I think my decision to re-read Garwood's historicals starting with the ones I've only read once was not my best idea ever.
I first read this when I wa...moreI think my decision to re-read Garwood's historicals starting with the ones I've only read once was not my best idea ever.
I first read this when I was about 18 (the heroine's age) and many years later all I really remembered was not liking Sara as much as I'd liked Jade and Christina. Unfortunately, I now have a clear idea of why that was my only memory: Sara is a sugary mess. She's talked about like she's the cutest, most artlessly charming thing ever, but the way she acts ... I mean the level of selfish, brainless, delusional behavior is amazing. But I guess it's ok because she's smiling prettily the whole way through... except when she starts shrieking for no reason.
And Garwood's description of Sara's "repulsive" female relatives made me think of a Laurenston heroine: big, strong, and capable of laying a beat-down on anyone who crosses them. I'd rather read about one of them than Sara, who seems like a marshmallow peep in comparison. (In case that was too subtle: yes, there is some pretty blatant fat shaming.)
The hero... eh, he's from the alphahole mold, but an unfinished version of it. Really not well developed enough for me to have much of a reaction either way
As for the plot... childhood marriage contract with monetary consequences, pirate ships and tropical islands. So much potential, so little payoff. Mostly due to a surfeit of sugar in place of actual structure.
I now have one more only-read-once book to get through. I'll give it a chance, but so far this attempt at going on a Garwood glom has been so unpleasant that I'm kind of afraid to try the ones I did have fond memories of.(less)
I think if this had been advertised as historical romance instead of PNR, I wouldn't be sitting here wishing vainly for my $8 back. (Oh, and for those...moreI think if this had been advertised as historical romance instead of PNR, I wouldn't be sitting here wishing vainly for my $8 back. (Oh, and for those looking for steampunk romance, I'd highly recommend looking elsewhere unless all you're interested in are the occasional gadgets.)
The opening is strong--fun, adventurous, imaginative. The descriptions of Mongolia are well done, they seem well researched and visually striking. The storyline is pretty standard cross-country adventure to stop the villains and save the world, which I'm totally ok with. The characters are where it all fell apart for me.
The heroine is described as being spunky, intelligent and strong-willed, but she's... I don't know. She meets the hero and there are sparks, longing glances, etc., which is fine. She finds out he's an ex-army captain (and is it me or were the descriptions of his military service kind of weird?) and pronounces him a hero for the work he did helping England colonize India. (Ok, fine, I'm not pro-colonialism myself, but I can understand why a character of her background and in her time would be.) But then, enter the villain... whose villainy is that he wants to colonize the world in the name of England. Um, what?
There's also the part where the hero, the heroine, and her Mongol servant enter a Mongol community seeking shelter. They have to pretend that the hero and heroine are related so as to avoid offending their Mongol hosts about their unmarried status; an unrelated man and woman traveling alone is not ok. But, it's not a man and woman traveling together. It's two men and a women traveling together. Apparently the Mongol servant doesn't count as a man for some reason.
What finally made me put this down in defeat is when the hero and heroine make love. She's all angsty about sharing her heart with another man, but decides that she can trust him and... I'm sorry. She's been in a dither for over 100 pages about the risk to her heart, but has not a single qualm about the chance of getting pregnant?
These were just some of the things that made me put the book down in disgust. I tried reading this for a week, but every time I'd get 20 pages I'd find another thing like this. I'm only halfway done at this point, but I have so many other books to read that I'm quite positive are much better than I'm giving up and getting rid of it. I can't get my $8 back, but at least I'm not wasting any more of my time.(less)
I'm not generally a fan of ship-board romances or historicals written in bad dialect and this, with it's lackluster humor and even more lackluster cha...moreI'm not generally a fan of ship-board romances or historicals written in bad dialect and this, with it's lackluster humor and even more lackluster character interactions*, isn't going to change my mind. It didn't take me long to start skimming and I ended up entirely skipping whole sections in the middle, so this might even be a DNF depending on how you look at it.
*I hesitate to say romance because it was all so very meh.(less)
So I decided to go on a Julie Garwood glom, starting with books I haven't read or have only read once. This falls into the read once and neve...more1.5 stars
So I decided to go on a Julie Garwood glom, starting with books I haven't read or have only read once. This falls into the read once and never re-read category and I now remember why.
It's her debut novel, and you can kind of tell that Garwood hasn't yet hit her stride as a writer in that she doesn't have her characteristic fluffy tone in this one. It does have an overuse of the description "contradiction" that she still tends to bestow on her heroes and heroines. It also makes use of the spunky ingenue of a heroine and more experienced hero-with-issues standard.
Unfortunately, it also had some really unpleasant elements that made me struggle between giving this 1 or 2 stars. The first big problem I had were the jokes about domestic violence. Given that those jokes, whether made by the heroine's grandfather, husband, or herself, are interspersed with the heroine's fear that they're actually threats, makes them really not funny. (view spoiler)[I wouldn't find them funny anyway. Jokes about domestic violence are a warning sign about real danger. (hide spoiler)] They also made the romance kind of squicky.
There's also the homophobia. Even taking into account the medieval setting and the time the book was written (c1985, hello Reagan years), it doesn't add anything to the book. I mean, the villain conspired to kill the heroine's parents. Making him gay, fat, and slovenly and treating those all as moral failings equivalent to murder is uncool, unnecessary and, frankly, lazy character building/plotting. There's another villain who actually is way more villainous in my opinion, but it seems like, since he's straight, he gets less screen time.
Eh, I don't know. I still have really fond memories of some of her later historicals so I'll keep with this glom. I just hope my lack of memory about some of those yuckier elements means she dropped them from her list of standard tropes.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I didn't care for this, but I can think of people I know who might like it.
