Mistress to the Marquis was a very absorbing, beautifully-written read. It honestly deals with a relationship between a titled gentleman and his mistrMistress to the Marquis was a very absorbing, beautifully-written read. It honestly deals with a relationship between a titled gentleman and his mistress, who comes from very humble origins and has a very scandalous past. Initially Razelby embarked on his mistress arrangement with Alice as a sort of 'last hurrah' before he married and had his heir to meet a 30th birthday deadline that is proven to have a very pivotal effect in his psyche. He is slow to admit how deeply he loves Alice, even though on a heart level, he doesn't want to terminate their arrangement. He does so out of duty. It is time to marry. And he will just have to move on and forget her. But that proves difficult, even impossible in the end. On Alice's side, her feelings are not something she has the agency to dwell on. She doesn't have the power to demand anything more from Razelby, so when he ends it, she has to find a way to be happy in the future without him.
There are things I really appreciate about this book. I am not fond of the trivializing of sexual relationships in romance novels (or the media for that matter). I know that in real life that is how many view sex. However, sex is never as 'no strings' or as 'casual' as we try to make it. Both Alice and Razelby find this out the hard way. I liked that a great deal of this book is about the emotional consequences of ending their affair. While mentally, they have both agreed to move on, their hearts have not agreed, and are in fact in rebellion against their minds.
I was happy with the execution in this book. I appreciate that McPhee makes this book about something more than just illicit passion, which is what you might expect with the subject matter. Instead, she uses the page time to show more than just numerous sexual encounters between the couple that was supposed to be broken up. Instead, McPhee shows how their everyday lives have become intertwined and seeing each other is obligatory. I've always wondered how two people in the same circle who were sexually involved and then break up manage to get past that when they see each other every single day and can't rearrange their lives to not be around each other. That is the case with Alice and Razelby. It's difficult to be around each other without the emotions and the memories impressing on their minds. They both come to realize how important they were to each other in many ways. How their time together wasn't just sexual, but also a deep friendship that blossomed into a profound love affair. It's not so easy to erase that experience. They both come to realize that ignoring what the heart wants is not always possible.
I also appreciated how dimensional the characters were. Instead of Razelby coming off as a heartless rake who enjoys his pleasures without considering the consequences, he is actually a man of consideration, a good man. I mean, he didn't have to end his mistress arrangement, but could have gone ahead and got married. Many did that in reality. But something in him knew that wasn't fair to either his future wife or his mistress. Perhaps in the past he wasn't so considerate, but through his relationship with Alice, he really starts to see her not as a commodity, a piece of pretty flesh for his exclusive and convenient use, or someone that he can use and throw away. Razelby is forced to consider the ethics of the titled gentleman's debaucheries. One of his cronies makes a suggestion to visit a bawdy house and he cringes internally at the thought of how Alice was forced to pursue this profession for her survival. I don't think Razelby could ever see houses of prostitution the same way in the future. This reader can't abide prostitution and particularly hates when it's trivialized as a mere harmless thing. This false conception the idea of a man paying a woman (or vice versa) has no inherent ills associated with it. At the same time, Alice is viewed as a whole and lovable person, despite the fact that she has a past as a prostitute. Many women end up in that life, and there is nothing inherently bad or worthless about them just because they had to make that choice. Razelby is well aware of this past and doesn't think any less of her. It's fortunate that Alice was able to move on from her past and hope for a better future, which is not always the case with women who end up in prostitution, either in the past or now.
I also liked how McPhee shows the the daily life of a woman in the demimondaine. It was interesting to see the rules that they live by and how some of them actually travel in the same circles as the ton, even though they aren't accepted in some places.
At first, I didn't like that Razelby didn't consider marriage to her a viable option. But later, it's revealed that his reasons are as much about her well-being, knowing how hypocritical and cruel the ton particularly the women could be towards a woman with her past, even if she is married to a titled gentleman), as his own status in society.
Frankly, I hate the hypocrisy of this system in which men can act like complete dogs and women are held to a different standard. Women are forced into the sex trade and their world and options shrink and doors close to them because of that, but the men who pay for their services are free to do pretty much whatever they want. It was awkward for both Razelby and Alice to encounter acquaintances who knew them as a couple and now consider Alice fair game or not suitable to be acquainted with. In effect, while Razelby has the option to carry on as usual, Alice is put in the situation of dealing with the fallout of their separation and its effects on her own reputation and future prospects.
I have rambled on big time. I guess that's a good thing when a book gets you thinking so much. I found Mistress to a Marquis that kind of read--involving me in the story, enthralling me with a really good love story, and giving me a lot of issues to ponder. While this is not my favorite theme in romance, it was handled very well in this book, and it definitely a higher rating for that.
