This book didn't jell for me. I couldn't get a grasp on what the heroine really thought about herself and I found the shift from "I think she's a fat...moreThis book didn't jell for me. I couldn't get a grasp on what the heroine really thought about herself and I found the shift from "I think she's a fat lesbian" to "she's the most beautiful woman I've ever seen" a bit hard to swallow. I realize that Kerry is lovely inside and out and that Matt grows to see her in a different way over time. But it didn't quite work for me. On the upside, I liked both Kerry and Matt a lot and am intrigued to read the next romance with JT and Angie.(less)
This Kiss book is like an unsatisfying version of its title. There are bits and pieces where I got drawn in and then bam the book would enter trite te...moreThis Kiss book is like an unsatisfying version of its title. There are bits and pieces where I got drawn in and then bam the book would enter trite tease territory again. And the final scene is so cliche--think a contemp checklist--it made me groan... and not in a good way.(less)
I read your romantic suspense novel the day after I (very belatedly) saw Skyfall. For plot and passion, I prefer your novel, Against the Dark. (I’m still not clear on the plot in Skyfall or why a woman who’d been a sex slave wouldn’t freak out when a man she just met shows up in her shower. I know: “It’s Bond, James Bond.“)
Against the Dark is briskly action-packed, genuinely suspenseful, wryly witty, and hot. Plus it has a villain who’s so evil it’s quite a satisfying thrill when he gets his comeuppance.
Angel Ramirez has been living on the right side of the law for five years now. Yeah, all those times she and her two best friends from middle school–White Jenny and Macy–successfully stole all the bling they could fence were fun, but fear and remorse coupled with her family’s disdain for her life choices just weren’t worth it. These days, Angel runs her interior decorating business and stays out of trouble.
But then a lowlife gang named The Flesh Boys kidnapps Macy’s Aunt Aggie and demands a ransom of a pouch of diamonds belonging to Walter Borgola, “the biggest pimp-scumbag and God knows what else in L.A.” Borgola’s stored the diamonds in his bedroom in a rare Fenton Furst model safe. There are only a few in the world who can crack a Fenton and Angel is one of them.
The three women come up with a complex plan for stealing the diamonds from Borgola’s hideously tacky mansion. On the night the heist is planned, Borgola is throwing one of his infamously sleazy parties. Angel, Macy, and White Jenny head over there, dressed in their hottest outfits. They’re “posing as party girls—hookers paid by Borgola to have sex with the party guests.” As they wait for the right moment to begin the robbery, Angel can’t stop staring at one of the guys on Borgola’s security team because 1) the guy is gorgeous and 2) the guy keeps staring at her. Finally, Angel walks over to him, acting like the hooker she’s supposed to be.
“Now what are we going to do with you?” he asked with a hint of humor in his voice.
Focus, she told herself. You’re a hooker who doesn’t know he’s security. She shrugged her shoulders.
He spread his legs open a little. “Come here.”
“You wanna play?” she asked, heart racing. It had been such a long since she’d been around a guy like this. He didn’t add up as a nerd. He didn’t add up as a member of Borgola’s security team. He didn’t make sense to her in a lot of ways. But she wanted him; that one fact cut through everything.
“I want you to come here,” he said.
She stepped in close. Her girls would grab her if she gave the signal, but she still couldn’t tell if his interest was professional or sexual. A real poker player, this guy.
He hooked a finger over the top of her bodice and pulled her even closer, and she allowed it. His skin felt electric near hers.
“There’re a lot of bad girls at this shindig,” he said, lips too close, filling her with need. But it was his eyes she worried about. He was seeing too much.
“I don’t need no muthafuckin’ memo to tell me there’s bad girls here,” she replied, throwing off her perfect grammar for the role she was playing.
He scrutinized her more. The intense intelligence that radiated off him scared her.
She looked away from his eyes, but that left her gazing at his straight, strong nose, and then his lips. Oh, yeah, his lips.
She knew that he’d kiss her moments before he did it, as though the kiss came from outside of them, pre-ordained by the universe. Wild energy danced in her chest as he drew in; at the last moment, he paused, letting her feel his heat. Then he closed his lips over hers.
His kiss was light and heavy at the same time, like summer fog, rich with mysterious magic. There, then gone.
As he ends the kiss, he disarms Angel of the handgun she’s strapped to her thigh. He also takes her tiny safe-cracking kit–it’s disguised as an mp3 player–but she snatches it back from him. He then tells her to get lost and seems to lose interest in her which, of course, he hasn’t.
Cole Hawkins isn’t who he’s pretending to be either. He’s an operative for a shadowy good-guy spy group called The Associates. Cole is a genius with anything that involves numbers… and he’s lethal when he needs to be. Right now, he’s investigating Borgola’s child trafficking.
Evidence suggested they were from Southeast Asia or possibly former Soviet states; he didn’t have that piece of the puzzle yet. One thing he did know: they had five days until they landed, and then they’d be lost. Borgola’s snuff films—violent, disturbing sex films that always ended in death—seemed to be filmed in trucks and shipping containers, mobile studios that could be anywhere.
