So, this is my review of the latest Ward book. I love this time of year, and the traditions that come alone with it as a long-time JR Ward fan. It's aSo, this is my review of the latest Ward book. I love this time of year, and the traditions that come alone with it as a long-time JR Ward fan. It's a big part of why I enjoy this series so much.
Sorry, but this is a really long review. I had a lot to say!
Possible Spoiler Disclaimer: I will warn readers that while I really tried not to use overt spoilers, you will see that there is an emotional shock that comes in this book, but I don’t reveal exactly what it was. Readers beware!
The Shadows is the telling of the story of the two s’Hisbe brothers who have become unofficial members of the Brotherhood’s growing family. Trez is running away from his destiny, written in the stars, as the future mate of the Princess of the s’Hisbe. He’s done everything he could to disqualify himself, but the time is growing short and he can run no longer. iAm has stood in the gap for his brother for many years, trying to keep his brother from going over the edge of oblivion to the exclusion of having his own life. But the time is coming when he won’t be able to save his brother. Trez is stone cold in love with the Chosen, Selena, but for many reasons, a happy ending doesn’t seem to be written in their destinies. Will iAm ever get the chance to build his own life, and to make decisions that aren’t dictated by his sacrificial love for his brother?
With a storyline that like, you know there’s going to be major drama.
Drama is JR Ward’s calling card. When I read one of her books, I automatically expect it. It’s hard, at the same time, waiting for the other shoe to drop, and it often does, very hard. I deliberately took my time reading this, preparing myself for the emotional blows sure to come. Not at all sure that there would be a happy end by the last page. I know a lot of people weren’t happy with this book, and I was prepared that I might not be, or that I might like it and find myself an outlier in saying why I liked it. So, it was emotionally stressful for me to read it. Another reason to take my time.
Some have argued that Ward has moved away from her initial writing of romance. I’m not sure I agree. Even in her earlier book, there was always a sense that not everything was settled, and while there were committed and happily mated couples, troubles could be lurking around the corner. Yes, the books were shorter and they focused more on the romance, but there was always something more, and plenty of drama. As the series has progress, the books have expanded, and with them, the storylines. And yes, the drama quotient. At times, it’s wearying how the storylines get dragged out and she introduces yet another set of new characters instead of giving more resolution on current storylines. This book was not different in that regard. And there were parts of this book that ripped my guts out and gave me a headache that was just a shade below a migraine. I wanted to slap one particular character super-duper silly. And I wanted to shake another one. I wanted to rail at the capriciousness of life, and ask the whys. But at the same time, I was satisfied at the end of the story. Hence my rating.
My opinion won’t be popular on this book amongst many of my friends. Largely, I really enjoyed this book. While there were some parts that were terribly sad and that made me sob like a big old baby, I felt that JR Ward delivered the quality of storytelling I appreciate about her writing. I’m not the one to tell you if she messed up specific details. I love this books a lot, but I don’t always remember which hand of Vishous glows or which eye of Qhuinn’s is blue versus green. To me, I don’t find that terribly important. I do care about the stories and the emotional journey. I don’t care if she rewrites some aspects of the storyline, because that’s to be expected in a long-running series. As an artist, one’s creation will evolve, and Ward views these people as real, probably as real as they seem to me, but probably even more real. And real people do change.
I will say this as well, I believe in eternal life. I believe that life doesn’t end on this plane. I believe that death is an enemy in that it steals love ones away from their beloveds, hopefully not forever, but sometimes it is forever. Our mortal bodies fail us and we leave this life and go to another place. I’m a Christian, so I believe that Heaven and Hell are real. For the Brothers, it’s the Fade. But I think the pain is the same, knowing that you won’t see a beloved again in this life. And when one is dying, it’s facing one’s mortality, and the question of whether what you’ve believed that whole time was real or not.
My two cats (that I had for pretty much their whole, long lives) died this past fall, and it broke my heart to pieces. They were older and I should have been prepared. I work in animal medicine, and I lost my dad about ten years ago, so death is not new to me. But it still wrenched my soul to lose them. It’s funny what people say and don’t say to you when you lose someone. I had people say some things that were quite ugly even though they didn’t mean it that way, and that didn’t help my emotional healing. I also had people who ministered to me in my grief, and understood exactly how I felt. They can’t know how much they helped me, but I say a prayer of thanks that God put them in my path at the right time.
I think this book touched me because I saw one of the characters go on that journey. The stages of grief were so tangible to me because of my recent loss (and quite honestly, I also lost a church friend recently, so I was dealing with that as well). I could feel what it was like for this character and the pain of losing a person, but also the fact that they could not ever have regrets about having loved that person, for however short that time was. It’s real for me. I don’t know, but I’m thinking that Ward went through a loss recently, and she wrote this from her heart. I connected with that, and I can see why she didn’t change the ending to a “happy, joy, joy” one that would be expected.
