I've just re-read this one for the first time in recent memory -- it' still my all time favourite historical romance. BUT...I can sure see why so many...moreI've just re-read this one for the first time in recent memory -- it' still my all time favourite historical romance. BUT...I can sure see why so many people don't like Shanna. She's a spoiled b**ch and I would have slapped her silly before the end of part 1. And I don't quite understand why Ruark fell so deeply in love with her - she doesn't show many redeeming qualities until the last quarter of the book.
What I love about the book I think is the sweeping saga of it all. And Woodiwiss' writing. What's that phrase - "evocative prose"? It fits. From the opening pages I could visualize everything she was describing like it was a movie - the carriage travelling over the cobblestones through the foggy, wet streets of London on the way to Newgate gaol. I was in the carriage. And when she meets Ruark for the first time in his cell, I was there too.
It remains that way for me through the entire book. I love the descriptions, the language, the detail, even the dialogue. I consider most KEW’s books more Georgian than Regency (mid to late 1700s) with powdered hair, shoes with buckles and ruffles on men’s shirts so I don’t mind the flowery turns of phrase. It’s all part of the way KEW takes you into the story.
Shanna takes you from London, across the Atlantic to Los Camellos, on a pirate ship bound for a hidden island in the Caribbean to the untamed wilderness of Virginia. The descriptions are vivid and her characters fully fleshed out and well-drawn (for me, anyway) so that by the end of the book you feel as though you know them all. You certainly get to know Shanna and Ruark – KEW shows us each of their POV so that you know how much Ruark loves Shanna (although unfortunately not why) and you can see how much Shanna struggles with recognizing and admitting her love for Ruark (that love being the only good thing about her through much of the book).
The book takes place over the course of a year or so following Shanna’s return from London to Los Camellos. It felt realistic to me – there are stretches of time where Shanna tries to stay away from him and there are other happenings on the island that keep them apart (mostly due to Shanna’s unrealistic expectations of Ruark and what she wants from him) but their arguments are realistic and their assignations very sigh-worthy. (Lots of sneaking into each other’s rooms at night). Except for Shanna’s stubbornness, which is much more apparent reading this as an adult.
I would recommend this book for anyone who loves a chunky (666 pages), historical romance. The prose is descriptive, (oh all right, PURPLE) the story is epic in scale and hero is to die for. I fell in love with Ruark Deverell Beauchamp when I was 11 years old. His book is still my all time favourite. (less)
I've never really given much thought to how long I've been reading romances. They have just always been lying ar...moreDNF at 37% with a little bit of "ick".
I've never really given much thought to how long I've been reading romances. They have just always been lying around - on bookshelves, my kindle, library books, borrowed from friends, given away and fondly remembered, just always there. I talk a lot about Shanna being the first one I read back in the late 70s, but I've never really connected the dots between how old I was then, and how old I am NOW.
It really became clear to me today when I picked up Amanda Rose by Karen Robards. Amanda Rose was written back in 1984, right around the time I was gorging myself on historical romances by Woodiwiss, McBain and Busbee.
The story begins with American privateer Matt Grayson and his harrowing escape from the gallows at Tyburn Hill. Injured in his escape, he is found by the virginal orphan Amanda Rose on an early morning walk on the beach.
Of course, he is injured (YAY! Sponge-bath-and-fever, my favourite trope!) and Amanda takes care of him. Of course, she spies his lush man-pelt and has to deal with those pesky tinglings in her nether parts. Of course, the stubbly beard that makes him look old gets shaved off, and she is overcome with feelings for this dangerously handsome convict. Of course, he is too old for her (33 to her 18) and tells her so. Often. And, of course, he kisses her.
All of this so far is quite good, and par for the course for romances written in the early 80s. I was settling in for an afternoon of adventure and romance - "so magnificent it will make your pulse pound and your heart rejoice".
Until Amanda starts looking at the Hero with huge, trusting, wonder-filled eyes and asks him if all girls feel the same when they are kissed? Is it always like this for him? And Hero answers her in a indulgent (shall we say patronizing) tone that no, hardly any girls are swept away by passion as she is and that he must not kiss her again, else he give in to his fever for her and take the gift that she should be saving (if you know what I mean).
All of this was absolutely fine with me 25 years ago when I dreamed of a tall, handsome manly man who would sweep me off my feet and teach me all I needed to know about lurv.
But reading a book like this 25 years later, when said tall, handsome manly man is chasing after the equivalent of a high school senior, and it squicks me out.
I've been spoiled by all the late-twenties spinsters populating historicals lately, I guess. The old standard age gap is has widened so far that for me, in this book, it was unbridgeable. And that's when it occurred to me just how long I've been reading romances, and how my perspective has changed.
