**spoiler alert** I really wanted to like this book. I really, really did. The premise was great. The deep glimpses into African American and Spanish...more**spoiler alert** I really wanted to like this book. I really, really did. The premise was great. The deep glimpses into African American and Spanish culture during this era of history is fantastic. The women in this book are fantastic, but they're dragged down by the men and a plot that moves so fast that you nearly get whiplash.
I started off liking Logan and by the end I wanted to hurl him off a cliff and tell Mariah, "Girl, you can do better, now go back and hook up with that preacher man." Mariah voices the issue I had with the romance. It was too, too fast and events that could naturally be spread out over days and weeks were instead crammed into one week. The timing of the final plot twist doesn't make sense either. There was no need to have this story go along as fast as it did. I think if the events were spread out over a year instead of a week, it would go a long way toward making the plot less jarring and Logan, especially, more likable.
**SPOILER ALERT** The book is then capped by an encounter with Mariah's mother that goes over the top. The timing doesn't work out well, and no reason is really given for Mariah's mother pursuing her to California other than for control. There was a lot of actual, solid reasons why Mariah's mother would demand her back, namely the huge impact to her income since Mariah is no longer there to design and make dresses. But we see how it affected one client, and suddenly she's in pursuit. She's one-dimensional to the point where she's a cartoonish villain, which is sad. The layers are there, but we're told about them, not shown them.
My biggest advice to the author: Slow down. Please, just slow down. Try not to have everything so over-the-top and let Mariah and Logan develop at a slower pace. Let her gradually win him over, not just repeat the same situation over and over until it's hammered into our heads. Let her go out on that date with the preacher, and let her gradually become friends with Logan's mother. Don't have everything be magically solved for Mariah. She's a strong, strong woman, she can take a setback without giving up. You have such great ideas and the bases for great characters. Let stuff happen on page, don't just tell it or rush through it. We know they'll reach a happily ever after in the end. So, let us enjoy the journey along the way.(less)
This was an amazing book. It's power comes in a hero and heroine who are both good-hearted and overcome a lot within themselves and society to be with...moreThis was an amazing book. It's power comes in a hero and heroine who are both good-hearted and overcome a lot within themselves and society to be with each other. There are some who feel the ending might be a copout, but given the little hints dropped by certain characters throughout the book, I don't think it is. I'm in love with the culture of the Tang dynasty as much as I am with Huang and Yue-Ying. The book deftly switches between Huang and Yue-Ying's points of view, but you feel the build up from Yue-Ying's POV. The slowly kindling relationship is intentional, a lot like the lychees that Yue-Ying purchases as the novel opens, gradually exposing the raw, vulnerable sweetness within. If you love historical romances and want to try a new era beyond the typical regencies, I can't recommend this book enough. It reminds me what I love best about the genre.(less)
This felt like a rehash of Amanda's story, but with a more likable heroine ... until the latter half of the book. This volume suffers from being far t...moreThis felt like a rehash of Amanda's story, but with a more likable heroine ... until the latter half of the book. This volume suffers from being far too long, and everything comes to a screeching halt when the main plot is resolved and they begin going around and around in circles. I found myself glancing to see how many pages were left repeatedly and was left with the sense of just finish it already. I read the final book in the trilogy before I read this one, so it was interesting to see the build-up to the third book sprinkled throughout. This particular volume would be a lot better if about 50 pages was cut, but the bloat makes it fall down the scales for me.(less)
I found "Unlocked" thanks to Amazon's Kindle bestseller list, but I've also seen Courtney Milan comment on the Dear Author blog and her work is well r...moreI found "Unlocked" thanks to Amazon's Kindle bestseller list, but I've also seen Courtney Milan comment on the Dear Author blog and her work is well regarded. That's enough for me to give "Unlocked" a try, and I'm very glad I did so.
