**spoiler alert** Gosh, what a standout start to the Wallflowers series. Simon is a definite hero in pursuit, one of my favorite types. He saw Annabel**spoiler alert** Gosh, what a standout start to the Wallflowers series. Simon is a definite hero in pursuit, one of my favorite types. He saw Annabelle and he had to have her. He wasn't always upstanding in the things he said or did, or his motivations. But it didn't help that Annabelle's inbred snobbery caused her to look down at him. Simon is a self-made man. He is very wealthy and his wealth has opened doors for him socially (just barely). The fact that he is a business associate (and friend of Lord Westcliff) does help him to get into this society that he really doesn't care about, except that it allows him to be close to the object of his desire, Annabelle Peyton. But Annabelle has been raised from the cradle to seek a marriage with a gentleman at the least, and a titled one, if entirely possible. Plus I think she is a little intimidated at how intensely Simon seems to want her, and how he is such a strong, vital man (not what she would consider an English gentleman at all). The first half of this book is a bit of a cat and mouse chase, as Simon spends his time hunting down the wary Annabelle.
Can I just say I adored Simon? He is just delicious to me. I love a strong, independent, self-made hero, who doesn't spend his time worrying about what others think. Annabelle came off as kind of mercenary. Yet I found I could not dislike her. She was in desperate straits. I could see why she was so fixated on making a good match. Yet at the same time, I wanted to yell at her, "Hey, Simon is loaded. He's hot. He wants you. Marry him." Let's be honest. I would have been throwing myself at Simon. He's one of my all time favorite LK heroes (top three). Yes I know he's got some ungentlemanly intentions towards Annabelle, but I felt that he would take her any way he could get her.
He shows his love and devotion in many ways. I love the scene when he cares for Annabelle when she gets snakebitten. He totally could have taken advantage of her, but he didn't. And things are getting where she doesn't have the luxury to wait for an honorable offer. Yet he ended up offering marriage, after all. Because he loved her to the depths of his soul. Sigh! And what a good husband he is.
Now after their marriage, I felt some frustration towards Annabelle for her snobbery against Simon's family. I can understand culture shock, but she was married to Simon, and her life had changed permanently. I didn't really see her setting her mind on the fact that she was now a middle class businessman's wife to the degree that I hoped for. She liked the trappings of being a rich man's wife, but didn't like to think about how he made his money or his origins. It took that potentially tragic event for her to snap out of her 'old' thinking mode and see what a wonderful love and life she could have with Simon.
I didn't care for Westcliff that much at first. But when Westcliff tells her off, I started to warm to him. Before that, he was rather cold. But you could see he disliked Annabelle because he didn't really think she deserved Simon. To be frank, I was somewhat agreeing with him. I felt I could like this cold, aristocratic man when he risked his life to save Simon who was socially beneath him and was protective about him against a 'fortune-hunting adventuress,' which was how he saw Annabelle. I felt that Westcliff knew Annabelle pretty well, because in some ways they were of the same mindset and were having to open their minds to the fact that the Old England was changing as the century wound to a close. I liked that they became a united front in their mutual caring for Simon.
It may sound as if I am being harsh about Annabelle. I really like her despite her snobby tendencies. She is a very sweet, kind person, and was good to the other Wallflowers. She has a good sense of humor and was a good daughter. I just tend to be very protective about my favorite heroes. I want their heroine to be completely in love with them, because my favorite heroes are the type who are 110% in love with their heroine. They should be loved to the same intensity. I hate when the feeling is unequal in a romance. I was glad that Annabelle finally came around, although I wished it was a little bit sooner.
This is my second favorite Wallflower (after Devil in Winter) because I loved the fact that Simon was a man who set himself on a course, and never gave up. That course was winning his heroine, Annabelle. I loved the friendship between the four wallflowers, Annabelle, Lillian, Daisy, and my favorite, sweet Evie. You get the impression that the friendship they form will stand the test of time. And you hope they will all meet and marry men worthy of them. Also I loved the late Victorian setting, and how rich the descriptions of this time and the people are in this story. Secrets of a Summer Night is definitely one of my all time favorite Lisa Kleypas novels.
Actors I would cast as Simon and Annabelle: Christian Bale and Kate Beckinsale.
This book is a beautiful love story. Derek Craven is a self-made man who is not interested in love, and certainly not with a sheltered provincial spinThis book is a beautiful love story. Derek Craven is a self-made man who is not interested in love, and certainly not with a sheltered provincial spinster like Sara. But when he falls for her, he falls hard. The beauty of this story is how deeply Derek comes to love Sara. Some of the things he says to her, and the way he shows his love move d me intensely when I read it, and still do, though it has been years since I read this book. And Sara is worthy of his love. She might be rather plain and certainly unfashionable, but she has a great mind and a beautiful heart. Derek is not a perfect guy. He's not smooth or urbane. He doesn't speak well because he grew up in the stews of London, but he's one of my all time favorite heroes, and certainly my favorite Lisa Kleypas hero. He earned this because of the fact that this man was so utterly affected by love for Sara, and how he cherishes her. And also due to the fact that he pulled himself up from the gutter and made something of himself. I love those kinds of heroes/heroines. This book is in my top 10 of romances easily.
