WOW. Just, wow. A tough read at first, with much darker tones right from the beginning than I had expected from Dev (in comparison to her first releasWOW. Just, wow. A tough read at first, with much darker tones right from the beginning than I had expected from Dev (in comparison to her first release, A Bollywood Affair). But the emotional journey picks up speed going along, and ultimately I found this an exhilarating and satisfying read. Is it romance? Not really; much more women's fiction. Is the hero realistic? No, but he's everything the heroine needs, sometimes to grow towards, sometimes to grow against, sometimes as just her safe haven. The portrayal of another character's mental illness didn't feel at all relatable to me - very old-fashioned, clearly channelling Bronte. But there is a space in this world for contemporary stories featuring characters whose mindset is not exactly our own. I am so thrilled this one got published. Also, I have no clue how the title is supposed to relate to the book, and it frustrates me that this marketing gimmick constrains the series. I'd love to know what Dev actually wanted to call these novels. ...more
I adore this book! The first half was slow, and I got annoyed at the characters because they didn't really seem to have any problems. But the last halI adore this book! The first half was slow, and I got annoyed at the characters because they didn't really seem to have any problems. But the last half was perfect. The conflict is simple but feels real, and what left me so happy as I finished this book is how relatable it felt. It means a lot to desi authors telling desi stories under the Harlequin banner! Definitely on my re-read for comfort list. Recommended for anyone who has the patience for a slice-of-life read and a romance that leaves you going "aww, how sweet!" Trigger warning, though - implied assault of a secondary character mentioned as backstory only. ...more
A complicated book to like. Would probably improve on a reread. Got way better towards the last third, though I wouldn't say the resolution is robust.A complicated book to like. Would probably improve on a reread. Got way better towards the last third, though I wouldn't say the resolution is robust. 9/23/15
********** I used to be a pretty big Sherry Thomas fangirl, but then she wrote faster than I read so it's not really fair for me to claim that title - even though it's totally still true in spirit. I'm working my way through this book with ambivalent feelings on it for itself, but I keep getting sideswept by connections between this work and the others of Thomas' that I've read. Whether these connections are legit or a figment of my overactive mind is certainly debatable. But for the purposes of my sanity I'm going to keep a running tab of them here and hopefully get around to a proper review eventually.
-Bennett is Gigi and Camden's (Private Arrangements) several-greats-grandson (this is narrative fact) -Bennett reminds me a hell of a lot of Camden, personality wise, and Leo (Not Quite A Husband), with the loving older women thing -Eva has a backstory much like Bryony (NQAH) - lost her mother young, got super attached of her father's second wife, did not much like her father's third wife -Zelda-Toddy (NQAH) parallels are probably minimal but my mind wants to make something of it -Eva is a profly wonder like Leo, Bennett is a doctor like Bryony -Eva's social-aspirational father is like Gigi's mother -Bennett is a Somerset, like Bertie was (Delicious)
I avoid first-person present-tense narratives as a rule, and I have yet to warm up to the NA genre. But this book blew me out of the water, and I'm soI avoid first-person present-tense narratives as a rule, and I have yet to warm up to the NA genre. But this book blew me out of the water, and I'm so glad I broke my own rules and read it. Both main characters have compelling, relatable voices, and not once did I get bored of being in their perspectives. The chemistry is hot hot hotttt well before they get to sex. And I think it's kind of adorable that (view spoiler)[they actually don't have sex until they're married (hide spoiler)] - it's not an ideological thing so much as a timing thing, so I didn't get any 'grossly old school' vibes from it. I LOVED the characters' backgrounds - I'm not Jewish but anything that foregrounds diversity appeals to me. I was really happy to be invited into the world of Gen's warm Mexijew family, and I also really liked the glimpses of Adam's life in Israel. This book has a beautiful definition of love at its centre, repeating at key moments that the right person for you is the one who believes in you and pushes you to be more than you think you can be. Overall the tone is pretty light, but the emotion is there if you want to enter into it. The only problem with the story is that the characters don't have much in the way of problems - and yet the conflict that arises very late in the story feels so real. Not storybook pretty or exciting, and yet very much worth writing about. So thank you Steph Campbell and Liz Reinhardt for this fun, passionate, and satisfying read!!...more
Loved loved loved it. Thank you so much Sonali Dev. A desi love story with so much weight and feeling, but with completely contemporary, fresh, my-worLoved loved loved it. Thank you so much Sonali Dev. A desi love story with so much weight and feeling, but with completely contemporary, fresh, my-world characters. Loved everything beyond words. Am convinced that title is a stupid marketing ploy and wish I knew what the author really wanted to call the story.
