This book sucked me in and I found myself weirdly fascinated. I didn't really like the characters much, but their situation and interactions...more3.5 stars.
This book sucked me in and I found myself weirdly fascinated. I didn't really like the characters much, but their situation and interactions were so bizarre that I just kept on flipping pages through to the end.
When the book opens, the Duke of Marwick has ensconced himself in his rooms following the death of a wife who, he discovered after the funeral, had betrayed him time and again. He hasn't emerged for months. His servants are terrified of him and don't dare to do more than bring him meals, but they're enjoying having the run of the house and slacking on the job since the man never emerges from his bedroom. Enter Olivia Mather, who finagles her way into a housekeeper position in the duke's home in order to steal valuable intelligence in an attempt to rid herself of a man who seems to want her dead. She didn't expect to find a household in such dire need of a strong hand at the reins, and she certainly didn't expect to find herself liking the volatile, reclusive duke.
They fight, they banter, they bicker. Things are thrown. Bookcases are erected and overturned. Olivia finds herself falling for the duke, but with her own betrayal all but inevitable as soon as she finds the documents she's looking for, she knows she can't let anything happen between them.
Considering that most of this book takes place inside the duke's home, it was pretty entertaining. Marwick/Olivia was like a train wreck I couldn't look away from. Their interactions were supremely entertaining, and I loved how incredulous and exasperated they both were at the behavior of the other. Marwick: Doesn't this woman understand that I AM A DUKE and must be obeyed? Olivia: Doesn't this man understand that he needs to freaking LEAVE HIS ROOMS so I can search them for blackmail material and leave this bizarro house ASAP?
Not as much plot as I prefer in my fiction, but the character dynamics weren't ones you see every day, and that helped make up for it.(less)
Gretchen's father died when she was young, taking bullets meant for his old friend from the war, Adolf Hitler. Ever since, Gretchen has been the "litt...moreGretchen's father died when she was young, taking bullets meant for his old friend from the war, Adolf Hitler. Ever since, Gretchen has been the "little sunshine" of her "Uncle Dolf," a frequent guest of Herr Hitler and the well-known darling of the National Socialist Party. But when a mysterious young journalist--a Jewish journalist--appears claiming that her father's death wasn't as straightforward as she has been told, Gretchen soon finds herself doubting Uncle Dolf, his past, and his plans for Germany's future.
When I saw the description for this book, I was so, so hoping that it would have the same sort of depth and emotional resonance as Code Name Verity. Alas, this book fell flat for me.
What I hoped for was a girl struggling to cope with the idea that the propaganda she's been fed at Hitler's knee for her whole life might not be truthful, that Jewish people might be actual humans deserving of respect and equal treatment, that maybe, just maybe the National Socialist Party isn't the best thing for Germany. I hoped for a historical thriller full of danger and daring. I hoped for a mistrustful, tentative, slowly growing romance between the Aryan darling Gretchen and the outspoken-but-afraid Jewish boy Daniel.
What I got was Daniel telling Gretchen that "you're different from the others" because he saw her stop her brother from beating a helpless Jewish man to death. (Which she did, mind you, because Hitler frowned on street fighting because he thought it made the Party look bad, and also because she had never seen violence--or a Jewish dude--up close. Not because she fancied herself a defender of innocent Jews.) I saw Daniel immediately trusting and freaking inviting into the home he shared with two younger cousins one of Hitler's closest companions whom he had no reason to trust. I saw Gretchen shedding her beliefs as easily as she chopped off her hair.
I got an author making clumsy comparisons between Gretchen's Evil with a capital "E" sociopath brother and Hitler, a veritable SS and SA name-drop-fest, and friendships with Eva Braun and Geli Raubal that could have been meaningful but were instead just more historical figure cameo fun times.
I got a protagonist who was overall reactive instead of proactive, and who just kind of went with the flow. I got stakes that managed to feel really freaking low in pre-WWII Germany surrounded by Hitler and his cronies WTF how is that even possible?
In short, I got nothing that I hoped for and a lot of things I actively do not like in my fiction. It could have been worse--there was nothing I was truly offended by here--but I wanted it to be so, so much better.(less)
When my brain shut off and I read this book totally uncritically, I loved it. But I'm a critical reader, and some things about it didn't ji...more3.5 stars.
