3.5 stars. I've enjoyed previous Anders books as over-the-top angst fests, in the classic style epitomiz(reviewed from an e-arc provided by NetGalley)
3.5 stars. I've enjoyed previous Anders books as over-the-top angst fests, in the classic style epitomized by Harlequin Presents. A Ruthless Proposition has many of the typical elements of such a story -- astonishingly cruel hero, misunderstood heroine, boss/assistant fling, unexpected pregnancy, deep hurting -- but it also has more depth and more realistic character arcs. The result shows the author's growth as a writer, though it might not be quite as much unalloyed fun. ...more
If you've read any of Stuart's "Ice" series, you know pretty much what to expect here. Ruthless hero, in(Reviewed from an e-arc provided by NetGalley)
If you've read any of Stuart's "Ice" series, you know pretty much what to expect here. Ruthless hero, innocent but feisty heroine who steals his heart very much against his will, lots of bad guys doing bad things. There's a particularly sad tinge to this story though, because the heroine loses so much.
The "white sheep" of a family of powerful racketeers, Jenny Parker tries to serve justice and help the helpless as a lawyer. But she finds herself unexpectedly on the wrong side when she tries to protect her younger brother from what she's sure is an innocent mistake. The other side is Matthew Ryder, a member of the super secret "Committee" (American branch) who has no compunctions about doing anything he has to do to get information out of Jenny... or has he?
As often happens in Stuart's books, the line between good and evil can get so thin as to disappear. As the heroine of Ice Storm once thought about, "In their life there was no such thing as good guys and bag guys. He was still a monster. He was simply the same kind of monster she was." Be warned: Ryder is not just your standard romance asshole; he literally tortures Jenny to get information out of her. Readers may or may not feel he's adequately redeemed for this. (Though I actually think, in Stuart's strongest books, redemption is pretty much besides the point.)
I enjoyed this, yet didn't feel there was anything special about it to make it rise above its formula. Since it's one of my favorite formulas, I didn't mind that much. But I would have liked to see a bond between the main characters based on more than sexual attraction with a huge dollop of romance style Stockholm Syndrome (made even more pronounced by Jenny's overall suffering) and also fewer repetitions of thoughts/ideas. ...more
Such a delightful story, with a really charming hero. Like the previous book, it focuses on the role of women in a way that feels very believable forSuch a delightful story, with a really charming hero. Like the previous book, it focuses on the role of women in a way that feels very believable for its period (this one is set in 1948) but also resonates with modern readers. ...more
I appreciated how complex and flawed the characters of this story are; it's a very untypical romance in many ways, with a low-key hero and a heroine wI appreciated how complex and flawed the characters of this story are; it's a very untypical romance in many ways, with a low-key hero and a heroine who's made huge mistakes. I was won over by the tenderness of the ending, but I did have one huge problem with the plot. (view spoiler)[The heroine was impregnated at 18 by her married teacher, who is now the principal at her daughter's school. It never seems to occur to her that sending her daughter to school with a known predator is a terrible idea; when her daughter learns the truth and says they should expose him so he can't do it to another girl, she offhandedly agrees. I would at least like to have seen some consideration of this issue from the heroine herself, even if she couldn't bring herself to do it... it never seems to have occurred to her. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>...more
I lost all interest in this book on page 4, where the author mocks organic food while making it clear she doesn't have the foggiest notion what organiI lost all interest in this book on page 4, where the author mocks organic food while making it clear she doesn't have the foggiest notion what organic actually means. ...more
This would've earned 3 or possibly even 4 stars for the storytelling, which is very engaging. Unfortunately it had the most wretched, entitled, selfisThis would've earned 3 or possibly even 4 stars for the storytelling, which is very engaging. Unfortunately it had the most wretched, entitled, selfish hero imaginable. The fact that he was at least partially aware of his own wretched entitled selfishness didn't help much. Seriously, he should've joined the French Foreign Legion or given the heroine a kidney or something.
Seventeen years ago, teenaged Colby got Hayley pregnant, panicked, and told his wealthy grandmother it probably wasn't his. Hayley and her mother and sister then disappeared. When Hayley's father dies and she comes home to deal with things, Colby takes the opportunity to -- try and make up for his horrible behavior? NO -- to push her to tell him the whole awful story, despite her giving him the basic facts (view spoiler)[She miscarried after being beaten by her father (hide spoiler)] and telling him straight out she doesn't want to talk about it.
And what upsets this hero most?
His mind suddenly latched on an unthinkable answer. "Oh, my God, Hayley, surely you didn't--"
DUDE! YOU DESERTED YOUR PREGNANT GIRLFRIEND WITH THE ABUSIVE FATHER! YOU DO NOT GET TO BE HORRIFIED THAT SHE MIGHT'VE HAD AN ABORTION!
