Perhaps once in a lifetime (or a million times in a lifetime if you're BAVR), you will read a book that is EVERYTHINGWarning: Spoilers and GIFs ahead.
Perhaps once in a lifetime (or a million times in a lifetime if you're BAVR), you will read a book that is EVERYTHING it shouldn't be and still keeps you invested. It will be a hot mess of craziness and frustration, yet you will cherish it, not in spite of its faults but BECAUSE of them. And once you are finished reading and give it 4 stars on Goodreads, you will think, "I can't think of one person I would recommend this to, but fuck it, I REGRET NOTHING."
Her Norman Conqueror is that book.
It's funny. Genuinely funny. The comedy may be unintentional, but don't pretend it wouldn't make you LOL when dumb as rocks moo Aleene takes a husband she thinks is "simple and mute" and tries to make a baby with him.
"We must make a babe, my lord. You must touch my breast, become hard and go inside me."
Cyne choked, then coughed, then seemed to do both at once.
Aleene quickly let go of his hand and patted his back. "Are you all right? Did you still have food in your mouth?"
To love or not to love?
Yeah, I'm going with LOVE.
THE STORY: Her Norman Conqueror takes place in the 11th century before, during, and after William the Conqueror's arrival in England. Aleene, our heroine, owns the fancifully named Seabreeze Castle ("SEABREEEEEZZZEE! <-- This is for Sarah.) and is desperate to save it from falling into the hands of her lecherous step-brother, Aethregard, through their impending marriage. Despite being ordered by King Harold and her now deceased rapey step-father, Aleene refuses to be conquered by ANY man. So she does the practical thing and marries some stranger who was arrested in her woods for poaching. The poacher has no name because he doesn't fucking talk, and she just assumes that he's a boy living in a man's body. Aleene dubs him Lord Cynewulf (Cyne for short) and decides that they must make babies to save Seabreeze before the king or Aethregard can return and order the marriage annulled.
But things, as in all great stories, are not what they appear. After a chapter of reading, it's clear that Cyne is not a mute poacher who doesn't know any better than to let the weird lady try to teach him to eat and wash his hands, but Aleene doesn't know that. And Cyne trolls the fuck out of her because of it. There are scenes and scenes of Aleene dragging him around the castle like a pet, reminding him to swallow his food and mind his manners, and Cyne is just snooping into everything.
At one point, she takes him to the steward's office, and the scene basically goes like this:
ALEENE: OMG, look at Cyne holding that book! Isn't he adorbs? CYNE: *holds book upside down and smiles vacantly* STEWARD: Should he really be touching that? ALEENE: Don't be ridiculous. (Whispers) He can't read. CYNE: *drops a book containing top secrets and takes ten minutes to gather it up* ALEENE: Cyne, my handsome, golden, beautiful boy, I hope you remembered to wipe the boar grease off of your hands after lunch.
I'm not saying that Aleene is stupid.
Okay, I'm totally saying that Aleene is stupid.
She makes it incredibly easy for Cyne to betray her. In turn, it's kind of hard to feel sorry for her when it's revealed that Cyne can talk, and he's a Norman spy named Robert. But the love they shared, he insists, was totally real.
Unfortunately, because Robert has taken possession of Aleene's castle through their marriage and pretty much turned her into an unwitting traitor to her king and country, his overtures go over about as well as a porno in church. BECAUSE ALEENE WILL NOT TOLERATE NORMAN SCUM IN HER BED. SHE WON'T SHE WON'T SHE WON'T. And thus begins the kind of love story I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy.
THE CHARACTERS: Aleene Okay, so I'll admit that Aleene has problems. Her father was a Spaniard, so she thinks everyone hates her because of her dark features, and her step-father molested her for years right under her mom's nose. Now she finally has Seabreeze Castle, but no one likes her, and that might be something she could fix if she didn't walk around with a giant chip on her shoulder and do stupid things. For entertainment value alone, though, Aleene is a fucking goldmine.
When she tries to consummate her marriage with an unconscious Cyne on their wedding night: With a violent shudder, Aleene turned her husband's hand toward her, spreading the long fingers wide and fitting the palm over the mound of her breast. Closing her eyes, she let go of his hand.
It flopped back to his side.
When she starts to enjoy foreplay but suddenly freaks out at the thought of sex: A cry of sheer agony pierced her ears, and she realized it came from her.
When she murders innocent flowers for - I don't know - being a sweet gesture from Cyne and fucking up her malaise? With a wrenching cry, she crushed the flower in her hand, threw it to the ground, and turned, running from the garden and Cyne.
When she sees Cyne's method of getting messages back to William in Normandy and thinks it's just adorbs: Aleene sighed and followed his gaze to see a pigeon swoop down, circle over their heads, then head across the cliffs and out to sea. Aleene stared at it, puzzled. "Where on earth does that bird think it is going, France?"
When she learns of Robert's betrayal and becomes the most vicious thorn in his side ever: All thoughts of sensual bliss left his mind immediately with the pain that sliced through his tongue when her teeth clamped down.
Aleene lives on her outrage, but the best part about it is that she makes all of the bad stuff happen in the first place. Robert barely had to do anything when he was just scouting out the land. She basically abducts him and forces him to marry her. IT ISN'T EVEN PART OF HIS PLAN. And she's so bull-headed that she won't allow herself (or anyone else) to be happy because she's ashamed of the part she plays in William the Conqueror's victory. She fucks Robert before he goes off to battle, prays for him during the fighting, and then decides that she HATES EVERYTHING when Harold is killed by William because she prayed for Robert instead of her king. Aleene is the closest a character has come to becoming a Johanna Lindsey heroine without actually being a Johanna Lindsey heroine.
And she totally acts like Alan Rickman as the Sheriff of Nottingham on her wedding day.
Which is basically perfection.
Cyne/Robert After conning the daylights out of his wife, Robert's first word is "Aleene!" As history's first troll, Cyne is the book's MVP. That sneaky, silent bastard means the world to me. Robert has the patience of a saint later on in the story. Aleene lashes out at him constantly, and he takes it like a champ even though he KNOWS that the woman is 100% the worst. At one point, Aleene is running off to tattle on her husband to King Harold, and Robert worries for a little while about her getting raped and murdered by wandering men if she goes without him like she insists. After being abused by her for a chapter or so, he thinks the truest thing in the entire book:
No man would have the patience to stick around and keep trying to do anything to such a shrew.
If I ran into Aleene in the wild, I would most definitely run the other way. I'm not a glutton for punishment.
According to Aleene's numerous internal monologues about Cyne/Robert's looks, he's incredibly handsome. Just the most beautiful, long golden-haired, blue-eyed piece of meat since the last Fabio cover. Despite trying to imagine Cyne/Robert as someone, anyone else (because he's the best, and I wanted him to LOOK the best), my mind will only think of him like this:
Fucking John Smith was my least favorite Disney hero, damn it. Thanks for screwing that up with your 40 billion description, Aleene.
THE SEX: Once Aleene stops freaking out and curling up in the fetal position every time she thinks about Robert's peen in her vag, they have typical HR sex. The first attempted love scene would probably be attempted marital rape if I didn't have the feeling Cyne/Robert was awake the whole time and having all the LOLZ about it.
THE WRITING: Any author who manages to smush fucking Aleene together with Cyne/Robert in a happy ending deserves BAVR's accolades. The prose is really purple at points, but I ignored that because I was entertained.
In short, don't read Her Norman Conqueror because you want to read something excellent. Read it because you want to witness history's first troll and the heroine who makes loving her a Herculean feat. Some treasures aren't at all what you think they should be.
"Her Norman Conqueror" is a part of my Care-Package-Ageddon series of book reviews in gratitude to my GR friend Karla for sending me a GIANT BOX O'BOOKS. She said I "might" like some of them. o_O...more
Swear to Christ this bitch needs to calm her tits. - AXEL!
Those are my fucking tits and she is my fucking girl. - AXEL!