Cole had originally been planted undercover in the team to develop intelligence on a different operation of Borgola’s, sex slavery out of Myanmar. He’d worked out the details pretty quickly. And then he’d uncovered the snuff film operations. He hadn’t found direct evidence of the films; rather, he’d discerned the operation’s presence via his equations, like a ghost limb. He’d asked Dax to let him stay on and bring it down. Dax was all for it.
Associates sometimes got planted in deep cover for years doing unthinkable little things and sometimes unthinkable big things to keep their credibility. They helped with the small plots and sabotaged the big plots and leaked information and executed people when they had to. Officially, no governments knew about them; unofficially, they were central to the international fight against crime.
Cole knows the info he needs is hidden in a secret safe–another Fenton, not in the bedroom. He’s determined to find it.
Team Angel pulls off a brilliant robbery and Angel returns to her crime-free life. That is until, Cole shows up, waiting for her in her apartment. He’s tracked her down and wants her help. He knows she can crack the secret safe and he pretty much blackmails her into helping him.
What follows is fast, fun, and sexy. Angel and Cole have great chemistry before, during, and after the two get down and dirty.
Against the Dark avoids the too much love in too little time trap by pacing out the next robbery and by giving Cole and Angel time to connect. It’s quick but not too quick.
The suspense plot is excellent. The stakes for Cole and Angel start high and get higher as the novel winds on. Cole needs to do whatever it takes to save those kids. Angel needs to do whatever keeps Macy and White Jenny safe. Borgola needs to do the sickest thing you can think of. Cole and Angel keep just one step ahead of Borgola and his cretins and the plot spools out tautly.
I enjoyed this book. Even the secondary characters are well done and, given that it’s the start of a new series, I bet we will be seeing more of them in the future. I’m looking forward to it.
I am a fan of Ruthie Knox's works. Her books are filled with characters it's easy to care for, zingy conversations, smoking love scenes, and realistic relational conundrums. Thus I am not a whit surprised I like her latest, Flirting with Disaster, the third book in her Camelot series. This consistently entertaining series features the Clark siblings; Flirting with Disaster tells the tale of the youngest, Katie.
Katie is back in Camelot, Ohio after her husband and high school sweetheart Levi dumped her and cleaned out their bank account. In an effort to pull her out of the dumps, her big brother Caleb (the hero of the previous book, Along Came Trouble) hires her to manage his new company Camelot Security. The job does pull Katie out of her post-Levi slump but running the office is just a step toward her new and improved future. Katie's current goal is for Caleb to promote her to agent. Caleb, however, is on the over-protective side and has little interest putting Katie in any situation where she faces any danger.
Fortunately for Katie, Judah Pratt, a famous rocker who hires Camelot Security to deal with a series of mysterious threats, takes one look at Katie and announces he'll only hire the firm if Katie is on the job. Caleb agrees but insists Katie work with his other employee, Sean Owens. This pairing poses a problem for Katie because Sean refuses to speak to her. "Not at all, not ever, not under any circumstances." Katie hasn't a clue why she gets the silent treatment from Sean and the whole thing makes her crazy.
Katie makes Sean crazy. Not only is she his high-school crush and the star of many of his fantasies, she triggers the stuttering problem that plagued him for years which he, until he encounters all-grown-up Katie, has generally overcome.
Thus both of them are wound rather tightly as they head off to Louisville, where Judah is performing. When they arrive at the dive at which Judah asked they all meet, Katie demands to know how she and Sean are going to work together.
“Seriously, can you at least write me notes? Send me emails? I don’t see how this is going to work otherwise.”
She had a point. He didn’t see how it was going to work, either. How to interview Judah Pratt with Katie as a sidekick and manage not to stutter?
He’d have to improvise.
He took his phone out of his pocket and tapped out a text message. Shall we go in?
Katie’s phone chirped. She checked out the screen. “Very funny.”
She stomped across the gravel lot toward the building’s entrance, leaving him to trail along behind her, trying to keep his eyes off her ass.
When they walk in the club, Judah isn't there. In fact, once in Louisville, they find it difficult to get Judah to talk to them. He's not at the club and he's booked them into a hotel far from his. Sean, determined to solve this case, books himself and Katie into the swanky hotel where Judah is staying, a hotel in which the only available room is the Atrium Suite.
This It Happened One Night set-up has been done a thousand times but Ms. Knox makes it seem fresh and hilarious. Sean's not the only one with lust in his heart. Before they've even managed to eat the food Katie's ordered up for dinner, Katie's realizes she's warm for Sean's form. Their lust-o-rama is complicated by not only Sean's inability to talk to Katie but by Judah's apparent lust for Katie as well.
That evening, when Katie and Sean meet up with Judah, tensions are high. Judah refuses to tell Sean and Katie anything about the threats - this both mystifies and pisses off Sean. Judah does agree, however, to talk with justKatie, after the show, in his hotel room. This makes Sean so irate he does the only thing he can think of to warn off Judah and draw in Katie: He kisses her.
This was what he’d wanted to tell her earlier in the room. This.
Her energy moved into him where they touched, thighs and mouths and his palm on her bare skin, the other wrapped around the nape of her neck. The pleasure of smelling her, touching her, unhitched something essential he kept reined in, and he felt the sudden rush of it, the terrible freedom of losing control—
And that made him stop.
