I HATE being disappointed by books that start with a bang but end with a lifeless whimper. Bodice Rippers s...more***Placeholder for longer review to come***
I HATE being disappointed by books that start with a bang but end with a lifeless whimper. Bodice Rippers set in Russia are my siren song! This should have rocked!
Drusilla Campbell's "The Frost and the Flame" was everything this book should have been.
One woman, three men who love her, and this dumb twit, Kirsten, goes for the very old Russian general who she says treats her like a daughter even though he's terrible in bed, then brutally rapes and beats her and she forgives him because he's like her daddy?
Two great rivals for Kirsten's love who spend more time together and have more chemistry with EACH OTHER than the heroine has with either of them? Plus, she spends maybe 40-60 pages tops with both of them, while the rest of the book is marching into Russia or getting raped by "Daddy!"
And on the last page she reunites with her "true love" whom she met very briefly? If that's the kind of bodice ripper you're going to write, it has to be meaty and fun.
I am sure that were I given an opportunity to converse with author Orson Scott Card regarding the vast empires, rulers/kings and military...moreMINI-REVIEW:
I am sure that were I given an opportunity to converse with author Orson Scott Card regarding the vast empires, rulers/kings and military leaders that the world has seen rise and fall, from Alexander the Great to the great Caesars, from Charlemagne to Charles V, from Napoleon to Hitler and Stalin and Churchill and Roosevelt, we’d have an engaging time. I’m boring that way (in fact that that’s how I once caught the attention of a former, handsome--yet equally boring--boyfriend, with a long conversation about Napoleon and the Roman Empire). But an enlightening dialogue is not the same as reading this mind-numbing book by Card; it’s the most tedious of sequels to a brilliant spin-off of a modern-classic science-fiction novel.
Shadow of the Hegemon is filled with awful characterization, soporific pacing and annoying futuristic slang. It was such a miserable experience and I’m not sure why this happened. It’ s like there are two Orson Scott Cards who write: one who creates masterpieces like “Ender’s Game” and “The Worthing Saga,” and the other who writes awful military-fantasy dreck like the Empire series or this dull crap. I will not go over the plot points; anyone interested in then can view my notes for my details.
I wish I could come up with a more erudite way of putting this... (but simplicity has a beauty of sorts, does it not?):
Funny...I thought I already read this book way back when, but such was not the case. This book was more about Spain, the essence of it, its nobles, pe...moreFunny...I thought I already read this book way back when, but such was not the case. This book was more about Spain, the essence of it, its nobles, people and artists during the Golden Age: Philip II, Cervantes, Quevedo, El Greco, more than just about that Monster of Nature, Lope de Vega. It was written in such beautiful prose, so redolent and filled with that forever-dreaming, quixotic, passionate yet pious Spanish spirit.
When I FINALLY get my computer running I will give this and many other books the reviews they deserve. I've been without it for 2 months and typing on my phone stinks! But at long last I'm out of my reading slump. Mixed up non-fiction with historical fiction and romances that I know I will enjoy, rather than trying new stuff just because it's new. I stopped reading the same genre over and over and I've found JOY in books again! This was an A- read!
Hope for more good reads for the rest of this year.(less)
**spoiler alert** Wow…what an experience! “Edin’s Embrace” by Nadine Crenshaw is a Zebra Lovegram romance published in way back in 1989. With a shimme...more**spoiler alert** Wow…what an experience! “Edin’s Embrace” by Nadine Crenshaw is a Zebra Lovegram romance published in way back in 1989. With a shimmering Pino Daeni cover featuring a muscled guy who looks a lot like Fabio, embracing a blonde on a Viking ship (spot the horse on the cover!) this could just have been another ho-hum romance.
But it’s not.
This is how the tale begins:
“The world was a colder, darker place then. It was an axe age, a wind age, a time when men didn’t dare give mercy, and a time when the powerful exacted what they could and the weak granted what they must.”
Ok, that definitely piqued my interest.
