I loved these two so much!! I confess, reading the ending left me laughing hysterically at Celia and Tarquin and just grinning like a fool in love. Fe...moreI loved these two so much!! I confess, reading the ending left me laughing hysterically at Celia and Tarquin and just grinning like a fool in love. Felt the love so much; these two are definitely getting added to my favorite hero/heroine/couple list. <3(less)
How is it there's only five stars available? I'd pluck some more from the night skies if I could because this is just made of so much win. The kind th...moreHow is it there's only five stars available? I'd pluck some more from the night skies if I could because this is just made of so much win. The kind that really awesome romances are made of. The kind that would engage your mind and not just yor heart. You know the one. Yup, that's the kind that would make you laugh out loud, swoon and sigh and grin goofily because your heart is just so, so full of love. I still have so much to say but I'm feeling indescribably happy and I'm just bursting with joy that review will just have to wait. Hehehe.
A Night To Surrender is a gem of a read. It will take you to dizzying heights of happiness, laughter, and love (and likely even some tears -- oh, Bram!). I found ANTS to be a brilliantly written story set in a charming little seaside village, teeming with distinctive characters bound to capture your heart with their humor, tenacity, passion, and spirit.
I have a profound love for Susanna and Bram, two amazingly beautiful survivors: damaged and vulnerable, stalwart and duty-bound. From the moment they meet, each has shaken up the others' world, challenging each other in every clever way possible. Their attraction is undeniable, genuine. Their connection is substantive, vital. It's very clear that their lives will never be the same again, simply as their encounter has brought a change in them. The journey they had to take for them to be able to let love in, is not to be missed. What an adventure it was, to go from being able to recognize their own weaknesses, break down solidly built defenses, overcome their fears and let go of their insecurities, to knowing the truth that one doesn't have to be perfect to be exactly what they need, and being able to trust unequivocally, and meet in the middle without sacrificing who they are at the core. I absolutely love the flirtatious banter and the witty repartee between the two (I can't pick favorites because there's just so many, but a laugh-out-loud moment that comes to mind would be when Susanna and Bram have a conversation with Sir Lewis, The One With The 'Proposal'. Heehee.) To tell the truth, these two didn't just make me laugh, they made me cry too. Look out for that moment when Bram confronts Sir Lewis, and tell me that your heart didn't just swell even just a little, that you didn't feel even just a bit of ache, a bit of sympathy, and a lot of respect. And love. Love, that goes without saying.
The secondary characters are an awesome bunch, truly. Some had me hooting with laughter, some were very appealing and charming, some I found to be very intriguing, and some were even deceiving; vexing and disappointing and not at all perfect or how we thought they'd be. Just like in life, we have those people we love who are maybe blinded by their own passion, or perhaps who simply cannot understand us. Those are the people that force us to adapt and change, and help us be better and stronger. And oh, to have all of these people reside in a place such as Spindle Cove ... I found myself pausing at certain moments in the book, wishing SC was an actual place I could visit, real and inviting as it is. If only.
I have already recommended this to everyone I know, and I even went out to buy it for some of my closest friends, because I just couldn't contain my excitement for this book and I couldn't wait for my friends to experience the satisfaction for themselves. What an excellent way to start the series, and I cannot wait to read about Colin and Minerva's story. :D
Favorite quotes, and there are so many to choose from: (view spoiler)[
* ... with everything ...
"No, Susanna," he said. "I cannot love you just a little. If that's what you want, you must find a different man." His green eyes were breathtaking in their intensity. His thumb brushed her bottom lip. "Because I can only love you entirely. With everything I am, and everything I will be. Body, mind, heart, soul."
* ... at last ...