...When he pulled away, she made a sound, a sort of helpless squeak that said she wanted to continue, and hearing it called up a desperate ache in his chest that he immediately locked down.
Appalling, what she did to him. He wanted her. Right here, right now, with that black dress bunched up around her thighs. He wanted her anywhere, everywhere, any way he could get her.
Despite the kiss, Katie goes to Judah's room where she realizes Judah's just pretending to be interested in her. When she asks what he's up to, he tells her tells her he has no idea, that he just knows she's supposed to be there, to help him in some way.
This book has a lot going on it. Judah has a complicated life and, as he and Katie become friends, the two work to sort out the many issues in Judah's life. Sean, who came to Camelot to settle his mother's estate, is trying to mangage his real life in California, come to terms with his unresolved feelings about his dead mother, and solve Judah's case. Katie is striving to move past being the enabler she was with Levi, figure out what she wants to do with her life, and navigate her relationships with her family. As all this is going on, Katie and Sean are falling for each other, even as Sean plans, when Judah's case is over, to return home to California. Ms. Knox manages to keep all these plots clear and, even better, she weaves them together so that each storyline strengthens the others.
Flirting with Disaster is, at heart, a love story and it's one that Ms. Knox makes sweet and sexy. The scenes between Sean and Katie are filled with wit and want. Here, Sean is asking Katie about the romance novels she loves to read.
“What do you read those books for?”
“Same reason anyone does, I guess.”
“Are they your ffantasies?”
“Some of them,” she said. “Not all.”
His hands on the steering wheel drew her eyes. He had such big hands. His nails were blunt and short and unpretty. Rough hands. Hands that had gathered her close and held her in place when he took that kiss.
“Have you ever been with a man who d-did those things to you?” His voice had turned husky and dark. “Talked dirty to you? Spanked you? Tied you up and sspent hours figuring out how many ways he could make you c-come with his tongue?”
“No.” She put as much scorn into the word as she could manage. As if scorn could protect her from the way he was turning her on. Or prevent him from knowing he was doing it.
It was no use. Sean turned to look at her, and he smiled the wickedest smile she’d ever seen. A smile that said he knew exactly what he was doing, and he’d known all along. “Sounds like the guys you’ve been with have been reading all the wrong books.”
My only complaint about the book is its rushed and rather formulaic ending. In its epilogue,
Flirting with Disasteroffers easy answers to pretty much everything and in doing so lessens the power of the struggles portrayed in the book. This is a book where everyone lives
happily ever after. Still, that's a small flaw in an overall good book. I remain a fan. It gets a B+.
This novella by Ms. LaValle is a treat. Its heroine, Catherine Raybourne, the Marchioness of Foster, was abandoned by her husband two weeks after their wedding. She was caught in a compromising position with another man and James, the Marquess, left her in anger. She’s heard not a word from him for the past five years and is beyond shocked to find him, one quiet Wednesday afternoon, taking tea in their library. When she asks why, after all this time, he’s returned home, he tells her, given the recent death of his cousin, he now needs an heir.
Thirty minutes later, Cat still could not catch her breath. Jamie had made the preposterous statement with utmost calm, his face quiet, his gaze steady on hers. As if he’d said “I need a new pair of boots.”
Her skin burned with the very word.
It was not the thought of children that unsettled her. Not even the knowledge of how children were created.
It was the memories. Vivid flashes of heat that thrummed under her skin. Jamie in her bed. The shock of his mouth everywhere. His skin impossibly smooth against hers. The places she craved him. Jamie filling her, again and again, the madness between them. Her unimaginable pleasure.
Five years of a cold bed and she had not forgotten a thing.
Cat and Jamie grew up together and were very much in love when they married. Cat’s behavior, though innocent, enraged Jamie; his abandonment angered her equally. Cat has spent the past five years working on Jamie’s estate and being desperately lonely. Jamie has traveled the world, always thinking about the woman he left behind. When he returns, the passion the two have always had for one another is still potent yet neither finds it easy to move past their hurtful past.
Ms. LaValle is an excellent wordsmith–I loved the language in this story. She does a nice job of showing the reader how both Jamie and Cat feel–their conflict and its resolution is deftly portrayed. Ironically, what I liked least about the story was its length. It was longer than it needed to be and overly and unnecessarily dramatic in its last quarter. Nonetheless, it was an enjoyable read. I give it a B.
I liked a lot of this novella and am interested to read the next novel. I think many of the things that didn't work for me in Unbuttoned did so becaus...moreI liked a lot of this novella and am interested to read the next novel. I think many of the things that didn't work for me in Unbuttoned did so because the story needed more time to be properly told.(less)
I thought I was destined to escape the quaint town of Destiny, Ohio, the setting for for your contemporary romance series. I disliked the last three entries which had lost the flair of the first two, One Reckless Summer and Sugar Creek. I hadn’t planned to read the most recent Destiny novel, Half Moon Hill, but a glowing review at another site made me change my mind. I’m not sorry I did. Half Moon Hill isn’t as strong as the Destiny novels I like, but nor is it as bland and annoying as the three that precede it.