Are you in love yet? AXEL! sure tSwear to Christ this bitch needs to calm her tits. - AXEL!
Those are my fucking tits and she is my fucking girl. - AXEL!
Are you in love yet? AXEL! sure takes heroics to a new level of caveman, doesn't he?
Beware of the New Alpha, romance readers!
He's hot, ripped, and hung like a horse. His dick slices through granite and punches ten sharks. He likes a girl with a vagina that can gush like a geyser and HATES any man who dares look sideways at her. His sperm are like ninjas that make dragon babies. He may speak like a child but fucks like 8 porn stars. The New Alpha makes good girls fantasize about douchebags. Who needs good characterization when - blah, blah, blah - 12 pack?
"If you call me Holt one more fucking time I'm bending you over my knees, yeah?" - AXEL!
Take me now, baby.
Hey, I get it. Some girls like this kind of guy. I don't, but then again, I dislike a lot of things that other people like - butterflies and tacos and bubblegum and Nickleback. People are horrendously awesome in their petty differences. AXEL! did not make me "wet," as the heroine Izzy frequently asserts. He's brutish, domineering, vapid, and rarely uses subjects in his sentences.
"Thought I could get you here and enjoy some dinner without having to be inside your wet heat."
"Dreamed of this for so fucking long, Izzy."
"It will be over before it begins baby, just have to cool off...want you so fucking bad."
"Feel so good...so wet, so hot." - AXEL!
I could do this all day. Basically, if I dated AXEL!, I would have to wear earmuffs to avoid hearing his stupid voice saying stupid things. But whatever. He's just one character. Let's give the others a chance.
Izzy, the heroine, is a hot fucking mess. Her tragic backstory is so heavy-handed that the entire book is about people, like, holding Izzy like an infant and defending her honor or whatever. She's flanked by a group of burly ex-Marines who call her "baby girl" and coddle her like a speshul snowflake.
Here's a spoilery list from Izzy's Tragedy Factory: (view spoiler)[Teenage boyfriend AXEL! leaves for the military. Both of Izzy's parents die in a car accident. Finds out she's pregnant with AXEL!'s baby. Thinks AXEL! is dead. Loses baby. Both grandparents die, leaving her with no family. Marries an abusive asshat. Abusive asshat nearly beats her to death. She ends up with fucking AXEL! D: (hide spoiler)]
It's a new trend to give a heroine the shittiest life imaginable to create tension or something. In my reading experience, this trend always fails. The character ends up being more a list of the awful things that happened to her rather than a living, breathing person. It's clear that Izzy's broken. She's so broken that she drinks excessively and only finds comfort when a big macho man is protecting her. Aside from that, Izzy is ... nothing. She's a blank slate, a glove for AXEL!'s penis, a vessel for the reader to jump in and fantasize about hooking up with a sexy guy. And who can blame her for being less interesting than sandpaper when she has tons of men to make her decisions for her? She's everyone's "girl," after all, and AXEL! calls her "mine" at a frequency that makes him look more selfish than the world's brattiest toddler.
AXEL! is a poorly formed character as well. He's so outrageously pig-headed and ALPHA SAY RAWR that there is nothing left but a laughably ridiculous cliche. All the men in this are like that - thumping their chests and calling Izzy "girl" and probably pissing on things when no one's looking. When the hero of a ROMANCE novel has dialogue that sounds remarkably similar to the abusive ex's dialogue, it's clear that all characterization has been shot to hell and back.
Also, I'm 99.99% positive that the asshat ex is Garfield the Cat:
"What did I fucking say, Isabelle? NO DENISE! No afternoons chatting like little fucking bitches. You are to be here, cleaning my fucking house, cooking my fucking dinner, and spreading your fat fucking thighs for my dick!" He reaches out and grabs a bowl of chili, throwing it with all his strength against the wall. I watch chunks of meat, beans and sauce run down my happy yellow walls. "And what the fuck is this shit? I told you, you fucking bitch, I wanted lasagna! Does this look like lasagna?"
So now we know what happens when Garfield doesn't get his lasagna.
But worst of fucking all is the writing. I don't want to discourage first-time and self-pubbing authors, but let me be brutally honest for a minute. If I pay $3.99 for a BOOK, I expect it to be properly edited. Sadly, Axel does not live up to those simple expectations.
Behold what I like to call TENSE HELL:
My breathing slowly returns to normal and I felt like I am able to speak.
Quivers of arousal shoot through my body and if it hadn't been for his strong arm around me, I melt right here on his driveway.
WITHIN SENTENCES. The tense changes WITHIN the sentences.
Little did I know, the last time I look into these eyes would be when he turns around to wave while walking up the steps to the bus, the bus taking my heart with it.
I'll stop at three examples, which is fucking enough for my nerves at the moment. It happens constantly, though - switching tenses, abused commas, and funny errors.
This is when Izzy thinks like a pirate:
Coop laughs and scoops me up into a big hug and kisses me cheek earning a deep growl in warning from Axel.
And then this happens:
You can't see the lights yet but the torches are lit and the rose pedals against the green grass make it look like there is a blanket of pink and red.
Those are some really fancy pedals.
As for the sex ...
"Thought I could get you here and enjoy some dinner without having to be inside your wet heat. Fuck baby, I can smell you from here. I bet your pussy is soaked, fucking sopping wet and ready for me."
SERIOUSLY. THIS IS NOT NORMAL. SHE NEEDS TO SEE A GYNECOLOGIST YESTERDAY! D:
Oh, and for the record, the apparently badass "Corps Security" crew of AXEL! and his friends sucks at its job. I wouldn't trust them to protect my garden lilies from hungry rabbits. (view spoiler)[The abusive ex manages to beat the hell out of Izzy TWICE while she's supposedly under the "care" of Corps Security. Really, the only "tough" thing they do is stand around and growl at each other. (hide spoiler)] Fuck those guys. I'll take my chances without the douche brigade.
I won't be reading any other books in this series, no matter how tempting it is to read about AXEL!'s meathead friends bossing people around and calling grown women "baby girl." BAVR likes a fun challenge, but I'll be damned before I pay another dollar for a book that can't decide what tense to use.
Ah, but why so serious? I'll leave you with some sage wisdom from our dashing title character.
"Princess, that's what happens when shit festers and bitches act like bitches." - AXEL!...more
Twice-jilted stick-in-the-mud (thrice, if you count her dearly departed husband) Grace, CEh, 2.5 stars should do it.
THANKS FOR SENDING THIS, KARLA! :P
Twice-jilted stick-in-the-mud (thrice, if you count her dearly departed husband) Grace, Countess of Sheffield, flees for the countryside because she just has to get away. As with all HR heroines who just have to get away, Grace runs into an obstacle en route to Privacy Paradise and ends up stranded with a stranger. Blacksmith with a mysterious past Michael Ranier happens upon an injured, delirious Grace in a snowstorm and kindly takes her in to tend to her wounds. Within pages, nipples are tightening and arousals are hard to disguise.
Because this is how true love works, guys.
The always prim-and-proper Grace throws caution to the wind and gets some smithey-lovin', but her past returns to haul her back to London in the form of ... the two dudes who jilted her in the previous books? IDK why any of these people are friends. The one, Luc, is totes territorial, too. Michael lets Grace go because he isn't worthy or whatever. But in reality, he totally IS worthy because he's hot and nice and also (view spoiler)[A LONG-LOST EARL! God forbid an Avon character ever marry below their class. (hide spoiler)]
Can Michael and Grace combine their different worlds and convince her ex-fiances to stop worrying about what she does with her vagina?
What follows is textbook, pandering, anti-climactic Avon soup.
Grace is boring. She does one ballsy thing near the end, but because I found her dull, it didn't resonate.