"A beast is just what you want. A big, dark medieval brute to throw you to the ground, tear the clothes from your body, and have his wicked way with you. I know I’m right. I haven’t forgotten how excited you were in the aftermath of that blast." The nerve of him! How could he tell? She lifted her chin. "Well, I haven't forgotten the sound you made when I first touched your brow. It wasn't even a moan, it was more like . . . like a whimper." He made a dismissive sound. "Oh yes. A plaintive, yearning whimper. Because you want an angel. A sweet, tender virgin to hold you and stroke you and whisper precious promises and make you feel human." "That's absurd," he scoffed. "You're just begging to be taught a hard, fast lesson in what it means to please a man." "You're just longing to put your head in my lap and feel my fingers in your hair. He backed her up against a rock. "You need a good ravaging." "You," she breathed, "need a hug." They stared at each other for long, tense moments. At first, looking each other in the eye. Then looking each other in the lips. "You know what I think?" he said, coming closer. So close she could feel his breath wash warm against her cheek. "I think we’re having one of those vexing arguments again." "The kind where both sides are right?" "Hell, yes." And this time, when they kissed, they both made that sound. That deep, moaning, yearning, whimpering sound. That sound that said yes. And at last. And you are exactly what I need."
* ... have a guess ...
"Tonight," he announced, "is the night we take back that village. And we're not going to do it by marching in lines or committing acts of brave idiocy. We're going to do it by being men. Manly men. The kind of men a woman wants to take control." Brows wrinkled in confusion. "But . . ." The blacksmith looked around the group. "We are men. Last I checked, anyhow." "It's not just a matter of having the proper equipment. It's using the equipment properly." Leaping up on a crate, Colin spread his arms wide. "Look at me. Now look at yourselves. Now look back at me. I am the man you want to be like." Dawes crossed his arms. "Why is that, precisely?" "Do you know how many women I've bedded?" When Rufus and Finn perked, he waved at them. "Have a guess, boys." "Seventeen," offered Finn. "More." "Eighteen." "Still more." "Er . . . nineteen?" "Oh, for the love of God," he muttered. "We'll be here all day. Let's just call the number more than you can imagine. Because clearly, that is the case." Under his breath, he added, "Perhaps higher than you know how to count."
* ... not wounded ...
"My pride's not wounded, for God's sake. And no, I'm not disappointed. Nor haunted, nor embittered, nor threatened. Stop trying to pin all these emotions on me like frilly pink ribbons. I'm not one of your delicate spinsters, Miss Finch. This isn't about my tender feelings. I have things to accomplish, and you"--he poked a single finger into her shoulder--"are hindering me."
He hides his true colors while she hides her true self. That statement alone would have gotten me to read this book right away, but as it was, back in...moreHe hides his true colors while she hides her true self. That statement alone would have gotten me to read this book right away, but as it was, back in April or something, I kept hearing about this book with many readers either abhorring "that scene" and hating the book completely, or admiring the book because of it ... I didn't want to be spoiled so I went ahead and downloaded this and read straightaway. I was so very curious to see what everyone was talking about, and I was really interested to discover also what kind of reaction it would warrant from me. And oh, my. What an experience it was.
I'm not going to lie. This book is a difficult read for me. I don't like reading about betrayal and deception to begin with, because I can't abide by it in real life. Duplicity is the ultimate risk, and trust once broken is so, so hard to earn back. But then again .... people lie all the time. We tell others half truths, we tell them white lies, mostly it's sprung from our (misguided) love and our need to protect others. Truth hurts. But it hurts even more to know that the person we have trusted with our heart has outright lied to us.
Truth hurts, but it doesn't kill. Except maybe if you're Diccan, and you've uncovered a Plot To Kill Someone, and then suddenly the whole country's safety is at stake. As a spy masquerading as a diplomat, he takes his duty to serve his country to heart. He has been doing this for so long, pretending to be someone he's not, that he's perfected the art of Being Somebody Else. And he has been fine with living that kind of life, being known as The Perfection. Up until he got caught in a compromising situation with Grace. Now there's another person who exemplifies duty. As a soldier's daughter, she has learned to sacrifice her own desires. All her life, she has been exactly what others need her to be. She could not wait for the day when she is able to live freely and honestly, without reservation. Grace has dreamt of it for so long, and damn, she has definitely earned it. But she can't have it. Because that choice has been stripped away from her, and she finds herself obliged to Do The Right Thing once more. Diccan and Grace marry.
