First things first -- this is without a doubt, hands down, shout from the rooftops the best romance I've read this year.
Second thing - you have to ignFirst things first -- this is without a doubt, hands down, shout from the rooftops the best romance I've read this year.
Second thing - you have to ignore the cover, because it's HORRIBLE. (That babe holding the handcuffs looks like Paula Abdul -- **shudders**).
Oh, and another thing - chuck the synopsis. Doesn't really do the book justice. All that sex they're talking about happens (hoo, boy, does it EVER!) but imho this book is a love story, plain and simple.
Beautifully written, this one grabbed me at the first paragraph and kept me up till 3:00am reading it all in one sitting, with tears in my eyes when I got to the end. I re-read it again today, and again, I'm blinking furiously and sniffling when I get to the words "the end". I want my own Hunter Anderson, dammit.
Now that we have all of that out of the way, I'm out of words. Thanks to my friend, Uniquely Moi Dhestiny, for writing a kick-ass review that got me interested.
And because I can't find the words to describe how very good this book was, I'm going to point you to some ladies who said it better than I ever could (including Dhes, who's up first), and all I can say for each one is, "What she said."
Once when I was a kid and before the advent of Tylenol, I had a super-bad headache and took too many aspirin. My ears rang for almost a whole day afteOnce when I was a kid and before the advent of Tylenol, I had a super-bad headache and took too many aspirin. My ears rang for almost a whole day afterward. A high-pitched, buzzing, annoying "ching"-like noise that drove me bonkers.
Dylan Moore has heard that same noise continually for years. A fall from a galloping horse, a smack of his skull against a rock and presto! The doctors tell him the bells shall ring in his brain for the rest of his life. For a piano virtuoso/composer/conductor this is catastrophic. He can't sleep, he can't compose, he can't drink, smoke or whore the noise away. For a tortured hero affliction, this one kicks ass.
Our story opens with our Hero, desperate to end his agony, holding a pistol under his jaw in a theatre that used to play his symphonies. He is interrupted by the charwoman cleaning the theatre who persuades him not to do it; she will have to clean up after him, she says, and that sort of mess doesn't come out of wood. She leaves the theatre, taking with her his pistol and the impetus for him to end his life. He doesn't even know her name.
Cut to five years later. Dylan sees her playing violin at a ball and recognizes her immediately. He believes her to be his muse -- for only when he sees her can he hear anything other than the endless ringing in his ears. She is the key to unlocking the music in his head, he thinks, and pursues her.
The heroine, Grace Cheval, was ruined in the eyes of her family when she eloped with a famous French painter at 17. Years later Etienne is dead and Grace is eking out a meager existence by selling oranges and disguising herself as a man to play violin in a quartet. She has never forgotten her encounter with Dylan at the theatre, but had already spent years putting up with a tortured artist. Being a muse to a painter was quite enough, she thinks. The muse is blamed when the creative spark is gone, and she has no desire to be put on that pedestal.
Dylan's life as a self-absorbed, self-indulged artiste takes another turn when he is presented with an 8-yr-old daughter he never knew existed. Her mother has died and Dylan finds this a perfect way to have Grace -- a governess to his daughter, a muse for his talent, and a mistress for himself.
Their story is a quiet, emotion-filled one of love and redemption. It wasn't all sweeping, grand gestures and flowery speeches. For all the excitement of new love, there is the bittersweet goodbye to love that has died, and the dreams that died with it. There is jealousy, and cruel words, and heartbreak. There were a couple of scenes in the book where I was pretty sure I didn't like the Hero at all. Then it occurred to me that his behaviour was the closest to real life that I've read in a while. That's what their relationship was -- real. Most of us IRL don't realize what we have until we've lost it; nor do we recognize our flaws until it's almost too late to fix the damage we've done.
A much more serious book than the first in the series, (Guilty Pleasures), this one is definitely worth-reading - especially if you like tortured types and a bit of an angsty read.
One last thing: although this book is part of a series, it can be read as a stand-alone. Guhrke is doing an OUTSTANDING job of loosely tying the characters together - they slip in and out of each other's stories, always on the periphery, never intruding into the main book. I'd love to give the book 5 stars just for that.
Way more fun than Eve and Roarke (and a Hero just as hot), these books are an absolute blast.
This one picks up three months after Flirting With DangerWay more fun than Eve and Roarke (and a Hero just as hot), these books are an absolute blast.
This one picks up three months after Flirting With Danger left off, and Sam and Rick are still striking sparks off each other and setting their sheets on fire. Sam is trying hard to stay on the straight and narrow and Rick is attempting to run his conglomerate while Sam is sleeping, it seems.
