I wanna make OOOOUUUUTTTT with this book! You know fangirl’s about to go nuclear if she spam tweets an author 41 times...which is a thing I did.
So yall, today we’re book chatting about the smexiest lovestory of all...A property dispute!
No. I’m serious.
Our girl Izzy inherits a busted ass castle that comes fully stocked with a hermit. Ransom the blind beast wants Izzy is the plain Jane beauty to GTFO. And guys, if this OTP don’t get ya on the floor moaning then you’re voted off the island.
Homeless Izzy is a Regencyland chick who gets property in her name, so she ain’t about to let Mr. Smexy scare her off. And hot darn damn ya’ll, girlfriend got my ass was in love with her spunky ass by Chapter 2!
And Tessa’s bomb-diggity writing snatched my booty by page 6. PAGE SIX GUYS!
It started to rain - fat, heavy drops of summer rain; the kind that always struck her as vaguely lewd and debauched. Little potbellied drunkards, those summer rain drops, chortling on their way to Earth and crashing open with glee.
Goddamn woman! Those beautifully descriptive words could make even Shakespeare jelly!
But I’m here for Izzy ‘cause damn this chick has got DNA made of gold. Her shit circumstances have made her hella tough, having been the family breadwinner since 13.
Ransom: Don't tell me you're one of those women with radical ideas. Izzy: No, I'm one of those women with nothing. There are a great many of us.
YES GIRL YES! CUE ALL MY APPLAUSE!
Why do I love Izzy so damn much? Cause homegirl tolerates zero shite from Sexy McSexface; chick demands respect & me likey! She’s got a backbone made of diamonds AND a wit sharper than an XACTO.
This grown ass woman has to act like the darling depicted in her dad’s stories. She respects the fandom, so she’s gotten hella good at disguising her true self.
And hot buttercups, that makes her perfect for Ransom The Grumpy Sweetheart.
I LOVE Ransom. I LOVE that his blindness wasn’t magically cured by the epilogue. I LOVE that he’s got made respect for Izzy. I LOVE that he’s the sweetest penis-owner ever. 'Cause I swear fangirls, I was clutching my pearls when he turned Izzy’s room into a fire hazard.
She’s scared of the dark so dammit she needs all of the candles!
CAN A FANGIRL PLEASE LIVE? This boy had my heart all a’tither. I never thought hiding from a swarm of chamber bats could be sexy...but put a scarred, blind duke ontop a girl and hot damn cue the oxytocin!
This herotastic dude and this spunky gal got ALL the OTP chemistry!
BECAUSE THAT SCENE IN THE LIBRARY AFTER HER BIG REVEAL HOLY SHIT STICKS! THAT'S SOME HOT-ASS DIALOGUE GIMME GIMME FIRE EXTINGUISHER!
She admits she’s secretly wanton, he gets all blunt and dominate and crude; Izzy likes it! Girl doesn’t No-No-No it up to him, so her explicit consent makes his antics that much HOTTER! These two had dialogue exchanges that sat my ovaries on max horny.
Izzy’s ownership over her sexuality had me fangirl flailing like a giant octopus. Like, when she shocked the shite outta Ransom for the kissey kisses? OMG
The Hero, Basically : I’ll just lip tackle her. That'll scare her off!
Boy you thought!
Our bamf heroine attacks him right back DEMANDING more kisses! I was living for that scene and his reaction.
Ransom is constantly getting ass blasted by Izzy.
They do the Boom Boom Jiggity and she's the one that drops the “no strings attached” clause. Izzy stands up to Ransom’s sexual and emotional challenges, and damn she got him and me wrapped around her little digit.
What was he coming to, when a woman sat in his lap, he gave her a stern what-for...and then ten seconds later, oopsy-daisy and la-di-dah, he went and twirled a finger in her hair?!
SEE! He hooked, ME hooked!
Plus when a girl launches the word cock at a hero 7 times in a row, you gotta love her. It’s the rules. Oh, speaking of cock!
GUYS, THIS GIRL AND COCKS ARE LAUGH OUT LOUD FUNNY!...(Those are words I just said. What is my life?)
She was entirely unaware of the protocol when becoming acquainted with a man's rampant sex organ. Did she reach out and give it a handshake? Touch one finger to the tip? Bid a polite how-do-you-do?
BLESS TESSA DARE! I swear to God, when I read that a little bit of pee came out.
This fun, sweet, steamy couple punched me in the heart for one more reason. Ransom and Izzy are so similar. She's hiding her true nature and he's hiding from the world. They’re both stuck in a hole and Izzy rescues Ransom as much as Ransom rescues Izzy.
Plus, you know...they have the cutest banter ever.
Ransom: You just pushed that chair toward the table. And before that, you hung my coat on the peg. Izzy: Very well, you caught me. Call the magistrate. Put me in the stocks for excessive tidiness.
DAMN YES THIS BOOK IS DAMN YES!
The climax of the story was internal and external, the romance was a powerhouse, there were beautiful themes, funny characters and hell...Even a Star Wars reference! But honestly, I think Tessa Dare describes this novel better than any of my fangirling ever could.
