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 what I love?...Bad-ass heroines who rock capability and personal agency like it's a Def Leppard farewell tour.
You know what I really, reallyYou know what I love?...Bad-ass heroines who rock capability and personal agency like it's a Def Leppard farewell tour.
You know what I really, really love?...Independent, confident females that save their own damn ass while busting out that personal identity.
You know what I love more than anything?...That kinda chick, in a HISTORICAL romance!
Artemis is my favorite non-person person, 'cause life has screwed her blue, but dammit she's a survivor. She's fascinating and strong and bold. This girl did so many awesome things that made me wanna stand up and tackle-hug her.
Her counterpart Maximus, though? Um...Not so much.
This novel rocks it with heroine and plot...but kind of sucks mammalian testicles when it came to the man business.
Maximus is believable? Yep! He's got legit internal conflicts? Double-yep.
...But lord have mercy on a cinnamon bun, he's flat as all hell. Boy is just sort of there, looking a lot like a second fiddle next to Artemis. Why the frickity-frack is that? Well, maybe it's the writing being heroine POV heavy? Maybe it's the big focus-little/pay-off Maxi-boy plot? Maybe it's Maybelline?
But, hey! While our boy is second to our girl, that isn't exactly a criticism ya know. Plus, he's STILL a good character. We see him feel his feels and make an impact on the story and do all the book-character-doing stuff.
Oh! Speaking of the story...(you like that segway? I worked on it all week)...simple story was, well, simple. I'm okay with simple plots, but I'm not okay with plots that cram in unneeded subplots.
That right there is partly why this book didn't bank the Whoot-Whoot 5 Stars.
Real talk, that whole St. Giles subplot could have been ripped ass-first outta the story with like, almost no consequence. Sad to say, that big swashbuckling, Vengeful-Hero-of-the-Night felt randomly forced and boring to boot.
There's a hero's family subplot and a St. Giles subplot and crap-ton other stuff that my brain just went, "Doooooooooon't caaaaaaare." Thank fluffy ducks those subplots were just small road bumps, but still yeah no; not a fan.
Wanna know what I WAS a fan of? DAT ROMANCE YA'LL!
I totally bought that Artemis+Maximus ship, and thank God it sailed because bless their smexytimes, for real.
This OTP's chemistry was next-level, and their emotional journey got me feeling some kind of way! I LOVED THEIR LOVE...buuuuuuuuuut truth to tell I felt their Big Giant Scene was, well...how to put this?...Basically it felt rushed. It went from, "Let's resist!" to "Now let's bang!" back to "NOW let's avoid each other NO NOW LET'S LOVE DAMMIT!"
I still had a happy when the two did the love speaking doo-dah, but instead of reacting like "OH MY GOD YES YOU TWO ADORABLE BASTARDS LOVE EACH OTHER UNTIL THE END OF TIME YASSSSS!" Rather, I was more...
It WAS a lot of wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am, but you know something?
By no means was it sucky. It was anti-suckage, and soooOooOOooOOOoooOO worth your time, I pinky promise.
Just, READ IT BECAUSE I'M SCREAMING IN ALL CAPS! Okay? Okay!
(If you like my writing voice or you think I’m funny...[or you really just 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.)
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.
You know that moment after finishing a book, when your brain zig-zags like an in-play Ping Pong ball because you can't figure out how you feel about w
You know that moment after finishing a book, when your brain zig-zags like an in-play Ping Pong ball because you can't figure out how you feel about what you have just read? Well, welcome to my world. Firstly, let me put this out there, because I feel like if I don't I'm sacrificing virgins on the alter, or something equally heinous; A Rogue By Any Other Name is worth reading. It is, put simply, a good book. Despite my following complaining screed, it's fun to read. But...
...There are some problems.
The synopsis is pretty in-your-face-like-whoa simplistic; boy wants revenge, girl harbors means for revenge, annnnnd...marriage. While there is obviously a bit more to the structure of the story, that oversimplification is the meat-and-taters of the thing. As far as plot goes, there isn't too terribly much happening in the background lives of Penelope and Michael. This is sad, because I think if there were other motivating elements to the story, the thing would have bazooka-ed on up as a better read. As is, we've got Penny and Bourne circling each other in a very off-beat dance of "What's Going On With The Two Of Us, Yo?"
As far as characters are concerned, I'm thinking Penelope was a lot more fleshed out as a person than Lord Bourne (or Michael, he's a tad crazy-sauce Bipolar with his name for some inexplicable yet obvious reason.) The nature of the story grants us a significant amount of time inside Penny's head at the onset of every chapter, which is good like a sunny day at the beach, and bad like the subsequent sunburn. I, personally, believed her motivations, her actions and goals within the book, I just didn't like 'em. Too often, I felt like screaming...
...In the singular form, of course. Essentially, Penelope took so long to develop her backbone to Michael that I grew more irritated with her than I did with the hero's occasional Ass Hat #3 moves. It was such a relief towards the end of the story when she began showing some spirited spunk for herself, but by that point, I felt it was too late for me to truly appreciate her attitude. The above sunny day/sunburn analogy comes into play here, for the doorway, the one in which we're granted access to this chick's identity, is solely streamlined through letters to a dude (Michael) who's ignored her for years. Add that to the fact that she's all Mrs. Droopy-Eyed Pup about her new hubbie, and I wanted to just, well...
