Apparently, all it takes is a mistress with rough sexual appetites and an ex-military hero without all the woobie rake angst to squeeze 5 stars from m...moreApparently, all it takes is a mistress with rough sexual appetites and an ex-military hero without all the woobie rake angst to squeeze 5 stars from my cold, dead hands. Granted, A Gentleman Undone is barely a literary masterpiece, but it ranks worlds above the rest of the regency crap I've been reading lately. If more authors would write like Cecilia Grant, then maybe I wouldn't bitch so much about the tepid quality of historical romance these days.
SUMMARY: When Will Blackshear (former lieutenant) returns to London after experiencing the nightmare of Waterloo, he has no intentions of getting involved with any ladies. A man of modest means and the youngest son in the Blackshear family, Will has decided to spend his military commission on a business venture to help the widow of one of his deceased subordinates from the war. He can't afford much more than his tiny bachelor lodgings, so there's no way he can afford a mistress. Even if he can't stop thinking about some other dude's mistress he keeps encountering at a gaming hall. Lydia Slaughter, former prostitute at some anything-goes House of Horrors (Whores) and current mistress to a wealthy gentleman who can also perform mighty well in bed, is content with her circumstances at the moment. Sure, she doesn't want to be a mistress forever, but her current protector has the good sense to take her to gaming halls and falls asleep so she can take part in some gambling. Lydia has a very mathematical mind, so she ends up as something of a 19th-century card counter. At first, Will and Lydia start up a tentative friendship to achieve a common goal. He needs money and doesn't understand that odds trump luck. She needs money and understands the importance of odds but can't gamble high stakes because she's a woman. They team up in order to make a killing at vingt-et-un, no hanky-panky allowed.
But please. This is a romance. You know the hanky-panky's just around the corner. Can a man without the means to provide for a wife or mistress win the heart of a distant woman who only wants her independence?
Lydia is an amazing character. She was raised among the gentry, but her ruination and the deaths of her remaining family members thrust her into desperate straits. So Lydia becomes a prostitute and remarkably never bitches about it. She sees the world through a very logical lens, so she considers her current profession a means to an end. All Lydia desires is a quiet life with a little home that she can afford to keep. Fortunately for Lydia, being a mistress doesn't bother her too much because she genuinely enjoys sex. I know! The absence of slut-shaming! It's a miracle! Her biggest problem with being a "kept woman" stems from having to cater to her protector's beck and call all the time. It was very refreshing to read about a heroine who didn't leave her reasoning skills at the door (or lose them along with her goddamn maidenhead). Women are so rarely portrayed in these stories as rational characters, so Lydia's a bit of a treasure to me.
Will's definitely my type of hero. He's a bit beta yet incredibly sexy. The war really messed him up emotionally. Don't read this spoiler if you plan to read the book!(view spoiler)[After the carnage of Waterloo, Will moved one of his men when the medics ignored the poor guy. Unfortunately, this guy also had a spinal injury, so moving him pretty much sealed his death certificate. When Will couldn't get him into a hospital where a physician could give him something for the pain, he mercy-killed the poor fellow so he wouldn't suffer. That haunts Will throughout the story and drives his motivation to help the fallen soldier's widow into a comfortable life. (hide spoiler)] So aside from the requisite tortured soul stuff, Will's a pretty honorable guy. He resists coming onto Lydia because he doesn't want to step on her protector's toes. I liked that Will didn't have the entire world at his fingertips. He isn't wealthy, probably never will be wealthy, and doesn't harbor any delusions that he could be wealthy. No long-lost titles deux ex machina into the plot like some ill-place karate warrior and provide Will and Lydia with a happily-ever-after. The ending, which I refuse to spoil, is satisfying but realistic. Will is a character who has to sacrifice a great deal to get his happy ending.
The romance is rather exceptional. There's a lot of build-up between Will and Lydia. They truly get to know each other, circling around their mutual attraction, before they even kiss. And then, thank the romance gods, the sex isn't some boring exercise in (take your pick) teaching the heroine how nipples work, comparing each other to past lovers to prove that this is TWU LOVE, taking a page-long break so the hero can apologize to the heroine for breaking her maidenhead, etc. The sex has just as much to do with the characters and where they are emotionally as it does with bumping uglies. The love-making isn't always easy, and it makes Will and Lydia even more interesting as characters.
