This is just a personal feeling for me, that at this time, after finishing it, I don't particularly care for it. We haven't studied it yet in my Germa...moreThis is just a personal feeling for me, that at this time, after finishing it, I don't particularly care for it. We haven't studied it yet in my German lit class for which it's assigned, so with some context, my opinion might change.(less)
I so hesitate in rating classic literature because obviously, this guy is still around for a reason. But I'm not a fan. However, the play, The Broken...moreI so hesitate in rating classic literature because obviously, this guy is still around for a reason. But I'm not a fan. However, the play, The Broken Jug is fun. It saves the collection. His subjects are fine, his plots intriguing, but I don't enjoy the execution.(less)
It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to rate Stephanie Laurens at a full 5 stars, though her last three novels were at 4.5. Her stories are alwa...moreIt’s been a long time since I’ve been able to rate Stephanie Laurens at a full 5 stars, though her last three novels were at 4.5. Her stories are always solid and exciting, well-plotted and fun to read, but occasionally, I was frustrated because her characters remained the same. She seemed to be varying that with the Cynster sisters trilogy, and with The Lady Risks All she steps out of her mold with her leads. Miranda Clifford and Roscoe Neville have shades of similarity, but have qualities that set them apart and put this novel a cut above the rest. Bravo, Ms. Laurens, you’ve got me firmly back in your camp.
The Lady Risks All begins with the back story of how Lord Julian Delbraith became Roscoe Neville, the king of the gambling underworld–he sacrificed his comfortable life to save his family after his brother ruined the duchy and killed himself. He runs his life family and seeks to control everything in his purview to detriment of himself. When the story begins properly, he is facing the wedding of his last sister, the fact that his nephew is almost grown and the estate has righted itself–he has no one left to protect. He is very nearly alone.
Miranda Clifford is not like Stephanie Laurens’ usual heroines. She is quiet, wedded to respectability–on the verge of accepting an offer to marry a man she isn’t sure she likes because she is twenty-nine and will likely not have another one. She has been raised in fear of stepping of out line because there is a taint of trade in her past. She, too, looks to protect her younger sibling, and is very nearly at the end of her responsibilities as Roderick is twenty-three and ready to set out on her own.
The story sets out when Roderick, a member of Roscoe’s Philanthropy Guild, is kidnapped off the street one night. This leads Miranda to throw off the cloak of responsibility and approach Roscoe for help in locating him. They are attracting to one another because they sense each value family and loyalty–and both are about to be very alone in the world. But Roscoe knows that as a gambling king, he’s not appropriate for Miranda.
Laurens takes the reader on a trip through England as Miranda and Roscoe track Roderick’s kidnappers and attempt to rescue them, and Miranda convinces Roscoe to take a chance on their relationship. It’s really a fun, involving and wonderful read. For once, Miranda pursues Roscoe–and it’s not the hero pursuing the heroine as it so often is in Laurens’ novels. (With the exception of the Elusive Bride, but I really didn’t like Emily much in that. The leads decided too early they were in love.)
Stephanie Laurens has always been enjoyable, and though I truly enjoyed all the Cynster sisters trilogy, there was something about this book that put it a cut above the rest. Her books are good for 4 stars, the last three were 4.5. This one? Five stars all the year. Brilliant move, can’t wait to see what she has up her sleeve next. (less)
I waited a long time to write my review for this book, after I think the book has been released. Donna Fletcher is an odd author for me. I've read all...moreI waited a long time to write my review for this book, after I think the book has been released. Donna Fletcher is an odd author for me. I've read all her books and genuinely enjoy them, but I would never put her on a list of authors who are excellent, who write quality fiction. I approach her books expecting a lot less from her than I do other authors in the same genre like Julia Quinn or Courtney Milan. Because I don't expect much, until now I have been sincerely entertained. Her Sinclaire series was fun, and until this last entry, I thought her Warrior King series was her best work. But the final entry, tpbhe last one for the series, leaves me cold inside and I wanted to stop, give the book some breathing room and reread.
The problem with the book lies not with Ms. Fletcher's writing ability. It's fine, it's at the same level it's always been. It's the story itself. It's not good. It's neither well-thought nor well-paced. The two leads, Trey and Bliss, are married in the first few pages and instead of creating tension and suspense as how they will deal with their situation and get to the point of the book--which is the ending of the long journey to reveal the new king of Scotland. When do we find out who he is, how does it end?