Truth doesn't kill, but it suffocates. Diccan does the honorable thing and marries Grace (although he bungles that up by not even asking properly in the first place). He knows that he was set up, and that he would be able to protect Grace by staying together. Maybe both of their names can be salvaged. When women get asked The Question, it usually signifies a happy start to their future, not a sad goodbye to dreams now dissolved. Grace entered this marriage with her eyes wide open and her heart already broken. Neither of them harbors the illusion that this marriage is a blessing.
But they do their best.
We see glimpses of who Diccan can be when not bogged down by all the secrets and lies. I think this is why I can never truly hate Diccan. Because as much as it pains me to see the repercussions of his actions are, especially towards Grace, we see how conflicted he is and how much it pains him to do the things that must be done. I think if Ms. Dreyer didn't do an exceptionally good job of showing us how this is greatly affecting Diccan as well, I wouldn't have been able to finish this book. Because truly, some of the things that Diccan does seem well and beyond redemption. To put his duty to his country over his love? Over and over again? How horrible must the choices be to choose from? And to know that each time he is hurting somebody else. Somebody who has become real to him -- a person he has come to care a great deal for. Those moments of inner conflict, when it shows he regrets his actions and that he is even disgusted with himself for putting her through so much, you get the feeling of just how unjust and cruel the fates have been to them. Because Diccan is not a detestable person. He is honorable. He is thoughtful. Protective and gentle. Despite everything he has done, he is still capable of love.
When you're just tolerating someone, you don't really get to see them for who they are, for what they have to offer, and for who you could become because they're present in your life. But once you start caring for them, you start admiring their strengths. You start being attracted to them, not just because of their looks, but because you've seen beyond. Without even knowing, you have come to accept the person just as they are. You begin to see them in a different light, respect blossoms, and love begins to grow.
Grace may not be called beautiful, she may be too tall, she may be a cripple, and she may not know the ways of the ton, but she is not just amazing ... she is real. She is smart. She recognizes truths for what they are. She is so giving, always sharing a piece of herself. Grace is a good person; kind, decent, and loving. Just don't mistake her for weak, because when she is put to the test, her strong character, solid sense of dignity and her heart worthy of love is something remarkable. I fell in love with her. No wonder Diccan fell in love with her.
But it wasn't easy. Like I said, this was tough for me to read. It was challenging for me to finish the first time because of how real it was for me. I don't know how many times I have picked this book up since I first read it. Sometimes I just flip to a page and start reading from there. More often than not, after doing that, I find myself going back from the beginning, completing the book. I've picked this book up when I was very upset at something. I picked it up when I was feeling much angst. I picked it up when I was feeling content. It didn't matter the mood and the time, I suppose, because always, it always feel like a rollercoaster and I'm guaranteed to feel something.
Grace's plight was so heartbreaking. I tried to explain it to a friend once, and usually when I do something like this I like to quote (I remember words.) a passage from the book, a part of the dialogue between the characters ... I couldn't come up with one. The book was littered with those poignant moments, when we have access to Grace's penetrating thoughts and we are allowed passages to those moments of her agonizing and heartrending resolve. It felt to me as if pieces of Grace's heart were scattered in those passages, and I felt as though I was the one who has lost her heart. I had to keep reading. I wanted to know that she didn't give up so much of herself that she becomes lost in the process. I wanted to know that she's learned to not just accept things as they come, but to fight for what she wants and what she needs. I had to know that Grace makes it, dignity in tact, heart pieced back together. I had to be strong for this character, because she had to be strong. As distressed and lost and heartbroken as I was, I still couldn't help but hold on to the hope that she will be wanted and needed and loved. Such was my tenacity in believing in their Happy Ever After.
Because Diccan and Grace, they're essentially two wounded, lovable, damaged, good people caught in the charade. Because as much as truth devastates their heart, it also ultimately frees their soul. Because everything they have been through, all the hurt, humiliation, and anger they were subjected to only strengthened character and fortified their resolve to live the life they deserve with the person they want, and need, and love.