I'll definitely try out Cecilia Grant's other novel, but that one will have to wait. I don't want to consume all of her books at once. These characters are just different enough from the romance standards of the day that I don't want to rush a good thing. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Years ago, if you had said to me, "Rachel, the day will come when you rate books higher because they're violent and bloody with some smexy times on th...moreYears ago, if you had said to me, "Rachel, the day will come when you rate books higher because they're violent and bloody with some smexy times on the side," I would have scoffed and replied, "Bitch, don't be talking crazy!" Alas, as I age, I grow infinitely creepier. My Ruthless Princewent there so many times that I was utterly captivated by the sheer ballsiness of it.
At times, it seemed that Gaelen Foley was writing directly to my spirit animal, the velociraptor. Nobody enjoys death and mayhem like my inner spirit animal. Its short little arms go flailing akimbo at the mention of patricide, and it tears apart entire rooms at the excitement of slit throats in battle. So, basically, reading My Ruthless Prince turned me into this:
Sadly, My Ruthless Prince isn't actually about a PRINCE. I know! Romance titles are supposed to tell the truth, right? The "prince" in question is actually Drake, the Earl of Westwood. Not a prince at all, but I'll let it go. So Drake is a super-spy from The Order, an ancient brotherhood reminiscent of The Knights Templar. The Order has a nemesis, the Prometheans, which is pretty much The Order only totally evil. A couple years before the start of this book, Drake was captured by the Prometheans, locked in a dungeon, tortured and brainwashed for months. They wiped his memory, and then some old Promethean dude released Drake with nefarious intentions. A feral Drake returned to England, and the only person he remembered was his childhood friend Emily Harper, the woodsman's daughter on his estate. Emily helped nurse Drake's memory back to life, but then the old dude, James, returned, and Drake seemed to defect from The Order and his best friends by saving James's life and taking off for places unknown with the Prometheans. This all occurs before the opening pages of the novel.
Now that everybody thinks Drake is a big, fat traitor, Emily takes it upon herself to hike into the wilds of Bavaria and rescue Drake from the castle where he's shacking up with the Prometheans. Loyal to a fault, Emily can't believe that Drake is really an evil traitor. She knows he must have something up his sleeve. So armed with a bow and set of arrows, Emily somehow makes it to the castle and comes face to face with Drake. Instantly, he seems like a changed man. No longer the smiling, playfully devious friend Emily remembers from her youth, Drake is now dark, remote and tortured. He's climbed the ranks of Prometheans to become James's right-hand-man and pretty much head of security at the castle. At first, Emily is devastated to realize that Drake has become the monster he fought so hard against with The Order, but she can't figure out what to do about it because she still LOVES HIM more than sunshine and rainbows and unicorns combined.
Of course, this is a romance novel, so Drake's whole Evil Promethean exterior is just a ruse. He's taken it upon himself to orchestrate the biggest inside job EVER. Basically, he wants to kill all of the Prometheans, and he really doesn't care if he dies with them. Until Emily Harper arrives, that is. Reminded of the sweetness and light of life by the woodsman's daughter, Drake is tempted to touch the one girl who's always been forbidden to him, and her presence makes it much harder for him to live in a world of moral ambiguity.
1. The Gore! - Foley doesn't shy away from the fight scenes. Sure, the main characters pull off some far-fetched stunts, but who doesn't want to imagine the hero jumping from a horse and tackling a bad guy off of his and proceeding to beat the crap out of him? Good times! Less than a third of the way through the book, one of the antagonists (view spoiler)[strangles his birth father, a good guy, TO DEATH, and you get to read about it from the perspective of the victim. (hide spoiler)]
2. Drake's Brush With the Dark Side - At times, Drake doesn't act very heroic. Several times during the book, he scares Emily with the lengths he goes to exact revenge. At one point, he even scares me with the internal implications that he may be turning into a Promethean by accident. He reminded me of Anakin Skywalker in the Star Wars prequels, only if Anakin hadn't been portrayed like a pubescent emo crybaby with abandonment issues.
3. Emily's a Convincing Action Girl - I mean, she made it the whole way into the freaking Alps with her bow & arrow and wits. Although she's a pure, innocent soul, she takes part in some of the later bloodshed and manages to defend herself convincingly. She has great aim with a bow and arrow and isn't afraid to use it.
