Disclosure: The author and I are friendly online. E-arc provided by NetGalley.
I think this novella is Hall's first contemporary romance since GlitterlDisclosure: The author and I are friendly online. E-arc provided by NetGalley.
I think this novella is Hall's first contemporary romance since Glitterland, and I'm happy for the return, being more into serious contemporaries than fantasy. It's not a sequel, though there's a small hint that it's set in the same world.
Edwin has a complicated relationship with his home. He loves the house, but his love stemmed from the life he envisioned sharing in it: "From the moment I saw it, I saw us. I saw us in every room: talking, touching, sharing. I saw it all, but as it turned out, I saw only my dreams." Since his lover left him, he's been marking time -- leaving the holes left by the things Marius took with him, staying out of spaces that are too painful to be in. But now a flood threatens him and his neighbors, and Edwin is forced out of passivity.
This is a quiet, tender story about rebirth after grief, with the flood providing poignant symbolism -- as well as an opportunity for Edwin to meet a charming civil engineer named Adam. I empathized with the domestic homebody Edwin, who has to learn to appreciate himself again. Though my favorite character may be his former sort-of mother-in-law, who still regards him as a son, telling him, "family is really just whoever sticks around." (Curiously enough, my main quibble with the book also involves this character, who is described as indiscriminately using lol in texts, including "Uncle Teddy dead lol." It irks me when urban legends/jokes are incorporated into fiction.) I like Adam and the romance too, but I think it was the atmosphere and elegant prose that really won me over. ...more
This short novella is less a fantasy in the genre sense than in the aspirational sense: there isn't much room for world-building, but the world establThis short novella is less a fantasy in the genre sense than in the aspirational sense: there isn't much room for world-building, but the world established allows for a certain kind of story. In this case, it's an arranged political marriage between two men.
Marcel and Gilbert both have mixed feelings when told they're expected to marry. Gilbert doesn't want to deprive his closest friend of the possibility of a love match. But Marcel, unbeknownst to Gilbert, has always hoped to marry him. I liked the bit of trope reversal here: scientist Gilbert is what we'd call nerdy, and not conventionally attractive. (His nickname is The Frog Prince.) But the popular, sophisticated Marcel has been pining for him for years.
This is a gentle, tender story, with mostly internal conflict. I like the slightly fantastical details, such as Marcel's collection of prosthetic arms. (He was born with a twisted leg and no left arm.) As a courtier and a dandy, he enjoys accessorizing, even using arms that are purely decorative:
Marcel chose his clothes carefully. The arm he chose to go with his outfit was made from black metal intricately sculpted to look like a tree with its roots twining around his shoulder, the branches stretching down to where they became fingers.
Marcel's disability isn't ignored -- it sometimes causes him difficulties -- but it is treated fairly casually as just part of his life.
This isn't a story with a great deal of oomph, but it's a pleasant world to spend some time in....more
I'm always intrigued by how much less dated the older Harlequin Presents are than the ones published in the 21st century. The heroine of this slightlyI'm always intrigued by how much less dated the older Harlequin Presents are than the ones published in the 21st century. The heroine of this slightly subversive romance resists marriage almost to the last page, because she's so fed up with being the caregiver for her siblings and doesn't want to have anything to do with domesticity. She offers to be the hero's mistress, which sends him into gales of laughter over the ridiculous outdated concept. It's a pleasure to read an HP that has all the narrative intensity without being over the top ridiculous....more
I think this might be the single most maddening romance ever written! The plot is incredibly Old Skool--the "hero" kidnaps and rapes (unquestionably rI think this might be the single most maddening romance ever written! The plot is incredibly Old Skool--the "hero" kidnaps and rapes (unquestionably rapes, not a glossed-over romance "forced seduction,") the heroine for revenge, then rapes her again out of jealousy--but it's like Jordan tried to write an Old Skool romance with a modern consciousness, because he's always spouting all this sensitive guy talk which is completely ludicrous in light of what he actually does. The heroine ponders this incongruity once or twice, but for the most part the incredible hypocrisy of it all is left unacknowledged. A crazy-making story!...more
Note: This book could be read as a standalone, but it does contain major spoilers for A Flight of Magpies. It will also be more enjoyable read as partNote: This book could be read as a standalone, but it does contain major spoilers for A Flight of Magpies. It will also be more enjoyable read as part of the series, in my opinion. Reviewed from an e-arc provided by NetGalley.
From the beginning of this story, as we hear Ben Spencer's vengeful inner thoughts, I knew it would be right up my alley. I loved the old skool quality of Charles's story in Another Place in Time and this Victorian-set romance also has that desperate intensity, at least most of the time.
Former police constable Ben is seeking Jonah, the magic-using lover that used and deserted him, leaving him to face the ruination of his entire life. If you've read A Flight of Magpies, you'll know that Jonah is charming, feckless, and amoral... but that his worst actions were motivated by the need to protect someone else. And no surprise, Ben is the someone he was protecting, though Ben himself has no idea of that. So when Ben does find Jonah, there's a complicated mix of guilt and happiness and love between them that culminates in some scary (but consensual) hate sex. But that's just the start of their adventure.
I loved that there was no whitewashing of Jonah's character from the previous book. We do learn that there are reasons for how he is, but he isn't magically reformed. As in an old Harlequin, we never see his point of view, so we have to understand his feelings for Ben through his actions, and learn to trust him along with Ben.
This is very different in feel from the other books in the series. There's no paranormal horror, though Jonah and Ben have some very unpleasant experiences in the everyday world. The paranormal element is depicted much more for fun here, as Jonah can harness his windwalking powers for others to enjoy. (Think Elsa making snowdrifts for Anna to jump from in "Frozen.") In general, it's more of a conventionally structured romance, with the story driven primarily by the powerful love Ben and Jonah feel for each other. (Not that I ever found the romance in the previous books lacking, but it does develop over the course of the entire series.)
I was somewhat disappointed by the middle section of the book, which gets kind of morose and lacks the interesting tension of the beginning and end. But the way the seemingly impossible situation is eventually worked out is very satisfying. ...more
4 1/2 stars. A beautifully done tearjerker in the classic style, except with a gay, Jewish main character. My review at Dear Author: http://dearauthor4 1/2 stars. A beautifully done tearjerker in the classic style, except with a gay, Jewish main character. My review at Dear Author: http://dearauthor.com/book-reviews/ov......more