Sometimes, that’s not the way life works. Sometimes, you lose people and you have to get out of bed the next day. You have to attend to the ceremonies that come along with the loss and keep one foot in front of the other until you can walk without falling. Sometimes you have to be strong so you can be strong for another person who needs that strength, and put your own needs aside. That was all so real to me, and very well-written.
Others may not like how that was done. I respect that. While it sucked that this person died, it was also valuable in the terms of the story. I can’t fault Ward for that decision. I’ve seen her make others in her stories that I was more angry about. I think she handled the situation with grace, even in the most ugly and emotionally wrenching parts. I think she knows that people are going to be angry with her, and she owns it. I respect her for that.
Speaking of things that made me angry, Xcor was a real tool in this book. I had started seeing more potential for him as a future hero in the past few books, but now I’m just annoyed at him and I question his value as a future love interest for a certain person. I really disliked what he did, for numerous reasons. Those who know my tastes can probably pinpoint why, and can understand why I wanted to bitchslap him. It’s not that I don’t understand his character or the whys but it was a jerk move. At some point you have to stop being a whiny baby and say no to the past and declare a better future. I hold out hope that he’ll get a clue, but he’ll need to get a cleansing deep inside and outside before everything will be okay with me.
I continue to like Layla’s character. She’s really growing as a three-dimensional character in her own right. I wasn’t happy about that storyline with Qhuinn at first, but now I’m okay with it. I think it’s an interesting dynamic, and I want to see where things lead with her and her ancillary relationship with Qhuinn and Blay. I just want her to have a Hellren who is worthy of her. She deserves it! I hope the male she’s in love with gets his head out of his rear end sometime soon.
One of the things I absolutely loved about this book was the relationship between iAm and Trez, and how things turned around, and the one who always made sacrifices got to be the one who was put first in a crucial way. iAm is a really classy guy, a worthy male, and while Trez did have some jerk moments in the past few books, I really liked him in this book and felt for him. He proves to be a very worthy male (although I don’t agree with his view of prostitution being okay as long as the women get the lion’s share of their earnings). Yes, they don’t consider themselves black or African American, but I liked that they do represent people of color in this book so well. I also found the s’Hisbe culture fascinating. In some ways, it’s not super well-defined, but it’s intriguing to me. An interesting compare and contrast to the Vampire and Sympath cultures. ‘s’Ex is some kind of dude. On the real! He has swagger like my beloved Rehvenge, and that is a very nice comparision from a reader who is stone cold in love with Rehv! I hope we see more of him. I like one of the new characters introduced very much, which I cannot reveal as a spoiler. Thumbs up for her. That was super-sweet too what happens with her and another character.
A few things I was indifferent about as well. I am indifferent about the Lesser storyline. It doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. We’ll see what happens in the next book. I can’t make up my mind how I feel about Assail. I hate drug abuse/activity, so he’s got a major strike against him. At the same time, I do appreciate the pragmatism of his character. I think he truly is amoral, and he sticks true to that. I’m not sure if he’ll turn out to be an antihero or a full on villain. I have this sick appreciation for a good antihero, I freely admit.
I feel like the Band of Brothers storyline was underrepresented in this book, but I think Ward is saving it for the next book and chose to focus on other aspects. It will be interesting to see what happens between Xcor and Throe (and I’m glad that Wrath ain’t nobody’s fool when it comes to that situation). I wish she’d spent more time on the BoB instead of developing the new storyline with Paradise. I don’t hate her, but I can’t say I really care that much about her right now. Having said that, I’ll definitely be reading the spinoff series, even though I think it’s Ward’s bid for the New Adult niche (and I’m not interested in that genre).
So, yes, I think I could go on about this book, but I’ve already written such a long review. It won’t change anything. I’m pretty set on how I rated the book. I own it. I liked this book a whole lot. I enjoy Ward’s writing. I love the elegance of the old races she writes about, juxtaposed to the gritty modern world. I even like the thug slang and urban ways of the Brothers (as odd as some find it). I know a lot of folks hate that, but I feel that it’s characteristic of her writing, and I smile every year when I get to hang out with the Brothers and their ever-growing circle of acquaintances. I think that Ward really loves writing about these characters and that joy is infectious to me as a reader. I wish that some of my favorites were more front and center, but most of them had their day in the sun and it’s time to let someone else take the center focus. I will say it was nice to see more of Rhage and Mary in this book.
I guess I’m always going to enjoy Ward’s book for what they are. I don’t expect her to be a perfect writer. She has her quirks like any other artist, but I think she’s a darn good writer, and I love this world she’s created, even more with each book. I added The Shadows to my BDB hardcover shelf with a feeling of proprietary pride. Enough Said! ...more
Loving Lord Ash does the estranged married couple theme very well. I had some happy surprises reading this book, including two main characters who I fLoving Lord Ash does the estranged married couple theme very well. I had some happy surprises reading this book, including two main characters who I found thoroughly likable. Lighter historical romance, but the tone and the storyline are very engaging.