But then, somewhere into Cressida's second kidnapping, the story started to change. Like, a good whiskey aging in a barrel. There were deep layers, more shadings of emotions, and the words painted such vivid pictures. I could see it all happening in my mind, so clearly as if it were taking place before me. But the story kept taking me by surprise. By the time we reached the end, I was riveted to my barstool.
Amen Ms. Dare. A-freaking’-men!
(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.)
Seriously. Shut up and know all ye THIS BOOK IS FUCKING FAN-DAMN-TASTIC!
Well, so, yes, I might have just secured my one way ticket to the pillowed
Seriously. Shut up and know all ye THIS BOOK IS FUCKING FAN-DAMN-TASTIC!
Well, so, yes, I might have just secured my one way ticket to the pillowed-wall room complete with self-hugging jackets for that crazy-sauce outburst, but it was so worth being committed over. Alas, lock me away Johnny, for I have recently come to the sad conclusion that books are not healthy for you. In fact, they're a bit dangerous to your well being, and unquestionably no-good for your sanity. Books like No Good Duke Goes Unpunished make it very, VERY difficultimpossible emotionally traumatizing to separate fiction from reality. Why? Well!
When a book kicks much ass, you want that thing to be real, dammit. And, let's face it, we're all secretly convinced that Temple and Mara are walking-talking people. Those two characters are the epitome of a huge honkin' bowl of Awesome sprinkled with a sugary goodness pile of Emotional Agency. Yes, yes, our characters are believable, they're likable, they're strong; they're all of that. But, far, *far* more importantly, their back-stories, their personal identities, AND their personal growth, both independently as well as a couple over the course of novel, brings these two fictional peeps into a hot, zesty fiesta of damned good reading.
Oh, and that's not even broaching the topic of the plot! This story is just damned good; all of it. DAMNED GOOD I SAY! The conflict is nuanced and layered, operating as an external crisis driven by internal emotional pain. The progressing of plot points is so well executed in sensical construction that even the most ADHD spasmodic, "Oh-Look-Something-Shiny!" reading attention span would remain hooked throughout every friggin' chapter. The smexy smokin' sensual chemistry (yay for alliterations!) that sparks in every scene between our hero and heroine is, in my obnoxiously unimportant opinion, serious justification for making this Book-Crack-level worthy.
Not good enough for ya to be convinced to read this glorious collection of words? Well, fine! Then how about a story chock full of piss-your-pants-roller-coaster-ing emotional hits within the plot? Temple's Mr. Angsty-Angst man from Angstville level of mistakenly misplaced self-hate? Or Mara's I'm-Apparently-The-Most-Bravely-Bad-Ass, Most-Independently-Self-Reliant-Vagina-Owner moniker holder in Romance Land? Still not convinced? FINE! Throw in some amaze-balls beautimous writing, some burn-this-mother-down hot sex scenes, AND majestic perpetual plot momentum! Because, ya know, as great effing books do. SO HOW? ABOUT? NOW?!
I really do.
Post Review Postscript:
Dear Sarah MacLean: You're birthed in win, and your DNA is basically the equivalent of diamonds dipped in liquid gold. This has long been acceptable scientific truth for you, for your books up until No Good Duke Goes Unpunished have proven as much. Here I must put it to you, though, that you are a mastery of awesomeness. That itsy-bitsy teeny-weeny way you just SHOCKED THE EVER LOVIN' CRAP-LOVE out of your readership with those last two lines of the epilogue about a CERTAIN surprise you've been harboring over the course of three novels? Well. You are officially Queen of Romance. Here's your well deserved fist bump, good woman.
It is a truth, universally acknowledged, that a single mistaken assumption must be in want of a glorious ass kicking. What could I possibly be referring to, you might ask? Well, that being MY ass kicking, obviously, and of course MY epic Bitch-You-Crazy-Wrong initial assumption about this book. To quote myself,
"Eh, almost 75 pages in and a distinctive lack of deep POV. This one might not be a gem."
... Yeah. Say, can we hop in the TARDIS real quick-fast and go deliver a ginormous kick to the forehead to Past Jacqueline?
So, in the spirit of not hating too much on the sins of the past, I have to admit that...well, past Jacquie was wrong, but only to a point. This novel DOES rock the stadium down to rubble, but only a bit after page 75. The first four chapters of this little story are atrociously painful. If the Spanish Inquisition were led by Hitler and Jigsaw, even that level of discomfort couldn't compare to how bad this novel tries getting off the ground. When the reader is first introduced to our two lead characters, everything's chaotic. The introductions of their existence is chaotic, the character's initial meeting with on another in the story is chaotic, hell, even the first several exchanges between Griff and Pauline AFTER their "Hey, I'm A Person With A Name And A Face" are just insanely, well, chaotic!
SO MUCH MADNESS! While there is a healthy dose of info-dump that occurs at the onset of the book, most notably during our heroine's first on-page scene, the early part of the book's tone is painfully hurried. Heroine's doing this while running to go do that, and ooh, look! There's THIS factoid about Pauline, all while the hero's hurrying to enact his Hero Plot here and then just OH MY GOD SO MUCH CRAP! ... Honestly, so much was going on for the setup to get Hero A and Heroine B together that I was so, so worried whether or not these two people were going to be believable.
