In 1809 unmarried ladies weren't supposed to think about, much less sculpt, the male figure. Why, the attention to detail a sculptor gives to the male...moreIn 1809 unmarried ladies weren't supposed to think about, much less sculpt, the male figure. Why, the attention to detail a sculptor gives to the male physique even makes ME blush:
As "That Scandalous Evening" opens, our heroine has done just that. Deep in the throes of unrequited, virginal love for Ransom Quincy, Marquess of Blackburn (who is completely undeserving, I might add) she has poured her heart and soul into a sculpture of her beloved.
This sculpture, of course, is never meant to be seen, but through a series of catty maneouvers it is unveiled at a ball attended by both the Hero and the heroine. The ensuing scandal ruins Jane Higgenbothem and humiliates Blackburn beyond reparation.
Cut to ten years later: Jane reappears in London chaperoning her niece's first season. Lord Blackburn has also returned to London; injured in the battle of Talavera, he has been retained by the Foreign Office to ferret out a network of spies for Napoleon among the ton. Time and circumstance have changed them both tremendously. They meet again, sparks fly, and I sat back to enjoy watching it all play out.
I really had fun reading this one. I loved the premise - and the main reason for the Marquess' humiliation is absolutely hilarious. Even when seeing the sculpture ten years later, Jane still has absolutely no idea what Ransom is so upset about. She sees nothing but an example of her work, he (view spoiler)[cannot believe she has given him such a small fig leaf, and that the entire ton believes it to be an accurate representation of his, um, endowment (hide spoiler)].
There were some absolutely wonderful secondary characters in this romance, not the least of whom were Adora, Jane's charge and Blackburn's older sister Susan, Lady Goodridge. The hint of romance between Susan and Fitz, her manner of speaking and her bon mots were so appealing it made me hope that she got her own book.
The intrigue angle is deftly handled. All of Blackburn's intelligence is based on supposition and rumour, and in order to flush out the spy he must use every tool at his disposal, including Jane. This means the dreaded Big Mis occurs, but thankfully the author doesn't make us suffer through it for very long.
An entertaining read by a "new-to-me" author: witty, with an amusing take on the spinster/bluestocking trope, sizzling scenes and a dash of intrigue. I'm off to look up Christina Dodd's backlist.
I think I might possibly be one of the last people in the western hemisphere to read this book. Thanks to Kristen, who read it last week and recc'd it...moreI think I might possibly be one of the last people in the western hemisphere to read this book. Thanks to Kristen, who read it last week and recc'd it to me. She convinced me to move it up on my tbr and dive in.
Here goes, I thought, and then spent the better part of two days scowling. Mostly at my Kindle as I tried to decipher the meaning in Robin Schone's prose, but sometimes at my husband, who insisted on chatting with me the whole time I was trying to read this. To be fair we ARE married, and I'd complain if he never talked to me either, but for cripes sakes, sometimes a girl just needs to read!!!
Anway, back to the prose. Yikes, what a style to get used to! I referred to it as terse, and spare, but I've seen it described as staccato too, and that works. Short paragraphs, cryptic references, lots of show, hardly any tell (dammit! I prefer to be spoonfed!) make a skim-reader like myself have to work REALLY hard to get through.
The story itself was intriguing, and for those of us who love the "Pretty Woman in reverse" trope, this is an excellent, if dark, example. I could have easily loved Michael if I'd have gotten to know a bit more about him. :)
Anne is 36. An only child, isolated and friendless, she nursed her parents until their deaths ten months before the book begins. She uses her dowry to retain the services of Michel des Anges, an exclusive stallion she has been infatuated with since her debut season, to relieve her of her virginity and show her what passion can be.
Michel (or Michael, as we discover his real name to be) hasn't had a patroness for more than five years, since a fire ravaged his home and destroyed his once-beautiful face. He accepts Anne's money and promises her a month of pleasure such as she has never known. (With his nine and one-half inches, no less - who knew hearing a man simply give his measurements could be so, um, arousing?)
So two tragically tortured souls are drawn together by need. Enough angst there to sink an ocean liner, but Schone throws in a cryptically (if seriously annoyingly) described plot involving Michel, his "friend" Gabriel, and a villain known only as "the man". It involves Anne too, and the underlying theme is that death is waiting for both of them at any moment. It is only at the end of the book that we discover what the plot actually is, who is involved and how it all ties Anne, Michael and the man together.
In addition to setting the pace for the novel, the prose sets the tone - dark and sensual, with a sizzling tension that is almost electric, right from the opening lines of the book. The chemistry between Anne and Michael is palpable.