Maybe I'll try to skew my thinking and try this book again later, when I'm more able to channel my inner 18 year old ingenue.(less)
When your initial thought upon finishing a book is, "Oh thank God", it doesn't bode well for the rating.
The story of a chubby, tomboyish miss ("an in...moreWhen your initial thought upon finishing a book is, "Oh thank God", it doesn't bode well for the rating.
The story of a chubby, tomboyish miss ("an innocent Mississippi wildflower", if you believe the cover copy) who falls in love with the gold-digging husband of her evil stepmother could have been freaking awesome. A rip-roaring, scenery-chewing historical potboiler, in fact, and that's what I was anticipating.
Instead, I got a strangely tame, watered-down, BORING novel - with an evil stepmother who doesn't really do much evil stuff, an "impossible" love that doesn't seem that difficult, obstacles that aren't much more than anthills and characters that I didn't really give 2 you-know-whats about. Oh, and happy slaves who not only sing while they pick cotton, but they also as they walk home from the fields at night, so the whole plantation is alive with the sound.
Our Hero, Stuart Edwards, starts out promising enough - he slaps the heroine for calling his new wife a whore, and gives every indication he is an old-skool alpha just looking to give someone a spanking. Unfortunately, before long he reveals himself to be a sheep in wolf's clothing and much of his appeal (including a super-hairy chest and rock hard thighs) was lost for me. He was really a NICE GUY, thoughtful and kind, and truly in love with the "headstrong Jessie Lindsay" (again, thank you, cover copy).
Speaking of the headstrong Jessie Lindsay - she was one of those heroines who, once she loses the layer of baby fat and new dresses, becomes the most beautiful thing in 3 counties. Yeah, whatever. The cover copy says she's headstrong but the you don't see much of it.
The big secret? (view spoiler)[His real name is Clive McClintock, he's a gambler and he killed Stuart Edwards (hide spoiler)] Taken care of nicely. Even somewhat realistically, I thought.
The scandal? Glossed over, cleaned up and tied with a bow.
I generally like Karen Robards, but I wouldn't recommend this one.
Believe it or not, I liked this one better than Lord of Scoundrels. (Well, except for the scene in LoS against the lam...more4.5 stars **Mildly spoilerish**
Believe it or not, I liked this one better than Lord of Scoundrels. (Well, except for the scene in LoS against the lamppost in the rain, but I can't have everything, can I?)
I loved the whole book -- loved Alistair and his "dandy-ish-ness", loved Mirabel and her penchant for jumping his bones whenever she could, (view spoiler)[including climbing a ladder into his room (hide spoiler)] got a charge out of the story, smiled at the secondary characters and all the references to Alistair's brain box being not quite right.
Loved how they spoke to each other,
She began unbuttoning her pelisse. "I am one and thirty years old," she said. I should like to gather my rosebuds before the petals shrivel up and fall off."
Of course I'm vexed," he said. "You're alone, the ground is still slippery from last night's storm, and I know you hadn't much sleep. It is a dangerous combination."
"Have you come to look after me?" she said.
"I am your betrothed, not your nursemaid," he said.
loved the things they were thinking, (view spoiler)[especially when he was so distracted by her horrible clothes and hair he could barely function. And then when she figured out what was happening and deliberately made her clothes and hair WORSE, well... (hide spoiler)]
I guess what it comes down to is that I love Loretta Chase's style. It keeps me hugely entertained. I love her characters, the sparring, the humour. I find myself sitting in my chair with a silly grin on my face occasionally snorting with laughter.
"If I could have run, I'd have run away screaming, like a girl," Alistair said, his heart lightening.
"I would have been right behind you," Gordy said, "screaming louder and at much higher pitch. I have not your manly basso, you know."
Light without being frothy, interesting storylines, terrifically amusing characters and a writing style that allows me to visualize the story in my head so it plays like a movie. Can't ask for much more from a book.
**spoiler alert** Oooh, I liked this one quite a bit. It's somewhat unrealistic, wallpapery and not a lot goes on outside of the romance between Domin...more**spoiler alert** Oooh, I liked this one quite a bit. It's somewhat unrealistic, wallpapery and not a lot goes on outside of the romance between Dominic and Fallon. But what an enjoyable way to spend an afternoon!
The story opens in an orphanage/girl's school straight out of Jane Eyre - the girls are cold, hungry, picked on and beaten by a sadistic headmaster. An alliance is formed between 3 girls -- Fallon, Evelyn and Marguerite which becomes a lifelong friendship (trilogy, anyone?) .
Skip ahead a bit, the girls are grown up and Fallon has lost yet another posting because of improper advances made by the son of her employer. On her way to stay with her friend Evie (Evelyn), she accepts an offer of a carriage ride from a member of the nobility - and comes face to face with Dominic Hale, Duke of Damon.
