All right, so it's not the 1700s and I'm not a man, but I'm sure this was the look on my face as I read this book.
This is the only book I've ever read
All right, so it's not the 1700s and I'm not a man, but I'm sure this was the look on my face as I read this book.
This is the only book I've ever read where the heroine should really have been the villain. I was cheering for her underage sister to get the Hero by half-way through the book. Clare was a repressed, uptight, bossy British bitch. I was looking for her to be hit by a lorry, dismembered and stuffed in the boot of her car, scalded to death by the steam from her tea kettle or at least strangled by her sense of superiority.
Somehow, in the way that only ever happens in a old British Harlequin, SHE GETS THE HERO! I won't tell you how, and I won't tell you why, but then neither does the author. Wait, yes she does - she tells us, rather than shows us, and it's after a completely what-the-fuckety-fuck twist that (view spoiler)[had me fearing for the Hero's life, doubting the heroine's sanity and wondering if my Harlequin romance was going to veer off into "Saw" territory. Frankly, I was disappointed that it didn't. (hide spoiler)]
HERE'S MY SUMMARY: She meets him. She hates him. She is suspicious of him. She's a complete bitch to him. She thinks he's sucking the life out of her friend. Anyone who does this for a man deserves a slap, she thinks. He tries to be polite to her. Oooh, now she really hates him. Her sister is gaga over him. Hate, hate, hate. They meet to talk about renovations. Shout, shout, shout. Uptight British bitch spring winds tighter. He rents her house and wears black satin pyjamas. Hate, hate, repressed lust. Now her sister is the one who looks pale. Could be because heroine is bossy, overbearing and pushy, but probably because Hero is sucking the life out of her too. Hate, hate, fear, fear, panties become moist. Spring winds tighter. Dream a little vampire dream, all blowing curtains and bare necks and biting. Spring winds tighter still. Torments her uptight self with constant thoughts of how much she hates him. Hate, hate, pretends to have a boyfriend to shoo him away. Must keep sister away, plot, plot, plot. Dream another vampire dream only this time SHE'S sucking his blood. She passes him in the street, runs away. Run, run, run. Hate, lust, panties even moister. Sister has a screen test! Jealous, frantic hate, crazy plan involving sending her sister on a trip and other stuff even more fucked up, if possible.
INSERT REALLY FUCKED UP PLOT DEVELOPMENT HERE.
I literally shook my head to clear my (middle-age) vision and read it again to make sure I had it right. I'm not even going to say what happens, except this: remember that uptight British bitch spring wound really tight???
It's a complete mystery to me how there was an HEA. I'm sure she only sees him three times through the whole book. We barely hear from him - he's there, but only as this peripheral maybe-bad guy and mostly as referred to by the women in the book. He was strangely absent to me. This show was strictly the Crazy-Bitch Clare Hour, with some pretty hot sex for a Harlequin thrown in for good measure. I think. I was skimming by this point, clicking my kindle as fast my speed-reading eyes could take me. There might have been some really deep confessions of tewwible childhood twauma by the Hero and that spring that "spronged" so loudly and explosively earlier somehow turned Clare into a kinder, gentler version of her previously psycho self but I'm not certain. I just wanted to be finished, before the perplexed look I knew I was wearing (see the top of my review) froze on my face and I was stuck with it.
It was one of the strangest Harlequin reading experiences I've ever had, and another one I can't rate just yet.
ETA rating: 4 stars, with an explanation: I've been thinking about this for 2 days now, trying to decide how to rate this. I hated the heroine, the HEA was ridiculous, the dialogue juvenile, the character development non-existent, the characters themselves two-dimensional...BUT. The same things that made me not like the book work in its favour. I was invested, I couldn't put it down (mostly because I couldn't fucking believe it, but whatever works). I'll never forget it. And the hero wore black satin pyjamas. :["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
The blurb on the cover of this one says, "the plot twists and turns..."