When my brain shut off and I read this book totally uncritically, I loved it. But I'm a critical reader, and some things about it didn't jive with my personal principles. So: This book is totally fun, but it has some underlying issues re: representation, appropriation, and feminism that prevented me from loving it wholeheartedly.
But if you're in the mood to read a book where Indiana Jones (using the name Lowe Magnusson, but clearly the characters are identical) snarks around on a treasure hunt in San Francisco and gets it on with a tall, bobbed museum curator in some extremely steamy sex scenes, give it a go.(less)
I was utterly disappointed in the first book in this series. I didn't even finish The Duchess Hunt. I decided to give Jennifer Haymore one last chance...moreI was utterly disappointed in the first book in this series. I didn't even finish The Duchess Hunt. I decided to give Jennifer Haymore one last chance with this one, and I sure am glad I did. The characters were leaps and bounds more compelling, and the conflict was more interesting. And holy steaminess, Jennifer Haymore! *fans self* I didn't know she had that in her. Steaminess isn't something I consider when selecting and reviewing HR, but in this case, I feel I need to mention it. Yikes.
If you're a fan of steamy HR, add this to your list. If you're looking for PG-13, this probably isn't for you. If, like me, steam isn't a major factor in your reading decisions, this book's great characters and compelling plot are superb. If you're a stickler for order, you may have to force yourself to slog through The Duchess Hunt first, since there is an overarching series plot, but I didn't finish the first book and didn't feel I was really missing anything.
If you want some book one background so you can skip straight to this one: (view spoiler)[Simon, the Duke of Trent, is a stuffy dude who feels like he needs to keep a stick up his ass to maintain his family's honor. His mom the duchess is a little, er, free-spirited, and she disappears under mysterious circumstances, throwing the family into chaos. The entire household, including like six adult kids (who are presumably each going to get their own book) is thrown into disarray as they attempt to find her. Simon has always had a crush on this maid, Sarah, but hasn't acted on it because dallying with the help is a no-no for sticks-up-their-ass dukes, and he certainly can't marry a maid. He and Sarah end up searching for his mom together. They don't find her, but they do fall in love and get married despite the fact that she's a maid. And that's all you need to know going into book two. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I love me some spy regencies, but I just can't stand this absurdly purple purpose.
For example, our first glimpse of the heroine: "But even in the dim l...moreI love me some spy regencies, but I just can't stand this absurdly purple purpose.
For example, our first glimpse of the heroine: "But even in the dim light cast by the candle, though disheveled and dirty her beauty shone clear to Aden in the cast of her elegant features. Hair the color of golden honey wound down from her ruined coiffure and tumbled around her shoulders. Her velvet evening cloak, woefully inadequate to ward off the chill from the room's moisture-slicked walls, had slipped from her shoulders to puddle about her waist, revealing creamy skin and gently sloping breasts that rose and fell in the rapid, shallow breathing of her disturbed sleep. A ridiculously delicate dress, all white lace and yellow silk, had a silly little sleeves that exposed most of her arms and shoulders, and her pale breasts gently swelled from the wispy bodice of her gown."
This is, like, read-aloud-as-a-party-game awful. Ouch.(less)
This book wasn't what I expected, I think because the cover screams contemporary at me (SO MUCH EYELINER). This isn't contemporary. It's a l...more4.5 stars.
This book wasn't what I expected, I think because the cover screams contemporary at me (SO MUCH EYELINER). This isn't contemporary. It's a lovely and dark and heartbreaking and triumphant historical novel about a girl named Judith who is back in her suspicious small town after a prolonged absence during which time who-knows-what happened to her--Judith can't say, since she no longer has a tongue. Judith's mother and brother don't treat her terribly well, and she continues to carry a torch for her neighbor, Lucas, who seemed inclined to return her sentiments until she disappeared. Now he's engaged to the town's Mean Girl, but Judith can't help but cling to her crush since he's the bright spot in her otherwise awful existence.
This book was very choppy and the style was unusual, things that are usually big book turnoffs for me, but for some reason this book grabbed me and wouldn't let go. Seriously, I stayed up all night to finish it. This book made me cry, cringe, and cheer. I ached in sympathy for Judith, I rooted for her as she fought to overcome all sorts of challenges (including but not limited to: confronting her past, keeping calm in battle, standing up to her mother, embarking on a new friendship, fighting to educate herself against the odds, being brave enough to speak, being brave enough to speak up, giving the smackdown to pedophiles, going after what she wants out of life), and in the end, I wanted to hug her.