Hayley is nicely tough at first, and has good boundaries. But they melt pretty damn fast.
Then there's Colby's grandma. We're supposed to care about her, and be worried when she has surgery, and bask in her eventual approval of them as a couple. But when she told Hayley that she was just protecting her grandson and would DO IT AGAIN, I wanted to get her surgeon drunk before the operation.
I kept reading, partially because it was the first romance I'd started in a while that caught my interest and partially because I hoped the hero could be redeemed. But the author wrote it so circumstances would do the work, not him. (view spoiler)[He comforts Hayley during a dark period - by giving her an orgasm and not having one himself, what a prince! -- and then saves her from her stalker ex-boyfriend. (hide spoiler)] That was just not enough. Hayley is very suspicious about the possibility of happiness with Colby and considering that he seems to be counting on her to give meaning to his playboy existence, frankly, I think she should've stayed suspicious. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I read this with interest, but found it really unhelpful for my needs. I don't have the background to judge the science behind their theories, but I dI read this with interest, but found it really unhelpful for my needs. I don't have the background to judge the science behind their theories, but I don't feel able to try them out for myself without a lot more supplemental information.
1) The food information is primarily in the form of recipes. If you're just starting out and want to know "what the heck do I eat today?" this isn't that helpful. I don't have the energy to cook for every meal I eat, especially on a diet that requires eating smaller, more frequent meals, to treat a condition that often includes nausea. I need info about at least some foods that can be prepared quickly and easily. I don't know how working people would adapt this diet to their lifestyles.
2) The charts showing the ph of different foods are extremely short and just... random. Many everyday foods aren't listed, but we get the ph of several different varieties of apple. There are some random brand names. I tried looking up the foods I regularly eat and couldn't find a single one.
3) There is no information for how to adjust the diet for different health needs. The recipes listed have carb counts that would send my blood sugar through the stratosphere. The assumption seems to be "this is the healthiest diet around and will be good for anyone, no matter what their other issues."
So, maybe they have a good theory, but it didn't help me much....more
I've read a number of old romances with obsessed heroes who force the heroines into marriage, but I think this is the first time I've run into a heroiI've read a number of old romances with obsessed heroes who force the heroines into marriage, but I think this is the first time I've run into a heroine who does it! Which is an especially interesting turnaround because we actually get the obsessed person's POV.
Laura is trying to found out more information about a mysterious painting created by the father she never met, when she finds herself inadvertently blackmailing diamond billionaire Jared. (Now there's a tycoon type that's gone out of style! He's also a cattle baron. Just for fun!) When she realizes that he believes he has to marry her, she decides to go with it and work out the kinks later. Heh. Of course Jared thinks it's all some greedy scheme, and her continued attention to him throws him for a loop.
I'm not usually a fan of "battle of the sexes" stories unless they're witty, but this one is so wacky, I couldn't help but enjoy it. Jared thinks he's in a classic romance and keeps trying to do the punishing kisses/sexual domination thing, never getting that Laura loves it and is deliberately goading him. And she's really tough -- instead of being hurt by his misjudging her, she just persists, sure she'll break him down eventually. She even decides to learn to fly a helicopter, in her efforts to become an equal partner in his life.
There's some melodrama at the end, redeemed by Jared's total drama queen of a mom finally getting told off. A fun, genre-bending read....more
(reviewed from an e-arc provided by NetGalley. A long time ago. Better late than never!)
If you've read other books in the "Amour et Chocolat" series,(reviewed from an e-arc provided by NetGalley. A long time ago. Better late than never!)
If you've read other books in the "Amour et Chocolat" series, this is in some ways a familiar dance: an American heiress in Paris, and the French patissier who woos her with unbelievable desserts. But there's a bit of a twist here: Summer Corey's childhood love for both Paris and desserts have been twisted into hate. (Rather than Florand's usual fairy tale source, this story draws on Greek mythology, with Paris as Summer's Hades.)
Summer and Luc Leroi basically fall in love at first sight, each seeing warmth and comfort in the other. But their public images and private pasts work against them, and they constantly misunderstand each other. Both were deprived of love as children, but while Luc aims for constant perfection, Summer wears her spoiled bad girl rep as a shield. (Come to think of it, they are interesting representatives of two classic aspects of a dysfunctional family: "The Hero" and "The Scapegoat.") Every time Luc unwittingly hurts her, she tries even harder to live down to his expectations.