One reason I like Half Moon Hill is that there’s not a lot of Destiny in it. The majority of the story takes place outside of town, in an old mansion Anna Romo is fixing up with the hope of turning it into Destiny’s first bed and breakfast. I’ll acknowledge that, with the exception of Anne Calhoun’s Walker Hill (the town in which her latest two books are set, the first of which,Unforgiven, I’ll review later this month), I’ve had it with fictional tiny towns. Destiny, with its (sadly) unbelievably successful small town bookstore (Under the Covers), easily adopted felines, and wishfully accommodating populace makes me long for unpleasant hipsters in Brooklyn. I was thrilled that in Half Moon Hill Anna and her love interest, Duke Dawson, are living fairly Destiny-free.
Anna, portrayed as a man-stealing witch in the last book, Willow Springs, is trying to make a home for herself in Destiny. Anna has a tragic past. She was kidnapped at age five by a woman who claimed to be her mother and just recently found out she is really the long-lost daughter of Destiny’s Romo family. Last year, Anna returned to Destiny and began to make a life for herself. The Romo brothers–both of whom have been the heroes of Destiny books–are very protective and Anna, in an effort to make some space for herself, bought an old Victorian on Half Moon Hill, several miles out-of-town. When this novel begins, Anna has redone the interior of the house, pretty much on her own, and is now struggling to renovate the exterior. One morning, on a trek through the nearby woods to collect berries for a possible pie-making, she runs into a man who, at first seems to her to be a step or two above Sasquatch.
Over six feet in height and bulging with muscles that gave her the impression he could tear her limb from limb, he emerged through a patch of tall shrubbery, flashing crazy, piercing blue-gray eyes. Unkempt brown hair hung to his shoulders and a scraggly beard covered the bottom half of his face, not quite obscuring the angry scar that slashed its way down one cheek.
In her hurry to escape from this barbarian, she twists her ankle badly enough that she can’t walk. Since she can’t immediately run away, she finds herself warily conversing with the guy and–because this is a small town–he turns out to be someone she knows. He’s Duke Dawson, the biker best-friend of her brother Lucky. Several months ago, Duke was in a horrible accident and was rumored to have left Destiny and moved to Indiana. This scuttlebutt is false, however. In reality, Duke has returned and, unbeknownst to all of Destiny, is living in a run-down cabin on Anna’s property. Duke is avoiding humanity. Not only does he struggle with the accident and his role in it, the crash left him scarred and sure his love life is over. Nevertheless, he tends to Anna’s sprained ankle and she and he forge a relationship.
Anna needs help–that her over-protective brothers don’t know about (they’d just butt in)–remodeling the exterior of her home. Duke needs a life. After a few days of watching each other bang nails in the summer heat, the two end up having hot sex and agreeing to have a no-harm, no foul relationship. Duke isn’t ready to re-enter Destiny society and Anna doesn’t want anyone to know she’s banging a biker with a bad reputation. They tell no one of their increasingly intertwined life together and tell themselves they can walk away with ease.
Anna and Duke are a passionate pair. They have a lot of well-written sex and they understand that sex binds them. I liked that, rather than immediately use sex as a way to distance themselves from one another, both Anna and Duke give thought to whether the chemistry they share means something.
But suddenly Duke couldn’t quite remember what he used to think about before Anna had come tripping her way into his little world in the woods here. What had filled his head then?
He thought back and found the answers. Mostly bad stuff. Anger. Painful memories. Helplessness. Emptiness. And he’d calmed himself by trying his damnedest to focus on anything else. Birds in the trees. Fishing. The smell of honeysuckle. One day he’d even taken a honeysuckle blossom and popped the liquid inside into his mouth the way his grandmother had taught him when he was little, the sweet-tasting burst on his tongue taking him back to a time and place when he’d felt loved, and safe. But it had only been a moment. One moment in time in the midst of what otherwise was mostly dark, black, ugly.
Until Anna had come along and filled his head with something better. Even when he’d been annoyed by her, she’d been a hell of a lot more pleasant to think about than other things. But maybe he could only admit that to himself now that some time had passed.
He thought about what to do now that it was dark out. He’d mostly found it easy to go to bed early here, and to rise with the sun—but he wasn’t sleepy yet.
And the truth was—he knew what he wanted to do. What he was itching to do.
The truth was—every time he’d seen her since they’d had sex on her couch and then again in her bed, it had been all he could do not to grab her and kiss her and hope it would happen again.
But he hadn’t. For all the reasons he’d just thought through. She was his best friend’s sister. He didn’t need this kind of complication in his life, especially right now. And even if she’d seemed totally into him when they were doing it—hell, she’d even started it—he still wasn’t sure what that meant, what she saw in him, or how she viewed him. And frankly, he still wasn’t sure he wanted to find out. He knew he was no good for her, not in any way that went beyond sex—surely she knew it, too.
So given all those good reasons for him to just head back to the cabin and call it a day, it was beyond his understanding when his feet began to lead him through the woods toward the big Victorian house.
Their relationship develops slowly and realistically. I bought both their attraction and the ways they struggled to change their lives to accommodate each other. Over the course of the novel, both Anna and Duke work to move past their limiting pasts and Ms. Blake does a nice job of showcasing their journeys. Their love story in Half Moon Hill is a nice one and I enjoyed reading about it.
