They say that you shouldn't judge a book by its cover but it's this book's cover that caught my attention and I'm glad that the temptation to buy it w...moreThey say that you shouldn't judge a book by its cover but it's this book's cover that caught my attention and I'm glad that the temptation to buy it won out. It was a light read with bits of humour thrown in every so often and it was just what I needed after some more taxing reads.(less)
3.5 stars but I'm giving it the benefit of the doubt and rounding up to 4.
The front cover of this book made me think of Indiana Jones and, if I'm hone...more3.5 stars but I'm giving it the benefit of the doubt and rounding up to 4.
The front cover of this book made me think of Indiana Jones and, if I'm honest, that (and the cheap price) is what motivated me to buy it. The story itself was sound with some very good world building. The story is for the most part set in Outer Mongolia in the late 19th century, which I don't know much about and as such I enjoyed the descriptions of the Mongolian steppes and the ways of life the natives enjoyed in that time period. The pace was good and served to keep me interested until the very end.
Now the bad. I didn't like the wet panties as of the end of chapter 2, when the characters didn't even know each other; I prefer a growing relationship to lust (and wet panties) at first sight. To her credit, the author did keep the characters from doing the dirty until much later in the book, though. The bigger problem for me, which is probably just a personal annoyance, was how Huntley, male protagonist, spent a fortnight, if that, around the Mongol language without actually making any effort to learn it and then all of a sudden he's babbling off rather complicated and grammatically correct sentences, not to mention keeping up and on-going interpretation? That's not how language acquisition works and this really tempered my enjoyment of the last 60 - 70 pages of the book.(less)
I was unable to suspend my disbelief to make this an ultiamtely enjoyable read. I cannot believe that a girl from tab-end 20th century New Orleans wou...moreI was unable to suspend my disbelief to make this an ultiamtely enjoyable read. I cannot believe that a girl from tab-end 20th century New Orleans would be able to immitate 16th century Scottish accent and speech patterns to such a degree that even the Scots themselves don't notice that she's not one of them. This isn't even taking into account how much the language has changed since then - the book is set prior to the writing of the works of Shakespeare and every student knows how hard it can be to study his plays in their original form simply due to the evolution of the language since that time.(less)
For me, the story was not particularly well-written, the characters were not particularly engaging, the plot was not at all solid. I cannot say in all...moreFor me, the story was not particularly well-written, the characters were not particularly engaging, the plot was not at all solid. I cannot say in all honesty that I particularly enjoyed reading it.
It was one of those romances where the relationship is built on mutual lust rather than a steady growth of feelings towards the other person. Within a couple of chapters she's naked in his arms, has no idea who he is, he knows that he's using her to get to her father, whom he intends to kill, his "desire is evident" and they kiss - just to be clear, this is not a sex scene, but the characters do not even know each other at this point! When it does get to sex scenes, despite being a flop, the first one really rankled me. The heroine is not a virgin and yet she mentions, in her inner dialogue, at least three times that "this man is huge. I hope I can accomdoate him" - which, to me, just screams of the author stroking her hero's ego.
This book did not go down all that well. I am not chomping at the bit to read the author's other works.(less)
Had I been in another mood while reading this, I might have enjoyed this book more than I actually did. I think a recent read of mine has left me in a...moreHad I been in another mood while reading this, I might have enjoyed this book more than I actually did. I think a recent read of mine has left me in a more critical mindset vis-à-vis historical romance, though this one was certainly far better and incredibly well researched.
I think that one of the problems was that I didn't like the heroine much. Throughout the story she frequently made what I would consider to be stupid, poorly thoughtout decisions. The hero didn't make much sense either. He's angry beyond belief, believing she betrayed him, ignoring her for all he's worth and next moment he can't keep his hands off her? An action that wasn't really in character for him.
Overall I enjoyed the story but feel it could have been better.(less)
I bought this book as part of my Beauty and the Beast spree.
The first problem that this book encounters is the prologue. It was weak, not at all engag...moreI bought this book as part of my Beauty and the Beast spree.
The first problem that this book encounters is the prologue. It was weak, not at all engaging, and did little to set the scene. I didn't like it at all, I felt it was clunky and didn't much like the characters I was introduced to. I started to have a few reservations about the book. Fortunately, as of chapter 1 it picks up and becomes an enjoyable read.
This book is essentially a romance with a bit of an underlying mystery as a subplot. A good portion of the book is dedicated to the growing romance, which is what I expected so I didn't have any nasty surprises there. It was an enjoyable romance to watch blossom too. The hero recognises his sentiments towards the heroine as of early on but does not force himself on her in any way while she is given time and space for her own emotions to grow.
Sex doesn't come into the story until about 2/3rds of the way through. There was a great work up to their relationship to the point where it becomes physical, but once the story does get there there's just far too much of it. It felt like the sex came to the forefront of the story and the actual plot took a backseat until close to the end when the plot was forced to pick up again so that the story could be rounded off.