I absolutely love these two -- their banter is delicious:
"You're a good guy, Rick." He smiled. "I keep telling you that." Her smile joined his, her thoughtful green eyes studying his face. "Do you know what I want to do right now?" Rick placed his cloth napkin across his lap. He should have asked for a less conspicuous table. "Tell me." Samantha picked up a bread stick, examined it for a moment, then slowly licked the length of it. "Mm, salty goodness," she murmured. "Christ. Cease and desist before I split my zipper." "Oh, then I would have to sit on your lap in my short dress to protect your modesty. " She leaned forward, gazing at him serenely. "Comfortable?"
Have I said yet how much I love these books? The characters seemed like old friends by the time I was done the first book, and now re-visiting them in the second is like travelling home for Christmas. So much fun!
Because they are so engaging and the writing is so good I can overlook a couple of things about this book that chimed aloud as I read: the relationship between Rick and his ex and Sam at times defied belief, and sometimes Sam is just TOO stubborn about letting Rick know what she's up to.
Still, this series is fast becoming one of my all-time faves and I would highly recommend it for anyone looking for a light, funny, sexy romp.
And because I really love Rick, I'm going to leave you with this:
"What's your horse's name?" she asked, tentatively patting the near shoulder or wither or whatever it was called. "Middlebrook-on-Thames," he replied. "What?" "Tim, for short. He has a nasty long pedigree." "Hence the stupid name." Rick raised an eyebrow. "I have a nasty long pedigree." "I know that, Richard William Addison, Viscount Halford, Marquis of Rawley." He kissed her again. "You got it straight, Samantha Elizabeth Jellicoe of Palm Beach."
Really, really good suspense/psychological drama - reminded me a bit of the movie Memento, but only in that it also had to do with anterograde amnesiaReally, really good suspense/psychological drama - reminded me a bit of the movie Memento, but only in that it also had to do with anterograde amnesia.
Subtle, and creepy, and frightening.
I read that the book has been optioned by Ridley Scott's production company -- this will make quite a movie. ...more
So here's a question. Why a novella and not a novel? I ALWAYS wonder this when reading one, and Second Son of a Duke was no different.
I really likedSo here's a question. Why a novella and not a novel? I ALWAYS wonder this when reading one, and Second Son of a Duke was no different.
I really liked the premise. (No surprise there; marriage of convenience is one of my favourite tropes.) I especially liked the writing:
Did he even know her Christian name? Best to just brush right past that, he'd figure it out tomorrow. "Of course. As I was saying - "
"It's Juliette. As in I take thee, Juliette Grace Fairchild..." She waved her hand as if to say etcetera. "You should jot it down somewhere in case you are in need of it again."
Excellent. Married twelve hours and she was already sniping at him. Tomorrow, when he killed his brother, it would be slow and unnecessarily painful. "Yes, well, it's probably recorded in the family Bible now; I'll just look it up the next time."
This was a great read - engaging and witty with characters I liked very much. And the cool little twist about the Duke came completely out of nowhere. Well done!
My only complaint is this: I felt the twist with the Duke and the end of the story were a little abrupt. I thought there was enough material here that the author could very easily have gone on to write a novel, rather than a 14,000 word novella. (I know, I know, talk about what you read, not about what you WISHED you had read, but I can't help it. I wished it was longer.) I liked the story enough that I wasn't quite ready to leave it.
I picked this up on Amazon for $.99, and I think right now it's on sale for less. If you're looking for a quick, enjoyable read, pick it up. I'd recommend it for the fresh take on a marriage of convenience alone. And if Gwen Hayes writes a full length historical, I'm all over it.
Just so you all know, the 5 stars are simply for the sex. The story didn't interest me much, but holy crap the sex was hot. (And so were the men she wJust so you all know, the 5 stars are simply for the sex. The story didn't interest me much, but holy crap the sex was hot. (And so were the men she was doing it with.) Whew!
I've also read The Harlot by the same author. It's probably not a fair comparison, as that one is a historical and is also a full length novel (I think), but I enjoyed the story of that one much more. (It was just as hot, though.)
Warning: m/f/m, extremely explicit and includes a seriously hot 3-way. No m/m though, but if the book had been any longer that probably would have happened too. ;D...more
I mean, I love historical romances, love dark, brooding alpha heroes, love spine-tingling horror novels. I love theI always thought I liked gothics.
I mean, I love historical romances, love dark, brooding alpha heroes, love spine-tingling horror novels. I love the covers - pretty English women in filmy white nightgowns, running about foggy castle grounds in the dark. I used to read Victoria Holt, Phyllis A Whitney and Mary Stewart (my parents subscribed to Reader's Digest Condensed so I also read Jaws, Airport and The Boys from Brazil way too young, but what can I say?). So when I saw the blurb for this book I was pretty enthused. A gothic! With sex! Yeehaw!