I'm really glad the Action/Adventure Aficionados group chose this as a monthly reading selection. It encouraged me to grab the audiobook from my libraI'm really glad the Action/Adventure Aficionados group chose this as a monthly reading selection. It encouraged me to grab the audiobook from my library. And this was a book I am definitely glad I read.
I grew up in the 80s, so most of the pop culture references hit me right where I lived. I'm not much of a gamer, although we did have an Atari 2600 growing up, so I totally got some of the more obvious ancient gaming references, even though the more obscure gaming references passed me by. But that was okay, because many of the references were explained over the course of this novel.
This book will tap into the reader's hidden or untapped geeky depths. Maybe you already know you're a geek of old. Or maybe you never realized how much of a geek you are. Either way, you will find some resonance in this novel.
To be honest, I was thrown by the this novel's rather bleak beginning. I expected something more light-hearted. In a strange way, this book is both tragic and light-hearted fun. The tragedy is in the fact that people hide from the world in the worlds of fiction and gaming when the world is falling apart around them. And who can blame them, really? Some of us know how the creator of the OASIS, James Halliday, feels, having felt socially awkward and rejected by the mainstream, finding your identity in your particular fandom or sub-culture. Also, it was amazingly shocking how ruthless IOI was in getting their way. I can be a bit suspicious and mistrustful of big business, no question about that. But I didn't expect IOI to be willing to commit murder to win the contest. That was surprising to me.
I really liked Wade as the lead character. He is quite cynical in a way that I found sad, but I don't live in the world he does. Maybe all belief would be snatched out of me too if I lived what he lives through (I hope not). Even with his flaws, he's a rootable hero, and I was actually quite worried about him throughout this novel I also liked H and Ar3mis and Shoto. I wasn't expecting a bad guy, but boy does this book have a majorly hard core bad guy and they are quite relevant to the world we live in today.
Wil Wheaton is a fantastic narrator. He imbues the characters with plenty of life, makes them believable and sympathetic when they are supposed to be, and seriously mega-jerks when they are not.
This is one of those books that I feel is enhanced significantly by the audiobook experience. I felt even more like I was part of the book. It's a long book, but it doesn't feel long, because the story flows so well.
Even though some aspects could be on the technical end of computer knowledge, it doesn't feel technical or dry to me. I'm not a computer programmer by trade or aspiration, so anything that goes too much in that direction tends to go over my head. Thankfully, Cline doesn't bog down the narrative with too many technical explanations.
I found the gamescape fascinating, and I rooted for Wade and his friends to work their way through the OASIS and claim the Egg.
I think that Cline appeals to readers in that he has so many different avenues of pop culture that even if you aren't a gamer or into online culture, you can still appreciate the TV, books, music and movie tidbits from this book. I am not shamed that I have not seen Monty Python and the Holy Grail, since I did watch the show. If folks are giving out geek creds, I have plenty in other areas. Even if you aren't technically a geek, you might still enjoy this book. It's a fun adventure book with plenty of laughs, more sadness than I expected, and realistic characters who will have you cheering them on.
This is my first book by Joanna Bourne, and I'm glad I've been collecting her books in my tbr pile. She's an excellent writer, with that rich voice IThis is my first book by Joanna Bourne, and I'm glad I've been collecting her books in my tbr pile. She's an excellent writer, with that rich voice I love so much in historical romance. Her characters are complex and the romance drew me in and had me holding my breath. I loved Pax! Cami was a singular heroine, lethal in her own right. This is also an excellent spy novel (I love genuine spy stories).
A Royal World Apart stands out as a Harlequin Presents in good ways. We have a hero here who is very self-controlled, and physically dangerous, not juA Royal World Apart stands out as a Harlequin Presents in good ways. We have a hero here who is very self-controlled, and physically dangerous, not just a guy with a lot of money and charisma who likes the ladies. In this case, Makhail is a man who took his responsibilities so seriously that he nursed a wife through a long illness (staying faithful to her while she was alive and even afterward). While Makhail isn't what I'd consider a passionate hero for most of the book, I loved that he was the 'still waters run deep' type man, very focused, intensely self-controlled. He had a maturity that was beyond his almost thirty years. I could see why Eva fell for him. He had traits that her brothers and father lacked, and even when he didn't have to care about her feelings and needs as her bodyguard, he took the extra step to do so.
Maisey Yates is a very good writer. While this book took me a while to read (because I am just very busy right now), I felt that it was a rich story, with well-developed, multi-layered characters. I was emotionally engaged in their story. Eva is a rich princess, but she's not spoiled as you might assume. Her life has been so controlled that she hasn't even had the opportunity to figure out who she is and what she wants, and she starts to act recklessly because of that fear that she will never have that opportunity. I loved that her and Makhail's developing relationship was so well-described in this book. I could see the progression from bodyguard and charge to man and woman deeply in love with each other and willing to give up everything to be together.