Having just emerged from this tale I'd go one further and call it labrynthian.The blurb on the cover of this one says, "the plot twists and turns..."
Having just emerged from this tale I'd go one further and call it labrynthian.
This is book 2 of the Dismas Hardy series, and for me, it filled in the picture I had of Dismas, Frannie, Abe and Moses even further. (I initially started this series at book #4, and have now just started re-reading from the beginning.)
It also gave me a hefty respect for the sheer amount of talent it takes to be an author. Not only do you need to have a good story; you need to be a craftsman. Have the skill to construct a story so that from the beginning the reader sees only the surface. Then, as you put the reader through his paces you peel away the layers, revealing only bits and pieces at a time, keeping the reader guessing until the very end.
This was a great read. On the face of it, a simple murder/missing person story. Underneath, it's about appearances, assumptions and human nature, and how an error in perception can change your very existence.
Timothy plays Raylan Givens in the FX series Justified. (He's also my latest mid-life crisis, as anyone who getsIt all started with Timothy Olyphant:
Timothy plays Raylan Givens in the FX series Justified. (He's also my latest mid-life crisis, as anyone who gets my updates will know. ) That series is based on characters created by Elmore Leonard, and specifically a short story called "Fire in the Hole".
So after watching 2 seasons of Justified (all in the course of 3 weeks, but who's counting?) I was curious. I vaguely remembered that the movies Get Shorty and Out of Sight were based on his books, but until I searched him here on GR I had no freaking idea how many books this dude has churned out. And how many Hollywood had adapted: 3:10 to Yuma,Hombre, The Big Bounce, Rum Punch (Jackie Brown), Stick, Be Cool, tons more plus a couple of tv shows. One title in particular stood out: 52 Pick Up.
Hey! I thought. I think that was the movie with Roy Scheider and Ann-Margret in it.
Have I mentioned that I've had a crush on Roy Scheider since "Jaws"?
And "Marathon Man"? And "Blue Thunder"?
And just generally?
Oh, somebody stop me.
Anyhoo, the memory of how much I liked Roy Scheider is what compelled me to pick this up, and am I ever glad I did.
This book was fabulous, for more than one reason.
Reason #1: It was written in 1974. I LOVE detective books written ages ago. They seem grittier, and a whole lot more entertaining to me for some reason. Perhaps it's just that I grew up in a house littered with Travis McGee and James Bond books in the 70s and it's nostalgia; perhaps it's just more fun to read about a crime being committed and/or solved without the benefit of computers and cell phones. There's a much bigger sense of urgency to the bad guys having your wife when all you can do is dial a rotary dial phone and listen to it ring, and ring, and ring... Strip clubs, rose wine being classy and afternoons at the club playing tennis seems so cool somehow. And having your kids in university and being considered middle-aged at 42 seems, I dunno, normal. Even the amount that Harry is being blackmailed for works and is where the name of the book comes from.
Reason #2: The writing. I think Elmore Leonard is famous for the dialogue in his books. If he's not, boy, he should be. I don't even know how to describe it - spare, tight, laconic, are words that come to mind. At times laugh out loud funny, and always, with every character, REAL. These are people you know. Leonard has a gift for giving his characters a voice and using turns of phrase that bring them to life.
"But," Alan was saying, "we do have a problem. Somebody got killed. He saw it. At the time he didn't know about us, but now he does."
Bobby Shy spoke for the first time. He said, "He knows about you two. He don't know about me."
Alan looked at him. "That's right. That's why you're going to have to do it. You can walk up to him, shake hands and blow him away. Man won't even know what hit him."
"For what?" Bobby Shy said. "What do I get out of it?"
"Peace of mind," Alan said.
"I look nervous to you?"
Reason #3: The story itself. I vaguely remembered it from the movie but not enough to ruin the way Leonard wound his way through the con, all the double-crosses and the fix. Brilliant. Throw in a brewing scrap with a union boss that includes firebombing a car (that would ONLY have been possible in the 70s) for good measure and you have a superbly entertaining, hard-boiled crime novel.
