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...more
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.
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...more
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.
Wow. *Sigh.* This novella is just...oh, God. Talk about one comfortable read! Overall, I'm not a big-honkin' fan of the short story, predominately bec...more
Wow. *Sigh.* This novella is just...oh, God. Talk about one comfortable read! Overall, I'm not a big-honkin' fan of the short story, predominately because I'm frequently of the mindset that they suck. More often than not, a writer bombs shorts because it's hardcore hard to cram a compelling, interesting story within the span of one hundred pages, or less. But, oy, Milan rocked this one out of the stadium. A Kiss For Midwinter is one snuggable and fun read that just works.
(Yes, the above one-word scream is vital.) Do not, at all, under any circumstances read this novella without having first read The Duchess War. I mean it, dude; don't. With absolute certainty, your face will explode if you don't follow my instructions. Well, okay, granted, there exist no continuity confusion-issues without first reading Book One, and a reader won't be all what-the-hell with the plot, this is all true. However, the story will not be nearly as appreciated without first having met the characters of Lydia and Jonas, who are background-fun in The Duchess War.
So! A story that focuses entirely on two characters both of which must arrive on-scene emotionally prepared to drive a story entirely on their own merit? A story that does not utilize any external conflict whatsoever to move the plot along? A story that goes to some pretty intense and emotionally dark places? A story that utilizes the "Christmas time trope" without ever once tutoring the reader? A story that makes you care about two people immediately upon the start of the novella, with vastly limited exposition time? It's almost like Mrs. Milan looked at her publisher, and went balls-to-the-wall...
The story has excellent pacing, which is damned necessary when it comes to writing truncated stories. The characters are likable, dynamic, and engagingly believable. But, there does exist one teensy-weensy problem; the hero. Oh, don't get your knickers in a wad, you Beta-male HR haters, it's not what you think. Jonas is absolutely adorable as a male lead. I like him, I love him, I want more of him; but! There's one thing I didn't like, and that's the fact that Milan basically wrote the Perfect Hero, and had him go nowhere.
The entirety of the plot, indeed, the sole basis of the story is Jonas traipsing after Lydia in trying to make her "see" him; and hey, considering the background these two characters have, I'm okay with that aspect. Rather, a perfect story has lots of Must Meet This Criteria To Be Awesomesauce, and one of those is growing your characters. Lydia morphs from a seed to a rose, which makes sense and fits when considering the emotional baggage of her back-story. In order for her and Jonas to wrap up their HEA, she's got to get from Point A "I-Gots-Shiznit-I-Need-To-Deal-With" to Point B "Hey!-Hey!-I'm-Okay!" This cool-beans transitional growth, though, never happens for Jonas, 'cause he basically arrives on scene with a lot of possible issues for internal conflict that go nowhere faster than Mother Teresa in a whore house.
THIS. IS. WHY. I. HATE. SHORT. STORIES! (Also, yay John Green GIF!) ... A Kiss For Midwinter had a lot of happy-places where I felt wonderful, and I did enjoy the story, so much. I love what it made me feel, I love the characters and the writing, but even as excellently structured as the story was, I felt that had it instead been a full-length novel, both characters could have had evolved equally as well during the span of the story, not just Lydia.
Any story that can go from here...
"Also, he had decided it would be best not to mention his main reason for wanting to marry - that he thought it expedient to procure a regular source of sexual intercourse without risking syphilis." ...
"'I only said I would stop talking to you,' he'd written. 'I never promised to stop loving you.'"
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...more
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.
Sometimes they're epic, sometimes they're shittastic, and other times they fly around like a YoYo in a Bounce House. In the case of Mi...more
Books are weird.
Sometimes they're epic, sometimes they're shittastic, and other times they fly around like a YoYo in a Bounce House. In the case of Milan's book, Unveiled, said novel falls way-the-hell into the latter category. Before I dive into my I'm-Gonna-Rant-And-Then-Shut-Up review, know with absolute certainty that this book kicked SO much ass! Yep, I liked it, I loved it, and I spazzed in wanting so much more of it, truly. But! Upon the start of the book, and definitely within the first one hundred pages I was all...well...
