Oh my God this bookohmigodthisbookOH MY GOD THIS BOOK!
This book is perfect.
It's like if Jane Austen wrote porn that also happened to contain powerful messages about human nature, surviving abusive situations, and the identity of self. So, basically, Jane Austen...Except Sylvia Day.
Yeah, none of this noise is making much sense, but can you blame me? Fangirl levels are at DefCon 1 right now, people...HOW can I do the thinking-brain-thing when I AM ODING ON FEELINGS?!
Okay, with that somewhat out of my system, let me try to bring it back down to earth.
Seven Years to Sin by Sylvia Day, a historical romance about unrequited love getting requited. Specifically about Alistair Caulfield who has loved Jessica Sheffield since childhood, but whoops, Jessica never knew and got hitched to another dude. Fast forward seven years, Jess is a widow, the two are plopped on a ship together, and sexiness ensues...Except oh yeah, the novel manages to pull the rug out from under you many times over with unexpected plot developments and character growth. Throw in some elegant writing that steals your breath, a secondary love story that is as heartwrenching as it is engaging, and a book that is intelligent and fun, and you've got the fixings for Seven Years To Sin.
Also sexy sex scenes. Did I mention sexy sex scenes? Because sexy sex scenes.
I could write entire soliloquies as to passionate hottness and intensity of this book's smexy-fun-times. However, I'm going to refrain from that because I'm a grown ass woman who was far more blown away by the depth of character given to the people in Seven Years To Sin. Jessica is such a complexly interesting heroine. Her backstory will rip your heart up into itty-bitty bite-sized pieces. She undergoes such a transformation over the course of the story, and has just as many personal demons to battle as the hero.
And interestingly, Alister is both a strong and vulnerable character. He operates on the Alpha/Beta male mixed spectrum and tugs at your heart with wire cables.
Throw in Jessica's sister, Hester, with her tortuous love story peppering the backdrop of the plot, which pays off in an AMAZING way to the final conflict of the novel and just OH MY GOD I NEED TO SHUT UP ABOUT THIS BOOK!
The plot, pacing, characterizations, detailed attention to setting, conflict, literally EVERYTHING in this novel is wonderful. I honestly can't fathom even one criticism to lodge against it, and that's saying something 'cause I'm a picky ass hole.
It's smart and emotional.
It's hot, and intense.
It's tragic, and beautiful.
And I swear, if anyone tells me historical romance novels are just "mommy porn" or "smut," I'm going to repeatedly pummel them in the face with Seven Years To Sin because stupidity deserves punishment.
So stop watching me fangirl about this kickass book, and go read it. I'm about to spoil the ass out of this novel. Run away screaming into the night if you're not ready...
A romance novel where the heroine comes from an abusive home, who enters an arranged marriage that results in love cut short from Consumption, while her sister enters a love marriage that results in misery, abuse, a miscarriage, and widowhood; a book that endeavors to kill off characters rather unexpectedly though realistically considering the setting, AND contains some of the most erotic writing, enough to make even Mata Hari blush?
Screw stereotypes, all hail Syliva Day, author goddess extraordinaire!
For such a simple premise which starts with prim Jessica stumbling upon rakish Alister whilst he's sexing up someone on the eve of Jessica's wedding, this book goes to some hella dark places. Our heroine struggles with moderate alcoholism, while our hero is a literal bastard, the product of his mother's extramarital affair. Jessica's father was so abusive in her childhood she lost the hearing in one ear while Alister's "father" hates him...and the body count in this book?
I mean damn. The book opens, closes, and climaxes with death.
Benedict, Jessica's husband of seven years dies of Consumption. Michael, the dude secretly in love with Jessica's sister Hester loses his older brother. Hester herself miscarries her baby, causing her abusive asshat husband to eat a bullet, and Alister, our story’s hero, looses all three of his older brothers to Smallpox. These deaths add such weight to the book, making the whole thing feel more real and with consequence.
Plus, every time you think you've got the central conflict figured out, it changes!