Michael's actually pretty cool when he isn't being STUPID. (view spoiler)[He knows he's an earl. People in London see him and know he's the earl. If anyone can get away with unjustly being accused of murder, it's fucking you, Lord Wallace. (hide spoiler)]
Luc the Duke is overly domineering, frighteningly concerned with the love life of the woman he DIDN'T CHOOSE in another book, and also the most interesting character in the story because he's so batshit. I would read his book, but it would probably make me hate him. So keep being an asshole, Luc the Duke. Represent!
Commas - Nash has a weird relationship with them. What did the commas do to modern authors? At this point, it seems that the writing industry has declared all-out war on the misused little guys.
The love scenes aren't bad. Nash does a fine job of building the emotional connection between Michael and Grace. I also enjoyed their banter, mainly Michael's, because I already mentioned that Grace is as dry as toast. BONUS GOOD THING: No sex in a carriage!
Overall, not bad. Just not particularly great.
"Love with the Perfect Scoundrel" is a part of my Care-Package-Ageddon series of book reviews in gratitude to my GR friend Karla for sending me a GIANT BOX O'BOOKS. She said I "might" like some of them. o_O...more
I think I've reached the bottom of the barrel with this one. Room to Breathe is BAD. Just the worst.**spoiler alert** WARNING: GIFS ahoy and SPOILERS
I think I've reached the bottom of the barrel with this one. Room to Breathe is BAD. Just the worst. It makes fanny packs and the Macarena look amazing in comparison. Worst book I've ever read? Probably. Some things just shouldn't be on sale for people to read. Was this edited? I don't fucking know. It doesn't LOOK edited, but maybe it was EVEN WORSE before the editors got to it.
FOR SALE. For PEOPLE to READ.
Things like this:
The truth is the only thing keeping me from walking out the door right now is the thought of not seeing him every day breaks my heart. It has been such a short amount of time that we have spent together but it has been some of the best times I have had in years. I want him. I want to be his and him to be mine.
It is over all feminine and what I would have expected to find in an English country manor. There is a dressing table and chair opposite the bed. Also a small table and high back chair with a lamp. There is a door, that is closed, that assume leads to a bathroom.
And, fuck my eyes, this:
"Your ass was made for spanking honey," he says as he smacks the other side.
Commas are really funny that way. You see, they have to be used for a lot of sentences to make sense. When they are misused, or not used at all, we all end up with with mental images of people spanking honey with asses. If you didn't have that mental image until I mentioned it, I REGRET NOTHING.
But the story. Holy balls, you guys, THE STORY. It is an incomprehensible mindfuck of epic proportions. The story in Room to Breathe goes from bad to worse and keeps growing like a malignant tumor of SUCK. Reading it from the perspective of a narrator who is so shallow that her brain is an abandoned pool of matter in a wading tub somewhere did not benefit the experience.
Meet Cora Allen! I've affectionately dubbed her Cora Sue, and she's a real peach, this one.
"I pause for just a moment in the door way. "If you change your mind, you know where to find me." I smile over my shoulder and give my ass a smack. I giggle and head out of the room.
She's a little nobody from America, living in England for an undetermined amount of time and depending on the generosity of her English relatives. Cora Sue has no schooling, no ambitions, no friends. Naturally, she's the speshulest little snowflake to ever flutter out of the snowflake factory. When pressed to describe what she really wants to do with her life, Cora Sue squeaks out something generic about "traveling" and helping bring the water to people without water, despite have no experience or knowledge about bringing water to people without water, and that's supposed to make us think Cora Sue is a good person.
SHE IS NOT A GOOD PERSON.
But holy bananas, that woman has some wet panties for the hero.
Meet Lord Eric Ashford! I've affectionately dubbed him Pimp!Jesus. This will make more sense later. He's a real English gentleman.
"Me telling you that I want to 'fuck the hell out of you' isn't vulgar because it is just true. But if I were to say about ninety percent of the things that came out of her mouth in front of you it would just be wrong."
Sexist AND hypocritical. My favorite kind. Pimp!Jesus is described as a an English "Lord" throughout the story. Yes, the "L" is capitalized in the text. No, that is not the correct way to write it, unless it's being used as part of the proper name. Therefore, when Cora talks about "that Lord at the pub" or whatever, I immediately think of Jesus. And boy, did I have a lot of fun with that. So Pimp!Jesus is the lord of something, I guess. He's a member of the House of Lords, so he has to have a title. But nope. Just Lord Eric Ashford. Whether he's an earl or viscount or baron, WE'LL NEVER KNOW.
I read a lot of Regency Romance. That omission drove me BATTY.
So, Cora Sue meets Pimp!Jesus when he nearly runs her over while DRIVING DRUNK. This story should have ended here with her gruesome death his arrest, but I will never be that lucky. Anyway, she thinks he's a sexy penis, panties dampen, blah blah blah. Then it cuts to third-person present, so it read like I was watching a History Channel documentary, and Eric's all turned on by her mouth and blah blah blah.
They go on a date and abuse an Aston Martin by fooling around on it. Cora Sue is smitten, but she acts all cool when Pimp!Jesus is like, "I just fuck ladies for fun. I have dead wife baggage. Don't get clingy." And I figured that the story would go in the direction of Cora Sue teaching Pimp!Jesus to love again or whatever, but no. NO THAT IS NOT WHAT HAPPENS. Yes, Cora Sue does get clingy, but that is only a tiny fraction of the WHA-TO-THE-WHUT in this story.
Pimp!Jesus has a big, dark, and terrible secret.
That secret is that he is a pimp.
I'll wait until you stop laughing.
To be fair, he says he isn't a pimp, and after he recruits Cora Sue, she says that she isn't a prostitute. In Pimp!Jesus' estimation, he's just a nice guys who wants to hook wealthy men and women up with "charges" who they probably/most likely/definitely have sex with, even though they don't PAY for the SEX. The charges are just like assistants who dress up in expensive clothes he buys for them and wine and dine with the friends his status brings them. Sure, their very JOB is to be at the beck and call of another human being, who's allowed to be bossy because he/she is rich, but that's not weird in any way, he says. It's an honest business, he says. Nothing shady at all. He's just a matchmaker who's only in it to protect mistresses from - I don't know - being thrown back out on the street after their benefactors are done with them.
The point is that I have eyes and more logic than this book, and Pimp!Jesus is definitely running a prostitution ring, even if he doesn't know it.
So he recruits Cora Sue to his incredibly legal business as a "charge," and she's totally down with it because doing this will help her achieve her "dreams" of traveling, wearing expensive name brands, and maybe helping villages without water get water in vague water terms because research is NOT this book's strong suit. Cora Sue's cousin, her only relative in the country, tells her that she can't tolerate her becoming a whore. And Cora Sue thinks her cousin's being a judgmental bitch. And her cousin's like, "If you do this stupid thing, never come back again!"
As can be expected, we never see Cora Sue's cousin again.
All that Cora Sue has left in England is Pimp!Jesus, because it's apparently really hard to make friend in 18 months(?), and he's more than willing to tell her how hot/beautiful/different/fun/gorgeous/sexy she is at every opportunity. There's nothing I hate more than reading about a hero complimenting a self-insert Sue for a whole story, so thank Pimp!Jesus for Lucinda, the fucking best.
Lucinda, another of Pimp!Jesus' wards, hates Cora Sue at first sight. The author writes Lucinda as this unbelievably mean villain, the kind that you wouldn't buy as actually existing in a million years. She calls Cora Sue fat right after they're introduced. Who says that to a stranger? LUCINDA DOES because she cannot possibly exist, but her presence in the story gave me laughs for days. Of course, Cora Sue "sets down" Lucinda right away with the typical "UR JUST JELLUS!" arguments that make me heart aflutter. It's adorable.
Cora Sue and Pimp!Jesus start fucking, and it's boring and the same every time. Naturally, Cora Sue attaches herself to the object of her affection like mold on a two-week old tuna salad, and she doesn't even try to be secretive about it. Therefore, EVERY STUPID PERSON at Pimp!Jesus' stupid estate knows that they're fucking.