A Royal World Apart is a good romance for readers who enjoy royal romance and the bodyguard theme. Yates does a great job of combining both into an enjoyable story. Makhail is quite different from a typical Harlequin Presents hero, but in a thoroughly refreshing way. Some readers may not care for him because he seems so controlled and is not an arrogant man (very atypical for HP heroes), but I really liked him (and not just because he's Russian and I love Russian heroes). In fact, he might be one of my favorites. Another good book by this author....more
This is my first audiobook of a Diana Palmer book, and overall, I liked it. I didn't care for the way the narrator voiced the females. He sounded tooThis is my first audiobook of a Diana Palmer book, and overall, I liked it. I didn't care for the way the narrator voiced the females. He sounded too falsetto for my tastes. I think I enjoyed this more than other reviewers, although I agree that there were a lot of random conversations and less focus on the romance than I would have liked.
Diana Palmer is a long-time favorite of mine. She's a sweet lady and I will always read her books.
This was a very dark, intense vampire action horror novel. There were some blasphemous elements that I found disturbing, which knocked my rating down.This was a very dark, intense vampire action horror novel. There were some blasphemous elements that I found disturbing, which knocked my rating down. Readers who like dark vampire horror might enjoy this. But be warned. Not for the faint of heart.
This is a weak four stars for me, because there were some things I think detracted away from the book, but also things I really like. This has to be aThis is a weak four stars for me, because there were some things I think detracted away from the book, but also things I really like. This has to be a short review, so I can't get into all of that in great detail (if you really want to know, check Bitten by Books for the full review). On the whole, enjoyable. I loved the angel parts, but some of the theology was a bit muddled with bit too much of everything thrown in. Probably won't bother some readers, but it didn't sit well with me. I definitely recommend this to angel fiction fans, and for readers who want to see some cultural diversity in their urban fantasy. Ms. Banks gets an A+ for that.
Rest in Peace, Ms. Banks. The fiction world is poor for your passing.
Thanks to my friend Rae for the heads up on this book. I love me a virgin hero. I especially like when the hero is not portrayed as a freak or weirdoThanks to my friend Rae for the heads up on this book. I love me a virgin hero. I especially like when the hero is not portrayed as a freak or weirdo just because he’s a virgin. Instead, Jason is a very desirable, well-adjusted, mature guy of twenty-six, with valid reasons for his virginity. You see, Jason has been in love with his best friend for most of his life. He waited years for her. The whole while, Robbie still thinks of him as a friend. She loves him, but she has to get herself out of the mindset of being just friends to lovers, and forever partners in life. I think that the author did a good job of conveying that change that Robbie’s viewpoint had to undergo. If it’s not already apparent, let me say that I loved Jason. He’s a very sensual, sexy, intelligent, together guy. I liked how patient and caring he was with Robbie, but definitely conveying his powerful feelings for her. It must have been very hard carrying the weight of his unrequited love for Robbie, trying to wait for her to wake up to the true bond between them.
I felt that things were a bit slow at times, as the author spent a lot of time showing Robbie in her normal routine. I wasn’t as much interested in that. I was more focused on her interactions with Jason, the escalation of their relationship from buddies to lovers. The tension between them was fantastic, even though the love scenes are more along the fade to black lines. I did enjoy seeing their relationship evolve, although Robbie frustrated me in how she seemed rather clueless about Jason’s motives. Like he would ever hurt or use her. I think he deserved more of her trust than that. It was clear that she had some growing up to do, but I was glad she did grow up enough by the end of the book to realize that Jason was the man for her.
Waking Up is a must-read for romance fans who love virgin heroes. Jason will impress! ...more
Just a disclaimer here: This will be a very difficult review to write. In order to truly review this book, I have to talk about my own views on thingsJust a disclaimer here: This will be a very difficult review to write. In order to truly review this book, I have to talk about my own views on things and how books affect me personally. I am opening myself up here, which always makes me squirm. If you are reading this review and you don't agree with my beliefs on things, that's totally fine. But, I am not going to deny how I feel, because that is very important to me when I review a book, since I read books emotionally and not from a detached standpoint. Having said that, let's get this show on the road.
I can think of a list of reasons why I should not have liked this book, and I will start there:
1. I really dislike long books. As I told a friend on here, I am a 'hit it and quit it' reader--meaning, I like to read shorter to moderate-length (and occasionally longer) books, get them read, and move onto the next book. This book was a massive 901 pages!
2. Prostitution and paid sex is something that I absolutely detest the thought of. It squicks me out that someone would pay for sex or have sex for money or financial support/livelihood. I generally avoid this content like the plague, although a big part of my nature is to occasionally challenge myself and my perceptions of the world. It's good for me, even if the process is painful at times. This book has a heroine who is a courtesan, although she is called more ugly terms that I don't use. Not only that, her prostitution is a form of worship and honor to one of her dieties (if you want to call Fallen angels dieties).