All I can say is that the book did not disappoint. It's a rare book nowadays that can get a reader to experience a whole gamut of feelings and emotions. Surprise, happiness, angst, loneliness, rage, betrayal, shock, confusion, heartache, concern, hope, love .... and in the kind of intensity the story and the characters compels you to feel. There are times when I was just astonished at how much one person can give and overwhelmed at just how much they can take, when I was touched by simple gestures that show their real person, when I was just tempted to close the book and walk away because of the extent of anger and hurt I was feeling at that moment, and there were times when I just wanted to hug the book so close to my chest and never let it go.
If I only had one word to use for this awesomely delicious adventure, it would be 'revelatory'. I've caught myself surprised numerous times in my read...moreIf I only had one word to use for this awesomely delicious adventure, it would be 'revelatory'. I've caught myself surprised numerous times in my reading, which, needless to say, is thoroughly wonderful and satisfying. I was already more than halfway in lustlove with Colin and I already held Minerva dear, dear to my heart in ANTS, but AWTBW elevated that love for them to new heights.
(view spoiler)[Er, not spoilers really, but under the cut for now nonetheless.
Seeing these two lose their equilibrium as they discover and explore the truths uncovered about each other made my heart ache. We are treated to see beyond the façade, and suddenly I was seeing the imperfections and/or insecurities they attempt to amend, and there they were, authentic and heartrendingly real.
I love Colin for all his good intentions and fierce protectiveness and genuine affection for M, and I love Minerva for her bravery and fierce loyalty and for allowing herself to live her life for herself. Oh, these two. They may have seemed to be an unlikely pair in the beginning, but discerning minds know it is no coincidence that these two people gravitated towards each other; theirs is a cleverly matched alliance formed in the beginning, turned to a deeply loving allegiance that can't be shaken in the end. I'm so glad to partake in this grand adventure to see two genuinely beautiful people flourish and shine, as individuals and as partners.
A Week To Be Wicked is the second book in the Spindle Cove series, and it will be out on March 27, 2012. I've already pre-ordered my copy, but I've been very fortunate to have been given early access to the book via Edelweiss.
The third, A Lady by Midnight, will be out this September. I've been waiting for their story too, since ANTS. Heh.:D ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
This book, I can just forever keep it close to my heart. I can't even form the words for a review. The Rake and the Reformer. I laughed, I cried, then...moreThis book, I can just forever keep it close to my heart. I can't even form the words for a review. The Rake and the Reformer. I laughed, I cried, then I laughed AND cried some more. So much love.
My heart is so full from reading about these two incredible individuals who defied their situations by not letting circumstances, actions, and reactions define who they are. I reveled in the respect, and the friendship, and all the familial and romantic love found in this story. I loved every moment and I'm so glad I read this jewel.
So hard to rate anthologies ... also, while I'd love to sit here and write an actual review, have to just make this short and simple. So muuuch love f...moreSo hard to rate anthologies ... also, while I'd love to sit here and write an actual review, have to just make this short and simple. So muuuch love for Jill Shalvis! Have bought her books already but don't think i have read any yet, so this is a first for me.
Jill Shalvis: All He Wants for Christmas
My, oh my. So when they say "heating up" they really mean it, heh. So many things to love about it: the inverting the usual unrequited love trope, the actual development in the love story, the whole Christmas season not overwhelming the story ... the banter, haha, I live for the banter and the tension. Dustin, how do you not love Dustin? I don't know how Christina held out for so long. :P But seriously though, I love how I went through a whole range of emotions, having those highs and experiencing those lows ... especially that pinch in your heart you get when you know, when you know that there is no way this heartache should even last.
(I don' t normally think up of real life people to base characters on but for som reason, Dustin's description just made me think of Rodrigo Santoro in Love Actually, with his quiet demeanor and his glases amd his hotness. Hahaha.)