Michael gets the same treatment, too, of course, but to a lesser extent. Yeah, yeah, that's probably sexist, but at least his motivations came from a bit more believable context. However! Despite the bad character aspects, and the occasionally forced plot-points that just didn't flow well, the story read surprisingly well! From my review I'm sure it seems otherwise, but, since I have no problem DNF-ing a book in a split second if the thing becomes unreadable, that's not the case. A Rogue By Any Other Name reads well, predominately because of the fact that, despite having occasionally shit-tastic character motivations, Sarah MacLean makes you care about Penelope and Michael, as well making you wish for their HEA.
But, that in and of itself is the problem. You like Michael, you like Penelope, but rather quickly upon seeing them finally find one another emotionally, the two are easily forgotten. If anything, this book is prime sequel-bait, because if for no other reason it's hooked me like a Diabetic to a chocolate fountain; I want Pippa and Cross' book! The final scene of this novel makes you go uber-gushy; I admit it. I mean, c'mon, a nerdy girl in Victorian England paired with a tall intellectual ginger? Yeah. I'm all over that.
In Feelville, where feels run amok, there's a shop that specializes in bottled feels, and even THEY cannot conceive of the massive amount of feels run
In Feelville, where feels run amok, there's a shop that specializes in bottled feels, and even THEY cannot conceive of the massive amount of feels running amok in One Good Earl Deserves another. Hyperbole or not, let's just establish that Sarah MacLean kicks copious ass in writing book-crack. You pick up her novels and you're instantly addicted.
Do you like heroines who are unique, nerdy, and unusually fascinating? Heroines who are extraordinarily intelligent, rescue the hero in distress, and are damned strong characters with distinctive and believable personalities? Duh, of course you do, and thus Pippa is basically destined to be your literary BFF. You like heroes who are emotionally tortured while NOT being whiny bitches? Whom quietly pine and burn for their lady, are the embodiment of Sex on a Stick, and are the idealistic mix of Alpha and Beta? Stop right there, awesome reader, because we all know you do, so take comfort in knowing that Cross is your book boyfriend.
(The 11th might not be adorably red-headed, but Cross is one fine ginger!) Basically this book has awesomeness in spades, and if the refreshingly different heroine (yay smart ladies!) and exceptional hero (yay red-heads!) aren't enough to make you book-drool all over yourself, then kick-ass writing, perfect pacing, and plot surely must be! ... Okay, yeah, I just nerd-ed all over the place, so you'll have to excuse the mess, but, c'mon, a story where gender and sex roles are completely reversed? Where the heroine propositions the hero, where the heroine saves the day and rescues herself AND Mr. Sex On A Stick? Where the sexual and emotional tension are viscerally palpable? A book that sparks violent tendencies in you if one dare disrupts your time spent falling in love with non-existent people?!
Okay, I know, I know; I need a chill-pill. But, in all seriousness, while the basic plot of the novel might appear simplistic to some, in that said plot is admittedly just Pippa begging Cross to provide her with understanding of coitus, this seemingly rudimentary set-up provides for fun dialogue and astonishingly interesting story points. Oh, and let's please just take a hot minute to note here that this book is SMOLDERINGLY SEXY! The way this author tantalizes both her lead characters using their undeniably on-fire chemistry, in addition to when the game of Will They/Won't They finally reaches physical intimacy...well, let's just say the reader's wait is rewarded with one hell of a smexy-ass scene.
Ooh, yeah. I went there. *Pauses to laugh maniacally.*
So! Yes! This book? Read it! If you're a genre fan (and, let's face it, if you're reading this review and have made it THIS far, we know you love this awesome-sauce), and you're bogged down with repetitive story types while DYING for something new, One Good Earl Deserves A Lover is begging for your attention.
Everybody and their dead fourth cousin knows two things; I lack a filter and am always thirsty for the bowchickawowwow in my romances. So, kDude. HOT!
Everybody and their dead fourth cousin knows two things; I lack a filter and am always thirsty for the bowchickawowwow in my romances. So, knowing that, know this; Stings So Sweet is at level 112 on the Sex Fun scale and is SO so SOOO not PG-13. If you don’t like intense smexy times getting erotic like whoa, this book isn’t for you.
That disclaimer out of the way, OH MY GOD READ THIS BOOK!
BECAUSE OH MY GOD I READ THIS BOOK!
And that’s wow because said book fought an uphill battle for my attention. Not only is it a 1920s historical, not only is it erotica and far more legit with the sexing, not only was it three individual romances under one book cover, but it was first person present tense and that’s no.
AND YET DAMN GOOD BOOK WAS DAMN YES!
For many reasons, partly because all three stories exist in the same world set among the same group of people, partly because it was hot as hell, and partly because it was SO powerful! That intro done, I’m going to shut up and start talking!
Story #1: Love Me Or Leave Me
You know what I like? Internal conflict and sex.
That’s handy, because that’s Norma and Jonathan all the way. Their story opens with some hardcore backstory that’s got this married couple about to call it quits, and here’s the thing. Normally I big sigh over married OTPs because it’s hard to come back from whatever’s about to destroy the relationship, but with this couple?
I was completely okay with their screwed up relationship AND their eventual healed marriage.
Yes I suck, since I’m making it sound like their explosive emotional tension was boring, but it wasn’t and I can’t say why it wasn’t because dude spoilers. I can say, if you’re okay with BDSM in your roaring 20s story with a quietly strong female lead and an intense but adoring husband then read this book JUST READ THIS BOOK.
Norma and Jonathan’s fundamental conflicts are rooted in misunderstandings set against a tragedy while sexual preferences adds the last layer of fun to this shindig. The hero and heroine are both kind of screwed up, and they suck at communicating, but you as a reader SO desperately want them to find their way back together.