3. I don't like books where the main characters sleep with a lot of people during the book. Promiscuity and sleeping around is another area that I am just not comfortable with. I especially don't like reading about sex with no love/emotional bond. This book was kind of interesting in that Phedre's sex is a form of worship. She didn't love most of the people she was intimate with, but she loved Elua, Naamah, and Kushiel, and that was expressed through her sex with her patrons. The genesis of the sacred nature of sex in this culture relates to the fact that the angel Naamah would lay with strangers to support Elua and the angels as they traveled through the Terre D'Ange. It's probably necessary to mention that the patron can be male or female. Elua's dictate is Love as thou wilt, which eliminates any stigma to same sex relationships. Although I am more of a male/female romance reader, I don't necessarily dislike same sex interactions, so that wasn't a huge issue for me.
4. I am very vanilla about sex. Meaning, I don't like reading about kinky, dark, twisted sex at all. I especially don't like reading about sadomasochistic/painful/humiliating sex. I don't understand that need and it's not something that I personally feel okay about. The main character in this story is a masochist. She was pricked by Kushiel (who is the angel who is the keeper of Hell and punishes the lost). That punishment is out of love to save their souls. Phedre possessing Kushiel's Dart marks one of her dark brown eyes with a dash of red, which is a visible manifestation of her being favored or cursed to have a physiology which made pain pleasurable for her, including emotional pain (which means that she got sexually aroused by being humiliated or forced or treated badly by her partner). I'm not going to go into detail here. I think you could use your imagination. I'll just leave it with two words to express my feelings: Ick Factor! Most of the sex scenes were very uncomfortable for me to read. In the author's defense, this book has very elegant sex scenes (for the subject matter). Somehow, she managed to avoid them coming off as repulsive and tawdry. My repulsion was based on my own comfort zones being exceeded, instead of deliberate acts of prurience on the author's part.
5. I typically don't care for stories with a lot of political intrigue and situations. Surprisingly, I found that I really got into that aspect of this story, and I was quite enthralled with the tangled web of conspiracies against members of the royal family and nobles. I believe it was because Ms. Carey did a great job of entwining Phedre into this Gordian Knot in a very intimate manner through her adoptive father, Anafiel Delaunay. Phedre becomes Delaunay's bondservant, and is trained to be a master spy as well as courtesan. Her skills aid him in his secret avocation to the royal family, hearing and seeing all, in the line of her duties as a courtesan.
6. The whole cultural set up of this story is very different from what I am used to. Surprisingly, this part was the easiest thing to get past. When I read fantasy, I expect that the author will build her own world from the ground up, and that might include other religious beliefs. It's easier for me if the author founds a whole new religious world divorced from the real world. I can easily separate myself from what I know and accept the concepts from the story and read it with a fresh mind. In this book, Ms. Carey takes a left turn from Christianity, and creates a world in which the main diety worshipped, Elua, is the son of Jesus' blood from when he was wounded on the cross and its union with Mother Earth. The other members of the pantheon are angels that chose to fall to accompany Elua in his exile. In other words, turning their back on God to follow Elua. The people with these beliefs are called D'Angelines, because they live in the country founded by Elua and his Angels called Terre D'Ange (Land of the Angel in French). Christianity still exists in the world, and its practitioners are called Yeshuites, after Jesus' Hebrew name of Yeshua. I believe there are also Muslims, but they are called Akkadians. The people who correspond to the Celts and Picts of Alba (Britain) and Eire (Ireland) have their own beliefs, and the Skaldi, who are like Norsemen, worship the Norse pantheon. Even though it was pretty different, I thought it was a pretty creative cultural genesis that Ms. Carey accomplished in this story.
Yes, that's a lot of reasons why I shouldn't have liked this book. Despite these things, I loved this book. It was fascinating. It kept my interest. I cared about the characters. Phedre was a heroine that I loved. I didn't like her assignations, and I would sort of roll my eyes when she took another one, much like Joscelin did. But, I liked her as a person. I could see that she was being true to herself, and I couldn't fault her for that. I loved how she came from very humble origins and made something wonderful of herself. I loved her loyalty and her caring heart. I loved how clever she was. She used every thing she had been taught and all her assets to accomplish what needed to be done. Even though I didn't always like what she did, I respect why she did it. It was profound to see how her view of herself and her place in the world changed. People looked down on her for being a 'whore', but she was a great spymaster, a diplomat, and an incredible tactitian. I cheered for her to find her rightful place in her world, because she earned that after all she'd suffered and lost. I loved Joscelin as well. Although he was a bit judgmental at times, so was Phedre towards him, but in a different way. It was very clear how devoted to her he was, and he was very true to his beliefs, following Cassiel, the angel who still loved God, but felt that he had to follow Elua out of loyalty. I admired that he made sacrifices to follow his beliefs, but his love for Phedre often caused him to break his vows, which in a way showed how true to following Cassiel he was. Even though he was not the main character, my mind always went back to him, wanting to see what he was doing and how he reacted to the situations around him. All the characters were real and lifelike, some in a good way, some in a bad way. But, there weren't any disposable characters in this story, even if they played small roles. And when some of the characters I grew to love got harmed and died, it made for painful reading.