Rachel Weisz as Sara Fielding [image error]
Gerard Butler as Derek Craven [image error]...more
Ross Cannon is yet another of Lisa Kleypas wonderful heroes. He is so honorable and dignified. He has this intelligence and way about him that inspireRoss Cannon is yet another of Lisa Kleypas wonderful heroes. He is so honorable and dignified. He has this intelligence and way about him that inspires respect in others. He reminds me of how I think King Arthur must have been. He was mostly celibate for eight years after his wife dies. That's why the way he falls for Sophia is so wonderful. She becomes his obsession and sets his heart on fire. And he does everything to keep her happy and to show his love for her. Sigh. I liked Sophia, and I thought she was a good heroine, but this book is mainly a favorite because of Ross. What a man! I also liked Nick Gentry, who is sort of the villain of this book, but turns out to be a very interesting character that we will see much more of (wink). If you like an older, mature, but intense hero who will steal your heart along with his heroine, you have to read this book....more
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 liThis 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....more
Once again, Nalini Singh worked her magic on me. At first, I wasn't sure what to think. Hira was so mercurial, frigid ice princess one moment, vulneraOnce again, Nalini Singh worked her magic on me. At first, I wasn't sure what to think. Hira was so mercurial, frigid ice princess one moment, vulnerable, exotic girl-child another, saying hurtful things to Marc. I was thinking I would be disappointed with this story. However, I began to see that Hira was protecting her heart from more damage like what had been inflicted over many years by a father who was a real misogynist, who treated her mother terribly, and restricted Hira's life severely, despite maintaining the appearance of being a loving husband and father. She had been treated like she had nothing to offer besides her beautiful looks and gorgeously-curved body. Her father used her as a business pawn, forcing Marc to marry her if he wanted to court her. Of course, she didn’t know that Marc wanted a real relationship with her. She thought he just wanted a sexy trophy wife.
As the book unfolded, I could see why she kept Marc at such a distance, and was so icy to him, although I hurt as Marc did. By the end of the story, I loved Hira, and I admired her for the strong woman that she was.
As for Marc, I loved him pretty much from the beginning. In fact, I wanted to take him and give him a long, fierce hug. He has a lot of the traits I just adore in a hero. He was a fierce, strong man, a real survivor, but with a gentle loving heart that hid behind steely, cold armor. He'd been abused really badly by his lousy alcoholic parents, who sold him to a thief. He lived on the streets, and was wounded grievously more than once, which was why he had scars on his face and body. I adored this man. Like Hira, his scars were badges of honor to me. This man worked his way up from nothing. Truly, he did have a chip on his shoulder against beautiful women. A stupid rich girl played a cruel joke on him, teaching him he wasn’t good enough without his money and power. Since then, he kept his heart protected. He felt inadequate because of his scars and his ignoble Bayou origins. But, like Hira, being a man who pulls himself up by his bootstraps and makes something of himself, being a strong, powerfully magnetic man spoke highly to me. She called him her fierce desert chieftain, and I felt this was a fair assessment from her viewpoint of admirable men (unlike her father). Also he is very possessive. Another plus in a hero. It gives me tingles! Golden boys born with silver spoons in their mouths don’t resonate with me the same way. If you like Lisa Kleypas's self-made heroes, you would probably like Marc. He definitely gave me that vibe, which always have the power to turn me into a melted pile of hormonal goo. Marc really was the perfect package for a hero to this reader.
Initially, this seemed a little melodramatic, (which ain't necessarily a bad thing since I like drama), but I wasn't sure what to make of it. Hira's innocence and unwordliness seemed too over the top. I had to readjust my worldview and consider how truly inexperienced and sheltered Hira was. Once I got my vantage point straight, I was all in. The intense, honest emotions and the heart-wrenching angst of Marc and Hira's pasts, and how they reach out to orphaned children to give them love (I cried on those scenes and the ones about Marc’s tortured past), and the fiery passion between them (which had me fanning myself as I read), well this was an irresistible package that won me over!
I can't say that all people would enjoy this book. Even those who are fans of Nalini Singh’s newer works, the Psy/Changeling and Guild Hunter books, might not necessarily love this book. However, I believe that the elements that make her a favorite, auto-buy author to me are very apparent in this lovely romance morsel. I’m very glad I got the chance to read this one. It’s going on my keeper shelf with my other Nalini Singh books.
Carla Kelly has done it again. I read my second book by her and fell in love with her characters and her writing. Oliver Worthy was completely sigh-woCarla Kelly has done it again. I read my second book by her and fell in love with her characters and her writing. Oliver Worthy was completely sigh-worthy. What an honorable man. He was very down to earth, and, at his heart, a really good, decent man. The Navy was his life, and he had convinced himself that marriage was not for him, because it wouldn't be fair to his wife. But, Nana Massie slipped past his defenses. It wasn't quite love at first sight, but darn close. This young woman had the power to make him yearn for a wife to come home to.
Ms. Kelly has a way of writing a story that is so real and essential. She doesn't tend to write about dukes and ladies. She writes about the non-titled people, the ones who are just getting by, or are doing their everyday tasks to keep the British Empire running, although they seldom get credit for it. I love her non-titled heroes. They have more to offer me than a titled hero, who really has nothing more to do than to seduce women, gamble, and drink. Oliver is a great example of the kind of hero that Ms. Kelly excels at writing. He started his career in the Navy at the age of twelve, working his way up to captain. His men admire him, because he treats them humanely. He's earned his reputation and his rank, and that spoke to me. I liked his down to earth nature. He didn't judge Nana or her grandmother because they weren't Quality. He didn't hold Nana's illegitimacy against her. He loved her for who she was. Even though a woman who married him would have to deal with life as a military wife, hardly seeing her husband, and living with the knowledge that he could die at sea, a woman couldn't ask for a better husband. Nana was a lucky girl.
Nana's mother had made the mistake of falling for the charms of a Navy Lieutenant, and ended up pregnant and unmarried for the trouble. Her grandmother held the father responsible, and he paid for Nana's education at a girls school in Bath. However, he turned out to have unsavory intentions for her: giving her as mistress to a man to pay off his debts. When Nana realized this, she fled back to her grandmother's inn in Plymouth, where she was when the story started. So, she had every reason not to fall for Captain Worthy. But, he lived up to his name. In the end, it was easier than she imagined to fall in love with him. When he shows up, sick as a dog, to stay at their inn, which is barely limping by with no business for six months, it's not very long before he's in her heart.