However, the affect is spoiled in the next paragraph with a glaring misspelling (the word hardier instead of heartier). There are a lot of typos in this book, which is a shame, as such a good book deserved more cautious edition. Crenshaw diligently tries to portray the authenticity of the Viking era, and sticks to historical facts. This book borrows heavily from the Icelandic sagas... setting the stage for Vikings as pitiless warriors. The heroine is a lady, not the clichéd young girl trained by her father as boy in the arts of war. I’ve never read a Viking book with such authenticity…making sure that it was noted which helmets were worn when, the importance of bathing, the treatment of slaves. Slaves are to have their hair shorn, and they are to be killed if they try to escape. When Thoryn has neither of these things done to Edin, it is a cause of strife amongst is peoples.
What I really appreciate is that there is no other woman for Throyn (except for a brief encounter with a prostitute), no other great love of his. He is a primal force of a man, and love is not part of his mentality. “What is love?” Is a phrase often queried here. Sometimes this book gets quite philosophical about the nature of man and woman and their bonds together. Women are a biological need for Thoryn, but they before Edin came along, they offered little in terms of mental stimulation and affection. With her he becomes a better man and a better lover.
There is a scene where Thoryn approaches a Viking friend and asks him if women enjoy sex, and if they do, how can men go about pleasing them? Despite’s his friend’s poor advice, Thoryn learns how to please Edin and he she in turn pleases him. Their passion however soon turns into what could be a doomed love.
There’s a lot of introspection than action here, far more than I usually enjoy, but somehow in Edin’s Embrace it works. Edin and Thoryn are two very deep individuals whose lives and souls are drawn together.
One thing I wasn’t crazy about was Edin’s failure to accept her place in the violent Viking world. At the end Edin convinces Thoryn to basically say, “Hey, let’s eff this Viking pillaging stuff, and move to Constantinople to become merchants.” That might seem a bit odd, as I have no qualms when a gunslinger hangs up his guns and becomes a rancher, or a pirate stops raiding and becomes a plantation owner. But when a one of the most hardcore Viking heroes I‘ve ever read about hangs up his sword, it made me a bit sad. I knew it would ensure for Edin the stability she required, but it made the ending less perfect for me.
Despite its authentic, violent, stark Viking feel, I do have to admit that there were a few anachronisms. The mentions of potatoes and squash threw me out of the authenticity for a moment. When a Muslim trader mentions that Constantinople was founded in the year 300 AD (Anno Domino, In the Year of our Lord Jesus Christ), I wondered why he just didn’t say it was founded about 600 years ago, instead. And as I said, there were so many typos for a book printed and edited in 1988. These are minor gripes, and I fault the editor in this. Crenshaw did try her damned best to make this as accurate as possible.
As a reader of historical romance, I have always been searching for that great the great Viking romance. I still rate Johanna Lindsey’s “Fires of Winter” a 5 star read, because for that 13 year old girl who read it, that was a 5 star read. I’m not the kind of reader who looks back at books she enjoyed and said well, I don’t like them now. However, 23 years later, I’ve changed as a person and a reader. I need something different. Something more hardcore. While "Edin’s Embrace” comes close, but it’s not perfect. Nevertheless I loved it.
This is the scene that won me over in this book, and made me realize I was not reading another tame, ho-hum Viking book:
There he held her. She felt the sword point keenly. She became aware of her ribs beneath it, how delicate the bones were how easily they could be pierced.
“I’m waiting thrall! What say you know?”
She whispered, “I-I am free, a nobleman’s daughter.”
Why was she doing this? He had no scruples against murder—he’d already murdered Cedric before her very eyes!
“You suffer from unnatural belief in your own immortality,” he answered softly...Quickly another sword appeared. She looked from Thoryn to the sword Rolf held out to her.
“Take it!” The jarl stepped back half a pace, removing his sword point from her breast, yet not removing it.…She took the sword from Rolf with both hands. Even so, as soon as he released it, its point fell almost to the floor. She struggled to bring it up again, but couldn’t raise it even to the height of her waist…
“Lift it!” he said. He waved his own weapon as if it were a twig. “All it takes is a good arm.” She saw the sinews in his forearm, the muscles rippling. “It’s Rolf’s own sword, a good killing blade…If you aren’t my thrall you’ll lift it and defend your claim. I say your mine, my property to dispose of as I see fit. Prove to me I’m wrong!" She stood as she was, her arms and shoulders and back trembling in effort of keeping the heavy sword point from falling to the floor completely.
“Well?” He was like a dragon in his fury, rending and unreasonable. Those who resisted, he would always mercilessly overcome, if not with his muscles then with the tremendous strength of his mind and purpose.
