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.
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.
Well...okay, this book is great! Yet, it's also not, BUT IT'S ALSO SO DAMN GOOD! And, at the same time, it's not good. Makes sense, right?
Well...okay, this book is great! Yet, it's also not, BUT IT'S ALSO SO DAMN GOOD! And, at the same time, it's not good. Makes sense, right?
Basically what I'm trying to say, and failing shittastically at doing so, is that a book can be awesome in one respect, and downright homicidal-inducing in another. At the end of the day, when the final chapter of this particular shindig closes, do I recommend this book in the general sense that it's a great read? Abso-fucking-lutely! Do I consider this to be a genuinely good romance novel, paranormal or otherwise?
Suffice it to say that, as a romance with believable chemistry and genuine emotional undertones between its couple, Immortal Rider really deserves an iron skillet to the keyboard. Why? Well, a lot of reasons, all of which link right the hell back to some of this book's biggest problems. The first; the lead characters.
Limos, our heroine. Bad ass? Check. Immortal warrior? Check. Horsewoman/brigger of the Apocalypse? Check. All are ingredients in her characterization manifesto...and all are complete and utter bullshit. Of the worst craptastic realities within this book, Limos takes top billing. She is unquestionably our novel's weakest link in that she serves as a lot of emotional fodder, but not much else. Limos is almost entirely pointless in the way of being actively ineffective within the book. She's just kind of there, which is admittedly the biggest effing joke considering she's a friggin' Horsewoman of the Apocalypse. Um, hello? HORSEWOMAN! Can we not do more with her, please? *Cue sigh.* But, to be fair, this ball-dropping probably isn't her fault. So, where does the fault lay, you ask?
Yep, you guessed right...it's the plot's fault. Immortal Rider has that in spades; the book plots out the ever lovin' ass. So much story is EVERYWHERE! And, even though the secondary conflicts run amok like an ADHD kid crackin' out on a sugar rush, surprisingly the chaos and drama work. There's torture scenes, and hardcore evil antagonists, and freaky-creepy monsters and demons, and betrayal and subterfuge and smexy times. Lots of things happening in lots of places, and shockingly pretty damn entertaining! The pacing of this book is quick, constantly dramatic, and makes for some hella fun enjoyment.
...Except sadly it all kind of falls flat on its face. The novel is a lot like a roller coaster. Both are exciting all throughout one's experience with them, both never inspire boredom, both have serious heart-pounding dramatic high points, and both kind of just suddenly stop at a screeching hault. While the book's plot doesn't have one centralized conflict, and sort of merely meanders about from point to point, it's still very readable, even though it does end somewhat abruptly with no real resolution.
As I noted, there's a LOT of plot, which sadly shoves itself in between Limos and our hero, Arik, in a hugely rude-ass way. As a result, we're given zero time for emotional or believable romantic development between these two characters. Thusly, as a romance, Immortal Rider sucks ass in that department, and as a standalone novel it kind of fails pretty hard, too. So, you might be asking yourself with all these criticisms I've lodged against the novel, why did I rank the novel so high? Or, more succinctly, you might wondering...
I'm not a whackadoodle, I swear. I really did genuinely enjoy this book, just for reasons I probably shouldn't as a standard rule. What the hell am I talking about? Simple; the secondary cast of characters.
Holy baby Jesus, guys; the supporting cast in this book is all of the amazing! The amount of detail, characterization, time and attention paid to our not-main-book-people is the reason your face needs to be eyeball-deep in this novel, PDQ. Even though my brain totally recognizes that all the on-page effort given to Regan, the badass human female warrior, Harvester, the hella fascinating evil angel, Reaver, the bad-boy-turned-good, and Than, the seriously emo-tastic Death-on-a-cracker...even though I recognize that all said effort proves Immortal Rider is really nothing but a prequel novel to Book 3, I DON'T CARE!