The romance was excellent in this story. But, I also like the glimpse into the life of a sea captain, and those who live with the everyday reality of the Navy and their men at war. Although the battles are being fought at sea, the people left at home also suffer as the men they love don't always make it back home, or when they do, it's for as little time as they can steal with their spouses and families before they have to go back to sea.
I enjoyed spending Sunday with Nana and Oliver, and I hope that they have a happy life together. Even though there is much at risk in their future, they can claim the time they have together, the family they create together, and the deep, true love they found as their own, that no one can take from them....more
There are just some books that you have no conception of how much you will come to love, until you read the book, and fall in love. That's what happenThere are just some books that you have no conception of how much you will come to love, until you read the book, and fall in love. That's what happened to me with this book. At 722 pages, I think this is the longest book I've ever read and finished, all the way through. When I read it, the world fell away. The mark of a good book.
I worry about my reviews being too repetitive, and I don't want to mess this one up. So I'll keep it simple.
I would ask this book to marry me, if it was legal to marry a book. If I had to choose a book to take to a desert island, this book would be on my final consideration list. Yes, I am known for my bizarre excitement when it comes to books. They mean so much to me. I may seem like I hype books unnecessarily. It's not the case. But, if a book finds a place on the shelf in my heart, then I do want to rave about it. Such is the case with The Name of the Wind.
If you aren't sure about diving into a 722 page book, take a chance. My game plan was to read it over the month. Hah! I read it in about a week. I was that sucked in. Not sure that your interest will be sustained for over 700 pages? I don't think you'll be disappointed, if you enjoy books with fascinating characters. And Kvothe is definitely fascinating.
This book made me cry, it made me laugh, it made me angry. I got excited, I got frustrated. I was sad when it ended. Yes, even after 722 pages, I wanted more.
I walked the long road that Kvothe walked. I couldn't abandon him. When the book would go from his story narrative and back to the inn where he was telling his story to the Chronicler, I was like, "Wait. I want to hear more." That's the kind of story that Kvothe has. I don't want to suffer the things he did. But, I like the idea of having an epic story of my life to tell someone. That probably won't happen in real life, but there's an identification factor here in this: We were all young, and rich with dreams; we have all cried bitter tears as some of those dreams died painful deaths. Only for new dreams and possiblities to be born. That is what this book shows.
I may add more to this review, because I think I could say more. Right now, I think this will do. I hope you decide to read The Name of the Wind someday....more
Okay. How to write this review without the whole thing turning into a Hardy Cates droolfest. It's going to be very hard, because I love the man!
One UpOkay. How to write this review without the whole thing turning into a Hardy Cates droolfest. It's going to be very hard, because I love the man!
One Upon a Time, There was a Guy Named Hardy Cates...: I met Hardy Cates in Sugar Daddy, and I have to say that I sure did fall hard for him. Big time! Hard as a young Liberty Jones did. I could see that beneath that mind-numbingly sexy bad boy veneer was a sensitive, loving, good-hearted person. My feelings never changed for him. (view spoiler)[ As much as I loved Sugar Daddy, I truly did take exception with the fact that my beloved author Lisa Kleypas was taking a shortcut to her happy ending by making Hardy seem like a bad guy so Liberty would have a reason to choose Gage. I don't think Hardy deserved that. Am I putting him on a pedestal? Nope. But Hardy could have been the guy who didn't win Liberty simply because the older Liberty knew that Gage was the man she wanted. Not because of the dirty trick he pulled. I was so disappointed with that! Naturally, I was exceedingly thrilled to see Hardy get his day in the sun in this book. And boy does he shine. (hide spoiler)]
Oh, No! Danielle's Reading a Chick Lit Book! Not Again! : Although this book is still a lot more chick lit-oriented than I normally would prefer, I found myself taking it in with an effervescent fervor that I found surprising. Although maybe that's not surprising at all in the sense that I never doubted Lisa Kleypas' ability to write a beautiful, enjoyable book. I am familiar with LK's experimental spirit that causes her to try different elements in her stories, and I admire her for that. And for this chick-lit non-fan, she did a bang up job. This is a nicely-done hybrid of chick lit and romance and it's successful on both counts.
There is much time spent on Haven's life apart from Hardy. Not too much, thankfully, but necessary all the same. Page time is spent on a marriage that turns out to be nightmare for Haven. As I read about Haven's marriage, I felt this strange kinship with her. I've never been married, nor have I been in a bad relationship like her. But I have been in situations where I felt like the intrinsic person I was didn't seem valued, like I was being absorbed and eaten away until nothing remained. I loved how visually this is illustrated with Haven's dream about being a Barbie doll whose body parts slowly fall off until nothing is left. That feeling is so real for people who have been in those toxic relationships where your identity is nothing but a reflection of that other person's. A sounding board for their brilliance, glamor, perfection. For what I call 'go with the flow' people who don't need to be the center of attention, and who often sacrifice their own needs for others', because they attract the emotional energy suckers like a vacuum. I wanted to cry bitter tears for Haven. And I did cry. I cannot get over how traumatic it was to read about the abuse that she suffered at the hands of her husband. How he took everything of value from her, and it wasn't enough. I yelled at Haven to get out, to say no. I wished that she had ran off with Hardy that night of Liberty and Gage's wedding. Unfortunately, she didn't. On the other hand, how can we skip through the bad parts of life that help us to be who we were meant to become, that make us strong, so we can get to the good parts? Life doesn't work that way. Would Hardy and Haven have lasted (as the people they were then) if they started their happy ending that night, or is their love stronger for what they experienced in the two years apart? I think the latter. Unlike my so savvy romance reviewing sisters on here, I didn't mark quotes, but I loved what Haven thinks about herself and Hardy together. That their respective broken areas make them fit together so much better. I truly believed that to be the case.