There is a secondary story, revealed through an old diary, I liked as well although it mirrored, more than I would have liked, a similar “set in the past” story in Ms. Blake’s Sugar Creek. In Half Moon Hill, the story is a class-based heartbreaker, set in 1959. Anna avidly reads the diary of Cathy, the young woman whose family owned the mansion, and Robert, the hired hand who lived in what is now Duke’s cabin. Cathy’s diary, with its sad story of love denied, offers a nice counterpoint to Anna’s fears about how Destiny will judge her relationship with Duke. Ms. Blake takes a lovely risk in the way she resolves Cathy’s story and the novel is better because of it.
The novel’s weakest point is when Destiny arrives. Honestly, even the characters I once liked, irritated me here. The group of women who’ve been featured in the other Destiny books, all now happily paired, have new reasons to carp at each other. Unplanned pregnancy, infertility, and overly high wedding expectations have these women at odds with one another. I briefly appreciated the infertility plot until it, like all the quarrels, was simplistically resolved. There’s no escaping it: Destiny turns its inhabitants tedious. I wish them well and hope never to encounter them and their inevitable progeny again.
One other thing about the novel grated. The secondary relationship is set in 1959 when racial tensions across the country were rife. The language used to describe the social impossibility of Cathy’s and Robert’s relationship read as though more than cultural heritage separated the two. Perhaps it is my exposure to stories of that time–I majored in 20th century American history–but I felt as though the barriers to Cathy’s and Robert’s happiness were overstated.
Despite its flaws, Half Moon Hillis a pleasant read. Furthermore, it seems I’m not the only one ready to leave Destiny behind. On Ms. Blake’s website, she writes that her next novel, though featuring an ex-Destinyite, is set in “the sleepy Florida town of Coral Cove.” I’ll give it a try. Ms. Blake is an engaging reader and, outside the limits of Destiny, I’ve hope she’ll draw me in.
I loved this book as a young girl and wondered how it would hold up. I held up just fine. In fact, now that I have the perspective of many decades, th...moreI loved this book as a young girl and wondered how it would hold up. I held up just fine. In fact, now that I have the perspective of many decades, the book seemed even more powerful to me. It's hard to believe it was published in 1947. It is utterly readable and enthralling.(less)
this review was originally published at DearAuthor.com
Dear Ms. Lynn:
I’m beginning to think there was a secret ceremony attended by a bunch of NA novelists at which they all swore on a copy of first edition of Twilight to include at least six of the following plot points in their books:
1) the heroine must be, in some way, socially awkward or shy. It’s a plus if she doesn’t realize how gorgeous she is.
2) upon arriving at school, she immediately meets cute the biggest babe magnet on campus. It’s a plus if he needs academic tutoring.
3) the babe magnet is incredibly drawn to the heroine despite the fact that she’s not his “type.”
4) the young woman is incredibly drawn to the hero despite the fact that he’s not her “type.”
5) there is some obstacle keeping them from dating.
6) one and/or the other has something in their past they are hiding from the other. It’s a plus if it’s one of those “I blame myself for something awful thing” sort of thing.
7) at some point, one/and or the other will be wasted and will say things he or she would never say sober. It’s a minus if sex occurs during or right after this revelation.
8) they finally hook up and then break up.
9) the past is RESOLVED. It’s a plus if evil parents were the problem and the young woman/young man stands up to them and then exits hand in hand with the young woman/young man.
10) they bonk like bedazzled bunnies and live happily for now.
Avery Morgansten runs into tall, yummy Cameron Hamilton the first day of school as she’s barreling into her Astronomy class.
Something strong and hard went around my waist, stopping my free fall. My bag hit the floor, spilling overpriced books and pens across the shiny floor. My pens! My glorious pens rolled everywhere. A second later I was pressed against the wall.
The wall was strangely warm.
The wall chuckled.
“Whoa,” a deep voice said. “You okay, sweetheart?”
The wall was so not a wall. It was a guy. My heart stopped and for a frightening second, pressure clamped down on my chest and I couldn’t move or think. I was thrown back five years. Stuck. Couldn’t move. Air punched from my lungs in a painful rush as tingles spread up the back of my neck. Every muscle locked up.
“Hey,” the voice softened, edged with concern. “Are you okay?”
I forced myself to take a deep breath—to just breathe. I needed to breathe. Air in. Air out. I had practiced this over and over again for five years. I wasn’t fourteen anymore. I wasn’t there. I was here, halfway across the country.
Two fingers pressed under my chin, forcing my head up. Startling, deep blue eyes framed with thick, black lashes fixed on mine. A blue so vibrant and electric, and such a stark contrast against the black pupils, I wondered if they were real.
And then it hit me.
A guy was holding me. A guy had never held me. I didn’t count that one time, because that time didn’t count for shit, and I was pressed against him, thigh to thigh, my chest to his. Like we were dancing. My senses fried as I inhaled the light scent of cologne. Wow. It smelled good and expensive, like his…
Anger suddenly rushed through me, a sweet and familiar thing, pushing away the old panic and confusion. I latched onto it desperately and found my voice. “Let. Go. Of. Me.”
