You can debate for years about Stephen King's place in modern literature but you have to hand it to the man -- he's prolific as hell and has about the...moreYou can debate for years about Stephen King's place in modern literature but you have to hand it to the man -- he's prolific as hell and has about the most distinctive voice ever heard in fiction. Whether you love him or hate him, you'll recognize his writing by about three paragraphs into whatever it is you're reading.
I'm one of the folks King calls his "Constant Readers" -- we've been together since I was a kid. I saw 'Salems Lot on tv in the 70s and immediately ran out and bought the book. I've read virtually everything he's put out since then, and my basement bookshelves groan under the weight of all those hardcovers.
King is a master of characterization and his particular grace is with children. They shine in his work and Mile 81 is no exception. Although the story itself doesn't feel especially new, it's enjoyable nonetheless. And that's all I'm going to say about the plot. There's already far too much out there. :)
I loved hearing King's voice again, it's been awhile since we've sat down together.
I'd never read this author before, which actually surprises me. She's been around since the mid-seventies and has been pretty prolific t...moreWow. Just wow.
I'd never read this author before, which actually surprises me. She's been around since the mid-seventies and has been pretty prolific throughout. I've been reading HR (and bodice-rippers) since the late 70s but for some reason I never picked one up.
I am so glad I finally did -- and thanks to my GR friend Ruth, for writing a stellar review that had me immediately downloading the book from Amazon.
I haven't read a historical romance with so much actual historical detail in it since the early 80s. Everything is here -- the history, the state of the world, the War of the Roses, their clothing and food, their way of life, their manner of speech, their politics, their society -- all of it given throughout the book with nary an info dump to be found.
Oh my GOD, what a pleasure to read.
The only thing I noticed about this one was that the romance, while satisfying, didn't have quite the level of intimacy (only word I can think of) that I've come to expect from historical romances nowadays. Of course, that's probably because the new books have virtually no historical detail or story other than the relationship between the H/h, but that's what I'm used to and I notice when it's different.
That being said, I liked the Hero very much - he reminded me a bit of Wulfgar of Normandy (The Wolf and the Dove). I didn't find Isobel quite as likeable as Rand (but that's because I'm usually in it only for the men), but I found her frustration at being told who she was to wed very believable. What I also found to be a nice change was the fact that although she was angry at being wed, she had no problems knocking boots with Rand at every opportunity once she discovered how attracted she was to him and how good he was at that part of marriage. ;D Atta girl.
The writing is amazing, the attention to historical detail and background is fantastic. This is a tale of Henry VII's court, the intrigue and deception within it, and the love that grows between a base-born warrior and his lady fair.
Oh, my GR friends who've read and recc'ed this book, I think you're on to something.
This was fantabulous. I could argue, as always, that it was too sh...moreOh, my GR friends who've read and recc'ed this book, I think you're on to something.
This was fantabulous. I could argue, as always, that it was too short, but it really wasn't. You get to drop into Makenna and Caden's lives on the night they meet, you stick around for a day or so, then you're gone. You see them just long enough to know that they've found something special with each other, and it's ok to leave them because you know they'll make it. It was short, it was intense, it was awesome.
I was hooked from the first line and I didn't put down my kindle until I was finished. There was something about the writing that I liked very much -- very direct, rich, and without wasted words (unlike my reviews, where if I can use 5 words instead of 2 I will, lol). The H/h ("Good Sam" and "Red" is how I think of them now) are so believable, and so real. Laura Kaye's writing had me right there in the elevator with them - I could virtually smell Caden's cologne. And I was right there in the kitchen, and right there in the bedroom....whew. I was right there for all of it.
I loved it, I'll definitely re-read it, and I wish it was out in paperback so I could look at that beautiful cover All. Day. Long. I will definitely be looking for more from this author.
So this book started out quite well, but then the Hero went crazy and I wasn't buyin' what the author was sellin' after that point.
Let me explain. **H...moreSo this book started out quite well, but then the Hero went crazy and I wasn't buyin' what the author was sellin' after that point.
