Such a great story! This plot line was basically simple and perfect, with the characters seeming very deep and 'real.' The heroine of the story was of...moreSuch a great story! This plot line was basically simple and perfect, with the characters seeming very deep and 'real.' The heroine of the story was of a different sort of character, at least for me. Helen is an ex-mistress with two children who flees London in an attempt to escape her 'provider.' Normally I don't read romances that feature heroines that mistresses. And while this is typically a theme concept that I avoid, I did find Helen to be a very admirable and inspiring character.
I truly enjoyed the hero Alistair, as well. Truly this novel is a "modern" spin on the classic beauty-and-the-beast tale, and Hoyt did a marvelous job making this story feel realistic and touching.
In truth, this book is entirely character driven, which is perfectly fine since this story was done so well. I never became bored or irritable with this book, and was so enthralled with what was happening between the hero and heroine, for I loved the romantic pacing Hoyt constructed between Alistair and Helen. Overall, a great book with a very enjoyable story containing lovable characters and a very happy ending!
Julia Quinn is, without question, the bomb-diggity when it comes to quality historical romance!
An Offer From A Gentleman is, unquestionably, one of th...moreJulia Quinn is, without question, the bomb-diggity when it comes to quality historical romance!
An Offer From A Gentleman is, unquestionably, one of the most fun pieces of fiction I've read in an age and a half! While the plot is of the classic Cinderella concept at its foundation, the book becomes so much more. Stagnant plots are painful, yet ironically, spastic, bipolar stories are equally torturous. An author's ability to take a classic fairy tale, keeping the elemental points fundamental throughout, yet manage to contain enough changeability to keep the reader interested is a phenomenal talent.
What truly made me sit up and take notice of An Offer From A Gentleman was the almost artistic balance Quinn utilized in keeping the story character driven until something more was required. The external conflict, while added very briefly at almost the end of the book, was believable enough to not be absurd, and yet surprising enough to maintain interest.
I adored Sophie, I fell in love with Benedict, I wanted to karate-chop Araminta, while wishing I could simply hug Posy. Every character, from major to minor, who appeared in this book made me feel something on some level or another. My extreme emotional investment into the nature of all the characters, paired with my adoration for the plot and Cinderella trope, all but ensured my steadfast love of this book! (less)
A book that can take you from interest, to ecstasy, to boredom, back to holy-shock-wowness has some serious props going for it, in my not so humble op...moreA book that can take you from interest, to ecstasy, to boredom, back to holy-shock-wowness has some serious props going for it, in my not so humble opinion. Having never read Kathryn Smith before, I can definitely say I've been missing out.
When Seducing A Duke was probably one of the most dynamic books I've read in approximately sixteen billion years. Such reality isn't so difficult to pull off in a paranormal, or even contemporary romance, but in historical? Yeah, that's rare like a virgin whore.
Smith had my interest initially predominately because, within this novel, she utilized some of my favorite book tropes. Specifically, unrequited love. But, while tropes pick the books that are read, they don't determine book quality. Luckily, in this case, they so did, because this book wowed me extensively. From the first few chapters, I was immediately fascinated how Smith utilized not so atypical story points in a very atypical manner. This is especially poignant during the first developing story aspects in the beginning pages.
Aside from being unique in her structure of a story, Smith wowed me in a more subtle, yet very notable arena of her writing. While I adore romance novels, there are certain cliches I abhor. Specifically, the writing of men as being unlike males. Smith doesn't shy away from her male characters utilizing vulgarity (time appropriate) when among themselves, or during internal thought dialogues. A seemingly non-significant factor, perhaps, but its existence ties in seamlessly with the fact that Smith is very talented in creating realistic characters, both in their technical aspects as well as emotional.
When perusing my last status update pertaining to this novel, I noted, and recall, my sentiments being dissatisfied with the emotional on page writing of the hero, Grey. Such wasn't a lie, for as of page 252, it felt as though the story were collapsing in onto itself, along with his relateability. The plot was a bit dry by that point, the unrequited love of both Grey and Rose seeming a bit then-boring, and a tad pointless seeing as to where the story had developed. And then...magic.
Smith's ability to recreate a story mid-book had me in jaw-dropping awe. This author literally took one story line and bypassed it into another, with small tangible hints of such about-face peppered in the first half of her novel. While the plot had previously been at a 2-3-4 star teetering by that point, it eclipsed such by the impressive high-gear plot and character development. The story morphed from a simple romance tale to a commentary about life and love. About the decisions we make when we are young and dumb, about the realities of consequences, and the pressure we feel from those on the outside, looking in.
As noted before, Smith doesn't shy away from realities in her fiction, at least by this book's indication. Such was refreshing not just in the existence of male vulgarity, but in emotion itself. The heroine and hero are presented as sweetly perfect together, prior to marriage, though when the drama arrives on scene, real human emotion and response are put directly on page. Neither the hero nor heroine respond in Mr. and Mrs. Perfect ways, nor do they turn into Ass Hat #2 and 3, respectively. Walking the fine line of characters seeming realistic, though not negative, is an ability that few authors, I feel, harbor.