The Demon Duke, he is called, and he is exactly that. Rich, bored and numb. Unable to feel anything besides the pleasure of the moment - be it gaming, drinking or women - and even that is starting to pall. In an attempt to shock Fallon, he puts on a display with two ladybirds in his carriage unlike anything Fallon has ever seen. It offends her, intrigues her and arouses her. He gives her his card and tells her to keep it, "in case you ever have need of a friend". Never, she thinks. "The world would stop turning before she ever crossed the threshold of 15 Pottingham Place."
Having finally gotten to Evie's hotel, an angry, frustrated and frightened Fallon seizes on the notion that as men can do whatever they want, she should become one in order to be left alone. So, off comes her hair, on goes the livery, and away she goes to the agency to gain employment as a man.
She ends up right back at the doorway of 15 Pottingham Place.
And here is where the book gets really interesting. Notice I didn't say believable, because I didn't find it to be, but Sophie Jordan tells a pretty good story. The Demon Duke, possessed of a wicked serpent tattoo covering the top half of his chest, is not possessed of any morals that Fallon can see, and seems to work very hard to maintain his reputation as a shocking libertine. There are some pretty amusing scenes involving the Duke and the various "ladies" that parade through his home, to the disgust of his valet, Mr. Diddlesworth.
Fallon is HUGELY attracted to the Duke, and, unbeknownst to her, Dominic can't forget her either - his memory of her from that night in the carriage haunts him. Fallon (or Francis, as she now is) becomes a footman in the Duke's household - until the day she wrestles a gun away from an cuckolded spouse, intent on avenging his wandering wife's honour. She saves the Duke's life, and for that is given a promotion - twice the pay, but the position is that of the Duke's valet .
Let the games begin! Dominic is continually exasperated with Francis, and struggles to understand why it seems so important his valet approve of him. Fallon is tormented by her very nearness to the Duke. There is an obligatory he's-completely-bombed-and-mistakes-her-for-a-doxy scene in this book too, which just makes matters worse for both of them. Fallon knows she is falling in love with him, and Dominic just becomes more confused as to her identity.
Of course, these girl-disguised-as-boy charades cannot go on forever. All girls like to soak in the tub, so you know the second Fallon gets in (when her room adjoins the Duke's, ffs!) that she is going to be found out.
The whole book was hugely entertaining. The yearning, the chemistry, the tension, the sizzle between Dominic and Fallon was palpable. And of course, the love scenes were sigh-worthy. (Lots of backing up into the wall and taking on a kitchen table - then when they finally get to bed...).
Dominic, of course, is not quite as bad as he makes himself out to be. There are hints dropped here and there, and little glimpses Fallon gets of the real man beneath the licentious exterior. He and Fallon actually share a similar tortured upbringing. Kindred spirits, one might say.
Everything works out quite nicely, and tidily wrapped up with a pretty bow on it. I did say it was unrealistic and wallpapery, didn't I?
A couple of the things bugged me a bit: her name - Fallon. I looked it up and yes, it's Gaelic in origin, but I immediately thought of Blake Carrington's daughter on Dynasty. And it was so unlike any of the other names of characters in the book it seemed out of place to me. Fallon's past seemed to me to get fixed up much too conveniently as well -- for all the heartbreak and anger she seems to have about her father's death and her time at the school it all seems to get resolved too nicely -- with an "oh, ok, thank you!". And I don't know a whole lot about Regency England, but I'm not certain that a Duke would ever be able to marry a complete commoner, no matter how much they loved one another.
SoaWD is one of those historical romances that has a larger sized font, and is almost 1 1/2 spacing. To me this almost automatically means a light, frothy read -- heavy on the romance and steam, light on the historical detail/accuracy. True in this case, imo.
If you read it just for the characters and the romance you are in for a treat -- 4 stars.
If you are looking for some historical detail, accuracy and just a sense of actually BEING in Regency England, you might have to suspend that just a bit. (less)
A few months ago I said I didn't like erotic historical romances. That I didn't like dirty words and porny love scenes in my...moreOk, I've changed my mind.
A few months ago I said I didn't like erotic historical romances. That I didn't like dirty words and porny love scenes in my HRs; that I preferred my smut to be contemporary. Imagine my surprise when I realized that it wasn't the genre that was the problem, it was just that I'd read a crappy book!
That was NOT the case with Everything Forbidden . OH MY GOD THIS WAS GOOD.
There was a bit of everything that I love in here -- a scandalous (and deliciously sinful) bargain, exquisite chemistry and tension between the Hero/heroine; a Hero who is bad, bad, bad (but only on the outside); a heroine who is believable and oh-so-human, a great plot, even better writing, and just enough angst to leave me once with a lump in my throat.
See, this book was so good I forgot to mention the sex. YOWZA. Sexual tension you could cut with a knife. Oh-so-steamy (I coined a new shelf in honour of this book), sexy without being lewd, beautifully written. I loved it.