Other than the sex, there are a few problems: - The heroine's family situation is pushed a bit too far. 3 useless lump-of-lard drunks in one family is a bit too much. - Certain parts of the plot are not wrapped up to my liking. Above all, the hero's brother's experiments. They're talked about often enough but the reader never finds out what exactly they are. - The situation with the father and two brothers expecting to sit back and never lift a finger, other than to pour another glass of alcohol, is not rounded off. In fact, we only find out what happens to the heroine's closest sister. The other 4 members of her family could be anywhere doing anything. We don't find out. - Cecily. I would have preferred more to that particular plot line than is dedicated to it.
Other than those littles annoyances and loose ends, the author did a decent enough job with the book and I enjoyed spending an afternoon with the characters.(less)
After everything that I've heard, all the raving reviews that I've read, glorifying Lisa Kleypas as being a master when it comes to writing romance, t...moreAfter everything that I've heard, all the raving reviews that I've read, glorifying Lisa Kleypas as being a master when it comes to writing romance, this book fell far short of my expectations.
The general plot line of the 4 books of the series is interesting; I like the idea that the four wallflowers make a pact to help each other find a husband. The plot of this particular book was a little less interesting. Annabelle wants a husband who is a peer so she can help to support her family as they have fallen on hard times. It is her fourth season and as such her last before she is considered 'on the shelf'. Simon Hunt wants Annabelle. Always has ever since he first met her (one of the bits I don't like). They end up at a country party together. Cue the wallflowers trying to catch a peer for Annabelle while Hunt tries to convince her she should be his mistress and not a Lord's.
I would have preferred to see Simon Hunt really falling in love with Annabelle rather than his emotions towards her already given before the story even really starts. I don't like how Simon's POV is only used 3 or 4 times. Either use it more or don't use it at all. I don't like the informality surrounding Annabelle's mother. She should not be referred to by her Christian name, she should be 'Lady Peyton'. The story went on too long. Almost all of the part after the wedding served only to include several sex scenes. They weren't even good sex scenes. They came too quickly one after the other so they were unable to really capture my attention. I even found myself skim-reading one! Not good in a romance. The ending itself, from the visit to the locomotive works on, was good. I really enjoyed it. But it was let down by the 50+ pages of waffle that came before.
Ultimately, not overly impressed. I'm not sure whether I'll bother with the rest of the series.(less)
Really 3.5 stars but I'm feeling generous so I'll round up instead of down.
This book was my third ever erotica read. I wasn't sure that I'd like it, a...moreReally 3.5 stars but I'm feeling generous so I'll round up instead of down.
This book was my third ever erotica read. I wasn't sure that I'd like it, as I haven't liked the genre in the past, but decided to try it anyway as part of my Beauty and the Beast spree. The erotic scenes fitted in with the storyline better than my previous experiences at any rate, though I'm not sure that I'm sold on the dreams.
The hero is more of a beast in his mind than his body, being described as handsome despite the scar on his face. But he is tormented by his past, by events that keep him from sleeping at night. The heroine is on the run from the abusive man who means to marry her for her money. She knows the hero from the distant past when he stepped in to help her out of a sticky situation and she hopes that he will do so again now. Throw in a few side characters (the abusive man, the hero's ex-fiancée, a young boy, a friend from school and a handful of servants)and you have the cast for this book. The most complex character was probably Martin (the abuser) due to the horrors of his childhood that turned him into a monster, but we don't really get to see much of that, the author fixating on his perverse sexual desires.
There are many secrets being kept between all the characters. The setting, a crumbling manor, is reflective of their psychological states, the garden is the hope for the future. The relations between the hero and the heroine started as of early on in the story. I would have preferred to see more of a growth of their feelings towards each other, but considering the genre I suppose I can't complain as I knew what I was signing up for.
A couple of things: - I saw the final twists coming from a mile away, but they were made fairly obvious in the last 50 pages or so. - I wish there'd been more to the poisoning event. It all seemed to be over very quickly with her just magically better and up and berrating him again. The recovery was so swift that there wasn't much point in even using it as a plot device. - I'd have liked more substance to how he saved her in the past. It was built up for so long that the reveal of the actual events disappointed. I was expecting more. - Some sentence structure is rather clunky and I found myself reading certain sentences a few times over before I understood what the author was trying to say. - Some weird preposition use. Eg: "on his own accord". I would say 'of' here rather than 'on' - I don't know whether this is influenced by the other languages in my head. There were others as well. - Are there turtles in the lakes in the Lake District? I've never seen any there before. - What was with the boy suddenly saying "momma" and "poppa" instead of "mama" and "papa" as he had previously? This ripped me out of the book, sounded too forced.
And most importantly: - Overuse of the word "suddenly". They say that you shouldn't even use that particular word in writing. This author was using it all the time!
Despite all this, I enjoyed the story well enough for what it was. Very short and easily readable in an evening.
Edit: I checked regarding "on his own accord" and it is indeed "of" and not "on". I also checked regarding turtles in the Lake District. Asked someone who knows the place very well and they looked at me like I'd gone mad. So no turtles in the Lake District.(less)
For a novella this was an interesting story with a fair amount of development.