Put simply, you like them, and you like them liking each other, and that makes their story pretty damn likable.
Story #2: When I'm Bad, I'm Better
I’m dumb and boring and craptastic so I can’t do the words to explain how much you need to put Clara and Leo’s story in your face; you just gotta.
These two and their little adventure are evocative and sensual and taboo and probably one of the most heartbreakingly beautiful love stories you’re ever gonna read. It’s about two very lonely people finding and healing one another in a way that’s, forgive the hyperbole, straight up poetic.
Firstly, there’s our heroine, and I swear to you on a basket of kittens you’re going to love this woman. Clara is a worldly silent screen starlet; she’s seen it all and done it all at least twice and yes I’m talking sexually. She’s had a string of lovers, and she’s broken, though not because of her promiscuous past. Our girl is convinced her sexual and emotional past have tarnished her, despite her definitely having come out stronger as result.
Every morning, I wake up with a knife against my throat, Leo. And I fight it. Every day of my life, I kick and punch an elbow my way past it. But sometimes I get tired. Some days, I don’t think I’m going to be strong enough. Someday I’m going to lose. - Clara
DAMMIT I LOVE HER!...About as much as I love Leo.
Leo’s pretty much everything Clara can’t have; he’s reckless and stubborn and pursues her in a way that is downright carnally scrumptious. Like in all eroticas, the sex is what drives the plot, and it's through sex that the emotional through lines are established. Power dynamics, blackmail, menage trois, you name it, it’s all here..
Clara’s journey was so enjoyably satisfying, having been as sexually erotic as it was emotionally moving. Her experiences underscored the value of self-acceptance, of how important it is to never allow someone or a group of someones to dictate your moral compass or your guide to happiness.
That’s a cool message and all, but it packs a harder punch when on the heels of a beautiful romance that gets your heart doing the rumba.
Dammit why can’t I grin my happy-face any harder?!
In this, and in everything, Leo keeps his promises to me. We fuck, we make love, we play bedroom games the rules of which are known only to us. We’re a couple of fools in love. And we’re happy. We’re madly, deliriously happy. - Clara
*Cue all my happy sighs!*
Story #3: Let's Misbehave
Last up on the safe talk agenda we have my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE STORY AND I JUST CAN’T OKAY I CAN’T BUT I NEED TO AND I CAN’T!
Let’s Misbehave is legit the best short out of the three, and that’s because of many, many things.
Thing One is that I’m biased and Sophie stole my heart. She’s working class, she’s a firebrand activist, and she’s plopped into a power dynamic with, of course, her rich boss. And I am SOOOO here for smart poor girls and rich sweet employers because I’m shameless and it’s fun.
Plus Robert’s amazing, like AMAAAAZING!
I wish you wouldn’t be embarrassed. I think most women are ashamed of thoughts like these, so men don't know that you have them. We assume you’re all angels we taint with our own base desires rather than earthly creatures with desires of your own. That’s a tragic mistake I’ve made at least once before. - Robert
Yep. I heart him.
It doesn’t hurt that the heat levels, fantasies, and sex plots were unbelievably intense in Let’s Misbehave, and it DEFINITELY doesn’t hurt that I found the leads to be the most emotionally compelling.
Thing Two for why I heart Sophie and Robert’s story so much is because yay for sexy funtimes, but BIGGER yay for an interesting heroine in an interesting conflict!
Sophie is a woman who fights for social equality while simultaneously conflicted about her submissive sexual preferences. As such, her story is fascinating because it becomes as much about society as it does about sex.
Am I the girl who loves strong hands holding her down or am I the girl who can hold herself up? - Sophie
Throw in the impressive OTP chemistry, the emotionally charged romance, and the amazing characters and writing and just GOOD STORY IS GOOD!
No, good BOOK is good. All three of these couples effected me with horny pants and a happy heart, and I am so all about that kind of fiction. The writing in all three stories is erotic and kinky as hell but it's also intense in that there's a thread of heightened emotional tension that was explosive in a way few authors can capture.
Whether it was in the more nuanced prose, or just quotes like “We both taste like liquor and heartbreak,” either way Stephanie Draven impressed me.
Character and story structure never get sacrificed for the sake of titillation, and sex scenes are AWESOME but sex scenes that capture emotional vulnerability while driving the story are SO much more erotic...and also make me happy.
And yes, the billiards room scene in Clara and Leo’s story makes me happy with happiness, too, because hey...I’m weak and thirsty, judge me not!
Especially if you’ve not read this book. Now go away. I have feelings and emotions I need to process. It’s important.
(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.)
"Hot damn" about covers it, ladies and gents. This book pretty much had it all, with every trope in the book wrapped up in a really well-Hot damn.
"Hot damn" about covers it, ladies and gents. This book pretty much had it all, with every trope in the book wrapped up in a really well-rounded package. Having never read Maya Rodale before, I jumped into A Groom Of Her Own with both feet, thanks to Romantic Times' Morgan Doremus' interview posted on YouTube a few weeks ago. Seriously, I'm glad I did, because...
Yeah. That about describes this book, in it's entirety. Much like a huge-ass-honkin' cookie, it was wonderfully good, but there are some practicality issues, too. To my mind, it took a while for the author to find her voice, since it's pretty obvious the book's start is terribly terrible.
I thought my brain was going to melt at the stop-start nature of the writing, and how just terribly stilted the characters sounded. But! Like a monkey with a typewriter, I kept reading, for though rocky, the initial start wasn't unbearable. After the hero, Brandon, and heroine, Sophie, meet and the initial ooh-la-las are done, the book leapfrogs into some awesome internal conflict, and the plot rocks it like a night at the Roxbury; you don't think it's gonna be good, but once it starts, you can't help but adore it.