And, yet, I worried for nothing! After an extremely spasmodic sequences of events, once the plot gets underway, Tessa Dare thankfully does slow her roll. Pauline and Griff do begin developing a very keyed up dynamic that is deeply rooted in point of view. These two people become believably grounded in emotional depth the longer they are on-page, both together as a couple and independently as characters. At the beginning of the story, our hero seems just an irresponsible bachelor while our heroine seems just an uncouth servant. Thank spicy tacos these two explore much deeper realities than their initial characterizations. They are beautiful people, dammit, and their romance story is SO wonderful and YOU JUST DON'T UNDERSTAND!
Yeah, yeah, admittedly tropes are all over the place in this book, but to me, that's a good thing for I love tropes. Any Duchess Will Do is basically a Cinderella story, if Cinderella the character weren't a pushover lackluster dweeb. (Pauline is so much a better heroine than ol' Cindy!) This is the fairy tale that we WANT to believe, that is believable because all the plot points, all the emotion, all the buildup and drama culminate into a romance and HEA that feels real. If the aching feelings of this book could be bottled and sold, world peace would be instantaneously A Thing. The construction of emotions, dialogue interplay and sexual tension (oh sweet smexy goodness, the chemistry!) alone guarantee Pauline and Griff the gold medal for Most Beautiful Romance, Ever. There exists an open honesty between these two that is so uniquely refreshing. It culminates into one effing hot, most sexy, most intense romance love confessions from the hero truly -ever- written!
"You believe I'd value a strand of jewels above your life? I know we've had our differences, Simms, but that's low. You truly think so little of me?...Tomorrow I can buy my mother another necklace. A better one. A half dozen of them if she likes. Jewels can be replaced." "So can serving girls." "Don't. Don't play that game. When I heard you cry out...it was like a saber to the gut. I wanted to die. I could have found you broken or bleeding, or-" His voice broke. "Or worse. Don't tell me I care about polished rocks on a chain. I want to believe you know me better than that." "I do." "And yet you believe I'd be so upset about a necklace that I'd send you away?""
And, hey, that's just the beginning of the scene. This love confession goes into one seriously beautiful outpouring of manly feels, and it is a thing be witnessed! Griff is such an amazing hero, so elegantly written that he will rip your heart out all over the place. When a man, fiction or otherwise says the following, you love him dammit, whether he exists or not!
"You're an intensely attractive woman. You do know that, don't you? You'd believe me if you could see yourself." "I have seen myself. That's the snag, you see." "No, no. Not in a mirror. I know how mirrors work. They're all in league with the cosmetics trade. They tell a woman lies. Drawing her gaze from one imagined flaw to another, until all she sees is a constellation of imperfections. If you could get outside yourself, borrow my eyes for just an instant...There's only beauty."
Oh, God. You just don't even know! This book is entirely emotionally driven, and the few external moments of conflict are spawned by the internal turmoil within our two leads. The drama is believable, but more than that the story is good. The social confines and boundaries these two face are believably overcome. The quite torturous pain Griff deals with throughout the book is creditably dealt with, and the HEA is plausible. This story reaches into your soul in a way that is shockingly intense, and despite the very rocky start to the book you believe it, lock, stock and barrel. The tropes are fun, yes, and the characters are wonderful, of course, but best of all the book is strong, and the story is gorgeous.
You know that feeling when you grab a gallon of ice cream, wolf the thing down in one sitting with the initial thought that, "This is a GENIUS freakin
You know that feeling when you grab a gallon of ice cream, wolf the thing down in one sitting with the initial thought that, "This is a GENIUS freakin' plan!" and then later when your stomach's trying to bitch-slap your brain you realize you're an idiot, but you still regret nothing? Well, surprise surprise, that's an analogy for my experience with The Autumn Bride. I read the first three chapters on day one of starting the thing, waited four days to come back to it, and then proceeded to glom the bastard in one sitting. AND I REGRET NOTHING, DAMMIT!
...No regrets, but definite consequences. At the end of the day, this book was likable; not great, not terrible. Character wise, it's fair to say our author kicked lots of ass in this department; just not necessarily with our two leads. Abby was an enjoyable enough little lady, and our hero was smexy fascination as per usual for a hero. But, the surrounding cast? So much better, especially since Abby and Max, while nice enough are admittedly and completely forgettable. The novel held entertaining sexual tension and the plot's conflict, while VERY thin, was seriously in line with the "I As A Reader Am Curious As To How This Crap's Gonna Play Out" way of book drama. The writing was strong, for you did believe in the validity of Abby and Max as people, just, um, they weren't...well they didn't...oh fine, dammit, their romance sucked!
"Girl, what you smokin' to proclaim this novel is likable if the conflict was minimal, the characters merely okay, and the romance be shittastic?" I know. Logic isn't my strong suit, but bare with me for a hot minute. At the end of the day, this book's biggest problem lies in the fact that the conflict resolution, one which centered on the romance of our leads, was hella rushed; like a hooker's makeup, rushed. Up until the climax and conclusion of the novel the story predominately focused on a will-they/won't-they theme, with the emotional and sexual tension being All Of The High. When we finally get the, "D'aww, lovey feels" at the literal end, it falls ass-first flat. The tension made the book read awesomely quick, but such was a disaster in the final analysis as a romance because it's glaringly apparent Hero and Heroine know jack squat about one another.