Well, it has all the requisites for a good gothic: "heroines alternately swooning over or being terrified by scowling Byronic men in possession of acres of prime real estate and the appertaining droit de seigneur" (thank you, wikipedia!)
The story is pretty standard gothic (widower, hires governess, needs wife also, creepy hijinks ensue), it's just the execution that perhaps isn't very good. It's in the first person, which, although I think is normal for these books, I don't care for. I wonder if it isn't harder to do than the regular third person.
This book felt choppy and abrupt, and I kept backtracking to see what I had missed. The dialogue seemed stilted at times and the characters, well, you have the Brooding Lord and Master, the Virginal Maiden, the Creepy Servant, the child, the Slutty Neighbour with Designs on the Lord and Master and the Russet-Haired Ghost (dead wife? secret sister?). It's a novella rather than a full-length novel, and it's a cliff-hanger! Sometime in August one can buy the second part on Amazon, if one were to want to find out what happens.
Gianetta is hired as a governess, sight unseen, by Gawain. She travels to his home and on her first night there she is woken by the Creepy Servant and taken to meet her new boss. He talks about his wife, who has died two months hence (GRRR. Glaring editorial error, one of many and more on this later). This happens a few more times, they never speak more than for him to make creepy pronouncements and tell her she will be his wife and she needs to be taught the same way she will be teaching his daughter. Then we meet the Slutty Neighbour with Designs on the Lord and Master and there is a quickie wedding. Gianetta (I think) falls in love with Gawain, although for what reason I can't imagine - except that she will be homeless and destitute if she leaves. Then some gothicky occurrences, then the cliffhanger.
I'm not sure what to say about the sex in the book. I think this author also writes erotica, which is fine, but when you throw sex like that into a book like this, where there is no tension, no chemistry, just some weird middle-of-the-night summonses, a quickie marriage and a creepy introduction to Gawain's cock, it didn't work for me. (After he's stuck it right in her face, he wants to know what she thinks of it, urges her to touch it, "hold it in your hands. Do as you will with it," to take her time, see if she likes it. Then of course, "Now darling, I want something more from you. Take me into your mouth." She's a virgin and they've never done more than kiss. She's all panty and wet and calling him "husband" while she goes down on him, but...)
Blech, blech, icky icky blech.
Which brings me to my final bit, and this is what might have made me review this book so critically.
This book is set in 1782. I read a lot of historical romance, and there is a certain flow to the language that you use when setting a story in that period.
Here's an example from page 7: "Either he eschewed a wig, or had just taken his off for the evening." Ooh, old word, I thought -- she's been doing research!
Until I got to page 8: "Do you know my wife, Eleanor, died two months hence?" HUH? Doesn't hence mean in the future? Aww, she's just throwing these words around, she hasn't researched this at all.
And again at page 24: "Oh I'm Elsie, miss. I'm a fairly new maid here and sort of have to float around at Greta's command" Fairly new? Sort of? Float around? WTF???
And another at page 70: "I think you're okay..." Who the hell said okay in 1782?!?!?
And the big one, page 71: "Master says he is taking Willa into town for the day and that she will stay with a cousin tonight for a sleepover." Not just the word (which wasn't used before 1965 FFS, and if I could find that out in 5 seconds why couldn't the author have looked it up as well!?!?!?) but the action -- I dunno how many English children got schlepped over to their cousin's place to spend the night.
And again, page 96: "It's okay. I'm going to make you want it. You're mine, after all."
I would say that I don't care enough to buy the second installment, but I am vaguely curious whether she got a better editor for the second one.
Maybe I'm just not meant to read gothics. I'm waiting for someone else to review this book (with words, not just stars) so I can see what they thought.
Original entry August 7/11: Going to start a new shelf called "Stinkers", I think. Review to come....more
I've been reading nothing but raves about this book for more t(LANGUAGE WARNING, I'M GOING ON A RANT)
Oh, it's lonely here in I-didn't-like-this-land.
I've been reading nothing but raves about this book for more than a year, so I was looking forward to reading it. I'm not going to say anything about the story, it's been done to death, other than to say I liked the story itself right up until I just. could. not. read. any. more.
I liked Ryan very much; I felt his background and situation was portrayed realistically and not melodramatically. If I lived next door to him I'd have fallen for him like a rock as well. My problem, AND IT WAS A HUGE ONE, was with Sara. It must just be me; I found only one other review that even mentioned it. My response to her was almost immediate and completely visceral; my update says it all:
It started when Ryan told her what he did for a living. First of all, she didn't understand what he meant by "escort". Colour me skeptical, but what female DOESN'T know what that word means? Then she freaks out (ok, that I understand) but then turns it around so it's about how he's betrayed her. HUH??? Then she's mad because she babysat his dog while he was out fucking other women.