I hope other reader have a lot of patience. The true identity of the king and the final battle take place within a matter of pages. The entire book is Trey following Bliss around healing random people they find on their journey back to the keep. That's it. That's the entire book. Trey and Bliss decide pretty soon that this marriage is a good idea, there's no anticipation for Trey seeing ex-love, who betrayed him, because the reader knows ahead of a time these two are married and want to stay that way. And when that meeting does happen -- he's not torn between them. It's just understood how it will unfold. This book bored me senseless. Nothing about the leads or the story made me want to read to the end. I kept going because I wanted to know who the king was. If I'd known it would be revealed in the final pages, I would have skipped ahead. You lose nothing as a reader by skipping straight from about Chapter 5 to the end. Because nothing happens.
It's a meandering journey with no point with two characters who provide nothing for me to care about. In a romance novel, I know they're going to end up together. I want to see the journey. I want to watch them fall in love. I was cheated of the experience in this novel. They were not only basically in love from the first day, but there was nothing for them even to battle. No outside conflict beyond Bliss's medical exertions. It's as if Ms. Fletcher couldn't figure out what to do with the characters once they reached the keep, so she kept throwing obstacles in their way. Frustrating on every level.
Thanks to Avon and Edelweiss for the ARC. I'm only sorry it was a disappointing experience. (less)
There is a lot about this book, and this series in particular that I like, but I’m beginning to find that the same frustations I’ve had with the last...moreThere is a lot about this book, and this series in particular that I like, but I’m beginning to find that the same frustations I’ve had with the last several Cathy Maxwell books are repeated here. So let me start from the beginning: The Scottish Witch is the second book in the Chattan Curse series. It has a fabulous and intriguing premise: The Chattan line has been cursed for centuries because their ancestor hand fasted to the daughter of Fenella, and then abandoned her for a wealthy English heiress. Fenella cursed the Chattan men that once they have married and fallen in love, and ensured the continuation of their line with an heir, they die. For centuries, this has proved to be true up to and including the last Earl of Lyon, who died after a second marriage to an opera dancer.
Neal’s story in Lyon’s Bride was so-so, and I wasn’t entirely fond of that book either. This one is better, because it has the one character that I really liked — Harry. He’s introduced as a former military officer, who had glorious victories but many casualties. The weight of which are on his mind, causing an addiction to opium and alcohol. The problem with The Scottish Witch is that all the development for Harry’s character is in the first book, which really short changed first-time readers. The scene at the end of Lyon’s Bride in which Harry kicks his habit should have been reprinted or in the second book altogether. He faced a huge daunting task to kick his addiction, and a reader who’d never read the first book has no way of knowing, other than Maxwell offering some brief references to it. He never tells Portia the extent of his proble — and in the beginning of the book, Harry is determined to return to his former life after finding the witch Fenella and saving his brother’s life. So I’m supposed to believe he meets Portia and all is well? Maxwell cheats the reader on a wonderful character. An entire star is lost here.
Portioa, on the other hand, is a wonderful character with a lot of complexity whom I found vastly entertaining. She’s fiercely devoted to her family and keeping them solvent, which leads her to pose as Fenella so her family can pay the rent. My problem with Portia is that the consummation scene feels wrong. She’s not much of an active participant and it bordered on…not force exactly, but she was never quite swept away. She later becomes Harry’s mistress without ever asking him for more and never asking him to clarify his position with her. That felt wrong for me. Portia becomes passive once she hooks up with Harry.
And my final problem with this story is the same frustrating one I had in the last book, and several others: There’s too much telling. Maxwell glosses over entire events, does little to develop the character’s relationship once they’re actually together. Harry only offers for Portia’s hand once they’re caught together. This book felt underdeveloped, like it was missing huge chunks. It doesn’t feel complete.
Maxwell is still an engaging writer, and I enjoyed the first half of the novel quite well, until the leads came together and began their affair. After that, it’s a slow slide into annoying without much payoff. I’ll finish the trilogy to see how it turns out, but I’m not entirely satisfied because I’ve read all of her books. I know she can do better. She has. (less)
A successful entry in any series has to do a number of things. It has to hold up the theme of the series, introduce elements (e.g. characters, plot, s...moreA successful entry in any series has to do a number of things. It has to hold up the theme of the series, introduce elements (e.g. characters, plot, settings) from the previous books to satisfy previous readers) while not alienating new readers. It has to have a standalone story. If it’s not the finale of the series, it has to introduce characters or plot threads that will keep readers intrigued enough to pick up the next book. And if it is the finale, it has to satisfy everyone.