"Seriously, WHY DO YOU LIKE THIS NOVEL?!" I know, I know, nonexistent review reader, I'm guano. So, the book's other greatest strength is how enjoyable the exchanges are between Abby and Max, which is also it's greatest weakness because not much else attention is paid to different elements. Issues such as the emotion building, or internal POV exploration of the characters' growing sentiments for one another, are just not a thing with this story. One minute, they're all "I shouldn't want her/him," the next they're "LET ME HAVE/MAKE YOUR BABY!"
Which, at the end of the day, is why this novel is theme-park fun. Yes, the two lead characters are kind of forgettable two milliseconds after finishing the epilogue, but the supporting cast are rich with diversity and interesting characters. Yes, the plot's conflict is painfully thin and almost irrelevant, but the low angst provides for a refreshing book pallet cleanser. Yes, the hero seems to spontaneously decide he's in love with Abby, and vice versa, but we all sometimes love the Jane Austen-ing of a romance story. And, lastly, yes, the book started too slow and ended too hurriedly, but much like that aforementioned gallon of ice cream, it might not sit well upon rumination and completion, but damned if it wasn't enjoyable on the way down.
So, read it, you might enjoy it; don't read it, and you're not missing out. Either way, it's a book, and it was nice, and hell I might even explore other Anne Gracie titles, who knows?
But, one thing IS a certainty, and that is I now want ice cream, dammit.
So, a virgin and a rogue walk into a romance novel's plot...and blow the expectations of win into complete and total Dark Matter of amazingness! This
So, a virgin and a rogue walk into a romance novel's plot...and blow the expectations of win into complete and total Dark Matter of amazingness! This book is just, yes! So much yes, to the point that within five hours I read 348 pages of this book, and finished it. The degree of awesome this novel entails is, let's face it, beyond articulation. So, to keep this boring introduction shorter and less painful for you, you non-existent reader, here's a GIF...
...And that about sums up my wholehearted approval for this novel, and all of its impressive components. But, firstly, there are tropes, and okay, I admit it; I'm a trope fan. Tropes, like Darth Vader, get a bad rep, but when used in the non-eye-bleach-level-of-pain way, they're valuable. This value skyrockets to just plain fun-fun when said tropes are inverted on their ass and consequently jumble the whole kitten kaboodle, which must have been Milan's genius plan for Unclaimed, all along. Herein, we've got the classic inexperienced virgin, which let's face it, is quinte-damn-ssential to the romance novel...except here, Ms. Milan flips that reality on its head and paints the role with a penis, rather than a vigina!
Yep! You indeed read that correctly, dear reader, but here's the awesome catch; Mark and Jessica hook you with their role reversal, but morph from trope to character immediately upon reader introduction. There is such a chasm of depth to both hero and heroine, as well as their starting points with each other, and their own internal realities and tribulations. While Jessica is the tortured soul, she does not cower from her role in life, and yet still experiences consequences, both internally and externally. Our heroine is a fascinating tower of resilience and survival while simultaneously deeply troubled. In a word, she's amazing.
In a pretty cool book-world-reality, Mark, our hero, is tortured to a lesser, but no less significant, extent. He is the very antithesis to the cliched, over written Me Man, You Woman, Me Brood romance guy so prolific in historicals today. While his virginity does slightly play a role in this reality, his personality, his determination, his drive, his past, his intelligence, his morality in regards to his fellow human beings, and his passion (oh boy-howdy, dat passion!) are far more elemental to his role of Smexy As Hell Hero Dude than just his non-bonking bedplay. His love for life and his family are just icing on the man cake (harhar), and prove that the overused Man-Slut-Pigeon-Hole is not a vital recipe element in order to write one smokin' fine male lead. (GIF "metaphorically" relative, of course. Yeah. We'll go with that.)
Next, plot a'hoy! But, interestingly enough, a common and VERY likable thread I've noticed in Milan's writing style is that her plots can't be noted without hauling in the wagon of emotionalism. Frankly, I wish more authors would start carting this stuff in by the truck-fulls! In Unclaimed, while there are a few elements of external conflict, almost all of the driving force behind this story are character driven, and internally fascinating. Jessica's actions affect the story, Mark's reactions drive the climax, but fundamentally both those acts are spurned by their identities as people independently of each other, and dependently on one another. Translation? Sure!...
The pacing and quality of writing within this story impressed me almost as much as the realism embodied by Smexy Mark and Kick-Ass Jessica. The initial chapters of the book have perfectly calm rhythm to their plot points, while the climax and resolution of the book cascade with activity that is steady, but well executed. That fancy-schmancy description-ing basically just means, ERMAHGERD THIS BOOK KEPT ME RIVETED! As noted, I spent less than five hours reading almost the entire book in one sitting and it was totally un-put-down-able!
The emotion of Unclaimed's plot, the degree of realism the whole thing felt just astounds me! The conflict aspects of the novel were real; they were tangible in their difficulty. Jessica's past was not just painted over with an, "Eh, it's all cool beans, whateves!" attitude by the author, or her characters. The resolutions were cemented in plausibility, and hot-damn if I wasn't in love with how Mark's chastity and beliefs were not a trope, but a driving aspect to his character and personal identity! Basically, I just...I am so...
