This book is so much better than the cover and plot summary led me to believe. I have been taking an indefinite hiatus from historical novels for theThis book is so much better than the cover and plot summary led me to believe. I have been taking an indefinite hiatus from historical novels for the better part of this year because I became very burned out on them, especially Regencies. I have a feeling when I read many historical romances that the characters are not really in the past- they are modern actors wearing old fashioned costumes for a play. I also really, really hate the historical fiction trope of women being "ruined" after losing their virginity, which may be historically accurate but is also disgusting. I really have no interest in reading books where characters of either gender are shamed for their sexual behavior.
One thing that I miss in historicals, however, especially older historicals or those by authors like Kinsale that have been doing this for a long time and really know their game, is the epic sweep of the stories. A quality historical romance will make you feel like you are witnessing moments in history where the world changed. The setting to this story is lush, beautiful and completely unique. Unlike books where the setting is merely window dressing, the Renaissance court intrigues are essential in driving the plot and explaining the characters motivations. They are people of the past informed by geography, religion, ancient feuds and blood ties.
This book is also amazing and unique to me because Elena started the story out as a powerless teenager and was able to use her sexual power to gain political power and strength in other areas of her life. I don't think I have ever read a book with sex scenes like these. They are nothing terribly kinky, but unlike many books where the heroine ends up protected in a bedroom as a housewife Elena is really able to take charge. I love that she is able to dominate instead of being subdued, and to turn the tables and become a Queen rather than a captive.
Four stars rather than five because the book really does drag at the end, and could have been 100 pages shorter in my opinion. This would still make it much longer than a standard romance novel. I haven't even mentioned how amazingly sexy Allegretto is, so I will let it go without being said. He was an amazing character and I will probably read the other book in the series on the strength of how amazing he was alone!...more
I am kind of at a loss on how to rate this book, because it was a very cute book, but not at all what I was expecting.
For anyone who thought that beiI am kind of at a loss on how to rate this book, because it was a very cute book, but not at all what I was expecting.
For anyone who thought that being kidnapped by a guy named Darth would be a gritty and rapey experience, you should be forewarned that he is pretty much the nicest kidnapper in the world. I feel like he didn't really seriously entertain the idea of actually keeping Arabella as a slave for more than a couple hours. He is also the only man in the world who rapes a chick by going down on her. I mean, it was hot, but I wanted to tell him "you're doing it wrong!" If you are going to be kidnapped, be lucky that you end up with this guy, and not say the guy from Owned and Owner or The Wolf and the Dove. What can I say, I am a super huge fan of kidnapped heroine books and this one didn't really do it for me. She got tied up for like 10 minutes, spanked once, and pretty much the meanest thing that happened was that she was forced to wear a frilly nightgown.
Anyways, Arabella was also kind of TSTL in parts for me, and if she had just let him know what was going on this book would have been like 3 pages long, and it is already really short! It should also go without saying that the historical authenticity of this book makes Julia Quinn look like a dry academic of the regency era.
Also, this book has an assload of hilarious previews at the end- I got a huge kick out of reading some of them out loud to my husband. On the Nook edition I have, nearly the last 30 pages is previews- I thought that was kind of a lot for a book of this length....more
This book was very sweet and very cute, and made me LOL more than a few times, especially about the name Terrence Fish.
I actually enjoyed the beginniThis book was very sweet and very cute, and made me LOL more than a few times, especially about the name Terrence Fish.
I actually enjoyed the beginning of the book when they were wandering around the countryside stuck in their underwear having misadventures than I did the second act. The parts with the naughty book were especially hilarious- I nearly fell out of my chair when the author's note said that it was a real work from the period. Once Tarquin's amnesia cleared up,however, I didn't think that he was nearly as much fun, and the country house part portion of the book was much more of a standard regency, although a very well done one.
