If there was such a place as The Rosemary Rogers School of Plot Development their award for Book of the Year would look like this:
and this book would...moreIf there was such a place as The Rosemary Rogers School of Plot Development their award for Book of the Year would look like this:
and this book would win, hands down.
This little tome would not only win that award, but it has set a number of personal records for me: • The longest time to read the shortest book: 6 days to read 253 pages. • The best/worst jaw-droppingly fucking awesomely ridiculous crockpot of what-the-fuckery I've ever picked up. • And, last but definitely not least, quite possibly the STUPIDEST romance novel I have ever read.
It's a pretty straightforward category romantic/suspense on the face of it: Friend dies mysteriously at the factory where she worked, intrepid heroine, gunning for a promotion to investigative reporter at work, goes "undercover" to discover who was responsible for her death. Along the way she falls for the reclusive, millionaire factory owner.
Except that Stuart threw in all kinds of fucked up stuff. Like this:
The factory where the friend worked? It's a PUPPET factory. Thinly disguised Muppets. My "this is going to be stupid" alarm started going off as soon as I read this part.
The Hero? A reclusive, millionaire PUPPETEER. I dunno about you guys, but it seems to me that creative-genius-puppeteer-types aren't usually the strong, silent, dangerous-hero types. But, what do I know?
None of these dudes look especially dangerous to me. (Nor do they look especially heterosexual, but that's a whole other book.)
The heroine is an independently wealthy Bryn Mawr graduate who looks and dresses like Grace Kelly. Except that she can fix small appliances, pick locks and maintain her 1957 gull-wing Mercedes. She's the only person in the book who knows how to splice a VCR tape or fix a light switch, AND, she can talk about air conditioners ("oh, a Roberts 450? I can fix it. I've worked on a 150, this can't be much different.") the way most guys talk about cars. Um, okay. I've never been to Bryn Mawr, but I don't expect there are any shop classes on the curriculum. Oh! And in a spectacularly convenient revelation at the end of the book we find out that she also used to be a gymnast! Oh! Here's another one - she speaks THREE LANGUAGES! (Okay, that might have actually been courtesy of Bryn Mawr.)
The story started out innocuously enough, until AS threw in some of those suspenseful cutaways to the bad guy muttering about whores and sinners and saving the Hero and punishing the heroine, all while wearing a green puppet suit, and malevolent puppet posters and the Hero telling the heroine all the sexy things he wants to do to her by having his puppet talk to her. (I gotta say she ALMOST pulled that one off, but in the end it was just squicky.)
Loose ends (can anyone tell me what the deal was with the creepy secretary, Bessie?), red herrings, Keystone Kops, no face time between the H/h, split personalities, Nazis (yes, you heard right, Nazis), murderers wearing puppet suits, characters undergoing implausible personality changes to help with the HEA, and, my favourite, how the heroine just so happens to have also been a gymnast, which she has to have been in order to escape from Nazi-ish/puppet-suit-wearing/split personality villain. Can you say deus ex machina?? And if someone like ME notices it, it's gotta be clumsily done!
I made a throwaway remark on one of my updates about catching schizophrenia from a book, but really, that's what this felt like - I thought I was going to get whiplash from all the pov changes and the what-the-fuck stuff made me feel like I was reading two books at the same time. Maybe that's what AS did -- took the book she'd written (the standard rom/susp) and mashed it with the suggestions from the publisher (make it trendier! make it fresher! make it different!). Or maybe she just took a whole binful of story ideas and threw them at the wall to see what would stick. Sometimes it works, and the results are beautiful:
but, most of the time it doesn't, and the results look like this:
I just don't even know how to rate this book -- it was that gloriously terrible. I saw glimmers of Anne Stuart's writing in here, but I still can't figure out what the fuck she was thinking when she threw this together. I think everyone should read this, just because it is so ridiculous.