At first, I had a lot of trouble with all the names of the characters and people, and countries. But, after a while, it started to make sense, and I was able to connect them to an existing frame of reference pretty well. I think it was pretty brilliantly conceived. The various peoples were extremely culturally distinct, and I really appreciated the time that Ms. Carey took to explore their cultures. It was interesting how the D'Angelines had a lot of cultural superiority that they had to get past, in order to face a huge threat from within and from the warlike, intimidating Skaldi race.
What surprised me was that I found the military aspects very fascinating. Maybe I shouldn't be surprised, because I've always had an admiration for warriors and the culture of warriors. I thought that seeing the battles and war unfold through Phedre's eyes was very interesting. I liked seeing how she used her particular skill set to aid her country in winning the war. The sacrifices she made for her country were very admirable. She showed that although she wasn't a warrior in the traditional sense, her heart was that of a warrior, willing to give everything to win and prevail, even if that involved personal sacrifice and surrender.
This was a deep book. It took me through a gamut of emotions, many not comfortable at all. It truly was epic, and I really didn't get bored, surprisingly considering its length and complexity. There were some very unpalatable aspects to this story, and the values seemed very alien to what I feel I hold sacred. However, underneath there is a commonality. Love is sacrifice, love is giving. When something is important to a person, one devotes herself to it. Even though the creeds of the people in this book seemed alien, I could identify with the idea of holding something sacred in life, and that dictating one's actions.
As one can imagine, it's not easy to sum up my thoughts on a book that is so long and rather complicated. I think I have done as best as I can, and I won't make this review any longer than necessary. I have to be honest and say I highly doubt I'll keep reading this series. It's a huge investment of my time and energy when books are this long. And since it took me to some uncomfortable places, I'm not sure I want to go through that process any more with the following books. In my mind, I want to think of Phedre and Joscelin being happy, able to find a compromise that works for both of them, and having a great love. I want to leave things that way. The good thing is, this book is a keeper, and will have fond memories of these characters who came to mean so much to me. Perhaps I will reread this book one day to revisit this fascinating world of the D'Angelines. ...more
I hope this one doesn't have a cheating hero like her last book. I like her writing, but I skipped The Earl Claims His Wife because of the adulterousI hope this one doesn't have a cheating hero like her last book. I like her writing, but I skipped The Earl Claims His Wife because of the adulterous hero....more
If I was to list the Grande Old Dames of Historical Romance, I'd definitely have LaVyrle Spencer on my list. It's a shame that she has retired from wrIf I was to list the Grande Old Dames of Historical Romance, I'd definitely have LaVyrle Spencer on my list. It's a shame that she has retired from writing, but at least she leaves a legacy behind in her excellent books she has written.
The Endearment is one of her books I managed to overlook for some reason. Initially, I thought it was one of the many that I read growing up, and forgot the details about. But I'm pretty sure I haven't read this before. I will admit that I made a note to reread (or perhaps read for the first time) it when I saw that it was listed on the All About Romance Virgin Hero List, which is a theme I can't resist. Of course, I tend to obtain copies of books, and they languish in my tbr pile until I get the urge to read (or have the time to read). I pulled this one out of the pile and added it to my PRIMAVERA challenge, and that is why I have read this book and I am reviewing it now. After that lengthy segueway, I will actually write my thoughts on this book.
As far as frontier romance, you cannot go wrong here. In this book, Karl Lindstrom is an earnest, decent, hardworking Swede who has come to Minnesota to set up his own homestead. In the two years since he arrived, he has ached with loneliness (since he left his big family behind in Sweden and is unmarried), with only his goat Nanna and his team of Percheron horses, Bill and Belle, to keep him company (in the most innocent of ways, mind you). He decided to seek a mail order bride, and ends up corresponding with Anna Reardon, who tells him a never-ending stream of big fat ones that make her seem like the ideal bride candidate. He sends her money to come out to Minnesota from Boston to marry him and be his wife.
When Anna arrives, Karl is struck by her beauty, even if she is thin and much younger than she said (he wanted an older bride-twenty-five, and she's seventeen). It turns out she didn't come alone. She brought her thirteen-year-old brother James with her. Karl isn't very happy about that. He's worried about having another mouth to feed and not having time alone with his new bride. He agrees to marry her, but tells her ‘no more lies.’ Anna means it when she says she won’t lie to him, but there’s still a big whopper between them that she can’t put into words. He’ll find out the hard way. And until then, she can only hope for the best between them.