Brandon the Double Duke comes off like a double-stuffed Darcy with a heart, while Sophie's opening sequence just makes you want to cuddle her until everything's rosy again. The two definitely are characters that cosmically need one another, and are set up to be the perfect Star Crossed lovers, with Sophie being more star-crossedly-cross than Branon; but! If there's one thing I hate...
It's Insta Love. Sadly, Sophie had this in SPADES, like a hormone-fest of I-Want-Your-Babies-In-Me-Now kinda deal. Typically, when I come across this trope in any novel, it's an instant-wall-banger (pun not intended.) Ironically, though, Maya handles this aspect exceedingly well. Throughout a significant portion of the story, the attraction was up-played enough to not be underscored as Insta Love, despite the fact that it so-was, until the final pages, when the emotions are then realistic, and more believable. The pacing was good, the tone was pleasant, and the angst was perpetual, but manageably portioned.
There were literally so many events, so many a-happenings running amok at the climax of the novel that I thought my brain was going to implode like Dolly Parton's bust size. The Fiancé That Should Not Be was in love with Mr. Prince, Mr. Prince was supposed to be at Location X so that the secondary HEA could happen, and wasn't; Sophie had a Grand Master Plan that was just two steps short of being more complicated than the Manhattan Project...there was something about tonic being used as ink, two weddings (luckily no funerals) being swapped and...just...Oh, God.
So much, so, so much was going on at the final pages of the book that the emotion of the characters, and their identity on-page, a feature so very present throughout the book was, alas, sacrificed on the alter of There Was A Lot Of Lag Time Earlier, So Let's Complicate This Mother Up. But! Even in the face of all those criticisms, and all that bemoaning, this book kicked copious amounts of ass.
Put simply, while there were, indeed, moments of serious flaw with this story, the characters were interesting, the emotion was good, the story was believable, and the novel was enjoyable. Even in the face of errors and issues, if a book's pages seem to turn themselves, you know you've got gold. So, bravo, Maya Rodale, you've hooked me, good woman; bravo, indeed.
Oh, don't mind me. Just, you know, sitting here, basking in the brilliance of one of the most exciting roller coasters of fiction I have ever read. Ev
Oh, don't mind me. Just, you know, sitting here, basking in the brilliance of one of the most exciting roller coasters of fiction I have ever read. Ever. Hyperbole might admittedly be my thing, but let's lock that bitch right up and never refer to it as anything but copious truth. The facts are these:
1. Kristen Callihan will one day be a national treasure. 2. Moonglow is one of the most adventurously entertaining stories you will ever read. 3. You will feel All Of The Feels throughout the course of this novel. 4. Orginality is NOT dead; it's name is Moonglow.
Dear wondrous bacon, where does one even begin?! I mean, logically it's first with the characters, who deserve a damned review all on their own reality of "These People That Aren't People Be Kick Ass." Aside form all the necessary adjectives (likable, believable, interesting, etc.), Daisy and Ian are so much more than simple description. If Einstein, Kant, Kipling, and Sherlock Holmes were given a decade and an endless supply of cocaine, even they couldn't convey to you the earth-shattering, level-this-sucker-to-the-ground depth and complexity embodied by our two leads. Their evolution as whole-bodied characters reveals itself layer by layer, each chapter in the book pealing back more interest and emotional agency to their existence as people. Am I in love with Daisy and Ian? Well.
Truly it's not my fault, for obviously there's a national conspiracy at hand that has genetically engineered the perfect construction of plot with excellent writing quality. Callihan delves into a paranormal world that feels such a part of the fabric of reality within its fictional setting. The historical elements mesh perfectly with the other worldly-ones, which are fundamentally unique in their own right. Yes, we've read about werewolves, but not these lycans. Yes, we've seen be-gifted heroines with powers over the elements, but not with this backstory. Yes we've seen the animated dead, but not with that steampunk Grim Reaper twist.
You really don't; not til you read the book. (Seriously, hon; read this thing.) I mean, in this single novel we've got smokin' hot romance that is emotionally fueled by the most heartbreaking needs-some-lovin' hero and heroine, a Who Done It mystery, a monster on the loose, one hella screwy love triangle that is an acid trip into Feelville, a bloody half-century family feud even Dr. Phil wouldn't touch, all topped off with some of the most NO-WAY plot twists that would leave Steven King salivating. And, if all that wasn't enough to make you want to devour this book NOW, DAMMIT, then at the very least ignore that huge run-on sentence, for my sake. Additionally, know that you're crazy.
*Dodges the hate.* Okay, so aside from my being a douche-nozzle, I will admit that if the book contained a single flaw, it would have to be that a LOT is going on in this story. Such is a good thing, in that it makes for some hella-damn interesting story telling...but not such a good thing for crowding out room for more emotion-building between Daisy and Ian. While it would have been nice to see just an itsy-bitsy bit more of these two constructing their emotional connection, the specific plot points that occur do believably allow Daisy and Ian to short-hand their way to the lovey-dovey sentiments. Confused?
(view spoiler)[Basically Ian gets his flesh literally eviscerated (facial muscles mutilated, bloody chunky inside bits falling out...yeah) all to ensure Daisy's well being. Daisy's trust in Ian's humanity sparks a bond that supersedes the need for copious love-growing exposition. So, yeah. If that's not enough to excuse the lack of an extra heaping spoonful of emotion-cresting-telling, then may Alan Rickman help you. (hide spoiler)]
The non-spoilery answer is that Kristen Callihan is a goddess, and you should worship on her alter of awesome writing skills, dammit! She creates spectacular spectacularness and you effing -NEED- this in your life for your own well being! Moonglow's entire cast of characters are all equally well written and they're just waiting to be your friend, and you want to know the future of your friends don't you? DON'T YOU?!