At one point, Pimp!Jesus spanks Cora Sue with a hairbrush. My sex drive has yet to return.
The story starts to perk up when Cora Sue walks into Pimp Jesus' office and sees that he's about to have a threesome with Fabulously Evil Lucinda and Dumb As Rocks Claire. And Cora's like this:
And she flails away to have a panic attack outside, in the freezing cold, IN HER SWIMSUIT. Now you're shaking your head trying to figure out why Cora Sue would be outside in the freezing cold in her swimsuit, and that's because she's a bloody idiot and wanted to coax Pimp!Jesus out of his office for a swim so they could take part in some more loving sexitudes or whatever. Why she doesn't wear a cover-up around the FANCY ENGLISH MANOR with OTHER PEOPLE IN THE HOUSE remains a mystery.
So Cora Sue almost freezes to death outside, but Pimp!Jesus saves her from her pathetic panic attack. Sadly, he WASN'T having a threesome with Lucinda and Claire. They were attacking him with their feminine wiles, and he had to fight them off because there's only ONE vagina for him, and it unfortunately belongs to Cora Sue.
The story's big event is a gala at Pimp!Jesus' estate in which he shows off his charges to the highest bidders. Cora Sue is all nervous because she doesn't know all the fancy dances, and that brings us this incredibly hilarious piece of dialogue:
"I don't know about the dancing part. I know how to drop it like it's hot but something tells me this isn't the kind of dancing you are talking about."
DROP IT LIKE IT'S HOT! Is it 2004 again?
Cora Sue, you see, is a pinnacle of class. I mean, check out what she wears to fancy dinners on fancy English estates with fancy people attending:
I am wearing a short strapless hot pink dress that is flowy from just under my breast to about mid-thigh. The top part around my breasts is covered in crystals.
Because they suck, Cora Sue and Pimp!Jesus start walking circles around each other and having self-created issues. Cora Sue attracts a Daddy Warbucks for her gold-digging ways, and there are drawn-out scenes of her waiting for Pimp!Jesus to pledge his undying love and tell her to stay. At the same time, Pimp!Jesus wants her to stay but decides that she wants to go to Japan with a Scottish guy because that will make the plot drag on forever.
At no point do these people TALK to each other about this or actually DO what they want to do. Because they are idiots.
Cora Sue leaves to many sad monologues and dreary days, and Pimp!Jesus decides he must tell her that he loves her. So he follows her to London and tells her that he loves her. And I'm thinking, FINALLY this book will fucking end. But Cora Sue is the devil, so she's like, "YOU DO NOT LOVE ME! YOU SENT ME AWAY! NEVER TELL ME YOU LOVE ME BECAUSE YOU LIE!" Apparently, girlfriends can just be "sent away" to Japan like rich people send their kids to boarding school?
And Pimp!Jesus is like, "But I DO love you."
But of course that doesn't matter because I had to suffer more.
After Cora Sue's departure date for Japan, Pimp!Jesus is all sad, and his faithful assistant comes into his office with joyful "bad news":
A TSUNAMI HIT JAPAN AND WIPED OUT LARGE PARTS OF THE COUNTRY!
My first reaction was one of shock. What an insensitive thing to do to poor Japan in a fictional romance. My second reaction was one of elation. Cora Sue was finally gone!
But then she wasn't, because she never went to Japan.
Cora Sue reveals that she didn't go to Japan because Fabulously Evil Lucinda trapped her in a wine cellar and went in her place. And now Lucinda is dead.
Nothing in the world could have prepared me for this book. It’s too much and too little and too fucking bad for my brain to wrap itself around. I likeNothing in the world could have prepared me for this book. It’s too much and too little and too fucking bad for my brain to wrap itself around. I like romance. Really, I do. But books like Real are twisting the romance genre to a place where the phrases “pussy lips” and “fucks my ear” are becoming the norm, and I can’t with that. I can’t.
And how about these “hot alpha heroes” the writers have been cranking out lately? What a bunch of assholes. Just empty, pointless shells of rudimentary DNA and 0% body fat. After another one of my forays into the New Adult world, my AXEL! experience, I wrote an ode to the New Alpha. However, after reading about Remy in REAL, it seems that my ode was incomplete.
With no further ado, BAVR’s Ode to the New Alpha: Remy Edition…
He's hot, ripped, and hung like a horse. His dick slices through granite and punches ten sharks. He likes a girl with a vagina that can gush like a geyser and HATES any man who dares look sideways at her. His sperm are like ninjas that make dragon babies. He may speak like a child but fucks like 8 porn stars. The New Alpha makes good girls fantasize about douchebags. Who needs good characterization when - blah, blah, blah - 12 pack?
Hark! None of these douchebags prepared us for Remy, who licks like a lion and plays with his semen. His spiky black hair and his pants worn that way make women have orgasms in public arenas. He speaks through a series of grunts and gruff growls but all of his street cred comes from his iPod – GOO GOO DOLLS! They say that his cock moves faster than the speed of light. There it is, behind you! You’re pregnant now, slut!
So, whatever, the moment has arrived to review this masterpiece. It’s time to stop being polite and start getting REAL. The REAL World: Brooke’s Vagina.
You know what makes books like Real most insufferable to me? They’re shallow. The plot of this is just a partially evaporated puddle of piss in the desert. There is no reality to “Real,” no substance. It is what it fucking is, and that is a poorly crafted self-insert fic with squicky sex.
Our narrator is Brooke Dumas, a sports rehabilitation specialist (or in simpler terms, a “stretcher”)who swore off men after hurting her leg in the Olympic trial. Her vagina could drown a small village if a hot six-pack walked by.
The first time she sees Remy: My panties are soaked, and my pulse has gone haywire.
When Remy talks: My thighs go watery when the answering voice slides across the shell of my ear, both velvet and chillingly hard.
At seeing acts of violence: My sex muscles clench every time he hits an opponent.
Brooke’s sex muscles always clench. I’m surprised Remy never got his peen stuck in there, to be honest. The other thing we have to know about Brooke is that she doesn’t know what “literally” means. This is important because correct usage of words is KIND OF THE WHOLE POINT ABOUT BOOKS.
For example, Brooke can’t sprint anymore because she hurt her leg and WAH, WAH, WAH, that’s her tragic backstory. Then she thinks this: I want to go crazy. Bungee. Sprint again, even if only in a literal sense.
And then Brooke implies that she may be a dragon: There is, literally, a ball of fire in my throat, and I can’t even swallow my saliva.
Brooke uses words like a handless man wearing a blindfold uses a hammer – blindly and with no discernible precision. There are several very boring passages where she pretends to be all smart and shit by using anatomical terms to describe Remy’s glistening deltoids or whatever, but all of that “I R TEH SMARTZ” dies when she thinks things like this:
My head is spinning inside my cranium.
Time to submit that phrase to thingsthatcan’thappen.com.
Oh, and this:
For the past four evenings, he’s come get me from my room and carry me back to his, and on this last one, I even stayed the full day.
Seriously. Editing is not evil, writers. Give it a try.
So, anyway, Brooke is insufferable. The time that she doesn’t spend ruminating over Remy’s “perfection” and hot penis is spent feeling like she’s the cat’s meow for being the cure for Remy’s Bipolar episodes and beating out all the whores and sluts for his sexxors and love.
And then there’s Remington “Riptide” Tate, the PERFECT and UNBEATABLE underground fighter with the SOUL OF A LION. Or whatevs. Remy has “people,” and all that these people basically do is pay off the hotel and wait staffs when Remy goes manic and destroys shit and shoot him full of tranquilizers when he gets violent outside of the ring.
Yes, in REAL, Remy is bipolar, and it’s insultingly fetishized. A sensitive, nuanced issue like Bipolar Disorder deserves a far smarter book than REAL to pay it the proper respect. Brooke just fucking loves it when he goes manic, mostly because he gets really, really horny, and also because she likes to feel needed. Aside from the tranquilizers, Remy will NOT take medication for his very dangerous condition. Because this is real, you see, and making the true love with a man who could snap and kill you without remembering it in the morning IS TOTALLY NORMAL.