Yes Limos and Arik's romance feels hella rushed, yes the story of this book feels limited and unresolved, yes there's a metric shit-ton happening within the universe, and yes, Immoral Rider is indeed nothing more than series fodder, but read this thing anyway, dammit! As bland as Limos is, that's how fascinatingly dynamic Regan's character is, as lackluster as the chemistry between our lead couple might be, that's how explosive Reaver and Harvester's scenes read, and as dull as the "will our heroine's secret be revealed/is our lead hero gonna die" leading plot point might be, that's how epic the secondary End Of The World evil master plan culminating in the background scenes is, seriously!
Basically the takeaway is just do this book; do it right now!
To say that I enjoyed Ione's Pleasure Unbound would be the understatement equivalent of saying HitlUm. Holy-friggin'-crap!
Yeah. Not hyperbole; shock!
To say that I enjoyed Ione's Pleasure Unbound would be the understatement equivalent of saying Hitler was a jerk, or chocolate is merely nice. I freely admit it; it's been ages since I've fallen in love with a new author! I'm a stickler, and very rarely impressed. But, hot skippy if I wasn't rockin' copious love for this novel!
Above all, writing style MAKES a book. And, yeah, this one had it in droves. Aside from the wonderfully descriptive and detailed style, I was absolutely thrilled with Ione's use of imagination conveyed through expression in Pleasure Unbound. This lady's voice, likewise, is too great for words. I'm a sucker for sarcastically dry, amazingly witty writing, and that form is very difficult to believably pull off, let alone within the confines of a dark, gritty paranormal romance. A book that holds one-liners, quotes, and monologues that make me literally laugh aloud always gets six million thumb's ups from me, no doubt.
As noted before, Ione has creativity in spades. Not only did this writer manage to pull off ER-meets-Angel, quite excellently I might add, but she did so in a hugely creative angle. Maintaining the foreground is easy, but the devil's in the details, and if Pleasure Unbound didn't hold true to excellent world building, I'll eat my shoe! (Er, not literally, since, yeah, ew.) The rules and construction of this world was terrific fan-damn-tastic.
Our book leads, E and Tay, were just phenomenal. Both were amazingly fleshed out, absolutely loyal in their character makeup all throughout the book, as well as being extremely interesting individuals. And, not to mention, what is great world building, talented writing, and likable writer's voice without some smexy, dark antiheroes and alpha women thrown in for good measure? The secondary cast members were almost, if not more so because of their curiosity peaking, more enjoyable, dynamic and interesting than our leading guy and chick. (Gem? Wow. Friggin' LOVE her! Wraith, Shade, Luc, Kynan? Umm, please, more! Even Skulk, yep, she killed it!)
As noted before, Pleasure Unbound's hero and heroine were truly hardened in their structure, however, with great character makeup must lie wonderful storytelling. The plot of this most excellent novel had just about every single aspect I could desire. A) A truly suspenseful who-done-it (but not how you'd think!) thread. B) A world building reality that forced our two front runner characters to be combative, yet mutually reliant. C) One HELL of a story-line holy-crap-didn't-see-that-coming element. Again, if the above fails in realization to anyone, cue the fake-shoe-eating episode.
And...yet? With all that copious love lovin' itself all over the place, only a four star ranking? Well, see, here's the smidgen problem. Despite having a book that blasted out of the ballpark in literally every conceivable area, from pacing to chapter breakups, I found error. While Ione did an amazing job, quite frequently I'll admit, and most especially towards the end of the novel in other arenas, of bringing almost tangible emotion to the page, I still found the romantic culmination between Tay and E just not quite believably satisfying. Don't misunderstand! Their romance was entirely realistic, and absolutely within the realms of yeah-that-works...but something, some indefinable aspect, remained missing. Most likely it was the almost now-you-see-it, now-you-don't, but-wait-yeah-you-do romantic element of the final chapters.
In all honesty, I yet again wish Goodreads had half-star rankings, because this one tiny issue truly isn't worthy of a full star loss, because, well, damn. This book just met all my expectations, threw them in a big cauldron, set to liquefy, and made it that much more wonderful. So, in truth, 4.5 stars, because Ione...she doth rock! ...more
You know, when books are this bad, there should be a contractual and moral obligation to glorify the societal act of book burning.