At the end of the day, I'm still not entirely sure what I thought about it. Two days scowling as I read every word - I would describe the experience as similar to trying to read something without your glasses on - brings the rating down automatically. I enjoyed the story and the intimacy between the lovers. It was fast-paced, compelling and hard to put down. One niggling detail was the amount of time Anne spent talking down to herself - it got to be tiresome. Other reviewers have commented on the "I'm a scarred whore/I'm a spinster" repetition and I can certainly see where that comes from.
I'm going to call it at 3.5 stars, and reserve the right to change my rating later. This is a book that might require a re-read. (less)
With apologies to Catherine, Juliana, Ally and Ana, and any other GR friends who love Anne Mallory
Have you ever read a book that you think you should...moreWith apologies to Catherine, Juliana, Ally and Ana, and any other GR friends who love Anne Mallory
Have you ever read a book that you think you should just LOVE, except for the fact that you don't?
That's the way I feel about Anne Mallory. I should love her books. They are chock full of everything that I love. Witty dialogue, serious chemistry and sexual tension, intriguing storylines, original premises and to-die-for heroes. What's not to like about them?
Something, I guess, because I've read 2 of her books now and for some reason they just leave me cold. Well, not cold, but I don't feel anything when I'm done them. I lose the story in all of the words, if that makes any sense, and I feel like I'm wading through chest-deep water. Tough slogging!
The whole time I'm reading her books I feel completely detached from the characters and what is going on -- I can appreciate on one level the story, the romance, the characters -- but on another level I am sitting in the third balcony watching the show. I can see all the reasons I should like it, but can't feel anything for it.
I wish I liked AM more, I wish I did, I REALLY wish I did! Alas, I'm afraid that I'll be like the little kid outside the toy store window -- nose pressed against the glass, wishing I could be closer and part of the fun.
Rating I should give it based on the content: 4 stars Rating I would give it based on how I really feel about it: 2 stars
So I'll split the difference and give it a 3. (less)
Ok, so after reading this one, I have six words for y'all:
Holy shit, this series is good.
If you like intricate world building, reinventing human histo...moreOk, so after reading this one, I have six words for y'all:
Holy shit, this series is good.
If you like intricate world building, reinventing human history so that werewolves have been in our midst since the beginning, suspense, drama, angst, angst, angst and a doomed love story, look no further.
Boyd's style of telling this story is much the same as The Passion. For those who haven't seen my review of that book, it means that that I got drawn in immediately, then skimmed for a bit, then got a bit um, complacent, and then once again WHAM! the book began to fire on all eight cylinders and kept me captive right until the end.
Then, of course, because my kindle happened to be charged up, as soon as I finished the last page I looked up the third book on Amazon. Renegade, it's called, and to the detriment of my book budget I clicked "Buy" and paid almost $7 bucks for it.
A historical mystery/adventure with a couple of really steamy love scenes and a deftly handled romance (that actually took a ba...moreThis book was AWESOME.
A historical mystery/adventure with a couple of really steamy love scenes and a deftly handled romance (that actually took a backseat to the story and I DIDN'T. EVEN. NOTICE.) The writing is crisp, the story is fast-paced, the romance is subtle, the tension palpable, the whodunnit surprising, the ending satisfying...what more can I say?
When I finished this book I honestly didn't know where to shelve it.
It didn't feel much like a romance, but underneath this was all about love. I did...moreWhen I finished this book I honestly didn't know where to shelve it.
It didn't feel much like a romance, but underneath this was all about love. I didn't really think it was PNR or UF, but where else do you put a tale about werewolves? It starts in the present, with a murder and a family secret, but quickly flashes back in time to France in 1897. A thwarted assassination attempt sets up the whole story.
The world building (is that what you call it when you make up the history of a new race?) is richly worked, painstakingly detailed and, um, bit boring after a while. Thank God I'm a skim-reader.
The first two thirds of the book plays like a light Regency/Victorian, with our heroine as ward of Alexander Devoncroix - werewolf extraordinaire. I was soldiering through, minding my own business (getting a bit frustrated and vaguely wondering if there was going to be any depth to the writing whatsoever) when
It got serious, it got dark, it got compelling and suspenseful and tragic and beautiful and dammit I got a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes.
I don't get affected like THIS very often, I must say.
And now having said that, I don't know how to rate it. The first 2/3? A 3.5 or thereabouts - I was skimming a fair bit, to be fair. The last 1/3, though - that part gets 5 stars simply for emotional punch Ms. Boyd smacked me with. (less)