The characters, like the writing, became living, breathing entities. This was not done from page one, to final word, but rather as a developing journey. As their story evolved, so too did they. As their emotions and heartaches and experiences were related, so too did they feel and become more as people than as characters. This is impressive to say the least, talented to say the most. The evolution this story undergoes corresponds perfectly to such same as the characters, secondary as well as primary.
To say that I shall be continuing Kathryn Smith's novels is obvious. I merely count myself as being blessed to learn that When Seducing A Duke not only counts itself among a series, Victorian Soap Opera (apropos, no?), but finds itself as being book one. Add that to the fact Kathryn Smith apparently writes other romance genres, and perhaps it could be fair to say that I've found another favored author. Only time, and potential book quality, will tell.
Lastly, can I be the only one who found that Smith's decision to forgo the use of an epilogue was not only refreshing, but specifically as to this story, ideal?(less)
Truly, if I could rank this book at a higher star rating, I would do so in a heartbeat! I absolutely fell in love with Ph...moreAMAZING! STUPENDOUS! AWESOME!
Truly, if I could rank this book at a higher star rating, I would do so in a heartbeat! I absolutely fell in love with Phillip and Maria. They are very enthralling characters, both with strong personalities that are rich and entertaining. Phillip is very much the epitome of the English Gentleman, while Maria embodies everything that Phillip shouldn't want. Maria is outspoken, headstrong, independent, and a commoner while Phillip is the standard of social perfection. In all truth, this novel was made all the better, in my opinion, because Guhrke formed Phillip's character in such a way that he embodied the character Mr. Darcy to perfection!
The love story between these two people was so much fun to read. The chemistry between the hero and heroine of this book had me laughing and smiling throughout.
Another wonderful aspect about this book that I loved was the passion between Phillip and Maria. I once read there was a fine line between love and hate, and the arguments and heated exchanged between these two individuals was amazingly comical and just plain entertaining!
The plot of Secret Desires of a Gentleman was very dynamic, as well. Essentially built upon a foundation that was structured in Phillip, his brother Lawrence, and Maria's past. Having been childhood counterparts, the three characters interactions and past goes to building the plot of this novel, one that is entertaining, fun, comical, and passionate like very few story-lines I have ever read.
Without giving away too many spoilers, I must say another aspect that I loved about this novel was the fact that its story truly paralleled that of the movie Sabrina. This movie just so happens to be one of my favorites, both the original and remake. As such, Guhrke truly blew me away with this book and has, for the second time, truly impressed me with her character building and writing style!(less)
I absolutely adored this book! It was an addictive read from start to finish. The characters were so, so enthralling while the plot had me entertained...moreI absolutely adored this book! It was an addictive read from start to finish. The characters were so, so enthralling while the plot had me entertained the entire time.
Guhrke is quickly becoming one of my personal favorite historical romance writers!(less)
So, this book is probably one of the best novels I've read in 2012. Yeah. Point, blank, and period, that fact is. While I may have not read too many p...moreSo, this book is probably one of the best novels I've read in 2012. Yeah. Point, blank, and period, that fact is. While I may have not read too many parahistoricals in my time, the few I have attempted were often utter bombs. They were so crammed with bad plotting, or boringly unbelievable characters, or terrible pacing that such books were frequent Wall-Bangers. As bad as all the other parahistorical romances I've read were, that's how amazingly impressive the book Firelight was, and is, truly.
This novel is packed with some pretty make-it-or-break-it tropes: masked hero, tortured and impoverished heroine, and a who-dun-it back/foreground plot. The leading lady has mysterious powers, the leading man has equally mysterious abilities, there are numerous side characters who could have made the novel overly crowded, the list is endless. And, yet, the talent of Callihan was proven in this novel, because every single trope in the book worked, and worked well.
The reason for such shocking reality has to do with the sheer quality of the writing. The tone of the novel was so unique, a classic Gothic stylization that brought not only entertainment and individuality to the story, but allowed for the plot of the book to be far more believable and engaging, as a result. Callihan likewise used the element of suspense in such a powerfully stated way that, honestly, I doubt many authors on the market today would have enough lady-balls to even try.
In truth, big questions as to the hero's past, his current nature, and the fundamental mystery plot were left in limbo for much of the novel. This ballsy bravery took extreme gumption, and talent, to pull off, and I think it's reality in the book made for an even more entertaining read. This fact probably has to do with the excellent pacing of the book, I believe. The flow of the novel was very well executed, for unquestionably the plot and character interactions contain high angst and drama. Callihan allowed breaks, when necessary, and high drama points, when vital, to keep any one scene from being too mellow dramatic.