I find Elaine very easy to sympathize with, having been the wallflower with unpopular traits that was constantly teased (in my case, it was the trifecta of glasses, braces and being overweight.) Elaine's story is every teased girl's fantasy - you wind up not only confronting your tormentors, but overcoming them as well. However, not every Evan reforms, and Elaine is painfully aware of this. I enjoyed how they don't instantly fall in love, but Evan has to work hard to earn Elaine's trust. Because of the novella format, the story feels a little too rushed in places. This is a story that deserves to be a full book, and I mean that as a high complement. But, it lingers long enough in the right places and really adds meaning not only to Elaine's relationship with Evan, but her relationship with her mother.
I'm sufficiently pleased with Milan's work enough to seek out her other titles, and I'm looking forward to her future work. (less)
This book dropped in price on Amazon, and the thread carried a lot of recommendations. All of them were worth it, as I stayed up until 7 a.m. devourin...moreThis book dropped in price on Amazon, and the thread carried a lot of recommendations. All of them were worth it, as I stayed up until 7 a.m. devouring the book. I greatly enjoyed the fictionalized version of the life of Mahelt Marshal, daughter of the infamous William, and her first husband, Hugh. I had not read all that much into the lives of the Marshals before, therefore I was dismayed - but not surprised - to read the afterword of the book and find that Hugh only survived a few years beyond the end of the book and Mahelt went on to marry again.
Elizabeth Chadwick did such a good job in creating believable personalities and a grand marriage between Mahelt and Hugh that you forget that these are actual historic figures. But, the backdrop of their time is exquisite, and you know Chadwick spent a great deal of time researching the era. It's part of a historic series that I want to seek out now.(less)
While the beginning of the book was enough to draw me into the story, I found myself wanting to shake all the females at some point. There was far too...moreWhile the beginning of the book was enough to draw me into the story, I found myself wanting to shake all the females at some point. There was far too much emphasis on Constance fighting Gordon and running away again and again and again and not enough on developing any believable relationship between Constance and Gordon as well as on Fiona's subplot. I did not realize this was the last book in a series, but it makes sense why there was a lack of emphasis on developing Gordon's camp beyond a convenient plot point.
Despite the drawbacks, I do like both Gordon and Constance and the relationship they have when they're not fighting and she wasn't trying to run off. I'd like to have seen one of those scenes cut out and more time devoted to Fiona's healing. I also liked Constance's sisters and their husbands, as well as the Duke of Colster. I understand all of them have their own stories, so I wouldn't mind seeking those out. (less)
I admit I've been a bit disappointed with Julia Quinn's work lately. While her books are still enjoyable, there's not been much that matches the madca...moreI admit I've been a bit disappointed with Julia Quinn's work lately. While her books are still enjoyable, there's not been much that matches the madcap humor of "What Happens in London" or has the heart and emotion of the first seven Bridgerton books (I do apologize, but I find Gregory insufferable and only read his story just to say I completed the series.) While "Just Like Heaven" is more on the light and fluffy side of things, it's enjoyable fluff about two people who didn't realize what was under their noses.
I see "Just Like Heaven" serving mainly as an establishment book, and I've read enough Quinn to guess who was going to get their own stories and even one of the potential pairings (as Quinn has confirmed which Smythe-Smith story she's writing next, and I am looking forward to that.)
A commenter on the Dear Author blog mentioned that the one thing about Quinn's books that makes them truly remarkable is that the hero and heroine actually talk to each other. They not only love each other, but they honestly like each other as well. This is the simple magic that's here in "Just Like Heaven," the conversations between Honoria and Marcus. Love isn't a bolt of lightening, but shared pieces of forbidden cake in a carriage. It's overcoming your own fears to do some very nasty work at a person's sickbed, and it's knowing full well that while your family is rubbish at music, you don't care because it's family.
