I don't even know where to start with this mess of a book. The parts I loved I LOVED and the parts I hated I really really HATED.
Alisha Williams, theI don't even know where to start with this mess of a book. The parts I loved I LOVED and the parts I hated I really really HATED.
Alisha Williams, the beautiful and pure vision of sweetness and light (and did I mention she's also an orphan?) comes to the rescue of Gray Eagle, an Oglala brave whose awesomeness skills took a brief vacation when he managed to get caught in a white man's snare and dragged back to the white man's fort for some good old fashioned torture. Our diminutive heroine, in an act of bravery, holds off the hordes with a gun (no doubt bigger than herself), but as with all of Alisha's acts of bravery throughout the book, it's short-lived and she gets overpowered. She tends to Gray Eagle's whip wounds and immediately gets that "tingly feeling down there" when in close quarters with who has to be the most Badass Alpha Indian Hero in All of Bodice-Ripper Romancelandia.
And he's full-blooded Indian, baby. No lame-ass half-breed "I'm actually half-white" cop-out which seems to be ubiquitous in these romances. I mean, back in the uber-racist 20s books like The Sheik had stuff like that in order to make it more palatable to readers, but c'mon... the 80s and 90s? So anyway... Janelle? Gold star! Good job!
I could go on and on about Gray Eagle's Bad-Assedness, which has knocked Steve Morgan from Sweet Savage Love off his macho pedestal. Despite the other major flaws in this book, I thought his character was well-developed and the conflict between showing Alisha affection (because he does love her although he never tells her) and working within the confines of his own society's ideas of honor and saving face was interesting. Yes, there was cruel abuse and punishment when Alisha disgraced him in front of the tribe, but it had to happen to retain his standing as the chief's son. Plus, it felt good to see Alisha Teh Perfekt feel pain after inflicting her TSTL Mary-Sueness on the reader for page after page. I mean, in one scene she chases butterflies in the meadow. FFS. I was in his corner the entire time.
But egad, the writing. From what I understand this was her first novel, but the telling-and-not-showing was off the freaking charts, and the prose was often ridiculously simple of the Dick and Jane variety. One of the major plot points is that Gray Eagle keeps his knowledge of English a secret from Alisha, so in order for anything to move forward between them Alisha is always voicing her thoughts in some of the most stilted long monologues possible. As you can imagine, the execution can only be clunky and clumsy. (And how a full-blooded Indian brave learned English when his only interaction with whites is when he's killing them is never addressed!)
But I was coasting along with it all, enjoying the book (or rather, Gray Eagle) despite all the drawbacks. That is, until the story got to Fort Pierre and Alisha is confronted with pure anti-Indian prejudice, a horny cavalry lieutenant, several other cartoonish cardboard characters, and bursting into tears on every other damn page. At this point the constant references to her beauty as observed by every male character around her gave me PTSD flashbacks to the POS Mary Sue-fest Amber Fire from which I still haven't fully recovered. At last, Gray Eagle shows up to rescue her and the book ends before they're officially reunited (she's walking toward him and his army of warriors).
The other huge issue I had with this book other than Perfect Alisha was the setting and confusion of details. We're told it's 1776, and my best guess is we're in the Dakotas. And yet, the description of the army officers are as "bluecoats" with wide-brimmed hats with gold buttons and gold braid. Sounds more like the 1870s, no? The Continental Army had no regulation uniform, and the British army wore red coats. (And according to Wiki and a few other sources I dug up, the first records of contact between whites and the Oglala date from the Lewis-Clark Expedition in 1806!) So...major research fail.
Of course I'll attempt the next book because of Gray Eagle - the sole reason this book gets 3 stars. (Well, the other Indian male characters White Arrow and Powchutu can share the love.) But if I find the endless internal monologues and showing-not-telling, and Alisha is still Pwecious Perfektshun In Every Way, all bets are off. Sorry, Gray Eagle - it was fun while it lasted. It's always a sad thing when a Hero is totally undeserving of the Heroine the author foists on him.
I'm sure my misgivings with this book are due to the Harley formula, but it was a decent read. I'm totally going to crib the review format from this aI'm sure my misgivings with this book are due to the Harley formula, but it was a decent read. I'm totally going to crib the review format from this awesome lady (UPDATE: She's left Goodreads, sorry) because it's a neat and tidy way to review these neat and tidy books.
The Girl - Dove Grey is a British nanny who does a damn good job, thankyouverymuch. Somehow, despite working for the landed gentry and raising their brats, she has managed to stay pure and innocent. You would expect she would have gotten some unwanted attention from one of her rich employers who is used to getting whatever he wants, but I guess her halo of innocence protects her. Dove did seem to be somewhat of a cipher. Her main motivation that propelled the plot was doing Huge Generous Things for others, at the expense of herself.
The Guy - Marc Blais, an ex-Legionnaire now hauling in the big bucks as the main confidant and honorary brother of Sheikh Rahma, the richest guy in the (fictitious) Middle Eastern country of Neffe. He's tall. He's dark. He's got an awesome scar that serves as a mood barometer. He's easily angered and aggravated by Dove, but we all know why...
The Setup - Dove's daddy refuses to collect value added tax at his store and he now owes The Revenue Man a HUGE bill of back taxes. Mom is no help, because she's one of those dumbly faithful types who always leaves everything in the hands of the man. So it's up to Dove to come up with a ton of cash, and she takes on the daunting (but very lucrative) task of nanny to Sheikh Rahma's children, a job that has had quite the turnover in recent years, due in no small part to the presence of Marc Blais. "You must not fall in love with me!" he warns Dove. With the equivalent of "Ha! As IF!" hurled back at him, the plot is off and running, which involves touching scenes of Dove's nannydom, an assassination plot and coup from Rahma's scheming brother Zaid, and a midnight flight into the desert to keep the children from Zaid's assassins. Throw in a bumpy camel ride and a forced wedding ceremony and you've got some real trials and tribulations for our heroine.