Cam has the same class as Avery but she is so overwhelmed by their encounter and her fears she sprints away from him and the class. Later that day, she again has a dramatic meeting with Cam. This time, he almost runs her over with his big silver truck. He offers her a ride, but, again, she can’t get away from him fast enough.
Avery finds, however, she can’t avoid Cam because he lives in the apartment two doors down from hers. But Cam has a tortoise named Raphael which combined with his “baby blues” and his “eight pack” abs helps Avery to relax around Cam just a tiny bit. Slowly, the two become friends.
Cam falls for Avery almost as soon as he meets her. He bakes her cookies, calls her sweetheart, is kind and patient, tells her she’s pretty, and is pretty much perfect. He teases her and flirts with her but never pushes her anywhere she’s not, albeit cautiously, ready to go. If you like your heroes tall, gorgeous, and flawless, you’ll fall hard for Cam. I don’t like flawless heroes, so I found him a bit boring.
The book is told in first person by Avery, a narration Ms. Lynn does a good job with. We get to know not only Cam, but Avery’s new best buds, Jacob and Brittany. Jacob is gay and portrayed in a nicely non-cliched way. Brittany is a typical college girl whose function, I think, is to give Avery a way to talk through her changing feelings about Cam. The story flows smoothly and the Avery’s voice offers enough detail to keep the reader on top of the story but not so much that the POV seems forced.
Ms. Lynn writes engaging, witty dialogue although it often doesn’t sound authentic. Everyone knows just what to say, is self-aware, and there’s never any arguing over trivial things. Here, a week into knowing each other, Avery awakes to find Cam knocking on her door so he may cook her breakfast.
“Cam, what are you doing? It’s eight in the morning.”
“Thanks for the update on the time.” He headed straight for my kitchen. “It’s one thing I’ve never been able to master: the telling of time.”
I frowned as I padded after him. “Why are you here?”
“You can’t do that in your own kitchen?” I ask, scrubbing at my eyes. After the astronomy assignment and the phone call, he was the last person I wanted to see at a buttcrack time in the morning.
“My kitchen isn’t as exciting as yours.” He put his stuff on the counter and faced me. His hair was damp and curlier than normal. How was it possible for him to look so good when it was obvious he’d just rolled out of bed and showered? There wasn’t even a dusting of morning scruff on his smooth cheeks. And he made sweats and a plain old tee shirt look damn good. “And Ollie is passed out on the living room floor.”
“On the floor?”
“Yep. Face down, snoring and drooling a little. It’s not an appetizing atmosphere.”
“Well, neither is my apartment.” He needed to go. He had no business being here.
Cam leaned against my counter, folding his arms. “Oh, I don’t know about that…” His gaze moved from the top of my disheveled head and all the way down to the tips of my curled toes. It was like a physical touch, causing my breath to catch. “Your kitchen, right this second, is very appetizing.”
A flush crawled across my cheeks. “I’m not going out with you, Cam.”
“I didn’t ask you at this moment, now did I?” One side of his lips curved up. “But you will eventually.”
My eyes narrowed. “You’re delusional.”
“More like annoying.”
“Most would say amazing.”
I rolled my eyes. “Only in your head.”
By the novel’s end, Avery and Cam have reached step ten (although there were no condoms involved, a minus for me). When I finished it, I felt I’d read a well-written typical New Adult novel. It didn’t do much for me but it didn’t bother me either. I’d have enjoyed it more if Cam was a bit less man-god and the plot not quite so calculable. I continue to think I’m not the right audience for NA, perhaps because I have four new adults of my own, all currently at home, and creating an unbelievable amount of dirty laundry. Books about their age group aren’t escapism for me; they’re a reminder I need, for the third time this week, to go to the grocery store.
I giveWait for You a B-. If you like New Adult, you’ll probably like Ms. Lynn’s novel.
Before I began this book, I read a scathingly negative review by another reviewer. Here at Dear Author, Janine and I have different opinions about Untamed. The novel is a book many will either love or hate.
I loved it. It’s one of the most mesmerizing books I’ve read this year. It’s not perfect and yet I won’t be surprised if, come January, it’s on many a list as 2013′s best debut.
The book begins with the hero, the Duke of Darlington, sipping coffee and perusing silk handkerchiefs in the box window at Whites. In barrels a mammoth of a man, the Earl of BenRuin, seething with rage. BenRuin’s wife, Lydia, is one of Darlington’s lovers. BenRuin is stopped from slitting Darlington’s throat–he breaks a chair instead–and he leaves after telling Darlington that if he touches Lydia again, BenRuin will indeed kill him.
Lydia is at home, taking tea with her sister Kit who has recently come to London to have a belated (she’s 28) season.
‘I do wish you would leave the servants alone,’ said Lydia, Countess of BenRuin, graciously accepting a cup of tea from the footman. She and Kit sat in the upstairs parlour, squares of sunlight fat and warm on the carpet. ‘It makes them so uncomfortable.’
And your house and your friends and this fine dress make me uncomfortable. ‘Yes, my lady.’