Haven was a beautifully layered character. She might have come off as the spoiled little rich girl, if not done so well. I didn't get that from her. I did see her insecurities and her desire to be loved, feel worthy, and special. I hurt for her that this led her into such a terrible situation with her husband. I hurt for her that she didn't get the love that she needed from her mother or father. Their version of love worked okay for her brothers, but it didn't really satisfy the little girl who had never felt valued by her parents. I could identify with Haven's tendency to want to make others happy, often at her own expense. I loved seeing her grow as a person. I loved her for her having the courage to confront some truly scary situations and take control of her life from the fear that held her back and caged her. She was a wonderful heroine. Liberty is a hard act to follow, but I think Haven did a really great job of claiming her own place in my heart as a heroine.
Back to Hardy:
Oh, what a man. Once again, Ms. Kleypas hits the mark in crafting her characteristic self-made hero. There is something so enduring, so distinct about Hardy's essence. He shows up the oh-so prevalent stereotypes about trailer park/small town/good ol' boy guys (I won't use the less nice terms). What others might consider unworthy, I can't help but love about him. He's down to earth, honest, real, vital, and not afraid to be a rough, real guy. That appeals to me big time, even if I didn't think I would necessarily go for that type of guy. A man who came from nothing, and pulled himself up painfully. A man with an inner drive and ambition that actually embarassed him. Like Haven, I totally didn't think he needed to feel shame about that. A person cannot choose where they come from, but they can choose what kind of person they will be in the future. Hardy chose to be about something. He had a reputation for being twisted, (view spoiler)[ and what he did to Gage in Sugar Daddy was wrong, (hide spoiler)] but I felt that Hardy had honor. He was a man that would fight and work for what he valued. And he treats women with respect and consideration. That's really important to me as a person. Although I think Hardy is one of the most physically sexiest heroes ever written, I also love his capacity for gentleness, how he loves all of Haven and values everything that she is. Haven thought that Hardy just wanted to use her to get back at her family. But I never saw it that way. Hardy wanted Haven for the unique person she was, that drew him to her like a moth to a flame, and he showed how much she meant to him through his actions. Deep down I think she believed that about him. (view spoiler)[ The fact that she calls him when she's stuck in the elevator when she could only call one person is very telling. (hide spoiler)] Even when he didn't always do things the right way or say all the fancy words, he showed it. And I was glad that Haven could see that there was something of value to Hardy even though everyone warned her away from him. I have to tell you, I am not saying this lightly. Hardy is one of my favorite heroes of all time. He's definitely going in my top ten list, and near the top five, I think. And that's an honor. I don't know how you did it, Ms. Kleypas, but you hit solid gold here.
Blue-Eyed Devil is a book that came to mean so much to me, despite its brevity. There is so much in this book that calls to my book-loving soul. Lisa Kleypas writes so beautifully. She's a very funny, and insightful person when it comes to human nature. The way in which she shows the interactions between people is very true to life. Although I love her historicals, I do feel that she has convinced me of her skill as a contemporary writer. She shows me what there is to be appreciated about the present, when I tend to be more captivated by the past and the fantasy worlds, which seem so much more tantalizing. The conversations and the confrontations that the characters have in this book are real to me. I often felt like I had been there, both in situations with my family, friends, and with co-workers or bosses. That as much as the soul-stirring, heart-melting romance won me over in this book. I loved Sugar Daddy, but I have to say that I loved Blue-Eyed Devil even more. I give this book the highest recommendation. You might not like it, and that's okay. But I love it enough that I wish you'd give it a try.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Very passionate and emotional, with vivid descriptions and steamy love scenes. If you are a fan of Olivia Gates' Throne of Judar series, you will alsoVery passionate and emotional, with vivid descriptions and steamy love scenes. If you are a fan of Olivia Gates' Throne of Judar series, you will also enjoy her newest series. As a fan of unrequited love storylines, I was in heaven. He loves her but thinks she hates him. She loves him, but thinks he only wants her because she's a princess. The fun is watching how they come to realize their feelings are very much mutual.
With Gates' writing, everything is larger than life, but it does charm this reader. If you are the type to roll your eyes at very dramatic moments and characters, you might not like this book. But if you read books for escapism, you will find hours of enjoyment in this book....more
Man, I wanted to like this more than I did. First of all, I didn't really warm up to Lance. He was a poorly-fleshed out character. I know that with 19Man, I wanted to like this more than I did. First of all, I didn't really warm up to Lance. He was a poorly-fleshed out character. I know that with 192 pages there is not a lot to work with. But I have read some books of this length that had as much as I needed and more to like a character like Lance, commitment-phobic because of the abuse he suffered from his father and from his mother leaving.
He was arrogant, which is not necessarily bad, but there wasn't much to make up for it. He actually told Kate that he didn't notice her before her sexy makeover and he wasn't going to apologize for it, because that was his way to be upfront. I'm not trying to say he should have lied, but I think there was a better answer than that.
Secondly he was running around with Kate behind his fiance's back. He knew it was wrong, and he said he would break off the engagement but didn't get around to it. I don't think anyone can make a person feel ashamed unless she/he lets him, but his behavior certainly did not help Kate feel okay about their relationship. Kate wasn't an affair-kind of person, and he should have been more sensitive to her needs.
Then he goes and tells her she's trying to control him because she's not happy with their affair and loving him when he can't love her. Can you say insensitive? Frankly, this book ended with me thinking that Kate was way too good for him.
I think that he probably did love her, but I think his assurances to her to feel good about herself were too tied into her newly-improved sexy looks. She was a good person before, and he barely seemed to realize that.
I know that I am old-fashioned. That's just the way I'm wired. I didn't feel right about their sexual relationship because I don't think it was what Kate needed out of it, and being one-sided (except for being able to have sex with the man she loved) made it feel wrong to me, in a way that not all modern romances do with sexual relationships out of marriage do. For me, it's all in the execution.