I am not overstating to say that the release of the new Black Dagger Brotherhood series book is a highlight of my spring, and I view it as JR Ward's pI am not overstating to say that the release of the new Black Dagger Brotherhood series book is a highlight of my spring, and I view it as JR Ward's present to me for my birthday! That said, let's get to my review:
**Disclaimer: This review is as spoiler-free as I could make it!
Wrath, Son of Wrath and Beth Randall have come a long way since Dark Lover, and it's been my pleasure to accompany them on the ride!
When I first read Dark Lover (about eight years ago), I will be honest in saying that my biggest draw was not Wrath or Beth, but the world and the storyline of the Black Dagger Brotherhood and the strange world within a world of Caldwell, New York. While I enjoyed their relationship, it didn’t blow me away, and neither character is my favorite in this series. However, I knew I was going to keep reading the series, and boy am I glad.
With The King, I feel that an immensely important chapter has been closed in the Black Dagger Brotherhood, and it makes me happy because I feel that all the Brothers and their Shellans have found peace and the close bond of family, drawing close friends into their net. I also feel a sense of excitement in knowing that the storyline can continue and branch off in different ways and directions, and the waters seem uncharted. While there are tendrils that Ms. Ward has planted in this novel, I honestly don't feel I can predict too much about what is coming next. It's going to be fun to see where the story leads, and I am in no way ready for this series to end.
I feel we got to see some added depth to Wrath that was very good for expanding my view and appreciation of the King. He came to terms with some major hurts and issues he was facing, and I felt the flashbacks were a crucial aspect of the storyline. Wrath always regretted that he could not save his parents and he divorced himself from the concept of family and his legacy so long out of a sense of fear and guilt. In this book, he came to terms with his past and how his future did not have to be governed or hemmed in by fear. I loved his evolution as a King and what that responsibility came to mean for him. It was joyous for him to get everything he needed, but didn't even realize he wanted. Even though I know things didn't end well for his parents, their powerful love for each other and their son was still inspiring to me.
Beth's storyline was thought-provoking. She was all over the place emotionally, and I understand why. I feel that she was at some of her deepest lows and her highest highs both in this book. While the story is about her, as Wrath's shellen, I think that more of the story was about Wrath. Her role seems more peripheral, but in a pivotal way. I still enjoyed reading about her character journey in this book. Beth is the best Queen for the race, and I can think of no other shellan to stand at Wrath's side.
Beth and John Matthew
I think this book explored their relationship in a more satisfactory fashion than any of the proceeding books. They know they have each other's backs, and the readers as well. Also, it shows that although you may have your desired life partner, you also need the connection of family (blood and found). I almost thought the thing Ward said would never happen was going to happen, but it turns out that it wasn't necessary. I like the way the story unfolds instead. That John Matthew remains his own person, and his relationships with others aren’t hinged on his secret heritage.
Xcor remains a complicated male, not quite likable in many moments, and captivating and deeply sympathetic in others. Since I like my characters complex, he definitely has my interest, and he may turn out to be a new favorite of mine in this series. He remains a wild card in this new series arc, his behavior not the slightest bit predictable. To his great surprise, his feelings for a certain Chosen have opened closed off parts of his psyche, and this cannot be a bad thing at all. I think he will have a potential enemy in his own nest, but he’s not unaware of that.
Layla is on shaky ground, but she is making her own choices and defining herself as a female. In her own way, she may have helped to avert a war that wasn’t going to end well, and that’s a good thing. I’m happy about that. I’m very excited to see where the story leads her next.
Assail and Sola
Assail is probably the most amoral of the lead characters in this series to date. His behavior chilled me at times, but he was also very sweet in others to Sola and her grandmother. It’s hard to know what to make of him. I hope we see more of his viewpoint. I can’t believe their road ends here. Sola’s in a place where she has to deny the desires of the heart. How long will she be able to tune out the siren call of her unwise feelings for Assail, who logically seems like a ‘very bad man?'
The Shadows: Trez and iAm
I am jubilant at the expansion of their storyline. These two promise to be a gamechanger in the series. We will finally explore the world of the s’Hisbe, and what a fascinating world it is. Trez has been running from his past for a long, long time, dragging his brother iAm along for the bumpy ride, as iAm has ever been his self-appointed guardian. iAm will soon step out of his brother’s shadow and find his own destiny, since Trez must soon face the music. Trez’s character is both repellant and alluring. He breaks my heart in many ways, but I feel hope for his future. I am drawn into this exploration of the dark path he has walked. The Shadows, once merely loyal allies of the Sympath King, have their own grand tale to be told.