As a lazy skim-reader hooked on historical romances I'm accustomed to characters with verbal diarrhea, endless navel-gazing and wading through detailed descriptions of clothing, not to mention 10 page love scenes. This book was a tightly plotted, refreshing treat.
I don't know that I would want a steady diet of Leonard's work, but I sure enjoyed the bit that I've tasted.
Ok, so when I said I guessed I would have to read the rest of the trilogy (strictly out of curiosity, I'll have you know) what I should have said wasOk, so when I said I guessed I would have to read the rest of the trilogy (strictly out of curiosity, I'll have you know) what I should have said was that I was going to read it immediately after finishing The Gamble. And when I say immediately, I mean 3 clicks on my kindle.
I'm not going to squeal, and I'm not going to gush, nor am I going to post half-nekkid pictures of Joe Manganiello, Hugh Jackman, or Sawyer (although now that I think of it, he would work) in my review. Suffice it to say that I read this one much the same way I read the first one - completely absorbed and unable to put it down for long until I was done.
To KA's credit, while Sweet Dreams was a bit similar in feel to The Gamble the storylines were quite, quite different. I'm not sure which one I liked better. The whole "stuck together" story from The Gamble closely resembles the marriage of convenience trope, one of my all-time faves. The theme of this book - re-inventing yourself and finding the love of your life - is easy to relate to and I though KA handled it nicely.
Random thoughts from this book?
- Characters seem to be more of the same from Kristen Ashley, just as I suspected after reading The Gamble. Down to earth, plain-speaking small-town folks - in this case, bikers (to give them an a bad-boy edge??). She does have a knack for this. How does she do it when she's been gone from the US for years and is now in England?
- Why, why, why don't folks use pronouns in their speech?
- Call me a snob, but this lady was a buyer for a department store, and she dumps it all to wear Harley Davidson tank tops and jeans to be a waitress? Not that I haven't had dreams of dumping it all for a super hot guy, taking off to small town where everyone is family and job that you leave at the end of your shift. It does have a certain appeal.
- A biker/bounty hunter? Bad visions of Dog The Bounty Hunter and his wife running after felons on the lam threatened to overtake my enjoyment a couple of times. That was hard work bleaching Dog's braids, beads and bling out of my frontal lobe.
- And bossy? Tate was even more bossy than Max (from the first book). Yowza. I might have told him to go p*** up a rope more than once if I were the heroine, but he also sleeps curled up to her and recognizes when he's been a complete jackass.
Oh hell, I don't know. This book was too damn long, even longer than the first one. It was full of garbled syntax, just like the first one. Lots of run on sentences and stream of consciousness 1st person POV, like The Gamble.
The Hero of this book was an even bigger chauvinist than the Hero of the first in the series -- I shudder to think what's coming in the third one. There are only so many variations on modern-day alpha before you run smack into Complete Fucking Asshole. Once KA hits that point I don't know that I'll be able to read any more of her stuff.
But, for now, 4 stars. It kept me clicking pages on my kindle, I liked the characters, and she does write some pretty hot love scenes. Just as with the last book I can somehow understand the run-on sentences and meandering thought processes, though many people will have trouble with this.
I just keep thinking: Ms. Ashley, if you would just polish these up (and for God's sake, hire a COPY EDITOR!!) you could be as big as Nora Roberts. ...more
(shudders) Well, that gave me the chills, big time. A couple of really good skin-crawling, hair standing up on the back of my neck, heart-pounding mom(shudders) Well, that gave me the chills, big time. A couple of really good skin-crawling, hair standing up on the back of my neck, heart-pounding moments. And the ending! Yowza. Damn, maybe I've ruined the movie for myself. Then again, maybe not.
