Finally have time to write this review. I was skeptical about Nalini Singh's re-embarkation into contemporary romance, especially since I am not intoFinally have time to write this review. I was skeptical about Nalini Singh's re-embarkation into contemporary romance, especially since I am not into the rock star sub-genre. I heard such awesome things about this book, and I admit I find office romance a guilty pleasure. I hate business, but an office background in a romance makes it seem a whole lot more interesting. I have to say this was a pleasure to read.
It's always a joy when you truly like the main characters in a book. I definitely loved both Charlotte and Gabriel. I think that they had phenomenal chemistry. I loved how patient Gabriel was in wooing Charlotte. I am ever captivated by a hero in pursuit who shows genuine love for his heroine. It was clear that Gabriel wasn't just trying to conquer Charlotte. He wanted all of her. And Charlotte is one of those heroines who I could definitely be good friends in real life. She's adorable. I think most of us women can admit crushing on someone who is downright unattainable. And to think her crush is crushing on her. Charlotte's down to earth and a lovely person. Her shyness is certainly understandable, and I understand how being hurt that way could make a person withdraw from life. I liked how pivotal Charlotte's friendship with Molly is to the book. It definitely feels authentic the way she would call Molly or Skype with her about what was going on in their lives.
Charlotte's past is definitely dark. I feel that it's handled sensitively and Charlotte's recovery is realistic. Seeing Gabriel gently work through her issues and understanding that certain things were a trigger for her just made me love him more. I was a bit disappointed with the love scenes. they didn't quite have the impact I wanted considering the long buildup. However the proposal was lovely! I found the narrative device of email memos fun and a great way to advance the plot and set the tone and the evolution of Charlotte and Gabriel's relationship. Gabriel was scrumptious. I wouldn't say I'm into hugely muscular guys typically, but this man is ultra fine! I loved the fact that he's not merely defined by his physicality. He's also fiercely intelligent.
Overall, this is a great book. I can't give it five stars because it didn't have the strong impact that I expect from a five star romance book. However, I was immersed and drawn into this story. Just the kind of book that you want to dive into, take a few hours out of your own life and enjoy. Rather like a book version of dessert. Speaking of dessert, that was a big part of this book, and I'm all for it. When Gabriel was being beastly, he would buy Charlotte sweet treats. Charlotte is a keen baker and she also baked for Gabriel. Dessert will always be my favorite meal, so it was like two for the price of one.
Not five stars, but definitely 4.5/5.0 stars!...more
Alexis Davenport is angry. Her mother has forced her to move to Grand Junction, Colorado, to live with her mother's sister, away from all herSynopsis
Alexis Davenport is angry. Her mother has forced her to move to Grand Junction, Colorado, to live with her mother's sister, away from all her friends and the life she knows. Even if it's because her father left them and took all their money, no one asked her opinion. Alex is expecting the worst, her first year of high school in a new school with no friends. On the way to their new home, Alexis sees another girl's face in the mirror, a girl from the past, and has no idea what to make of it. The siting happens again, and this time, when she touches the mirror, she ends up in this girl's body, trapped in the past, until she accomplishes what she's been sent to do.
Alexis has a special gift. Her consciousness leaves her body and enters the body of another person in the past. And each time, she has a mission, working against an evil presence that wants to change history in the worst of ways. And this is on top of dealing with the usual angst of teenage years, like the mean girls who have it in for her, and a crush on the "It Boy" at school who happens to be her lab partner. Alex's life is about to get a lot more interesting.
I had no idea what to expect of this book, but it turned out to be a very enthralling read. Alex is a character that will stimulate a mix of emotions in the reader. At times, I felt like her ungrateful behavior towards her mother and aunt was very hard to swallow--she seemed a little bratty. But it was clear that Alex had a lot of reason to be troubled, on top of just being a girl on the cusp of womanhood. I also felt deep sympathy for the intense bullying she had to deal with by a classmate who decided she has in it for Alex. West captures the tension, the awkwardness and the everyday terror of being an unpopular teenager who is finding their way through difficult social situations. This part was very well-written and realistic. Readers who have struggled with being bullied will find solace here, and it's also a good learning experience for those who managed to avoid bullying in their teen years. I like how the writing shows Alex's growth and her developing emotional maturity in these situations without being preachy. It was an interesting touch that Alex was such a huge history buff. I liked that she really enjoyed school and learning, and how this was a pivotal aspect to her personality.
The time traveling aspect was intriguing and exciting. Alex's gift is very special, and she has to learn to live with it and employ it to do the right thing and to stay safe. There are some thrilling scenes as Alex faces a nefarious person with similar abilities and a lot more experience, teamed with no scruples. History buffs will appreciate the various snapshots in history, and feel like they are walking in Alex's shoes as she works to preserve history but make the right decisions.
Dangerous Reflections is a good start to a series, and it ends in a way that will draw readers into continuing the series. Alex's growth as a person is realistic, and readers will sympathize with her and cheer her on as her experiences as a time travel empower her to have courage in her everyday battles. I recommend this book to young adult readers and readers of young adult fantasy fiction.
I had to put a lot of thought into this review. Anne Ursu has done that to me with her last two books. I enjoyed her Cronus Chronicles series and it wI had to put a lot of thought into this review. Anne Ursu has done that to me with her last two books. I enjoyed her Cronus Chronicles series and it was novel in that it presents a family with people of mixed racial heritage in a very normal, everyday fashion, and I loved that about the books. Plus, it was just plain fun Greek Mythology fantasy with a spunky heroine and her good natured cousin along for the ride.
With Breadcrumbs, she gave us a young girl who touched me deeply. Her internal life and her attachment to a friend as an effort to deal with loneliness and rejection was a visceral ache. I think with The Real Boy, she has strummed that emotional chord again.
Oscar is an orphan who was 'bought' by a charmer to watch over his shop, do the cleaning, and to prepare his herbs for the potions he sells. It is never explicitly stated, but I believe that Oscar has autism. He has sense-related issues (will only eat bread because he doesn't like the feel of other foods), he has trouble looking people in the eye, and blurts out things and doesn't understand social cues, he's got a genius level intellect but others may perceive him as not all there. Oscar starts to believe he's not a real boy because he is viewed as so different.
This touched me deeply, that this boy would feel so isolated and feel so unworthy. This is real, how cruel people are to those who are different. It breaks my heart in fact to see him suffer this way. I think this aspect of the book resonated deeply with me. I also appreciated Oscar's developing friendship with Callie, an apprentice to a healer who has no magic.
