Dear FCC: You probably wish you could censor the following porn, don’t ya? Well HAHA YOU CAN’T!
I really, really, reeaaaaally love this book. I know, fDear FCC: You probably wish you could censor the following porn, don’t ya? Well HAHA YOU CAN’T!
I really, really, reeaaaaally love this book. I know, fangirl at Fangirl Musings loves something, shock and awe right? Well you should, do, or WILL love The Luckiest Lady In London by Sherry Thomas too, because goodness. For one, this regency historical romance is about Felix; AKA a dude who falls in lust and proposes an “arrangement,” (don't ask for clarification 'cause NO SPOILERS YO!) and Louisa; a chick who has got feels in her lady-pants and smart brain-meat in her head-holder. Bless her, 'cause our girl ain't afraid to rock either one of them.
It be diamond-hard for me to pussyfoot around this book's plot without ejaculating some spoilers in your face. SO! If you wanna go into this little do-dad knowing none of the things other than the cover copy, which is graciously provided right there in text for your easiest of conveniences...I’ll wait so you can pause then read...okay and we’re back!
As I was word-vomiting, if you wanna rock the reading as virginal as possible, know that there’s a lot of smexy talk and fun bow-chicka-wow-wow time. There’s an awesome female lead who is just flat out cool in how she’s all about saving her sis in owning her lot in life, whilst also making the best of a shit situation. There’s an astonishingly alpha+beta=theta male lead, who literally kicks the story off with…“Her name was Louisa Cantwell and she would be my undoing." BLESS!
There’s also the fact that those two adorkable dorks make one HELL of a kickass OTP that literally have the best verbal jousting matches ever put to page! Oh, and let's also not forget this is a pairing that's got a whale-ass load of sexual tension intermixed with highly sexually charged dialogue that gets ALL over Bookville. You wanna know Felix and Louisa? No prob. Their big ol’ dynamic can be summed up in its entirety utilizing they own damn words...
“You are persuasive as the serpent in the Garden of Eden.” - Louisa. “And you are far cleverer and warier than poor Eve ever was.” - Felix.
Still not convinced to do the reading thing, yet? Fine! How about the fact that our hero legit pursues our gal with intellectual seduction! You know, after which he offers to become her personal tutor. CUE ALL OF MY HEARTEYES GODDAMMIT! I shit you not, my friends, reading a hero volunteer to help expand the intellectual horizons of a girl he’s got happy-lap-syndrome over? Well THAT was the sexiest damn thing I ever did read in a romance novel.
Just, READ THIS BOOK OKAY? Because there is unicorn-rainbow-poop beautiful ass writing all over this puppy. Like, legit-legit awesome writing.
‘The old her would never have woven an entire tapestry of starry-eyed amour out of spools of a man’s sexual curiosity.’
*Fangirls for approximately sixty seven years.* Sorry, I tend to fangirl when words get shoved together so pretty and shiny like that. And Sherry Thomas deserves ALL the fangirling for having written such a kickass of a story, USING HER SECOND LANGUAGE!
So, there. If you must go into this story as pure as the driven snow, shut me up, and go read.
Otherwise? GET GONE HOODLUM.
Now, let’s talk spoilers. With all my previous wordy-words, it sounds like this book is going to be the “Penis tries to get Vagina to be his bed toy, then falling-in-love ensues” but yeah no. That’s not the deal, because DUDE GETS SHOT DOWN, YEAH BOY! Absolutely NO slut shaming is intended with my next words, because with this particular story, I found Louisa's turning down of Mr. Horny Pants to be far more liberating when considering her lot in life. It's my crappy opinion that Felix’s unexpected, “Well if I can’t have her as my mistress, why not wife?” mentality allowed his eventual love-realization to not only be more believable, but more engaging, as well.
Bless the publishers, because our back cover copy doesn’t spoil that fact, so ye ole marriage plot twist was all the more twisty, and subsequently better in my opinion. As a result, the sex is more interesting and bless that sentence because one, sex, but also two, said sex becomes more entrenched in the story. I fricking-frackin' love romances where the beast-with-two-backs shenanigans gets layered all up in the story! Why? Cause I damn well HATE boinking that feels like it's shoehorned in just so we can tic it off the Romance Checklist.
But DUUUDE! Not only does our Louisa take an active role in her marriage bed-sport, so hooray for her not being a blushing, wilting flower on their honeymoon night. But this girl also OWNS her sexuality! At one point the story pulls an interesting plot development where Felix’s fear-of-love internal conflict gets externalized with him abstaining from the sexy time. This spurns SO much interesting drama and character immersion in the subsequent scenes and go to making the book just astonishing at giving you interesting characters in an interesting story.
Sherry Thomas be queen at creating tension, both sexual and otherwise, and when she paired emotional tension with sexual conflict? Holy SHIT she straight up wrecked my feels. I’ll spare the graphic details, but that scene in the library where Louisa was all, “ME WANTS SEX TIME!” And Felix was all, “NO I SHAN’T!” Then our guy caves, and engages in some under-the-skirt playtime, after which he done devastated me AND Louisa with that little shit stunt he pulled with his handkerchief? Y'all know what douche-move I’m talking about, and if you don’t, THEN READ THE DAMN BOOK.
Sorry. Fangirls get a little irrational when they’re book-pushing.
Point is, that scene cemented my love for this author, because Sherry had our hero be a despicable ass-face in such a unique, emotionally heart wrenching way that I may or may not have...you know...punched the book in anger at Mr. Dick.
That’s a lot of words, but what I’m trying to say in my shitty way is that this story takes a very simple premise...poor girl, rich hero, some lust, some childhood neglect...and mixes it all together in a giant pot of win that spits out the most refreshing recipe of smart, believable people with real conflict in a cool book.
If you’re literate in English, there is absolutely no excuse for you to not at least try reading this novel. Its erotic, it’s emotionally moving, its characters go through a shit storm and come out clean and more grown up on the other wise. The book and its author, quite simply, gets all of the damn cookies.
Now go read it if you’ve not, or Imma have a sad.
(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.