I didn’t expect her secret struggle at all. Another case of ‘keep reading’ to see how she will get her happy ending. And she had better!
The Usual Suspects
It's always a pleasure to see the various characters who have had their books, and at the same time, I want more of them. I don't think the WARDen could ever sate my desire for enough of each character, honestly.
JR Ward, like every other author, has her own distinctive voice. There are aspects to her storytelling that turn off some readers. While I can see where she can overdo some of her affectations (like the brand name dropping and the copious use of slang), I love reading her writing. I feel that her depiction of the ancient culture of the vampires and their various subspecies is very poetic and dramatic, like an epic in its own way. Her romantic exposition lushly romantic and deeply sensual. It wraps around me like the dark spices her bonded males exude for their mates. Her tendency to adapt an urban vibe doesn’t bother me, because I think it’s an interesting juxtaposition to the very antiquated rituals of the vampires. While I can’t deny that the Black Dagger Brotherhood is at its heart a soap opera (not a bad thing in itself), it’s an enthralling one that draws me in and doesn’t let go of me until I read the last page (although the stories and characters continue to linger deep in the recesses of my imagination long after I finish the books). I feel like the Brothers, their shellans, and their friends/associations are part of my family, and each book release is like a yearly family reunion that I don’t dare miss. If only I was as excited to go to my real life family reunions!
I’m sure that I could nitpick about the things I felt could have been better written, but I don’t want to. It won’t make me feel I wrote a better review, and I’m not sure it would change my rating at all. I just want to bask in the glow of a new release of one of my top three series. I don’t drink JR Ward Kool-Aid, but I certainly enjoy her fine literary comestibles.
**The countdown has begun until next year’s release.**
I was rearranging my books and came across this one. It caught my eye. So I ended up reading it. This was a very good story. I actually liked both chaI was rearranging my books and came across this one. It caught my eye. So I ended up reading it. This was a very good story. I actually liked both characters. Michael was a man who had lost his mother at a young age, and ended up in the foster system, eventually at The Granger Home for Boys. Because of that loss, he had determined never to fall in love or give his heart away. For three long years, he fought feelings for his secretary, Kate, until they had too much champagne, and shared a night of passion. The next morning, he apologized and told her he wanted things to be just business. Kate never got over that night, because she'd fallen in love with Michael. She knew it was a risky thing to do, but the heart doesn't listen to logic. When she reveals her pregnancy, Michael has to campaign for her to marry him, to make sure that his child has a family and a secure future that he didn't have. But that alone isn't enough. He finds that he wants his very wary wife's heart and a chance at a real family.
This was a very good book. Banks thoroughly involves me in this relationship between Michael and Kate. This book is both emotional and sensual. I loved seeing their hearts open up to each other and connect on deep levels. I liked that Kate doesn't settle for just part of Michael, because she shows him that he can have more if he does take a chance. Category romance is such a neat way to get a lovely romance that you can read in under two hours, but get the full exposure, albeit in brief form. I like marriage and baby books, and with a hero who acts tough and detached, but really is a sweetheart, plus a heroine who is very lovable, what more can you ask for with this book?
I think Jennie Lucas might give Lynne Graham a run for her money with the sweet, naive heroine theme. Josie is as sweet as they come. She really seemsI think Jennie Lucas might give Lynne Graham a run for her money with the sweet, naive heroine theme. Josie is as sweet as they come. She really seems out of her league with Kasimir. It seems like shooting fish in the barrel. But Kasimir never knew what hit him. Before he knew it, his plans for revenge that involved Josie were flying away like birdies, and he was stone cold in love.
Jennie Lucas understands the appeal of escapist fantasy romance and she delivers it. While most of the readers of this genre won't know what it's like to swept off our feet by a ruthless billionaire, and probably don't want it in real life, Lucas gives us a 2 hour read that allows us to explore the possibilities. That's why I like this series of books so much. It's a different world and I like that I can spend two hours in that world.
Kasimir is a very bad man. Well, at least he was. I mean, he wants to be. But I think deep down, he's a decent fellow who forgot what was important in life. He lost everything, and when you lose everything, you have nothing to lose. Josie teaches him what it means to love and to sacrifice for love. She teaches him what it means to be a genuine person. And she teaches him to follow his heart and love passionately.