"Oh, it's opposites attract?" Now it's coping with tragic pasts..."Oh, it's love at sea?" Now it's incongruent love..."Oh, it's estate stewardship?" Now it's social obligations..."Oh, it's siblings in parallel?" Now it's an unexpected Dukedom.
Like, DAMN book! And yet, astonishingly enough, each plot point and conflict naturally evolve into the next.
Also, can we TALK about how emotionally moving the secondary love story was? Because oh my GOD PEOPLE! As amazing as Alister's and Jess' story were, the secondary love arc is just as powerful, if not more so in some ways; Hester and Michael. The girl who married for love to a man who in years abuses her, and the boy who has loved her for years.
Hester's plot line is so amazingly engaging for so many reasons. I mean, talk about inherent irony in her sister Jessica having married for convenience and found love while Hester marries for love and found hell. Add in Michael's powerful unrequited love, the abuse plotline of the husband, the pregnancy, her depression…all of this leading up to her widowhood and child loss and you talk about one hell of a subplot!
Lastly, I simply HAVE to take a hot minute to be all shocked and impressed at some of the on-the-nose quotes this book had to offer! Three in particular stood out to me, and I'll let you guess why.
Why can men be boys all of their lives, but we women must grow old while we are yet young? - Hester The world was made for men. - Jess And what is a woman's contribution to the world? To serve them? - Hester To create them. - Jess
Why do women insist on ascribing deep meaning to random events? - Michael Because we take note of life's details, which men fail to do. That is why women are clever than men. - Elspeth
It's too soon for you. Your still grieving. When the heart is still healing, we find someone who helps us forget it hurts. But one day we don't want to forget any longer and we let them go. When that time comes for you, you'll say farewell to Mr. Caufield with gratitude and no regrets. It's the way we women survive the passing of our men. - Beth
Like, that was some of the most excellent commentary on gender roles, common differences between sexes, and how women deal with loss.
So, despite the fact that I've been talking for several minutes, there’s still SO much more I could say about the events and characters of this book. I won't, though, simply because fangirling too long is dangerous to my health.
I need to shut up now, and you need to go read Seven Years To Sin.
Fact 1: I wanna take Molly Alexander out for cocktails. Fact 2: I wanna do the naughty mattress-dance with Dare Macintosh. Fact 3: I regret neither of those two statements.
Judge my chunky butt if you want, but I promise this contemporary romantic suspense can make you say the same dang thang. And color my ass surprised ‘cause I didn’t anticipate any of that fangirl flailing!
Romantic suspense normally puts me on the Nope Train to Noville.
I mean, hell, this a Knight-In-Shining-Armor-Rescuing-Princess-Peach kinda book. I figured we were gonna get a fears and tears heroine and a knuckle-dragging Neanderthal hero.
Boy howdy was I wrong.
Kidnapped Molly endures a 9-Day torture session and SHE don’t break. Dare picks up Molly as his Plus 1 on a rescue mission, and HE is an in-touch-with-his-feelings professional good guy! This novel shot my expectations all to shite for a crap ton of reasons.
Reason one? Molly Alexander has got full ownership of my damn heart.
Poor darling might be a successful author, and she might be a Trust Fund baby, but holy crap. This girl’s dog doodoo home life made her hella tough.
While Molly doesn’t exit her kidnapping a wilted flower, she’s definitely affected by it.
She’s quick witted and intelligent and strong, but she’s also vulnerable and scared and scarred. Yet even scared shitless, her first instinct was to ninja-kick Dare The Sexy Savior in the face!
Her Fight or Flight is all spunk, and no height.
And, as you can guess, Dare goes from Molly’s kick-boxing partner to her protector. He hires on to play a game of Find The Bad Guy, and DAMN that bodyguarding gets hot!
Dare: Bruises and fatigue can’t camouflage what’s there, Molly. You’re still an attractive woman. But looks aren’t the only draw. Bravery is something I admire a lot. Intelligence, ingenuity, control, logic. You’ve got it all in spades, lady, and I think it’s sexy as hell.
EXCUSE ME AND MY EXPLODING FANGIRL OVARIES, YALL!
