Wow, I never thought I would give one star to a Julia Quinn book, but here we go.
I have been recovering from an operation for the past week or so. I...moreWow, I never thought I would give one star to a Julia Quinn book, but here we go.
I have been recovering from an operation for the past week or so. I am on a ton of antibiotics and my head is spinning, so I just wanted something light and frothy and unchallenging that would distract me from wanting to weep from boredom for a bit but that I can put down whenever I can't look at the page anymore. I have been watching a lot of daytime TV, and let me tell you, I can feel my brain turning into goo, so Quinn with her trademark light romps and humour should have been just the thing.
Unfortunately, this was too ligh and too fluffy and cute even in my current state. The hero and heroine fall in love on the first page and really the rest of the book seems to have no purpose other than to make you projectile vomit across the room from its sickly sweetness. There is no real conflict or obstacle standing in the way of the instalove other than the fact that both the hero and the heroine seem too TSTL to notice and Ms. Quinn's usual delightful humour and witty dialoge are completely and entirely absent from this book. If you have not read any of Ms. Quinn's other work, I urge you to give this one a miss as it is very far from her best.(less)
Once upon a time there lived a werewolf. And his name was Jacob. Uhhummm.
I suppose the idea was to take the paranormal genre conventions and to put th...moreOnce upon a time there lived a werewolf. And his name was Jacob. Uhhummm.
I suppose the idea was to take the paranormal genre conventions and to put them on their head… or rather back on their feet where they belong.
Jacob (Jake) Marlowe of Glen Duncan's imagination is very very far from a walking talking impersonation of every female fantasy which has inhabited almost every urban fantasy book in recent years. This werewolf is a foul mouthed, smoking, hard-liquor drinking, emotionless sex engaging, layered character. Jake has lived for over two hundred years and though he does not look it, he feels it. He has had enough of life and living (even though living is all there is), he is desperately lonely and is ready to just… end:
"For ten, twenty, thirty years now I've been dragging myself through the motions. How long do werewolves live? Madeline asked recently. According to WOCOP around four hundred years. I don't know how. Naturally one sets oneself challenges – Sanskrit, Kant, advanced calculus, t'ai chi – but that only addresses the problem of Time. The bigger problem, of Being, just keeps getting bigger. (Vampires, not surprisingly, have an on-off love affair with catatonia.) One by one I've exhausted the modes: hedonism, ascetism, spontaneity, reflection, everything from miserable Socrates to the happy pig. My mechanism's worn out. I don't have what it takes. I still have feelings but I am sick of having them. Which is another feeling I am sick of having. I just… I just don't want any more life."
Duncan has given a much needed injection of masculinity to his werewolf but has avoided making him into a grotesque emotionless Rambo-style* action hero (*I have not seen a single Rambo move, so I have no idea whether Rambo is in fact emotionless, but you get the gist). It was also nice that the lycanthropy wasn't used simply to give the hero an air of mystery and an excuse for constant brooding. Being a werewolf in this world means being a monster. There is nothing romantic or mysterious about. You don't get any super strength or transformation at will or become unnaturally hot. Being a werewolf means being transformed once a month and killing and eating people. (view spoiler)[Sometimes people you love. (hide spoiler)] It is brutal, it is ugly, it is horrific and for the rest of the time you have to live with yourself:
"The first horror is there's horror. The second is you accommodate it."
Werewolves are hunted and exterminated by the World Organisation for the Control of Occult Phenomena (WOCOP) until, at the start of the book, the hero finds out that he is the only one left and is, therefore, next on the list. Which he does not mind much, until, that is, fate intervenes and certain events unfold and then, suddenly, everything is changed.
The plot was by and large uncomplicated and moved things along nicely without getting in the way. It was a good balance of action and reflection, overall. And reflection is what I mostly loved about this book. Glen Duncan has a way with words. His style seemed fresh and different to me and he is clever and witty and peppers his narrative with literary allusions ("Reader, I ate him." and "Talulla, light of my light, fire of my loins… Ta-loo-la: the tip of the tongue taking a trip of three steps down the palate… Ta. Lu. La." particularly cracked me up) and cultural observations (e.g. "Humanity's getting its metamorphic kicks elsewhere these days. When you can watch the alchemy that turns morons into millionaires and gimps into global icons, where's the thrill in men who turn into wolves?" and "Two nights ago I'd eaten a forty-three-year-old hedge fund specialist. I've been in a phase of taking the ones no one wants.") and his sentences were a joy to read (e.g. "The snow was coming down with the implacability of an Old Testament plague."). Duncan is also (as one of the other reviewers referred to him) "wonderfully obscene" and, frankly, any book that features a woman who has a c*nt which has a mind like Lucifer deserves to be read.
My main beef with this book is the same one the reviewer I linked to mentions. There is a twist two thirds of the way in and then too much plot and melodrama gets in the way and the hero's personality does a sharp veer off into… but this is major spoiler territory. If you really, really must know (view spoiler)[ Instalove happens. And I really really hate the instalove bollocks, no matter who does it or how well it is done. I even hated it in Daughter of Smoke and Bone and Laini Taylor is a goddess. Plus Talulla essentially has the same narrative voice as Jake, which was annoying. (hide spoiler)] ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
As is the tradition, the hero, Michael, is a playboy of galactic proportions and swoon-inducingly handsome. Not fabulously wealthy, but (never fear) M...moreAs is the tradition, the hero, Michael, is a playboy of galactic proportions and swoon-inducingly handsome. Not fabulously wealthy, but (never fear) Michael has a cousin who is rich, titled and with a beautiful wife to boot. Of course, Michael has been secretly and irrevocably in love with said wife from the moment he first clapped eyes on her (not that this stops him from sleeping around quite a bit and being an epic libertine). Unfortunately, the cousin does not have the decency to be a mean and evil old troll and is, in fact, someone whom Michael loves and respects (as does Francesca, the wife and our heroine), so Michael has no choice but to love and suffer quietly while being friends with the happy couple. And the situation would have probably continued so indefinitely had the husband not SUDDENLY and tragically ceased being among the living.
Francesca is suitably devastated by the tragic event and Michael is so guilt-ridden that he runs all the way to India but comes to his senses (partially) after four years and heads back home EXACTLY at the same time as the heroine decides to finally move on after her husband's death and start looking for a replacement (she wants kids, after all).
Our heroes then work through all of their issues and have some mind-blowing sex along the way until they come to their senses COMPLETELY and realise that, OF COURSE, the deceased husband would have wanted them both to be happy and was, in fact, expecting this to happen any minute now when he was alive. The end.
All in all, this was a charming story and is my favourite of the Bridgerton series, despite being more melancholy than the others. It was refreshing to have the hero love the heroine from the start and not have a blushing virgin of a heroine fall into the hero's lap like an over-ripe fruit having barely glanced at his manly profile. Plus, I love a man who can talk dirty. HUGE turn on.
There were a few cons, e.g. the first part of the book (until the hero comes to his wits and decides to go after the heroine) dragged on for longer than is necessary, the letters that preceded each chapter did not work as well as the Lady Whistledown columns in the previous books (though they weren't as bad as the intro's to the chapters in the last two books in the series) and the bit in the end with the dead husband's mother thanking the hero for "letting" him (the husband) love the heroine first was just bizarre. But, all in all, this was a very satisfying (and horn-inducing) read. (less)