I'm with the other reviewer who said that while they love a rake story, they want their rakes REFOR...moreRe-read December 2010
Yeah, I still hated this book.
I'm with the other reviewer who said that while they love a rake story, they want their rakes REFORMED.
Even though Clara never expected that he'd be faithful, it still hurt to hear about all the women he had while they were married.
I can get past infidelity in a book. No, really, I can. I just read another story -- The Obedient Bride, which, while the infidelity sucked, didn't absolutely ruin the book for me.
But this one? No.
In re-reading it, I did have to concede that a lot of Freddie's womanizing was self-punishment, but I don't care -- had he succeeded the first or even second time he attempted to give up his whorish ways, I think I could've forgiven him. However, it was his continued debauchery that left me cold and disgusted with him, and quite frankly disgusted with Clara, who said that not only did she forgive him, but that she would continue to forgive him.
So no. I stand by my one-star review of this, BUT, I will concede that having read a few more stories by Mary Balogh (whom I'd sworn off completely after reading this book long ago), that the author isn't a complete git and does have some talent :P(less)
"Beauty and the Brute" by Virginia Henley *** Not really my cuppa. 13 year old (rather plain) girl and 18 year old (rather asshatty) boy are forced to...more"Beauty and the Brute" by Virginia Henley *** Not really my cuppa. 13 year old (rather plain) girl and 18 year old (rather asshatty) boy are forced to marry in an arranged marriage that is to be "a marriage in name only", then she's to go to finishing school and he's to go on a Grand Tour of the Continent. They absolutely despise each other on sight and are quite nasty to each other in the very short time they know each other.
Three years pass and she's turned into a gorgeous (of course), refined young lady (who still hates her husband of course) and he's grown into a (hunky) man with a conscience and who, thankfully, seems to have reformed his nasty ways (and again, thankfully, doesn't seem to have spent his entire Grand Tour whoring it up -- I despise that sort of thing btw).
He comes back to London and sees her, not knowing she's actually his wife, and is immediately in love lust with his estranged wife. She, on the other hand, still hates him and wants revenge, and plans on making him fall in love with her so she can then toss him aside and let him feel some of the hurt and humiliation he dealt her when they first met.
Now, remember, she's 16 and he's 21. That right there is the first strike against them in my book. Yes, yes, that's common in those days and she's probably lucky he didn't demand to consummate the marriage at age 13, and blah blah blah but still. Yuck.
Second, there was a LOT of "cock" and "mons" talk that really threw me off, because for some reason I wasn't really expecting more than maybe a "rod" or "secret place" reference lol Totally my bad, but still, threw me off.
Third, the revenge bit just seemed ridiculous to me. I get that she's 16 and has been pissed off for three years, but I can't help but feel as though she should've just refused to let him share her bed rather than screw his brains out and then be all like "I don't want anything to do with you and was just waiting for you to say you loved me so I could rebuff you and make you feel stupid. So nah."
Yeah, like I said, just not my cuppa. Three Stars
"How to Seduce a Wife" by Kate Pearce ***** This story was SO familiar -- has it been published elsewhere before? I swear to you I've read the whole "pirate fantasy at a brothel" thing between a husband and wife.
I think this was my favorite of the three stories.
Hero and heroine have been married not quite a year, and the hero's dad was a total womanizing/gambling ASSHAT, so despite the fact the hero used to be a hoar himself, he's 100% reformed his ways and become boring as hell very respectful, especially where it concerns his wife and the marriage bed.
She, on the other hand, thought that marrying a man with a reputation like his (that is, one of a total man hoar), would be delightful, especially in regards to the marriage bed.
So the story opens with our hero preparing to very politely visit his wife's bed (having already let her know ahead of time, because, like I said, he's super stuffy and boring considerate like that). Only, things don't go as planned, for when he enters her room, he finds that not only is she not ready to receive him, but she's deep into a gothic novel (where a dastardly pirate is about to ravish the innocent lady HEY-O!) and is quite frankly a bit annoyed at being interrupted.
The conversation that follows is not only hilarious, but REALISTIC to me -- I can easily imagine during those times, a woman who entered a marriage with a man of a certain reputation with the ladies, being a bit disappointed at the lack of enthusiasm and enjoyment to be found in the marriage bed. I mean, c'mon ladies, if you married a man who known for his sexual prowess, and he never even bothered to disrobe you or engage in ANY foreplay, wouldn't you be put out (hehe pun intended)?