The first paragraph left me a little wary as the protagonist immediately...moreFor a novella this was an interesting story with a fair amount of development.
The first paragraph left me a little wary as the protagonist immediately brings up "that summer seven years ago", which I felt should not have been introduced as of the first few lines. There's a lot of exposition but considering how much story is written in to under 30,000 words, I guess there had to be.
The characters were well written and nicely rounded.
The language is, at times, rather clunky as it seems to wave between pseudo-16th century English (even though it's not written in British English, which kinda kills the scene setting for me) and much more recent terms and expressions.
The heroine speaks Spanish. I'm not sure this would be the case in 16th century Britain. I know for a fact that when Catherine of Aragon came to England, the only shared language she and her betroathed had was Latin. Over time she learnt English but no one learnt Spanish. Despite the fact that the country split from Rome and the Catholic religion, Latin was still an important language and was still taught. I'm not entirely sure Spanish was taught at this time.
It was an enjoyable story, a very quick read and at 99cents, value for money.(less)
It's been about six months since I last read an Amanda Quick novel. Her plots are always very same-y and after I'd read three in quick succession, I j...moreIt's been about six months since I last read an Amanda Quick novel. Her plots are always very same-y and after I'd read three in quick succession, I just couldn't bring myself to read a fourth. After a bit of time off, though, I found that I was able to come back to this story and enjoy it for what it is - a piece of light fluff.
It is certainly no astounding piece of literature, but it is an agreeable companion for an evening.(less)
The premise was intriguing but everything felt a little rushed in this book. First, the marriage...
- We didn't undergo the journey of pondering actio...moreThe premise was intriguing but everything felt a little rushed in this book. First, the marriage...
- We didn't undergo the journey of pondering actions and decisions - was it the right choice? etc. - We didn't really undergo the change of feelings - it was kinda there from the beginning. - Why the hell didn't Artemis bring up the "Margaret" thing earlier? If I were snogging my husband and he said some other woman's name, even if I didn't dare bring it up at the time I wouldn't have just forgotten about it entirely. - The ending is so rushed it isn't even really an ending. It needed to be spread out over another 10 pages or so to really work the points in.
It was on OK read verging on good had certain points been addressed. 2.5 stars, as I'm feeling generous today I'll put it up to 3.(less)
A short but sweet story of a locksmith meeting the daughter of a politician who is kept locked away from the world and their quest to bridge the socia...moreA short but sweet story of a locksmith meeting the daughter of a politician who is kept locked away from the world and their quest to bridge the social and personal divides and find freedom together.
I enjoyed the story. I'm going with the Goodreads ideas for rating on this. "3 stars - I liked it". I did like it. I liked the characters and the pacing; I liked the development that took place; I liked the intrigue and the plot.
Carl came across as weak in chapter 6 (I think it was chapter 6). It's something that you see quite often in literature today where a character protests that they won't, but then they do anyway. It took away from the scale of their love story for me, though I know that it's what audiences today lap up. I must be old fashioned - well, when I'm reading books with period settings at any rate.(less)
I enjoyed this book but I wasn't swept away by it. There were a lot of passages or concepts that frustrat...more(Not going to do a long review for this one.)
I enjoyed this book but I wasn't swept away by it. There were a lot of passages or concepts that frustrated me (view spoiler)[such as how Imogen is constantly going on about how no one will get her fortune but then at the end when half of it is pretty much stolen from her she just doesn't care. (hide spoiler)]
On the other hand, I was completely engrossed and did very little until I'd finished the book (which, admittedly, didn't take that long.)
I liked some of the concepts, such as how Imogen had been completely deluded by the man who was supposed to guide her in her faith, but at the same time going so far as (view spoiler)[to say that she wanted her new husband to rape her to consummate their marriage (hide spoiler)] was a bit too much for me.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
The opening paragraph or two of this week are really on the rocky side. Don’t worry, though, it picks up. As I read them...moreFull review can be found here.
The opening paragraph or two of this week are really on the rocky side. Don’t worry, though, it picks up. As I read them, I was worried that the whole book would follow in that same vein but luckily the author soon found her feet.
The original premise is that Annabel’s family have been shirking their duty in the fields for three years now, since their merchant father’s death, and with the new lord coming to the village they’re going to have to pay up. Annabel is determined that she’ll show the villagers that she’s willing to pull her weight and that they shouldn’t hold her in contempt. If this was so important to her, I couldn’t help but wonder why she had never bothered to go against her family’s wishes in those three years if the villagers’ opinion of her mattered that much. I suppose that really that was just there to show that Annabel is not haughty like the other members of her family and to get her into Lord Ranulf’s service.
When Ranulf is introduced, he is described as being a muscular man with one brown eye (he lost the other one and wears a patch over it), brown hair and a big, bushy beard. Also, all he ever does is bellow. For a while, his speech tag is almost exclusively “he bellowed”. All I could think of was Brian Blessed playing King Richard IV in the first series of Blackadder.
Not at all flattering, but there’s the brown hair and eyes, the big, bushy beard and the inability to talk at anything less than an ear-splitting bellow. There’s a difference of about 20 years in age, but that’s only a small matter! The man depicted on the book cover is very different to this, of course, but nothing could shift this image for me throughout the whole book.