Brooke doesn’t give a shit about any of this, of course, because thinking about Remy’s mental illness in a thoughtful way wouldn’t make her wet. In fact, if this book mentions something other than how perfect, hot, glistening, hard, strong Remy is, it only lasts for a couple of paragraphs. Because we can’t tear our attention away from how HAWT this empty shell of a character with his Tragic Backstory of the Week is, can we? Note to authors: If you describe your hero as “perfect,” YOU’RE DOING CHARACTERIZATION WRONG.
But come on, Rachel, you say, thinking I seem like a huge bitch for being mean to this book. The sex has to be good. Right? RIGHT?
His expression is tense, ravenous, so hot as he scrapes his finger deep into my channel. "Do you want me inside you?"
WHY IS HE SCRAPING INSIDE OF HER VAGINA?!
"Sticky?" he asks in a gruff manner, bending his head and licking my shoulder as he pushes his semen back inside with one finger.
I SEE SO MANY INFECTIONS RESULTING FROM THIS. WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING?
”When I get you in bed, I’m going to scrub you raw with my fucking tongue until there’s nothing anywhere on you from him. Only me. Only me.”
I’m finished with this. The secondary characters and sequel bait aren’t even worth mentioning because I know Evans will make them have all kinds of icky semen covered sex in future books. As for Remy and Brooke’s future book, I won’t be reading it. Because this first book is basically the same shallow thought on repeat for a couple hundred pages mixed with some very rough writing, I don’t see how the second one will be any different. Obviously, there’s a target audience for this kind of book, but I’m not in it. Not even close.
Read my status updates for more squicky excerpts. You won’t enjoy a minute of it.
Also: Read my buddy reader Karla’s review for some more fleshed-out thoughts that I don’t currently have the emotional capacity to handle. >:D
One more quote before I go:
"Do you like what I do to you ... with this...?" When he slides his sweatpants off, I'm fainting with the sight of ten Remington's butts in the reflections behind him, his powerful legs from behind, his narrow waist and broad shoulders.
And his cock, standing before me.
I've just died.
And a visual representation of how I feel about this book:
**spoiler alert** Warning: I hid this review because there are SPOILERS. Lots and lots of SPOILERS for this book and its crappy yet slightly better pr**spoiler alert** Warning: I hid this review because there are SPOILERS. Lots and lots of SPOILERS for this book and its crappy yet slightly better predecessor, The Proposition. Do not read below if you don't want to be SPOILED. Also, GIFs and swears. >:D
At the end of my review of The Proposition, I wrote the following: Sadly, I doubt I'll be buying the next book in the series. I have no desire to read another verbose description of why Emma and Aidan really shouldn't procreate. That poor baby. That was a good plan. I want to go back to the past and give myself a hearty pat on the shoulder for making such a great decision. Really, Past Me was SMART.
Then a friend dared me to read The Proposal, and curiosity won out over common sense. Thanks, Present Me and your shitty impulse control!
The Proposal picks up a few weeks after the end of The Proposition. Baby-crazed preggers Emma is still blocking out Aidan after catching him about to do teh sexxors with another woman. Instead of taking part in a normal and healthy break-up, though, Emma's still hanging out with Aidan's dad and sisters and telling them what an asshole Aidan is. Naturally, everyone is catering to Emma's numerous irrational whims because she's the most annoying pregnant character ever and also a Mary Sue. Yep. Mary. Sue. I went there.
In the meantime, Aidan's moping around his fancy house, drinking himself into a stupor and doing this:
You're too good for this, Jensen, but your pretty crying comforts me.
I didn't mind Aidan in the last book, but for this one, he must have taken some lessons at the Drama Princess Academy. What a wet blanket. The loud and proud womanizer of The Proposition is now a groveling, pouting woobie who manages to blame all of his asshattery on the actions of one EBIL WOMANZ. Indeed, it's revealed that the "only" reason Aidan's a commitment-phobic cheater is because his other one true love got pregnant with his baby by using her trickster feminine wiles. No, I'm not referring to Emma. This is another woman from years ago. She lost the baby in a car accident. Aidan blames himself. It's all very sad.
It's hard for me to describe how much I dislike the "One woman broke my heart YEARS ago, so all other women are WHORES and UNWORTHY OF MY LOVE" trope. It's SO lazy. I'll just let Dean Winchester express it for me:
He's so beautiful.
But now that Aidan's royally screwed over his REAL one true love Emma, he wants to prove he can be a better man. He wants to win her back because of love and babies and stuff. Also, Emma seems to be taking his family hostage, so he has to win his way back into her good graces. If not, where will he eat on Christmas day?
And then a little bit of tomfoolery happens, followed by a Happily Ever After at the halfway mark, followed by SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX SEX.
You see, Emma, despite her claims of wanting to be pregnant since FOREVER, gets herself all worked up over the dwama in her life. Because she wants to be treated like Queen Speshul Snowflake: Preggers Edition and uses pregnancy as an excuse for just about everything in the story, I figured Emma would know that stress can cause pre-term labor, miscarriage, or other complications. But no. She just leaped into the stress like Michael Phelps into an Olympic swimming pool. When she's ordered to go on bed-rest for two weeks, Emma chooses the least Zen option ever by MOVING IN WITH AIDAN, a man she HATES (for the moment). Sure, it's super nice for Aidan to want to take care of her while she's in need. But really, Emma? The extra stress of putting up with Aidan's sad puppy dog eyes and remembering on a daily basis how he fucked you over (by practically fucking another woman) is good for the baby ... how, exactly?
The baby has a name, too. Months before it's born. Noah. They talk about Noah a lot.
In the meantime, Emma entertains the idea of dating a doctor who hit on her while she was in the ER. Professional ethics are very relaxed in this book's world. He comes over to Aidan's house to visit her a few times on sorta/kinda dates. He even does a check-up on her at one point, bringing along what I can only assume is an obscenely expensive portable ultrasound machine, even though he is in no way an OB/GYN. IDK, his name is Pesh, he's a doctor, and he flies a plane. So Aidan's supposed to be threatened by him.
Emma's pregnancy hormones are the third star of this novel. She talks about them constantly and blames them for everything. Every time Emma cries, she's all, "It's my pregnancy hormones!" Apparently, Emma forgot that readers have memories. She cried at the drop of a hat BEFORE SHE WAS PREGNANT in the last book. At one point, Aidan walked into HIS office to find her sobbing uncontrollably because she got her period. So no, Emma, you don't act like an hysterical mess because you're pregnant. You act like one because you ARE one.
At the halfway mark of the story, Emma and Aidan kiss, make up, say their I LOVE YOUS, and become those nauseating people who rub noses and talk about how loving their love is for their love while they're making love. If it had ended there, this could have gotten 2 or 3 stars. But it does NOT end there. Instead, it appears that the author added the fan fiction she created for her own work to this publication. Everything is chronicled - their engagement, their wedding, their honeymoon, their perfect home life, Noah's birth, their life with Noah after the birth. There's even an opportunity for Pesh to take Aidan for a ride in his plane! Now let's check out a curtain call for all of the peripheral characters we never cared about in the first place! This shit wouldn't. fucking. end.
In the course of 50 pages, I counted 5 consecutive sex scenes. They all went the same. And of course, each time they have sex, Emma's all, "OMGZ! My pregnancy hormones make me want to do the sexxorz, like, all the time! I want to have all the sex!" And Aidan's like, "OMGZ, I love you so much. You're beautiful even though you're fat and pregnant." And I was like:
I don't know why I don't enjoy reading about people after the happily ever after. Maybe because actual conflict makes a story? But the second half of this book is straight-up boring and pointless. Perhaps, PERHAPS, she could have added the birth of Noah to an epilogue. Instead, words are cranked out and nothing happens. You know what would have made sense? If the first book and the first half of the second book had been released as one publication. That's a whole story with a well-rounded plot. I suppose money calls for sequel-bait, though, so we get one story in The Proposition and half a story in The Proposal.
