As an American married to an Englishman, I really enjoyed this book and felt like I could relate to the heroines many attempts to try to fit into herAs an American married to an Englishman, I really enjoyed this book and felt like I could relate to the heroines many attempts to try to fit into her newfound English society as much as she could while also still remaining proud of her roots, her heritage, and her own country. The hero was intriguing and sexy, and their chemistry was believable.
Merry Pelford is something of a Runaway Bride type, but with more reasons than just being flighty. Instead, she might be construed as having fickle tastes. After fancying herself in love with men and securing marriage proposals, she soon discovers that the intended groom is not all she thought he was and thus, she breaks the engagement. Having done this twice in America, she opens the novel in England where she finds herself once again engaged to a titled Englishman. Shortly thereafter, she meets an intriguing man clad in all black--a man, as it turns out, that happens to be her future brother-in-law.
The Duke of Trent (who has a long line of proper names befitting a man of his station and stature in old school English society) is also curious about the American who doesn't seem like any of the other women whom he'd met before. In fact, he's so taken with her that he intends to marry her! Except she's already agreed to marry his twin brother--let's clarify this. It's his younger twin brother, who begrudges him his birthright which granted him the whole of the estate, the duchy, and the money and responsibility that comes with it.
This setup is really rather interesting and I was quite happy to follow along with the tale to see just how would the Duke of Trent resist his impulses, not take what his brother Cedric would be sure to see as yet one more thing he was entitled to being taken from him, and ultimately get what he wanted. The answer turns out to be a little simpler than I had expected--Cedric, who was just after Merry's money anyway, simply relinquishes his claim to the bride after all (despite the strong sentiments he expressed that he would do no such thing).
How? Why? It's not really discussed. It just is. So, Cedric sets off for the Bahamas and Trent stands in his brothers place when the much-pushed-for wedding actually occurs.
The last half of the book then focuses on overcoming the internal conflicts of the hero/heroine and having them fall in love with each other more deeply (because they were clearly interested in each other from the outset).
That's not exactly a criticism because I thoroughly enjoyed the book on the basis of the strong writing, engaging characters, and interesting setup. However, it was something of a curiosity to find that the book didn't quite follow the normal/traditional romance conventions and didn't quite blur the lines between overcoming both internal/external conflict simultaneously. I kept waiting for Cedric to return--furious at having been shipped out, maybe against his will! I kept waiting for the heroine to get frustrated with something and run back to Boston where the hero would then follow her--but no, this didn't happen either. Instead, the black moment seemed to be centered around Trent wondering if his wife had stopped loving him (after she has a small accident a little memory loss) and him trying to figure out how to get her to fall in love with him again.
Hmm. Different, definitely. But maybe that's why I liked it so much?
It's clear the Eloisa has done much research, and I felt that this added some truly lovely moments and scenes in the book. In particular, the party with the pineapple, the concept of a pineapple stove/rented centerpieces was really interesting. These periphery moments added to the flair and the overall appeal.
I'd recommend this book highly because it's entertaining, but I would caution some readers that the plot does seem to get resolved halfway through (perhaps because this story was intended to be shorter in the first place). Still a fun read....more
I have a confession: in all my years of being a fan of romance, I have never before read a category romance. (Nora Roberts' didn't really count becausI have a confession: in all my years of being a fan of romance, I have never before read a category romance. (Nora Roberts' didn't really count because I read anything that had her name on it and she's sort of a queen in her own right, so I did read a few MacGregor books that were printed by Silhouette back in the day.) But I feel like Harlequin has endured for so long and has been such a Titan in the romance world that I needed to read a few of them, just to get a quick taste. Since I was also a little short on time, I thought that fitting in a quick 50k+ book might just be my speed.
Enter: Caitlin Crews. Back when I'd been a little skeptical of chick lit, Caitlin's alter ego Megan Crane totally changed my mind about it and I thought she could do it again. I knew I could trust her to give me a solid story, and she did not disappoint.
I know this is part of a series of books, and I did not read the first one (written by Sarah Morgan), but after reading this one, I'd be curious about the rest of the Wolfe family...
The Disgraced Playboy features two damaged hearts at its core from two totally different walks of life. In one corner, we have Lucas who's been born into a very rich family, though his upbringing is anything but the charmed existence typically associated with silver spooners. He struggles immensely with feelings of self-worth but cleverly hides this with a blase attitude and a wild reputation he willingly perpetuates. In the other corner, we have Grace, a girl who grew up with nothing and came from a small, insular, entirely close-minded town in Texas. Neither of them had a particularly happy childhood or great relationships with their parents. Neither of them dare to be who they really are when in public.
But with each other? They identify themselves, they see through each other's masks and basically, call b.s. until they can find it within themselves to face the very things they've been tucking away and hiding and deal with them. For each of them, it means having to accept parts of who they are and reject the definitions other people have given them or made them feel, which is a powerful triumphant lesson for anyone.
So, character-wise, I felt Caitlin did a great job playing Lucas and Grace off each other. It's hard not to like a story about a broken bachelor playboy who becomes obsessed with loosening up the buttoned-up, played-down beauty who's just focused on keeping it all together, everything in it's neat box. I felt their dialogue was good, honest, strong. And I felt like, for whatever reason, the last half of the book was easier to read than the first half.