The world-building was less impactful. I felt like there was more to be discovered and understood. Although I appreciated how the story builds slowly and the reader's understanding expands with continued reading, too much was assumed in this book, and too little spelled out. The concept of how magic was so crucial to the small island that Oscar lives on, with the folktale of the wizards who became large trees so they could watch over the island, that was pretty cool. Although I feel it sort of becomes less clear and tangible as the story goes along. I would say the reveal towards the end was quite interesting, but to talk about that too much would be a spoiler.
Fundamentally, I feel that Ursu excelled with the emotional landscape of this story, but the fantastical foundation suffers in contrast. Oscar is an unforgettable little boy. His emotional journey speaks to my heart. For that alone, I gave this four stars. I was conflicted because I don't think this book measures up as well as far as a fantasy novel. As with Breadcrumbs, I wonder how much of the emotional depths will register with the young audience it's aimed at. It would be a great thing if kids who feel isolated because of their oddness would feel touched by Oscar's story and would understand that they aren't alone after all....more
This is a crazy series and this second book is even crazier than the first. The dialogue is so ridiculously inappropriate at times, and the charactersThis is a crazy series and this second book is even crazier than the first. The dialogue is so ridiculously inappropriate at times, and the characters are pretty out there. But I really enjoy this series and this book. There is some really disturbing content, so be warned.
Intangible Dream is the kind of Harlequin Presents that old-school fans will enjoy. Despite the lack of descriptive love scenes, there is plenty of paIntangible Dream is the kind of Harlequin Presents that old-school fans will enjoy. Despite the lack of descriptive love scenes, there is plenty of passion in this novel. And enough true love to make a diehard romantic sigh when they finish the last sentence.
It has a strong, fascinating hero who's pretty much obsessed with the heroine. Readers who love heroes who are stone cold in love with the heroine will find this book very romantic and James irresistible. Wilson maintains the tension of the reader sensing the hero's feelings, although we don't get his point of view. You feel like Gemma has underestimated his feelings for her, even though you don't find out how much until later on. Despite that, he conveys just enough and says enough to make it clear that he's crazy about Gemma. While Gemma puts up quite a fight against falling in love with James and into his plans for her, I could understand her reasons, even though I knew just how crazy James was about her. She was a bit too hurtful at times, although I think it was because she felt like she was a mouse caught in the lion's paws, out of self-defense.
Gemma has a sweet shyness and awkwardness about that I found really appealing. I could definitely see myself in her shoes, especially when I was younger. I am sure I would feel a bit overwhelmed by James' powerful personality, especially if I was youngish and very sheltered by an overprotective father (she's a very sheltered 24-yr-old) . The scenes in which James teases Gemma and draws her out of her shell are really appealing. They have a warmth and made me smile. Some readers don't care for young and innocent heroines, but they don't bother me, especially if their naivety makes sense and feels authentic. While Gemma is definitely naive, she wants to gain some agency in her life, and she has a lot of courage considering. After a life of being in a gilded cage with her dad, she doesn't want to change it to a gold cage as James' trophy wife. When she realizes his love is genuine and that she feels the same, that makes a big difference to her, and it shows in the denouement.
I think this might be one of my favorites by this author so far. I think James is a Class A Stalkerific hero (shows the possessive/jealous/obsessed traits I find a guilty pleasure, but not in a really psycho way that's too disturbing). I also liked Gemma a lot. They make a good couple and they made me root for things to work out for them. I recommend this to fans of the older Harlequin Presents, and for any fan of stalkerific romance novel heroes.
As always, I enjoyed this book by Ms. Thomas. Her writing is warm and sweet and beguiling. Her characters are distinct with interesting layers. I feelAs always, I enjoyed this book by Ms. Thomas. Her writing is warm and sweet and beguiling. Her characters are distinct with interesting layers. I feel like I am an honorary member of Harmony, Texas. I am always happy to go back there for a visit.
Young country maiden, Penelope Fairweather arrives in London to stay with the Radclyffs, her goal to catch a husband. However, Penelope is theSynopsis
Young country maiden, Penelope Fairweather arrives in London to stay with the Radclyffs, her goal to catch a husband. However, Penelope is the most awkward of ducklings. She is a disaster magnet, with no polish, a penchant for saying whatever comes to her mind, and a best friend (Lady Bathsheba) who is a goat. So the dowager Duchess of Blackthorne and her daughter, Anne, Lady Radclyff, have their work cut out for them. It doesn't help that Charles, the present duke, despises Penelope, and wants to send her back to Finnshire. What they don't know is that Penelope has no home to go back to, since her stepmother hates her. Penelope has one chance to have a home, and that's to succeed at finding a husband. If only she could do something right and temper her incautious, enthusiastic ways, so she can have a chance at a home and a family of her own.
The Radclyff women recruit Madame Bellafraunde, a dynamo at styling women of the ton, who just happens to be a man dressed as a woman, to turn Penelope into a stylish young lady who can catch a husband. What ensues is moment after moment of zany scenes, as Penelope struggles to find her feet in a new world. The Duke of Blackthorne slowly finds his feelings change for Penelope, her sweet spirit and generous, authentic nature finding the key to his frozen heart. Now if he could only convince Penelope that he doesn't hate her. There's also the matter of his mean-spirited fianceé, Lady Lydia Snowly.
Penelope is a laugh riot. This is a book for romance readers who really want to enjoy themselves with lots of slapstick-style comedic scenes and absurdity. Penelope is absolutely adorable. Her sweetness and honest spirit makes her a heroine that readers will love. At times, I wondered how she could constantly stumble from disaster to disaster, but it's all in fun. Mixed with the hilarious moments is pathos for Penelope's situation. She lost her true mother at birth, and was never loved by her stepmother. She never felt accepted in her own home. She hasn't had the same opportunities as many, but that doesn't stop her from being a young woman of courage and strength.
Charles, Duke Blackthorne is not very likable for most of the book. He says the most horrible things to Penelope, which makes him seem like a puppy-kicker. I loved that Penelope stood up to him, and demanded his respect. She didn't try to fit into his narrow boxes and narrow world, and over time, he realizes that he loves her for who she is, despite her lack of a verbal filter and penchant for disaster. While I didn't much care for Charles initially, he does come around and redeem himself, and he and Penelope have great chemistry. I wanted him to fall in love with her, just because that would be the last possible thing a lofty duke like himself would ever consider doing.
This novel is populated with quirky characters that kept me laughing and engaged in the story. I love to laugh, and Anya Wylde definitely had me laughing with this book. I couldn't wait to see what zany disaster would occur next. I liked the crazy twist on "My Fair Lady", with a little cross-dressing thrown in.
Penelope is a thoroughly enjoyable novel. It's unashamedly goofy, but it's done so well, this book is infectiously readable as a result. I would recommend this novel to readers who love funny romance stories. Penelope is a heroine that you can't help but love. Charles isn't quite as likable, which is why this isn't a five star read, but I did like how he comes to realize that he can't resist falling in love with Penelope. And it's great to see her get the happy ending she deserves. Definitely recommended!