This is one of those books you want to snuggle when it's over because your emotions have been yanked around so much that you feel that you and the book have been through an ordeal together. Much love.
Updated 5/21/14 to add trigger warnings: (view spoiler)[Physical and emotional abuse, extreme sexual harassment, attempted rape (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
When I pick up a Julia Quinn novel, I always know exactly what I'm getting into: pure, undiluted fluff. And that's not necessarily a bad thing. In Jul...moreWhen I pick up a Julia Quinn novel, I always know exactly what I'm getting into: pure, undiluted fluff. And that's not necessarily a bad thing. In Julia Quinn's case, it's not a bad thing at all. She writes some of the best pure-fluff HR being published (if you're looking for a another great one, I recommend Tessa Dare). Julia Quinn books make me laugh, make me sigh, and make my heart melt just a little.
This book is, in my opinion, one of her better ones. True, I always wish for a little more plottiness than she delivers, but whereas I'm often bored when I read romances where nothing exciting happens, my time flew by as I read this book. Hugh was a great character, with just the right amount broodiness tempered by wry sarcasm, and though Sarah was eye-rollingly dramatic at times, overall she was a heroine I could root for. She was so great during the extremely memorable climactic scene that I almost cheered aloud. (Extremely mild (view spoiler)[I love it when the heroine is the one who does the rescuing. (hide spoiler)].)
Overall, I highly recommend this to romance readers who can appreciate lighthearted fluff.
Note: Thanks to Avon and Edelweiss for providing me an advance copy.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
"Cute" and "funny" are words I always use to describe Tessa Dare's books, and Romancing the Duke is no exception. I enjoyed this fun Regency romp from...more"Cute" and "funny" are words I always use to describe Tessa Dare's books, and Romancing the Duke is no exception. I enjoyed this fun Regency romp from beginning to end (with only a tiny detour near the end when the hero didn't do enough groveling for forgiveness for my taste before the heroine instantly forgave all). Parts of this book were sheer ridiculousness, including Regency Era LARPers and an extended Star Wars reference. Don't go into this expecting historical accuracy. Do go into it expecting hilarity.
The book isn't all fun and games, however. The hero and heroine both have major problems that need to be resolved--the hero is learning to cope with a new disability, and the heroine is flat broke following the death of her spendthrift father. When the two find themselves cohabiting a crumbling castle, sparks of both the angry and passionate sort fly.
If you're looking for some light and funny fluff, pick this up. It's not my favorite Tessa Dare (that would be Any Duchess Will Do), and it's not destined for a spot on my list of favorite romances of all time, but it's pretty darned good.
Thanks to Avon and Edelweiss for the advance reader copy.(less)
Weirdly juvenile and unpolished, considering MJP is a Regency veteran who I know can do better. I was looking forward to Rob Carmichael's story, but i...moreWeirdly juvenile and unpolished, considering MJP is a Regency veteran who I know can do better. I was looking forward to Rob Carmichael's story, but it was way less interesting than I expected. Oh well.(less)
This is not my kind of book. If I wrote a blurb about this book and showed it to my past self, my past self would raise a skeptical eyebrow (my past s...moreThis is not my kind of book. If I wrote a blurb about this book and showed it to my past self, my past self would raise a skeptical eyebrow (my past self has powers I don't, apparently) and wonder what on earth inspired my future self to even bother with this book. It is so not my thing. Before I read this, I thought I would hate it, or at least find it boring. But I had to read it for book club, so I heroically took on the task, starting well in advance so I could take as many breaks to read better books as I needed.
...150 pages later I emerged blinking into the real world in shock. I loved it. But I stopped after that 150 pages because I was totally, 100% convinced that the second half of the book would ruin it for me. I lived the next week in dread of needing to pick it up again. Then I finished it. And...still loved it. SERIOUSLY. I couldn't believe it. When I turned the second to last page (more on that later), I was in complete awe of Rainbow Rowell and Eleanor and Park and this book because it was amazing. Somehow. Even though this kind of book really isn't my thing.
This book is a boy meets girl story. There honestly isn't much else there. But it is a great boy meets girl story, one that will bring back vivid memories of high school (for better and worse) and make you ache for the wonderful, flawed, real characters and their wonderful, flawed, real relationship.
