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.
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 morAs 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.
Viscount Ludovic DeVere is bored. When his old friend "dull dog Ned" appears in London after years spent in mourning, Devil DeVere finds a project toViscount Ludovic DeVere is bored. When his old friend "dull dog Ned" appears in London after years spent in mourning, Devil DeVere finds a project to spark his interest. Together with a Covent Garden actress named Phoebe (who has some secrets of her own), he makes a scandalous wager with the Prince of Wales - risking Ned's and Phoebe's hearts in the process.
Once again, Victoria Vane has whisked me away to Georgian England, this time in the company of an indolent rake, the likes of whom aren't often seen outside of an Anne Stuart novel.
No doubt about it, I LOVE Victoria Vane's writing. Her prose is GORGEOUS, her use of language is so evocative of the era it is an absolute pleasure to read. It is incredibly easy to lose oneself in her writing; it really is that good. She captures the era so completely that for those of us who love it, it's like coming home. Ms. Vane also publishes historical romantic fiction under the name Emery Lee. Anyone wanting to read more beautifully written (but not steamy) romances in a Georgian setting need look no further.
This novella is the first of a series, and I must say the set up was subtle and nicely done. It will be treat to get to know Devil DeVere better; I can't wait to read The Virgin Huntress!
A clever, sexy, romp with captivating characters in a delicious Georgian setting, Victoria Vane sets the bar higher with every outing.
Once again, thanks to Victoria Vane for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. ...more
The POV. I rarely like first person, but this -- well. For some reason I lovedSo here are my thoughts, in no particular order:
What I liked about it:
The POV. I rarely like first person, but this -- well. For some reason I loved Ana's voice. I must have identified with her quite strongly, because I even found her "inner goddess" amusing. She seemed very real to me (with the exception of her complete sexual inexperience. I found that to be a bit of a stretch), and I liked her very much.
What I LOVED about it:
The smouldering tension throughout the entire book. It kept me sitting in one spot virtually all day long. Well, sometimes I was squirming, but that was only during the really hot parts. That's a pretty impressive feat for an author. The keeping me in one spot reading all day, not the squirming. :) James set the tone right from the get-go and didn't let up for a second.
Those EMAILS. Sigh. I once had a very intense love affair that began with notes passed back and forth at work (alas, it was before email) and I was reminded of that when I read this. I loved them. And it is so much easier to say things in writing that you are much too afraid to say to someone you care about in person. I loved that Ana was able to be so saucy to Grey, and that he was able to show a more light-hearted version of himself, 'twitchy palmed' CEO that he was.
Referring to each other as Miss Steele and Mr. Grey. More of the same saucy flirting as in their emails. Sigh.
It goes without saying that I fell like a rock for Christian Grey. He had me from the beginning; the elevator scene sealed the deal. He has all my favourite romance hero traits rolled up into one gorgeous gazillionaire package: the stuffed shirt, the alpha, the bossy bastard, the tortured, the gamma. You name him, he's in there.
Ms. James has created some electrically compelling characters in Ana and Christian. I loved them both, I identified with them, I cared about them. They were so, so good together - so good for each other without their even realizing it. And the chemistry between them was palpable - another testament to how well James was able to create and maintain that tension I talked about throughout.
I'm not going to talk about the smoking hot parts of the book other than to say that James very definitely delivers on the chemistry and tension she set up from their first meeting. I believe this book is marketed as erotica/romantica and imo it very definitely is.
What I noticed about it:
I could tell right from the first page that the author is British. Frankly, I wondered why she'd set her book in Seattle when it could have quite easily been set in London. Both main characters (but especially Christian) used words, expressions and turns of phrase that would only be used by a Brit. It also showed up in the prose. I'm not complaining - I simply put the American settings in the background and pretended everyone was from England - but I did notice, and until I adjusted it pulled me out of the story a bit.
From time to time throughout the book I noticed little things with the writing - a GR friend referred to it, I think, as "unpolished", and I would agree. However, the story James was telling and the characters she has created far, far outweighed any issues I had. So much so, in fact, that all I can remember now is that there was something - but not actually what it was.
What I DIDN'T notice about it:
When reading GR reviews of this book I kept coming across references to Twilight fanfiction, and that this had previously been on the internet under another title (which I haven't read).
Now, I don't know anything about fanfiction, and even less about Twilight fanfiction, but how you could call this story derivative of that one is completely beyond me. I've read Twilight, and for the record thought it was silly, over-rated crap. I suppose you could draw a really long bow and say Christian was similar to Edward in that he was older and possessive and domineering and that Ana is similar to Bella in that she is quite young and inexperienced (but not nearly as vapid and shallow as I found Bella to be) but really? Should you have to work that hard when you're reading? Most romances are similar in characterizations, archetypes and storylines - there are only so many ways to shake them up. If you want to look for romances with character types similar to those twits from Twilight you'd be hard pressed to find one that didn't.
And if the author started this book as an homage to Twilight, well, whatever floats your boat, I guess. The fact that it's now unrecognizable as such (to someone like me, anyway, thank God) can only be a good thing for Ms. James. For every squealing Twilight fan, there's at least one like me who doesn't get the appeal.
Would I recommend it?
If you love steamy, steamy stories with a strong romance and can handle a little bit of naughty sex, then YES, YES, YES!