I really liked the first book, Dealing Her Final Card, but I think I liked this one even more. It felt more like Princess fantasy. I liked that they are actually married, and she's not just a mistress. And I think the change in Kasimir is more dramatic than in Vladimir. I also think it's because this was not a reunion romance. The feelings between Josie and Kasimir develop on the page before my mesmerized eyes, and I enjoyed every page of it.
Plus the ending was so sweetly romantic, it made me sigh.
Oh my goodness. This is one of those that has a sappy romantic like myself sighing. A lonely, isolated man. A woman who 'has it together' or so it seeOh my goodness. This is one of those that has a sappy romantic like myself sighing. A lonely, isolated man. A woman who 'has it together' or so it seems, but is a wreck on the inside. And they find each other.
The Beauty and the Beast retelling doesn't get old for me. After all, I am a die-hard romantic and a die-hard fairy tale lover. Pepper Pace does both so well here. Yet, instead of the Beast being grumpy and surly, Christopher is the sweetest teddy bear (although he probably resembles a Grizzly bear) imaginable. I loved him!
Pace challenges the reader here. Our Beauty has a significant weight problem. And the weight problem isn't her issue, but the emotions underneath it, the ones that caused her weight issues, and the results of them. If you've ever been overweight, you know how it is for Ashleigh. The comments that hit like barbs, because someone thinks they have the right to say something or the fact that they are insensitive, because they've never struggled with weight problems. The assumptions made about you because of your weight.
On the other side, she doesn't make Ashleigh into a completely harmless victim. Ashleigh has some shallowness issues to work through. But that's the beauty of this story. She is able to see the beauty beneath the horrible scars and disfigurement that Christopher has. I truly loved the emotional connection between Christopher and Ashleigh. And there was also a very sensual component to this book, for romance readers who need that in their stories. Lots of spice and hot love scenes to go with an emotional love story that feels so authentic and timeless.
When I got to 38% on my Kindle and love declarations were made, I wondered what else could happen in this book. Well, plenty. This is a love story about not just two people finding each other, but also also finding their way to healing. Making a life together in spite of obstacles they both face.
When you read these kinds of stories, the stubborn person in you is determined to be upset if the problem is fixed, such as the heroine losing weight, or the hero getting his disfigurement repaired. But is that truly fair to the story for the characters not to go through that passage 'just because'? After all, it's easy to stay where you are. Even harder to take that step of faith to change something about yourself for the right reasons. In this case, the resolution made so much sense and only added to this story.
If I could change anything? That's a matter of personal tastes, and I'm sure many will disagree with me. However, I could have done without some of the graphic language in the love scenes. While they were scintillating and the chemistry powerful, I guess I didn't need to read certain terms when it came to body parts. That's a small quibble.
I'm personally no grammar stickler, but there were a couple issues there. I feel bad even pointing them out because a 100% accurate book doesn't necessarily tell a story that I love, like this somewhat imperfect one does. Overall, I found the writing very poised, professional, and so emotionally-stirring that I couldn't help but give this a five star rating.
This was a beautiful love story. That's kind of ironic, because this story is about how what's on the surface doesn't show you everything. That what is at the heart is worth fighting for in the end.
Highly recommended to romance readers who enjoy a more sensually descriptive love story, or just any old sap who can't resist a tried and true love story....more
Just One Last Night is a very good and quick contemporary romance about an estranged married couple who have a very tragic event in their lives that cJust One Last Night is a very good and quick contemporary romance about an estranged married couple who have a very tragic event in their lives that causes a rift in their marriage.
Without spoiling readers, I would say that what happens to this couple was very devastating, and it would take two very devoted people in love to overcome it. Melanie is already carrying baggage from her childhood, on top of their recent tragedy, and this acts as the icing on the cake for her belief that she is poison to love. What I loved about this book is that Forde is a man who loves his wife enough to fight for her, and he loves her in spite of the way she pushes him away. When he made those marriage vows, he took them seriously, and is more than willing to fight for his marriage. A devoted hero is Helen Brooks' stock in trade, and she does it very well. One of my favorite kinds of heroes is a devoted one who will surmount any obstacle to win the woman he loves.
I could understand Melanie's emotional wounds. I could even give her some slack for how she was pushing Forde away, although she was admittedly being irrational about her past and how it affected her self-image. I mean, that's very human to be less than level-headed when it comes to emotions and their impact on our lives.
I especially enjoyed the cozy days around Christmas that Melanie and Forde shared, their feline companion(s), and the unique way that this couple becomes reunited. I'd have to be honest and admit I'm not big on stories with estranged married couples. However, Brooks acquitted herself admirably with this book. The execution was well-done, and Just One Last Night was a very good book to read in the month of December to get me in the Christmas mood.