Sloppy editing and painfully awkward writing. A few good moments here and there, perhaps the author has potential if she hones her skills and gets qua...moreSloppy editing and painfully awkward writing. A few good moments here and there, perhaps the author has potential if she hones her skills and gets qualified help, but overall a slog of a read that I only made it through by taking long long breaks. (less)
Just, so much to like. An appealing heroine, who I was rooting for even in her most exasperatingly insecure moments. A larger than life and yet sweet...moreJust, so much to like. An appealing heroine, who I was rooting for even in her most exasperatingly insecure moments. A larger than life and yet sweet and sensitive hero, who impressed me permanently by pulling back from a heated moment when the heroine threw up a stop sign almost at the last second. Until then I found his internal anger a bit worrying, but he proves able to keep from acting destructively because of it. Snappy writing and solid plotting. Well-sketched backstory and well-placed secondary characters.
A few small problems I couldn't help noting - some inconsistency on whether the break-up and associated events were 7 or 5 years ago (maybe an editing error?); a few infodumpy moments; and for some reason I left the story feeling a bit worried about whether there was a strong enough relationship to underlie the HEA. I mean, they're super hot together, and also super cute together, but the whole thing starts because of past misunderstandings about sex, and I'm not sure how it is they fall in love during the book...but they definitely do, so maybe that's just me.
Looking forward to more from this author! I love her sense of humor and writing style, and hope to see more contemporaries from her (that being said, I also loved her historical short story collection, It Stings So Sweet).(less)
Vicky Dreiling has potential, but this book is a mess.
To start with, the heroine’s characterization makes no sense. She is generally too naïve and im...moreVicky Dreiling has potential, but this book is a mess.
To start with, the heroine’s characterization makes no sense. She is generally too naïve and immature to believably be a 21-year-old with 4 seasons under her belt, but then she also has a few moments of offering therapist-perfect psychoanalysis of the hero’s anxieties just to help the exposition along. It’s not even remotely believable that she could write a seduction manual – she has no experience seducing anyone or even of being seduced, and she’s basically been having a love affair with the hero entirely in her mind since she was a deb. She never does seem to think about how the two of them could form a genuine connection.
It might’ve been believable if her scandalous temporary duenna, the hero’s aunt, was feeding her ideas – but instead of actually being eccentric and daring as she’s described, the aged aunt comes off as totally harmless and sweet, even grandmotherly (and not the scandalous kind of grandmother either). Where is the heroine getting her mostly unspecified ideas? How can she share them with conviction, never having tried them herself? I guess wants us to ignore these basic questions.
Then the whole idea that the heroine wants to help fellow debs catch husbands by targeting rakes is itself annoyingly immature. As if a single set of manipulations could really foster all those relationships, regardless of individual circumstances and personalities! Bleurgh.
The hero isn’t much appealing, either. He acknowledges that his dissolute and unsatisfactory lifestyle is due to the choice to live down to his father’s expectations – and even that he understands that his father uttered those low expectations in an emotional overreaction. He is mature enough to realize this even before the supposedly transformative effects of the heroine’s love come into play – but he doesn’t grow up and out of his whiny sulkiness, and I found that tiresome. I expect more substance of a hero with such self-awareness.
Then, he’s an utter blockhead in several significant conversations with the heroine – like when they finally discuss his oh-so devastating comment that “she’s like a sister” to him. Even worse, when she expresses worry that she’ll end up like her mother, choosing to love an unavailable man – he just walks away from her. His wounded male ego takes precedence over empathy for the woman he loves – and that’s really late into the book, when he should be getting himself together already. So, the heroine was annoying, the hero wasn’t attractive, and together they were gratingly stupid and immature, and not in any endearing or understandable way.
Plus, there was a problem with characters seeming to react a beat off the moment, or in an odd circular way – like the heroine’s brother’s reaction to the news that the hero had compromised her. Similarly, some of the emotional problems between the leads were rehashed several times in identical ways – unnecessary and stultifying repetition. Then the business of the heroine’s family insisting she’s too young to be married – even for the most indulgent regency-era family, active hostility to a 21 year old lady’s marrying makes no sense.