Pages Survived: 215
You know, when books are this bad, there should be a contractual and moral obligation to glorify the societal act of book burning. More Than a Mistress is a thing so bad, so atrociously rape-my-anal-glands awful that I'm convinced a spiked sledgehammer to the forehead wouldn't hurt nearly as much as this piece of garbage. Oh, that too real? Too mean spirited? Ha. Buckle up, kiddies, because there is so much book-hate to follow that you're gonna be craving a cyanide pill before the grand finale.
"Oh, get over yourself Jacqueline," as I'm sure you're absolutely thinking, "This book can't possibly be that unpleasant." And, you're right, it's not unpleasant, it's downright shittastic. Why? Oh, so many reasons! However, since it's basically the definition of Not Helpful to list "All Of The Book" as the problem with this story, I will attempt to narrow my book-rage to just six reasons. So, here it is; my exposé entitled The Half Herculean Reasons Why This Mary Balogh Book Sucks So Much Ass.
Reason Number 1: "Hark! Bullshit dialogue! Look, a tree!"
You know that spastic hyperactive idiot you see in every bad sitcom, the one that takes sugar intravenously and couldn't focus on a single topic even were you to take a baseball bat to his cranium? Well, that painful (haha, puns) analogy is basically the equivalent to every damned moment of dialogue in this novel. I swear this book has such an abhorrent lack of conversation topic-transitions between the verbal exchanges of the characters that I'm half convinced Mary Balogh thought, "Cohesive conversation? We don't need no stinkin' cohesive conversation!" and then proceeded to run into her corner to laugh maniacally.
I'm all for realistic conversation, ones that ebb and flow in both topic and tone, but please, for the love of tasty fat-free French fries, Ms. Balogh, please give your dear readers a transitional POV pause! Mr. Hero going from talking about his owie-injuries to bursting forth with his uncontrollable desire to put his man-meat inside Miss Heroine's hooha is just damned weird-awkward. "My leg hurts. I want to bang you," not only makes hero-dude sound six kinds of batshit crazy, but subsequent examples make dialogue choppy and unbelievable, which, yeah know, is a bad thing. Well, not unless you WANT to make your characters sound like drooling whackadoodles, and if so then by all means, proceed!
Reason Number 2: Pretty Words Do Not Always A Book Make
I love me some flowery prose. Like, c'mon, we romance readers cut our teeth on the divine words that are Jane Austen and Cecila Grant. But, let's put one hella distinctive point on this issue, shall we? Just because something is written pretty with nice words and elegant phrases does not mean that the book is subsequently good. Along with pretty vocabulary and sentence structure we needrequire damn well deserve emotional grounding and elemental connection with the characters and the story! I need to feel feels, dammit, and Ms. Balogh, you're holding out!
Reason Number 3: Characters are caricatures lacking characteristics!
Come one, come all, ladies, gentlemen and other! Learn how to kill a novel deader than a liquefied zombie! How, you might ask? Why, by zapping any and all personality, likability, believability, and understandable motivation from your book peeps! I kid you not one bad Adam Sandler joke that the book's leads, Jocelyn and Jane, are the flattest, most one-dimensional, most sodding bore-fests of wet rags I have ever read. 215 pages I spent with these two special kinds of special, and all I can tell you is that the hero is a dick-bag and the heroine is TSTL. When the hero's not prancing around being a colossal ass-hat to the heroine...
(view spoiler)[Colossal Ass-Hat Examples: Yelling at a female working-class stranger because you were the idiot who looked away from a pointed gun? Check. Acting like a whiny little bitch with mood swings that make PMS look pleasant? Check. Turning into a giant squid of anger, ranting at your mistress after you start recalling bad memories after your first bang-session because that's so obviously Jane's fault? Check. Having the "I hired you to be my whore but you're acting like my whore when I treat you like my whore and that pisses me off" attitude? Check. Like I said; elitist crotch knob. (hide spoiler)]
...the heroine's too busy being preoccupied with doing stupid shit for no reason.