...Yeah. Kind of like that, except more, "I don't know where the hell this book is going!" as apposed to the general, "Dude, what the serious seriousness?!" Any book can struggle at the onset, but Milan's novel, for some inexplicable reason, came off like a drunk hobo making the switch from boxed wine to Vodka; a good plan, but not without some stumbles and issues. Ironically, my yes-but-no interest in the first half of the novel didn't stem from the lack of interestingly dynamic characters; me LOVE some of them characters! Rather, the story just jump-starts with a BANG into the meat of the book without any real buildup. Throughout the first few pages, I was just searching for a foothold or some story line clarity, like bad.
Unveiled didn't seem to be a Happy-Happy-Star-Ranking kind of deal, at first, since the heroine and I...well, we didn't get along too well in the beginning. She jumped from page one seeming like the Eternal Ass-Snob, and while I know it's illogical to say one can't enjoy a story if the lead characters aren't likable (I KNOW, okay?!), I still maintain that it's a prerequisite for my judgmental ass. Margaret felt like Queen Bitch for no other reason than the fact that the reader is denied personal time with her before the book leaps off, so here I was thinking, "Yep! I'm gonna hate her!"
Yep! I sucked on that assumption! One of the most damn-woman-you're-good! aspects of Courtney Milan is that she pwns the ability to create fascinatingly dimensional characters that are layered in complexity. This is obviously true for Margaret, who was a unique mix of strength and weakness, confidence and self-consciousness, and pretty much every other polarizing identifier. Likewise, such is, can, and should be said for Ash, the hero who embodied probably one of the most interesting male roles I've ever read in quite a while. His weaknesses gave him a strength that made him simultaneously multifaceted, and fun to read.
Interestingly enough, while the above is true for the two leads of the book, the entire cast of characters contained a lot of the cool conflicting character traits, too. The brothers, each set belonging to both the hero and heroine, were the antithesis to "set pieces," were damned-yes vital to the plot, and granted so much more to the reading of this story than I can possibly articulate. The fact that the entire novel felt realistic in its character creations, even down to the inconsequential secondary and tertiary cast, shows Milan's got some mad writing skills to her credit.
(Not to Milan, apparently!)
Lastly, the final thing that just blows me out of the water is Courtney's ability to create an exceptionally complex plot that is entirely, completely, OH MY GOD ALL THE WAY dependent on emotionally driven conflict. And, yes, she even manages to do so without once making the novel come off too weak, as though there was no plot in existence whatsoever, or without bogging the whole ship down with Angsty Drama Bullshit. When considering how well the story sails along, all the while making me FEEL for Margaret's loyalty struggle, making me FEEL for Ash's feelings of inadequacy, hell, making me FEEL for their emotional story as a whole...I just...I can't even!
Incidentally, if you're an author who can write THIS for your lead character, how the hell is it possible to not just fan-girl over the book, like lots?!
"Because if you were suggesting that you would sacrifice your sister's reputation to serve your own purposes, think again. If you do, I won't just steal your title and your lands. I will run any bank that holds your funds into the ground. I will bribe your servants to slip nettles into your bed. I will hire trumpets to stand outside your home every evening, where they will sound notes at irregular intervals. You will never have a solid night's sleep again."
This book had me terrified, because the opening praise for Perfect Chemistry utilized a quote by Chasing Heroes, comparing this book to Twilight, in a...moreThis book had me terrified, because the opening praise for Perfect Chemistry utilized a quote by Chasing Heroes, comparing this book to Twilight, in a positive light. Thank GOD they were wrong!
I never thought I’d say these words; I read a YA first person, and I liked it!
Ironically, neither statement is in and of itself unusual, since there exist modifiers to each. Firstly, I’ve read Young Adult one other time (Sherrilyn Kenyon’s CON series). However, this is the very first time I’ve read a YA that was independent of my favorite author. Additionally, I’m still adamant in my hatred of a strict first person novel. Thank the literary gods that Perfect Chemistry was written in split-first person. Not only was this my first experience with reading first person, and enjoying it, but likewise it was my first experience with split FP.
This book, frankly, blew my ever lovin’ mind. One of my biggest problems with YA is the fact that, from what I’ve witnessed, experienced, and heard, most come off as being mediocre drama. At best they seem to be the literary equivalent of reality television, and at worst they’re hum-drum with one dimensional everything. This was so, so not the case for Perfect Chemistry. Here is a book that encapsulates the very definition of quality.
One of my favorite aspects to this novel is the realistic emotion, and genuine humanism evident in the characters, as well as their reactions to life. From hearsay, I’ve always understood most YAs to utilize not just one dimensional characters, but clichés and caricatures as their protagonists. Elkeles does an amazing job of taking two, very easily written-off high school stereotypes, the Rich Good Girl and the Bad Boy, and turning them completely on their heads. Both Brittney and Alex were multifaceted with believable motivations and realistic dynamics. To say that I liked these two characters, their faults and qualities included, would be a massive understatement.