For another thing, there was far too much slang at the beginning of the book – seemed a placeholder for setting than anything else. A novel can be a regency story without that much cant - it's more about the kind of story you tell, the kind of characters you feature. This book didn’t feature believable or compelling characters or an appealing story, so despite its competent and lively writing – Dreiling’s prose get the job done, and she adapts conventions in sometimes interesting ways - it’s far from satisfying. Two stars. 4 June/12
As a Sheikh/category romance: great story, punchy writing, appealing characters and dialogue, memorable humor and sweetness sprinkled throughout
As a b...moreAs a Sheikh/category romance: great story, punchy writing, appealing characters and dialogue, memorable humor and sweetness sprinkled throughout
As a book: unbalanced by weird tonal shifts (mostly precipitated by setting shifts (view spoiler)[- nomadic tent to idyllic hideaway I could almost accept, but I really couldn't swallow the subsequent shift to glam political gala and sudden wilderness survival (hide spoiler)]), the conflict mostly comes from genre standard miscommunication and irrationality tropes and is therefore irritating and boring (also these tropes inhibit the compelling potential characterization of the hero/heroine given the author's skill), the political nature of the hero's activities deserved more space in the story (and would've upped the glam factor for me, anyway, because while it's sweet that his biggest priority in life is (view spoiler)[his secret daughter (hide spoiler)], a huge part of the appeal of a powerful leader as a hero is that he's supposed to have and exercise power...but maybe that's just me)
In sum: Yeah, a good romance read, as long as you're accepting of/ willing to forgive the constraints of genre.
Worth noting: I picked this book up after repeatedly coming across positive reviews, and skipped the set up chapter to get straight to the hero/heroine interaction. I didn't find that I was missing any context, as there was lots of backstory woven in throughout the rest of the book. But I mention it just to be clear that technically I didn't read the whole book. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Note: This book starts with the physician heroine and police officer hero dealing with the aftermath of a school shooting, which might make it sensiti...moreNote: This book starts with the physician heroine and police officer hero dealing with the aftermath of a school shooting, which might make it sensitive reading for anyone who has the Newtown/Sandy Hook tragedy in mind.
This novella feels like a full romance novel should; the story is compelling, the characters fleshed out, the writing focussed, the romance believable instead of rushed - overall exactly what I want from my romance reading (which I suppose might disappoint those who picked this up as erotica - there is that, but it's not the focus, the romance is). Loved that Maira had strength despite her insecurities, and that Sasha's (no matter how relatively gentle) chauvinism was addressed and firmly taken down by the end.
One thing that did feel out of place - the love scene between Leyla and Mason, who were apparently the leads in the previous installment of the series (haven't read it yet; sort of think I will, because the hints about their story in this one were interesting). It's tender and hot, but really out of place, as it occurs early on in the story when we're wanting to see how Sasha and Maira's relationship will develop.
I picked this up because I wanted a desi story, and I'm impressed that Rai manages to deliver on that in a muted that way that makes the story also works as a run-of-the-mill contemporary. I really don't understand why the Pakistani heroine has bacon in her fridge, though (...because obvs non-marital sex is less of characterization deal-breaker than implied pork consumption :P)(less)
An example of Heyer's masterful command of humour. Sophy's appeal as a heroine may depend on what degree of sophistication or fresh-spiritedness you a...moreAn example of Heyer's masterful command of humour. Sophy's appeal as a heroine may depend on what degree of sophistication or fresh-spiritedness you are willing to read into her antics - and how benignly or maliciously you may be inclined to regard her manipulation of others. Charles' appeal as a hero is helped a great deal by his growth as a brother. Charlbury's presence was rather more interesting on the third go-through; I don't think I even noticed him the first few times. Cecilia was likewise more interesting, and Augustus more entertaining. The interlude with the moneylender is indeed appallingly racist and I'm not sure how I can justify finding the rest of the book enjoyable despite it, but somehow I do so find it enjoyable. Jan 11/12(less)
So, the thing is, the main characters in this book are all incredibly immature as well as being self-absorbed to various degrees. It's sort of terrify...moreSo, the thing is, the main characters in this book are all incredibly immature as well as being self-absorbed to various degrees. It's sort of terrifying if you think of it from a distance. Despite being of age in their context, they behave as you might expect emotionally blinkered, pampered teenagers to behave when left to the management of their own affairs. And yet they are appealing, endearing, and sympathetic. Heyer's skill with humor and plot makes this book a romp that just keeps on giving, while at its core still lies an exquisitely cathartic vein of tender emotion. It'll grow on you if you give it half a chance. Unless, of course, you can't empathise even a jot with emotionally blinkered, pampered, not-quite-teenagers*. In which case, go away and find something humorless and modern to read. And please excuse my inability to be objective about my most truly and enduringly favourite book :)