At first, Karl seems like the perfect hero. However, he’s rather rigid about his moral view of the world, and has trouble forgiving. My sympathies shifted as I read this story. At first, I was annoyed that Anna and her brother were pulling a whole bunch of fast ones on Karl. Then, I realized that the lies that Anna and James told were a matter of survival. Lying is wrong, but it’s a lot easier not to lie when you always have food on the table, have a loving family, and security in the world. Anna and James have never had any of those. And Anna’s chance at being Karl’s bride is the closest both of them will come.
That’s Ms. Spenser’s talent. To tell a story where there are many sides, and much growing for the characters to do. As I read this story, I hoped that Karl could get past the huge lie that Anna told, and understand why she did it. I wanted the burgeoning love between them to be enough to make their marriage bond unbreakable.
I loved the descriptions of the natural world, and the everyday life in the Minnesota wilderness. Karl was a tried and true woodsman, and a very skilled carpenter. There wasn’t a type of wood he didn’t know intimately. I learned about which wood makes the best type of furniture, what is suitable for building houses, or even making an axe handle. I loved his patience with greenhorns Anna and James. How he opened his house and his heart to them, and not without reservations or sacrifice. Even though Karl was a good man, he had his shares of flaws. That made him even the better as a hero, because he was accessible. And the joy was in seeing him come to realize that although Anna wasn’t quite the perfect wife he envisioned, she was the wife he treasured and loved, and she made his home truly a home. As for Anna, my heart went out to her and James for their troubled childhood, and for the sacrifice she made for her brother, that could have destroyed her future with Karl. She wanted to do the right thing, but always seemed to fall short. And it must have been tough being married to a ‘saint’ and failing to measure up to his perfect image of womanhood.
Karl and Anna have some first-married growing pains to get through, but love does conquer all, at least in the romantic world, which I am always happy about. With a little help along the way from sage friends like the priest who married them, and Kristen, the daughter of a Swedish family that establishes their homestead nearby. James is a great secondary character, an earnest young man who becomes like a son to Karl, and a loyal loving brother to his sister.
For me, The Endearment was a treasured reading experience. It warmed my heart, gave me a good story, and taught me a few lessons about forgiveness, understanding, and committing to what is important to you, even when it seems as though it isn’t exactly what you dreamed of. It can be even better in the end, because it’s real life, the best kind of dream come true.
Disclaimer: I am in gushing mode, which means I have lots of clunky metaphors and a bit of unwise hyperbole. Don't hold it against this book or its auDisclaimer: I am in gushing mode, which means I have lots of clunky metaphors and a bit of unwise hyperbole. Don't hold it against this book or its author. It's all me!
I make no apologies for my deep love of this series. It rocks. This series is premium when it comes to paranormal romance. Hands down. With Demon from the Dark, I felt that intense love grow like a rose bush on Miracle Gro fertilizer.
Ms. Cole has written a flawless book here. She wrote a hot, hot romance with two characters that I loved, flaws and all. She also had me believing that these people could fall in love with each other, even though they couldn’t speak the same language initially. I didn’t expect to be such a huge fan of Carrow when I met the party girl witch in Dark Desires After Dusk. But I do love her. It took me about five minutes into reading this to think, “I like her a lot.” Actually, the scene at the end of Pleasure of a Dark Prince had me feeling positively towards her. Now, I have to think she’s my favorite heroine in this series. Sorry Sabine!
A huge theme of this story is feeling abandoned/rejected/unwanted, like no one in the world truly loves you and accepts you. For Malkom, this was illustrated in a much more violent, heartbreaking manner. Malkom made my heart bleed. I could understand why he was such a violent, untrusting person who felt that being alone was the best option for him. I won’t go into all he suffered because I feel that this book needs to be read. You have to get to know Malkom the best way, by reading his story. But suffice it to say, no kid should go through what Malkom did. I so wanted him to have a beloved wife and a family. I wanted him to have that with Carrow and Ruby. Oh man, I just loved him. I was glad that Carrow ends up proving that she loves him and is worthy of being his fated mate.
In the case of Carrow, she finds herself in an untenable situation, and she is going to have betray the male that she falls deeply in love with. Normally, I would be raring at the bit, foaming at the mouth at what she did, because I hate deception. In this case, I could understand her dilemma. She ends up becoming the adoptive mother of an orphaned daughter of a friend murdered by Carrow’s human enemies. The thing about it was, Carrow acted like a parent. Parents have to make tough decisions. Their primary responsibility is to care for their children. She was over a barrel, and I respect that she stayed true and did what she had to with the intent to protect Ruby. And this decision almost cost her true love, putting her in that same situation of having love and affection denied to her, as she suffered as a materially privileged, but emotionally-starved young girl.