In the arena of characters, I too must say that Elkeles hit a field goal, slam-dunk, goalie, and any other potential sports metaphor, in regards to the emotion that was brought on-page. Almost from the opening sequence I knew that I was delving into a world that would be unique in its own right. I did not, however, expect said uniqueness to translate into heart wrenching emotion and real-world consequences and wonderful storytelling. Hot damn if I wasn’t pleasantly, surprisingly shocked to find out otherwise.
The plot of Perfect Chemistry was unique, too. This is not to say that the storyline within said novel hasn’t been done before; it has, most assuredly. Rather, the fact the hero and heroine were so lifelike, so well written allowed me to forget I was reading a tried-and-true story type. So engrossed was I to the events, actions, and thoughts of Brittney and Alex that I transcended that fine line between story and reader. I was Brittney, I was Alex. This could be attributed to the split first-person aspect of the novel, but I insist it results from the sheer excellence Elkeles maintained in her writing.
I think, truly, what made this book so amazing was the fact that, while obviously never forgetting its reality as a romance, the story wasn’t afraid to venture off into different realities and real-world issues. Social class, poverty, affluence, stigmas, peer pressure, betrayal, violence, body image, drug use, identity crises, abuse, sex, the pressure to succeed, disabilities, culture, isolation, love, disillusionment, misunderstanding, education, prejudice, friendship, death, judgment, guilt, respect, fear…the list of topics dealt and addressed by this novel is seemingly endless. And yet, despite all the subjects noted, holding the pieces together are just two characters, and their perspectives. Of all the aspects that I love in regards to this book, and there are many, the one that still awes me is Elkeles bravery in going to places few YA authors do, and yet still manage to maintain humor and occasional levity when appropriate.
Another wonderful element to this book comes its pacing, as well as its climax and subsequent conclusion. Throughout the entire story, at no point did I ever think, “Okay, already, c’mon with it.” Every plot point succeeded in bringing about the next plot point, every scene was relevant and substantial to the characters, or the story. And, if that weren’t enough, the climax was intensely dramatic, and yet believable considering the subject matter.
Incidentally, I must give Elkeles excellent props, for despite briefly using the “high school girl lost her guy” trope, this was done in a realistic, and then admirable way, predominately following with the “get on with your life” message. While I’m a romance novel addict, I despise the “everything’s over for me without him” sentiment so popular nowadays. Lastly, the epilogue! How on EARTH could I read that wonderfully concise ending, and not leave the story with that wonderful Happy Book Feeling? To say I will be continuing with this author’s work is a statement of the obvious!(less)
You know what sucks? Book-breaks. Life likes to FUBAR reading time, and thus Worth Any Price spent a week without being touched. Yes, yes, I'm a shame...more
You know what sucks? Book-breaks. Life likes to FUBAR reading time, and thus Worth Any Price spent a week without being touched. Yes, yes, I'm a shamefully neglectful book-lover, this I know. However, that being said, while life can interrupt time spent reading, it certainly doesn't help when an author creates a novel that concludes in being an overly, exceedingly, whole-lotta-'cause-ouch Bore Fest.
Yeah. Basically, at least 60% of this novel contains its summation within that glorious GIF. If there exists anything more irritating, more brain-pain inducing than a novel that could substitute as a sleeping pill, I cannot fathom such. Worth Any Price had moments of interest, but its biggest oh-no-you-didn't reality was that the plot...well, let's just be blunt; it sucked. And, let me be clear, I don't mean just regular stereotypically sucked...I mean full on in-your-face sucked.
Well, it's simple to answer, really, for while the premise of Nick and Lottie's story had tons of potential, it fell hard on its ass-face. The emotional substance to the romance? Nope. The active driving force of the outward conflict and story? A big to the nope. While thank Yoda, God, and chocolate there were moments when the emotionalism between the hero and heroine felt grounded in reality, a large percentage of their interactions were no more believably heated than Arctic dirt. On the flip side, the external plot was unquestionably shoved to the back burner until 90% of story had been told!
