I wrote the review below 2 years ago after reading the paperback. Today I finished the audio book and came away with a much clearer picture of the sto...moreI wrote the review below 2 years ago after reading the paperback. Today I finished the audio book and came away with a much clearer picture of the story and a better understanding of what motivated the characters to behave the way they did. The narrator, Natalie Ross (nar. KMM's Dreamfever series) did an outstanding job of bringing the story to life. My revised rating for SOTW is a solid 5+ stars and probably my new number 1 favorite audiobook.
If ever there was a heroine confronted with a mind-blowing dilemma, it would have to be Macy from Summer of Two Wishes by Julia London. Macy was one of the lucky ones that married the love of her life...and every day she and Finn were together was like living the eternal "happy-ever- after". However, the couple's cocoon of bliss is destroyed when Finn enlists in the army, goes to war in Iraq and is officially pronounced dead several months later - the victim of a suicide bomber. For the next two years Macy simply "exists"...fueled only by memories of the extraordinary love she had shared with her husband. Time moves on, however, and eventually so does Macy. She meets and marries Wyatt...a wonderful man who helps her let go of the past and someone with whom she, once again, finds love and happiness.
Does the curtain drop here? Oh, hell no...this is where the book begins! We know what "assume" does to you and me so I imagine it works on a larger scale when the army assumes a soldier is dead from finding his mutilated dog tags and 3 years later he turns up alive... and as well as can be expected (considering he spent those years in captivity). No matter...the army is redeemed because Finn is on his way home! And yes, Macy has a HUGE problem!
The first half of this book was excellent but heart-wrenching. As Macy goes off alone to do some soul-searching for answers, we watch Finn struggle to survive in the normal world again. This poor guy lived in hell for 3 years, and returned home only to find everything that was once his (the memories of which had given him the will to live) had been taken away from him. Finn deals with the loss of his wife, PTSD, alcohol dependency and an overbearing mother (named Karen, no less) while publicly being touted a national hero. At the same time, Wyatt feels his world getting ready to crumble...the idealistic life and love he shares with Macy, the future they are building together and the child they are trying to have, is suddenly an uncertainty. Although my heart was with Finn, Wyatt was a great guy in his own right and did not deserve this cruel hand dealt by fate.
Just as I was beginning to acknowledge the fact that this book was well on it's way to becoming my all-time favorite (unseating another novel by London), it hit the wall (but just enough to knock it's halo crooked). Suddenly we have a "bad" guy, another big wrench thrown in the works and Macy going from sympathetic to annoying. She made her decision but never convinced me she was truly happy with it. And she fluctuated between the two men to the point of madness. In Macy's defense, however, I can't imagine what I would have done in the same situation...probably a lot worse. Another concern I had with the book is that we never get a good fleshing out of Macy's character. Who was this woman that captivated the hearts of 2 men so completely? Normally I don't care for flashbacks, but this book would have benefited from using them. I wanted to "feel" the love that Finn and Wyatt felt for Macy...a little evidence of why they both loved her to distraction.
I wanted to rate this book 4.5* but tipped it up because I'm nice like that. (uh-huh) Despite the misgivings I had (they aren't too major), this book is definitely worth reading...if for no other reason than to fall in love with Finn. You feel so bad for the guy you just want to kiss him and make it all better (of course it does not hurt that he is described as a total hotty)! London became an auto-buy for me several books back, but this is the first contemporary I've read by her. I was impressed enough to pull her back list up and GRRRrrrr...she's got at least 6 other contemps I feel I must read. *sigh* My tbr pile is going to be as big as Dina's pretty soon. ;)
I'm sorry to see all the negative reviews for this book because I really enjoyed it. Then again, I listened to the audiobook and the narrator, Anne Fl...moreI'm sorry to see all the negative reviews for this book because I really enjoyed it. Then again, I listened to the audiobook and the narrator, Anne Flosnik, is one of the best in the business, so maybe I had an edge there. But I did warm up to the hero, Reynaud St. Abryn, right away (as soon as he shaved, lol). Seriously, I felt so sorry for him...as if fighting in the war wasn't enough, he's held in captivity for seven more years! All he could think about was going home, which gave him the reason he needed to keep on living. But then he comes home to find that his father has died, his sister lives in Timbukto and his title, home and wealth have been taken over by a distant relative he's never met! Adding insult to injury, they put him up in the worst guest room with a guard outside his door so that now he's a prisoner in his own home! Heck yeah he had a right to snarl and be distrustful & angry. All that time he had dreamed of being back in London only to find it was nothing more than a nightmare in disguise. Someone is trying to kill him...someone is trying to have him declared insane...jeez. I've read tortured heroes that didn't have half this guy's problems but had twice the size chip on their shoulders.
Overall, I thought the author did a nice job with the disillusioned Reynaud and I enjoyed his relationship with Beatrice....the love of a good woman will always tame the beast. The earring and tattoo on his face was a sweet bonus as well! 4.5*****
What can I say? This book was absolutely adorable. Sebastian Gray is one of the most lovable heroes in Romancelandia. I suppose he could be described...moreWhat can I say? This book was absolutely adorable. Sebastian Gray is one of the most lovable heroes in Romancelandia. I suppose he could be described as a "tortured hero", but unlike others who are labeled as such, Seb prescribes to the "when life deals you lemons...make lemonade" theory and therefore is always positive and upbeat. He is honest, forthright, loyal to family and friends, and his manners are impeccable. He is also so damn handsome (and virile) he is in constant demand by the young matrons of the ton. His relationship with Annabelle begins when they meet quite by accident in a moonlit garden. Seb is amused by Annabelle's candidness and happily gives her a kiss when she requests one. Annabelle, resigned to the sad fact that she must heed to familial duty and marry a lecherous old man for his title & money, figures she has nothing to lose when she hits Seb up for a kiss. And WOW! what a kiss to remember as they both take their leave...never expecting to see one another again. Of course the plot thickens and the H/h are thrown together for the rest of the book to enjoy several madcap escapades. But their love for each other develops slowly...naturally...and is a pleasure to be part of. I do wish they would've had sex somewhere along the way, but I suppose abstinence stayed in check with Seb's respect for Annabelle. 4 1/2 **** JQ's humor still seems a little forced but IMO this is her best book to date. Recommended to readers who enjoy sweet, fluffy romances with the beloved Epilogue so necessary for a perfect HEA!(less)
If you believe in sex..er..love at first sight, then this book is for you.