Gaelen Foley’s My Scandalous Viscount does all the things a successful series is supposed to do. Foley has been teasing the story of Carissa Portland and Sebastian Walker, Viscount Beauchamp, for some time, and for the most part, I walked away satisfied. The action begins immediately–Carissa and Beau are swept up in a comprising situation that will force them to marry, Beau learns the fate of his team, lost months earlier in the Loire Valley all on the same night. Beau is dealing with the Home Office investigation begun in a previous book, an interesting time for him to tackle marriage to a “lady of information” as Carissa terms herself.
I was a quarter of the way through the book before I realized it was happening somewhat simultaneously as the events in My Ruthless Prince, the previous book. I would have been a lot happier had the chronology been clear from the start. I was also not that thrilled with the immediate change in the relationship between Carissa and Beau after the wedding. They had been somewhat antagonistic (though always flirtatious) but after the ceremony, that switched off immediately. I thought that rang false.
However, those are two small details in an otherwise, extremely satisfying book. Carissa and Beau had well-written back stories that worked well with their characters–Carissa keeping track of gossip and wanting to be accepted, Beau’s libertine ways made sense. Their relationship, after that initial stumbling block, worked. That Beau would want to protect her, that Carissa would want to help and risk their relationship to do it, was well-done. The actual story–the Home Office investigation and the setup of Beau’s team was intriguing and set up the next part of the series.
Foley writes to the reader at the end of the book that she intended this one to serve as a bridge to the next part of the series. I think that she has. I’m, at the very least, interested in reading more. Which makes this very successful indeed. If you’ve never read the first four books in the series, I recommend them. They’re all vastly entertaining, and this one is whipped cream on top. If not for the small stumbles, I would have happily rated it five stars.
Thanks so much to Edelweiss and Avon for this ARC!(less)
I love Julie Garwood. She was one of the first romance writers that I read and after reading Saving Grace, I went out and stocked up on Garwoods because that book was beautiful. Unfortunately, she was branching out into her contemporary market by then and they just aren't as strong, and honestly, they've been getting worse with each one, culminating with this.
Her heroines are always perilously close to Mary Sue territory, and her heroes are usually the same--gruff teddy bears whose barks are worse than their bite. But the plots are good and she's a meticulous researcher. When she tackles a historical period (for the most part) the details are good and her one saving grace (heh) is that there are elements to this novel that kept from outright putridness.
Ellie is too perfect for my tastes -- she's absolutely gorgeous, incredibly smart, and the perennial victim. She had a bad stalker from the age of eleven and then becomes the target of a criminal duo, who aim to eliminate her as a witness. It's exhausting to read Ellie. Garwood makes her absolutely perfect and then makes her sisters vastly one-dimensional. Annie is sweet and Ava is mean. (Seriously mean and selfish, she makes *my* sister look like Mother Teresa) Ava has no redeeming quality for most of the book and then out of nowhere, for one brief page, she helps Ellie out with her wardrobe and but the entire novel, she insists Ellie be in the wedding when Ava is marrying Ellie's former fiance. Holy crap. Like said -- EVERYTHING happens to Ellie and it's just too much.
So before I'm even out of the starting gate, I don't identify with this absolutely incredibly gorgeous heroine, who by the way is so smart and is the best trauma surgeon EVER. Oh my goodness.
And then you meet Max, the alleged hero. I think Garwood is going for the gruff teddy bear. She achieves asshole whose entire redeeming quality is his knack for showing up to save the day. He's uncommunicative to the point that he takes an entire plane flight between SC and MO without explaining to Ellie that he's not going to be able to contact her for a while because he's going undercover. He just drops her off after the flight and heads to HI. And it might be because he wasn't sure he loved her. In fact, he's denying it until the last pages and then tells Ellie they're getting married after this absolute asshole-ness.
I didn't buy they were in love, but I could see where Max's alpha male-ness could be hot, so yeah, physically I get it. I just don't see the love. My biggest pet peeve in romance is an author trying to sell me forever after when all I see is physical attraction and then telling me in they're in love. Show me. Don't tell me.
So what saves this book? The stalker story is engaging. I mostly like Ellie's parents, there's some depth there. Garwood's attention to detail is, as usual, impeccable. I'm just left feeling...slightly unsatisfied. I hope Garwood returns to historical novels and allows for some variations in her female and male characters. It's just too much of the same and it breaks my heart, because Saving Grace is an absolute sentimental memory for me and the book still holds up on a reread. (Ransom and The Bride are also wonderful).
I love you, Julie Garwood, but you're testing that devotion.(less)