Look at that fog. And this:
Ok -- I really liked this book, although the first chapter was bit confusing in all the back and forths setting up the narrator's history. I thought the writing was good, the mood was set very well, and it was just the kind of classic ghost story I love. It kept me glued to it until the very end with, as I said at the beginning, my heart beginning to pound and the back of my neck getting the crawlies. The ending was shocking (and although you can tell it's coming it shocks you nonetheless) and I was greatly entertained throughout.
Maybe I will see the movie anyway. The setting looks wonderfully British: damp and foggy, bleak and creepy, with an undertone of unease and malevolence. Just like the book.
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 wouldIf 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....more
You gotta hand it to Anne Stuart. She has found a formula for each of the two types of books she writes - historical roWarning: 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 fromThis 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. ...more
Sometimes you can just have too much of a good thing.
I believe one of my GR friends called this book an "exhausting melodramatic hot mess." (Thanks,Sometimes you can just have too much of a good thing.
I believe one of my GR friends called this book an "exhausting melodramatic hot mess." (Thanks, Amy!) After having stayed awake until 3:00am to try to push through said mess, I would have to agree.
I really wanted to love this book. When I read Fifty Shades of Grey I was mesmerized - I'd never read anything like it. The story stuck with me for days, and I immediately bought the second book and it was much the same thing. There were little hints of things that bothered me in the second book - I have a pretty visceral reaction to people in a relationship using the words "let" (as in "he let me go out") and the second book was peppered with these. In the first book, Christian was a Dom, and I expected that from him. In the second book Christian had ostensibly let go of that life, and was struggling to let go of his issues with control. In this book, he seemed to me to be just an insecure overbearing asshole, who used sex to distract Ana and get her to do what he wanted. You know how in some cultures they say they put women on a pedestal, which amounts to stripping them of the ability to express an opinion, to have a say, to be told what's going on and eventually they can't leave the house? That's what Christian reminded me of. "Oh, I'm so worried about you, I love you so much, I can't bear to have you out of my sight, don't go to work, it's because I love you so much, you are my whole world, and if you do I'll buy the company and bankrupt it so you won't have a job to go to. But it's because I love you so much and I'm so afraid something will happen to you." Shudders. I just wasn't ok with it in this book.
(eta: And the hickey thing when they were on their honeymoon???? Juvenile, petty, mean, vindictive. I hated it. I would have fucking killed him.)
Fifty's possessiveness, aggressiveness and control issues were getting pretty old by the middle of this story. Watching Ana run around constantly trying to discern if he was angry with her, and changing her behaviour to fit his moods was much worse in this book than the second -- what was vaguely unsettling in Fifty Shades Darker became downright disturbing in Fifty Shades Freed. I should do a Kindle search for "please don't be mad at me". Together with "Holy Fuck" and "I love this man" they make up a good portion of the book.
And Ana didn't sit much better with me this time around, either. Her voice as narrator, which resonated so much with me in the first 2 books, grated on me this time. Other reviews complained of how immature she sounds; I finally agree. Frankly, I got tired of hearing how much she "loved this man", this "beautiful man", her husband, her Fifty. It seemed to me that after 2 books of hearing how she can't believe someone that physically beautiful could love her that it would be toned down a bit. To me, it seemed to have been cranked up even higher in this book. She doesn't say it to herself as much as she did, but her actions and her words and even the way she thinks of Christian screams it.
("Ohferchrissakes," I remember thinking. "You let him shave your snatch but you won't PEE in front of him? How do you ever expect to build a marriage with him?")
It all seemed so over the top, almost hokey, all surface declarations of this all-consuming passionate love and I wasn't really buying it this time around. They both seemed desperate, and for each step they took forward, they slid backwards twice as far.
The epilogue and the HEA were nice, but I felt like it could easily have been an add-on to the second book and we could have skipped this one entirely.
Damn, this could easily turn into a rant. Me stop now.
Barely 3 stars -- the cover rounded up the 2.5 I would have given it otherwise. ...more