This situation shows what a masterful writer Kresley Cole is. She takes a scenario where you’re like, “This can’t end well,” and keeps you glued to the pages as she proves that it can, and has you enjoying the ride so much, you feel desolate when the book is over. That was this book (and all her books) in a nutshell. Also, did I mention, this woman knows how to write hot, hot, hot, really hot romance. For me, this was the hottest of her books. I think part of that was because I felt the intense pull that Carrow has on Malkom, and vice versa. They were like two powerful magnets exerting forces of attraction on each other (and pulling the reader along because the energy is so powerful). Ms. Cole manages to use every amorous moment to build the steam up until it’s about to explode and turn the book into a fireball. I really needed a fan as I read this book, and not just because Oblivion is like Yuma, Arizona with the thermostat turned up several degrees.
I honestly can’t think of anything I didn’t like about this book. Well, except that I wanted to find out what happens to some of the other Loreans who got abducted by the Order. I am gnawing on my knuckles to find out what happens between Melanthe and Thronos, and I really want to know more about Declan and Regin. Good thing I am reading Dreams of a Dark Warrior next month.
Kresley Cole, you kick paranormal romance butt and take names. You and the WARDen usually go neck and neck for this reader, but this book puts you in first place now. I’m not just being flattering when I say that my life is so much richer since I started reading your books. I have so much love for the Immortals After Dark series! (Off to fondle my copy and add it to my bookcase with my other beloved IAD books). ...more
Laura Kinsale is back....finally! And this book was a breath of fresh air. I felt as though I was watching one of my beloved BBC period historical movLaura Kinsale is back....finally! And this book was a breath of fresh air. I felt as though I was watching one of my beloved BBC period historical movies when I was reading this book (hint, hint). Instead of writing a historical romance in the modern style, Ms. Kinsale wrote a romance that reads like historical fiction. There is a strong romance here, but it is well-integrated into a story about two people who have led full lives, although their hearts have always been entwined since they were teenagers.
Callie and Trevelyan love each other. They always have. But, that doesn't mean that their road to true love runs smoothly. Trev has a lot of secrets, and he's a wanted man. He doesn't believe that he's worthy of Callie. Callie's heart is wary of love, because she's been jilted three times, four if you count Trev running off and leaving her. Callie is a rich spinster with a serious avocation for cattle breeding. That in itself was a refreshing touch. Usually you will read about a heroine in historical books who is horse mad, but Callie is more into livestock, particularly cattle. She has a nearly encyclopedic knowledge about animal husbandry. Her beloved prize-winning bull Hubert plays a fairly large, and humorous role in this story, and the things that Trev does for Callie regarding Hubert show his devotion, although his plans often go awry.
I liked the depiction of small town English life: the social hierarchies, the gossip chain, which was quite powerful, and the interesting (and humorous) characters all added texture to this book. Even Callie's suitor, Major Sturgeon, who happened to be the first man who originally jilted her, managed to show some layers. At first, he was courting Callie (anew) for her money, but he seemed to want more from their union, even though she was happy enough to marry him, allow him his affairs, and access to her money, as long as he didn't expect intimate relations between them. He had a past with Trev that makes their connections to Callie even more complicated, in addition to being rivals for the same woman.
I admit that I was frustrated with the obstacles that kept Callie and Trev apart, particularly their stubborn insistence that they couldn't be together. Trev didn't believe he could offer Callie a good life, even though he had money. His name was mud in England, and she is the daughter of an earl who once slashed his face with a riding crop and ran him off after catching he and Callie in a compromising position. Callie has been rejected so much, she doesn't think much of her looks and the ability for a man to love her, even though Trev says numerous times how much he loves her (even before she does). I wanted to yell at them to just take what they wanted--each other. Run off together, already!!! I just had to keep reading.
It's hard to say if this book will appeal to some readers of historical romance. The relationship between Trev and Callie is the lynchpin of this story, but their love story unfolds slowly through their interactions with each other and the various characters that they encounter in their complicated lives. For readers who like that sort of dynamic, a fuller story in which the main couple plays their roles, I think they would enjoy this book. It felt very authentic and period, which I am always happy about when it comes to historical romance. This was no modern love story wrapped up in costume drama. The characters were people of their time, with all the expected social values, expectations, and hangups. I loved the mostly subtle, but sometimes laugh-out-loud humor. Die-hard romantic that I am, I found the deep, intense love between Callie and Trev irresistible, and I felt their longing and frustration for them to be together, even though circumstances seemed to work against them at every turn. They were committed to living their lives apart, but it was clear their lives weren't complete without each other. Even though the love scenes aren't terribly detailed, I felt the passion between Callie and Trev. I really rooted for them, and I loved the end of this book. It wraps everything up very nicely, with a very happy ending for this couple, on many levels.
Lessons in French was a sweet, delicious, and unique love story. I'm glad that Ms. Kinsale took a chance and wrote something that is quite different from her other books. I'd nominate this one for a movie in a heartbeat!...more