The story is set in the mediaeval period, in the 1300s. The author’s attention to detail is admirable and it lent a realistic air to everything that you don’t always find in stories set in the Middle Ages. This meant that I was able to slip into the story very easily and quickly got caught up in events. It also made this religious side of the story easier to accept. I hadn’t realised that this was Christian fiction when I started the book but it soon became obvious. However, I have read books written in the 1100s and there is often a fixation on religion. Here it stems from Annabel’s desire to read the Bible. She wants to read it so much that she also wants to enter a convent to study it. Thankfully, the religious message was not so strong as to segregate me as a secular reader, though I would have liked to have seen more of them bonding over other things (in the same vein as Ranulf’s burns) rather than the bonding mostly happening over shared religious beliefs.
Her family, of course, aren’t quite keen on this idea and they’d much rather sell her off to the Bailiff in exchange for their debt being paid off for them. I have two things that it’s worth mentioning here and I’m going to start with the family. Really, I didn’t feel that they were used enough. They were there in the beginning to set the scene but then after that, other than one short confrontation and then later a minor appearance by one of the brothers, they don’t reappear. I would have liked to have seen how their circumstances changed, or even how they tried to weigh in on Annabel’s budding friendship with the new lord, but they’re just ignored. As for the Bailiff, he’s only ever depicted in a bad light – as a pervert and a sleaze and unkempt bully – and yet all of the other villagers are willing to follow him. None of his good points are ever shown and so when I’m expected to just accept that the other villagers like the guy, I can’t suspend my disbelief that far because I’ve not been given anything to go on for it. At least in the Disney movie, Gaston was shown as being charismatic and very handsome to explain why he’s able to wrap all the villagers around his little finger.
Annabel goes into service for Lord Ranulf as a way of wriggling out of the marriage that her family is trying to force on her. Ranulf, of course, saves her from it, but Bailiff Tom isn’t going to take this refusal lying down and he gets up to all sorts of evil schemes to try to get the wife he desires. Ranulf has been hurt by a woman before and he’s promised himself that he’ll never fall in love again, but it would seem that he has his work cut out for him to keep that promise when he meets Annabel. They bond over reading the Bible and the slow burning romance between them was a real joy. Both parties are aware of their feelings for the other but neither is willing to act on them.
Annabel herself is a bit on the perfect side with the author focusing on her good side so much as to totally eclipse the tiny hints of flaws that we occasionally see. I also didn’t like how she thought about the other men – Gilbert was too much – especially when she felt revulsion at the mere prospect of him touching her. It should have been left at just Bailiff Tom. Ranulf is much more rounded. Once he’d got past all his bellowing he quickly became the sort of character that pulls at your heart strings as you root for them in every aspect.
If you’re in the mood for some clean historical romance and a bit of fairy tale magic, this book is the perfect choice.(less)
Really, before I even started, I should have realised that this book would contain a significant Christian message. I di...moreFull review can be found here.
Really, before I even started, I should have realised that this book would contain a significant Christian message. I didn’t expect to be whacked over the head with it quite so much, though. As someone born in the more secular Europe and raised by atheist parents, I’m sceptical of religion and religious texts. Sometimes the message bordered on insulting for me – I think at one point Marian wonders how Gideon can deal with all his problems without leaning on God’s love. Those of us who do no turn to God manage perfectly well without him thank you very much. The fact that she pities him because his faith is not strong enough really didn’t sit well with me and led to several frustration-riddled moments.
It is also implied that prayer has an effect. All tests done on prayer have shown that it doesn’t change anything, but the author uses this as prolepsis and often announces future events in the characters’ prayers.
I understand why religion plays a role in the story, but at times the whole thing seemed to revolve around religion and nothing else, which was just too much for me and started to put me off the book.
The children are pretty stereotypical, though fitting different moulds. Dolly is outgoing and boisterous while Cissy is quiet and reserved. They were cute but at times too cliché for my tastes. Occasionally they were blatantly used to further certain parts of the relationship between Gideon and Marian and once or twice their actions or speech felt particularly unnatural.
Gideon and Marian have the communication problem of the year. One of them says something and the other hears the exact opposite of what they meant. I know authors use this technique a lot to further certain situations, but rarely have I seen it used this much.
The book is classed as being a love-inspired historical but for me it’s a clean historical romance. The history doesn’t have much to do with it beyond being a period setting – well, except for the traditions (which were very well researched). The budding romance, however, is everything. Both of the characters are prone to drifting off into endless monologues questioning their feelings, the other’s supposed feelings, the other’s supposed actions, and so on. They do go on! Sometimes I felt that there could have been more of an obstacle introduced as the two “obstacles” that are presented don’t really get much attention when compared with the other.
Also, the synopsis of the book is misleading. It mentions a “battle of wills” but there’s no such thing. The story is about the captain coming to love this new and very different life away from the sea.