Other things that bothered me: 1. A fuckload of telling instead of showing 2. Inane, boring dialogue 3. "Jokes" 4. Frequent grammatical errors and typos - This wasn't a big problem in the first book. I actually noted that Katie Ashley has some promise as a writer. So what happened here? Was there a big rush to publication? The Proposal needs WAY more editing than it got. 5. Emma calls Aidan Big Papa. I can't deal with that.
I have a serious case of book amnesia with this one, and I only finished it yesterday. Despite that, I have to write a review because this was a HopeI have a serious case of book amnesia with this one, and I only finished it yesterday. Despite that, I have to write a review because this was a Hope Tarr Buddy Read, and Sarah will KILL me if I "forget" to write one. Life is HARD sometimes, you guyzzzzz!
So ... some stuff definitely happened in this book. Seriously. There were words, and things happened. Was I particularly entertained or inspired by the things and stuff and words? Not really. The Tutor isn't awful or anything, just boring to my tastes. I put it down about 3/4 in and avoided it for over a week until Sarah told me I had to finish because we had a deal and blah, blah, blah. Reading the last 1/4 wasn't that hard, so I probably shouldn't have put it off for so long. I just never felt any sense of urgency to find out what happened to the characters.
In short, this is The Tutor as I read it:
Ralph the Former Street Urchin: Woe is me. I have a capable Wang of Love but can't use it because the woman I love is so far above me!
*Pages of endless pouting*
Beatrice the Boring Lady: Time to get married to a premature ejaculator with whom I share no discernible chemistry. But before I tie the knot with Lame Dick, I'm going to "learn about the sexxorz" from the hot guy who does my brother-in-law's paperwork and gives me doe eyes all the time. This plan cannot go wrong. *offers her nubile flesh to Ralph*
Ralph: *eagerly pulls out the copy of the Kama Sutra that he's been reading like a fiend because no one's vagina but Beatrice's will do* Well, we can try this. And this. Oh, and this will really get your juices flowing.
The Juices: *flow* We're flowing. Oh, how we're flowing.
The Sexxorz: *happen* We're uninspired but JUICY!
Ralph: This means more to me than sex, but I must pretend I just want to bone her because I'm unworthy of anything more.
Beatrice: This means more to me than sex, but I must pretend I just want his Wang of Love because I have a totally boring guy waiting to marry me in London and give me no orgasms for the rest of my life.
The Juices: We'll just keep flowing to keep you from falling asleep!
Innocent Horse: *dies in cheap plot device* Neiiiiggghhhh ... X_X
Beatrice: Fuck it. I can't live a life without orgasms. I'm going to break off my engagement and not tell Ralph about it for, like, 20 pages because we'll never reach the word count in this thing if we wrap up the story too soon.
Ralph: WHY DO YOU HATE ME SO? I'M JUST A FILTHY COMMONER FROM THE GUTTER. I SHALL NEVER BE WORTHY! *packs up belongings in a tizzy to make a "noble exit"*
Beatrice: Son of a bitch, he bolted? I guess I better FINALLY say something now. *interrupts Ralph's "noble exit" at the last minute* Love you, boo.
Ralph: Love you, too.
And the juices flowed happily ever after. The end....more
**spoiler alert** Fair Warning: Spoilers, GIFs, and Profanity Ahead. You may not want to read the excerpts on an empty (or full) stomach, either. Long**spoiler alert** Fair Warning: Spoilers, GIFs, and Profanity Ahead. You may not want to read the excerpts on an empty (or full) stomach, either. Long line of disclaimers fin.
This book. You guys, this book is something special. It changed reading for me forever.
Not in a good way, of course. To suggest that this story did anything other than turn my eyeballs into warrior pugilists who punched my brain into incoherent submission would be ludicrous. By the end of Escape with a Rogue (Regency Prison Break #1), my once carefree enjoyment of cray-cray HR wallpapers had transformed into something different. Something ugly. I was promised a Regency Prison Break, goddamnit! Have YOU ever read an HR series based on a prison break? Probably not because it didn't exist until now. And when I came across this little gem on my friend's to-read shelf, I wanted IN on this jelly. I wanted the lowdown on this shit. I wanted to be up with what's cool and happenin' in the Regency genre. REGENCY. PRISON. BREAK. You come across a series like that and think, "Well, even if the grammar sucks and the characters communicate by bopping each other on the head, at least I'll be entertained." Right? RIGHT?
Did I just foreshadow a book review? Why, yes. Yes, I most certainly did.
You're smart, Reader. I think you can surmise from the visual illustration and my rating that things did not go quite as planned. Granted, the sex scenes entertained me immensely, but that was only because I read with one eye closed, the other squinted nervously, to see how fucking strange and smelly the sex would get. Yes, you read that right. Strange and smelly.
But calm your little butts down first, perverts. I have some plot and characterization to briefly cover before we get to the good/horrendously bad stuff.
The Story: Two years ago, ex-gaming hell owner living the "simple life" as a groom on an earl's estate Jack Travers was framed and imprisoned for the murders of two little ladies in a hedge maze. Although Jack's done a lot of bad things in his life, he's never killed a lady. Men? Yes. Ladies? HELL TO THE NO. So, now that Jack's been rotting in jail for a crime he didn't commit, his old gal-pal from back on the earl's estate Lady Madeline decides that she's going to bust him out with her wits alone. Alas, Madeline apparently showed up late on the day God was distributing wit, so Jack has to bust himself out of jail with a team of rag-tag criminals. With lawmen and bad guys on their tails, Jack and Madeline have to team up to keep him from going back to the prison.
Now, Jack's had a boner for Madeline ever since she took to ogling him while he played with horses in her father's stable. Madeline, in turn, has always had the hots for the handsome, sexy, smelly groom that her parents would TOTALLY not approve of as boyfriend material. How are they supposed to bump uglies when Jack's a scoundrel and Madeline's a fucking lady? Don't worry. They make it happen.
The first half of the book follows Jack and Madeline hilariously failing at every point while they're on the run. They get stuck in bogs. They touch each other's filthy, bog-covered bodies. They fight with bad guys and often lose. The second half of the book takes us back to Madeline's family's estate, where Madeline goes all Regency Nancy Drew and questions all of the lovely people she's invited for a house party like she's the fucking police or something. Of course, Jack ingratiates himself back into the estate's graces by getting a job (AGAIN!) as a groom (ONLY A DIFFERENT ONE!) because he somehow manages to dye his black hair auburn.
Bitch, please. Did anyone fill Jack in on how HARD it is to dye one's hair red? Holy fuck, I'm a natural blonde, and it took at least 3 professional dyes to get my hair to hold a reddish tone for more than a couple days. I don't know why this is the moment when my suspension of disbelief broke down like a one-wheeled carriage, but that's how my mind works.
*Back to regularly scheduled programming* So now Jack and Madeline are traipsing around the estate together, sexing each other up while pretending they've never met. Thus begins the most convoluted, meandering, boring as hell mystery plot I've read in a long time. And it just wouldn't end.
An Illustration of the Stupid Mystery Plot in this Book (view spoiler)[ FOREVER. It never stopped. An infinite mystery in an infinite stew of suck.(hide spoiler)]
What was wrong with the plot, Rachel? Oh, so kind of you to ask! The plot of this story reminded me of what happens when you give a 3-year-old one piece of poster board and a table full of art supplies. Instead of choosing which art supplies and colors would work best, 9 times out of 10, the 3-year-old will glob a little bit of everything on that poor piece of poster board until it's drippy, torn in all sorts of places, and resembling vomit more than art. That's how the plot of Escape with a Rogue plays out. Instead of establishing certain facts and character traits in the beginning and letting the action progress from there, the action depends on completely random new things being heaped atop other completely random new things that never came with a full explanation.