Really, really wanted to read Head Over Heels but remembered for some unknown reason that I haven't even read the first two. Gaaaah! Rectifying this m...moreReally, really wanted to read Head Over Heels but remembered for some unknown reason that I haven't even read the first two. Gaaaah! Rectifying this mistake and now reading this one. I hope it's as feel-good as it seems to me!
Read it last night as soon as my Nook let me download it and finished it in one sitting. Ooooh, so, so good. Everything so delish. I'm already plannin...moreRead it last night as soon as my Nook let me download it and finished it in one sitting. Ooooh, so, so good. Everything so delish. I'm already planning on re-reading as soon as I get home from work, hahaha.
Every Jill Shalvis book I read leaves me HAPPY, and it's guaranteed to touch my heart in ways I don't even know possible. The writing is crisp and refreshing, the banter always sparkling, the UST always palpable, the love scenes so hot and sizzling (and did I mention HOT??), the characters so unforgettable, and no matter what, you end up falling in love with them and their journey, (and the setting too! The community!) and you know they'll just forever inhabit a space in your heart.
I can't even write a proper review, I'm still basking in all the love, but suffice it to say that I'm going to be talking to everyone about this book (and probably end up buying it for all my friends again, lol).
IT'S A MUST READ. I really don't want to say anything because I don't want to spoil it for you guys out there who haven't read this yet. Just. Wow. Wh...moreIT'S A MUST READ. I really don't want to say anything because I don't want to spoil it for you guys out there who haven't read this yet. Just. Wow. What an experience it will be for you. Tessa's writing is superb, and she's one of the best writers out there. The entire Spindle Cove series is just too amazing for words, so if you haven't yet, read A Night To Surrender and A Week To Be Wicked and I guarantee you'll fall in love with it just as you will for A Lady By Midnight. <3(less)
The course of true love never did run smooth. Very true, especially when it is made even more complicated when you find yourself falling in love with...moreThe course of true love never did run smooth. Very true, especially when it is made even more complicated when you find yourself falling in love with The Enemy. 'The Runaway Countess' is a stunning debut novel from Ms LaValle; it is thrilling and fraught with tension and intrigue, it is sensual and seductive, and it is sure to captivate your heart. I know that from the first chapter, I was very impressed with the crisp clarity of writing, of how the lush narrative allowed me to immerse myself in Trent and Mazie's world without diffidence.
We are immediately aware that the stakes are high; we see and feel the desperation that should overpower a weaker person, and yet loyalty, strength of character and bravery prevail, and we see into the heart of Mazie Chetwyn who has been captured, indeed guilty of the 'mercy' crimes she has committed. She knows firsthand about the oppression and corruption going on around her and has teamed up with the local highwayman, the Midnight Rider, to set things right. Of course, there are two sides to the story, and so we meet Trent Carthwick, twelfth Earl of Radford, the Lord Lieutenant of Nottinghamshire, who is principled and respectable ... a discerning and intelligent man who believes wholeheartedly in the law. The scandal surrounding the Midnight Rider and his accomplice is threatening everything he is; all he has known and worked hard for, and so he must remain in Nottinghamshire to sort it all out, capture the Midnight Rider, and reestablish the honor of his family name. He doesn't remain oblivious to the injustice and damage inflicted upon the locals for long, thanks to Mazie challenging him at every turn. Eventually, the fissures in his otherwise just and stable world emerge, and he is forced to reevaluate his position and actions regarding whom to trust, without losing faith in the system of the law.
I found myself falling for Mazie and Trent, two extraordinary people struggling to do right in this world, in their own way. Infallible they are not, but they adapt and they learn, they choose and they act, never just sitting idly by. I do so appreciate the complex situation they find themselves in, and I can't take for granted the thought process and the dueling emotions regarding the heavy decisions they both must make. Every now and then I found myself needing to pause for a bit to digest their current status or state of mind. What must it be like for Trent, finding himself inevitably drawn to, in love with, a guilty criminal, who is dead set on protecting the person he must apprehend? What then, when he finally gets to know her heart and see beyond her actions, and yet know that 'he could not have it all. He was destined to lose something in the end. ' Duty, honor, and responsibility. Freedom, happiness, and love. What must it be like for Mazie, already faced with threats to her freedom and life, but still loyal and unwavering in her protection of the Midnight Rider? What then, when she discovers for herself that though, yes, he is duty-bound and very much on the side of the law, that he has a very kind heart, that he is willing to change ... that he is also stuck in an impossible situation between the locals and the gentry, and that he is 'just a man. A man with a heart, with tears and worries of his own.' When the time comes that she is able to trust, would she also be able to give up freedom? Love? My heart breaks for them.