I’m sure that Christian fans of a holiday romance read will enjoy this book, but circumstances just weren’t right for me to enjoy this. It wasn’t my cup of tea but I wouldn’t say that it has put me off giving the author a third chance at some point in the future.(less)
Ever since their father, a pirate captain, left her younger brother, Monte, behind to die in one of their failed excursi...moreFull review can be found here.
Ever since their father, a pirate captain, left her younger brother, Monte, behind to die in one of their failed excursions, Marisol has been on a mission to find him again. She’s convinced that he’s still out there somewhere and she’s determined to get to him no matter what obstacles are put in her way. So when she overhears whispers that her brother is a crew member on a merchant vessel, she tries to convince her father to go after him. He doesn’t seem all that interested, though, so she is forced to find another way of getting to the Gloria. That other way presents itself in the form of Captain Blade Tyburn.
During their first encounter she pickpockets something of his. Something of great importance to him. He’s determined to get it back at whatever cost and that cost would appear to be taking Marisol with him to intercept the Gloria. What she doesn’t know is that he’s been commissioned to protect the Gloria and her shipment of silver. Not that that would matter, all that matters to her is getting Monte back.
I admire Marisol’s determination to reunite her family. Despite her years on the sea, family is still everything to her. I wish Luc, her older brother, had had more of a role in the story or that more time had been spent on the implications of the reveal for his death. I suppose that it could be argued that at that point Marisol is drifting on a wave of dawning horror that numbs everything inside her, but it is rather glossed over due to the other reveal taking place at the same time. I liked Marisol’s spunk and how she’d stand up for herself as a woman caught up in a man’s world. She was a fun character to read about.
I’d kind of pegged what was going to go down as of fairly early on. The story did take twists and turns that I’d not expected but it did end up where I’d known it would. I have to admit that I feel it would have been more poignant on the whole if Marisol had been the one to finally take action, but no matter.
Other than Marisol’s quest to find her brother, the novel also focuses on Blade’s unconscious quest for redemption. I say unconscious because he wasn’t really on a quest for redemption but he was blaming himself for actions in his past. I was more on the fence with Blade than with Marisol. I liked him but at the same time he was just a bit too sex-minded. In fact, in the first few chapters, the novel on the whole is a bit too lusty for my tastes. I don’t mind a bit of “cor blimey, I’d do that!” but when it’s repeated over and over it gets a bit much. I understand that there’s mutual attraction there, I don’t really need it to be repeated that he’d like her squirming naked beneath him and she wants him despite her knowledge of his character.
Also, Blade’s jealousy when he sees Marisol interacting with her father, believing him to be her lover rather than her parent, was cute even though at that point he wasn’t ready to admit to feelings for her beyond his normal lusty feelings for females. Actually, their whole relationship is pretty unhealthy for almost the entire story. Of course, this also ensures that it makes for good reading.
The descriptions of life on the sea were some of the highlights of this novel. The author caught the atmosphere well, though I’m surprised that there weren’t more people suffering from seasickness at one point or another.
Overall, I really enjoyed the story. It was a light easy read that insisted that I read it rather than doing the various other things I meant to do that evening.(less)
Before I attempted this book, I read The Captain’s Christmas Family by Deborah Hale. That book focused a lot on the reli...moreFull review can be found here.
Before I attempted this book, I read The Captain’s Christmas Family by Deborah Hale. That book focused a lot on the religious side of Christmas to the point where it got preachy at times. At the time I had been watching a lot of The Atheist Experience online and was feeling a bit grouchy about religion after having had quite a bit of it shoved down my throat. Really, I think that I was a bit worried that I’d get the same sort of message about God’s love and his intervention in this book too…
But this book does not push a religious message! It focuses on the idea of bringing families back together, of reuniting with loved ones rather than revering a religious deity. There are, of course, some religious elements but considering the period when it’s set, this is hardly surprising. I found that I was much more comfortable with this story than I was with The Captain’s Christmas Family.
It took me a little while to slip into the style as it is made to reflect the style of the period as much as possible. As soon as I was there, though, I was completely drawn into the story.
Marian’s family seems to be caught up in a rough spot. Bertrand Wynswich, her father, died the previous Christmas, leaving the family with a mountain of debts; her mother spends most of her time cooped up in her room; her younger brother has been expelled from school; her older sister is being used as a pawn, married off to an older rich man despite her obvious attachment to another man; and her older brother is under enormous stress trying to keep the family afloat. Marian decides that it’s time for her to fix things.
Percy, the older brother, returns from his diplomatic mission with two men: one is the older gentleman in search of a wife with no long courtship involved. He is a truly odious character but because he is potentially the family’s salvation, everyone has to be polite to him. The other gent is Lord Ingraham, a man whose many diplomatic ventures have left him scarred in such a way that he is unwilling to present himself before his mother. He takes an immediate shine to Marian, though.
The first part of the novel focuses mainly on the firm friendship which blossoms between Marian and Ingraham - Gil. I really enjoyed this part – the older man’s fascination with this energetic, out-spoken girl. May only problem with it was that often Marian would come across as younger than her 16 years and Gil tended to treat her as a child. He also takes a lot of liberties touching her, nothing intimate but often enough in books from or set in that era, there will be no contact between the hero and the heroine… certainly not frequent little touches.
