What a difference a story makes. My second JAL book and much better than my last experience. Yes there were still typos abound but the overall writingWhat a difference a story makes. My second JAL book and much better than my last experience. Yes there were still typos abound but the overall writing was much tighter and cleaner and a couple that actually grabbed my interest. So there's that. While I enjoyed this there were a few things that definitely could have been better or had me scratching my head.
1. How old were Lyon and Olivia when they first met and fell in love? That unanswered question kind of drove me nuts and I really wish the author included it simply because of the 5 year gap and how much it's stressed that these two grew up and learned and how silly 'naive' and young they were. We get a hazy generalization that Lyon was in his early 20s when he met Olivia...so that makes him roughly what....26? 27? when he returns? For some reason that strikes me as still pretty young, and much younger than he comes across, especially given all the things he's done while away. As a lovesick young man he carried himself and sounded so much older. And yes I know some children grow up faster and are more mature beyond their years, but still. I needed ages. I have no clue how old Olivia was in all this. Is she around the same age as Lyon or younger? When ages aren't given it bugs me, I need something to go off of. And I *sometimes* let it slide but given the heft of this story and the long drawn out reunion, it would have helped and sharpened the edges of the character development.
2. Either Lyon's ship has some serious magical components or Miss Long doesn't know her geography at all. Sailing a ship at full mast from England to Spain in ONE DAY is ludicrous and asking readers to imagine the ship can fly, Hogwarts style. This more or less screamed of the author running out of page time to pace out the h/hr's reunion in a more realistic gradual fashion. Which is a shame. But oh what a fun reunion it was!
3. I am a new reader to this series, meaning I did not read books 1-10, (book 1 was a DNF disaster). But from my guess and some nosing around, these two's story and Lyon's sudden disappearance were milked, teased and dragged out through every book. That's a lot of build up. The fact that the sole reason these two broke up and Lyon left Pennyroyal Green is exactly what rumors and song ballads speculated on just seemed.....underwhelming? Just a little. Olivia Eversea, the 'clever one', the most beautiful and coveted woman of the ton, did in fact break his heart. He did in fact run off and become (view spoiler)[a pirate (hide spoiler)]. I was expecting a little more given the high stress it caused and dramatic tales spun over these two. I just thought there would be more to the story over what separated them. More to Olivia's flinching and wringing hands and refusing to speak 'his' name for 5 years, more to why their story was made into a song for everyone to hear about and whisper about. More to Lyon's many colorful escapades that are illustrated and sold as prints in newspapers. This is just another example of the bigger you build something up, the bigger readers' expectations will be. Not saying I hated it or was invested in something bigger I just found it a little thin. Just a tad.
4. Lyon was not celibate for 5 years. The horror! How dare he sleep with other women while the heartbroken heroine tried to move on with her life by getting engaged to another man. *scratches head* Am I missing something? Because I don't get why this ruffled some feathers considering they BOTH moved on, tried to at least. Liv could move on but Lyon wasn't allowed to? Was he supposed to live like a monk? It's not considered 'cheating' when the 2 parties involved are in fact not together. (This is more an observation than anything to do specifically with the book).
5. That epilogue.
What kind of absurd ridiculous fuckery is that?? I didn't bother reading it but the caption itself said enough. (view spoiler)[No I don't want to know what Pennyroyal Green is like in 2015.
Are you kidding me? You want to set up an opening for your new series, fine. Do it as a sneak preview. But to waste 40 pages of the book and title it as the 'Epilogue' when it has NOTHING to do with the hero/heroine's story is ridiculous. It's also a total disservice to readers who follow this series and expect a 100% payoff and full closure. Don't cram in a silly subplot for an alternate genre to promote new work. I also hate hate hate when authors do flash forwards in Historical's because the beloved characters are freaking dead by then. Don't freaking ruin my happy bubble dammit. It's just so jarring and unnecessary and the hopeless romantic in me just finds it incredibly morbid and sad. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I don't know where to start with this or if I should even bother since there wasn't anything to write home about. But that WTF stunt near the end wasI don't know where to start with this or if I should even bother since there wasn't anything to write home about. But that WTF stunt near the end was crazy absurd and I'm surprised it wasn't even brought up in any other reviews. I'm gonna try to explain this as best I can without sounding long winded but given the convoluted plot, bare with me.