(In terms of naughty sex: there wasn't anything really extreme in here, more the suggestion of it. Nothing worse than a couple of spankings actually happens. And it's all quite tastefully done.)
A few months ago one of my groups (Bodice Ripper Readers Anonymous) started a thread called "First li"Damn, damn...there it goes, the frigging thing!"
A few months ago one of my groups (Bodice Ripper Readers Anonymous) started a thread called "First line of the book you are reading", and this line was one of them. I was hooked as soon as I saw it -- I possess a well-practiced and finely honed potty mouth and it's not very often you read a historical romance where the heroine possesses one as well.
I have stayed away from Lisa Kleypas' books almost on principle. She is so prolific, and her books are so gushed over that not reading her has been almost a knee-jerk reaction. After reading the first line and the synopsis though, I had to try it.
Once I got about two chapters in I realized I had in my hands one of my favourite tropes -- the uptight, repressed Hero who needs saving from himself. And Kleypas did a good job with the Earl of Wolverton, I really enjoyed Alex. ;) I think I'm in the minority here, but I really enjoyed Lily as well. She's another of my favourite romance types -- the feisty heroine who needs rescuing (but doesn't know it). She is exactly what Alex needs to rescue him from himself, and Alex is the only man that Lily will allow to take care of her.
Of course, when they meet, they detest each other (Yay!! Another favourite trope!) The first half of the book was fabulous -- they snarked at each other, they glared, they snipped, they sniped:
In spite of the throbbing of her ankle, she was almost enjoying her stroll with him. That disturbed her so profoundly that she was compelled to stir up another argument.
Lily then demands to know why he is walking so fast - she feels as if "we're in a frigging footrace. Blast it!"
He throws her clothes and suitcase out the window; she kidnaps his younger brother, knocks Alex over the head with a bottle and ties him up. (And what a scene THAT was, let me tell you. Whew!)
Unfortunately, once Alex realizes that he actually loves Lily, the book lost a bit of its lustre for me. I know, I know, you can't maintain that conflict through the entire story, but what Kleypas did was have Alex do an abrupt 180 degree turnabout that I didn't really buy into. It wasn't enough to ruin the book for me, but it did knock it down to 4.5 stars.
All in all, a good treatment of some of my favourite romance tropes. It's going on my keeper shelf with the rest of my uptight alpha Heroes. ;) ...more
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 ever4 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"]>...more
This is another of my books that has definitely benefitted from a re-read. The theme of Callie's story - that sometimes everything you think you wantThis is another of my books that has definitely benefitted from a re-read. The theme of Callie's story - that sometimes everything you think you want is FAR from what you really need - is not a new one in romance.
Kristan Higgans' take on it, though, is charming. It is also laugh out loud funny, poignant, and is going on my keeper shelf. It's a CLEAN romance as well; while Callie and Ian have tremendous chemisty, the love scenes are all fade to black. What we do see, however, is really well done - enough so that smutty old me barely notices the darkness. (Well, to be fair, I did on second reading but the chemistry between the leads balanced it out.)
This is the second of Kristan Higgins' books I've read in the past year or so; perhaps I should glom her backlist for the stories and characters and play out the love scenes in my head. God knows I've read enough of those. :)
3.5 stars the first time I read it; a year later it's getting a 4....more
I frigging LOVED this book. I'm sorry, I can't think of any other way to put it.
I was trolling my kindle for something to read the other night when II frigging LOVED this book. I'm sorry, I can't think of any other way to put it.
I was trolling my kindle for something to read the other night when I happened upon the title. As I remembered exactly nothing about the book (other than that I really liked it) I figured what the heck and re-read it.
Now I'm gonna gush.
I love Christine Merrill's writing. An author of some wit, her books are infused with a sense of it, both in the prose and in her characterizations. Not all authors have this, and when I find one who does, I glom their backlist like RIGHT. NOW.
It doesn't hurt, of course, that The Inconvenient Duchess has one of my favourite plots ever - a marriage contrived by a scheming relative bringing together the stuffed-shirt Hero and an upstart heroine. This Hero stomps about yelling at the staff and slamming doors, just the way I like 'em. He isn't so much of a boor that he doesn't recognize what a jackass he is, and this is his saving grace. The heroine is another favourite type of mine, the ruined/poor/spinster with a temper.
I laughed out loud at some parts, grinned to myself at others, and thoroughly enjoyed every second of reading it.
One of my favourite quotes from the book is here:
"I know that you must have certain...needs," she almost whispered the word. "If you might wish to visit your mistress...I would not blame you for it."
He choked on his tea. "There are a few things we need to make clear, lady wife. Firstly, I do not wish you to discuss such things at all, but, if you must, you will not do so over the breakfast table. Secondly, if and when I seek to visit my "mistress" I will not ask, or for that matter, need your permission to do so. Thirdly, you should not even know of such things, and if you do, I'll thank you to keep the information to yourself. The last thing I want to do is discuss "my needs" with my wife." The last seemed to him so ridiculous a statement that he was momentarily struck dumb. No wonder, with an attitude like that, he'd sought to avoid the married state for so long.
A couple of things kept this from being a 5 star - perhaps it was a little rushed, but that might be due more to the fact that this is a Harlequin Historical than any other. In any event, it's going on my "favourites" shelf, and is a perfect feel-good regency keeper.
And I'm off to glom Christine Merrill's backlist. :) ...more