Let me be transparent in advising readers to think twice about experiencing this book as an audiobook. I'm not sure it works that well. It could be meLet me be transparent in advising readers to think twice about experiencing this book as an audiobook. I'm not sure it works that well. It could be me. I am a very visual person when it comes to higher level concepts, especially mechanistic disciplines, such as geometry, architecture, and engineering. The geometrical descriptions were hard to visualize and my mind started to wander at the beginning of each chapter when Sanderson uses the metafiction device of reading from a textbook of rithmatics. Honestly, that was the major reason I didn't rate this book highly. Secondly, I didn't care for the narrator. His voice was too bland, almost monotone or robotic. I feel that if you are going to narrate a book, you need to give it a vitality, and this book lacked that.
On the positive end, I can see why Sanderson is a lauded author, and I can certainly see why he is qualified to teach writing. I think that his craft is evident. The characterization is sound, and instead of settling for thinly veiled archetype, he endows characters with added depth. You know the ones that feel very familiar like the boy who grows up to be the hero, the spunky female sidekick, the mentor, and the dark lord? Thus he gives each one a distinctive life that works very well to make this more than just the typical coming of age fantasy novel. Additionally, the idea of this story is intriguing. A look at wizardry and coming of age school story becomes something different when the concept is built around a magical art of endowing chalk figure-drawing with life.
His view of the United States as an archipelago was interesting. He doesn't describe why it's that way. It just is. The story has a steampunk-light feel. Enough to give the vibe, but it doesn't take over or define the story. Instead, the focus is on the school and the low-level magic at work.
I liked Joel a lot as the main character. He is the kind of hero you end up rooting for. He's normal and the underdog, and you want him to buck the system. Sanderson does something pretty clever here, in that the hero doesn't get his dreams come true. Instead, he's going to have to work for what he wants. That felt more realistic, and also strayed away from the expected archetypes of fantasy where the lead is the one who has the unexpected greatest power of all time. Melody is a fun character. She won me over with her love of unicorns and pegasi. Her feelings of being a failure and feeling forced into a mold she doesn't fit resonated with me. Yeah, she felt like someone I know, maybe myself, and I could feel her youthful angst to a nearly uncomfortable level. It was such a cute touch how her abilities end up being strengths that were taken for granted. I also loved Professor Fitch. His nervousness was rather endearing, and I do have a fondness for nerdy professors.
The chalkings were fairly unnerving and the accompanying villainous element was quite effectively sinister. I wasn't sure if I liked it at first, but as I listened, I was drawn into this world and it became very real. The end has a very good twist, well, I should say two piled on each other. Sanderson surely got me!
I feel bad because I am likely underrating this book. But I have to say that the choice of medium was a big factor in affecting my reading experience, so I have go with what I know for now. I will probably continue this series because it was an interesting read. I think I'll go with the print version of the next book.
Unlocked is a fantastic short novel about a man who faces his past, and earns the love, trust, and forgiveness of the one woman he always wanted but wUnlocked is a fantastic short novel about a man who faces his past, and earns the love, trust, and forgiveness of the one woman he always wanted but was afraid to go after honorably, to break out of the mode of society's expectations for him.
I totally identified with Elaine. I was picked on incessantly growing up. No matter what I did, it was the focus of ridicule in school. I followed her plan of attack and withdrew into myself, pretending like it didn't matter. If you pretend like it doesn't matter, after a while, you can deal with it and keep your composure. The prey animal that runs gets chased by the predator. Ms. Milan was spot on with her psychology in this story. It felt therapeutic to me, that she could hit at the heart of such an issue that many of us experienced, and do it so well in the context of a love story. Although I could never imagine falling in love with one of my adolescent tormenters and settling into a HEA, she made it plausible, because she showed that Evan was just a man, a man who was too scared to be real and to be stand out from the crowd in a good way. I completely fell in love with Evan, for his honest desire and efforts to make amends and to be a better man. That took so much courage, more courage than climbing a mountain. Sometimes you have to go away to grow, and he did that, and came back to fulfill his destiny. And what a man he became. Also, Elaine showed courage. She was afraid to trust Evan, to believe he had changed. He proved that he had, and she took that leap of faith when it counted. And leapt right into his arms.
Courtney Milan clearly puts a lot of thought and heart into her stories, and that's why they resonate with me. She writes about men and women who I want to see happy, to see fall in love. They aren't cardboard, samey characters. They feel distinct and real to me. I liked that Evan is somewhat awkward and afraid but works past his fear. I like that Elaine has been a social failure with a mother who is so brilliant she doesn't fit into society. She gets the passionate aspects right too. They belong there, very organic to the story's development, showing the bond between the characters, so that I hold my breath with expectation. For a die-hard historical romance novel lover, it's been a bit depressing to see an endless ocean of new books out there with few that actually move me that way romance used to. I'm glad that I have Courtney Milan's books to do that for me. It feels good to be excited about reading historical romance again. Short but sweet, Unlocked is a delightful treat for the historical romantic. I highly recommend it.
Thanks for encouraging me to pull this off the pile, MrsJ!...more
Heroes of the Valley turned out to be a good book to listen on audio. At first I wasn't sure how much I'd like it, but I ended up enjoying it immenselHeroes of the Valley turned out to be a good book to listen on audio. At first I wasn't sure how much I'd like it, but I ended up enjoying it immensely.
Halli is a roguish, endearing young hero who wrapped himself around my heart. Although he was quite a prankster, he was a good kid at heart. He didn't really get a chance to shine until he broke free from the mold of his family and their expectations for him. This took him on a journey of self-discovery and enlightenment about his world. Everyone in the Valley lives in the shadow of their great ancestors, who all died in a standoff with trolls that were plaguing the humans of the Valley. Now, they are nearly worshipped by each of the twelve houses founded in their names. Halli grew up with tales of the bravado of his ancestor, Svein, and wishes to commit similar feats of bravery to have his name listed in the hall of heroes. That's a bit hard to do with the current situations. All weapons are outlawed and any disputes are judged by the Lawgivers, women of the twelve houses.
When Halli's uncle Broda is murdered by Olaf of the Hakonsons, Halli is determined to avenge his uncle. He goes on a journey deeper into the valley, and comes to realize that heroism and bravery is not the way it sounds in the stories he was weaned on.
Halli makes it on my heroes I love shelf because he is a great kid. He is brave in a real life way. He gets himself into some very sticky situations, but he fights his way through with his ingenuity and his determination. He's not unaware that others view him in a negative light, but he doesn't let that stop him from doing what he believes is right. He stands up for himself, and others, and I loved his pluck. He's an outrageous kid who tells it like it is, and that's a trait that I can't help but admire. And Halli saves the day in a great way, not just to be labeled as the Hero, but because it's the right thing to do.