...I just need to shut up, really! Shutting up, now, because my inner fan-girl for this book is overtaking the part of my brain that can logically, cohesively and intelligently define everything that is frackin' impressively cool and great about this story! Put simply, Ms. Milan, if you're reading this (because YEAH...like that's even a remote possibility!), just know the following GIF sums up everything I feel about your amazing talent, and the gift your books simply ARE...
You know that moment after finishing a book, when your brain zig-zags like an in-play Ping Pong ball because you can't figure out how you feel about w
You know that moment after finishing a book, when your brain zig-zags like an in-play Ping Pong ball because you can't figure out how you feel about what you have just read? Well, welcome to my world. Firstly, let me put this out there, because I feel like if I don't I'm sacrificing virgins on the alter, or something equally heinous; A Rogue By Any Other Name is worth reading. It is, put simply, a good book. Despite my following complaining screed, it's fun to read. But...
...There are some problems.
The synopsis is pretty in-your-face-like-whoa simplistic; boy wants revenge, girl harbors means for revenge, annnnnd...marriage. While there is obviously a bit more to the structure of the story, that oversimplification is the meat-and-taters of the thing. As far as plot goes, there isn't too terribly much happening in the background lives of Penelope and Michael. This is sad, because I think if there were other motivating elements to the story, the thing would have bazooka-ed on up as a better read. As is, we've got Penny and Bourne circling each other in a very off-beat dance of "What's Going On With The Two Of Us, Yo?"
As far as characters are concerned, I'm thinking Penelope was a lot more fleshed out as a person than Lord Bourne (or Michael, he's a tad crazy-sauce Bipolar with his name for some inexplicable yet obvious reason.) The nature of the story grants us a significant amount of time inside Penny's head at the onset of every chapter, which is good like a sunny day at the beach, and bad like the subsequent sunburn. I, personally, believed her motivations, her actions and goals within the book, I just didn't like 'em. Too often, I felt like screaming...
...In the singular form, of course. Essentially, Penelope took so long to develop her backbone to Michael that I grew more irritated with her than I did with the hero's occasional Ass Hat #3 moves. It was such a relief towards the end of the story when she began showing some spirited spunk for herself, but by that point, I felt it was too late for me to truly appreciate her attitude. The above sunny day/sunburn analogy comes into play here, for the doorway, the one in which we're granted access to this chick's identity, is solely streamlined through letters to a dude (Michael) who's ignored her for years. Add that to the fact that she's all Mrs. Droopy-Eyed Pup about her new hubbie, and I wanted to just, well...
Michael gets the same treatment, too, of course, but to a lesser extent. Yeah, yeah, that's probably sexist, but at least his motivations came from a bit more believable context. However! Despite the bad character aspects, and the occasionally forced plot-points that just didn't flow well, the story read surprisingly well! From my review I'm sure it seems otherwise, but, since I have no problem DNF-ing a book in a split second if the thing becomes unreadable, that's not the case. A Rogue By Any Other Name reads well, predominately because of the fact that, despite having occasionally shit-tastic character motivations, Sarah MacLean makes you care about Penelope and Michael, as well making you wish for their HEA.
But, that in and of itself is the problem. You like Michael, you like Penelope, but rather quickly upon seeing them finally find one another emotionally, the two are easily forgotten. If anything, this book is prime sequel-bait, because if for no other reason it's hooked me like a Diabetic to a chocolate fountain; I want Pippa and Cross' book! The final scene of this novel makes you go uber-gushy; I admit it. I mean, c'mon, a nerdy girl in Victorian England paired with a tall intellectual ginger? Yeah. I'm all over that.
In Feelville, where feels run amok, there's a shop that specializes in bottled feels, and even THEY cannot conceive of the massive amount of feels run
In Feelville, where feels run amok, there's a shop that specializes in bottled feels, and even THEY cannot conceive of the massive amount of feels running amok in One Good Earl Deserves another. Hyperbole or not, let's just establish that Sarah MacLean kicks copious ass in writing book-crack. You pick up her novels and you're instantly addicted.
Do you like heroines who are unique, nerdy, and unusually fascinating? Heroines who are extraordinarily intelligent, rescue the hero in distress, and are damned strong characters with distinctive and believable personalities? Duh, of course you do, and thus Pippa is basically destined to be your literary BFF. You like heroes who are emotionally tortured while NOT being whiny bitches? Whom quietly pine and burn for their lady, are the embodiment of Sex on a Stick, and are the idealistic mix of Alpha and Beta? Stop right there, awesome reader, because we all know you do, so take comfort in knowing that Cross is your book boyfriend.
(The 11th might not be adorably red-headed, but Cross is one fine ginger!) Basically this book has awesomeness in spades, and if the refreshingly different heroine (yay smart ladies!) and exceptional hero (yay red-heads!) aren't enough to make you book-drool all over yourself, then kick-ass writing, perfect pacing, and plot surely must be! ... Okay, yeah, I just nerd-ed all over the place, so you'll have to excuse the mess, but, c'mon, a story where gender and sex roles are completely reversed? Where the heroine propositions the hero, where the heroine saves the day and rescues herself AND Mr. Sex On A Stick? Where the sexual and emotional tension are viscerally palpable? A book that sparks violent tendencies in you if one dare disrupts your time spent falling in love with non-existent people?!