Now when it came to Kate, I didn't really have anything against her, except she should have stood up for herself sooner and in a more steadfast manner. She should have made sure that Lance honored her by breaking his engagement before they slept together (if that was truly important to her). She let him make her feel bad about herself and doubt her morals. That was a bad decision on her part.
I do believe it is refreshing to have realistic characters who don't always do the right thing, and who go into sexual relationships too soon, but it was frustrating to me to see how the dynamics of this relationship played out. Sex isn't everything. Yes, it's important, but Kate made the mistake of thinking that Lance wanting her physically was enough for a while. I like that initially she decided to quit and move on with her life when she found out Lance was engaged, but I wish she had stuck to it until she got the commitment she wanted from him, or just moved on. I don't think that is emotional blackmail, although Lance tried to treat her like she was playing that game. A person has the right to be very firm about what they want from a relationship, because she/he has to live with the regrets if she/he doesn't.
Ugh. I just felt like this book hit me wrong on all cylinders. Some of the writing wasn't as well-done as I would hope. There wasn't much description of the characters other than Kate. I don't think I even remember what Lance looks like. The first love scene was just very poorly written. It was almost distasteful in its execution, and really wham-bam, thank you ma'amish. I would expect more out of a millionaire Texas playboy (not that I have experience with any). The other love scenes were much better. There are elements I would normally have liked in this book: plain janish heroine who was overweight, being in love with her boss, hero who is self-made and is a Texan cowboy type. But the execution was just all wrong. I hope the next books in the Texas Cattleman's Club are better....more
I liked this book a lot. It’s different from the other two books by Ms. Kernan that I have read and enjoyed, but that’s good. I like to see an authorI liked this book a lot. It’s different from the other two books by Ms. Kernan that I have read and enjoyed, but that’s good. I like to see an author doing different things and mixing it up. One thing that was similar, and the most important thing, is Ms. Kernan’s ability to write a story that engages me, and her penchant for troubled characters falling in love with each other.
My thoughts: • Sam was a sexy guy. He had charisma. I loved that Sam built himself from the ground up, from a very troubled past. He did something to survive that really tortured him, and made him feel unworthy of love. He wasn’t always the most honorable guy in the way he interacted with Kate, but he still showed her a lot of TLC, which counts for more in my book. Normally, I don’t like mistress storylines very much. Sam didn’t have honest intentions towards Kate initially, which bothered me. He saw the fire in her and thought she was sexy, so he wanted to get her into his bed. He didn’t really think about that being the last thing a woman who was trying to stay respectable would need. That struck me as being a little selfish of him (although he was more than willing to provide for her material needs), which made me unhappy with Sam. However, it was clear that there was a powerful attraction between Sam and Kate, and that had me interested. As I continued to read, I could see why Sam avoided marriage. He had two reasons: fear of commitment because of being rejected by the family who adopted his brother but left him because he was older, and also because of his feelings of unworthiness as a person. Ms. Kernan did a good job of showing that Sam was a down-to-earth guy, who might not have had a formal education, but he was smart and motivated. Who could ask for anything more in a hero? Although he was a rich man with access to anything he wanted, he was still an earthy man, which was very appealing! And he lacked the one thing he truly needed, the love and devotion of a good woman. • Kate was tough, a survivor. She was also giving and self-sacrificing. She had scars from the loss of her family, and the fact that she felt responsible for her sister being blind. Also, from her marriage to a controlling, bullying man who used her for his own gain, and destroyed her reputation with his swindling ways. She was happy to be free and independent again, even if it made for long days and uncertain finances. She saves Sam’s life, and for her thanks, she gets pursued by him to be his mistress. At first, Kate says no, but her aunt will lose her house if she doesn’t go through with it. In any case, a temporary mistress stint would allow her freedom that being trapped in marriage had denied her the first time around. Although she agreed to be Sam’s mistress because of the financial necessity her family faced, she liked him and was very attracted to him. I like that Kate stood by Sam, even after finding out his terrible secret, and when he’s in danger from his competitors. She actually ends up saving Sam’s life twice. What a woman! • The chemistry between Kate and Sam was hot. The love scenes were very passionate and fiery! I like how Sam was patient about Kate’s fears of intimacy, and cared about her pleasure, which wasn’t the case with her loser, deceased husband. • Sam and Kate were both sweeties. I also liked Sam’s best friend, Cole. Sam and Cole’s friendship survived some truly horrible events, which is great, since we all need friends who will stand by us thick and thin. • I must add that I liked the action/adventure elements very much. What’s a good western without one shootout? And the flood was a nice bonus. Another area in which Ms. Kernan excels.
Although I thought I would like this book, just based on my past experience reading Jenna Kernan, it was also a surprise that I found so many hidden depths to this story and our hero. Sam is one of those tough guys that I feel is just begging to be hugged, even if he doesn’t know it yet. I’m glad that he found Kate to give him lots of huggies and love to make up for lost time! ...more
I don't have much to say about the first two stories, except that they were good. Both the Balogh story and the Cornick stories are reformed rake storI don't have much to say about the first two stories, except that they were good. Both the Balogh story and the Cornick stories are reformed rake stories (it's fairly clear if you read my reviews that rakes are not my favorite types of heroes by far). I felt that the metamorphosis of Ms. Balogh's rake was a little more convincing. When I read a story about a rake, I really have to be convinced that he has depth, or he's just another one of far too many in historical romance. He's really got to stand out to get my regard. I felt that both rakes did have depth, but the brevity of the Cornick story didn't really allow me to buy into his redemption quite so well. On the other hand, the rake in The Season for Suitors had more reason for why he acted as he did, and he had a tortured past, but I think this story would have been better executed as a longer novella, despite the obvious excellence of Ms. Cornick's writing. Ms. Balogh's story was a reread for me. I liked it the first time, and the second time was just as good. However, I am a bit jaded with the theme, so I can't say I was blown away. I did like Verity quite a bit, and loved the aspects of Christmas, and the effect it had on the participants in this story. For A Handful of Gold by Ms. Balogh, I would give the rating of 4 stars. The Season for Suitors is a 3.5 star story.