Read this book. Now.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Whoa. Um, yeah, don't mind me, just sitting here flambéed by The Best Book, Ever.
This novel? Just read it.
Do it, now.
So, that's my review. Ok
Whoa. Um, yeah, don't mind me, just sitting here flambéed by The Best Book, Ever.
This novel? Just read it.
Do it, now.
So, that's my review. Okay, bye guys!
*Goes to sit in a corner and promptly cuddle Cecila Grant's book of awesomeness.*
Oh! You're still here! My, my, I see that means I'm to provide a bit more articulation for the gloriousness that is A Gentleman Undone. Damn. Logical thought is beyond me right now! But, give I must, and so, hold on to your feels, ladies and ladies, here's the skinny; heroine's name is Lydia, she's a prostitute-turned-courtesan, freakishly intelligent, a cardsharp, excellent mathematician, AND the very definition of amaze-balls; hero's name is Will, he's the holy-baby-Jesus perfected mix of Alpha and Beta, has one of The Most tortured back-stories, and is the most romantic and emotional fictional dude you will ever read.
"But Jacqueline!" as I'm sure you're not exclaiming right this frakking' minute, "What makes this book so great?!" Well, grip tight your ass end, because there are a billion reasons why this book wins everything. Okay, fine, geez, you and your specifics; not a billion, just three because apparently The Internet and it's attention span can't handle infinity.
Reason #1: Characters
Both lead characters are stand-outs in the wide wide world of romance fiction. As previously noted because I'm apparently an Alzheimer's patient, Lydia is a paid prostitute from page one, which is rare because most “fallen women” of romance have that as a backstory, not an on-page reality. Lydia rocks at her chosen profession, and though she is a tortured heroine, no doubt, with one hell of an emotionally crippling past, in spite of such she’s strong in her sexuality and confident in sex. She's a woman of bravery and integrity that makes you want to tackle hug her with All Of The Loves. She is the sexual leader of this romance story, she is the woman to figure out the conflict’s resolution. In a phrase, she's perfectly imperfect.
Reason #2: The Story
Wanna know how to create some Epic Book Crack? Take a page out of the Cecilia Grant manual, which states, "Write a story that is cohesively shit-tons of entertaining, but that is impossible to extrapolate on with accurate definition because reasons." What's so impressive about A Gentleman Undone is that the novel never ceases in twisting on itself. It veers to different plot points, different emotional notes, and eye-bugging revelations, all while maintaining a uniquely steady-but-quick storytelling pace. At its heart, while there are believable and heart-pumping external conflicts, the novel never loses sight of the fact that it's a romance, so the story pays ass-loads of attention to the emotional tensions and lovey-doveys.
The dynamic that is played throughout most of the book, but especially during the emotional culminating scenes between Lydia and Will, are BURSTING with excitement. There is a truly distinct and interesting drama that is played out by the very on-page reality of Lydia’s lover. This sparks so much enjoyable tension and conflict for hero and heroine, which builds layer upon layer before the first pivotal climax of the novel. Without delving into spoilers, while there exist scenes wherein Will is damned amazing, it’s noteworthy that he does something specific within the plot that paints him as a dashing, heroic, amazingly sweet and undeniable knight in shining armor to which I doubt any moment in any romance novel could compare! His heroics are so public, so calmly sexy, so astoundingly selfless that if you, dear reader, come across this scene without fan-girling all over yourself, without fist-pumping the air with all of the YEAH BUDDY, SCREW YOU ROANOKE (the “antagonist” of the novel)…well…then I fear for your sanity, girlfriend.
Reason #3: The Writing
Call me crazy, call me a whackadoodle in desperate want of a helmet, but I'm forever-more convinced that Shakespeare and Jane Austen had a baby girl together, and her name is Cecilia Grant. This awesome Warrior Of The Pen is not only talented in being able to rip your heart out with just a keyboard and some not-real people, but holy bannanas; that woman can also write a sentence like nobody's business! The way phrases are turned on their heads and given whole new life, the way scenery is depicted with mere lines of text, the way emotion is nuanced and body language exceptional, the way elegance is paid to the smallest of words so leaves me drooling like a retarded dog. Paragraph one's last line, "...slick to the elbows with the life of other men" gives you, dear awesome-sauce reader, just a taste at the genius contained within A Gentleman Undone.
...It so is.
And, on that unhealthy-healthy note, I'm bowing out because if I keep rambling on like I'm guano, our lovely author might just slap a restraining order on my ass. So! Read this book, love this book, because if you don't...well...
Holy friggin' Shakespeare, Batman, it's GOOD BOOK NOISE! *Cue book-happiness.* I read lots of books, and thus far, this year, aside from my favorite aHoly friggin' Shakespeare, Batman, it's GOOD BOOK NOISE! *Cue book-happiness.* I read lots of books, and thus far, this year, aside from my favorite author's new releases, A Lady Awakened is truly my favorite book of 2012!
This novel is so brilliantly constructed that, literally, even starting this review seems impossibly monumental. So, let's start from the start...The first aspect of A Lady Awakened that hit me in my awesome-book-spot was the writing's quality. I wasn't even three pages into this novel, and I knew, even then, that I had some serious quality-skills in my hands. Not only are the technical components to the writing so flawless well written, not only does the writing style flow like water, but the voice of the narrative is so powerful, so effortlessly beautiful, that I literally felt as thought I were holding literary magic in my palms.