(view spoiler)[Stupid Shit Examples: Running to stop a random duel between two random people you've never met in your entire random life? Check. Running away from your home and hearth to go incognito because you conked some rapey pompous fuck-nugget in the head with a book? Check. Falling in love with some guy after he is ostensibly pissed at you for being his mistress and has treated you like a walking vagina? Check. Like I said; Too Stupid To Live. (hide spoiler)]
Reason Number 4: Love is dead.
A science fiction without futuristic technology, or a horror story without frightening scenes? Impossible, right? So, what's a romance without romantic emotions? Just words on a page that are as pleasant as a dental drill to the eye-socket. In the 215 pages I slugged through, More Than A Mistress held not one damn romantic sentiment. When's the first time we see love rearing its little head? Oh, you mean after Jocelyn criticizes Jane for thinking about her future, beyond her role as his mistress? You mean after Jane acquiesces to Jocelyn's role of authority? THAT'S when love is A Thing these two start self-reflecting upon? Really? REALLY?!
And, what's more, if THAT wasn't enough to kill love deader than an irradiated pigeon, then let's broach for a hot minute the sex scenes. In truth I should say the "let's just write everything as vague as possible because it's not like the physical relationship element is a key ingredient between our hero and his love-interest mistress" scenes. Not just wrong, but HELLA wrong! I don't require porn-level gyrating detail, but damn, for so little effort that's given to the sex scenes in this book, Mary Balogh might as well have just faded to black and skipped the fucking things altogether! Betty Crocker's wardrobe change was more passionately smexy than those non-sex sex scenes!
Yep. That some hot smut right there, that is!
Reason Number 5: Hey, conflict, yooou-whoooo, oh conflict?!
So, there's this girl and this rich guy wants her, and she's on the run in disguise but the rich guy shouldn't want her and she's now his mistress and stuff happens. Best synopsis, ever. Yeah, truly, that's not too far from the mark because when this damn novel isn't ignoring the whole, "Hey, there needs to be conflict!" rule of writing, it's forcing conflict down our throats so hard you think your esophagus is about to implode into chunky bits. Half the book is spent with Jocelyn all "Can't touch this" in regards to Jane, while the other half is him pissed that he's hired her as his shagging buddy. What the serious fuck, Mary Balogh, for real? I know, I know, you've got something about some family pissed at Jocelyn and some other such thing about Jane in hiding, but...yeah. All that was lost, shuffled around, and occasionally pulled out for the "Hey, this is our conflict!" showing. I am not impressed.
Reason Number 6: Unbelievable stuff is unbelievable, like whoa-damn.
Okay, so now that all the serious bullshit is expounded upon, ranted over, and downright browbeaten into one endlessly long boring review, I'm throwing my Number 6 down. I say that because your number sixth gripe is always the one that lets you know you've had it. That subsequent shit can get no more craptastic, that your tolerance for All Things Bad in book-verse has flown right out the damn window. What the hell am I talking about? Oh, c'mon, you KNOW! You know that when the littlest irksome inconsequential elements to character or plot, ones that normally would fly under your radar in other books, are now the size of frickin' Asia to your reader-brain. More Than A Mistress was "blessed" with two such moments. The first...
"No. I was born heir to my present title. I was born with an earl's title, Jane. My family all used it until I became Tresham at the age of seventeen. You really are the first to call me by my given name."
Oh, are you fucking kidding me?! You're telling me in all this dude's entire lifespan, not one humanoid ever called this little bastard by his real name? "Oh, look, Jane be special, she's the ONLY PERSON EVER to call Mr. Hero Dude by his name!" Not his parents, not his siblings, NOT EVEN A GOD FORSAKEN FRIEND?!