Yeah! And, frankly, it seemed as though Kleypas thought, "Crap! Only got 50 more pages left in this sucker...better violate this mess up with some forced conflict!" And, thus...the TSTL moment was born! In a split scene, we got a hero who not three pages prior insisted he could not tolerate an inactive life, he MUST expose himself to danger, intrigue, and mystery, and then after immediately hopping into said old life, was all, "Nah...nevermind!" I'm all for unexpected character self-realizations, but when they're that insultingly abrupt, obviously only acting as a plot-service, then I'm r/quitting PDQ. Oh, and let us not forget, of course, the heroine...who simultaneously rushes into the Obviously This Shit Is Dangerous scene without utilizing, oh, I don't know...brains? "Nothing could possibly go wrong by my not thinking before I act," Lottie inevitably mentally mused. Um...
...Lottie is a moron.
But, that frustration aside, the plot-pains wouldn't have been so unbearable were it not for the fact that the pacing was basically a rape-fest. The entire "story" rolled along at the speed of a snail on muscle relaxers, concluding in a randomly forced climax centered on character choice, and story servicing, with zero plot development! And, if that weren't God awful enough, we likewise get a good dose of characters being given supposed motivations with no believable depths, not to mention a startlingly lack of a secondary cast of characters, completely!
...Well, okay, maybe not that much of an I-quit-life extreme, I'll give you that, review reader. After all, this book does come in at a nice 3 star rating which, considering the level of bitching I've just shoveled on, seems pretty generous. Thus, logic says there must be something enjoyable to be found within the novel...right? And, alas, there is, surprising I know. While I have read novels where the emotional tension, both that belonging to the couple's romance as well as their emotional identities, started and ended much more awesomely than Worth Any Price, I can't deny I've read books that were likewise more terrible in this regard. Lottie and Nick did have potential that ended up being left rotting in the rain, but throughout the story they did share several moments of interest. These moments, most notably well written within the novel's resolution scene, allowed for this book to be read, and rated fairly well.
Yes, seriously. While I'm frustrated beyond words at the moments of failure within Worth Any Price, I cannot deny I was intrigued by Lottie's character, and Nick's past. The characters most certainly failed to deliver the degree of reality I desired, but they were largely likable, readable, and interesting. If anything, Kleypas kept me reading, and kept my interest inflamed enough that I wanted to know Nick and Lottie's story. Granted, I was massively disappointed with said story, but at least I felt driven to read. The likability I felt for the hero and heroine, plus continuously evoked interest in the "plot" are enough to justify three stars. But, Kleypas, always remember that Worth Any Price has...well...
Ummmm...is it wrong to literally flip off a novel for sucking so terribly? I mean, insanity is relative, right? No, of course it is; when a novel suck...more
Ummmm...is it wrong to literally flip off a novel for sucking so terribly? I mean, insanity is relative, right? No, of course it is; when a novel sucks to the level of All Suckdom, all bets, questions, and straight jackets are entirely out of the question! Put simply, Lisa Kleypas is an awesome writer, but holy damn, one could not tell that fact from the atrocity that is Lady Sophie's Lover. (Fact: The novel's so terrible, I just typed "Sohpie's," rather than "Sophia's" and I can't even care.)
Ironically, the above GIF applies both to the aforementioned title error, and to the novel itself. Aside from the fact that the story was forgettable to warrant a mistaken title, the novel additionally contained so many "I'm-Just-Gonna-Bash-My-Skull-In-Until-Sanity-Returns" elements that I'm almost positive Kleypas utilized a Ghost Writer for this project! Never would there have been a day that I thought Lisa would fail so miserably at writing dynamic, interesting, engaging characters, but oh Me From The Past, how wrong you were, truly! Like genitalia piercings wrong!
Pictured above? THESE CHARACTERS! I don't know what kind of crack Ms. Kleypas was smoking while writing this book, but it was NOT the good kind. Aside from the nails-on-a-chalkboard irritating reality of the underdevelopment of Ross (had to fact-check if that was indeed our hero's name, AND I JUST FINISHED THIS BOOK TEN MINUTES AGO!), the heroine Emma?...No, no...Julie?...No, Sophia! (That guessing-game wasn't a joke, sadly.) This heroine was the very example of a literary blank slate. Justin Bieber's V-jay-jay has more personality and identity than this Sophie-Sophia whatever chick.