And a big thanks to my friend Karla, who dared me to read this one. I heart you, Karla (Mossy Love Grotto)!!!!!
eta: December 2/11: I've been waiting for GR to add a 0 star "this was un-fucking-believably horrible" rating but I suspect it is not forthcoming. So I'll give it a 1, 'cause that's as low as GR allows me to go.(less)
You gotta hand it to Anne Stuart. She has found a formula for each of the two types of books she writes - historical ro...moreWarning: Tammy drops the f-bomb
You gotta hand it to Anne Stuart. She has found a formula for each of the two types of books she writes - historical romances and contemporary romantic-suspense, and follows each of them. To. The. Letter.
Moonrise is the latter formula. It's like there's a master checklist AS follows each time she writes one. If I had to guess, I'd say it goes something like this:
1. Heroine: naive, virginal, malleable, mostly two-dimensional, sometimes humourless, virtually always having kept a secret torch for Hero for years. In this book the heroine was a little more likable than I usually find AS' to be - she was coming in to her own and finally realizing how manipulated she had been by her dead father.
2. Hero: tough, lone wolf, stone-cold killer/spy/black ops/you-name-it, chiseled, ageless, timeless, questioning his humanity and usually convinced he is unredeemable. He has known the heroine forever, constantly weighing whether to kill her or fuck her, and has probably done or tried the second at some point years ago;
3. The story: some tragedy - parent/brother/best friend/spouse dies and heroine is left to figure out what happened, or talk to the Hero, who is usually the last one to have seen the deceased, or is completely clueless to some big secret she is holding until the bad guys descend.
4. Many attempts on lives follow, including Hero again wrestling with his huge existential dilemma - kill her or fuck her? Fuck her, then kill her? Poor guy. Endlessly gazing at the back of her neck, behind her ear - break her neck or shoot her? Bodies pile up everywhere.
5. "We're going to die so what the fuck" sex happens, usually followed by some tears and heroine's epiphany that she's in love with Hero. Hero has a similar eureka moment, although his is more confusion about why his cock and his trigger finger seem to be connected. Kill her, fuck her, fuck her, kill her.
6. More intrigue, terror and passion (thanks to the synopsis for this) now, followed by the inevitable double betrayal - big, big secret kept by the Hero from the heroine, and both of them sandbagged by the identity of the actual bad guy. Hero has usually determined a solution to his existential argument by this point - he won't have to do either because the heroine will leave him after his big lie. She never does, of course, he makes her feel SAFE. Hero chooses the "fuck her" option and after the best sex of his life ends solves his dilemma for good.
7. Bad guy dispatched after a narrow escape by Hero and heroine, who then head off into the sunset as the screen fades to black.
Formula aside, after a bit of a slow start Moonrise was pretty good. Nothing new or earthshaking in it, but it was fast-paced and full of action, with a bad guy that wasn't really obvious until the big reveal. It was like reading an action movie - it kept my butt planted squarely in my chair from about page 50 until I was finished. :D
This book is a perfect example of the problem I have with contemporary romances.
I used to read books like this in the early 90s - I took a hiatus from...moreThis book is a perfect example of the problem I have with contemporary romances.
I used to read books like this in the early 90s - I took a hiatus from historicals (for some reason I thought they were silly) and I read tons of books just like this one. Not a problem in 1994, but a big one in 2011, when references to football coaches being interviewed by OJ Simpson (poor SEP, it looks like this book was originally released barely 2 months after Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman were murdered and the infamous Bronco chase; way too late to edit the book, I'm guessing), football players Lyle Alzado and Lawrence Taylor and chunky heeled sandals being sexy definitely dates this book pretty badly. Some books hold up better than others; this one, not so much.
That's why I like historicals better -- the style of the stories and the way they are told might change, but the clothes and the music and the other details are already at least 100 years old. Oh, well. Just my particular peeve. Otherwise, it was ok.