Right there, that's your proof. Ya think this is gonna be a running, gunning powpow rock-em-sock-em kind of story.
When You Dare is a yummy read because it’s less BANGBANG and more d’awww and aww. Molly undergoes a healing journey while Dare protects her, even as HE tries to keep his hearteyes and horney pants on the DL.
AND I LOVE THAT!
They’re mostly camped out at Dare’s homebase, so we get LOTS of time for conflict and character. There are shitty parents and dark secrets and kidnapping and torture, but there’s also heart and warmth.
These two made me smile so damn much.
Like, that scene when Dare, a romantic suspense hero, frets about Molly making him a romantic suspense hero in her next novel? SO MUCH WIN! Because then...
Dare: Your books have explicit sex in them? Molly: Life has sex in it, and I write about life, about people who face hardships and in the end triumph through it all. Any really good triumph deserves a lasting love, don’t you think? Of course it does. And any lasting love has to have really hot, wonderful sex.
If I had a mic, this is where I would drop it.
Confident, competent heroines are my everything! You see why I wanna take Molly out for drinks despite the fact that I don’t drink?
Molly: Are you out of your mind? If you were the last man on earth, I would embrace celibacy with gusto.
GIRL QUIT STEALING MY HEART WITH YOUR TAKE-NO-SHIT QUICK WIT!
I guess it’s fair, though, cause our girl’s guy had me feeling 50 shades of inappropriate.
Buuuuut even though I love Dare, it sucks that we don’t know much about him by the last chapter. Closing the book still feeling like the hero’s a mystery is kinda disappointing, BUT. We do know this sexy ass man loves Molly, and has an interesting moral code.
Plus he’s an alpha hero, a beta boyfriend, and sex on a stick in the sack.
All the sex scenes were told from his point of view, which made the bowchickbowwow so damn hot! This dude does the dirty with Molly so well, I thought it was my ass having the smexy playtime. Dare is a Mr. Darcy in the sex department. He’s that perfect mix of dominant and submissive.
And boy is straight up in love with our girl so good that it hurts.
After their very first sex scene set my panties ablaze, Dare gets even more intimate. Once they’ve exhausted each other, our hero slips outta bed to use Molly’s bathroom and while there? He just explores.
Without the scene’s context and character’s voice, that may sound a bit stalkerish. But the way in which Dare lovingly touches Molly’s hair brush and explores her stuff was so moving.
It was intimate as their sexcapde one page prior.
Great characters, wonderful writing, AND a beautiful hot ass story with some dark shit thrown in for balance?
OMG GOOD BOOK IS GOOD!
You’ll have to excuse me, now. When You Dare broke my Lori Foster cherry so now my brain’s gotta go make out with all her other titles.
(If you like my writing voice or you think I’m funny...[or you just really wanna laugh at a fangirl for fangirling]...then SHAMELESS YOUTUBE CHANNEL PLUG IS SHAMELESS! I review romance novels and Asian dramas, so that is a thing and now you know.)
Okay, that was just the cutest thing that ever cuted! Kiri is a really likable character, and I enjoy her blasé sense of self. She is someone with a vOkay, that was just the cutest thing that ever cuted! Kiri is a really likable character, and I enjoy her blasé sense of self. She is someone with a very strong understanding of who she is, and she seems extremely passionate about her talents as a stylist. Though, what makes her more interesting, I think, is her apparent reluctance to pursue the field.
Narumi, the spoiled unlikable, probable main male lead, puts an interesting juxtaposition against Kiri. The dude's a flat out douche-pot, but he's more amusingly self-absorbed rather than just flat out dislikable. This works in the favor of the story, though, because Kiri is so not afraid to call this ass on his shit.
Then there's the adorable and lolita-like character, the exuberant Kei, and the brains behind the group, Ochiai. Basically they are all of the cute and just OH MY GOD YES.
I'm really intrigued by the story of this series, and I REALLY love the fresh, lively art style of Beauty Pop. Here's to hoping I just found my next favorite Shoujo manga series!