I think that's why "Just Like Heaven" is so enjoyable. It's a fairly simple story with likable characters, and I've already found myself rereading the book -- something I didn't do with "Ten Things I Love About You." While it's not the book I'd introduce new readers to Quinn with, it's a good story. (less)
I received this book as a "First Reads." This is the first book in Stefanie Sloane's "Regency Rogues" series. It's funny how there's an endorsement fr...moreI received this book as a "First Reads." This is the first book in Stefanie Sloane's "Regency Rogues" series. It's funny how there's an endorsement from Julia Quinn on the cover of the book, because I kept thinking wistfully of "The Duke and I" as I read.
Sloane succeeds in creating two leads - The Duke of Clairmont and Lady Lucinda Grey - that I like a lot. She also succeeds in creating a hilarious supporting cast in the form of Lucinda's aunts, whom I really hope make return appearances later in the series. She did a good job in making me emotionally invested in Will and Lucinda as individuals. However, she failed to sell me on them as a couple.
A large part of it is that their emotional growth really doesn't take place together as a couple, especially on Will's part. One of the key revelations and emotional lynchpins in the series takes place between Will and one of Lucinda's aunts, not Will and Lucinda. The passion between the two feels very artificial. Their moments of intimacy don't feel very intimate, and I felt a sense of detachment. It's not like say ... Simon and Daphne in "The Duke and I," where there is emotion, laughter and true enjoyment in their time together. Their intimate moments are truly emotional. The intimacy with Will and Lucinda lasts a couple pages at the most. It seems almost thrown into the book and not a natural progression of their feelings for each other. It's the lack of chemistry between the leads that keeps this from being a repeat read for me. (less)
This book is a fairly quick read, and I read all of it on a train ride back from New York City. It's set in the 1920s in a remote part of the west, so...moreThis book is a fairly quick read, and I read all of it on a train ride back from New York City. It's set in the 1920s in a remote part of the west, so it has a mixture of Western with a little modern touches. I enjoyed that the book touched on things such as the beginning of forensic evidence, Prohibition and more.
Ruby was a good heroine for this time period, although I do feel that the intimacy between her and Ethan was a bit too rushed. Ruby's children wind up playing a big role in how the romance turns out, but I don't think there was enough time spent with Ethan developing a relationship with them. There is a good reason for Ethan's reticence, but I would have loved to see a bit more with how he deals with Ruby's daughters. The mystery that anchors the book dragged out a bit too much, and I think that time could be used to develop Ethan's relationship with the girls. (less)
**spoiler alert** Be aware that I'm spoiling a lot of the final arc of the book throughout the review. You've been warned! I will also indicate furthe...more**spoiler alert** Be aware that I'm spoiling a lot of the final arc of the book throughout the review. You've been warned! I will also indicate further spoilers with the tag.
So, I pretty much speed-read through Land of Painted Caves to see how the story finishes. You know, since it is reportedly the final book in the Earth's Children series. Pretty much, skip all the really long descriptions of caves and you can finish the book in a few hours. My impression? Let me say this, how would you feel if J.K. Rowling suddenly decided to stop writing Harry Potter after Half-Blood Prince? Sorry, no final battle for you. No knowing if Ron and Hermione ever get together, if Voldemort is ever defeated, or even if Harry lives to turn 17. Sorry folks. JKR has taken her millions and headed to Aruba and we don't get the end of the story.
That's essentially what this book is. It's not winding down the story. Instead, it only opened several new plotlines, fails to answer some of the really big questions about old plots that have dangled like carrots for years and recycles one plot in a way that it makes the end of Slayers Evolution-R look like the most original piece of media ever. I do give the characters credit for realizing this is the same plot take two, and because the first plot point happened, it alluded to this possibly happening again.
The thing is that overall, this wasn't a bad book up until halfway through the final arc. Oh yes, I rolled my eyes at all the mentions of how perfect Jondalar and Ayla are. To their credit, their flaws do show up. But the painted caves were fascinating, and I enjoyed Ayla's role as an acolyte and what she had to learn. What's not to the book's credit is how suddenly Jean M. Auel hits the brakes, swings the car into the opposing turn lane, and proceeds to spectacularly run over Ayla and Jondalar in order to set up the end of the book.