Jonathan Stroud keeps the reader guessing where Halli's adventures will lead him next, and this makes for a book that is nothing like I expected. I'm still trying to work my mind around the twist near the end that I completely didn't expect.
Heroes of the Valley has some good messages for younger (and older readers) about being true to yourself, standing up for what you believe, and using your wits instead of resorting to violent actions. There is violence, yet it's not pointless. Instead, violence in this story is used to illustrate something important. Violence doesn't make you a hero just because you are capable of using brute force to harm others and end lives. There is a place for it, but we must all question when is violence necessary, and count the cost of that violence, which can be a lot greater than we previously anticipated. In this story, the reader sees what kind of man Svein really was, and you have to wonder if he's truly a hero. Or do our heroes truly have feet of clay that merely make them the humans they were all along, despite their fantastic, lauded deeds. I truly believe that each person has it in them to be the hero, merely by standing up and doing what's right when they find themselves in those situations that don't even seem very grand. But their actions can be crucial, and how they react to those situations can define them and how confrontations end up being resolved, for the better or worse.
I didn't have a lot of expectations for this, but I ended up a satisfied listener. I think the narrator did a good job, and he brought the characters to life in a distinctive manner that fits the story, and had me listening intently. I am glad I was able to meet Halli, and his young girl friend Aud. They are definitely the true heroes in this story....more
This was a pleasant surprise for me, as a reader. Emma Darcy is hit and miss for me, when it comes to Harlequin Presents. I often find myself alienateThis was a pleasant surprise for me, as a reader. Emma Darcy is hit and miss for me, when it comes to Harlequin Presents. I often find myself alienated by a romance story that is too modern and overtly sophisticated, and doesn't touch me, when I read her stories. But, that is not the case with The Outback Bridal Rescue.
I like the prominent male point of view with Johnny's character. Johnny was an orphan, who never knew his father, and lost his mother at a very young age. He was abused as a foster child, and learned to keep people happy by turning on the charm. He got himself into trouble at the age of sixteen. As a result, he and two other boys were sent to Patrick Maguire's sheep station in the Outback. This turned out to be a life-changing event for Johnny, as he found a mentor, and honorary father in Patrick. He never forgot what Patrick did for him, and considered the sheep station a home away from home. When he gets word that Patrick died, he's devasted. It turns out that Patrick has left 49% of the financially-ailing sheep station to him in his will. The remaining 51% was left to Megan, Patrick's daughter, who despises him, for all intents and purposes. Yet, Johnny cannot allow that to stop him from doing his part to see that Patrick's legacy doesn't fade. He's determined to get Megan to accept his help, and to work with him to save the sheep station.
Megan fell deeply in love with Johnny as a very young girl. When he fails to be there for a very important moment in her life, she starts to believe that she doesn't matter to him, and the caring treatment she received from him was nothing personal, just part of his usual charm. She grows quite bitter towards him in the intervening years. When she finds out that her father left almost half the station to him, she feels betrayed. She's determined to do what she can to limit his involvement in the station.
This couple butt head initially, but they come to an understanding because of their mutual love for Megan's father and the station. They decide to be friends and to work together. But the night of Patrick's funeral, they ended up being more than that. As a result, Megan ends up pregnant, and Johnny insists on marriage. From this point, the story is about Megan coming to terms with her insecurity about herself and how she can fit in the life of the international celebrity and singer that Johnny has become. Johnny enjoys the fruits of his successes, but he never forgot the lessons that Patrick taught him. Deep down, family is the number one thing for him. He's torn, because he can see how the celebrity life aspects torture Megan, and he's ready to give it all up, for her. I liked that Megan showed some maturity, and was able to get past her insecurities, to encourage Johnny in his career.
As I said above, this was a deep story, with a lot to offer, emotionally. I liked both characters, finding them to be sympathetic. I felt bad for Megan that she was feeling so unwanted and inadequate, although Johnny never saw her as being either. I sympathized with Johnny in his feelings that Megan hated him, but he wasn't sure what he had done to cause her dislike. I wanted them to come to an accord, and to see if they could make things work between them. This story did touch me, and I liked the aspects of Johnny trying to integrate his professional persona with his life with Megan on the sheep station. In the end, he was really trying to find himself, and by the end of the story, he is able to do that. I also liked that Megan came to terms with her insecurity and was able to focus on being the supportive wife that Johnny needed, meeting him halfway, and accepting the love he had for her. This book had a good message about family and finding what you felt you could never have, and about love giving us the ability to compromise for the greater good.
This was a total impulse buy that paid off. I loved this book. It was one of those stories that I couldn't put down, and I was compelled to read, evenThis was a total impulse buy that paid off. I loved this book. It was one of those stories that I couldn't put down, and I was compelled to read, even though I had already started some other books. It couldn't believe how fast I read it, within about four to five hours.
I love medieval romances, so that helped. And I'm a sucker for the broken/scarred/hurt hero. Well, Roderick is all three. He comes back from the Crusades a broken man, although he had lots of baggage before he went there, with a father who did nothing but torment and treat him poorly and had driven his mother to suicide. Thankfully, his good friend that he makes during the Crusades saves his life and gets him medical attention, and the word that his father has died and he must find a bride to keep his land, gives him the strength to fight to get better and to come back to England.
There were times when Roderick descended into self-pity. I suppose this might not work for all readers, but it was realistic. If if a man had always been talked down to and ridiculed by his father, I wouldn't expect him to have the healthiest self-esteem. Yes, he might annoy some readers the way he pushes his son away and doesn't want to let Michaela in, but I loved Roderick from the first page. He's one of those heroes I really wanted to see happy. I could understand why he kept those he loved and who loved him at a distance, feeling he wasn't worthy and would fail them.
I adored Michaela as well. She had some moments of self-interest, but at the same time, I could see why she was motivated in such a fashion. She had been picked on her whole life because of her mother insisting that she had gotten kidnapped by The Wild Hunt. They called her Devil's Child and stuff like that. She was clumsy and tended to trip and run into things. Plus she grew up poor, although very much loved. One night at a party at her overlord's manor, she gets his attention by her bond with his daughter, Elizabeth, who hasn't talked since her mother died. Also her beautiful singing voice makes Michaela stand out. He invites her to come live with them as Elizabeth's companion. Because of this attention she gets from him, she fell in 'love' with her overlord, and he made some gestures like he was going to marry her, but married her arch-nemesis instead, humiliating her. So she decided to marry the Beast, who was the lord over the man who spurned her, a move motivated out of revenge against this man who spurned her, since he won't inherit the properties of Roderick, his cousin.