So, the writing? EPIC GOOD. Next would, logically, come the characters, but here comes a problem. The characters launch themselves in a forcefully subtle manner onto the pages, but do so via the story. I doubt very seriously if any author has so perfectly captured the divine balance between character and plot, interweaving both their development, and immediate introduction with the reader, in such an elegant reality. Martha and Theo immediately set themselves apart from the status quo of romance couples because of their story, even from their first meeting. As the story progresses, their strength in personality, believability, likability, and depth begin at Chapter One as perfect, and only continued to improve throughout.
So rich in character were Martha and Theo that, honestly, their development walked hand-in-hand with the plot. This is ironic, in a way, considering that most romances have peaks and valleys within the context of the story-line. This was absolutely not the case, here. A Lady Awakened opens with Story Point One that snowballs into a wonderful building of character-based plot points throughout every chapter. This escalation rises to an interestingly unique climax, entirely unexpected and unpredictable, and the book comes to a close. That, ladies and gentlemen, takes mad-writer-skills!
Along with the unusual realities of the plot's divine evolution and conclusion, so, too, were the themes presented in Grant's book. I've read romance for eleven years now, and in all that time I have not once come across some of the character behaviors, actions, and exchanges that take place in A Lady Awakened. Never have I read a romance where sexual tension exists by not existing. Never have I read a romance where sensuality comes in forms not at all of the physical. Never have I read a romance where the author doesn't resort to cliches to conclude one aspect of a couple's reality to force upon another. And, most importantly, never have I read a romance I love this...damn...much!...more
Roberta wants Villiers, Villiers wants Jemma badly but she, Jemma, who is also the sister to Damon, and he, Damon, wants Roberta while she, Roberta, oRoberta wants Villiers, Villiers wants Jemma badly but she, Jemma, who is also the sister to Damon, and he, Damon, wants Roberta while she, Roberta, only wants Villiers, though Villiers, remember, only wants Jemma, while she, Jemma, is estranged in marital hell with her husband, Elijah, who he, Elijah, pulled Ass-Hat-Number-Four by cheating on her, Jemma, years ago but who she, Jemma, still loves, but who he, Elijah, was also once friends with Villiers, who he, Villiers, only wants Jemma, and not Roberta, but who Damon, the brother to her, Jemma, does. Got that? Yeah.
To say that Eliosa wasn’t channeling Shakespeare in this novel would be the lie of the century. Without question, this book is a sort of homage to the concept of the divine comedy/tragedy. Considering the fact that the book opens with an insta-love connection, whereupon Roberta meets Villiers (the pseudo-bad-guy-but-not-really character) for the first time in November of 1780, and immediately decides she must marry him, my first thought was...”Romeo and Juliette, anyone?” After this wiz-bang meeting, comprising of the prologue, the book dashes off to the next scene. Well, sort of dashes, considering such takes place with the beginning of Chapter One, which starts in April 1783…nearly three years later! And, frankly, that's only the start of my problems to this book.
Here it is, my Biggest Issue of All the Issues in This Issue-y Book; no direct emotion exists on page with Roberta or Damon. While there is lust peppered throughout between the two lead characters, at no point did I feel as though they were emotionally connected. This becomes exemplified on page 333, whereupon not only is the ending of the novel coming to arise, but the two characters have had a plethora of interaction and boinking. During the “river boat” initial climax scene, Roberta makes a half-hearted attempt to learn about her lover. This is even stated by her,
‘“What do you do all day?” she asked impulsively. She wanted to know everything about him: what he ate for breakfast, and what he named his mare, and where he met his friends.’
Less than half a page passes, and this story thread is immediately dropped! One or two sentences of Damon talking about himself arises, and despite previously telling herself she was interested in learning about her lover, Damon calls Roberta out on being bored with his reply! (Of which, she totally was.) And then…you guessed it…more boinking.
I think my second problem is more of an explanation of why the emotional connection between Roberta and Damon was nonexistent in this novel. Throughout the course of the story, Eloisa ping-pongs between Roberta’s POV with Damon and life and all that jazz, and the telling of the chess game and interplay between Jemma and Villiers. Even though Eloisa does a brilliant job at meshing these two stories together in a believable way, I still feel that, despite such masterful story-telling, this turned out to be a big hindrance to this as a romance. The emotional aspects of the novel went unmet, I feel, because so much time was spent developing the dynamic and plot-drive of Jemma and Villiers, there was almost no time for the emotions of the leading couple to ferment. As a direct result of this limited time, the only way to transmit the relationship of Roberta and Damon was via lust and sex.
While it’s true lust and outward attraction are an integral part of love, they are not the key motivators. Lust is physical while romantic love is emotional, and one can’t experience romantic love until identity of the significant other is learned or, at the very least, broached. Such knowledge doesn’t have to be all encompassing, either. Even just learning the basics about personalities, interests, hobbies, or passions would have been sufficient for me to buy into the romance being real between these two people. Hell, even just the character’s learning or broaching ONE of these subjects about the other would have been nicely believable. Ironically, this is even as much as stated by Jemma on page 369 during the dueling scene at the end of the novel. When Jemma tells Roberta that Damon does indeed play chess, Roberta states she had no clue, to which Jemma promptly replies, "Have you talked of nothing, all this time you spent in bed together?" And, most appallingly, Roberta admits just that!