One of my favorite things about this book is the undeniable attraction between the two. Try as they might, and as perverse as it is to desire one's enemy, well, there it is, the attraction simmering, sizzling, burning up the pages. Oh my goodness, those scenes are so hot, sensual, and oh so delicious. Their kisses alone would have been the death of me already, but wait till you get to Chapter Sixteen. Whew. My favorite line in the entire book is about their third kiss, in fact.
It was a kiss born of thunderstorms and the wild loneliness of the night. It was hot, fierce, and needy.
I love, love Mazie's uncensored thoughts, actually laughed out loud at some of the moments when she is struggling not to feel affected, not to show that she is affected, and then finally admitting, and submitting, to her passion and desire. 'He could do whatever it was his eyes were saying they wanted to do.'
Oh, so refreshing to see a heroine voice her (treacheroussincere) desire for the hero.
He looked up at her from where he bent over the spigot. That devilish lock of hair fell across his forehead and her breath caught. Even after their argument, even after the brittle fear of the morning, she was still attracted to him. It was entirely unfair that he was so handsome. She wished he weren't so beautiful. No, she amended. She loved that he was beautiful. She wished he weren't her enemy. That he wasn't always so determined to ruin her life.
I love Trent's intensity, and by intense, I mean, wow. I'm surprised Mazie hasn't yet melted, what with the smoldering gazes, always under his scrutiny and observations and stares. I ... have no words, hehe. Trent could not disguise his attraction to her even if he tried. But more than this, I loved how Trent tried to cope with his new found feelings for her while trying to reconcile it with the reality of who Mazie was. I love the moments where we are shown Trent's kindness, his gentleness, to everyone from the locals, his sister, Mazie. Even when he knew Mazie was not being forthcoming, despite trying to reign in his feelings for Mazie, there is no doubt he is very attuned to her, even without complete comprehension.
It distressed him seeing her so upset. And his distress over her distress distressed him even more. Which made no sense being that she continued to lie to him, even knowing what he had at stake. She was a devil of a confusing woman.
There is so much to recommend in this gem of a book. One of them is Cat, Trent's unhappily married sister and Mazie's peer. I love Cat so much, and my heart goes out for her too. (Ms LaValle, we ARE going to learn more about Cat, aren't we? Yes or yes? :D) She's wonderful, I love her character so much. There are two particular conversations she had with Mazie that made me feel that gnawing ache in my heart. The first one happened when Mazie decided to hide from Trent. Two very impressive, undaunted, protective sisters, alone, together; in a large library; their conversation very telling. Cat's candor illuminating on some truths, confessed directly or otherwise. The second one happened towards the end.
“You will run.” “I don’t know.” She was honest. “Trent knows the truth, understands why the Midnight Rider did what he did. It is his decision what happens next. I am not going to stay and help your brother find my br—my friend. There is nothing left for me here.” “There is love.” Mazie shook her head. She took her stance and pulled back on her bowstring. “No matter what happens, we will hurt each other terribly/" "Does it work, running away?" Cat's voice was marked by concern and frustration. "Is that why Forster has been gone so many years?"
I really am curious to hear more about Cat. Here's to hoping we'll soon find out. :D
I thoroughly enjoyed my reading of this novel. It grips you right from the very start, and doesn't let you want to let go. It was well worth the journey to the end and see how the situations were resolved. By the time I reached the end, I had tears threatening to fall while a goofy grin was pasted on my face. I would definitely recommend 'The Runaway Countess' to everyone. :)