Niall and his Dark Fae brothers are cursed at birth, that they shall watch...moreI didn't care for this, but I can think of people I know who might like it.
Niall and his Dark Fae brothers are cursed at birth, that they shall watch the Unseelie Court crumble around then until and unless they can find women who choose to be with them -- as opposed to ones who are kidnapped, glamoured(?) and raped... um, yeah, this already makes me dislike half the cast.
The combination of Fae characters with medieval European ideas about virtue and vice seemed weird to me, but I'm not generally a fan of mythological mash-ups.
I have to admit, I didn't make it all the way to the end -- maybe I would feel differently if I had, but I never felt that the characters were... alive, I guess. They felt like puzzle pieces moved across a board based on some RPG rules about how virtues/vices should act. Basically, I spent more energy rolling my eyes than investing in the story.
However, much as I didn't enjoy it, the author does have her own voice... it seems like this might be one of those things, like liking coffee but not tea, that comes down to individual preference.
The review for this is based on a digital ARC received through NetGalley.(less)
I think I'd have loved these had I discovered them in high school. At this point in my life however, the foolishly headstrong ingenue trope mostly jus...moreI think I'd have loved these had I discovered them in high school. At this point in my life however, the foolishly headstrong ingenue trope mostly just makes me feel old and tired.(less)
Got about 200 pages and gave up. Not because it was bad exactly, just really really boring. The romance was flat to nonexistent; by page 200 the h/h h...moreGot about 200 pages and gave up. Not because it was bad exactly, just really really boring. The romance was flat to nonexistent; by page 200 the h/h had barely spoken (to each other or anyone else). And the place descriptions were both flowery and detailed but not evocactive of much of anything in terms of setting a mood (other that zzz). That actually sounds like it was pretty bad, but it wasn't cracked out enough or frustrating enough for that, it was just boring.(less)
Warning: half the characters speak in Romancelandia Scottish dialect. On the plus side, it's mostly consistent in use of vocabulary (we won't talk abo...moreWarning: half the characters speak in Romancelandia Scottish dialect. On the plus side, it's mostly consistent in use of vocabulary (we won't talk about syntax).
Ben loses the ability to transform into a werewolf (Lycan) because he's a douche. He goes to Scotland in search of a powerful witch who can heal him, where he meets Elspeth. Within 24 hours of their meeting, practically on top of Elspeth's grandfather's corpse, they start making out -- their chemistry is just that powerful. (My reaction to that scene can be described as O.o) Despite Elspeth's poor judgment in falling in love with the consistently immature and kind of dumb Ben, I did mostly like her.(less)
It started with the narrator observing that dark skin is ugly ("Short, swarthy, stocky -- the three S's of ugly" p.1) and then mentioning that the her...moreIt started with the narrator observing that dark skin is ugly ("Short, swarthy, stocky -- the three S's of ugly" p.1) and then mentioning that the heroine is worth more because of her light skin, which was... not a great way to begin.
But then it got better -- zippy (non-racist) banter and a little intrigue, yay! -- so I kept reading.
But then... a village of convenient Indians, constant threats of sexual violence, the Civil War mentioned only in terms of states's rights, the grand reveal of a really obvious henchman, and finally a little romance ... that sort of made it seem like the heroine was healed by the power of the (kinda skeevy) hero's Magic Wang. Of course, by that time I'd reached a point of "What next?" annoyance so maybe I'm misinterpreting the epilogue. Maybe.
I don't know if two stars is being overly harsh or overly generous. There was a lot of good stuff in this book, but not enough to get me past the bad.(less)
It's Laurens, so you know she had fun with her thesaurus (except when it comes to the word "brazen" which was used a ridiculous number of times). Linn...moreIt's Laurens, so you know she had fun with her thesaurus (except when it comes to the word "brazen" which was used a ridiculous number of times). Linnet is a seriously awesome heroine and her pairing with Logan makes sense. If it weren't for pretty much the entire second half of this book, I would have liked it a lot.
After Logan Monteith is struck in the head by the mast of a merchantship (and lives, somehow), he washes ashore on the island of Guernsey, where he is discovered by Linnet Trevission. While he heals and tries to regain his memory, he and Linnet engage in a relationship that begins in a purely physical way, then as they get to know each other, the emotional bonds between them get stronger. This part of the book I enjoyed. Yes, they have sex a lot, but they also talk with each other as well as with Linnet's self-made family.
Then, of course, Logan's memory returns so that he can resume his mission. That makes up the second half. No real surprises there, other than that the two major villains are in an incestuous relationship and the minion villains are all non-Christian brown people who are too stupid to have their own identities but are fiendishly good at killing people (um, should I start be looking for subtext here?). A lot of the major plot points make no real sense. Oh, and the entire Cynster and Bastion Club crew is here, to welcome Linnet and Logan into their midst with no friction whatever. (Am I the only person who has friends who don't always get along? The complete lack of interpersonal snark was kind of disconcerting.)
I will read the next book in the series, but only because it's the last one.(less)
This was the last on my pile of only-read-once historical Garwoods (that I think I may have read more than once actually, but still got rid of at some...moreThis was the last on my pile of only-read-once historical Garwoods (that I think I may have read more than once actually, but still got rid of at some point and there was a reason for that).
Anyway... it helped to think of this as an alternate history romance (because the cultural stuff was so 20th century middle class American) and for a while I pretended that there was a hidden message advocating that women have access to sexual education and financial independence but... well, denying the regressive sexual politics got tiresome after awhile.
I mean, if you can have the princess help servants change the sheets, you could also have her understand how babies get made, you know?
So... two stars because while it didn't make me stabby, it didn't make me particularly happy either.(less)