(We've only just started, Sansa!) ... Oh, oh, and that's not even touching upon the terribly thin set-up or back-story given to Sophie-what's-her-name! This chick rushes on scene like Rocky Horror, starts off with some laughably thin revenge what-the-serious-hell-is-your-plan-again plot that dissolves instantly, all while our Hero Dude runs around trying to hide his boner over Heroine Chick. Seriously! That is the extent to which I can place any description on our lead! For Hitler's balls' sake, the novel begins with Ross' arousal for said chick! No initial buildup, no character introduction, no exposition! Nothing!
Wow. I really deviated just there. Okay, okay; back on track. Heroine's got zero identity, hero's got zero identity, so what about plot? Hahaha, you're funny, internet, with your hypothetical assumptions. Wrong there too, buddy! This book struggles in every feasible manner to have some form of a story. And, oh, how it fails! This book bombs miserably as a legitimate novel because, one, the plotting time-jumps more than Dr. Who in a Delorean with a flux capacitor, and two, because it contains zero plot! If the romantic elements were well written, with solid build up, believable tension, and fully explored character interactions, I wouldn't bitch so loud. In that case, the emotional elements would have a good exploration, and pay off. But...
Nope! Didn't happen. What so-called plot did exist (haha, you funny!) meandered the frack out of itself! Oh, and if that weren't enough to call this one a major shot in the face, how about the randomly rushed character realizations for NO apparent or logical reasons? Or the exceedingly insulting manner in which the secondary cast of characters felt like set pieces rather than people? Still no? Okay, fine, how about the over utilization of the "tell them, don't show them?" Or, maybe, just maybe, if all that's not enough to make this book an Epic Face Palm, what about the fact that our "hero" not only apparently has a dead wife in the past (the he shows NO genuine emotional realities over!), but who is a hero that turns into Mr. Rapey Guy in a very random-ass scene midway in the novel? You still thinking this book is good? Really? Well!
Yep. That about covers it. I'm honestly amazed that this book survived my reading it, truly. And, yes, okay, it managed to -not- attain DNF status, which is a mark in its favor. The novel felt entirely forced, and had epic-epic issues, but admittedly it did hold my attention like a cat with a laser pointer; I knew it was going to end in disappointment, but I HAD to see where the train wreck was headed. So, if for no other reason, those two facts allow for a two star rating for this novel. And, much like said cat and said laser pointer, there were a few smile-worthy moments throughout, but I'm just thankful that crap is done and over with, like whoa-damn happy. |
Lisa Kleypas, hon, I don't know what happened to you while writing this book, but please endeavor not to let it happen again. Do less of this...
You know how you finish a book, and you're so overwhelmed by the sheer awesomeness of it that your brain spontaneously ceases its ability to think sma...moreYou know how you finish a book, and you're so overwhelmed by the sheer awesomeness of it that your brain spontaneously ceases its ability to think smartly? How, after reading the final chapter, you're so spasmodic with book satisfaction that even the thought of logically conveying your enjoyment sends your neurons into a Guppy fish rendition?
Well, that's so me.
I am going to try (TRY mind you) to not start drooling at the mouth with never-ending hyperbole over the amazing enjoyment to be found within the pages of Scandalous Desires. Sadly, the only way to do that, and still manage to relate a logical, brief, and thoughtful review is to utilize bullets. So, here goes.
- I simply adored the almost divinely elegant nature of the plot. Every action of all characters involved made perfect sense, and stayed true to their character profiles. The story wasn't altered to fit the characters, just as the characters didn't funnel the story's direction.
- The actual executing of the story was sensation, in all areas, but most specifically in the structure of Micky’s motivation for his seemingly sudden prompt in desiring to protect Silence. This story point explainer, which arrives later in the novel, made wondrous sense, for it meshed with his actions and thought patters in regards to Silence.
- The romantic plot of Micky and Silence entertained, pleased, impressed (pretty much any positive adjective you can think of) me. Such romance developed very incrementally, but as a result, very believably. This is especially true when considering the past dynamic of the leading characters, for anything rushed, be it on the emotional front, or physical, would have been a disservice to their story and their identity.
- Elizabeth Hoyt's talent at creating was phenomenally well demonstrated by the fact that she had written the romance of Micky and Silence in a very specific construct. Because of the torment undergone in their pasts with both characters, though realistically probably more so for Micky, it became fairly obvious that the only way to bridge the emotional gap between these two people was through the use of self knowledge. Not only did Micky not know Silence, and Silence not know Micky, but fundamentally neither character knew themselves. Only by learning their own necessary self realizations could these two characters ever feasibly understand the other, and subsequently love one another. It is one thing, entirely, for an author to have this character understanding in their minds, and quite another to tangibly put such to paper that it becomes evident in the plot. As a result of this remarkable writing skill, the reader unquestionably undertakes a journey with both hero and heroine, one that is independent character-wise, and conjoined, couple-wise.