There are bastard plots, mothers with dementia, borderline rapist brothers, secondary love stories involving dead girls, slutty companions, 18 marriage proposals, radicals who want to overthrow the king, dudes from prison who just disappear because they have their own books, very irresponsible horseback riding, and a SHIT-TON of sex. And do any of these things make the plot even a tiny bit more coherent?
Did you READ them? Of course, they do!
Damn it. No. No, they don't. Not even a little. To make matters worse, just when this book could have ended, it became apparent that Page intended to wrap up just about all of the silly plot tumors regardless of their necessity. Once the Big Bad was handled, I was ready to check out of this "adventure." Unfortunately, Escape with a Rogue held me around the neck like a vice until it squeezed out EVERY LAST WORD.
Speaking of the Big Bad: My reading buddy Karla identified the murderer very early. It was incredibly obvious. For the record, I don't know how this person over-powered anyone, especially to the point of strangling two women. There was a great WTF moment when Jack recalled breaking a grown man's neck at the age of eight, too. What kind of Wheaties did that kid's mom feed him? Is Jack Superman, Hercules, or the Incredible Hulk? A good editor would have caught that and made the kid use a weapon.
Speaking of Good Editors: I'm not sure if this book had one. I realized after reading that this is a self-pub, so all respect where it's due to Sharon Page for keeping grammar and continuity errors low. The book is readable and the writing is decent if you manage to get past the trainwreck plot. Sadly, this book needed a major clean-up. Less characters. More primary character development. Cleaner sex. Near the end, the story-telling gets sloppier. The text starts explaining things to us that anyone reading the book wouldn't need to have explained.
For example, after Madeline gets whacked in the head with something heavy and solid, she looks down at the ground and realizes this: A pair of shears lay on the ground. That had been what had struck her.
ORLY? You're implying that the shears are what struck her? I never would have guessed that on my own! This happens several other times. I refuse to look them all up because then I'll have to re-read chunks of the story AGAIN.
Sometimes the characters mull over really dumb thoughts, too. Madeline's the worst, considering that she doesn't fault Jack for being a murderer but can't find peace with the fact that he ran a gaming hell. One of these things is not like the other, Madeline! Ugh. Madeline makes a lot of horrible decisions. When she gets her boots stuck in the bog, instead of listening to Jack's CORRECT instructions to stay still, she starts struggling and nattering on like an idiot until it nearly swallows them both whole. When everyone's like, "Madeline, you aren't the police. Stop pursuing a murderer who has strangled women JUST LIKE YOU and has already made an attempt on your life," she just keeps running off alone into the forest and questioning people. Yes, Madeline is TSTL. Throughout the story, we're told otherwise. She's apparently the only one her grandfather trusted enough to leave the family fortune to, so Madeline manages the family's purse strings and estate. This just leaves me to wonder how bloody stupid the rest of her family is.
Jack isn't safe from the stupid stick, either. First, he hooks up with Madeline. Then he has thoughts like this while tearing through the forest on horseback in the rain to save Madeline's life for the billionth time: One thing about being wet-he didn't give a damn if he got wetter.
You don't say, Einstein. You don't say.
As Promised: Dirty, Grimy, Smelly SexorzTime! Oh, bless this book's perverted little heart. I finally found my SQUICK limit for sex scenes, and that is a relentless concentration on hair and body scents. No, I don't expect sex in romance to always be stars and sunshine and flowery petals and moonbeams shining out of asses. But please, I don't want to cringe and dry heave throughout a love scene. Not exactly to my tastes, thanks very much. But since you asked for it in my reading updates, enjoy some stomach-turning sex excerpts. You can be the judge.
Oh, and I must establish that while Madeline sniffs around Jack in prison, she often describes his scent as musky, salty, sweaty, earthy, and ripe. So, basically, he smells like sweaty balls and gym socks soaked in brine. But even after he escapes from prison, these descriptors are used to describe their various scents multiple times. Bathing changes NOTHING.
Page 83: Softening her mouth, she kissed him there, tasting sweat. Heady with the daring risk of it, she stuck out her tongue and licked him.
Does Madeline also lick her own armpit when it gets sweaty? Well, from the looks of this next excerpt, I wouldn't be surprised ...
Page 117: He ran his tongue through her nether curls and she squeaked in shock. He didn't stop. No, he tugged a few curls with his teeth and made her moan. She could smell her most intimate scents, and his mouth was moving down to her most private place ...
... What was he thinking? She smelled so earthy and salty and ripe, what would she taste like?
Madeline also has a very endearing Big O-Sound! You've been warned.
Page 116: "Lie back," Jack murmured. She did and he slid her drawers off her, exposing her completely, at the exact moment he flicked his tongue in her navel.
Page 118: She was coming apart. Flying to pieces. "God ... oh, God," she cried, saying things she never should. "Yes, yes. Oh, more. More. Oh ... oh, erk!"
Charming, huh? The passion really turns me on, too. >:D
Let's focus on a little sexy sexy talk:
Page 176: "Is that good?"
"Beautiful. My cock likes to be rubbed."
"Mmm. Your cock."
And now, just to leave you feeling happy, I'll leave you with descriptions of Jack's magical wang of love and furry ass:
Page 216: She managed to get his underclothes down to the large bollocks resting at the base, then she took him in her mouth. She tasted the salty flavor of his skin. Ripe and earthy, tempting and delicious. Her tongue brushed the firm head, which was soft and tight. Fluid bubbled up. Salty, sour juices that tickled her tongue. Sucking harder, she swallowed them.
Page 219: His rear end was rock solid and surprisingly furry in the valley between his firm cheeks.
After reading these scenes, I think I've lost my sex drive.
So, dear friends, read this if you dare. Just don't expect to have a particularly good time.
Escape with a Rogue has the honor of being my end-of-summer Buddy Read with the delightful Karla. You can read her review here, which is guaranteed to be hilarious and insightful. ["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"]>["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"]>["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"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I'm confident that Sarah will agree that this Guhrke Buddy Read was as inspiring as a root canal.
You guys.WARNING: GIFs, spoilers and a grumpy BAVR!
I'm confident that Sarah will agree that this Guhrke Buddy Read was as inspiring as a root canal.
You guys. This story is fucking boring. Who are the assholes in this again? Right. Phillip the snobby marquess and Maria the pastry chef. Their love does not move mountains. It may be able to move ant hills, but that's only because the ants would be annoyed by their incessant yammering and leave.
If I had to choose one thing that I found interesting about this book, I would probably decide on The Million Ways That Phillip is a Giant Asshat. Maria is immaterial to this rant because I actually felt sorry for her. She's just trying to sell her pastries or whatever, and Phillip keeps barging in and telling her to go away, like he OWNS THE ENTIRE WORLD or something.
Phillip is basically the preppy boyfriend in every 80s movie that ends up royally screwing over the ingenue. This is him in my imagination:
Phillip doesn't give a shit as long as he stays waist-deep in fashionable sweaters.
To make an incredibly long story appropriately short, Phillip's the self-flagellating type of "gentleman" who gets a boner for Maria, the daughter of his family's chef, when they're teenagers and ends up bitching at her to deal with his feelz. Twelve years before the story takes place, Maria attempted to elope with Phillip's younger brother. A 19-year-old Phillip wisely stopped the disaster in the making, not through imparting them with wisdom or telling Maria that he wanted to eat her pastries (in a sexual way), but by paying them both off just like the villains in 80% of star-crossed lovers stories. When Maria opens a bakery next-door to the lodgings where he is temporarily living until his home renovations are finished, he does the sensible thing and attempts to evict her.
And in the whole story, through all of the vapid yimmering and yammering about Phillip's hate boners and Maria's fucking baking process (and the pointless conversations - GOOD GOD, the pointless conversations), Phillip never proves that he isn't an elitist, snobby piece o' crap. He barely even apologizes, and Maria decides to accept his proposal anyway because her friends thought it was weird that she didn't want to marry a rich marquess who treats her like garbage. Also, she discovers a secret of Phillip's that proves that he loves and respects her.