Yes, Oprah, I be mad. But, alas, that was not The Moment. No, no, dear reader. My DNF-ing book-throwing, brain-'sploding moment of book stoppage did not come from that unbelievable bullshit. Rather, it was over the second instance of Unbelievable Shit is Unbelievable and that, very simply, was the fact that apparently Mr. Hero Ass-Face is not just a freakishly-gifted, master-talent level pianist. No, he's also a portrait artist! Yeah. Apparently it's not enough to be divinely gifted in just one intensely complex artistic arena, Hero-Face must be so gifted in TWO areas of intensely complex artistic arenas AND OH MY GOD SO MUCH RAGE! This was literally my tipping point, the moment where my brain just went, "Nope. Done." My bullshit tolerance had broke, I was checking out of Hotel California, and the book was flying spine-first into the nearest wall.
Dear reader, are you craving that cyanide pill yet? No? Then give me the damn thing so I can end my misery. To say I hated this book is putting it politely, to say that it was a waste of my time is putting it bluntly, and to say that it was Twilight-level bad is...well, okay, admittedly that would be a lie. At least I believed that Jane was an idiot, and Jocelyn was a douche, and that the book was set in Regency England. But, it was bad, nails-on-a-chalkboard, Lunesta-replacement GitMo bad. In the recommendation entry for this book, I literally put, "Your worst enemy." Is that a bit extreme? Probably. Do I care? Not even a little.
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 opA 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?...more
Okay, so...this book, seriously, I'm so befuddled as to my overall reaction. Yea? Nah? Maybe? Perchance a little of it all?
Looking back over my book uOkay, so...this book, seriously, I'm so befuddled as to my overall reaction. Yea? Nah? Maybe? Perchance a little of it all?
Looking back over my book updates while reading this novel, it strikes me that I had more negative to say about this story, than positive. This is odd to be, because realistically, this book didn't bring a wrathful hatred to my reading mind. There were definitely some serious issues within, but not all was for not.
The writing style, in general, was very well done. From both an historical and technical standpoint, the dialogue was very well executed. Rather, my first criticism, and perhaps all my criticism, might be rooted in the book's emotionalism aspects. Frankly, I'm of the opinion Karen Ranney put such an effort of getting the emotional realities of her hero and heroine on paper in the first fifty pages of the book, that, sadly, there was nothing left for the remaining chapters.
The first three chapters of this novel were surrealistically good. I felt the relatability and emotional depth to not just Catherine for her suffering and heartache, but for Moncrief, as well, for his early depth of feeling and emotional passion. There was such a visceral quality to the feelings of the leading characters early on, that I was almost positive I would be wowed by this story.
Sadly, such was not the case. As the novel progressed, I felt the characters gradually became fragmented in their personalities. As Catherine's grief gave way, I thought the romantic plot would explode with tension and drama between her and Moncrief. Ironically, such was just the opposite, for instead, all fizzled. All throughout the book, I found myself thinking Catherine and Moncrief were like friends than a romantic pair. Such feeling was cemented as the final page or two of the story arrived. At the ending, I was literally left thinking "That's it?!" Specifically, the lack of believable emotion on the scene was almost painful, and the book just abruptly ended.
Such emotional lacking could have resulted, I think, from the almost bipolar actions of both protagonists. From the start of the novel, Moncrief was painted as a very feeling and heartfelt character, while Catherine was seen as a giving, soft woman. Neither lady or gentleman held true to this character portrait, or if they did, such character aspects never showed themselves on page. The classic "Show, don't tell" rule of writing was almost painfully ignored.
The plot, likewise, felt off-kilter. Since well over half of the book focused on the developing (so called) emotional element between the hero and heroine, when this seemed to fizzle or come to a stonewall, it almost seemed as though the author pulled her plot from thin air. So quickly was the element of suspense and "bad-guy/who-dunnit" put upon the scene that, when we see it arrive, within less than two chapters, it's resolved!
Such lack of emotionalism, paired with a lack of quality driving plot put with characters who devolved from three dimensional to one dimensional as the story continued, and one might wonder why I bothered to finish. Put simply, such reality was because of a guess. At the onset of the story, a degree of mystery was established surrounding a secondary cast member, Glynneth, one to which I developed an hypothesis. Merely the desire to see if I was correct in my estimation was probably the primary reason as to this book's conclusion.