Okay, I know, I know; I need a chill-pill. But, in all seriousness, while the basic plot of the novel might appear simplistic to some, in that said plot is admittedly just Pippa begging Cross to provide her with understanding of coitus, this seemingly rudimentary set-up provides for fun dialogue and astonishingly interesting story points. Oh, and let's please just take a hot minute to note here that this book is SMOLDERINGLY SEXY! The way this author tantalizes both her lead characters using their undeniably on-fire chemistry, in addition to when the game of Will They/Won't They finally reaches physical intimacy...well, let's just say the reader's wait is rewarded with one hell of a smexy-ass scene.
Ooh, yeah. I went there. *Pauses to laugh maniacally.*
So! Yes! This book? Read it! If you're a genre fan (and, let's face it, if you're reading this review and have made it THIS far, we know you love this awesome-sauce), and you're bogged down with repetitive story types while DYING for something new, One Good Earl Deserves A Lover is begging for your attention.
Whoa. Um, yeah, don't mind me, just sitting here flambéed by The Best Book, Ever.
This novel? Just read it.
Do it, now.
So, that's my review. Ok
Whoa. Um, yeah, don't mind me, just sitting here flambéed by The Best Book, Ever.
This novel? Just read it.
Do it, now.
So, that's my review. Okay, bye guys!
*Goes to sit in a corner and promptly cuddle Cecila Grant's book of awesomeness.*
Oh! You're still here! My, my, I see that means I'm to provide a bit more articulation for the gloriousness that is A Gentleman Undone. Damn. Logical thought is beyond me right now! But, give I must, and so, hold on to your feels, ladies and ladies, here's the skinny; heroine's name is Lydia, she's a prostitute-turned-courtesan, freakishly intelligent, a cardsharp, excellent mathematician, AND the very definition of amaze-balls; hero's name is Will, he's the holy-baby-Jesus perfected mix of Alpha and Beta, has one of The Most tortured back-stories, and is the most romantic and emotional fictional dude you will ever read.
"But Jacqueline!" as I'm sure you're not exclaiming right this frakking' minute, "What makes this book so great?!" Well, grip tight your ass end, because there are a billion reasons why this book wins everything. Okay, fine, geez, you and your specifics; not a billion, just three because apparently The Internet and it's attention span can't handle infinity.
Reason #1: Characters
Both lead characters are stand-outs in the wide wide world of romance fiction. As previously noted because I'm apparently an Alzheimer's patient, Lydia is a paid prostitute from page one, which is rare because most “fallen women” of romance have that as a backstory, not an on-page reality. Lydia rocks at her chosen profession, and though she is a tortured heroine, no doubt, with one hell of an emotionally crippling past, in spite of such she’s strong in her sexuality and confident in sex. She's a woman of bravery and integrity that makes you want to tackle hug her with All Of The Loves. She is the sexual leader of this romance story, she is the woman to figure out the conflict’s resolution. In a phrase, she's perfectly imperfect.
Reason #2: The Story
Wanna know how to create some Epic Book Crack? Take a page out of the Cecilia Grant manual, which states, "Write a story that is cohesively shit-tons of entertaining, but that is impossible to extrapolate on with accurate definition because reasons." What's so impressive about A Gentleman Undone is that the novel never ceases in twisting on itself. It veers to different plot points, different emotional notes, and eye-bugging revelations, all while maintaining a uniquely steady-but-quick storytelling pace. At its heart, while there are believable and heart-pumping external conflicts, the novel never loses sight of the fact that it's a romance, so the story pays ass-loads of attention to the emotional tensions and lovey-doveys.
The dynamic that is played throughout most of the book, but especially during the emotional culminating scenes between Lydia and Will, are BURSTING with excitement. There is a truly distinct and interesting drama that is played out by the very on-page reality of Lydia’s lover. This sparks so much enjoyable tension and conflict for hero and heroine, which builds layer upon layer before the first pivotal climax of the novel. Without delving into spoilers, while there exist scenes wherein Will is damned amazing, it’s noteworthy that he does something specific within the plot that paints him as a dashing, heroic, amazingly sweet and undeniable knight in shining armor to which I doubt any moment in any romance novel could compare! His heroics are so public, so calmly sexy, so astoundingly selfless that if you, dear reader, come across this scene without fan-girling all over yourself, without fist-pumping the air with all of the YEAH BUDDY, SCREW YOU ROANOKE (the “antagonist” of the novel)…well…then I fear for your sanity, girlfriend.
Reason #3: The Writing
Call me crazy, call me a whackadoodle in desperate want of a helmet, but I'm forever-more convinced that Shakespeare and Jane Austen had a baby girl together, and her name is Cecilia Grant. This awesome Warrior Of The Pen is not only talented in being able to rip your heart out with just a keyboard and some not-real people, but holy bannanas; that woman can also write a sentence like nobody's business! The way phrases are turned on their heads and given whole new life, the way scenery is depicted with mere lines of text, the way emotion is nuanced and body language exceptional, the way elegance is paid to the smallest of words so leaves me drooling like a retarded dog. Paragraph one's last line, "...slick to the elbows with the life of other men" gives you, dear awesome-sauce reader, just a taste at the genius contained within A Gentleman Undone.