It was good enough that I'll seek out another of SEP's books to see if I like it, but not good enough to be particularly memorable. I liked Phoebe, but I thought her issues (and face it, those were HUGE ones she was carrying around) were dealt with a little too handily. The dichotomy between the image she presented to the world (and the way she behaved around men) and what she thought of herself could have been explored a lot more deeply than it was. I think SEP tried, for example with the granny undies Phoebe was wearing underneath her "fuck me" clothes, but it only came up once and she seemed miraculously cured once she'd had her way with the Hero.
And I didn't really care for him a whole bunch. Probably just me, I've never been impressed with the screaming, throwing clipboard, hyper-agressive sports types. His opinion of Phoebe was always at oods with his crotch and he thought and said some pretty cavemanish insulting things to her. I just wasn't feeling the luuurve.
Overall? A light, mildly amusing, fluffy sports romance with a couple of jarring moments that bordered on squicky for me (OJ Simpson and the Hero's adventure with the girl from 7-11, in case anyone is wondering). I wouldn't recommend the book, but I'll reserve judgment on SEP's writing until I've read another one. (less)
Adele Ashworth is a new author to me, and if this book is any indication, she will soon be one of my new favourites. This book has almost ever...more4 stars.
Adele Ashworth is a new author to me, and if this book is any indication, she will soon be one of my new favourites. This book has almost everything needed for a perfect historical romance read:
An excellent sense of the era: No wallpaper here! From beautifully detailed descriptions of the Duke's home, their clothing and lifestyle, to the depictions of class differences (for example, the tea served to the heroine when she attends the Duke's residence is "a wonderfully strong Lapsang Souchong. Somewhat unconventional for standard fare, especially when serving to a guest of the lower class.") The distinction between the classes plays a large part in this book.
An excellent Hero: The Duke of Trent resides at his country estate. He is a virtual recluse there, shunned by society after being acquitted of killing his wife. Will is gorgeous, noble and LONELY. A bit tortured too, with a sad, sad history.
A just-as-excellent heroine: Vivian lives in an exile of sorts as well, except hers is of her own making. She lives quietly as a widow in the village of Penzance and makes her living as a florist. Her secret is that she is not a widow at all. Her story is just as sad as Will's.
A scandalous bargain: He has something she needs, she has something he wants. A deal is struck, and the tension and chemistry between the H/h is palpable.
Chemistry, chemistry, chemistry!!!!: And teasing, flirting comments. And funny, sexy pillow talk.
Some excellent steamy bits: WHEW. 'Nuff said.
A bit of intrigue, blackmail and danger: Because you have do SOMETHING other than just have sex, right?
The prettiest declaration of love I've read in quite a while: I know I shouldn't, but I can't help myself -- here's part of it, hidden by a spoiler tag. (view spoiler)["Every breath I have ever taken," he maintained softly, "every trying season of my life, has been merely a bridge that has led me to this moment with you." All together now, "Aaaaaawwwwwwww" (hide spoiler)]
It also had a bits and pieces of the following (dammit!), which pulled my rating down:
A few cheesy bits of sexy dialogue: I'm not going to tell you here, you'll know the second you read them which ones they are.
A stupid, contrived misunderstanding + Hero behaving like an asshat: Part of this was necessary to the story, but I'm not sure the rest of it served much purpose other than giving the author an opportunity to introduce her Heroes for the rest of the trilogy. Great couple of guys - they figured out what was going on when the Hero couldn't, and thus saved him from further asshattery.
All in all this was a wonderful book -- I'm keeping it, I'll most likely re-read it, and I'm eagerly anticipating the rest of the series.
(Adele Ashworth also has a decent-sized backlist, which is always good news when you find an new author you like.) ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
The more I think about this book, the less I can figure out what the hell I thought of it.
On the one hand, it's a Laura Lee Guhrke. She has become one of my "go-to" authors. The Guilty series was outstanding, Abandoned at the Altar is shaping up to be even better, and the first book in this series, And Then He Kissed Her, is one of my absolute favourites.
The writing is great, the H/h are well drawn, and the cast of supporting characters (especially the ladies at the boarding house) are either charming or exasperating, depending who they are.