(*Yes, technically in terms of age Hero is a teenager. Quite possibly Isabella too. But neither they nor Heyer quite belong to a culture that includes 'teenager' as a category of being in the way of, say, contemporary reality tv) 21 July/13
It's hard to remember that I found this book disappointing after I first read it, when I was about 16. It's now one of my absolute favourite books, so it's a stretch to remember, let alone believe, that what I disliked most was that the characters are so incredibly immature. Trying to be objective, I can still understand why some might be put off by this book's general frivolity and its rather unromantic and unidealised protagonists. But, now I find that it's those very characteristics that keep me coming back to this book for a guaranteed round of emotional catharsis, a delicious journey complete with many provocations to helpless laughter (aloud) and a few passages so heart-wrenching that they almost make me cry. I think you have to be sympathetic to the heroine's and hero's immaturity to enter into the spirit of this book. Remembering that she's barely 17 and he's a rather pampered 23 may help you look indulgently on some of their ridiculous behaviour - they are essentially children. By the end, they have grown just enough that you can see the glimmer of adulthood in their future; the delight of this book lies in accompanying them en route to a better footing for marriage. Nov 7/11 (less)
I think of April Lady as sort of Heyer-lite - perhaps more of her energy and attention went into writing Sylvester around the same time. The majority...moreI think of April Lady as sort of Heyer-lite - perhaps more of her energy and attention went into writing Sylvester around the same time. The majority of the book is stultifying, with boring characters and an embarassing and egregious (for Heyer) overuse of historical detail. The heroine is annoyingly ingenuous, the hero is inconsistent and gruff, and the secondary characters are little more than caricatures. However, the last 1/5th is a fun, mad rush of escalating absurdities as the tediously extended plot device of the dress bill culminates in the business of the missing jewels. Worth the slog, if you're willing to put up with the overextended set up. However, do note that the focus on domestic matters and spousal miscommunication makes it less conventionally romantic than most of Heyer's regencies - and thus likely to leave you dissatisfied. Sept/13(less)
Man, what a great blurb. Too bad the rest of the book proved to be unreadable. I loved the humorous tone and I wanted to love the story, so I kept rea...moreMan, what a great blurb. Too bad the rest of the book proved to be unreadable. I loved the humorous tone and I wanted to love the story, so I kept reading even after the usually deal-breaking first and second instances (both in one sentence, sadly) of "I" misused as an object - but, alas, I couldn't get past the unrelenting exposition (told instead of shown). A quick skim suggests heroine and hero don't meet even into the third chapter, and I had to bail because the writing just didn't hold my attention. (less)
Charity Girl is mostly about the hero, who spends most of the book traipsing about the country being a Truly Upstanding Gentleman. The rest makes a qu...moreCharity Girl is mostly about the hero, who spends most of the book traipsing about the country being a Truly Upstanding Gentleman. The rest makes a quiet story that focusses on social interactions. Overall, a sedate Heyer that suffers from some flat secondary characters, but still offers some truly memorable scenes, appealing leads, and an immersive escape into the regency. I quite like the romance, which is understated and mundane - as far as I can tell Des' main reason for realizing he wants to marry Hetta is that he wants to share the humour of everyday episodes with someone - yet still satisfying. But, it can be easy to miss while you're distracted with Des' quest on Cherry's quest, so be sure to read thoughtfully. 3-4 stars :) Sept/13(less)
I probably wasn't ready for this book when I read it. I remember being disturbed by and displeased with the plot, yet faintly impressed by the intelle...moreI probably wasn't ready for this book when I read it. I remember being disturbed by and displeased with the plot, yet faintly impressed by the intellect behind the story - when I wasn't alienated by the distancting tone. I'm starting to suspect it's worth a re-read, but until I get around to that I'll leave be this two-star rating that I'm terribly self-conscious about because, come on, Kazuo Ishiguro right? Yeah. Sept/13(less)
So this book is funny and smart and should be a romp. But somehow I found it not compelling enough to bulldoze through, and thus six months since I la...moreSo this book is funny and smart and should be a romp. But somehow I found it not compelling enough to bulldoze through, and thus six months since I last opened it I'll admit I have no idea if or when I'll finish it. I guess somehow all that quality humor isn't enough to hold together such an intricate story. 23 Feb/13(less)