I’m honestly very tempted to give this a 1 star solely because of a secondary character who is so outrageously out of touch, insipid, self-absorbed, colorless and selfish that I wanted to drop kick this book into outer space because of her. I'm talking about the heroine's sister Sophia. She carries the herculean task of finding her sister a husband like a blind bat who won't take 'no' for an answer. And no not because she loves her sister and wants her happy but for the simple fact that their mother told her to and well...what's better than being married to a rich titled gentleman? Screw love! Enter charming rakehell earl, Lord Ralston who oozes charm, and flowery compliments and toothy grins. Of course big sister thinks he's perfect for the heroine Alice, and uses every opportunity to keep the two together including manipulating a situation that keeps the hero Logan and the heroine Alice apart thinking it's 'best' for everyone. If there is an overused obnoxious trope I hate above all? it's the secondary meddlesome character keeping the MC's apart.
The incident that leads to the brief separation between the h/hr is when Alice falls off a horse and loses consciousness for 2 days. She has a difficult time recovering once she wakes up and she can't figure out what's wrong with her. She keeps complaining of a fuzzy head, dizziness and not remembering things weeks after waking up but her sister and doting fiance say it's all in her head and continue to treat her like an invalid. Oh and look she's magically engaged with no memory of it and can't remember shit and the hero is nowhere to be found. See where I'm going here? The hero and heroine pretty much figure out who the culprit is behind Alice's foggy memory lapses once Logan returns but again her sister scoffs at her claims and still insists she's better off with her fiancé. So we are forced to endure 80 pages of the heroine putting up with the obvious tiring villain all because the sister forces her to give him another chance cause he's a titled earl and he’s in love!
I mean ok. But then her reaction to it all once she finds out the he was in fact drugging her sister:
"There was no malice intended!" Ralston raised his voice in his own defense. Perhaps, yes, I welcomed the fact that the laudanum made you agreeable. Secretly, I feared that you would turn me down. I only wanted so desperately for you to let me love you, Alice."
"That kind of love is rare to find," Sophia said, obviously touched by the scoundrel's words. "He did it all for love, Alice."
That kind of love? Girl, bye! Lord Ralston was indeed drugging her tea with laudanum for weeks for reasons that made no sense. He wanted to drag out her illness and make her vulnerable and weak so he could propose to her under duress. He claims that he loved her so much and just wanted her to say yes to his proposal but he clearly had a thing for her older sister. Uh....ok. But that doesn't explain the lengths he went to get the heroine to say yes to begin with? You're telling me he would willingly marry a woman he doesn't want in order to be closer to his wife's sister? Dafaq?
Some other things I wasn't crazy about.... There really wasn’t much of a ‘downstairs’ to this saga. The hero Logan Winthrope, is the estate manager who comes from a privileged background but a scandal from his past has him laying low and accepting work as an estate manager at Thornbrook Park. You don’t really see much of the downstairs life, it’s just mentioned in passing by the hero who sometimes dines with the maids and footmen. But other than that he keeps to himself in his cottage and I just...I don’t know, really didn’t get the *feeling* of the high class v.s low class division in this. Or at least that wasn’t the focus at all like the blurb and the title teased at. Everything is just barely touched on and characters and scenes move so fleetingly you don’t really get the sense of the world building around the characters. And if there is one thing that drives me nuts above all it’s flat world building. The heroine goes from sitting in the drawing room to ‘twirling in the grass’ in the next sentence. Magic I tell you!
I don’t mind flighty eccentric heroines, but I felt like here was another case of the cliched ‘modern historical’ heroine. Every stereotype you can think of for a modern HR heroine was applied here and I just found it forced and dishonest. The heroine Alice, is a 22 year old naive sheltered willful girl who acts and talks like she's twice her age and takes liberties like she has every right to and knows what she’s doing, but she doesn’t. She talks as if she’s this worldly creature but she’s not at all, she hasn't traveled the world, she's never slept with a man, everything is just tra la la fun for her. The author is trying to present her as something she’s not simply because it’s the 1900s and dammit! the heroine should rebel and must rebel in the most typical ways possible. I just found it hilarious how the inexperienced young girl was chasing the older jaded heroine around an estate like a fox hunt trying to force his hand into seducing her like it was no big deal. Girl...simmer down.