Also, I feel that only in Romancelandia where every man is big hearted knight on a white horse would a man like Tarquin have married Celia. In the real world, I kept getting a sinking feeling that a man who was sexually attracted to a young powerless girl all alone in the world who owned nothing but her underwear... man, I feel like Celia lucked out that she is a character in a romance novel. Being his Mistress is probably the best case scenario for the real world. I have no idea why it is easy for me to suspend disbelief for things like "a whole bunch of vampires live in Caldwell NY" but "a rich handsome person would want to marry a poor average looking person" is a bridge to far for me in many cases. That probably says more about me than the book though. ...more
For some reason, there are loads of reviews for this book that mention finding it in a thrift story, and oddly enough, this is exactly how I encounterFor some reason, there are loads of reviews for this book that mention finding it in a thrift story, and oddly enough, this is exactly how I encountered it.
The good- this is a historical with a unique setting- the English civil war. Those of you, like me, who were indifferent students may want to brush up on your history because this book incorporated actual historical events more than many novels. Or maybe it is all bullshit, I didn't fact check it on wikipedia or anything.
The Plot- Sassy bastard poor relation Portia is accidentally kidnapped by Rufus Decatur, who as far as I could tell was some sort of Robin Hood-esque outlaw who lived in the forest. He suggests that she become his mistress, but rather than do that she decides to become his mistress while at the same time dressing up in men's clothing, learning to fight and joining the army. A whole bunch of crazy shit happens and he gets made a lord or something at the end. Who knows, I read this book two days ago and already mostly don't remember.
The ugly- Both the hero and the heroine are gingers, and there is a lot of talking about red chest hair during the sex scenes. If you are into that, this would be a perfect book for you. The hero is also named Rufus Decatur, possibly the least sexy name any romance hero has ever had. ...more
Low rating due glacial pacing and the third act plot twist that was preposterous even by the standards of romance novels. I will keep reading Balogh bLow rating due glacial pacing and the third act plot twist that was preposterous even by the standards of romance novels. I will keep reading Balogh books, but I am not in a hurry to read any of the others from this series. ...more
I only gave this book three stars, but It is really closer to a 3.5 for me. Darn goodreads and their no half stars.
One thing that I love about Mary BI only gave this book three stars, but It is really closer to a 3.5 for me. Darn goodreads and their no half stars.
One thing that I love about Mary Balogh books in general and this book in particular is that the Regency period comes to life. When reading newer books by Julia Quinn or Stephanie Laurens, it can seem like the past is a blur of balls and parties and walks in the park. Mary Balogh never lets you forget that the class divide is ugly and that history has some gritty parts as well. Many reviewers here have mentioned the first sex scene and wow! it’s a doozy. However, I really liked it and I thought that the roughness worked well within the confines of the story. That being said, if you like picture perfect heroes and romantic sex, it may not work for you.
The reason that I have this book rated lower is that the class divided marriage of convenience and the charming Christmas story didn't mesh as well together as I might have hoped. Perhaps this is because I am a Grinchy jerk incapable of appreciating Christmas.
I also wanted to point out that when I bought the book, I didn't realize that it was a reissue, and I don't have the charming cover pictured with the review. This book is really super short compared to modern romances but my paperback was padded out enough that this wasn't immediately apparent. I didn't feel that the story was lacking for its length, but I was very surprised when I figured it out....more
Holy cow! I had high expectations for this book based on the reviews, and they were totally exceeded.
This book isn't terribly steamy by the standardsHoly cow! I had high expectations for this book based on the reviews, and they were totally exceeded.
This book isn't terribly steamy by the standards of many romance novels, but it is probably the sexiest and most seductive I have read. If you like books with young, innocent heroines and dangerous older men, this is amongst the best the genre has to offer. I can imagine myself rereading this book many times in years to come! ...more
For me, this book is probably close to a 2.75, but I can't bring myself to add the extra star for now.
I wanted to love this book because of the fastFor me, this book is probably close to a 2.75, but I can't bring myself to add the extra star for now.
I wanted to love this book because of the fast paced plotting, but the thinly drawn characters didn't apeal to me and I wished I had a better sense of Cin and Michael falling in love. The book also contained many anachronisms even by the standards of regency romances. I would say that there is a lot to like, but the total package didn't appeal to me the way I hoped it would after reading some of the four star reviews....more