As soon as Marian learns that Gil is avoiding his family because of the disfiguring scar, she is determined that he should return home to his mother. She confesses this wish to her younger brother, Alistair, and he takes the first steps to get the scheme rolling, leading to many laugh-out-loud moments.
The last part of the novel is completely at odds with the first part, though. We go from a cosy, family-oriented lot to a diplomatic threat of a thriller. These two plot halves didn’t mesh that well, unfortunately. I didn’t know quite what to make of it but it felt like I’d suddenly started reading a completely different novel. I much preferred the first part and based on that only this could easily have been a 5-star read. As it is, the diplomatic threat didn’t work for me very well, especially as it all didn’t even really make sense to me. What a shame.(less)
I find myself very polarised about this book. On the one hand, I enjoyed the gist of the story, the characters and the n...moreFull review can be found here.
I find myself very polarised about this book. On the one hand, I enjoyed the gist of the story, the characters and the narrative voice. On the other hand, I often found myself incredibly insulted by the religious messages that it was pushing. I’m going to start with these.
Gracie, the heroine, is a devout Christian who sees God’s hand in everything. That’s fine, especially considering that this is set in the early 1900’s. But as soon as she discovers that the three male characters on the ranch do not share her beliefs she is shocked and tries to sway their opinion with some God babble. This clearly shows that Gracie has no respect for their beliefs – or lack thereof as the case may be. Even more frustratingly, the story goes down the path of “atheists don’t really not believe in God – they do believe in Him, they just hate Him”. That’s Gracie’s epiphany about Trevor, the hero. This stance annoys me to no end. If you don’t believe in God then you can’t hate Him because you don’t believe He exists. I’d really like to read a story where the religious and irreligious learn to see eye to eye without either giving up on their core beliefs, but I have yet to find one where both characters don’t end up Christian.
There’s a question at the end of the book: 7. Uncle Lou doesn’t talk about God or seem interested in Him. Do you know people like that? What makes someone uninterested in God? Is there a sensitive way to share faith with a person like Lou? Yes I do – in fact, I know more people who aren’t interested in God than who are. I’m uninterested in Him because I’ve read enough of the Bible to know that I do not believe it to be divinely inspired. There are sensitive ways to share faith with people like Lou, like me, but this author does not manage to get anywhere close. Instead, she – through Gracie - is condescending and does not even try to look at things from the atheist’s point of view. She just pities them for not having her God in their life, not being able to turn to Him in their times of need. This annoyed me so much. I find it incredibly insulting. This is such a shame because when the story actually focused on the plot – Gracie’s desire to meet her hero, Striker, and Trevor’s determination to keep his alter ego from her all while exploring their budding attraction – I really enjoyed it all. But God always came back when you least expected Him. It got to the point where I was seriously tempted to skip whole portions of the story because of this. Instead I just allowed myself to get irritated.
The story itself was fairly transparent. As soon as Mendez, Striker’s enemy, and his means of crime are mentioned, it’s obvious how things will pan out at the climax. Most of the story focuses on Gracie discovering life in the Oregon desert – very different to the busy socialite existence that she was leading in Boston.
I enjoyed her evolution from shallow, annoying Gracie to a much more rounded, better grounded Gracie. The location was also perfect and very vividly drawn. Setting it all against the backdrop of the deadly Spanish flu allowed the author to keep the small number of characters very isolated, which worked in the story's favour. Even how Gracie was trapped in an existence she didn’t want by her over-bearing but well-meaning and old-fashioned parents lent an interesting side to the story as they prevented Gracie from really finding her own two feet. She would practically become another character around them: very quiet, demure and submitting to their wishes, however unwillingly.
Trevor was my favourite character. I liked how he had to battle the horrors of his past in order to be able to get to the point where he could accept the happiness offered to him in his present.
In all, I ended up with two conflicting feelings about the book. I suspect that it will really appeal to Christian readers, but as an atheist, I ended up feeling insulted by its religious message and its treatment of the topic. I wish the author had kept religion out of it all: then it could have been a lovely romance that I would display with some pride on my shelves! It’s a shame that the religious message ruined it for me.(less)
The author weaves an interesting piece of historical fiction with many a nod to real people and events. Not being from t...moreFull review can be found here.
The author weaves an interesting piece of historical fiction with many a nod to real people and events. Not being from the USA – and having left school in the UK before we touched on anything relating to non-European history (except Ancient Egypt) (and French history lessons were only interested in their own colonies) – I am only vaguely aware of these parts of American history. In fact, most of my knowledge about this period comes from documentaries / films (and who knows how historically accurate those are!) that I’ve seen over the years.
With Kentucky Green, the author gives a glimpse of what life could have been like for the colonials when neither the Americans nor the British were at their moral best. The British because they were fairly double-crossing the Indians and the Americans because they were pretty much invaders stealing the land from the native inhabitants.