Actually, if you believe in sex within 5 minutes of first sight and 5 round...moreIf you believe in sex..er..love at first sight, then this book is for you.
Actually, if you believe in sex within 5 minutes of first sight and 5 rounds of hot, sweaty sex on second sight and not doing it on a bed until third sight at which time they realize they fell in love at first sight, then this book is for you. ;)(less)
When we were little girls, we all knew the story of Cinderella...the rags to riches to rags plight of an impoverished beauty who is granted one unforg...moreWhen we were little girls, we all knew the story of Cinderella...the rags to riches to rags plight of an impoverished beauty who is granted one unforgettable night at a glorious ball with a handsome prince. That might have been a long time ago but none of us has forgotten the love story of Cinderella and her Prince Charming...and the most romantic "happily ever after" in fairy-tale land. A Kiss at Midnight is Eloisa James' gift to those little girls - all grown up now but still believing in the magic of true love, handsome heroes and the perfect, fairy-tale ending.
This story doesn't have any paranormal tweaks...no rats becoming footmen or pumpkins transformed into carriages. It does, however, have a most charming prince who studies archeology and a palace full of odd animals and even stranger people who the prince has taken under his wing. Alas! What an enormous expense it is to keep them all and so Prince Gabriel is resigned to accepting his arranged betrothal to a wealthy Russian princess.
Kate Daltry has been living the life of a cast-aside relation for many years. Once her father died, Kate's stepmother completely took over their London estate and set about making Kate's stepsister the belle of the ton. The stepsister, Victoria, manages to snag a peer but due to unfortunate circumstances, cannot accompany said peer to visit his uncle, the prince, to receive a royal blessing on the union. Kate is forced to go in Victoria's place.
From their first encounter, sparks fly between Kate and Gabriel - and a battle of wits ensues. They are, however, most intrigued by each other; and, managing to spend a great deal of quality time together, are helpless to falling in love. Soon the battle of wits that brought them together transforms, over the course of the story, into a conscientious battle between right and wrong...between letting love rule and loving enough to let go. Add to this dilemma a princess who is not only beautiful but has a sweet countenance as well...also enamored with the prince and by all means has the rights to him...and you've got a twist on the story that no longer resembles the fairy tale. There are many laugh-out-loud moments and a few poignant, tearful scenes made that much worse because there really are no wicked stepmothers to blame for what can never be between Kate and Gabriel. Evil thy name is fate...indestructible and eternal.
Do not lose sight of your girlhood fantasy, however, as James works a little magic of her own to make things right. And don't be caught up with any historical inadequacies you find (as James points out at the end of the book). Simply take it as it's been presented to you...a grownup version of Cinderella written precisely for the incurable romantic that you undoubtedly are. Perhaps, when you are finished reading the book, you will close your eyes and dream...of beautiful ball gowns, sinfully handsome princes, and the glass slipper you left behind.
If you have been following the Huxtable series by Mary Balogh then you will definitely want to read A Secret Affair. It is the long-awaited story of C...moreIf you have been following the Huxtable series by Mary Balogh then you will definitely want to read A Secret Affair. It is the long-awaited story of Con Huxtable, and the final installment in the series...tying up all the loose ends from the other four books.
It stands to reason that the dark, brooding mysterious Con.. nicknamed The Devil by the ton...would have a somewhat unconventional premise for his story. The heroine is the widowed Duchess of Dunbarton, an unrivaled beauty who was married for 10 years to a man 54 years her senior. Surprisingly, she was very happy in her marriage and deeply mourned his passing. But when the mourning period had passed, Hannah returned from her country home to London with the intent of procuring a lover for the Season...and her sights were set on Constantine Huxtable.
Both Con and Hannah began their affair with no thought other than to slake their lust for each other, as often as possible, for the duration of the spring. And they did just that. But who would Balogh be if she didn't weave a beautiful, touching and believable romance into the coupling? It is precisely books like this one that puts her in the elite "cut above" group of romance authors. Reading this book, if you aren't a MB fan you'll become one and if you already are a fan, you'll be reassured as to why. Something about her style of writing exudes such grace and elegance that it's almost a tangible thing...you are drawn into the story and swept away to that time and place 200 years ago.
I'm not going to write a synopsis because the plot isn't so remarkable that it would entice you to want to read the book...but the story telling is. It is by far the best installment in the series; and, if you like audio books, this makes for an excellent choice. I don't, however, recommend A Secret Affair as a stand-alone read because MB does not go into a lot of detail about the other Huxtables (all of whom are major secondary characters) and you might not appreciate the complexity of Con's character or understand exactly who the Huxtables are and Con's unique relationship with each of them. Then again, who am I to keep someone from reading a great book? In fact, it might be that much more appealing because MB doesn't embark on long-winded summaries of the preceding installments in the series.
*sigh* I keep telling myself that what they say about blondes isn't true but...(less)