Along the same lines of thought, specifically the lack of basic identity sharing/learning causing the lack of emotion on page, arrives the issues I had with the actual characters in this story. As said before, I did find all the characters of Desperate Duchesses believable, somewhat enjoyable to one degree or another, and, most importantly, three dimensional. Eliosa took an interesting route by creating characters that were, in many respects, unlikeable, un-relatable, or just plain boring. I say “interesting” because I’m willing to submit that Roberta and Damon were, in fact, naturally boring. As in life, some individuals are fascinating, some are not, so I’m not of the opinion this was sloppy or lazy writing on the author’s part. But, still, the two most important people of the book, Roberta and Damon, were unquestionably the most uninteresting characters I’ve ever read before, in my entire life. As boring and cardboard as Damon was, Roberta was as dislikable and irritating. Damon had no personality to speak of whatsoever, while Roberta came off as being air-headed in decisions she made, with Damon making no decisions, except to get an erection every time Roberta was within grabbing distance. I would say that Eloisa utilized the “tell rather than show” method for detailing Damon’s attributes, but the sad reality is that such didn’t even occur. At no point was the reader given any hints into just who Damon was, so focused on the Chess-playing-Jemma-Villiers-Elijah-Harriet reality that was the book. Again, I’m more inclined to believe this was deliberate. Still, intentional or no, it was, fundamentally, very disappointing.
As unimpressive as the two lead characters were, the total antithesis was the reality for the secondary characters. I hate the use of this term with this particular book, however, because the way in which the novel was constructed made it seem as though Jemma and Villiers and Elijah were the lead characters, with the romance-carrying Roberta and Damon shoved to the back burner. I could be wrong, but aside from feeling as though Jemma and Villiers attained more page-time than the romantic couple, so too did they hog the market on personality. For as dull and uninteresting as Roberta was, Jemma was as equally extravagant, personable, funny, passionate, and logical. For as void and lackluster as Damon was, Villiers was equally full of life, expression, opinion, and thought. Elijah, the husband, was equally impressive as an interesting guy, impassioned with politics, socially minded for the people, and very much career and responsibility driven. And, yet, the author makes it very clear that huge personality defects exist in all three of these people.
Villiers is irresponsible, having fathered many bastards, some uncared for and unloved. He is a reckless and self-absorbed man, though thankfully not without his own moral code, skewed though it might be. He is very much an onion that is revealed slowly over the chapters of the book, predominately within the scenes between he and Jemma. Jemma, likewise, is flawed, being almost calculating in her scheming, primarily through her internal manipulation of managing the Harriet-Benjamin-revenge aspect with Villiers, and her marriage. (Though, blessedly this is done more as a backdrop than as enacted in any actual ploy.) She is entirely self-possessed, and one could argue materialistic. Her almost, and occasionally quite deliberate, flaunt of society’s rules has marked her not just as eccentric, but almost as nearly socially taboo. And, yet, she too is not a completely dislikeable character, for though she deliberately challenges and manipulates both her situation, and her husband, she is not without reasons. Having caught her husband philandering soon after her marriage, her abandonment of him in London, and her subsequent eight-year hiatus, and thus scorned feelings and actions, lend her creditability and relateability. Elijah, likewise, in many respects contains obvious flaws, such as his inexcusable actions of the past, and seemingly unapologetic attitude for his past transgressions. Interestingly, he, too, seems redeemable since he depicts himself as not malicious, not self-possessed, and not unbending, but rather as a man of his time. And yet, still, after all that, the above book-people held far more interest and likability for me than the two nothings of characters Roberta and Damon!
Still another big, BIG issue I had with Desperate Duchesses was of all the unresolved issues within this story! First, there’s the fact that Eloisa makes a significant effort to paint the character of Villiers, and his role in the story. With as much time as this author put into this pivotal character, one would think there would be at least a marginal resolution to his storyline in this book. I understand not wrapping up everything in a neat, tidy bow, but some resolution, at least as far as his influence in the book is concerned, should be resolved!
The issue of Teddy’s parentage goes completely afar in left field, as well, never once being resolved. In truth, Eloisa makes almost a small production over the identity of Teddy’s mother, plugging in a seemingly foreshadowing element. When asked who the mother is, Damon cryptically replies, “I promised never to tell.” Along with not resolving this issue, at all, never once referencing it again even, the author also never once touched on the realistic complexity that A) Roberta doesn’t like kids, but wants to hitch her bus to a dude who’s got a kid, and B) the dramatic undertow of being with a man who previously had a child with an unknown woman. While this concept might be common and acceptable in our time, such an act would have been marginally more dramatic during the time in which this novel was written. Not to mention, while it’s not unusual today, dialogue still exists about past lovers, the parents of children not the mother, and emotion about previous relationships being resolved or unresolved. This. Never. Happened! Even ignoring this fact, and the fact that Roberta will now take over the role of mother to Teddy, despite not liking children, she’s preggers at the end of the book! Two big kids-are-here issues that go completely unresolved!
And, what’s more frustrating, there exists even additional aspects to the book which go unanswered! Another issue is the importance, necessity, and even logic, or lack thereof, in including the random appearance of the character Charlotte, and why her perspective was even vital to the novel to begin with? Granted, while this character was only briefly on scene, and only point of appearance being to develop a spontaneous crush on Elijah, I still fail to understand why the author brought her into the book, unless she’s to be series bait. So too might have been Selina and Mrs. Grope, and even Villiers perhaps? But, no, apparently not, because none of the subsequent books in this series that I examined contain any of the characters mentioned in this novel. None of these characters’ appearance made any sense, and all of their stories went unresolved. Adding this to the fact that the huge dynamic, that was almost the entire book, among Elijah, Jemma, and Villiers, as well as the bad-marriage-but-things-are-lookin’-up aspect to Jemma and Elijah, that all went unresolved and dropped hotter than a supernova, and I’m left wondering…what the crap did I just read?!