Lydia, of the white-blonde hair and perfect figure, looked at Kit like she was a rat who had crept in and sat down for tea. Not scared of rats, Lydia, just deeply disdainful. ‘You only need to call me that in public,’ she said. ‘Lydia will do in private. I grow tired of telling you.’
‘Of course. Lydia.’
‘I suppose “sister” would be too much to manage.’
Kit resisted the urge to throw her hands up at her – a dreadful, base gesture. ‘We’ve not had cause to call each other sister these thirteen years, but the habit could be learned, if you wish it.’
Something interrupted Lydia’s smooth expression, then was gone. ‘Just a passing fancy,’ she said, her vowels as round as a line of marbles. Bored marbles. ‘Is the tea not to your taste? Fetch a new pot,’ she said to the footman. ‘And be sure it is hot when it arrives.’
You wouldn’t know by listening to them, Kit thought, that she was older than Lydia by seven years. The instant you laid eyes on them you’d not be confused, though. The fresh, fair-skinned Countess and her dark hobgoblin sister. Although perhaps she was too tall and strong for a hobgoblin. Perhaps the child of a hobgoblin and a tree.
BenRuin, a man deeply in love with a wife who seems not to care a whit for him, storms into the parlor.
The Earl fell to his knees before her sister, and though standing he was too large, too much for Kit, seeing him brought so low was awful.
‘I almost killed a man today,’ he said, his hands reaching for Lydia and finding no place they would be welcome. ‘I swear to you, I would have put my knife in his throat. Do not drive me further than this.’
Kit looked at her rough hands. Here was the part that was not so easy. She had given everything so that Lydia could marry well.
Lord BenRuin stood, as though he could no longer bear to be near his wife. ‘Do not see him again,’ he said. ‘I beg of you, do not see him again.’
That night, Kit goes to a ball and, as she always does in these social situations, slouches against a wall and thinks about her life at home, a place where she works hard–her family, the Sutherlands, are one step away from impoverished–but can be her true self. As she thinks about the pigs that need to be slaughtered, she listens to the way the ton talks about her sister and realizes Lydia’s affair with Darlington, the most scandalous man in town, is destroying Lydia’s reputation. Kit decides to make her business to end her sister’s liaison. When Darlington arrives at the ball, Kit sees him but before she can seek him out, the most beautiful man she’s ever seen strikes up a conversation with her. Their interchange is charged with the promise of emotional intimacy and, after he walks away from her, Kit feels that “something in her has been touched.” She goes and warns off Darlington who cheerfully tells her he and Lydia have “parted ways.” Darlington seems nothing like his reputation and Kit is bemused.
She wanders away from the social crush and follows the sound of a piano being played. As she stands on the edge of the room, she sees it’s the man she spoke with playing. Before she can speak to him, the hostess of the ball, the very married Lady Marmotte strolls in. As Kit watches the man, who Kit realizes is Darlington, begins to make love to Lady Marmotte. Kit is horrified to see the look on the Duke’s face.
…he was not engaged at all. He did not feel passion. His expression was calculated. His smiles, his voice, were deliberate. He used his body with as much dispassionate skill as the carpenter at Millcross used his lathe. He pushed her further back still, and then he leaned forward and licked her breasts, first one then the other. Methodical, contained.
The next day, Kit encounters Darlington while she is out with Lydia in the park. She asks him to leave Lydia alone. He agrees with the condition that Kit leave London, return home, and take him with her. She agrees despite being warned by BenRuin that if Darlington lays a finger on her, he’ll destroy the man. When the Duke’s carriage arrives to take Kit and Darlington back to the Manor (Kit’s name for her home), Darlington again shocks Kit.
…she was the most magnificent woman Kit had ever seen. She wore the rigid dress of the previous generation, but instead of looking outdated she made you long for the gorgeous, riotous colours of another age. Yellow poppies burst across the wine-red silk that bound her torso, chest and shoulders. They trailed down the skirts that waterfalled under their modest table. She was tightly corseted, her trim figure accentuated by the flare of small hoops beneath her skirts. She looked out the window, offering Kit her profile – the fine, straight nose, the smiling, expressive lips and heavy eyes. She wore a black wig, one thick coil falling over her shoulder on to the white linen tucked around her neck.
The woman turned away from the window and the Duke’s difficult blue eyes laughed out of her face.
What happens from here is complicated, routinely unexpected, and, depending on your perspective, either miraculous or mendacious. The Duke, whose name is Jude, settles into life at the Manor with Kit, her hazy mother, her beta brother, and their one servant Liza. Jude manipulates everyone–only Kit knows he’s a man–into living the lives he sees for them. In the time that the Duke takes over the Manor everyone changes, everything changes. Jude controls everyone but Kit. And it is that relationship with its every shifting power structure that makes this novel so extraordinary.
Let me say I don’t give a damn about this book’s sexual politics. Or rather I don’t give a damn about whether Untamed does justice to non-heteronormative lifestyles. It’s not that I don’t care about the cultural conundrums we ineptly struggle with as we try to define what it means to be a man, a woman, a person in 2013. But when I was reading this book, I was transported. It simply didn’t occur to me to analyze and parse. I just wanted to read.