So presented with the revelation that his Wife is also a *gasp* Woman, our hero sets out to seduce and please her, even going so far as to take her to a bawdy house where they can engage in the pirate/lady fantasy straight out of her favorite gothic novel.
LOVED this story, even if there was the slight squick factor in being taken to a "pleasure house" that your husband used to frequent before you got married (IDK, that just woulda bugged me -- even knowing he had "a reputation", I don't think I'd want it rubbed in my face that he used to go to these places, but that's just me). 5 Stars
"Not Quite a Courtesan" by Maggie Robinson **** Not as good as "How To Seduce A Wife", it was still a good story.
Our heroine is a buttoned up, older (late twenties) widow, who'd had a VERY bad experience with a fortune hunter -- in trying to escape her oppressive life, she ran off and eloped at a young age with a fortune hunter, who was not only lousy in bed, but who also ended up getting himself killed climbing out of his mistress' window (and having been shot by the irate husband).
Her young cousin has eloped with a young scoundrel fortune hunter, and while Pru (our heroine) is desperately trying to protect her, it seems that nobody wants her help or even wants her around (ungrateful chit).
The fortune hunter's brother is a dealer in erotic antiquities, which result in some absolutely hilarious discourse, and there's a ruby ring made to look like a vajayjay and an ivory dildo, hay fever, and just a lot of fun all around. Very enjoyable story. Solid 4 Stars
So, overall rating for the anthology? I say 4 Stars. I could've completely skipped the first, but the second and third make it a worthwhile read.(less)
Violet Brantford has always longed for the passionate embrace of Adrian Winter, the wealthy Duke of Raeburn. Problem is, he’s set to marry Violet’s vi...moreViolet Brantford has always longed for the passionate embrace of Adrian Winter, the wealthy Duke of Raeburn. Problem is, he’s set to marry Violet’s vivacious, more socially polished look-alike twin sister, Jeannette. But when Jeannette refuses to go through with the ceremony mere minutes before it is to begin, soft-spoken Violet finds herself walking down the aisle and taking vows in her sister’s place. Soon shy Violet is a high-society wife, trying to keep her real identity a secret while living out the fantasies of her wildest dreams.
Adrian thinks he knows exactly what he’s gotten himself into: Jeannette may be flighty and, well, a bit self-involved, but she’s the picture-perfect wife to carry on the Winter name. Yet this marriage of convenience brings the groom more than he bargained for when he finds his sweet, innocent wife surprising him at every turn. And though he never planned on true love, Adrian is definitely in danger of losing his heart.
What worked for me: *Maybe the heroine is not a true "plain jane", but she's a bookish wall-flower anyway -- I like that type of story a lot.
*The whole "reveal" scene -- everything surrounding that worked for me :)
What didn't work for me: *Marriage based on deception -- while it makes for an exciting read (just WHEN is he gonna find out?!), it still irks me to see someone who claims to be "in love" base their entire relationship on a very big lie.
*The second switch -- while I understand the reasoning, that annoyed me, especially when she got all butthurt over the results.
Overall, a very enjoyable, quick read. The sex was hot without being blistering, the romance was sweet, especially when our hero was surprised to find himself falling in love with his wife, and the climax/resolution was very satisfying (and no, that's not a dirty pun lol)
As strange as it sounds, I think one of the things I like the most about ER's books are the one thing that frustrates other readers: the fact that her H/H could often avoid 90% of then angst if they'd just TALK to each other rather than make assumptions, internalize everything, and immediately go on the defensive whenever the other one opens their mouths.
So while yes, I may want to pull them aside and shake them sometimes for their stupidity, I have to admit it's a bit of a guilty pleasure to see a hero or heroine to get all needlessly angsty.
A few things in particular kept this book from getting a higher rating from me.
1. The description of this book is a bit misleading. Meg didn't exactly have a "spotless reputation", though it wasn't anything of her doing. I was expecting more of the "Woe is me, my life is now ruined because I'm trapped marrying a simpering virgin" type of vibe from our Marc (our hero), but he was like "Meh. I need an heir anyway so why not?".. I guess from the description, I was expecting it to feel like it was more of a sacrifice on his part, rather than just speeding up his plans for finding a bride and siring an heir by a few months.
2. The villain -- unless I missed it somehow, ER never explains WHY he hates Marc so. I don't know if it was in an earlier book, or if it's in a later book, or if I just accidentally skipped over that part, but it was frustrating to hear over and over how they hated each other and that there was some reason that was known only to a select few as to WHY they hated each other so.