Let me explain. **Here there be spoilers for anyone who hasn't read the book**
The premise of the story is that the heroine was caught with a man who had his hand up her skirts. The friend who caught them challenged the man to a duel and was killed. There was a huge scandal, of course, and Alexandra was ruined. She meets the Hero, the dead man's brother, when he comes to her home to tell her that she was merely a pawn in the scandal; that she had been used to force a duel. As if that weren't enough, Collin Blackburn tells Alexandra that his brother had been in love with her and preparing to offer for her before the scandal.
So that's how they meet. Sparks fly, he tries to do the honourable thing, she figures if she's labelled a whore she might as well act like one, they get together and shortly after that the Hero goes bonkers. That's the only explanation I have for his behaviour.
Now, I love an alpha hero as much (if not more) than the next girl. Strict, rigid, possessive, stubborn, softening only when he is with me the heroine....yum. Those alphas you can work with. They are usually redeemed by the heroine, and can see their boorish behaviour for what it is (a plot device, mostly).
But a Hero who is irrationally jealous, accusing his wife of lifting her skirts for many before him (though she was a virgin when he took her), believing the worst of anything she says to any male in the vicinity and becoming violent with his best friend when he thinks (wrongly, of course) that his wife is in his bed? Those guys never change. His problem is his own, not hers, and she will never be able to fix it for him. It's those guys that we see on the news nowadays. Because they end up killing someone.
And that ain't romantic to me, folks.
Now, I would normally suspect that this is a knee-jerk reaction on my part to an overly jealous alpha, except that I've never read a book where it seemed to come right out of left field like it did for me with this one. Nothing Collin said or did in the first half of the book prepared me for how he was going to act in the second.
Anyhow, as a result, I didn't really believe the HEA. Ms. Dahl sets it up so that the Hero sees the error of his ways after a couple of lectures from the heroine and after she kills the bad guy to save him, but I just wasn't so sure.
So I'm on to the next in the series. I'm going to chalk this one up to the author hitting a button I didn't know I had about insecure, super jealous men.
Anyhow, I gotta say I never saw this book lying around anywhere back then. I did read Shanna that summer, which probably gave rise to all the other inappropriate reading I did. My mom bought me The Flame and the Flower and The Wolf and the Dove (mostly to shut me up after I read Shanna), but I'm sure she would have put an immediate kibosh on a cover that looked like this one. Yowza!
So anyway, here I am, 33 years later and finally getting a chance to read it.
I'm glad I didn't read this as an 11 or 12 year old -- frankly, it would have bored the shit out of me back then. It's in the first person and there's barely any sex in it! At least, sex that is described, and that's what titillated little me was looking for back then.
Read this as an adult, however, and it takes on an entirely new dimension. This is quite a story. I'm not going to describe it here; this review is mostly my thoughts on having read it.
I normally don't care for first person POV, mostly because of the obvious limitations on the story-telling . When first person is done badly, it stinks to high heaven. That's not the case with this book at all. The narration was beautifully done. You're right there with Felicia, without feeling like she is specifically describing things to you. Teresa Denys was very talented.
When I started reading the book, and got to the first "love scene" (oh, who am I kidding, he capital R -raped her) I thought I was going to be in trouble.
"I do not know how long it was before I realized he had left me. A white hand touched my cheek, and I opened my eyes and saw the blood thick under this fingernails."
Holy crap! I thought. What did he DO to her that there is that much blood? Then a few paragraphs later:
"My answer was smothered against his mouth. Every movement was pain, pain that he had inflicted; the coverlet underneath me was slimy with blood, and between my thighs was burning agony."
But, before long there was no more mention of cuts and bruises from her evenings with Domenico and I breathed a little easier. Or maybe there were and I just ignored them. :)
As a matter of fact, once that chapter was done the book settled down into a very entertaining read. I know it was marketed as a romance ("amid the gilded opulence and dark intrigue of Renaissance Italy grew a love that knew no bounds...") but I thought it ran closer to straight historical fiction. Scratch that. This is the way historical romances used to be written. In 1978 this WAS a historical romance.
Ooops, off track again.
Anyhow, it was a pretty compelling story once I got into it, full of intrigue and betrayal, love and stunning cruelty, jealousy and revenge, (Karla, no wonder you LOVED this one!) and by the end there was even a grovelling Hero and a pretty standard HEA.