What is that secret?
Let me tell you.
When Maria was younger, she had a ribbon that her dead mother left to her. Maria was POOR at that point, okay? She didn't have lots of ribbons, especially ribbons from her DEAD MOM. And there's all this talk throughout the story about how Maria cried and cried about losing the ribbon and how everyone looked for the damn thing but couldn't find it.
So where was the ribbon all along?
Phillip stole it.
Phillip, a goddamn marquess, STOLE a teenage girl's ribbon.
HER DEAD MOTHER'S RIBBON.
And he keeps it for years, even though he knows that Maria was heart-broken over losing it.
That's why Maria knows that he loves her. Because he's a heartless ribbon thief. Bravo, douchebag.
Puzzling fact: This is the first Christmas romance I've read. This is puzzling because I LOVE Christmas. I'm the type of jolly elf who makes hot cocoaPuzzling fact: This is the first Christmas romance I've read. This is puzzling because I LOVE Christmas. I'm the type of jolly elf who makes hot cocoa and starts decorating the house the moment Hallmark Channel begins to air their cycle of Christmas movies. I take this shit seriously, is all. Consequently, even though A Visit from Sir Nicholas wasn't exactly gripping fiction, I tore through it like Buddy the Elf hopped up on candy canes. Because CHRISTMAS, you guys!
And the best part of all? Back in good 'ol 2004, Avon included a CHRISTMAS ORNAMENT in the paperback. Yes, I received a gift, and it isn't even Christmas yet. I don't care if Santa Ornament has all the durability of a cheap paper doll. It's still a Christmas gift and therefore awesome.
But let's get to the story. There isn't really much to tell, so this should be quick.
The Plot of A Visit from Sir Nicholas in 15 Words Widow finally hooks up with guy she should have married ten years ago and CHRISTMAS!!!!
Alexander uses A Christmas Carol to enhance the story. I suppose it worked a little, although none of the characters even remotely resembled Scrooge or any of the other memorable characters. You could argue that Nick's abandonment of Elizabeth at the beginning of the story (one of those "I love you too much to let you be with horrible 'ol me" moves) is reminiscent of Scrooge leaving his sweetheart as a young man, but that's still a bit of a stretch.
Basically, this story revolves around Nicholas and Elizabeth completely failing at feelings (and expressing them) and then desperately trying to get back to each other despite the fact that no hurdles whatsoever encumber their attempts. Ten years ago (Christmas PAST), Nicholas was an ambitious young man who, despite being the heir to a wealthy earldom, wanted to make his own fortune because his dead dad was really bad with the bills or something. Unfortunately, while Nick was preparing to make his journey to America (where apparently ANYONE can get rich if they just BELIEVE enough), he fell in love with family friend Elizabeth, who was all but engaged to his friend Charles. At a Christmas ball, Elizabeth pretty much throws herself at Nicholas, but he's all like, "No! Charles is so much better for you. I'm not worthy." So Elizabeth ... takes him at his word and marries Charles. Ha! These are the kinds of brains we're working with in this story, friends.
Alexander fast-forwards to Christmas PRESENT. Elizabeth is now a widow, and she has two surprisingly not-annoying sons. It turns out that Charles, who ended up being a bit of a cheater, left the control of his fortune and assets for his family to none other than super successful businessman Nicholas. No one ever finds out why Charles did this, by the way. Elizabeth's brother, a marquess, doesn't bother to tell Elizabeth OR Nicholas about this little technicality until three years after Charles's death, at which point Elizabeth throws a hissy fit and Nicholas decides, "Hmmm. I think it's time to bag me the lady I should have married ten years ago."
There's a lot of talk of "grand passion," and Nick and Lizzie make a sweet enough couple. Since this is a romance novel, though, the two of them make something as simple as hooking up with a soulmate more difficult than fitting a square peg through a round hole. This is one of those stories in which nothing much happens aside from the H and h talking with each other about their feelings and two or three secondary characters talking with the H and h about their feelings. The Christmas spirit energized me until the final 1/5 of the book when I just couldn't stand the conversation and forced angst any longer. The plot started to resemble Christmas dinner leftovers after being left in the fridge for a week. Nobody really wants to eat that, but when one is *ahem* desperate enough to keep up the spirit, there's always SOMETHING else that can be prepared from the remaining scraps of turkey.
Overall, A Visit from Sir Nicholas is an average read. Nice characters, some fun Christmas nostalgia, a pleasant yet uninspiring romance. I just wish something more exciting had happened. ...more
Remember how Historical Romance was in the 90s, fellow readers? The teeth-pulling level tediousness of two characters hating eachWarning: GIFs ahead!
Remember how Historical Romance was in the 90s, fellow readers? The teeth-pulling level tediousness of two characters hating each others' fucking guts until the last ten pages or so? But in the end, you can't even bitch about it because the pacing was done in such a way that there wasn't one moment when you weren't entertained? Love Me Not reminded me of all that! I'm loving the 90s right now from the sheer nostalgia factor. I want to pack the 90s up in a fuzzy little box and carry it with me forever. I want to feed the 90s cookies and margaritas and tell it how "awesome" it is. I want to make sweet little over-dramatic babies with the 90s and unleash them on the unsuspecting and jaded 21st century.
Thank you, Year of 1996, for leaving this little gem of history to be found and reviewed in 2012 by a woman who is SICK TO DEATH of reading about boring dumb people who do nothing. Reading about dumb people who perform a mesmerizing collection of stupid acts is much more preferable.
Did the characters' actions make even a modicum of sense? Not really. If I met them in real life, would I even grudgingly respect main characters Kathleen and Damien?
Of course not! Damien and Kathleen are so mind-bogglingly stupid about the simplest of things (like sex and what feelings feel like) that I sometimes wished a secondary character would traipse into the scene and bonk their heads together like bumper cars battling to the death until one of them grew a brain cell. The story is so unapologetic about the stupidity, though, that I started to develop a modicum of respect for it. "Be not ashamed of wonky narrative devices," the book proclaimed. "Are you not entertained?"
An Illustration of the Plot Stupidity in this Book
And I was entertained, curse me to hell and back. I was.
Despite that, there's always a drawback to the books from the glory days of Love/Hate Relationship meets Mind-Numbing Big Misunderstandings. The headache. And the way I have to admit to myself that the characters, rather than behaving organically, were forced to do ridiculous things to prolong the plot to infinity and beyond.
The Story in a Nutshell:
Girl and brother grow up with abusive dad who isn't really their dad until a group of Big Bad Dukes come in a banish the abusive dad to America. Girl bases her entire outlook on love on her pathetic little mother, who despite being a COUNTESS, spends her life picking up the sex crumbs of a cold, unfeeling duke as his mistress. This guy is the girl's real father. Eventually, girl meets hero but doesn't want to love him because love destroyed her mother and she JUST WANTS TO BE FREE, DAMN IT! Seriously fucked-in-the-head suitor decides to pursue heroine after just a glance and recruits the abusive dad all the way from America to force her into marriage. Hero realizes that the only way to protect heroine from a marriage to Creepy McCreepster and from the loss of her inheritance to daddy dearest is by marrying her FOR THE TIME BEING. Heroine flips shit every other page because SHE JUST WANTS TO BE FREE! Hero does nice things. HEROINE HATES HIM BECAUSE SHE ISN'T FREE! At some point, girl proves that she knows nothing about sex. Rachel laughs for a freaking day about it. Eventually, girl falls in love and finally settles the fuck down. But, OH NO! While he's up for bluffin' with her muffin, hero is not down with this LOVE talk. Angst ensues. Oh, and the crazy suitor acts crazy until the end.
Entertaining? Yes. Rational? No. This one gets a solid 3 stars. ...more