For some reason, it did take me a little adjusting to get into the writing style of this book. It just felt like there was a lot of emotion and attraction needing to be packed in and early, so it was kind of heavy with the flirtatious innuendo, suggestive subtext in Lucas' over-certain charm at the start--but at the same time, in a short category, there isn't a lot of time to build that heat so it's going to have to come quick and early. I get that.
Pacing was on point, characters were fun, setting was great. Heat? Nice and steamy, just like I like 'em. Overall, a fun read and I'd totally pick up another Caitlin Crews book (and other category romances as well)....more
The version of the book I have was titled ONLY IN TEXAS, but my understanding is that this is the same novel. This story centers on Nikki Hunt, a womaThe version of the book I have was titled ONLY IN TEXAS, but my understanding is that this is the same novel. This story centers on Nikki Hunt, a woman who ends up accused of murdering her lying, cheating ex-husband and the formerly-wrongly-convicted PI that tries to help her clear her name.
Overall, the story is cute and lighthearted--maybe more lighthearted than I had expected it to be since I thought it had some (more?)suspense built-in. There were definitely some funny moments in the book which helped move things along, but I think some of the pacing of the story was a little uneven and this kind of jarred me. The first quarter or so of the book felt like it went on for longer than expected since unless I'm mistaken, over 100 pages take place in the span of one day. (We open with Nikki meeting her ex for dinner about 5pm or so, and the action gets going pretty quickly at first since her husband ends up dead at the end of chapter 1, there's the crime scene setting in chapter 2, and we land in the hospital at the start of chapter 3. But at the start of chapter 9--page 112--is when they finally leave the hospital... maybe a little before midnight of the same night if I understood the sequence of events properly, which means 82 whopping pages are happening in the hospital throughout the hours before 'midnight' cited at the start of chapter 9.) The last half of the novel seemed to move at a more normal pace, and by the end, we're spanning 5 whole days within a few paragraphs/lines, so... this kind of threw me off a bit and made the timing of the romance also come off as if it happens really fast--falling in love within a matter of days, and what might be hard to believe for some readers.
With relation to the light touch of suspense, I'd say it was fairly easy for me to identify whodunnit. I guessed who was behind the killing and stabbing in the second scene the killer was actively speaking in, which made it feel 'too easy' for me as far as solving any kind of mystery. If I was recommending this book to a friend, I'd say it's like a lighthearted, pleasant journey.
Ultimately, I found the hero interesting and I liked the mini-rekindling romance between Dallas's brother and LeAnn, so I think the characters were endearing enough to keep me reading and I'd be curious to read about how Dallas's cohorts Tyler and Austin get their own romances going. ...more
I'm really stuck between giving this a 3 or 4-stars and wish Goodreads would let me give half-stars, because I'd probably give this 3.5.
Another fun reI'm really stuck between giving this a 3 or 4-stars and wish Goodreads would let me give half-stars, because I'd probably give this 3.5.
Another fun read from Rachel Gibson, one of my all-time favorites (because SEE JANE SCORE was groundbreaking for me as a 17-year-old). I have a particular soft spot for hockey romance novels being a massive hockey fan myself. This one, like every other Gibson I've read, delivers humor and heart--but I thought a few things kind of prevented me from liking this more.
So, we have a bright, spunky (as much as I dislike 'spunky' heroines) Chelsea Ross, a struggling actress who's returned to Seattle to regroup. She needs money for breast reduction surgery so she can secure more serious acting roles in Hollywood and the Chinooks organization is willing to give it to her--if she can tough out at least three months working as the personal assistant of a cantankerous, moody hockey superstar.
Mark Bressler has a lot to be pissed off about. His team just won hockey's holy grail, the Stanley Cup, and they did it without him thanks to an off-ice accident that nearly cost him his life. Everything he's worked his whole life for is fractured and locked in his anger and depression. Mark need a lot of healing. And Chelsea's the one who helps him down that path.
I really enjoyed the glimpses we get into each character's previous lives. Moments like when Mark reflects on his childhood and how he tries to resist becoming reliant on the painkillers. There was a part of me that wanted to see him wrestle with that, but then I have to take a step back and think about what kind of book I'm reading here. This is a contemporary, feel-good romance and walking the path to tangle with addiction would've made this story much darker. So, I can let that go, but do feel it would've been interesting.
Aside from that, the pacing of the novel was quick. I devoured it in two days' time with lots of room in my day to finish up other tasks. I didn't have to think too much about following the story but that's because the plot did feel a little on the shallow end--but that's kind of what I was in the mood for anyway, so that worked for me but might not for other readers. There wasn't any huge, looming threat overshadowing their romance, and I felt that the problem these two faced wasn't really that big of a problem. Kind of like a blown out of proportion misunderstanding, which didn't make me feel like 'oh man, how are these two going to survive this blow?!'.
That said, I also had conflicting feelings about Chelsea seemingly giving up her pursuit of her dream. Maybe I'm misinterpreting it, but I liked that Mark offered to split their time between Seattle and LA in hopes of supporting both of their careers--and when she shoots that down to say she's going to stay in Seattle with him, well... I don't know, it just didn't sit well with me. I still want to see my heroines pursue their dreams--the ones that had nothing to do with finding a man.
But despite this issues, I still really enjoyed the book as a whole. It felt fun and flashy, and the hockey stuff was right (a huge, huge deal when you're a hockey fan like me and my girlfriends are). I could've done with a little more heat, a little more depth, and a blacker black moment, but you know what? I liked it! Three stars! Or... 3.5....more