I thought that Felicia was a bit dim from time to time and did a couple of really stupid things, but hey. She hasn't had the benefit of reading a couple of hundred historical romances like I have, so how would she know that everything he did was because he actually loved her?
And Domenico -- oh, what a bastard. The first Hero I've ever read about who goes into throes of anger so great he practically passes out. He's absolutely ruthless, domineering, spoiled and cruel. Stunning in his physical beauty, he takes his pleasure where he sees it - be it with men, soldiers or women. On the other hand, he has nightmares (DUH!) and is tormented by his role in the death of his stepmother. Just the kind of guy who, as Dr. Phil says, needs a soft place to fall. All kidding aside though, he didn't seem unrealistic for his time to me. Those Italians were a pretty mean bunch.
So here 's the bottom line:
Am I glad I read it? Yup
Would I recommend it? Only to people whose tastes I'm familiar with.
Did I like it? As a dark, Renaissance gothicky-type story, yes. As a romance, I'm not sure. If this was 1978, you bet - they were all like that then. Nowadays I like a little more navel-gazing in my romances.
Would I read Denys' other book? In a second. She sure can tell a story.
And thanks to my friend Karla (Mossy Love Grotto), without whom I would never have picked this up.
This little book started out so promising. I LOVED the title, the Kindle sample hooked me big time (damn you, Amazon) and I bought the book with such...moreThis little book started out so promising. I LOVED the title, the Kindle sample hooked me big time (damn you, Amazon) and I bought the book with such high hopes.
Agatha, the homely spinster, meets Magnus, the scarred monster, at a ball when she defends him to a group of socialites and literally runs into him in the hallway. They are taken with each other and before you know it, Lord Leighton has offered for her hand and Agatha accepts.
All good so far, I think.
But then they get married, and as soon as they say "I do" they seem to lose whatever brains they possess, and for 2/3 of the book the reader is treated to endless misunderstandings based on their insecurities, they constantly second-guess themselves and pussy-foot around each other until I wanted to shake somebody. (view spoiler)[(And yell, "Oh for Crissakes, would you two just FUCK already!!") (hide spoiler)]
There is a mildly entertaining secondary romance involving Magnus' best friend and Agatha's American fertilizer supplier (WTF you say? Yup.) A little bit contrived and convenient for my tastes, I think. I don't mind being spoonfed, but you have to do it well enough that I don't KNOW I'm slurping pablum. The endless machinations of his friend's matchmaking mother was amusing, but in the end couldn't distract me from the frustration I was feeling at both the leads.
There was a bit of mystery thrown in here as well. It introduced me to the most interesting character in the whole book, a misogynistic magistrate who won't look a woman in the face or speak to her directly. He was the most historically authentic dude in the book, imo.
It was a pleasant, mildly entertaining, slightly maddening Regency once all was said and done. Some glimmers of great writing and compelling storytelling that I felt were lost in a Big Mis plot that could have been much better. Unfortunately, I felt the title was a self-fulfilling prophecy for the book itself.
Original comment September 24/11: What an excellent title. The book, meh. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
As a fledgling romantica reader I'm thinking I'm going to have to wade through a bit of mediocre smut in order to find the good stuff.
This book is mor...moreAs a fledgling romantica reader I'm thinking I'm going to have to wade through a bit of mediocre smut in order to find the good stuff.
This book is more the former than the latter.
The story here is one of long-time friends finally acting on feelings that have been there for years. Normally I love this trope and there was potential here for this to be a really good read. Unfortunately, I didn't feel like the author had the chops to carry it off. Some of the characters and their purpose in the book needed some work (ex-fiancee and her father, I'm talking to you) and there was some pretty important telling that should maybe have been showing. And, finally, I know this is "erotica", but the constant description of her creamy juices gushing and running over her lips made me want to give her the name of a good gynaecologist.
Still, I liked Anna and Max, and I've wasted more time reading crappier books than this one.
325 pages of (mostly) pointless, banal, useless detail about Sookie's life, including how many cups on her cof...moreWhat a colossal waste of time and $$$$.