...It so is.
And, on that unhealthy-healthy note, I'm bowing out because if I keep rambling on like I'm guano, our lovely author might just slap a restraining order on my ass. So! Read this book, love this book, because if you don't...well...
Yet again, I've read this series. But, seeing as hod I've apparently not read this series, I shall read it...again, for the first time. (Get that logiYet again, I've read this series. But, seeing as hod I've apparently not read this series, I shall read it...again, for the first time. (Get that logic.)...more
You know those crazy-ass novel plot pitches, the ones that sound like someone was huffing a seriously epic-amount of Elmer's glue to have come up with
You know those crazy-ass novel plot pitches, the ones that sound like someone was huffing a seriously epic-amount of Elmer's glue to have come up with THAT idea? Those stories typically had some crazy element, like one of the characters is a dead-like ghost-zombie throughout the entire novel; crazy bad, right? Well, I'd have thought that right along with you, dude or dudette, and we'd have both been wrong. Crazy, yes, but bad? Nah, not always!
C'mon, reviewer reader, I would never-not-ever lie to you...And neither would this review. Put simply, I'm a bit blown away by how much I literally-like-whoa enjoyed this novel. The premise of the story alone was a sink-or-swim reality, and when all's considered, the writing of the book actually held up pretty well...for the most part. As far as a technical standpoint, The Ghost and The Goth stood up all in all decently. The pacing of the story was excellently well done with negative zero lag time, and the two main characters are believably real, but...
...While more enjoyable than a bowl of calorie free tasty ice cream, this book contains some seriously serious issues. While the novel is well constructed, with excellent build up/pay off scenes that drive the plot, at times this focus of pacing and plot definitely come as a sacrifice to quality character development. Yeah, yeah, I know, a lot of fancy-schmancy critique there, but basically the novel blasts along with the plot being a demanding bitch, doing all the driving while never once giving the keys to the characters for some off-roading exploration.
(That GIF is apropos for more than one reason, there!) Put simply, Alona and Will, while believable characters with their own solid identities don't get much more character exposition than "Here's cliche One, cliche Two, and cliche Three," along with a character description. This is a pretty ouch-inducing criticism, especially considering, um, hello? THIS NOVEL IS WRITTEN IN FIRST PERSON! Okay, sorry...*attempting to reign in book-nerd-rage.* Overall, if I had one heavy Bitch-Just-No! complaint, the above would definitely be it. However, while I will give the novel some latitude because, after all, it is a part of an on-going series, I'm still a wee bit disappointed.
And, on that note? The secondary characters! Now, yes, yes, yes and yes...I get that in deep split first person POV, the supporting cast typically get shafted in the "Hey, I'm a real boy!" department. But, even still, most authors can do a tad bit better than playing the cliched "I'm the evil principal" character, "I'm the cliched worried mom" character, "I'm the neglectful parent" character, and so on. Not, alas, for Stacey Kade. Considering the issue with the aforementioned lead characters' lacking development, not to mention their pigeon holed character types, it seems writing cliched characters is kind of Ms. Kade's modus operandi.
And, yet, in spite of all the bitching and moaning I've been doing... I still like this book! Surprising, right? Well, for starters the uniqueness of both the plot, and specifically the characters, truly helps. While Alona is the stereotypical cheerleader preppy chick, and Will is the stereotypical goth dude, such works geniusly well for the book because their identities are given excellent framing and the motivations for their personalities are stronger than just "I like the color black," or "I love pompoms!" While their setup is cliched, their delivery is not; thus the lead characters are cliched, but believably cliched!
I did, Violet; I did! And, reader, I recommend you doing the same! This book is crack, it's not good for you, and it certainly won't improve anything other than your Happy Brain Place, but indulge, just this once. I did, and will probably do so again!
So, imagine you're me, and you've just completed the greatest novel ever written in the entire history of humanity, endearingly named My Dearest Enemy
So, imagine you're me, and you've just completed the greatest novel ever written in the entire history of humanity, endearingly named My Dearest Enemy.
I so went there! Screw logic, and reality, for Connie Brockway has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt she owns that title like a boss. I, after all, was once convinced that an historical romance written prior to 2000 could never, not ever be of good quality. I love my historical romance novels like nobody's business, but hot-damn, even I realize how god-awful the "old school" romance was, truly. Example? Sure! ...
*Cue barfing soundtrack.* Okay, so while that might only be an imagining of said novel, it's a good approximation. The covers to such books were about as cringe-worthy as the overabundance of bad writing. But! Praise the literary gods and french fries, My Dearest Enemy is the very proof that this genre can rock, even in 1998. Hell, one knows a book has gotta be good when the author says the following in her book's Acknowledgements: "As always, my gratitude to the trolls for providing me fodder."
Yeah! And, oh-boy, did this book deliver on that unspoken set-up. Considering the fact that this novel utilizes some very heavy-hitting topics, the lacking of women's rights in regards to their bodies, futures, and offspring, the concept of identity crises intermixed with the role individuals play in their own lives, the emotional realities of friendship and family, and the weakness and stigma of misunderstood disease? Jesus freakin' Zeus, that's one hell of a lineup for fictional drama!