All the back and forth foot dragging. Was this really necessary? The h/hr confess ILY yet we still have Alice referring to Logan as just her ‘friend’ for a good 100 pages afterwards and Logan anxious and questioning if she will call off her engagement to the slimy earl after she told him straight out she loved him and chooses him. Like...huh? What's with all the dramatic angst and back peddling? It just became so silly and endless regurgitated conversations. And the fact that Logan and Alice pretty much figure out what's causing her memory blackouts and who the culprit is behind it but readers have to sit through 80 pages of her putting up with the villain all to humor her sister was just a total waste of time and mind-numbingly boring. And I really didn’t care for Alice playing the coquette using both guys to make the other jealous and acting like an insulted dingbat when someone questions her vanity or dared to suggest a man wouldn't pick her. RME. Get the hell off it girl and grow up. I found her really ridiculous and self-absorbed at times with some of the things she would say or do.
I honestly was thinking of giving the next book after this a try because I was initially curious about Sophia and her estranged husband Marcus. But given her behavior and cold aloofness in here and (view spoiler)[ being kissed by the besotted confusing villain and actually giving into the kiss after everything he did to her sister? Not ok. (hide spoiler)] I don't think I can overlook that. Like I said her characterization is horrible in here and really hard to empathize with or understand. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
My original post was taken down. So I will just let my shelf do the talking and leave you with this, and this is not just directed at the author and hMy original post was taken down. So I will just let my shelf do the talking and leave you with this, and this is not just directed at the author and her fans, but Goodreads as well.... ETA: Posting gifs is just RUDE. ...more
DNF @ 15%ish Honestly I maybe could have finished this but there was just nothing interesting or exciting to hold my interest long enough. And I had tDNF @ 15%ish Honestly I maybe could have finished this but there was just nothing interesting or exciting to hold my interest long enough. And I had this backburned for 5 weeks. That should say enough. lol
There were one too many predictable cliched tropes in here that I didn't care for. But what really killed it for me (and surprised me the most) was the writing in this. This was my first Julia London book, who I've been meaning to give a try for sometime, but oh man not sure if this was an editing issue or what but the writing was extremely hard to follow and grammatically poor:
While it may have seemed to some that scarcely had the last clump of dirt been shoveled onto her grave when her husband, Egbert Pennebacker, Viscount Downey, left for France, in truth a month had passed.
I mean it took me a few good chapters to understand which girl was the heroine's sister and which one was her cousin (and why the hell was her cousin living with them?). At one point there was muddled back-and-forth dialogue acknowledging one girl as the cousin and the other as the sister which contradicted earlier information. Dialogue just runs together that you don't know who is talking to who. The writing is so convoluted with confusing run-on sentences that I felt like an idiot having to re-read so many passages to make sense of the simplest things. It took me out of the story every time I had to go back and re-read parts. I have one more book I think from this series checked out but not sure if I will try. The writing has made me really skeptical....more
*Review up* Lisa Kleypas is BACK! She's back! She's back! She's ba-a-a-aaaaack. This wasn’t perfect, but I still enjoyed this thoroughly and could not*Review up* Lisa Kleypas is BACK! She's back! She's back! She's ba-a-a-aaaaack. This wasn’t perfect, but I still enjoyed this thoroughly and could not put it down. I was totally absorbed in the writing, the characters and the possibilities to come.
The writing Details! Details! Oh the glorious details!
Dizzily she focused on the large hand braced against the door. His skin was faintly tawny, the kind that would brown easily in the sun. One of his knuckles was scraped and raw--from lifting the carriage wheel, she guessed. The nails were short and scrupulously clean, but ink stains lingered in faint shadows on the sides of two fingers.
Her unbelievable depth in capturing all the human senses and world building without drowning in it? HOW DOES SHE DO THIS? I swear I still have not come across a writer who manages to be so thorough in her historical accuracy and commentary on economic/social issues like this and pull it off so effortlessly. She doesn’t cut corners or jump hurdles on details pertaining to the era and economy of the time. I forgot how in depth and smart she is with her writing, the information and research is so on point. From the farming culture, high class verses low (working) class issues, livestock, drainage systems, modern plumbing, etc. I had no idea what a Norfolk door latch was until reading this.
"I insist," West said, shrugging out of his jacket and handing it to Kathleen. "With any luck, I'll develop a callus to show people afterward." He squatted beside Strickland, who showed him how to cinch a band around the top of the straw. Just under the grain and not too tight, the farmer cautioned, so that when sheaves were stood on end and bound together, there was enough room between stalk to allow air to circulate and dry the grain faster.