(view spoiler)[Throughout the book, Jondalar and Ayla are shown to be the model married couple. In a society where being sexually intimate with other people is acceptable (the huge revelation at the end is that you can't have kids without men, thus the concept of monogamy begins to really become popular), they choose to only be with each other. Neither one of them, when given the opportunity, chooses anyone else.
And Ayla's duties takes her away from Jondalar and Jonayla, their daughter, a lot. She has to undergo periods of fasting, abstinence and travel. Through it all, Jondalar is patient, helps care for their daughter and supports his wife, often accompanying her and growing himself through those travels, though his POV is largely absent in this book. Again, he's never indicated he even wants anyone else or that he's overly horny, and Auel has never missed an opportunity in the past to express if he was suffering because of a lack of Pleasures, and that all he wants is Ayla.
Suddenly, in order to drive Jondalar and Ayla apart so Jondalar can pull Ayla back from the spirit world with the power of his love at the end of the book, Auel reveals that he's been having an affair with his ex so he doesn't bother Ayla during her studies and travels. And, hey, this is OK because he was born with great passions and they must be fulfilled.
This rather pisses me off. A lot. In a society where monogamy isn't all that common and people do at times take different partners, Auel spent three books drilling into the reader's head that Jondalar and Ayla are very, very monogamous and only want each other. The only time either of them had sexual intercourse with another person was during a period in the third book where they were no longer together and Ayla was engaged to someone else. I don't even think Jondalar had sex with anyone then, but I'm probably wrong about that since it's been years since I read The Mammoth Hunters.
So, after all of this, I'm suddenly suppose to believe that Jondalar is so damn horny that he'd go sticking it in anyone, not just his ex, before being with Ayla? And that he's abandoned the daughter he's been so devoted to in order to do this? And there's no hint of this beforehand? There's only two sex scenes in the novel, and both times it's apparent that both Jondalar and Ayla have abstained for a period of time prior to this. I'm having a really hard time buying this affair.
Hi, Jondalar. Meet your right hand. Right hand, meet genitals. You're no stranger to this concept. I have read Valley of Horses.
There were other ways to set up this scene where Jondalar needed to pull Ayla back from the spirit world. Ayla had just miscarried. That's drama on its own. There could have been an implied affair with all the busyness and lack of communication causing the separation, which is exactly how things happened in The Mammoth Hunters. And, hey, Jondalar could have actually remained true to the spirit of his character by revealing that Marlona kept trying and he refused. As long as we're recycling old plots, just go ahead and do that.
I will give Auel credit for both Ayla and Jondalar realizing the sequence of events happening surrounding the affair and what happened after was both their faults, and they finally deal with it like adults. And, yes, these things do happen at times and bad things happen to good people.
What the hell is so wrong with having a happily married couple in a healthy monogamous relationship? Not to mention as well that one of the key character arcs surrounding Jondalar, especially in Valley of Horses, is that he kept trying to find someone he could love. And for all of the Pleasures he has given other women, he hasn't been able to find it until he falls in love with Ayla. That was the beauty of the entire relationship. Really, he was like the prehistoric version of Roarke in the In Death series. Plenty of girlfriends, but not the one that captured his heart. Can you imagine the backlash if Roarke did something like this? Well, Eve would gut him and hang his entrails from the flagpole outside Cop Central. But I digress ...
There was a better way for Auel to arrive at her ending without Jondalar cheating. There was enough pressure on both of them that it could cause issues in any marriage. If we even had a hint of Jondalar not being happy the forced celibacy at times, I could buy this a bit easier. But, I can't. I'm not sure if I'll get the hardcover version of this now. If there is a 7th book (and I'm hearing mutterings that there might be after all), I'm not sure if I'll get it. I'm that disappointed in you, Jean M. Auel. (hide spoiler)]["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"]>(less)