As you might expect from the inspiration, this is dark in tone -- not because anything overtly awful happens, though Summer has had more ugly experiences than the world would guess, but because both characters have so much pain in their lives. The story does a beautiful job of showing how two people who seem to have it all can still be so lost and justifiably unhappy. They're perfect for each other because at heart they have the same need: to give love to someone who needs them and would never let them go.
There was a bit too much repetition of phrases, but the prose is gorgeous. I love the way Florand extends the metaphor beyond its original inspiration:
"That's what makes it so incredible. What you do. You're just a man. A human mortal man. And you do--what you do."
There was a long silence. "Merci, soleil", he said softly. "After all those people who call me a god, I never realized you could give me a promotion."
I also liked the realism in the "baby epilogue." Neither character is completely fixed by true love, and their happy ending requires commitment and care. (There's also a sequel, Shadowed Heart: A Luc and Summer Novel, which expands on this.)
You don't have to have read any of the previous books to enjoy this one, although several characters do recur. Just open your heart to a prickly couple who need love, and some astonishing desserts that need to be eaten. ...more
(Reviewed from an e-arc I was given by the authors.)
Despite a very prickly heroine and an inherently tense situation - space travel! -- this is a swee(Reviewed from an e-arc I was given by the authors.)
Despite a very prickly heroine and an inherently tense situation - space travel! -- this is a sweet, domestic romance. Anne Marie is beginning a new life for herself and her two children after divorcing her unfaithful husband. Conscious of the ugly stereotypes about divorced women, she doesn't want that new life to involve her playboy astronaut neighbor Kit Campbell, but the sight of him jogging undoes her, while his supportive attention captivates her essentially fatherless kids. And Kit finds himself falling for the pleasures of home and family, and a strong, complicated woman.
I grew up with Robert Klein's brilliant album "Child of the Fifties" and I recognize this world of 1962 from his wry portrayal, including the non-ironic hero worship of public figures like astronauts, and the pervasive fear of "the Russians." (Not to mention the dubious utility of bomb drills at school.) I enjoyed the unusual setting, which is portrayed with strong attention to detail and great sincerity. It's hardly a "good old days" fairy tale: as someone going against the mores of her times, which tell her she should put up with almost anything to save her marriage, Anne Marie can't help but be aware of how unjustly women are treated. But she, her children, and Kit are realistically of their time, as we see in this scene:
"He couldn't remember when he'd seen a woman looking better. And he was shirtless and stinking from a run. Way to impress her, Campbell. She simply stared, her eyes wide and roaming him. She was no doubt horrified by his state of undress--but he didn't care. He stalked over the her, took the trash from her unresisting hands, and hauled it the bin.... There was no way in hell he was letting her take out the trash, not when he was nearby. His mother would have a fit if she knew he'd let a lady carry garbage."
Luckily, Kit has no hangups about Anne Marie being "a lady" in the bedroom, a place where he can quite effectively melt her chilly attitude. I didn't find his attraction to her fully convincing, and the ending really seemed implausible. (view spoiler)[Kit survives his suspenseful trip into orbit, and decides once was enough for him, so Anne Marie will never have to be fearful again. (hide spoiler)] But if you enjoy reading about the early days of space, the 1960s, or just people falling in love and living happily ever after, give it a try. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
This book made me a little sad at first, because I kind of idealize adoption and I hate reading about people (even fictional ones) who forsake their aThis book made me a little sad at first, because I kind of idealize adoption and I hate reading about people (even fictional ones) who forsake their adopted children. On the other hand, the ex-husband is almost equally lousy to his biological children, and the hero is the perfect loving stepfather, so I guess it balances out.
It's a sweet story, if a little over-the-top fairy-tale... and how hypocritical am I, that I think it's a bit too much of a fantasy and yet I'm still annoyed that we don't see the bad husband/father live to regret his foolish choice? So I guess the problem is it's not my fantasy. Anyway, if you're looking for a happy Christmas with an absolutely perfect hero, here's your book.
Note for those who can't deal with any form of cheating: the heroine is technically still married when they get together....more
The first third of this book was lovely, the second third a little too improbable, and the third third extremely upsetting. I'm mainly leaving this reThe first third of this book was lovely, the second third a little too improbable, and the third third extremely upsetting. I'm mainly leaving this review because no one else seems to have mentioned how violent and revolting the story gets -- so maybe it's just me -- and I would definitely have liked more of a warning.
(view spoiler)[The heroine is abducted and abused by one of the hero's ex-lovers, a sexual sadist. He rescues her, but not before she's tortured, described in fairly graphic detail. (hide spoiler)]
The BDSM aspects are otherwise quite mild (although not completely consensual) and the long initial encounter between two strangers is far more engrossing than I would've ever have expected chapters of sex to be. But my stomach was too thoroughly turned for me to leave the story feeling good about it.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more