Brilliant once again.
The characters Devon- He’s definitely got all the ingredients of a LK hero, down to the permanent 5 o’clock bristle and brooding dark turbulent eyes. *swooning* I enjoyed him, mostly seeing his transformation from lazy self-absorbed aimless rakehell to serious concerned Lord of an estate. What impressed me the most was how much he took to his role of saving a crumbling estate and the solutions he came up with. I do wish his attraction to Kathleen didn’t happen so quickly though. That was a little hard to swallow for me. He’s attracted to her the minute they meet, he interacts with her for a few days and already is dying to have her. The sexual chemistry was there but I struggled to buy them falling in love. Everything happened too fast in the attraction department with a lot of start stop arguments and quickly making up that comes out of nowhere and the quick conclusion I wasn't entirely satisfied with.
And I kinda feel like this is where I should defend the hero a little given the negative reviews but I really don’t want to do that because everyone is different, I’m not here to preach anything and yes this hero wasn’t perfect by any means. But I only point this out because I was seriously expecting some douchebag behavior of epic proportions given the virulent hate he’s received but I really didn't see that and I find myself wondering if I read the same book? What because he threw some barbs at her in the beginning and enjoyed riling her up?? She gave it right back to him. The reason why I put off reading this for so long besides my bad experience with Brown-Eyed Girl, were the mixed/negative reviews for this, most of which were centered on Devon. To me though, he was a typical Kleypas hero with rough edges and surly temper so I fail to understand what he did that was so offensive when compared to things that St. Vincent, Derek Craven or Harry Rutledge did when it came to winning the women they love? This guy is a puppy compared to them and I don’t remember hearing any complaints over those guys. ;P Just saying. Devon’s biggest flaw throughout this story would be his arrogance so otherwise, I’m kind of at a loss over what the big deal was and what made him so despicable?
And FYI the title of the book is highly misleading, there is nothing cold-hearted about Devon. He’s a selfish lazy jerk for 2 chapters total. That's it.
Kathleen- You know when you are enjoying this wonderful euphoric snuggly warm moment and then someone bursts the bubble and sucks all the air out of the room? That's Kathleen for you. Queen Killjoy. She is waspish, judgmental, overbearing and so supercilious that I kept struggling to understand what Devon saw in her. I found her steaming outraged reactions to certain things a bit much and absurd because she knew nothing about the subject at hand. She seemed to want to keep putting the hero in the title role of a 'devil' even when he's trying everything he can to clean up the mess her lazy selfish husband left behind, which I did not understand. He's helping you yet you want to blame him for everything? I tried and kept giving her chances but the further I got in the book, the more fed up I became with her. She had no substance or warmth where I was hoping to see a softer nurturing side underneath that brittle superiority complex. I don’t mind stubborn headedness but when it veers into irrational seething nonsense then I take issue.
She also really confounded me because she was so inconsistent. She didn’t love her husband or know him as much as she thought she did but is clinging to propriety and her widows weeds like her life depends on it and is convinced she will burn in hell if she takes pleasure in anything. She’s supposedly never cried since she was a little girl but bursts into tears suddenly just days after meeting Devon over her wastrel dead husband. Like huh? I did not understand that scene at all. She never consummated her marriage to her husband and feels like a fraud but insists on keeping her title and name (I could have sworn taking vows still makes the marriage legal, not consummation). She loathes for anyone to overpower her or telling her what to do yet turns around and does exactly that with her sister-in-laws, Helen in particular.
"When I said that I felt like never seeing Mr. Winterborne again,” she had said to Kathleen unhappily, “that was how I felt at the moment. My head was splitting, and I was very distressed. But I didn’t mean that I never ever want to see him again.”
Kathleen had been in such glowing good spirits that she hadn’t seemed to appreciate the distinction. “Well, it’s done, and everything is back to the way it should be. You can take off that hateful ring, and we’ll have it sent back immediately.”
Bish what? To break off someone else's engagement when you had no right or business to, to break it off without even asking the person if they want to end it and then not even having the decency to apologize or be sorry for meddling? WHO. DOES. THAT? I wanted to strangle her. And to act annoyed and affronted when Helen confronts her over it because her ass doesn’t want her happy buzz to end...... UGH. Do you even have a heart? Or a conscience? This is not Amelia Hathaway or Catherine Marks who takes their charge's feelings into consideration and listens. Not even close. Kathleen's continuous condescending belittling attitude towards Helen was unbearable to say the least. SMH.