The Good Stuff - Margaret Rome's writing is something else. And not in a bad way. She has a real OTT style that would work really well in a full-blown bodice-ripper epic, and I kept feeling like she was chomping at the bit against the constraints of the Harley formula. There were some real good lines in there that usually would bring on some eye-rolling, but I was eating it up with a spoon instead. The dialogue she puts in the mouths of her characters would never be heard in the real world - it's convoluted and melodramatic, but again.... YUM.
My Gripes - I wasn't "feeling it" between Marc and Dove, but I'm still enough of a newbie to the Harley formula that I'm not sure how much is shorthand that the reader needs to fill in because they always end at pg. 187. The final grovel seemed to come on fast, as well as Dove's "I love him!" revelation after 160 pages of utter hatred (with some moments of forced kissy-kissy which seemed to make her all weak). So my initial rating was going to be 3 stars, but I'll tack on an extra one because it was still a very enjoyable read....more
The Rosemary Rogers Reading Experience is a phenomena that can't be conveyed with words.
The euphoric reader's journey of Yours Truly
The opening sceneThe Rosemary Rogers Reading Experience™ is a phenomena that can't be conveyed with words.
The euphoric reader's journey of Yours Truly
The opening scene of Steve and Ginny in constant kissy-kissy morning-afterglow had me scratching my head. Huh? Does...not...compute...
Oh, I should never have doubted Rosemary! This is Steve and Ginny after all, and soon WE'RE OFF!!!!
Steve takes off yet again on another of those "secret missions" of his, leaving Ginny vulnerable to the oh-so-nefarious designs of one Prince Ivan Sahrkanov and his unwitting accomplice Dr. Count Chernikoff, who tempt her away from Mexico with the story that she's actually Tsar Alexander's long-lost illegitimate daughter (that little plot thread is never fully resolved, btw) and she needs to go to Russia pronto! and fulfill her obvious potential of being a Princess.
Poor Ginny. She pines for Steve, who is nowhere in sight and hasn't bothered to write. Well, she'll show him she won't just wait around for whenever he decides to come back! She'll prove she can take care of herself! So before she knows it she has become a docile apathetic little thing with the help of a constant supply of Chernikoff's magical headache powders. In a drugged haze she finds herself married to the Prince. You GO, girl!
Next stop: San Francisco. Prince Ivan immediately starts whoring out his wife for money and influence, and Ginny, in a constant fog of opiates, just shrugs her way through her miserable existence. At this point Steve! appears under another identity and of course the Love/Hate relationship starts all over again because:
Steve: I can't leave you alone for 5 minutes before you start spreading them for another man, you slut. Ginny: (thinking) Well if you told me you loved me, things would be totally different! Ginny: *shrug* Steve: I'll make you respond, you ice-cold bitch! Ginny: I hate you! Die in a fire! (Seconds later) Ginny: Curse my traitorous body!
It was here where Steve! let the Aura of AlphaBastard™ slip somewhat and he showed some real tenderness toward Ginny. He knows she's a raging opium addict and it's killing him to see his wildcat Ginny have all the emotion and energy of a year-old moldy dishrag. So he does what any Awesome Co-dependent Husband would do: "You're an addict! Here's some more headache powders, they're just not as strong."
Finally, in the first real WTF moment, the evil Prince is removed from the goings-on with a piratey duel mixed with kung fu and our Crazy Couple are reunited. But once again, it doesn't last long...
The next part opens with Steve shagging the Italian prima donna Francesca di Paoli while Ginny is traipsing around Europe and making tongues wag. This of course pisses Mr. Double-Standard AlphaRatBastard to no end. But these co-dependent drama queens were at each others' throats toot sweet and a separation was considered wise. Steve is now a millionaire, business deals are going on left and right and soon he must go on another one of those "secret missions" but he catches typhus and sets the stage for the Certifiably Batshit INSANE last half of the book. I shit you not.
Amnesiac Steve, now known as Manolo, ends up in Louisiana and hired by the crazed deviant giggly Trampslut Toni Lassiter, who has hooked her claws into a plantation and driven the previous family into a life in the swamps. The Rosemary Magic™ had been rolling along at a low boil but at this point it simply exploded and the shit hit the proverbial fan from all 360 degrees.
My quasi-spoilers stop here, but lemme give a visual approximation of my face for these last 220 pages:
Especially when 2 pages from the end of the book they're both on the run from the sheriff's posse and yet they still can't help bonking like bunnies while out in the Louisiana swamps.
Some choice quotes from our Loving Couple: "Did you stab him in the neck before or after you hit him with the bottle? It seems to have become quite a habit with you, hasn't it--stabbing the men who have ravished you, but only after they've had you over and over again! You tried that on me once, remember? Is that how you get rid of the lovers you've tired of?"
"I hate you! I'm sorry that Ivan didn't have you killed after all!"
Ginny--damn her slanty green eyes and her too-easily yielding body--she had always been the only woman capable of making him fly into a jealous rage that could blind him to everything else, even caution or reason. He should have done what he had threatened to do far too often and never carried out--beaten her a few times, to show her he meant business.
I enjoyed this book more than Sweet Savage Love, but only barely. Really, this one is off-the-charts Pure Crazy Fun. If you're an Old Skool Bodice Ripper Fan. Bring your Big Girl Panties for this one and just roll with it. You'll be glad you did....more