I just didn't really like Rhys. I'm not even really sure why, because, within a chapter of meeting him you know exactly what he's about. Charming, insincere, self-absorbed, dissolute and irresponsible. When we meet him he is wondering if he could talk Prudence into a tup; he saves a maid from being raped by a peer, but sleeps with her himself immediately afterward (mostly because she's cheap and he can't afford to keep a mistress). He comes by his character quite honestly; his title is hollow and his estates are in ruins, mostly due to 6 generations of dukes before him who behaved exactly as he did. Creditors are banging on the door and he's reduced to dining-and-dashing at gentlemen's clubs and couch-surfing at his friends' residences. He needs to marry money. Huge money. And fast. I actually felt like Rhys was probably quite historically accurate. His description to Prudence of what peers did with themselves was hilarious:
"Darling, most duchesses are like most dukes. And marquesses and earls, etcetera, etcetera. We don't do anything. We lead terribly lazy lives in which we give and attend fabulous parties, gamble away our fortunes - if we have them - eat outrageously rich food, drink excessive amounts of champagne and port, travel the world, accumulate massive amounts of debt, and engage in outrageous exploits. All because the lot of us suffer from terminal ennui....Peers are the lilies of the field, my sweet. We toil not, neither do we spin."
Heh. Maybe I did kind of like him. See what I mean? I can't even decide what I think about the Hero. Towards the end of the book all bullshit he's been slinging comes home to roost (oops, mixing metaphors here), he realizes that he actually meant all of it, and that Prudence was the one good thing he'd managed to finagle and he has to try to figure out how to keep her.
it was Prudence I didn't really like. I did at first - she was independent and sure of herself, but then she became besotted with Rhys and inherited gazillions of $$ and lost her marbles. Her ideal of marrying for love seemed anachronistic (HUH, you say? Bear with me, I'll explain). During the time the book is set, marrying for love was the exception, not the rule. Arranged marriages happened ALL the time - for money, social position or bloodlines - that's just the way it was done. It was expected that your dowry would bail out whichever peer offered for you. So for Prudence to be so set on marrying for love (and a penniless DUKE, nonetheless) and for her to be so outraged and vocal about her hurt when she finds out seemed wrong to me. For us 21st century women, sure. For a late Regency/Victorian miss? Uh-uh. And crossing the class lines seemed too simple in this story as well.
I've swallowed bigger loads of baloney in a historical romance, but I need to be able to lose myself enough in the story so that I don't notice myself choking on it.
it was the ending that clinched it for me. I know it's a historical romance and we all need our HEA, but for these two to get past the big lie would take YEARS, not a week. Years of him being in love with her to prove to her that he means it; years for her to accept that even if he didn't love her from beginning he loves her now.
AND ANOTHER THING!
The fact that Rhys' terrible childhood (oh, those poor little British kids shipped off to Eton and abused by their wicked, wicked mothers and evil Uncles) and his relationship of mutual dislike with his mother seemed to be thrown into the mix for good measure, instead of being used with any depth for what it was most likely intended. Wow, did that make sense?
Hmm. After all this I'm still not sure what I thought of this one. I guess I'll call it at 3.5 stars. Liked the writing, the premise and the supporting characters, didn't like the Hero or the heroine all that much. (less)
Another funny, quick, CLEAN read by Julie James. It made me laugh out loud a couple of times, I liked the 2 main characters and I enjoyed it, but was...moreAnother funny, quick, CLEAN read by Julie James. It made me laugh out loud a couple of times, I liked the 2 main characters and I enjoyed it, but was left feeling vaguely unsatisfied by the whole thing once I was finished.
It's a cute, escapist, almost-fluffy contemporary romance - nothing to think about while you're reading it, no angst or conflict or actual sex - the tension is well done, but the love scenes are fade-to-black.
A mindless way to spend a couple of hours, but generally speaking I like my romances a bit meatier. :D