And if that wasn’t enough, we also discover our heroine had a little surprise she wasn’t planning on telling the hero if he hadn’t confessed his love or proposed to her. (view spoiler)[It turns out she lied to Devon about getting her courses and she was planning to run away and not tell him about the existence of his baby. Rage rage RAGE! If he hadn’t poured his heart out, girlie would have kept her mouth shut. (hide spoiler)] I do not tolerate deceit like that ever unless it’s justified and I’m sorry it was not justified here. Devon does not deserve that kind of betrayal. I can’t stand lies like this when it involves a child. There was no reason whatsoever for her to do that to him. Raising a child alone? Fine. But not telling the father of the child? I do not accept that. What harm would it have brought to tell Devon he was going to be a father? Was he abusive? Holding her against her will? Threatening her? No no and no. So I thought her plan and sheepish coy confession at the end like it was some silly joke really low and cheap. I just completely wrote her off after that. To me the selfish overbearing asshole was Kathleen in this duo. *shrugs*
Rhys Winterborne & Helen Ravenel "Cariad," he said hoarsely, "there's nothing gentle about how I want you." Why do you do this to me? The potential! My gaaawd the potential. I’m already half in love with Rhys. Please please please don’t disappoint me sir. Your broad shoulders and Welsh accent are just begging to be put on my Harem of Men List. Him and quiet Helen were giving me major Kev & Win and Harry & Poppy feels. Gah. I am a *little* nervous with how things left off with these two. Just a smidge. One because of Rhys's bull headed hurt reaction when Kathleen called off his engagement to Helen. I get the feeling Kleypas wanted to St. Vincent him in that confrontation scene and I was slightly put off by that simply because it felt a little forced and out of character for him. I personally didn’t find it necessary, he’s surly and can be ruthless yes but he is Devon’s friend first and foremost. He can’t be put in the careless rakehell slot like Sebastian, that's not in his character makeup from what I've seen so far IMO. And secondly, I'm nervous because I really truly hope we see quiet shy Helen flower and bloom in her book and not have overbearing people walk all over her *coughKathleencough*. I also really have no interest in seeing her turn into a sobbing mess every time she’s hurt or scared. I feel something fierce for this girl already because I see myself in her in many ways. Being misjudged and misunderstood by outward quiet reserved appearances is a bitch of a bug to shake off. I feel your pain girl!
West-Very much a work in progress character. Kleypas is so very good with those. West showed echos of Leo Hathaway in some areas but much more rough around the edges. I honestly was ready to write this character off the minute he was showing signs of permanent rudy-faced alcoholic bloating and dragging his feet around. But once again, give this author time and she can build something brilliant and beautiful out of the most hopeless messy thing. With such grace. I loved seeing his entanglements with Kathleen and not letting her walk all over him, that was great to see.
Ravenel sisters-Adorable and charming. Oh the fun places these 3 could go. Again, I was reminded of the Hathaways here with the orphaned siblings who are so different yet such a close-knit family and endearing to each other. Innocent souls yet wild in many ways. I LOVE THOSE! The twins are kinda young to be paired off now so I’m wondering if there will be time jump between books or other characters getting stories before them? I kept having to remind myself that Cassandra and Pandora are 19. Their wild rambunctious curious ways make them come off extremely young and wild but again, endearing and charming and so smart. They reminded me a little bit of Beatrix Hathaway who I adore. I can already sense one of them being pared off with Devon’s other mysterious friend Serven?......I see you Lisa. lol
Overall: Obviously the writing and supporting cast of characters is what made me enjoy this book. The leading couple may not be my favorite and the heroine I didn't like, but the writing was still exceptional and drew me in. I always say this, if the writing and story is there to the point than I can overlook flawed/annoying characters then that's pretty major. And I'm usually very particular and critical when it comes to obnoxious characters. I just hope and pray for brilliant things for Rhys and Helen. I want so much delicious goodness for these two, like epic Kev/Win level. I honestly am glad I dragged out reading this cause the wait for the next book isn't as torturously long if I had read this when it first came out. ;) Hee hee... ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more