The thing that killed me about this book is the very. last. freaking. sentence. (Mild spoiler ahead, so... (view spoiler)[It was one of those "open to interpretation" endings that drive me absolutely bonkers. JUST TELL ME WHAT HAPPENS, DAMN IT. I hate it when authors do that to me. They think it's all artsy, but from my perspective, it's just a huge cop-out. Like they tried to write an ending but it all came out horribly awkward (and I can relate, believe me), so they decided to just cut out the last paragraph and maybe people would think them artsy and creative and not realize that the author just sucks at writing endings. (hide spoiler)])
I would recommend this book to everyone, simply because I have no idea who this book would appeal to. I wouldn't have said it would appeal to me, but there you have it. Read three chapters. If you're not hooked by then, the rest of the book will probably leave you unmoved. But if you're like me, you won't even realize when you breeze past the end of the "trial" third chapter, so engrossed in Eleanor and Park's story that you will totally lose yourself. Enjoy.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Fun, entertaining voice. Doesn't read like it's over a century old. However, my enjoyment was lessened by the existence of Pervy Jervie (thanks to Tan...moreFun, entertaining voice. Doesn't read like it's over a century old. However, my enjoyment was lessened by the existence of Pervy Jervie (thanks to Tandie for that appropriate moniker!) a.k.a. Daddy-Long-Legs, who gave off huge creeper vibes.(less)
Got two thirds of the way through this before giving in to my complete and utter boredom with the characters, the world, and the story.
I honestly don'...moreGot two thirds of the way through this before giving in to my complete and utter boredom with the characters, the world, and the story.
I honestly don't know what it is about Zoe Archer, but I just cannot get into her books. If I try to pick them apart, it seems like there's nothing wrong: action, characters with characteristics I usually enjoy, an absence of sexism and other nasty 'isms, a world that seems pretty well-put-together. But somehow things just don't come together in a way that keeps me eager to turn pages.
I've picked up enough of her books now that I think it's not just a fluke. As much as I want to be able to support this author, I am just completely disinterested.(less)
Rose is an ATA pilot, shuttling planes and people around England in service of the WWII war effort. She's been flying since she was twelve, and she kn...moreRose is an ATA pilot, shuttling planes and people around England in service of the WWII war effort. She's been flying since she was twelve, and she knows she has more skill and experience than many of the green boys flying planes over in France on the front lines. So when her uncle, a hotshot military engineer with connections, arranges for her to fly to Paris shortly after it's been liberated, she's thrilled. But Rose gets more than she bargained for on her jaunt to France, and what comes next will test her in every way the human spirit can be tested.
I was not expecting this to be a sequel to Code Name Verity, so I was startled to start reading and discover that Maddie is a prominent secondary character. Honestly, I think that was one of the downsides for me reading this, because there were so many bits where Elizabeth Wein did little call-outs to Code Name Verity, and seriousface WWII historical fiction does not need cutesy little shout-outs and recurring characters in "companion novels." I'm not saying Maddie is a bad character, but I do think this book would have been stronger without her.
This book was not as good as Code Name Verity. I just have to get that off my chest. It was, however, pretty damned good.
Like Code Name Verity, it took me a while to get into this book. Specifically, Wein's quickly-becoming-trademark unusual narrative style choices, which aid the book as a whole, make the first 60 pages really, really boring. But all the boring, chipper, girl-who-really-wants-to-be-on-the-front-lines-because-she's-a-hotshot-pilot-and-craves-excitement blandness serve as a stark contrast to what comes later.
What comes later is...well. If you read Code Name Verity, brace yourself for that kind of intensity. This book was horrifying, and beautifully written. I didn't think Rose was that great of a character, but I did love all the relationships she forms through her ordeal, and how her friendships keep her going. She also had some interesting internal conflicts throughout the book, and some of them were really fascinating to think about.
Overall, if you liked Code Name Verity, you will probably enjoy this as well. If you didn't like Code Name Verity, this book also probably isn't for you (unless your issue with CNV was the unreliable narrator, because there's none of that here). I don't think Rose is a particularly compelling or lovable character, but the situations she finds herself in are compelling in and of themselves, and make the book worth reading.
Thanks to NetGalley and Disney-Hyperion for providing an ARC of this title.(less)