- The fact that every single identity discovery and character growth that Micky made with Silence, in regards to his evolution from tortured soul to saved spirit, all of the revelations, all of the barring-of-the-soul resulted after realistic moments of experience. Interestingly, in one scene, the couple’s first time having sex, such only came upon the heels of a Big Reveal from Micky, to Silence. What’s more, a subsequent reveal, a moment where our hero exposes more of his heart and trust to Silence, arrived following sex. This use of the physical intimacy is brilliantly utilized, for instead of having two characters boink for the sole purposes of boinking, almost every sex scene is specifically written for a specific purpose. This astounds me, truly, for pointless (okay, “pointless”) sex in a romance novel irks me, since intimacy is a facet to a character’s burgeoning story, and not a means to an end. This is, quite frankly, something I feel most romance authors today fail to remember. Hoyt's ability to not forgo this reality points to her genius.
- I found the trails, seemingly innumerable, between the hero and heroine. What was so well done about Scandelous Desires was the fact that, unlike other romance novels who feature two at odds characters, typically the mountains between hero and heroine are limited to one or two area of conflict. For Micky and Silence, such number was generally limited during any one scene, but progressive, as well, for as one area of difficulty was met and matched, another arose. This kept the character tension between the two leading characters utterly fascinating, and breathtakingly refreshing. As a result, no point of tension ever became dull nor worn out, because, as in real life, difficulties are faced and met, with new ones arriving to take their place.
- The use of class differentials was astoundingly well utilized, too. Money is always a driving force in our lives, whether it be the necessity of such because of its lack, or the fear of loosing whatever gains we’ve acquired. This plot element was subtle, but vivid within the novel, most especially during its rising climax. Too often issues such as money, gender roles, or whichever life important realities, are used almost haphazardly in novels. They’re either driven into the ground, beaten and bloody, or they’re fancifully ignored. Absolutely, positively not so in Hoyt’s novel. Rather, the conflict between Silence morality and Micky’s neglectful past spearhead a wonderful high-and-low drama use of money, and its pitfalls, in this story.
- I so loved that the final climax of the book was as gratifying in suspense, surprise, and satisfaction as the entire story building was before it! The drama of Micky’s fate was beyond breath stealing, and the final moments of the book leading up to its resolution truly outdid themselves for the quality and high writing contained within!
- I love how grounded in realistic nature and personality was the antihero character, Micky. His entire pathology paired with his actions were seamlessly well written, and done in an entirely believable manner. The fact that Micky does not, at all, demonstrate himself, nor is written as, a title-rogue-only character. Unlike many other romance heroes, he doesn’t merely hold the title of rake, but that he very much embodies this character description. His whoreish ways, his scandalous means of employment, his thought patterns, especially during the novels initial chapters, demonstrate a true roguish man. Micky is a classic example of the one rule of writing; show, don’t tell.
- I truly found the strength of Silence’s character fascinating. Not just the obvious strength, as evident by her back-story and her subsequent ordeals, but the strength that develops throughout the book, most especially with regards to her position and situation with Micky. The juxtaposition she faces during the final chapters of the novel is phenomenally well done. The realities Silence need face in order to be with Micky, and the fact that she does not biddingly submit to a situation that is less deserving. Micky’s emotional offerings he allotted were much in the same capacities of Silence’s previous husband, and the fact that this strong heroine comes to the realization that she cannot and will not endure the same with Micky was such a point of likability for her character with me.
- I so enjoyed that all characters were real. The hero and heroine, obviously, fly from words to living, breathing people. The secondary cast, all shine as being more real than fiction. Fionnula, Winter, Mary Darling…even the antagonists of the story, the Vicar and so, are fleshed out and constructed in such as way as to leave no doubt to their validity in taking part of the story.
...Okay, so, apparently utilizing bullets didn't exactly truncate this long-winded review. Still, all points were areas of reading pleasure, and still others weren't noted, but above all, enjoyment was had by the reading of this book. I think it can be summed up with a simple quote I once read; "You know you've read a good book when you turn the last page and feel a little as if you have lost a friend.” Scandalous Desires was absolutely a friend, short acquaintance though we had.(less)