325 pages of (mostly) pointless, banal, useless detail about Sookie's life, including how many cups on her coffee mug rack got broken during Pam and Eric's scrap in her kitchen. She did this, then she did that. Then he said this, then she said that. Then she did the dishes and washed the punch bowl and wiped the counter with a Bounty, then brushed her teeth, then read her book then went to sleep. GAH!!!!!
It didn't even start to get interesting until page 223. Conveniently for me (Head Cheerleader for Team Bill) that was just when Sookie ended up naked in his hidey hole with him. But really, 223 pages of drivel up to that point was almost too much even for me to take.
Sigh. I should know better. The series started sputtering around book #7, and this book is just a cash grab, as far as I'm concerned.
My advice to the author (in case anyone asks, which they won't)? Pack it in, Ms. Harris. Sookie is done, there's nothing to see here, folks. Play "pin the tail on the vamp/were/shifter" to pick who she ends up with and please, please, please! put us all out of our misery.
And stop making us spend $30/book on a series that should have remained in paperback.
When I was reading The Raven Prince I found myself posting quotes from a prostitute named Coral Smythe.
"I can get you a night with an accomplished ma...moreWhen I was reading The Raven Prince I found myself posting quotes from a prostitute named Coral Smythe.
"I can get you a night with an accomplished male whore or a virginal schoolboy." Coral's eyes widened. "Famous libertines or ragpickers off the street. One very special man or ten complete strangers. Dark men, red men, yellow men, men you've only dreamed of in the black of night, lonely in your bed, snug under your covers. Whatever you long for. Whatever you desire. Whatever you crave. You have only to ask me."
And how happy I was when my GR friend Rane (waves) told me about Coral's HEA on Elizabeth Hoyt's website. I was even happier when I found it on Amazon for kindle, because frankly I'd forgotten about it.
But I digress.
This story was excellent. The perfect way to give us Coral's HEA, nicely wrapped up in the form of Captain Isaac Wargate, who "wins" Coral for seven nights in a card game. One of the things I love the most about historical romances is that deliciously sinful bargains and wagers abound. Who wouldn't want the man you've craved for years to win you in a card game???? (*shivers*) Yum.
We get a little bit of history, a whole lot of tension, and a believable story of how two people can fall in love over the space of a week. All wrapped up with an awesome happily ever after, course.
Oh! And with another beautifully done fairy tale opening every chapter. Hoyt is a MASTER at this, and one of my favourite things about her.
I opened my copy of this book with quite a bit of trepidation. So many 4 and 5 star reviews! This book has been on virtually every top list for...more5 stars
I opened my copy of this book with quite a bit of trepidation. So many 4 and 5 star reviews! This book has been on virtually every top list for romance novels for the past year or so -- historical hero, tortured hero, damaged hero, angst-filled, you name it. I'm immediately wary of books that garner this much praise. Now that I've read it (all in one sitting - boy, nothing got done at my house!) I am happy to report my fears were groundless.
Sometimes when I read a book I get a feeling - either from the narrative or from a character - that whispers to me, "ooooh, this book is going to be good". It's a wonderful feeling, and I felt it while reading the second page. It just got better from there.
I won't go on about the story, or gush about the book (much) other than to say that I absolutely loved it. I loved the Hero and the heroine equally, which is unusual for me. They were so wonderfully drawn, so real that it made up for anything I didn't like about the story. I loved the wit in Jennifer Ashley's writing. It shows in her prose and in her dialogue - especially with Beth. All of her characters were compelling - even when you know that the brothers will probably each get their own book (the endless series in romance novels is a particular peeve of mine) there isn't the sense that 1/3 of the book has been spent setting up for upcoming releases. This book is all Ian and Beth.
And Ian. What a hero. Abrupt, quiet, brutally honest, and gorgeous to boot. I thought he was perfectly done. The world might have thought him mad, but Beth certainly didn't. Neither did Jennifer Ashley, I thought. She wrote him just as he was; his "quirks" were just those - simply a part of who he was, and not some affliction from which he suffered. Does that make sense? What I mean to say is that if I hadn't read all over creation that Ian in fact had Aspergers syndrome, I wouldn't have necessarily even thought anything was really wrong with him.