She goes to his rundown castle, determined to fulfill the required ninety days of residence before the marriage. When she finally sees The Beast, she is instantly attracted to him, scars, limping, and surly demeanor and all. She falls into his beautiful and bright green eyes, and likes his large, sculpted body, despite the fact that it's clear that his leg and arm are crippled. Their dance around each other made this book worth reading. There was an intense attraction between Roderick and Michaela that sparkled off the page. At times, Michaela was very much put into the role of the "Chaser," but it worked for me, because Roderick had never been loved in that way, so it was nice to see someone working for his affections. It was cute how Roderick was somewhat bewildered by his strong feelings for Michaela.
Another thing I loved was the toddler Leo. He was so cute. I just wanted to take him out this story as my own baby. I loved his baby talk, and how loving he was. As Roderick's acknowledged son by a prostitute in the Crusades, he had a big role, since he was Roderick's heir. Also, the interplay with Roderick as he tries to keep his distance out of fear of destroying his son the way his father destroyed him was pivotal in the evolution of this story. Just reading the scenes with this cute little boy made this book so much more enjoyable. I'm so serious. This kid was so adorable. I liked the way Michaela bonded with him and helped improve the relationship between Roderick and his son. Like any baby, Leo loved his father unconditionally, but was somewhat kept at a distance that was somewhat confusing for the toddler. I was glad that this changed significantly over the course of the book.
Hugh was also a great character. His steadfast friendship and aid to Roderick. His love and care for Leo. His flamboyant tastes in clothing. His potty mouth and irreverent humor. His bad advice to Michaela about how to snare Roderick's affections. It gave this book another appealing layer.
There is a thread of the paranormal that runs through this book that intensifies at the climax. I thought it was very interesting, and also unnerving. It was very cool. Now I have to read the short story in Highland Beast, which is about a character who shows up in this story.
I really, really liked this book,and I would highly recommend it to fans of scarred/wounded heroes,and heroines who are determined to get their man, but aren't obnoxious about it. I'm glad I was able to spend a few hours with Roderick, Michaela, cute little Leo, and Hugh, who made me laugh, and also choked me up with his devotion to Roderick. It was time well spent....more
Courtney Crumrin has a very informative preface by Kelly Crumrin, addressing the inherent scariness of childhood. It gave me something to think about.Courtney Crumrin has a very informative preface by Kelly Crumrin, addressing the inherent scariness of childhood. It gave me something to think about. I know I was a kid that loved reading scary books, although I admit I did get a bit too scared a time or two. One part of his commentary that hit me hard was that he felt the collective conscious of children picked up on the real monsters that prey on children in the world. I didn't like to think about that, because I hate the idea of children being harmed or suffering. However, I can see some logic to his comment that childhood nebulous fears might be a manifestation of a subconscious awareness of what real children face.
With that thought-provoking beginning to this graphic novel collection, I had some higher expectations but also that this volume would 'go there.' It did. I'm not sure how I feel about some of the plot elements. I stand strongly against children being harmed or killed, and there is one aspect that felt so wrong to me in this book. I kept wondering why Courtney didn't use the power she gained over the goblin for a different result. I do feel that there was a bit of nihilism to this graphic novel, and that's something I just can't go for. Courtney has had a tough life, and her parents are beneath contempt. I can see things from her viewpoint and accept that she didn't get a very good moral foundation for her life, and that certainly affects her choices. I did cheer for her that she pursued her baby sitting charge into the Goblin Market, even though she did it for selfish reasons. The result of that didn't hit me with the right note, although the faerie enthusiast in me loved a look at the inhabitants of the Market, not to mention the changeling folklore and a talking cat (not sure I want my own cats to be able to talk, since they'd probably cuss me out). One thing I did like about this novel is how it addresses the situations that kids face everyday: bullying, isolation and ostracism, and parents who aren't sufficiently involved in their day to day sufferings (for whatever reasons). Of course I hope most parents are better at parenting than Courtney's but I acknowledge that good parents can have so much going on that they don't have the energy to address issues that seem so trivial like being mildly bullied or feeling like a social outcast. I was bullied and I know how that felt. I know my mother cared, but how much could she do, day to day? And children are very creative in their cruelty. Sometimes you just have to grit your teeth and get through it. In a lot of instances, parental interference can make it worse, although there are certainly times when a parent definitely needs to step in.
I didn't like Courtney's dabbling in witchcraft at all. I have an aversion to witchcraft, so that's part of it. I don't have an issue with magic in the abstract sense, but I really dislike the use of spells to control people (which is the crux of my dislike of witchcraft), which is what Courtney was doing. At least, the author shows the negative results of this, and has Courtney's Great-Great Grand-Uncle step in.
One of the things I wasn't keen on with this book was the ambiguous and somewhat unresolved and rather dark endings. Yeah, yeah, that's the whole theme of this book, I know. Maybe this is going back to the overall theme of the inherent darkness of childhood. I am more of an upbeat ending girl, even as a fan of horror. I think you can have horror and still get a sense of hope, and in the case of Courtney's situations, I don't feel that much hope, even when the original crisis is somewhat resolved.
Will I continue to read this series? Probably, but not back to back. It's a bit to dark to pile these on one after another. I wish this was in color, but I did like the drawings and the manner in which the character personality is conveyed. And I loved Courtney's hair so much!
Overall, this was pretty good, but I didn't love it, for the reasons above. It's definitely an appropriate choice to read in the month of October for an atmospheric and horror-esque book. Or just anytime if you like books that are dark in theme with younger characters.
I think that this book is for readers over 11, more or less okay for the middle grade/juvenile age group....more
Immortal Wolf was a good follow-up in the Draicon series, although I loved Enemy Lover more. The romance element was the real winner here. I have saidImmortal Wolf was a good follow-up in the Draicon series, although I loved Enemy Lover more. The romance element was the real winner here. I have said it many times, I am a sucker for the concept of two lonely, alienated souls finding love together, and it was done very well here. Raphael has always felt inferior for his mixed heritage among many purebred Draicon (wolf-shifters). He is part Cajun, and the purebloods look down on that. On top of this, is his role as the Kallan, the sacred life-taker of the Draicons (tasked to end the lives of the very old and suffering, and those who have a decree of execution placed on them). Many fear him for his powers, and avoid him as such. Emily feels cursed by her ability to take lives and to give life. A year ago, she was cursed by the Draicon goddess, Airebelle, that she would be able to kill with her touch. She has been able to heal with her blood most of her life. She accidentally killed her father and aunt, and her pack has issued a decree of execution on her, after a year of ostracizing her to the periphery of her clan. And Raphael comes to their pack to do exactly that. To make matters more complicated, it turns out that they are fated mates.