“You know I can’t fight you.”
“Come,” the jarl said dryly, lowering his sword. “Take it; charge me with it. I know you can kill if you want to.”
“You killed Ragnarr.”
He made a sound of contempt. “You are a race of slaves, you Saxons.”
Her gaze dropped to somewhere near his feet. She wanted to cry, but somehow kept the sobs held in.
“I’m challenging you—fight me, my lady!”
“I can’t fight you, Viking, as well you know.”
“Aye,” he said slowly, lowering his weapon at last, “as well I know.”
Her gaze lifted again, all the way to his face. “But I will never be your slave,” she said stubbornly.
This time he reacted with immediate anger, the most parlous kind of anger, the kind born of frustration. The jerk of his head told her of his ire, and her breath froze at the cold flare of temper in his eyes. In an instant, he became fearsome, furious mad. His mighty sword swung again, and he closed in. There was an ice storm rampaging in his eyes. The flat of his sword lifted her chin, until she was looking at him down its long gilt and silver length. All he said now was, “Slave or sword point?”
The flames snapped in the fire pit behind her. The cold, steel point pricking her throat never moved the slightest. For an immeasurable extent of time she stood perfectly still, living in a state of strain. She searched for an answer. And impaled on his gaze, feeling all those wild and hungry eyes on her, something of her pride broke inside her. In the end she could only whisper: “Slave”
Oh Jackie...you used to be the best in trashy reading. But time takes a toll on us all, even the greatests.
I can never give a Jackie Collins book one...moreOh Jackie...you used to be the best in trashy reading. But time takes a toll on us all, even the greatests.
I can never give a Jackie Collins book one star...even when she's bad, she's bad, and that's part of her charm...but even with all the sleaze, "Lovers & Players" was so boring!
I disliked the heroine, Liberty, who was not pictured on the cover (Lib's biracial, so the blonde on the cover must be boring-assed Amy). She started out as a cantankerous, lazy waitress who bitched at her customers for daring to want to place orders and I was supposed to sympathize with her?
Anyway, Lib's dream is to be a singer, and along the way she becomes a rap video ho, a magazine model and potential mistress to Mr. Damon P. Darnell. That's right, Damon P. Darnell, the hip-hop mogul, who can only be called by his full name Damon P. Darnell, cuz that's how he rolls. (Oh, Jackie!)
The story line is this: evil, overbearing, billionaire Red Diamond demands his three sons show up in New York for a very important announcement regarding their inheritances.
Oldest son Max (who I kind of liked because he was a decent guy) needs the money because all his investors are pulling out of business deals, and he's a got a Russian ex-wife, a virginal bride-to-be and a spoiled five-year-old daughter to care for.
Middle son Chris (also somewhat decent) needs money to pay off a gambling debt to mobsters, but can't, even though he's a super lawyer to the wealthy mega-stars.
Youngest son Jett is a hunky, brainless, walking hard-on of a male-model who falls in love (unknowingly) with Max's fiancee, Amy, a virgin who's saving herself for marriage, but of course fucks Jett on the night of her bachelorette party and doesn't share names, but it's instant lurve for this Ken and Barbie couple.
Jett and Amy what a BORING couple. That cannot be stated enough...just awful and uninteresting.
There is the usual cast of raunchy characters, villains and idiots, and lots of filler. A crap lot of it.
What happened to the sizzling page turners like "Hollywood Wives," "Chances," "Lucky" and "Rock Star" where the action happens over months and years and where the characters were actually unique and entertaining? Now, all her books take place over a span of a few days or weeks, detailing boring lunches and vacations where nothing happens (sure sex, drugs, some tawdry stuff) but no exciting twists or drama.
And the ending...
Jackie's books always end in a seeming cliffhanger, then the epilogue cleans everything up neatly, and it's fun to see what happens to who and where and why. This...was just a mess, as if she really did not give a flying fuck and just had her assistant type out a summary of what they thought should happen.
The last few Santangelo books were so bleh, I was freaking disappointed! One thing I could always depend on was for Jackie to entertain, no matter how cheesy or offensive or crazy! Now reading her books is like watching a boring reality show where the same dull crap happens over and over. All glitz, but that's it.