(Oh - and because this is me talking, I have to say the steam generated by this couple was excellent, and another reason this book is a 5 star. Ian is very blunt about his desires and Beth is a widow who had enjoyed her marriage bed very much. Their liasons are, well, steamy.)
Overall a great read -- Ian and Beth were what made it a 5-star for me, and I'll be hunting down my own copy of this book once it's back in print this summer. (less)
I've just read this book again, and loved it just as much this time as the first. And the second. I have a feeling I'll still love it as much when I'v...moreI've just read this book again, and loved it just as much this time as the first. And the second. I have a feeling I'll still love it as much when I've read it 20 times, and when I can remember passages from the book verbatim I'll still love it. I'll reach for it on days when I'm looking for something to cheer me up, on rainy days when there's nothing better than curling up with a good book and a blanket in your favourite chair.
I don't have anything new to say that hasn't already been posted on GR. Sarah MacLean has managed to give us a fresh take on a tired trope and a heroine that most of us can identify with. If Calpurnia is a bit anachronistic, I can forgive it in a story that engages me as much as this one.
Gabriel St. John, Marquess of Ralston is nothing new to the genre on the face of it -- we're told he's a rake (but we really never see it), he's beautiful, rich and titled. In MacLean's hands, again, she brings a constant cliche to life by making him decent and warm and very human. Watching him fall in love with Callie is one of the joys of the reading the book.
Sometimes a book comes along that has a certain je ne sais quoi (or as Steve Martin would say, "a certain, as the French say, I-don't-know-what"). Perhaps the stars were all aligned when it was being written, the pages were sprinkled with pixie dust, I dunno. Whatever it was, this book just worked. It's sexy, and funny, and heart-warming. For every girl who has loved a boy she thought was out of reach, this one is for you.
I loved it, tons of other folks loved it, and if there's a romance lover left on the planet who hasn't read this yet, I would recommend it to them in a heartbeat.
**Update - August 6 - OMG, it's even better the second time! It'll be a long wait til the fall for her next book.**
July 12/10: I would give this book 9 stars if I could -- best historical romance I have read in YEARS. I wish Sarah MacLean had a backlist I could now plow through, but it looks like I have to wait for her next book, along with the rest of GR! Awesome book!(less)
I am such a sucker for the "second chance/I've loved you since I was a kid" theme. What this says about my own deep-seated psychological issues I'm af...moreI am such a sucker for the "second chance/I've loved you since I was a kid" theme. What this says about my own deep-seated psychological issues I'm afraid to guess, but I gobble these romances up like candy.
Whispers at Midnight is one of my all-time favourites - a comfort read that I know will keep me entertained for a few hours. Every time I read it I wish that I lived in Georgia and had a 6'1", black-haired, coffee-eyed slice of serious hotness to fight/flirt with. My GR friend Catherine used a phrase once when talking about romance novel heroines and readers who like to "self-insert" into the book (I thank her every time I use it, I like it so much). Yup, I like to "self-insert" into this story every single time I read it. ;D
Of course, this can't be all about the Hero (well, it could, but who wants to hear ME talk about him when you could just read the book?), so I'll tell you that there is a decent little romantic suspense thrown in here as well. Nothing really grim or dark or tightly wound, just enough to keep the plot skipping along (and the heroine forced into the Hero's protective custody, natch). The chemistry between the H/h is spectacular and the biggest reason this book is one of my favourites. When Karen Robards is on, she is on fire and imo this is one of her best.
The story begins with our heroine returning to her hometown to lick her wounds and start over after a nasty divorce. She and a friend plan to open a B&B in her grandmother's old Victorian, where she grew up. Things get off to a jumpy start right from the time they pull up in their UHaul and surprise what they think is a burglar. Turns out the burglar is Matt, he's now the sheriff, and it takes him tackling her in her driveway before they recognize each other. Sparks fly, the real prowler shows up, and you're in for 450 pages of flirting, fighting, friendships, family, a couple of promising secondary romances, and a mystery centered around a sweet stray dog named Annie. And chemistry that almost sets the pages on fire.
A great way to spend an afternoon -- preferably while holding down a lawnchair, drinking iced tea. :)