I wondered how things would wrap up in this story, with these huge obstacles between the two lovers, and I was not disappointed. I sort of guessed that Emily and Raphael's weaknesses would turn out to be their strengths, but that's compelling storytelling (and what I would have done had I wrote this kind of story), but I still felt like this book had satisfactory surprises for me.
The romance was great, both sensual and emotional. I could feel the bond between Emily and Raphael, how he was one of the few to ever show her kindness, tenderness, and a regard for the unique person that she was. I liked that Raphael took the time to help Emily explore who she was meant to be, not what her pack restricted her existence to becoming. I also liked how Emily cared for Raphael, and heals him emotionally and physically in very crucial moments. I felt a true connection between them on many levels. I became acquainted with Ms. Vanak's writing through her historical romances, and she definitely writes romance very well.
As far as the paranormal elements, I liked most of them. I do find the aspect of the Morphs weird and off-putting. I liked it more than in the first book, The Empath, which was a little too weird for me. But the whole cloning and feeding thing that they do gave me the shudders, especially when (view spoiler)[ one of the morphs turns into a giant tick and sucks Raphael's blood until he gets big as a baseball bat. Yuck much! I hate ticks. They are disgusting! This part hit me where I live! (hide spoiler)] I have to say that I am convinced that Ms. Vanak is a fan of the Carpathian series by Christine Feehan, because there were elements in this story that reminded me very strongly of some of the aspects in that series. I am not saying she was copying, because I don't feel that way. However, I feel she was inspired very strongly to do her own version here, with wolves instead of vampires. Although the Morphs are highly disgusting, I liked the mystical elements very much, how Raphael goes on a vision quest as part of his duties as Kallan, and the spiritual way that he and Emily become connected, and how their uniqueness becomes a tool to aid their people.
I think this book had enough desirable elements to more than earn a four star rating, despite my dislike of the Morph aspects. I loved the romance, the sensuality, and the characters. It was great seeing all the brothers again, whom I became acquainted with and came to like in Enemy Lover. I would recommend this book to readers who are like shorter paranormals. I have made no secret of my desire for the Nocturne books to be longer so that the full potential of the storylines could be revealed. This one struck me favorably, although I could see areas where I feel Ms. Vanak had to cut her story shorter to fit into the prescribed book lengths for this series. If a paranormal romance fan can get past this, they might find a good, sexy, romantic paranormal story to enjoy as much as I did.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...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
I picked this one up because I love ugly duckling stories, and I was intrigued by the fact that the ugly duckling of the Roses, as they were called, wI picked this one up because I love ugly duckling stories, and I was intrigued by the fact that the ugly duckling of the Roses, as they were called, was the one Rose that St. John Worth wanted. I didn't realize that they had a turbulent history until I started the book. Ardith thought St. John's proposal five years ago was a joke that he had planned with two of his drunk cronies. It broke her young, insecure, love-struck heart. At that point, she abandoned any attempt at a season and fled to her Aunt Sibley, an independent spinster who raised her to be the same. Five years lady, she is a woman of consequence, with an independent life as Aunt Sibley's heir. She is content running her estate, raising horses, and taking care of the tenants and the country folk who are in need of medicine but don't trust the local doctor. She's managed very well to avoid St. John and any other suitors. However, when she leaves her sister's house, who has just given birth to her third daughter, she ends up caught in a bad snowstorm, and is forced to see shelter at St. John's house. Unfortunately, he is there. From that point on, she'll find him very hard to avoid.
I ended up loving this book. It just had that certain something that kept me turning the pages. There is built in angst and pathos for Ardith's situation. She is tall, dark, lanky, strong-featured, and not feminine enough compared to her older, prettier, blond, perfect sisters. She has given up on the idea of marriage because she feels she lacks those qualities that a man would want in a bride. St. John's cruel trick was the final factor that convinced her of that fact. And then, there is the fact that she has come to treasure her independence. Her father doesn't know what to do with her. He's not even allowed through the gate of her estate, nor is St. John. She has total autonomy. However, St. John's renewed presence in her life makes her second guess her determination not to wed, and that he was just playing a trick on her.
I really loved and felt for Ardith. She was very insecure about her charms as a woman, and it was clear why as I saw how her family treated her. As if there was something wrong with her and she'd never measure up. Even her father made jokes about her not being pretty or womanly, although he admired her pluck. I liked that she was a capable woman. She was very skilled at healing, running an estate, and was a much admired and respected horse-breeder. When she showed her doubts at her lack of beauty or social charm, I didn't find it annoying, because it wasn't in a self-pitying way. She had made the most of what she had, and she had determined to have a good life, even if she wasn't going to be some man's beloved, beautiful society wife. The secret hurt that she'd experienced from St. John felt very real to me. Even more so because it was a misunderstanding, but her low self-esteem, caused by the way her family treated her, made it worse.
St. John was a dear from the beginning. I felt bad for him, because he truly loved Ardith. Even five years later, he was very much in love with her, but stayed away out of respect for her. When he got his chance to woo her, his chance at finally having her as his bride, he didn't let the opportunity pass him by. He wasn't afraid to use whatever means available in his arsenal. I loved how he stood up for her with Ardith's overbearing, but very thick-headed father. He even fell out of sorts with him because he wasn't going to back down, and was willing to defend Ardith, even if it put him in her father's bad graces. I appreciated the fact that St. John loved Ardith for who she was. He wanted her in his life, and was willing to make compromises to make sure she was happy in their life together. Even so, he was no pushover. He showed determination and a sense of grace and honor in his pursuit of Ardith. He was very patient, even when Ardith was stubborn to trust in him. He understood the uphill battle to win back her trust and was in it for the long hall. He was a really good man. A man any woman would be glad to have as her beloved husband. I was cheering for him to win Ardith's heart back into his keeping.
Another aspect I enjoyed was the humor. I love the way that a good trad regency brings in the funny aspects of the speech and the everyday interactions of the characters. Ms. Savery captured the feel of the period very well. She used a few phrases that were new to me, but I forgot to write them down to look them up, but they made me feel she had done her research on this period, going way beyond just window-dressing. Poor Ardith's hands were full managing her sisters' issues, since her father was pressing for a grandson, even willing to bribe the first couple who gave him one. Her sisters (except the one who just gave birth) fled to Ardith for protection when their marriages were under strain from their father's edict, and it was funny seeing how Ardith's loyal gatekeeper showed no respect for title or rank in turning away both Ardith's dad, St. John (who won him over with his devotion to Ardith), and her sisters' spouses. This book was laugh-out loud funny in more than a few scenes. Ardith's dad was not an intelligent man. And he was so set in his ways. He just had no clue how to deal with a stubborn, independent daughter like Ardith.