So much humour and depth and amazingness. I felt in the hands of an expert and I was so pleased. I have nothing coherent to say, though this book deserves a proper analytical review, because I want the world to know exactly why I liked it so much. But for now all I can do is say that I liked it SO MUCH....more
Appealing leads, lots of humor, interesting drama and backstory. That scene where the heroine's land holdings are disclosed piecemeal and the hero andAppealing leads, lots of humor, interesting drama and backstory. That scene where the heroine's land holdings are disclosed piecemeal and the hero and his crew are shocked and then more shocked and then on the floor with their teeth knocked out...metaphorically...might be the best thing I've ever seen in a medieval romance :D...more
I read this around my own first year at McGill - the setting being the only reason I'd picked it up. I remember it as unsatisfying and melancholic, anI read this around my own first year at McGill - the setting being the only reason I'd picked it up. I remember it as unsatisfying and melancholic, and I couldn't stand the fragmented narration. In retrospect I see that I was judging it as a sort of YA comfort read, which it is really not. Rather, it's a literary writing exercise with tediously young characters. Not bad on its own terms, but something you'd have to be in a very particular frame of mind to enjoy. ...more
An uneven and difficult book, but Probst pulls it through in the end.
What I Liked +an uncompromising heroine: Julietta struggles with inner turmoil atAn uneven and difficult book, but Probst pulls it through in the end.
What I Liked +an uncompromising heroine: Julietta struggles with inner turmoil at key points in the story, but she is always, always true to herself. Points to Probst for writing an independent, career-focused heroine who doesn't turn unrecognizable when dealing with her own vulnerability.
+a hero with a huge heart: Sawyer's seedy past really seeps into his thinking at some points, and the reader can easily understand why he sees himself as a bad guy who has done dark deeds. But all that fades far into the background given the evidence of his caring, nurturing side in the present of the story, especially as relates to...
+Wolfe!!! Can't say more without spoilers, but man, the inclusion of this character was inspired and totally made the book for me. Hope he gets his own book...in due time ;)
+that motorcycle scene: surprising, fresh, and a perfect way to get to know the characters and to get them together early in the story.
+shared silences: a swoony quality of romance that I haven't previously noticed in any other romance novel; Probst uses it to great effect between two characters who each have to make a long journey from their own interiority to fully meet as lovers and partners.
+Probst's evocative language: The glorious food and the rich sweeps of Milanese setting detail add much to the book in terms of glamor and heft, but what really stands out for me are some of Probst's perfect turns of phrase in similies and images like:
A bolt of need shot through him like a stray bullet tearing through vulnerable flesh.
Like a sinner seeking penance, Sawyer bent his head and pressed a kiss to her open palm. Julietta sensed something deeper in his actions and craved to follow the path leading to a thicket of thorns, poison ivy, and endless predators poised to tear flesh.
Her body melted under his instruction; her mind cracked open to allow secret entry that both humbled and inspired him. He craved her like a drug injected in his veins, and though it was unpredictable and chaotic and unplanned, he needed her.
...OK, out of context those sound rather lurid, overwritten and purple prosy, but trust me - scattered as they are throughout an otherwise skillfully written but mundane narrative, these little moments are powerful and perfect.
What I'm Conflicted About *the bedroom dynamics: Sawyer is hot, compassionate, and skilled. Pretty much every sex scene was worth reading for the woven-in emotional development and characterization - I don't remember having to skip over boring swathes of mechanics. But I was surprised by and not entirely onboard with the degree to which Julietta "needed" Sawyer to control her experience. I understand that it can be that way for people in real life, and I could see how Probst was trying to show a BDSM-lite that works within conventional romance narratives. I've read and enjoyed erotica that takes the sub/dom dynamic much much farther. I just really wasn't expecting as much handwaving away of active consent in what I thought was a mainstream romance novel. Some moments read like old-school alpha/ingenue encounters of the least palatable kind. You could say the political got in the way of the erotic for me and maybe that's not fair to hold against the book...but it definitely left me conflicted.
*sloppy writing: On the whole, Probst's writing is quality. But there are some really frustrating slips. Sawyer is a "primitive" barely contained by "civilisation"? The management team at Purity are defined by stereotypes of hair colour? Blergh.
*tonal shifts: The book just felt really uneven to me. The beginning was so stilted I barely made it through; I figure Probst was trying to write from Julietta's mental space, but it's really uncomfortable for the reader to start from there. Everything felt stilted, stale and over-contained until we learn about Wolfe's place in Sawyer's life. Then it got delicious and real and engrossing. But, the story lists at further points. Some of the unevenness has to do with the starts-and-stops in Sawyer's difficult emotional journey. Some of it has to do with the unwieldy balance of erotic and emotional content. Some of it felt right, but some of it really didn't.