"It simply must fail!" you're inevitably screaming, you non-existent doubter, you! Well, you're wrong like discount sushi. Take that bag of conflict, and throw on a good measure of intense internal and external conflict driven by the hero and heroine, topped off with a nice dose of enemies-to-lovers trope that is more believable than the Easter bunny, calorie-free steak, and affordable gas, and you've got the makings of this book, for realz.
So, you know it's coming; my inevitable girl-and-guy crush on Lily and Avery. Well, you're right there, of course, but hold fast! Yes, Lily is probably the most intense, believable, likable, admirable, strong, well written, passionate, beautifully determined, uniquely individual, intelligently headstrong heroines I've ever read. Yes, Avery is absolutely the most realistically tortured, perfectly balanced, patiently attractive, romantically well developed alpha-beta heroes I've ever experienced in the breadth of literature. This is all true, and I will willingly fork over my "I'm-A-Fangirl-Like-Whoa" card for this couple, but! As wonderfully well constructed as the two lead characters are, hold on to your panties, babe, because...!
... So, too are every single other character within the entire book of My Dearest Enemy!
Yes! Believe it, reader! Avery's cousin, Bernard, who just happens to be a preteen throughout the entire story and is pivotal in many ways to the climax and conflict of the story? Yep! Most authors write these characters more as caricature plot-devices because said authors have dip-shit for brains; not so for Ms. Brockway! Aside from the key secondary character having such high quality development, so too do all the surrounding cast members, everyone from the aunt to the perifial servants to the infamous house guest. Literally every character arrives on the scene as a believable human being with careful attention to detail paid to the nuances of human behavior and personal motivations. I SPEAK THE TRUTH ON THIS!
(It really is!) ... The amazing talent that exists within this book amazes me with amazement! If that shining endorsement weren't enough to get you to read this, dear reader, nothing shall! (Except, here! Have a non-existent twenty dollar bill; read this book, please!) Truly, I wrap up this review here and now, with absolutely no complaints or criticisms against this novel whatsoever! All the characters were phenomenally well constructed. The writing was elegantly beautiful, detailed without being monotonous. The romantic and emotional elements were euphorically well intermixed with amazing tension and conflict. The plot was exceptionally believable with absolutely perfect pacing, an entertaining climax, and a stomach-punch of a resolution!
Well done, Ms. Brockway! A so very hardcore, epic, I'm-gonna-fan-girl-all-your-books-now well done!
That's basically the answer. To what question I'm answering, you might be wondering? Well, the one that brings up the fact tha
That's basically the answer. To what question I'm answering, you might be wondering? Well, the one that brings up the fact that I started reading this Tessa Dare book on June 30th, and finished it on August 16th. The answer to that question is Doctor Who. And, well, Sherlock.
Apparently the consequence of delaying the act of jumping onto the bandwagon of The Most Amazing Shows, Ever is that you become irrevocably taken away from your books. Therefore, that long and boring diatribe now aside, I can take a moment to stop and analyze my sentiments reading Tessa Dare's novel.
Except, well...I can't.
See, the basic problem is when one goes 48 days without touching their novel, having only the epilogue awaiting their attention, well, sadly, just about every detail of the book flies right out the window. Suffice to say, I did enjoy the book. Why? Um, because it was good? What made it good? Um, well, see...Oh, God in heaven I don't know! I remember having Happy Book Noise when I was diligent with its read through, so for me that's verification enough. As far as providing helpful information for a half-way decent review? Not so much.
So, if you, poor soul, are reading this abysmal review and are hoping for any suggestive advice as to the nature of Dare's book, I'm sorry. I can only offer you the mediocre "I liked it!" sentiment without evidentiary support. So, failing that, allow me to let you go with just two pieces of advice, in the vain hope that you're offered something from this review, rather than nothing. Watch BBC's Sherlock, watch BBC's Doctor Who. Do it. Right now. Tessa Dare will thank you.
PS: Since you're such a good sport for patiently wading through this non-review review, here. Have a David Tennant/10th Doctor hug, on the house.
Nope. Couldn't do it. The second an author goes for the "insta-love" deal, I'm done.
Aside from the above fact, I truly abhor whenPages Survived: 75
Nope. Couldn't do it. The second an author goes for the "insta-love" deal, I'm done.
Aside from the above fact, I truly abhor when authors take a character, establish them to be of one mindset, and in less than two chapters completely changes their drives, motivations, and actions from the original! While I was SO intrigued, and still am, by the hero, who obviously has an interesting psyche and mental framework to delve into, the heroine just killed me. The novel literally establishes her to be a no nonsense woman, not fickle with her heart. There's some bit about "sherry eyes," a random spotting of That Guy From Her Dreams, and WHAM-O...she's googly-eyed and hot in pursuit.
Normally this in-pursuit reality wouldn't bug me, because I'm okay with the female protagonist being on the chase. I am NOT okay with it, however, when said chase is a total antithesis from the character's initial makeup from two friggin' chapters ago.
So, alas, no go for this book. On to better and brighter books....more