This book was a nice breath of fresh air. An impulse buy from the clearance rack that more than paid for its spot on my keeper shelf. I am usually lured in fairly easy by the plain Jane theme, especially when the hero is smitten and wooing the plain Jane, so that got my attention. But the good writing and engaging story and characters kept my interest. I'd definitely recommend this one....more
I have to thank my Goodreads friend, Jess R, for encouraging me to read this book. All she said was, Rhyzkahl was like an Anne Stuart hero, and I wasI have to thank my Goodreads friend, Jess R, for encouraging me to read this book. All she said was, Rhyzkahl was like an Anne Stuart hero, and I was there. And I am so glad about it.
Mark of the Demon gave me one heck of a read. Diana Rowland managed to take the concept of demon summoning and write a story that got past my personal hang-ups about that idea. I like that she made it clear that her concept of demons veers from the Christian concept, because I don't know if I could have been down with reading about a heroine who was dealing with Satanic demons. Okay, my hangup, not yours. But, anyway, that helped me to get on board this book.
Occult detective novels are like candy to me. I devour these things. Essentially, an occult detective novel is a mystery with paranormal aspects. In this case, Kara Gillian is a police homocide detective who has a hobby/calling of demon summoning. She does this because it's in her blood. Her aunt was a summoner, and she finds out that her grandmother was one too. When her aunt taught her this art, it helped her to get her life on track, and to find a sense of purpose, something she could feel confident about. It turns out her summoning skills, and her ability to sense arcane energy, will come in handy in investigating a series of very grisly murders by the Symbol Man.
I flat out loved Kara. She was insecure, foul-mouthed, socially awkward, but strong and intelligent, and very likeable. I like that she wasn't the resident sex bomb that all the men wanted. I get really tired of that over-used device in female lead urban fantasy (which causes me to search out male leads just for a break from it). She was very good at her job as a police officer, even though she didn't always have confidence in her abilities. I liked that she thought things through, and had a habit of 'faking it until you make it'. In other words, showing you had things under control, even if you are a shuddering wreck inside. I liked that because I often use that technique. I have to be honest, I saw a lot of myself in Kara. She hadn't had an easy or normal life. She wasn't good with people, and because of what she was, she hadn't had a busy social life as far as men. I liked that she was pretty good with being one of the guys, and handling that wall of chauvinism that women often face when they are working in male-dominated environments. She didn't act like a bimbo to get her way. She used the natural abilities and skills she had and didn't play up to men's flawed perceptions of women in the work environment.
The mystery was tightly-plotted and well-executed. I had some suspicions about who was behind the murders, but I was pleasantly surprised to find I was wrong. Although the arcane elements tied heavily into solving the case, Kara also used good, old-fashioned police investigative techniques just as much. Ms. Rowland managed to integrate her experience in criminal investigations into this story in an interesting and believable fashion.
The arcane elements were very interesting. I have zero personal interest in pursuing studies in the occult, but I find it fascinating to read about arcane/occult lore in fictional books. This story has some elements that felt unique and personal, crafted by the author to create her own world with its own rules. I liked that a lot about this story.
And then there's Rhyzkahl. Hello! Yummy much? Scary much? Yes to both questions. He's not a demon, by the way. He's a Demonic Lord, which are like the top of the top in demonic hierarchy. He's not scaly and gross with horns, either. He's hot. Really hot. I was thinking, sex with a demon? Not sure about that part. But, when I read about this very sexy, human-looking (well better than human looking since he's absolutely perfect), and smooth, polite (unless he's ripping you to pieces), and charming, the sex part didn't weird me out at all. It was more like, Wow! I can see the appeal with Rhyzkahl. I can also see why Kara is scared of him and wants him out of her life. But, Rhyzkahl has an interest in Kara. We find out what that is to a certain degree, but there are still questions there. Does he like her for who she is, or what she can do with her summoning skills? He seems kind of possessive of her. Is that a sexual thing or a power thing for him? The verdict is still out on that one. But I will keep reading to find out.
As for Ryan Kristoff? I grew to like him. At first, I was thinking, 'Stuffed Shirt.' But, he actually has an appeal. He's smart and he has knowledge in the occult world, and he ended up being a very good ally and partner to Kara. It will be interesting to see where their association goes.
Mark of the Demon is occult detective urban fantasy in all the best ways. The sensual/romantic aspects don't overwhelm the story, but tie in beautifully. The characters are appealing and life-like. I care about Kara. I want to keep reading about her. I want to see what her association with Rhyzkahl is going to bring into her life in the future. Ms. Rowland wrote one heck of a book here. Mark of the Demon gets my stamp of approval. Give it a read!...more
**spoiler alert** Sugar Daddy was one of those books that I dreaded reading, in all honesty. Let me tell you why.
1)I do not like chick lit or women's**spoiler alert** Sugar Daddy was one of those books that I dreaded reading, in all honesty. Let me tell you why.
1)I do not like chick lit or women's fiction. I like a story that has a defined beginning and a defined end, that has landmarks, and ends on a happy note. To my understanding, chick lit and women's fiction does not need to meet these expectations.
2)I was dismayed that one of my most beloved authors was leaving the historical romance scene (my most beloved subgenre within my favorite genre) to write contemporary novels. I feared that the amount of quality historical romances would be that much more diminished than before with her leaving it behind.
3)Because I am such a big fan of Kleypas, I was afraid I would read this book, and truly hate one of her books for the first time.
4)Let's be honest, I abhor love triangles. Whenever I pick up a book, and it has the phrase, 'torn between two lovers,' it goes back on the shelf. I won't buy it. I like my romance predictable in this sense. I want to know who the heroine ends up with before I start the book.
So, having said all these reasons I put off reading Sugar Daddy so long, I am very glad I read it, and I found it to be an excellent book. Was it perfect in meeting my expectations? To say yes would be a lie. I did have the following issues with Sugar Daddy:
1)The beginning seemed drastically different from the end. The book starts out as a coming of age story about a young woman, Liberty, and her journey through life, the good and the bad, and her all-encompassing, soul-defining love for her sister. The end becomes a romance story in which Liberty has to decide which man was right for her. The large shift was quite jarring for me as a reader. Although I dislike chick lit/women's fiction, I am a great big sucker for a great coming of age story. I read Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte last year, and that is probably one of the best I've ever read. I'd also put forward Where The Heart is by Billie Letts, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou, and of course, To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee as my top list of coming of age stories. I loved this aspect of Sugar Daddy. I was transfixed by the story of this young girl, and how her life evolved. Then, all of a sudden, it became about which man would she end up with. One could argue that this was part of her story, and yes, it is. But I felt the focus had shifted from Liberty's journey to explaining which man was right for her, almost a bit of show and tell, to me as a reader. I would have liked to see more of Liberty putting the pieces together and coming to a more organic understanding of the man she belonged with. Also, there seemed to be less focus on Liberty's relationship with Carrington towards the end of the story. It was noticeable, because of how prominent a character Carrington is earlier in the book. It's not that I didn't want to see Liberty have a life and a love outside of her sister, but I thought the tone should have remained consistent. Fundamentally, I was left with the feeling that I didn't know what kind of book Ms. Kleypas was trying to write here.