I particularly appreciated that the author didn’t shy away from some of the more historically accurate points, choosing political correctness over historical truth. She wasn’t afraid to include a racist side to this story. All too often these days you see authors who are pretty much walking on eggshells in order to avoid such controversial topics. But that’s not how it was back in those days. Racism was a part of the norm and this story embraces that, working with it rather than skirting around it. I think that the book is that much the better for it; it wouldn’t have felt as authentic without it.
This is the classic tale of boy meets girl, boy pisses off girl (and vice versa), boy is required to spend significant amount of time in girl’s company, boy ends up developing feelings for girl that he tries to ignore (and vice versa), boy can no longer ignore said feelings, some form of drama befalls boy and girl – can they come out on top? It’s a tried and true formula, and obviously it works.
My one… not qualm but thing I want to comment on I guess… is that April is a young widow. It soon emerges that she was merely given the position of wife in order to protect her after the deaths of both of her parents. She is never touched by her husband. This keeps the character “unspoiled” for the “love of her life” that is to come in the form of the hero of the story but I personally would have preferred a different approach here. I’ve never understood the appeal of having a window character with no sexual experience. As a widow she should be able to match the hero for his knowledge rather than still being cast in the role of swooning heroine. Maybe that’s just me?(less)
Historical romance seems to be one of my weaknesses. It’s not a genre that’s usually particularly inspiring and often enough the books are set in England (or Scotland) but written in modern day American English, which bugs me to no end. I haven’t read very many historical anythings set in the Americas but I’ve been brought up around a grandmother who happens to be overly fond of westerns, so when I read the synopsis of this one I was intrigued. The American west in that period was still very much on the wild side and that sort of setting appeals to me, possibly because it’s such a far cry from anything to be found these days.
The author managed to really capture the feel of the period for me. I felt transported. I could just imagine this little western town they were living in! It was obvious that she did a lot of research and went to great lengths to make her period feel authentic – research and great lengths that definitely paid off for me as the reader.
It was also interesting to see the process of getting gold and silver from the ore and how the refineries (that might not be the correct word but it’s the only one coming to mind right now) were operated. There was a slight issue here, however, in that the information was too clumped for me. Wes gives Julie a tour of her uncle’s “refinery” and explains the processes to her, which is a good example of exposition through dialogue. My issue was that there was too much information too fast for me to really absorb it properly. It didn’t help that I was already tired and so a large amount of what is essentially nonfiction coming at me all at once felt more like a barrage of facts than part of the story. I understand what the author was doing, but my mind just couldn’t deal with it.
Thankfully these “info dumps” were few and far between and I was able to really appreciate the intricate story that the author was weaving. As a historical romance it does, of course, focus mainly on the budding relationship between Wes and Julie but there’s enough going on around it to keep it well balanced. I didn’t feel completely swamped by just the relationship and it wasn’t love at first sight (though it was lust, but I’m happy with lust. Lust is normal).
Wes being an undercover officer for Wells Fargo was also of particular interest. I have to admit that I didn’t even know there was such a thing as Wells Fargo; never mind what its role was. So I actually learnt bits of American history from reading this book! That’s something that always appeals to me in a book.(less)
At the start of 2013, I had the urge to read historical romances with more of a western feel to them. This one was in particular was probably my least...moreAt the start of 2013, I had the urge to read historical romances with more of a western feel to them. This one was in particular was probably my least favourite for the bunch for one simple reason: the narrative kept quoting Bible versus at me as explanation for characters' actions. This is not my idea of fun reading. If I'd wanted to read scripture to such an extent, I'd have opened a Bible instead.(less)
I seem to have a thing for historical westerns at the moment and this fit into that category. I liked the idea of a woman fighting for her right to pr...moreI seem to have a thing for historical westerns at the moment and this fit into that category. I liked the idea of a woman fighting for her right to practise medicine in a time when this was not the norm, the Spanish flu epidemic devastating the small town, and the romance spliced into it all means that this sounds like it's just my cup of tea.
There are two big twists in this story and, unfortunately, both of them were glaringly obvious before they were even hinted at as being twists. What's more, little bits were thrown in from other characters - notably Em the local prostitute and Riley, Cole's brother off fighting in WW1 - but these passages tended to detract from the whole rather than add to the story.
On the other hand, the main theme story was interesting on its own: the fight against Spanish flu must have been very frustrating for doctors and nurses, who could only ease suffering rather than do anything to fight the infection, not to mention the fact that there was also the very scary possibility that they would be infected too. This story caught that feeling, as well as showing a community banding together in a time of need.
I liked Jess, she was strong, determined to be her own independant woman, but also too damaged to let down her shields in times of need and sometimes a little naïve. Cole was also a damaged character, shielding himself more at first, lashing out at the origins of his hurts but quicker to want to right wrongs.
There is a second book that follows the other half of Cole's family, but I'm not sure yet whether or not I will be reading it.(less)
Another book I read in my search for a western that would manage to get me really caught up in it.
The story opens with Moira finding herself looking...moreAnother book I read in my search for a western that would manage to get me really caught up in it.
