Loved the heroine, who had watched and wanted the hero from afar since she was a girl. Loved how...more5 stars.
Loved this book. Loved it, loved it, loved it.
Loved the heroine, who had watched and wanted the hero from afar since she was a girl. Loved how she found him beautiful, how she lusted after him, how she tried and tried to wear him down.
But most of all I loved Rhys. He is one of my favourite hero types -- strong, silent, tortured. Reserved and quiet, but with wit and humour and depth that he shows only to the heroine. Determined, almost dogged in his pursuits - most of his life seeking death, and more recently seeking the hand of Meredith. He won't settle for a simple toss, he wants it all. Oh yes, and completely gorgeous. Tall, muscular, battle-scarred and wondrously handsome.
Here is what Rhys says to Meredith as to why he won't sleep with her:
"Meredith, you're my future wife. When I make love to you for the first time, it is damn well going to mean something. To me, at least."
"I've torn apart a lot of things in my life. Too many. I've been in the business of death for years now, and there's only been one thing I've never successfully managed to destroy. You're looking at it....This body has survived blows, musket balls, bayonets, grenades and whatever else God and Napoleon could find to hurl at it. I'm simply fated to live. There's no other explanation. And now that I've come to terms with that, I'm done tearing things apart."
He reached for her hand. "It's the same with us. I mean to build something with you. Something that will last. Much as I want you, I don't want to rush and bollocks it up. We're meant to be together, and -"
"And I know you don't believe that yet." He squeezed her hand. "It's all right. I'll keep building - stone by stone, plank by plank, kiss by kiss - until you do. And yes, I'll wake up stiff and aching for you each morning. But it's worth it." He heached out and tilted her face to his. "You're worth it."
Her eyes went wide. "You're unbelievable."
He stood and reached for his waistcoat. "What I am is indestructible. And I'm not going anywhere, Meredith. You're stuck with me now."
Tessa Dare is becoming one of my favourite authors -- I like her style immensely. She writes an engaging story with compelling characters. She doesn't do fussy physical descriptions of them, her historical details ring true and add to the atmosphere of her books, and her love scenes.....oh, her love scenes. They are vividly written, full of chemistry and sexual tension, and you are right there for them (if that makes any sense).
This book is a bit darker and more angsty in tone than One Dance with a Duke, the first book in the trilogy. It suits the characters and their story - Rhys and Merry would not have been well-served with a light, frothy book.
The other thing I liked about this book was that it could have been a stand-alone; the Stud Club was only mentioned peripherally throughout and Leo's murder didn't really come into play until the end of the book. I mention that because the endless series that abound in romance fiction drive me crazy. Give me a love story with 2 characters - don't give me a book that is 1/4 recap, 1/2 love story and 1/4 setup for the next book. This book is the former. (less)
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)
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 afte...moreOnce 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.
The POV. I rarely like first person, but this -- well. For some reason I loved...moreSo 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.)
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,...moreSometimes 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. (less)
First was "The Tortured Rake". Then, "The Reckless Playboy". This one is "The Restless Billionaire". Can I make it through all eight ridiculous titles...moreFirst was "The Tortured Rake". Then, "The Reckless Playboy". This one is "The Restless Billionaire". Can I make it through all eight ridiculous titles?
First of all: the cover. It is just wrong, all wrong.
Book says: heroine is Bollywood movie star Cover shows: blonde British babe
Book says: Hero is tall dark and incredibly handsome, rich as Croesus with a splintering green gaze. Cover shows: short, slightly built dude who looks like a Bollywood movie star.
Book says: they meet in the penthouse of the uberluxurious Mumbai hotel owned by the Hero. Cover shows: London Clock Tower.
Well, whatever. Onto the story.
....An hour and a half later...
Rats, it was just another one-night-stand-you-got-me-pregnant stories and the heroine was so wallpapery that if I was from Mumbai myself I might be offended. I mean, really, if you want to have the heroine be from another culture you can't just take Barbie and colour her skin, give her henna tattoos and call it a day. India has a completely different culture folks, they aren't just exotic looking Brits.
Sebastian, at least, is a bona fide Harlequin alpha/asshat Hero. He spends the whole book enacting his version of the "Come Here, Go Away" game. Of course, he doesn't actually deserve Aneesa but once he has his epiphany towards the end of the book (which was so run-of-the-mill that I've forgotten it already) he redeems himself.
Best part of the book? This author's version of the "meet cute". They lock eyes at her wedding, just as she's about to say her vows. Their kindred spirits recognize each other (the good ole Harlequin thunderbolt!) and she decides she can't go through with it and live a life without love! Her children having to live a lie! (view spoiler)[Fiance is gay, she's a beard but didn't know it until she caught him nekkid with his assistant, which made her throw up. (hide spoiler)] She runs out of the room, into a service elevator and BAM! Up to the penthouse she goes. Runs to the balcony, encounters the Hero in his pool and asks him to make love to her, to make her henna tattoos have MEANING, dammit, before she succumbs to a life of pain and loneliness, never to love again. Allrighty then, he says, and quick as a wink has her horizontal.
2.5 stars, mostly because the only thing memorable about it was the wallpaper heroine. ["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"]>(less)