The best story in this collection was by newcomer, Courtney Milan, This Wicked Gift. This story was like a refreshing drink on a hot day. I loved everything about this story. Ms. Milan's writing has an intensity and a depth that really enthralled me. It brought to mind some of my favorite historical romance writers who have a facility with the written word, and the beauty with which they employ it, such as Laura Kinsale and Judith Ivory. I believe that Ms. Milan has quite a career ahead of her. There is also the fact that William Q. White utterly seduced me. His intensity, his focus, his obvious feeling for Lavinia. I love that kind of hero. And then there's the fact that he's a working man. There's nothing I love more than a hero who works hard for his money, who pulls himself up by his own bootstraps. Out of all three of the stories, this is the hero that got my attention. I could care less about lazy heroes who have nothing better to do than spend their family's money. What's endearing about that. I'd take a man who made himself from nothing over a man who was born rich and is about nothing, any day of the week. That is not to say that I don't have favored heroes who were born in wealth, but they have to a drive, an inner intensity, to gain my appreciation. William is a man who has made my favorite hero list. His urgent need for Lavinia almost made me cry. He would have done something awful to keep her, but his integrity won out in the end. He made a very wicked proposition to have her for one night, but his reasons for doing it endeared him to me. And his remorse was very obvious and poignant. Lavinia also makes this story stand out. She is a very good person, and an extremely intelligent woman. She is easily as captivated and as in love with William as he is with her. She sees right through his wicked proposal, and takes him up on it for her own reasons. She's a heroine that goes after what she wants (him), and won't give up on it despite the odds against her. As I said above, this story was distinct and refreshing. It showed characters that we don't often get to see have a happy ending in historical romance. They aren't rich or titled. They are working class people, albeit extremely educated. I rooted for them to have their happy ending, hoping that their lives would not be dimmed by the blight of extreme poverty, despite their obvious devotion to each other. Thankfully, Christmas has some blessings in store for this wonderful couple. If you are a fan of historical romance, do yourself a favor and read Courtney Milan. I think you will find a wonderful reading experience when you do. This Wicked Gift earned five stars from this reader.
This was my last Christmas read for 2009, and the last book I read this year. I have to tell you, reading Courtney Milan's story in the last few minutes of 2009 was a great pleasure, and I look forward to spending more time with her (and hopefully more captivating heroes like William) in the new year and years to come.
Overall rating for this collection is 4 stars ....more
This was a pretty good book. I had some issues with some of the choices for execution that Ms. Shaw made, and I'll discuss those.
Russian Hero: Major pThis was a pretty good book. I had some issues with some of the choices for execution that Ms. Shaw made, and I'll discuss those.
Russian Hero: Major points there. However, I didn't like that his edgy, dangerousness was mainly due to his ruthless manner in which he would go through women. He was a serious womanizer who never got emotional with his bed-partners. His pursuit of Ella was pretty coldblooded, although there was serious sexual tension and attraction between them. I didn't like how he would think of her as nothing but a sex partner, and he said something pretty cruel to her, although it was in the heat of a moment in which he was grieving what he lost in his past. I have to say, I didn't really like him all that much. He was alright, and he came around. But not a favorite hero of mine. That's a shame, since I love my Russian heroes. I liked the depth that Ms. Shaw gave him, showing his point of view, and how he was tortured by the loss that he blamed on his own actions. I think it could have made him more sensitive to the heroine's needs. But, it didn't seem to do that.
Heroine who is unwilling to marry or make a commitment to a man: I liked this aspect, but Ella's actions seem to belie this. She had a father who was really cruel, cheating on her mother (who was physically frail and had a heart problem), and locking Ella up in a room that was known to be haunted. He squandered the family fortunes on gambling, booze, and women. In other words, the worst role model ever, definitely enough to make a girl sour on men. And yet, Ella fell for a man who had some of her father's traits (at least the cruel womanizer ones) really fast. She told herself that she was just going to have a no-strings sexual affair with him, but she showed emotional involvement very fast. Also, for a woman who prized her independence from a man, it didn't quite ring true that she would allow herself to become a man's mistress. She didn't like him using that term, but she allowed him to treat her as his mistress. I think she should have set more boundaries with him. Such as: not sleeping over, not allowing him to buy her clothes, and jewelry, and having more control over the time she spent with him. That would have rang more true with me, given her emotional scars.
So, I was not blown over by this book, although it had some really good steamy romance, emotional intensity, and was fast-moving. I just had trouble with some of the actions that the characters took, and I wasn't too fond of how things unfolded. One thing that frustrates me is when the heroine falls way too easily for the hero. Where's the conflict in that? I want to see the hero have to do some chasing, and dealing with his feelings for a woman he can't get out of his mind. It seemed as though all he had to do was kiss Ella, and she melted. I realize that the strong attraction is important to the storyline, but I'd like to see some backbone as the heroine fights the attraction. After all, we know the hero is fighting his feelings. Why not show the heroine doing more of the same? I would have preferred that Vadim had to spend more time actually wooing Ella, and showing his feelings evolve as he worked hard to get her. She seemed to be a fairly quick conquest. Too quick for me. It was almost as though her hormones got the best of her.
Overall, this was a good read. I'll probably keep it because of the Russian hero.
I enjoyed reading this book. I think the writing style probably wouldn't work for everyone, but it has a trad regency feel that I like in a regency roI enjoyed reading this book. I think the writing style probably wouldn't work for everyone, but it has a trad regency feel that I like in a regency romance.