The story opens with Moira finding herself looking down the barrel of a gun, and shortly after receiving a "notch" in her ear from the bullet the stranger just put in her friend. Not the best first impression, Del! But it did get the story off with a bang.
I liked the characters, both scarred by pasts that haunt them, but both slowly opening themselves up to the possilities of being healed by each other. Unfortunately, the story focused very heavily on the main characters and seemed to lose sight of the supporting characters. The romance is very heavy in the story and the plot is tacked on around it, rather than the other way around.
I ran through the book very quickly and enjoyed the story. There was a small case of tell overpowering show at certain points in the novel, but there are also other times when the show is done so well that I was willing to forgive the tell-areas.
A fun, quick read that I may go back to for a second round in early 2014.(less)
Reading this story was like drinking lemonade with far too much sugar mixed in: it had a sour undertaste (the evil ex-fiancée, the traiterous maid, th...moreReading this story was like drinking lemonade with far too much sugar mixed in: it had a sour undertaste (the evil ex-fiancée, the traiterous maid, the immediate romantic attachment), but it the ending of it was so sickly sweet that it left me shuddering.
It's one of those stories where the author wanted to redeem everyone, give them all a happy ending, and so contorted the plot to make it fit. Only not everyone is worthy of a happy ending, and, beyond that, this one felt far too artifical.(less)
I don't have any particularly strong feelings one way or the other about this story. I read it as part of my quest to find a mind-blowing book set in...moreI don't have any particularly strong feelings one way or the other about this story. I read it as part of my quest to find a mind-blowing book set in the historical American west, but obviously it didn't fit this mind-blowing bill.
It relies too heavily on clichés (especially the concealing the truth leading to shattering of trust & misunderstandings arising due to miscommunications) to really be original. There's no real sense of period or setting beyond the very basics. More annoyingly was Sarah and how "cute" she was - I felt like I was being told all the feelings the other characters were feeling towards her rather than being shown.
It wasn't bad, it just didn't really manage to win me over either.(less)
The story was a little too much on the predictable side for my tastes. I was in the mood for some historical romance and this book scratched that itch...moreThe story was a little too much on the predictable side for my tastes. I was in the mood for some historical romance and this book scratched that itch, but it's not one that I can really see myself going back to read again.
The herione, Fiona, was a little too stubborn and blind, and it took her too long to even start to meet the hero, Myles, half way in offering at least friendship in this undesired marriage. In fact, it isn't until beyond that half way point in the story that she climbs off her high horse and starts to accept he might not be the villain she'd painted him as.
As mentioned, the story was ok. Nothing spectular and all the twists and turns could be seen from a mile off. I was happy enough to spend a day with it, but it's not one that's prompted me to go out and snap up everything the author has ever written.(less)
I'm starting to realise that Heyer had certain plot motifs that she used over and over. This isn't too much of an issue if you do...moreMy fourth Heyer book.
I'm starting to realise that Heyer had certain plot motifs that she used over and over. This isn't too much of an issue if you don't read the books one after the other but I imagine it would become tiresome should you read three or four in a row. Heyer was also uncommonly fond of certain names.
I didn't enjoy April Lady as much as the other Heyer books I've read but I think this is mostly to do with the fact that Cardross, the male lead, is absent for much of the story. This coupled with the fact that Heyer doesn't do emotions meant that I never got much of a handle on him - or at least I didn't get to know him as well as I would have liked.
Nell, the heroine, was very different to Sophy, Mary and Arabella. She's quite, reserved, shy, and very naïve. The whole story is kicked off by her getting herself into a bit of a financial mess then not daring to tell her husband the whole of it.
As usual there's a subplot concerning the romance of an annoying sibling. In this case it's Cardross's younger half sister, Letty, who wishes to make an undesireable match and spends the whole story being rude, obnoxious and going off into fits of hysterics. I would have preferred to have seen less of this and more of Cardross.
I really enjoy Heyer's work but the amount of concentration it requires from me to ensure that I follow everything (especially when she goes into info-dump mode) tires me. I'll definitely be reading more by her when the fancy takes me again.(less)
The story is a little but on the dry side: oftentimes I didn't find myself particularly wrapped up in the events as they played out, I simply observed...moreThe story is a little but on the dry side: oftentimes I didn't find myself particularly wrapped up in the events as they played out, I simply observed with a vague curiosity.
The story is billed as a romance but the two characters don't meet until after the half way point. The romance itself, once it gets going, is lacking. I never felt strongly about how Alex and Sam interacted. Beyond this a lot of their 5 months together takes place on a time jump so we miss a lot of it but we get told that they became close in these months. I wanted more from the story than this.
On top of this, there's also a fairly heavy religious aspect that I wasn't expecting. This is one of those books that quotes whole bible verses, something that really bugs me. I don't mind references to the characters' religious beliefs, but if these become overpowering then I get put off. In this case I got put off.
I did enjoy reading about the trials and tribulations that those who followed the Oregon trail underwent but again at times everything felt rather dry and uninspiring.
The story was ok, good in its own right, but not for me. Despite this, I have no doubts that many readers will vastly enjoy it. (less)