*Mama Conte: Ok, no seriously, WHAT?! The forced marriage device just about barely made sense for Michael/Maggie and Carina/Max. But in this book it was so transparently a device, so without convincing motivation (sorry, the whole 'Papa worried for Julietta' thing seems super anemic to me) that I couldn't just accept it. It's a lame way to move things forward, though I'll concede it's efficient and therefore necessary. I feel like Julietta and Sawyer's story deserved a more authentic and interesting turning point, and would've been stronger for it...but I guess I can't think of one and neither could Probst.
*Mama Conte in the epilogue: Poetic and fitting but OH SO HEARTBREAKING, WHY PROBST WHY. Sigh.
*The Spell Book: So ephemeral in the end, and yet also the underpinning of the series, notwithstanding Mama Conte. On the one hand I approve of how it just remains a fun question of mystery. On the other hand I feel cheated out of Some Explanation, Damnit! I see that it was published as an add-on to the series but something within the text would've been much more satisfying
*Fitting in the rest of series: Actually, after the initial re-introduction of the whole motley crew, I think Probst makes great use of the characters from the previous books. Julietta gets some much needed girl-talk time and Sawyer gets to socialize with the guys. Just imagining that gathering of four heroes at a table who all now happen to be brothers-in-law...what a treat! BUT, that initial re-introduction? So chaotic and painful and I would've been at sea if I hadn't already read the rest of the series.
In sum: an engrossing story with a few weak moments, strong on romance but not the pretty kind. Not perfect escapist fare because it made me think and feel a lot of complex things. Wish I could give it more stars but I really feel too conflicted about the central erotic dynamic - the great characters, mostly lovely writing, and lush emotional narrative don't counterbalance that key problem for me....more
A very strong middle third, but the denouement was disappointing. I mean, I probably shouldn't hold it against the heroine that she felt betrayed whenA very strong middle third, but the denouement was disappointing. I mean, I probably shouldn't hold it against the heroine that she felt betrayed when her memory came back, but I couldn't help wishing that she would try harder to understand the hero's perspective. They were good together and it took them ages and ages to figure that out; as a spectator, I just wanted them to accept what they had, and not have to backtrack.
Some really breathtaking setting and plot details in this one, and delightfully intelligent writing, which seems to be a hallmark of Hunter's. An absorbing read with compelling angst and fascinating characters.
The fragmentary, elliptical prose style didn't work for me; it kept me from losing myself to the world of the story. Also, I kept waiting for the storThe fragmentary, elliptical prose style didn't work for me; it kept me from losing myself to the world of the story. Also, I kept waiting for the story to start - there seemed to be so many hints for external plot, but ultimately it's a story entirely about emotional shifts. There were some delightfully vivid scenes, though, and I really rather liked both main characters. The writing and dialogue were deliciously intelligent. All told, there's nothing wrong with an all-emotion story - it was just odd to find it half-pretending to be something else. ...more
A really satisfying read. I felt fully drawn in to the world Howard created with her vivid prose. Along with plenty of narrative detail to establish tA really satisfying read. I felt fully drawn in to the world Howard created with her vivid prose. Along with plenty of narrative detail to establish the setting and plot, the story is rich with the kind of emotional detailing that makes for compelling reading. From reading other reviews, I worried about disliking the hero - but within the story, his perspective and motivation are always crystal clear, and I couldn't help sympathizing with his actions and attitude when they were so easy to understand. I really liked the heroine, too; in many ways she's a cliche, your typical self-remade woman with a difficult past, but she's a really well-rendered cliche. There's a lot of apologizing for her situation after the fact and not to her face which mostly works within the story but it's also a bit heavy handed on the textual level. This book participates freely and unapologetically in the sexual politics of its time and place (of writing as well as setting), which is to say that some women are villainized as inherently slutty and some are judged for their choices while the heroine is insistently defined in contradistinction to these other types of women. It's not an attitude I like and I would likely hold it against any similar story published now, but it's a major part of how this book works and I have to admit that I simply accepted it as part of the story....more
A pleasing read, because I love stories about couples coming together after tangled backstories of self-denial, but I can't help noting that the storyA pleasing read, because I love stories about couples coming together after tangled backstories of self-denial, but I can't help noting that the story essentially lacks conflict as it sputters to the end because the characters really are just happy together. Also, I really don't get why the heroine had to have such a problem with the hero's past love life choices - it felt like a stale, moralistic attitude that didn't fit with the otherwise fresh tone of the book....more