2)This evolves out of my first issue. I felt that the romance aspects were slightly underdeveloped. In my opinion, more time should have been spent on developing the romance between Gage and Liberty. In my opinion, much more time was spent on the romance (or at least the evolution of Liberty's love for Hardy) between Hardy and Liberty. I could see in a general way, why Gage was right for Liberty, but I really needed more for my heart to accept on a deep level that he was the right choice. Part of this unsureness came from the fact that I think having Hardy betray Liberty was a bit of a cop-out. Yes, we know that Hardy was committed to getting ahead by any means necessary. But it didn't quite ring true for me. Hardy was shown as a very good, honorable person growing up (even if he didn't believe it about himself). Yes, he was a bit of a skirt-chaser, but he stuck with girls who were up for the game. His caring for his family and for Liberty and her family didn't match up with how he acted when he returned to Liberty's life. So I was left feeling that, perhaps Liberty would have chosen Hardy, if he hadn't betrayed her that way. That didn't convince me on the romance between Gage and Liberty. Don't get me wrong. Gage was definitely the right man. Although I didn't get quite as much of a fix on him as I did Hardy, I could see his appeal and why he was the man that Liberty would fall in love with as an adult. But more narrative on him, definitely would have been appreciated.
3)I really disliked the scenes in which Liberty was exploring her sexality with Luke, who was her high school boyfriend, and the guy she dated as an adult before Gage. Now, I will admit that this ties into my dislike of chick-lit. I like to see a romance between two people, the heroine and the hero. I don't want to see them having sex and being involved with other people. If they had other relationships before, then I'd like that to be in the past, and not revealed during the book, other than a couple of lines of exposition, or through something that is revealed in dialogue. I knew that Liberty didn't love those guys, and she was a woman who wanted love. So it felt wrong to me. I especially hated the scene when she lost her virginity. I was really mad at her for that decision, although I could understand the pain that drove her to it. This would have went over better with me, had the women's fiction aspect of the story been continued through to the end, without the shift to a romance. But since the last 1/4 of the book was written as a romance, this left a bad taste in my mouth. I really didn't like the way things unfolded when Hardy returns into her life. The passionate kiss with Hardy felt wrong. Could you do that with an ex if you were deeply in love with a new man? Liberty wasn't the flighty kind of person who would do that. It felt out of character to me. Also the part in which Liberty decides to spend time with Hardy to find out if there was anything there. In my mind, if her feelings for Gage were so strong, would she have felt right doing that, even if he was a good enough man to let her? I don't know the right answer, but it didn't feel right to me. I think this is something that I would expect in a chick lit novel and not a romance.
One aspect of the book that I didn't really love, but I could see why it was done, was the attention to detail on the accoutrements of the upscale life that the Travises and their associates had. I think Ms. Kleypas did a great job of describing this through Liberty's eyes, but I was kind of 'meh' about it. To some degree, those of us who grew up with modest surroundings, do have a wide-eyed awe at what those who 'have' possess. But it is only so interesting. I think I would have preferred more time spent on showing Liberty's emotional interactions with Gage and his family, to a greater degree. Maybe dropping a designer name here and there, and describing things as needed could have sufficed. Perhaps this is unfair of me to comment on this, considering that Ms. Kleypas's phenomenal ability as a writer of beautiful, vivid description, is one of her strong points for me as a reader. I think in this instant, it was too much of a distraction from the emotional focus of this story.
So you may ask, how this book garnered a five star rating. I have to give it five stars, because it's a really good novel. It really affected me emotionally as a reader. And that is one thing that will always have a writer coming out ahead, for me. I found the love story between Liberty and Carrington to be the most beautiful and profound aspect of this story. The scenes in which Liberty takes on this responsibility and shows her love for her sister excelled. I cried numerous times reading this book.
Other reasons I give this book a five star rating: The beginning is excellent. The way in which Ms. Kleypas describes Liberty's life in a small town in Texas really resonated with me. It took me back to my time at this age. Hot, lazy summers, kooky relatives and neighbors. Having a family that wasn't always perfect, but loving them hard and strong, regardless. The awkwardness of being a girl who is in that stage where she feels ugly and invisible. This book could have been about a girl I knew growing up. Maybe a little bit of me, as well. That identification factor was so powerful, that I was sucked in as a reader. I wasn't going anywhere and doing anything until I finished this story.
And then there's Liberty. She's an unforgettable character. She had grit and determination. She had a unique way of looking at the world. She approached situations with the tenacity that I could not help but admire. Her strength was the best kind of strength to me. Not cussing out people or fighting at the drop of the hat, but hanging in there, enduring, doing what had to be done to keep going, and to achieve one's goals. I loved Liberty being that kind of person. And I wanted her to be happy. I cheered when she did get her happy ending. That's what I read this books for, after all.
Also, there are few writers who can create such appealing heroes as Ms. Kleypas. Gage had a magnetism that reached out of the book and slapped me in the face, in a good way, for all the short time he had in this book. Although he was a jerk to Liberty, initially, you could still see his appeal. I wanted more of him. And then there's Hardy. Well, I fell in love with Hardy as a young man. I could see why Liberty loved him so hard and so long. That's why I had some issues with the way he was written when he returned, because he made such an impression on me initially in this book. I know that I definitely have to read Blue-Eyed Devil to get more of him, and to see him become the man he should be, not who he thinks he is.
Well, for all the rambling that I did in this review, I feel that I could not have possibly expressed my feelings for this book with the clarity that I wish I could. It's so hard to unravel something so complex in such a short time for a review. But I feel that I have captured the essence of my feelings about Sugar Daddy. I do have to say a few things to Ms. Kleypas to end this review:
*Thank you for having the courage to write this book. *Thank you for stepping out of the box and pouring your heart into this book. *I'm sorry that I doubted that you could write a contemporary romance with heavy chick-lit leanings that I could enjoy. *Will you please continue to write excellent books that challenge me as a reader, make me cry, and keep me up late at night because I can't bear to put the book down?
Lastly, I say from one huge Lisa Kleypas fan to another: if you have not read Sugar Daddy, read it. I think you will find much of value in this book....more