Unfortunately, the title and blurb are a bit misleading. The hero, Ben, really isn't that much of a rake. He's illegitimate, and that has affected him so that he doesn't 'spread his seed' liberally. He has affairs, but he is discreet about it and careful to take precautions. Charlotte is a virgin, but she's not as young and naive as the title conveys. She's five and twenty, very intelligent, and tough-minded, and she holds her own.
I thought the chemistry between Ben and Charlotte was a big plus in this story. They do a lot of verbal sparring. Charlotte has been attracted to Ben since they first met, but she doesn't want to be. Ben feels the same way, much to her surprise. She had determined that she would stay a spinster and devote her life to educating young women. She had no desire to marry. And Ben isn't a marrying man anyway. The last thing she'd do is be any man's mistress. If you're like me and you hate the whole mistress angle, don't worry. Actually, Ben doesn't hold any dishonorable intentions seriously. He knows better. He actually turns out to be quite honorable. For many reasons, I just didn't see him as a rake, which is a good thing for me.
There is a bit of suspense, but it's not the major part of the storyline. However, there were things that occurred in the previous books that were discussed and alluded to that left me in the dark regarding the suspense angle. Not enough to frustrate me or spoil the read though. I'm not real big on suspense being too prominent in a romance book, so I was happy that the focus is on the sparring/chase/advance/retreat between Ben and Charlotte. There are some passionate kisses and a well-done love scene, and the author shows very clearly that they are both crazy about each other. I believe the author did a good job in keeping this story period. There was enough sexual tension to make this a lively romance, but the characters acted as people of their times in how they conducted themselves (very important for this reader).
I think that the narrative relies a bit too heavily on internal dialogue, and less on actual conversation and action, and that would be a negative for some readers. I would have liked more of both, but overall, I thought this was a good read. I enjoyed it, and I had a smile on my face as I finished the epilogue, which was very sweet.
I've give this book a 3.75/5.0 stars because I thought it was good entertainment, and I really liked both Ben and Elizabeth. And I am a sucker for a good spinster/bachelor sparring and fighting their feelings for each other romance. I'd recommend it with reservations as expressed above....more
Ms. Milan has lived up to the promise I saw in her writing in the short story I read in The Heart of Christmas: A Handful of Gold\ The Season for SuitMs. Milan has lived up to the promise I saw in her writing in the short story I read in The Heart of Christmas: A Handful of Gold\ The Season for Suitors\ This Wicked Gift. I loved the way she wrote her hero and heroine, and knew she was a writer I wanted to follow. I'm glad that she had written another story that I felt that way about. Her characters are very well-crafted, deep, complex, and textured. I found myself continually evaluating things from each one's perspective, and it was difficult to 'choose sides', which is a good thing. In real life, no person is all good and bad (at least for the most part). We are a complex mix of both, and we often make decisions out of our human drives, sometimes good and sometimes bad. In the case of Ash and Margaret, I could see what drove them, and I felt for them both. Family is very important to me as well, and even though I don't always like everything my family does, I love them, and I'd do anything for them. That's why I couldn't get mad either at Ash or Margaret at the choices they made. Even though their brothers didn't always understand the sacrifices they made for them, it was both characters' choices to give up so much for the love of their siblings. In the end, I was glad that they found each other, and realized that someone saw them truly and loved them honestly. I was glad they found their other halves, because I think that this kind of love is so valuable to humans, and they both needed it. It takes a writer of considerable skill to create such real, lovable characters, and Ms. Milan shows it.
I loved the intensity of her writing, and the strength of the story here, a romance, and a good one, but something more. I liked how she integrated the sensual moments into this love story, making them intrinsic to the development of the relationship between Ash and Margaret. I liked that Ash saw Margaret and knew she was what he wanted and needed. I liked that even though it was a seemingly bad idea to fall for Ash, Margaret did anyway. I know that she had some tough choices to make, and I was glad that she was able to make a choice that was right for her, down deep, and that that choice included Ash. I was glad their feelings for each other, that trust and understanding of each other stayed true, even in the face of what seemed insurmountable. I also loved the authenticity of the Victorian setting, drawn in subtle strokes, but very evident. I could tell that the author knows her subject, and she managed to convey that without overwhelming the narrative with facts about Victorian England and inheritance law.
Giving this book five stars is a foregone conclusion, based on its many strengths, and how much I enjoyed reading it. It was deep, rich, fascinating, sensual, intense, and rewarding. All the things I love about historical romance. Highly recommended....more
There is something very distinct and elegant about Caitlin Crews' writing that appeals to me. I noticed that in her first book for HP, Pure Princess,There is something very distinct and elegant about Caitlin Crews' writing that appeals to me. I noticed that in her first book for HP, Pure Princess, Bartered Bride, and it was evident here as well. I liked the strength of her heroine in Tristanne. She was afraid, she was wounded emotionally, but she was strong! She approached a very dangerous man and offered to be his mistress, for the sake of her mother. And that's not the end of her troubles, because she's gone from the frying pan to the fire. Nikos Katrakis is not easy to manipulate into a fake arrangement as she planned. He's the kind of man who gets exactly what he wants, and he has plans for her and for revenge on her family. Nevertheless, she ends up falling into his bed and in love with him.
Although I feel that this story could have had more dialogue (it's almost entirely introspective thoughts and description), it was still exciting and intriguing, what a good Harlequin Presents should be. Crews has a great way of writing the exquisite tension between her characters where I was holding my breath in anticipation. Also expectantly waiting to see what will happen next. I didn't believe that Nikos would go through with his ruthless, cold-blooded plan for revenge. When he does, my heart sank. I sorted through my own emotions and wondered if Tristanne could forgive him. I have to say that the scene in which they reunite really threw me. Tristanne shows what love truly is. Instead of plunging the knife that Nikos hands her into his black heart and twisting it, she forgives him. Because she loves him. Because she sees that this man didn't know what love was. And it was her job to teach him.