3. It never occurred to a man who has a very hedonistic reputation that in being the sole caretaker of a sick, 20something, single female (who already has a social strike against her for her family's history) that maybe, just maybe, the old hens in the town would think he was doing more than "tend her illness" if you know what I mean. Granted, his reputation was that of a "good" rake -- only carrying on with widows and married women whose husbands didn't mind, but still. He should have known immediately upon seeing that she was a young, single woman, that he would need to send for someone from the village if nobody else in the house could care for her. In the end, scandal might have been unavoidable, but I was disappointed in him that it never even crossed his mind until one of the local women very vocally turned her nose up at Meg because of it.
I do have to say that Marc's sister was a pleasant surprise. I expected her to be all hoity toity based on her earliest appearance in the book, but in the end she was actually a very lovely character :)
I also liked Marc. Sure, he had a lot of self-hate and was insecure about some of the most amusing things, but deep down he was really a good guy and even when he was being a total a**, it was more that he didn't fully think things through before speaking than him being malicious.
I really liked Meg as well. Again, as I've come to expect from an ER Heroine, she had a lot of self-esteem issues and insecurity, but she was feisty. Very feisty. It just took her a bit to be feisty about what really mattered!
I was surprised to find myself liking Marc's old mistress as well, once she stopped being catty and started being realistic. I fully expected her to be an unsympathetic character throughout, but her actions at the end fully redeemed her in my eyes.
Overall, it was a decent read. It was a bit predictable at times, with obvious foreshadowing, but on the whole, I enjoyed it. (less)
**spoiler alert** See where you had to click on the little link that let you know that there was a spoiler here?
I wasn't kidding.
This is your last ch...more**spoiler alert** See where you had to click on the little link that let you know that there was a spoiler here?
I wasn't kidding.
This is your last chance before I ruin it for you ;)
Ok. I warned ya.
So I'm just gonna go ahead and say this -- I put "adultery or infidelity" as one of the keywords, because for a good solid HALF of the bloody book, you think, even though Crissy is a total Mary Sue as far as honoring her wedding vows go, that not only has Judd cheated on Crissy in the past (quietly), but that he's blatantly banging this hot piece of tail that shows up in the first couple chapters.
But he's not.
I ruined the whole story for you.
That's what you get for clicking on a review that you knew had spoilers in it ;) :P
I can't stand adultery in books. It turns my stomach. Total turn-off. I don't care if it is a marriage of convenience, or even if the married partners can't breathe the same air without wanting to perform hari-kari just so they won't have to tolerate the other. Or heck, even if they've been estranged for 15 years. It's just not my cup of tea at all.
So, when I started reading this book, I had that sickly, stone-in-my-gut feeling as I read, because it was obvious (or so it seemed) that while Judd was respectful of his wife, he'd been getting a little something something on the side *wink wink nudge nudge*... And then when the hoochie mama Tippy shows up in all her whoretastic glory (and c'mon, face it, how cliche is Tippy in this bloody book?!).. Well.. You get the picture.
But, turns out Judd's been behaving. For five. long. years. *blink* I'm actually kind of impressed. Our thud-tastic hero, whose rare kisses practically melt the panties off of our poor love-starved heroine, is actually... celibate? *blink*
So yes, cliches abound
But you know what?
I loved this book anyway :D
This is my first Diana Palmer book, and if the rest of hers are anything like this one, I'll be glomming her with a quickness.
The angst in this book is delicious.
Judd is just too bloody stubborn to admit that he's got the hots for his much younger, married-only-on-paper wife, and Crissy, bless her little virgin heart is just too tomboyish and in blinding love with Judd to realize that she's actually a hot little number and that it's not a case of her being undesirable but rather a case of him being chronically "noble"... *facepalm*
Ahhh but I do love stories like that. The angst is just freaking delicious. I wanna slurp it up with a spoon.
And Cash! Oh Cash! *falls over* How I adore him! I see from other reviews that he's got his own book -- I'm going to be at the library first thing in the morning searching for that puppy, because he's just delicious in his own right. I admit, I was totally rooting for him, at least for a while *dreamy sigh*
It would have had a higher rating, but the ending was just too contrived.