The majority of this book details the time Jude and Kit spend living together at the Manor. Jude is a volatile chimera, shifting from entrancing to almost evil. Kit is, like so many of my favorite women in fiction, often unlikable. Their relationship is in every aspect–emotional, sexual, and social–constantly mutating. As I turned the pages, steadfastly ignoring the responsibilities of my life, I was, over and over again, surprised but never discomfited by their behavior. Together they are fascinating, sensual, and, in the way that great story-telling often is, fabulously unlikely.
The final chapters of Untamed don’t match the brilliance of the rest of the book. When Kit and Jude return to London–Jude is facing social and financial destruction, all of which has been engineered by a very pissed-off Lady Marmotte–the story falters. Kit and Jude become unlikely in ways that don’t work. The society they best is one that even I, who rarely cares about historical accuracy, found jarringly dubious. Had it not been for the deft and moving portrayal of Lydia’s and BenRuin’s relationship, I’d have felt bereft as I finished the novel.
Untamed is flawed. When, days later, I awoke from its spell, I became aware of its missteps. The novel is rather like an improved Icarus, that fabled dreamer whom Kit invokes near the end of the book’s, a literary “lunatic glory.”
Untamed falls short of its ambitions. But even as I contemplate its failings, I’m ready to read it again. It gets B+ from me.
Thank you for re-releasing your novella The Mad Earl’s Bride. I missed it when it was released in 2009 in the anthology Three Weddings and a Kiss. The Mad Earl’s Bride has the tone of my favorites of your books: witty, smart, and sweetly sexy. It even has Bertie Trent in it–as well as, briefly, Dain. I enjoyed it thoroughly.
The book is set in the late 1820′s, a time when misdiagnoses and harmful treatment in medicine were the norm. Even more poorly understood and treated was mental illness. The hero of this story, Dorian Camoy, the Earl of Rawnsley, watched his mother succumb to madness, dying of what was diagnosed as genetic defect in her brain, one that could be neither detected nor cured. Her symptoms were these:
She heard voices, … and saw things that weren’t there, and screamed of ghosts and cruel talons ripping into her skull.
Several years later, when Dorian is 27, he begins to suffer from the same malady. The symptoms worsen and, within a year, he is sure he too will descend into insanity and perish.
He’d suspected, early on, that the illness, like his mother’s years earlier, had simply been the beginning of the end.
In January, when the headaches began, his suspicions were confirmed. As the weeks passed, the attacks grew increasingly vicious, as hers had done.
The night before last, he’d wanted to bash his head against the wall.
. . . pain . . . tearing at my skull . . . couldn’t see straight . . . couldn’t think.
He understood now, fully, what his mother had meant. Even so, he would have borne the pain, would not have sent for Kneebones yesterday morning, if not for the shimmering wraith he’d seen. Then Dorian had realized something must be done—before the faint visual illusions blossomed into full-blown phantasms, as they had for his mother, and drove him to violence, as they had done her.
I suspect many readers will quickly guess what afflicts the Camoys. In fact, that’s part of the fun of the story, turning the pages and wondering when will Dorian learn why he won’t die? We know he can’t die because he has to live happily ever after with Gwendolyn Adams, the young woman his family insists he marry so that he may beget an heir before his awful death.
Gwendolyn is fabulous.
Like Dorian, Gwendolyn was born in the wrong era of medicine. In her case, it’s because she desperately longs to be a physician. She’s learned everything society will allow her to; she’s even attended a cadaver dissection at a time when legal cadavers were very difficult to come by. Gwen’s uncle, the duc d’Abonville (the fiancé of Gwendolyn’s and Jessica’s grandmother, Genevieve) who is the nearest male kin to Dorian, has asked Gwen to be Dorian’s bride. She agrees to the deal because, as she explains to Dorian when the first meet,
“I do need the money, to build a hospital,” she said. “I have definite ideas about how it should be constructed as well as the principles according to which it must be run. In order to achieve my goals—without negotiation or compromise—I require not only substantial funds, but influence. As Countess of Rawnsley, I should have both. As your widow, I should be able to act independently. Since you are the last of the males of your family, I should have to answer to no one.”
After arguing against the match but finding himself outflanked by Gwendolyn and Dorian’s closest friend from school, Bertie Trent, Dorian marries Gwen. (The fact that he’s been celibate for the past year is also an inducement.)
Once Gwen is ensconced in Dorian’s home, she sets about first convincing him to talk to her about his illness and then researching its possible genesis. She also treats Dorian as a sane and smart man who just happens to make her swoon. Dorian, now that he has mental, emotional, and physical succor in his life, slowly falls for his wife. Their relationship is lovely.
Though this is a short piece, just 158 pages, Ms. Chase tells a complete story. Her characters have time to develop from total strangers to enamored spouses. The medical aspect of the plot is accurately and richly mined as well. It’s a rare novella that doesn’t feel too brief but The Mad Earl’s Bride does not. I recommend it highly. It gets an A.
Typical Stuart. I liked the secondary romance best. Love Tony and Ellen. Thought the resolution with the long lost brother was odd. Will they really n...moreTypical Stuart. I liked the secondary romance best. Love Tony and Ellen. Thought the resolution with the long lost brother was odd. Will they really never see each other again?(less)