As good as the writing was, so, too, was the creation of the characters in Firelight. Not only was I utterly captivated by the circumstances surrounding both Archer and Miranda, but I was equally interested in all the secondary cast of characters, as well. I hated the father, I adored the sisters, I was begrudgingly empathetic for the hero's anti-friend, I abhorred the antagonist, and I was sympathetically emotional for the hero's friend. The above character diatribe list is truly significant when one considers the fact very little time was spent in the presence of any one side book cast member. To create such a passionate emotional response in me, the reader, with a limited number of words subsequent from the limited number of on-screen time takes some serious skills!
Lastly, I love how Callihan made certain that everything made sense in the book. This issue is true in many forms, from the character motivations of the hero and heroine's unexpected early marriage, to the book's reveal of the antagonist. Everything within the story made logical, believable sense, even in the issues that went unanswered, such as the paranormal aspects of Miranda's abilities. And, yet, all other parahistorical issues, from the mystical elements to other lesser characters.
Put simply, the novel Firelight was a genius mix paranormal and hsitorical, of internal and external conflict, of light and dark. I am so, so eager to try book two of the Darkest London series, and hope that Kristen Callihan is now going to be another of my go-to authors for excellent quality stories!(less)
Tropes can be an awesome thing. Often they have a negative connotation, but realistically, they allow a reader an immediate yes-no understanding of wh...moreTropes can be an awesome thing. Often they have a negative connotation, but realistically, they allow a reader an immediate yes-no understanding of what devices a certain book uses that may or may not suit a readers taste. I love tropes. The book Take Me uses all my favorite tropes. I did not, sadly, love the book.
The characters, frankly, sucked...kind of. The unsatisfactory acquaintance I had with these two leads is a bit surprising, considering they did lend come across as somewhat more realistic than words-on-a-page. Lily and Travis both showed believable emotions, both on- and off-screen. The protagonists were, also, occasionally believable as human beings, and, sometimes, as a couple. So, what's the problem?
Despite being realistically believable in most matters, they weren't humanly relate-able. The decisions both hero and heroine made came across as a spastic, hyperactive Gemini with a Schizophrenic disorder thrown into the mix. I literally lost count of the times that the heroine would make some sort of out-of-character statement or decision, act upon it, and then completely 360 her actions. The hero, too, would jump from one mentality/mind-set to another without any framework or shift transition at all. I could buy this issue being just a "personality" trait, if it were present in just one character, but not in both. No friggin' way.
Aside from the Energizer Bunny hop-skippity-jump issue, I was also HUGELY unsatisfied with the romantic aspects of Take Me. Literally, from the very opening page, the hero and heroine go from NO previous on-page interaction to wham-I-want-your-penis to smexy-times to internal monologueing of I-don't-know-what-this-is to, literally, insta-love; from insta-lust to insta-love.
I could understand if it were just insta-lust, and that evolving into something more, assuming the characters had JUST met one another literally in the very scene we see the holy-hot-pants reality. Such is not the case. Lily and Travis had been friends for years prior, and, despite being emotionally closed down from one another now, saw each other frequently over the course of their recent lives preceding the novel's opening. I'm sorry, but I absolutely did not buy the hey-purdy-dress, hey-alcohol, let's-do-it!-lurrrve book set up.
The initial stages of the romance sucked, the intermediate stages of the romance sucked. Throughout the "falling in love" time period is literally never shown. They're a'banging, and all of a sudden, wham-o, love from the Closed Off Hero's Heart is there. Even though the writer makes it a point to inventory some of the things that Travis has personally learned, and come to love, about Lily from the time they've been spending, the things he notes (spider fear, something about her favorite food, etc.) are all things which are told to us, never shown. Thus, the majority of the "getting to know you" of this novel happens off screen.
And, of course, there's the ending wrap up of the romance, which also sucked. The romantic conclusion of this book was SO unbelievably spastic that I'm almost awed by the level of what-the-fuckery therein. The resolution of the story was sweet, and believable, and probably its only excellent point, but the climax was so God-awfully random that, put with Lily's spontaneous self-actualization and realization, I just couldn't deal.
While there were quite a bit of negative chunks to this book, I can't say it was totally disappointing. I do think Lily's insecurities and weaknesses in personality made for an interesting heroine. While occasionally she did feel a bit forced, and a huge portion of her back-story whitewashed over, to her detriment as a character, I feel, she was not completely without merit. Likewise Travis, too, was an interesting guy to read about but, like with Lily, as with the romantic plot, too, I think so, so very much more could have been done to make this story more interesting, and better, than it ended up being.
On a plus, the pacing was good, and the story didn't painfully drag on endlessly, but on the minus, I just didn't buy this as being a good romance, or even a good work of fiction. Strong enough, and interesting enough characters and tropes to keep it out of the DNF territory, but not strong enough to rank better than a "Meh. Okay. Easily forgettable" reality.(less)
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...morePages 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.(less)