Twins? Really?! And she hid it for the whole pregnancy? REALLY?! Yeah, I don't think so. It just jacked the cheese factor waaaaaay up, so it lost a star.(less)
**spoiler alert** EDITED: Re-Read August 2010 -- I still agree with the below review and rating, only this time I was really put off by the enormous a...more**spoiler alert** EDITED: Re-Read August 2010 -- I still agree with the below review and rating, only this time I was really put off by the enormous amount of exclamation points lol
What other secrets was his bride hiding?
Did family honor really dictate that he marry the first eligible girl who could make intelligent conversation? The Earl of Darleston certainly hoped not, but there was no denying that he needed a bride. And Miss Phoebe Ffolliot seemed the ideal candidate for a marriage in name only.
Or so he thought. Until his bride brought a wolfhound to the wedding and the learned that he hadn’t married Phoebe, but her twin, Penelope. But when Penelope revealed the reason behind the charade, Darleston knew his “unexpected bride” deserved nothing less than his whole heart. Could he now turn a paper marriage into wedding bliss?
If you've read any other books by Elizabeth Rolls, you'll recognize a lot of elements of this book. First, there's the bitter mistress plotting with some evil somebody to do harm to our Heroine. You've also got her typical Hero who just refuses to admit that he's falling for his wife. And then there's the bit about the horse at the end which reminded me a lot of the climax of His Lady Mistress...
That said though, I was quite pleased with our Heroine, Penny. She wasn't nearly as much of a doormat as some of ER's other heroines which was quite refreshing. While I was a bit surprised by a physical condition of hers (that I'm going to make you read to discover -- bad me!), I was also thrilled to see that it didn't make her weak as it might have any other character.
One thing that bothered me though was that during the first three chapters, our Hero had an active sexual relationship with another woman. Now, I realize that part of the fun of those Reformed-Rake stories is that the Hero previously was a man-slut.. However, I don't particularly want to read about it in the present tense, no matter how hard the author tries to allude to it without going into an actual "love scene"...
Having his mistress (who is, of course, not our Heroine) change into a very revealing night robe and him remove his cravat and start kissing her on the sofa before they fade to black and then have the narrative comment the next morning about how late he got home? Yeah. Not my thing.
I actually cringed to hear the mistresses' POV about how our hero was "distant while making love" or somesuch nonsense. Blech. I would have been much happier had ER left that out, and merely given us the history as she did in The Dutiful Rake which of course had a similar bitter-mistress-turned-villainess plot (though I actually LIKED the villainess in TDR lol) At least in TDR, when the Hero was still macking it with his mistress, he hadn't yet met our Heroine..
Don't get me wrong -- he's not cheating on Penny. In fact, they'd only met once (maybe twice by this point?), and it's not as though they'd started to express any interest in each other except for the casual social chatter you would expect from passing acquaintances.
The ending left me a bit... I don't know.. "Not Surprised" I guess... I don't want to spoil it completely but let's just say that I had a sneaking suspicion all along that things would end up exactly the way they did. You'll see what I'm talking about if you read it :)
Overall I did enjoy it. I still prefer His Lady Mistress, though it was pretty equal to the other ER works that I've read.
While all of ER's books seem to have similar plot elements and tend to be a bit formulaic, it's the needless angst brought about by lack of communication and even self-loathing and insecurity that make me keep reading anyway. This book had the formula, but not as much of the angst.
For many readers, however, that will actually be a positive point. Had I not read her other works, I think I might have enjoyed it a bit more because of this. The simple fact that I recognized similar plot elements from her other books did detract from the story a bit, which is why it got a lower score than some of her other books that I've rated. If I work to put those similarities out of my mind, then the book really does become more enjoyable (starting with Chapter 4, for reasons I mentioned above ;)).
Overall a nice summer read, despite the fact it's December ;)(less)
I think I would have enjoyed it more had it been the first Samantha James novel that I'd read, but having just finished Gabriel's Bride, I couldn't he...moreI think I would have enjoyed it more had it been the first Samantha James novel that I'd read, but having just finished Gabriel's Bride, I couldn't help but notice the bajillion similarities between the books. There were even several instances where it seemed that she'd taken phrases and just copy/pasted them into the other text.
Ahh well. It was still an enjoyable story. Thus far, I've found her books to be very similar to books written by Elizabeth Rolls, in that there's always a ton of angst caused by characters being too quick to judge and too locked into their preconceptions (and refusing to be adults and just sit down and have an actual conversation for once).
Her books do seem to contain quite a bit of dubious consent (meaning some readers might perceive one or more sexual encounters to be rape situations), so sensitive readers should keep that in mind.(less)