"I don't think details are a good idea, Sara." There was a difference between honesty and stupidity, after all.
"No, I want to know," she said, some more anger creeping in now. "How many women were you sleeping with on your trip last week while I was here, walking your dog, and feeding your fish, and taking your cat to your vet, and - "
I'm sorry, how about NONE OF YOUR FUCKING BUSINESS.
Sheesh. You've lived next door to the guy for a couple of months, hung out together as friends. You thought he was gay, for crissake. You hid how much you wanted to jump his bones because you thought he didn't like you.
Now you can't understand how it's a job, how he feels trapped, how he tried to get out once before but couldn't. How he feels like he owes his life to his "boss", how he has no skills to do anything else. So you say things like this:
"Why won't you quit this life?"
The plaintive question was out of her mouth before she even knew she was thinking it, let alone contemplating saying it out loud.
He sighed and rested his forehead against the broom for a moment. "I tried. I can't. That's why I've been avoiding you ever since you asked about it. Because this..." He made a vague gesture indicating the two of them, "...this will only hurt you. And I don't want to hurt you."
"Too late now."
He met her eyes. "I'm sorry."
"What do you mean you tried? How? What happened?" When he didn't reply, she said querulously, "Try harder."
Again, I'm struggling to understand how this is ANY OF YOUR FUCKING BUSINESS. What gives you the right to demand to know why he has or hasn't done anything? And how has this hurt YOU, when you made it clear that you were disgusted and hid from him for days after he told you?
Sara is also a bit uptight sexually, and about comes unglued when her sister tells her she's gay. Ryan knows before she does (he's a bit more observant than Sara is) and her response to him is to make a rude noise and say "Well, obvious to a sex professional, maybe, but I had no idea."
Ryan straps a set on at that point and tells her exactly what he was up to the day before -- in great detail. "I screwed one woman while her lesbian lover watched. Then I did a three-way with them." ( HAH! Point to Ryan. Take that, Sara, you bitch.) Sara can't even respond, she has to "wait for her revulsion to subside".
After avoiding him for three days she demands, "where have you been?" when he isn't around when she decides she needs to talk to him. When he tells her he was working, she rolls her eyes and says something snide. Another day she says, "I've spent all evening waiting for you to come home." She frowned at him. "You can't keep doing that. You have to give me your cell phone number." Then she gets bitchy when he tells her his cell phone belongs to his boss.
Ryan has his pocket picked by a street kid, and tells Sara about him. She immediately takes over, researching how they could take care of him, where he could go, including contacting an outreach organization run by an ex-prostitute. When Ryan is surprised, she says, "Some people actually get out of the sex trade and do something worthwhile with their lives, Ryan."
Wow. You're all heart, lady.
She goes on to tell Ryan that she's made an appointment for him at the shelter. Ryan, again surprised ("You made an appointment for me?") says he has to work. Uh-oh.
He could tell from her expression that it was very much the wrong thing to say. "God forbid," Sara said, "that saving Adam's life should interfere with your Wednesday afternoon trick."
She goes on to lecture him, telling him he couldn't know anything about it because places like that didn't exist when he was a street kid (which was, um, probably early 90s, so I'm betting that they DID) and how the worker took all that time out of her busy day to make the appointment,
"and do you think I'm so naive that you can't trust my judgment or do you think you could take an hour out of your busy day of well-paid sex to keep this appointment for Adam's sake?"
He lowered his head, embarassed and confused. "I'm sorry. I just..."
"Right now, you're thinking like a street boy - and like a prostitute, I guess", she said gently. "But I happen to know that when you put that attitude aside, you're an intelligent and sensible adult."
Really. And did you pat his head and offer him a cookie after that?
Is it just me???? Am I the only person who thought this woman was a complete bag, who didn't think Ryan was good enough for her unless he quit the life?
All right. At this point in the book I'm thinking I hate this woman so much I can't believe he still wants anything to do with her. And the LAST thing I want to do is read about Ryan having sex with her. Just based on her character I know an ultimatum is coming. And I freaking hate those more than anything in the world.
So I bailed at 63%.
Someone, please help me. Please tell me Sara has a split personality and this person I absolutely DETESTED disappears after they have sex and a more understanding, less self-absorbed Sara takes over? That she quits with the bitchy, derogatory remarks and becomes a more supportive friend/lover? That there is no more preaching and heavy-handed tactics to make Ryan feel even more worthless, that Ryan finds the strength to leave the life and help others ON HIS OWN, and not because some shelter worker and his girlfriend ganged up on him, or because the woman he loved gave him an ultimatum? Pretty please?
Story gets 4 stars Heroine deducts -200 stars (setting a personal record for detesting a fictional character) ...more