The subsequence problems I had with the novel were miniscule in comparison, but still viable as being problematic for me. I struggled greatly with the fact that Eloisa, in the early stages of the book, made a big production out of the fact that Damon and Roberta were related. While I understand, very logically, in fact, the need for this plot device, what with Roberta requiring some other believable means of staying within the Beaumont house aside from Jemma’s eccentricity, I still found its overuse annoying. Many instances, Eloisa uses the kinship of the hero and heroine as a way of an ice-breaker, mostly driven by Damon. Many times throughout the book, Damon would constantly reaffirm the family reality between himself and Roberta, so as to bring Roberta into a more comfortable mindset when dealing with intimate subjects or, even more disturbing, in one instance, even intimacy! During a heavy make-out session, the hero actually reaffirms comfort during some smooching with the ‘it’s okay, we’re family’ shtick! This was big-time difficult for me, truly. It’s one thing to utilize family dynamics, even thin ones, to establish logic in an historical romance, especially one set in Georgian England. I can handle that, because when considering the small numbers in the society of that era with their emphasis on bloodlines, I historically comprehend that plot device. I do, however, find it seriously disgusting, too much so, for my modern mind to be reminded of the loose family connection during a physical scene! Even more so, for that to be a driving force, of sorts, for said scene! Big, huge honkin’ no-no.
Another tiny problem I had was Eloisa’s choice to bring in so many different perspectives, all the while without ever mending every POV into the story. There’s Roberta’s, which makes sense. There’s Damon’s, which makes sense. There’s Villiers, which makes decent sense. There’s Jemma’s, which makes decent sense. There’s Elijah’s, which makes less sense, but okay. There’s Charlotte (the chick who liked/danced/had a crush on Elijah…remember?) which made even LESS sense! And then, there was the fact that Eloisa would briefly remove herself from perspective entirely, operating as her own narrative. This was predominately done in the river-boat-climax scene, where no perspective was utilized to tell the events of Damon and Roberta’s boat lagging behind the others. Here Roberta’s father yells that his daughter must have been abducted, and Eloisa actually says, on page 340;
‘”My daughter!” he roared. “She’s been abducted!” Now you may think that there was nothing but cows to hear the marquess’s howl of parental distress, but in fact, he was lucky.’
That is a literal quote from the book, and though it’s infantile, that one little “you” drove me nearly bonkers with nerd-rage! Grammatically it might be fine, since Eloisa was operating in the narrative and outside of character perspective, but holy-Budda’s-belly, from a reader point of view, it was like finding a hair in my waffle! The reasons are obvious, and the rage is genuine.
Despite some of the epic book-hate spewing forth, I did find quite a number of things about this novel that were very enjoyable. Over all, despite its problems, I did actually enjoy the plot of the story. Such enjoyment, though, probably had more to do with the style of writing as opposed to the actual sequence of events within the story. I enjoyed the flow of the story, how one event, for the most part, was integral to the story as a whole. While there were scenes in the book that felt forced or ham-fisted, such as the river boat scene towards the end of the story, overall, I felt the book’s actions were real. The scenes between Jemma and Villiers, even the lust and physical obsession Roberta and Damon, and the subsequent actions of their story all felt as though it were actually happening. The detail was never so sparse that I couldn’t visualize what was happening around me, but not so drenched into the story that I was ever denied my use of imagination. I very much enjoyed the language of the writing, and how genuine to the era the dialogue and internal monologues felt.
In addition to the enjoyable technical aspects to the book, little gems were thrown in that were quite pleasant, too. Aside from learning that Chess was an extremely popular hobby among the ton in Georgian era, I too learned that purposeful lisping was considered in vogue, and a mark of high class quality. Fashion, too, was subtly woven into the (forgive the pun) fabric of the story, most especially with Villiers obsessive sense of outlandish fashionable colors, and Jemma’s style. Lastly, I so truly appreciated the direction Eloisa adopted in regards to depicting children in her romance. Not only was Roberta not obsessed with children, marginally fearing them and even disliking them, but likewise was Teddy, Damon’s bastard, never depicted as the classically cheesy Adorable Munchkin. Not only were these two elements refreshing to see, but they actually succeeded in bringing a degree of realism into the novel.
When proofreading this review, it dawned on me that, fundamentally, I had far more complaining than praise for this book, and yet I stand this book at a two star rating. Surprisingly, if any book can prove that an author can run in direct contrast to a reader’s personal taste and still manage to entertain, this one proves just that. Even though I cringed at many major and minor aspects of this book, even though there were characters that drove me up the wall, even though many aspects of the story remained unresolved at the conclusion, I still enjoyed the story. I was interested in how the novel would resolve itself, I was invested in the characters, even the ones that bored me, and I cared enough to truly want to arrive at the happily ever after.
Eloisa did a marvelous job in creating a diverse cast of characters that succeeded in keeping the story fresh. At no point did the pacing ever diminish, never once did a scene drag unnecessarily or boringly, and at the end of the day, I did not walk away from this book in book-rage. While I now officially realize Eloisa James’ style isn’t to my particular taste, I accept that she knows her history, and she does a marvelous job at painting a fictional landscape which pleases me to have been a part of, truly....more
This book had me terrified, because the opening praise for Perfect Chemistry utilized a quote by Chasing Heroes, comparing this book to Twilight, in aThis 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!...more