This story is quite different from Caitlin Crews' first HP novel, and I really liked it for its difference, although the first is still my favorite. I liked the intense emotions and the very admirable, mature, self-sacrificing, but painfully self-aware heroine. I liked the blazing hot passion between Tristanne and Nikos. And I loved how Ms. Crews took the standard self-made, ruthless HP tycoon, and gave me a tortured, hurting man who had been used and hated by everyone who should have loved him. She took this character and put him into the hands of the perfect heroine to show him what it meant to love and to be loved in return. It makes me think of Nature Boy by David Bowie
I'm not sure what to say about this book. I was somewhat disappointed. Some parts were a bit dry, and some parts very tantalizing. I wish the balanceI'm not sure what to say about this book. I was somewhat disappointed. Some parts were a bit dry, and some parts very tantalizing. I wish the balance was more in the latter direction. I have to say I loved the hero, Lucas. He was dreamy! He was a very tortured guy, who hadn't gotten a lot of breaks in his life. I wish that Ms. James had focused on that more. I felt like there was too much time focused on how snobby British society viewed him, and how that affected Lillian's view of Lucas way too much, instead of looking into his heart, and what her heart told him about it. I could understand why, since her mother had ran off with her lover, broken her father's heart, and disgraced her family. She had spent her life trying to be the epitome of a well-behaved lady, the epitome of English gentility. However, she was very unhappy with her life, twenty-five years old, and yearning to be loved. She was tired of being the perfect young lady, the model for others. She just wanted something real for herself. At times, she was almost unlikeable, coming off as being a complete snob at times. Lucas didn't deserve that from her at all. Granted, it took him some time to get back to her after she was ruined when he was caught kissing her hand on the balcony, but he had a good reason for it. She didn't even give him the benefit of the doubt.
I liked the bond and chemistry between Lucas and Lillian. It did seem like a fated, compelling love they shared. The brief love scene was pretty steamy. Definitely some good points for that!
I didn't quite get why the children of Lucas' deceased wife's sister were introduced, but then you didn't hear about them until near the end. I felt like they were more of a plot point than an organic part of the story. This was another area that could have been more developed instead of showing society functions as much as was done. I liked seeing the couple trying to work on their marriage, and interacting with the kids, and I wished there was more of this.
The adventurous climax was too quick and didn't make a lot of sense to me. I would have preferred seeing Lucas and Lillian work on their relationship to this.
All in all, this could have been a better read than it was. I liked Lucas a lot, and the little girls were cute. Lillian disappointed me in her snobbiness, despite my understanding of her issues. I wanted her to 'woman up' sooner than she did. I liked the Victorian setting, and the Christmas elements. But, I ended up feeling mostly let down by this book. Mistletoe Magic wasn't a bad book, but it could have been much better. It had a lot of potential. Sophia James' lovely way with words was evident, this just needed a more cohesive, focused narrative to shine like it had the potential to do....more
This book was a middle of the road read. I didn't hate or love it. I ended up giving it 3.5/5.0 stars because of its good and not-so-good points.
WhatThis book was a middle of the road read. I didn't hate or love it. I ended up giving it 3.5/5.0 stars because of its good and not-so-good points.
What I liked:
*I love a good hero in pursuit. I have an issue with player heroes, so I was feeling tough towards Alessandro at first, thinking he might view Lily as another conquest. However, he proved himself that his intentions were sincere towards her. There were several moments where he could have pushed her into sexual intimacy and he refrained, knowing she wasn't ready for that. I ended up liking and respecting him a lot for that. I also liked that he was steadfast in his regard for Lily, despite her cold shoulder. I could feel that he truly loved her. Also, I liked that he was self-made with a tough life behind him. He had turned his life around with the guidance of Lily's aunt and her deceased husband. *I loved that Lily was a fully-qualified chef and actually had a job that she put a lot of time and energy in. I also liked that she was a woman of independent means. I think Bianchin managed to show that Alessandro could afford to shower her with material things (because that's just obligatory for an HP hero, isn't it?), even though she didn't need them. (view spoiler)[ It was a bit sneaky how it turns out that he owns the restaurant where she gets hired as an assistant chef and her apartment building. I had to laugh, because his tendency to own everything reminded me of Roarke from the In Death series by JD Robb! (hide spoiler)] *I loved all the food descriptions. What can I say, I'm a foodie?
What I didn't like:
*The fashion descriptions bored me to tears. It's not that I don't like fashion, but getting a list of what Lily wore every time got really old. *Normally I like how HPs will have details about the different locales, but this one didn't do much for me as far as describing Milan. Maybe I just wasn't in the mood for it. *I just didn't get very excited about this book. It wasn't badly written. I just think she needed a little more zing in the story, and I don't mean sex. Just more tension and hop in the storyline. The annoyance factor of the continual post-mortems on Lily's failed relationship and her using that to keep Alessandro at bay was an execution issue, not so much that I don't like having the reluctant heroine who is afraid to love again. I liked that she didn't fall into bed with him immediately, so I'm not sure that insta-sex would have solved the lack of sizzle problem for me.
Overall, a decent read. Not one that I will find especially memorable, but I did like the fact that Alessandro is a solid hero who definitely shows he's worthy of love. When you have a heroine who has gone through what Lily did with her ex, you need that kind of hero. So it was a success on that front.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
A pleasant read, but not much conflict other than 'Will they, won't they?" A lighter historical romance with plenty of dialogue and conversations. AboA pleasant read, but not much conflict other than 'Will they, won't they?" A lighter historical romance with plenty of dialogue and conversations. About a couple who knows they aren't right for each other, although they feel so right together. Samuel is a really sweet guy, the kind of hero you can't help but love.