Ironically, however, this book does finalize with a two star ranking. This result probably stems from the fact that Till Next We Meet proves that, even when a book scores as mediocre in some respects, and disappointing in others, if two characters are written as being likable, or rather not dislikeable, to the reader, immediate book-hatred isn't always the end result. Catherine was not irritatingly obtuse, had a pleasant on-page demeanor, and, despite seeming almost devoid of personality, was capable of maintaining my interest. Such exact reality can be said of Moncrief, for he too was not abrasive to read.
Even though having high hopes and expectations for this novel, considering its obviously likable tropes, it's sad to say that Till Next We Meet was simply, and only, tolerable....more
Read: October 28th, 2013 - October 30th, 2013 Read: July 20th – 24th 2010 Read: January 19th, 2009 Read: November 27th, 2008 Read: March 2007 Read: Februar
Read: October 28th, 2013 - October 30th, 2013 Read: July 20th – 24th 2010 Read: January 19th, 2009 Read: November 27th, 2008 Read: March 2007 Read: February 2005
You know that moment when you fall in love with an author, and every fricking book they write is your favorite? Well, applicable sentence is applicable, and while not entirely logical, it's all kinds of true for Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dance With The Devil. Oh, and that GIF up there? It's more than applicable; it's downright gospel. This novel is one hell of an epic-fun roller coaster that will figuratively rip out your heart, smile, and hand it back to you gift-wrapped with a cookie. Basically, it's one of the best books ever, and screw anyone that says otherwise!
Okay, you're right; it was. But, truly, the book is wonderful for a multitude of awesome-sauce reasons, not the first of which is how damned amazing the on-page emotion is, truly! This writing is fan-damn-tastic because it sucks you into the world, and the character. Yes, yes, this is par-for-the-epic-course with all Sherri's Dark-Hunter books, I know, but what makes Dance With The Devil so specifically full of win is how well Sherrilyn constructs Zarek. If Kyrian was the sassy devil-may-care, and Talon was the soulful poet, Zarek is the dude that rips your face off rather than shake your hand.
Yep! He's a bad-boy, but what's even better is that he's a bad boy with agency. Of all the Dark-Hunter boys up until this point in DH kick-ass universe, he's the one with the most tortured back-story. Unquestionably part of what makes this book such a joy ride is how fun, interesting, lovable, hilarious, and broken Zarek's character is, no doubt. Your heart breaks for him all while you understand him, which simply makes you love him even more.
Equally likable, though admittedly not to the same degree, is Astrid. She is her own person, no question, and she is believable, but what drives her as a character stems more from the plot than any grand characterization. It's interestingly shocking as hell to learn that Sherrilyn Kenyon wrote Dance With The Devil in two weeks. How easily this story came to her is evident by how well the writing paces itself. Granted, the plot is far more emotionally driven than by any external conflict, it reads all the better for it. The external forces affecting the reading do aid the novel, what with the "bad-guy-out-to-get-our-characters," but even that plot point comes with emotional agency, and is hella believable. Basically, it's...
(Heehee.) What's most interesting to me, though, is that Dance With The Devil works so excellently, both as an independent stand-alone, and as world building to the Dark-Hunter universe. Yes, while every DH book can be read out of order (another reason I love The Author Goddess so damn much) I find it interesting how well this book plays both roles. A person can jump right into this book with both feet, having never read a Kenyon novel before, and fall just as much in love with it and Zarek as a long-time fan.
In the context of the series, while admittedly lacking some of the larger cast that previous DH books have up until this point, the reader does learn So-Oh-My-God-Hella much more about the inter-workings of some of the major players in this universe. Lastly, I do love that, having read the entire Dark-Hunter series many times over, rereading Dance With The Devil is especially fun because not only is it here that we officially meet Simi for the first time (holy-crap-balls, I heart that demon with all of my organ!), but it's also where a lot of reader-understanding comes into play. After reading Acheron's novel (published five years after this book), knowing his backstory as I do it makes Ash's and Zarek's exchanges so much more significant and emotionally moving!
Basically, my long-ass point? Read this book! It needs you, you need it, it's basically the perfect relationship in one package. You go through happy-hell reading this emotional piece of awesomeness, but it pays off because at the end of the day the following GIF is every bit of your face.
