it comes to being a debauched rake, yet you never see him looking or acting anything less than elegant. I really admire that Heyer was able to convey this about him without going into his dirty deeds. All that occurs before the book begins. In fact, so much is conveyed and not expressly shown in this story, and done with remarkable skill. I have to say that I read this story, looking to Ms. Heyer to teach me (as a writer) the ability to create powerful dialogue that shows and does not tell. Avon is quite the character. He is definitely a dandy and a fop, wearing bright colors, dripping with lace and jewels, and high-heeled shoes. He even carries a fan that he uses. But he is a man of his time, with a masculinity that is not questionable. And to think we don't have to see him bedhopping to believe in his masculinity!! I thought that Ms. Heyer did a fantastic job in showing Avon's transition from being a cold man with a heart of stone to a loving person. You see this in his manner changing towards friends and family. And you see it in how he interacts with Leonie, who gives him her steadfast, unconditional love from the very beginning.
Avon is bent on revenge, but he exemplifies the saying, "Revenge is a dish best served cold." He waited over twenty years to obtain his revenge on his enemy. When the tool of his revenge stumbles into him on a Paris street, it takes a while for you to see how he/she plays into it. Avon concocts a shallow, bored, remote demeanor that is very misleading. The whole while, he is feeling and seeing everything that goes on around him. He sees right through Leon's facade, realizing that she is a girl. Her unique coloring, Red hair and black eyebrows, immediately brings to mind his worst enemy, Saint-Vire. Yet it takes the reader a little while to put the puzzles together. You are not bored though, as the story unfolds and you get to realize what Avon's plan is. For the lines in this story are so laugh out loud funny, you might want to be careful where you break out this book. I'm sure people thought was I was crazy in the moments I read this story in public, because I would burst out into hilarious laughter. As for the revenge plot, you have to read this book until nearly the very end to see how marvelously and skillfully Avon executes his plan for revenge. I have to say, 'Bravo.' And to be honest, it couldn't have happened to a better person.
One of my favorite characters in this story is Rupert, Avon's younger brother. Why? Because he made me laugh so hard. He had the best lines. I firmly believe that Loretta Chase must have thought of him when she wrote Bertie in Lord of Scoundrels, although Rupert is not nearly as unintelligent as Bertie is portrayed to be. Rupert does a very good job as serving as comic relief in a story that would have been quite dark without these moments of humor. Because of his contribution, I cannot even consider this a dark read. This is also in part to the back and forth dialogue between characters which has the cadence and the humor that endears comedic movies of the 1930s and 40s to this reader and movie buff. The scene with the horse that Rupert 'borrowed' and its livid owner who comes to Avon's home for redress was laugh out loud hilarious. Definitely like a scene from 1940s slapstick comedy at its best. Some of the characters that add to the wonderful atmosphere are Fanny, Avon's sister, Marling, her staid husband, and Hugh, Avon's less staid, but certainly moral friend, who often disproves of Avon's behavior, but is a steadfast friend all the same.
Leonie is a character that I liked, although at times her ingenue nature was a bit much for me. The older I get, the less I really enjoy the very young, vivacious, extremely audacious-mannered heroines. I did not let that lessen my enjoyment of this story, for Leonie is the perfect foil for Avon. This older, very jaded hero needed a very young, sweet heroine with a zest for life. He would not have fallen in love and committed to a happy ending as a happily married man otherwise. In fact, I think his cold heart would have grown colder through the years, probably pushing everyone away who loved him, had it not been for Leonie's advent into his life.
Leonie is the character that everyone loves. I suppose she might be considered a 'Mary Sue' by some, but again, I don't quibble, for this story needed a character like her for it be successful. Also I reject the notion that an old fashioned, feel-good story doesn't have its place in the world. They most certainly do. And at the end of the day, the escapades of this hoyden do make you smile and feel good.
This novel gave me a very good look into 18th century life in France and England, for which I was grateful. It is said that Heyer's book stand up against the most stringent historical accuracy sticklers. She is a testiment to the genre of historical romance, which is always taking hits as being low-brow fiction. I wonder why this has not been made into film, for I feel it would make a wonderful movie. And it has an appeal outside of those readers who enjoy romance.
This book was a joy to read, and it has made me an eager fan of Heyer. I would love to read more of her books, and since I've heard that she had some older, sensible heroine (one of my favorite types in historical romance), I expect to enjoy those books just as much, if not more.
For those romance fans who haven't read Heyer, take it from me. You really should give her a try. I don't think you'll be disappointed....more
I found the world that Mary Jo Putney created in this book to be very imaginative and unique. I loved the unicorn aspects, since I have been an avowedI found the world that Mary Jo Putney created in this book to be very imaginative and unique. I loved the unicorn aspects, since I have been an avowed unicorn admirer my whole life, and the fact that the hero of this book was also a virgin was great. In this universe, the Ton are Sorcerors and Sorceresses, and that was pretty interesting. Spells are everyday, common occurence, although some don't realize that magic is being used all the time.
Simon is the biggest strength of this book. I admired him tremendously. I really appreciate an honorable hero, and Simon is definitely that. It's nice to read about antiheroes, but I find that too many romance novel heroes are unprincipled, in either their dealings with women, or their life philosophy. As romance novel readers, we have come to accept heroes who sleep around and don't commit to women, because they are just waiting for the woman they love to change their ways. I don't mean to judge this, but I grow weary of it at times. Honor is a multi-faceted thing, and a lack of honor can show in many ways. I think rakes show a fundamental lack of honor, even though they may only sleep with women who "know the score." Simon is not like this at all. He is not perfect, but he really does care about doing the right thing. He takes his sense of responsibility very personally, even to the degree of offering to marry the heroine who's reputation has been harmed by their association, even though she easily could leave the Ton and build a life elsewhere without anyone knowing she has been "ruined."
So it really fitted Simon when a spell cast by an evil warlock turned him into a unicorn. In my mind, unicorns are synonymous with purity and nobility, and I don't mean being born a royal or peer nobility. I loved the scenes where he is in unicorn form, and finds himself irresistibly drawn to the heroine, who is a virgin, but is also his soulmate, although he doesn't know it.
Every scene that Simon was in sizzled and kept my attention. To me he is a one of a kind hero. The heroine, Meg, was interesting and likable, but she didn't really stand out to me from other heroines. The secondary characters were all very interesting, and you cared about them. The villain was a detestable piece of work that you despised.
I can't give this book five stars because the resolution fell a little flat for me. One of the major reasons was a pet peeve of mine. I am a big proponent of world building and establishing the rules in a fantasy or urban fantasy book. It's obligatory, just like writing a mystery must include introducing all the possible subjects before the killer is revealed. Ms. Putney did build a fantastic world and did lay down the rules of this world, but towards the end, she shifted gears in a way that felt very abrupt. All of a sudden, the worship of the earth as a Goddess became part of the mythology of this story, when initially it didn't seem as though this was the belief system of these sorcerors and sorceress. Initally the world was setup with characters who lived in a magical world, but seemed to follow a Judeo-Christian belief system (and she didn't make this clear that it was merely for show but they were in reality pagans. You really do believe they worship the Judeo-Christian God). Then all of a sudden, the origin of their magic and the root of their beliefs became more pagan. That was too jarring for me, and really got me off track as I read the climax of this book. So I can say that I enjoyed this book and found it to be a keeper, mainly for Simon's character, and for the innovative world that Ms. Putney built, I can't say it was exceptional. Very good, but not exceptional. So although I was a bit disappointed with this book, I would love to read the other books in this series at some point to see where she goes with this series. I do have to thank Ms. Putney for creating the wonderful Simon. ...more