Read: October 22, 2013 – October 25, 2013 Read: July 19, 2010 Read: January 15, 2009 – January 17, 2009 Read: November 2008 Read: April 2007 Read: January
Read: October 22, 2013 – October 25, 2013 Read: July 19, 2010 Read: January 15, 2009 – January 17, 2009 Read: November 2008 Read: April 2007 Read: January 1, 2005
Love, pain, loss, blessings, death, reunion, sacrifice, torture, happiness, parenthood, responsibility, darkness, evil, honor, goodness, determination, and redemption are just an itsy-bitsy list of the themes with which Night Embrace is gonna rock your world. You're gonna laugh, you're gonna cry, you're gonna face-scream and applause pretty much throughout the entirety of this awesome behemoth. Put simply, Bilbo had it right - this book's gonna adventure you so hardcore. And, this loveliness starts, of course, with Talon of the Morrigantes.
Basically, he's the epitome of a bad-ass. A Celtic bad-ass, even. However, in my not so important opinion, while I adore Talon (because c'mon, how could you not?) I find his back-story, while heart breaking, less so in comparison to other tragic Dark-Hunter stories. Mind you, this could be my being a picky-ass, but Talon's personal tragedies were often brought about by his own choices. These choices, and while understandable, put a distance in my adoration of him. I fully admit, though, that my wanting to slap him upside the head with a crowbar, on occasion, did contribute to making him a fleshed out character.
(*Grins.*) Joking aside, Talon is unique among the DH boys for, while scrumptious and tortured, he frequently allows his emotions to get the better of him, thus making him seem more human than any other Dark-Hunter. I like Tally, but there exists an element that makes me want to throttle him right before I hug him. Still, while bodaciously adorable and likeable, it's Talon's sense of humor that wins him All Of The Loves. His dynamic with Nick, Acheron, fellow Dark-Hunters, hell, even with frenemies like Zarek, will undoubtedly leave your face muscles aching from laughter. Of course, speaking of laughter, we can't neglect Sunshine Runningwolf.
Yep. I admit it; I totally love her with much love. Of all the heroines that could be written, she is the single most memorable. Without question this girl struts on the page with bucket-loads of personality that grab you be the shirt and ask, "Who IS this chick?" A flibbertigibbet artist who is unquestionably a refugee from a hippie camp, what makes Sunny so adorable is, yes, her forgetfulness, yes, her love of life, but most importantly her heart. While Talon is her antithesis in the small things, the two share a kindness for others that is remarkable, and down right adorable.
Oh, by the way, did I mention the plot?! Holy-crap-stick, THE PLOT! This baby comes in at a whopping 408 pages, and that's a bit long for a standard mass market paperback, but trust that this sucker doesn't lag. We've got pissed off gods, renegade Dark-Hunters, an "let's-avoid-the-apocalypse" story line, not to mention a most excellent cast of supporting characters. Interestingly, while the plot does take a backseat to the romantic buildup and relationship of Talon and Sunshine (we'll get to that in a minute, friends), when this sucker arrives for the climax, it busts onto the scene with TNT. The surrounding plot threads make this book unquestionably fun, mind-blowing, and definitely worth the read. As for the actual romance between Talon and Sunshine? Well...
I know, I know! (*Ducks behind couch to avoid the rotten tomatoes.*) Sadly, I'm not really in the Fangirl Camp for these two awesome characters. Oh, don't get me wrong, I love them as characters, and while I do believe the HEA at the end, I never really felt the connectivity between them as their story was unfolding. I think this stems largely from the soul mate aspect (you'll see when you read), but because of this it made their romance difficult for me. I still heart them, I did love the book, and I enjoyed Talon and Sunshine interacting, but as for the love-story itself? Gotta say no. The book kicks copious ass, even outside the lovey-dovey element, if for no other reason than climax, the supporting cast, and the universe around Talon and Sunshine. These elements make this book so frakking good.
You request it, Night Embrace, and you damned sure get it....more