4. Virgin Sacrifice! - In order to prove how evil the Prometheans are, Foley has them plan a virgin sacrifice at the next eclipse. Naturally, the only virgin in the castle is Emily, (view spoiler)[until Drake takes care of that (hide spoiler)], so it adds some desperation to the plot. And as cliche as the whole virgin sacrifice plot is, I had to love its campiness.
1. Emily Totally Doesn't Have a Set of Velociraptor Balls When it Comes to Love - I get that she loves Drake to distraction, but I got a little annoyed when she can't resist him even when he's ACTUALLY BEING A BAD GUY. Her internal monologue is all like, "Oh, he's being so evil right now. I SHOULD stop him. But I can't because he's beautiful and BELONGS with me. Therefore, I will tolerate his bad behavior and die a little inside with each step he takes toward the dark side." Grow some goddamn backbone, Emily. Geez! If Emily wasn't so capable and moral, her transformation into a doormat wouldn't have bothered me so much. Fortunately, at the end of the book, she grows her balls back in a SPECTACULAR way. (view spoiler)[Then she loses them again immediately afterward, but I'm trying not to dwell on it. (hide spoiler)]
My Ruthless Prince isn't a perfect book, but I had a freaking awesome time reading it. For some adventure mixed with some sweet romance, this is worth reading. That's the problem with Avon books. 99% of them make me want to tear my eyes out, and then the rare 1% comes along that rocks and compels me to trudge through the crap to find the rare gold. ["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"]>(less)
[image error] GIFSoup Quick! Pound your head against the nearest wall so you're up with the latest trend.
My second endeavor into Gaelen Foley's delightful world of romance, intrigue, murder and mayhem was a crazy good time. Princess is full to the hilt with sometimes insane plot devices that keep the story rolling on and on (and on and on and on and on) like the freaking Energizer Bunny. It opens with the heroine, Princess Serafina of the fictional island country Ascension, being chased through a pleasure garden and maze by murderous Frenchmen. No one is safe in this book, especially if you're a main character. Fortunately, Serafina's hero and savior Darius Santiago (what a name!), her childhood protector and the king's go-to assassin and security guy, saves her life and butchers some Frenchmen in the process. Naturally, Darius has had a love boner for Serafina ever since she turned sixteen, but since he's the bastard son of a gypsy and an abusive Spanish asshole, Darius convinces himself that he isn't worthy of the stunning princessa.
Sweet bananas, could that man angst with the best of them! He hates his love boner for Serafina but can't keep his hands off of her. He decides he can never marry her but still plots to break up her engagement with a narcissistic Russian prince. (This is justified, though, because the Russian prince is a certified douche-nozzle.) He plots to assassinate Napolean (lol), but pisses and moans because he'll probably die in the process and never have the chance to build a life with Serafina. He's the bravest man in the kingdom with the most tortured childhood. He fucks just about every woman in Ascension in depraved ways but yearns for the sweet love-making he can share with Serafina. Darius angsts about all of these things up to the very last moments of the book, minus the HAPPY-HAPPY-JOY-JOY epilogue. I'm not exaggerating. The man has enough baggage to keep a 747 from taking off from the ground.
While I can appreciate that Darius and his bad attitude stem from a dark past of feeling unloved and like he's never good enough, it got a little heavy for me at times. His character would swing from lovesick puppy to cold twagic hero so often that I started to wonder what was wrong with him. In fact, Serafina even asks what the hell is wrong with his head a few times. Darius's characterization got so heavy-handed at times that it distracted from the campy and fun assassination plots and murderous Frenchmen and crazy Russian princes. That's what brought my rating down from 4 stars to 3.5.
Of course, Serafina isn't blameless in all of this either. She plays the spoiled, haughty princess role to perfection in this book. Although her vanity and temper tantrums made me want to poke her in the eye through the pages a few times, it was hard not to like her. Sadly, like so many romance heroines before and after her, Serafina's cool factor went down exponentially in direct correlation with her increasing love for Darius. (Quick! Someone make a chart!) If I had to read one more passage in which she complained to Darius that he didn't really love her, I was going to start slamming my beautiful head against a brick wall. You're a freaking princess, Serafina! Pull your shit together and grow a spine!
For all of their flaws, the main characters at least succeeded at keeping me intrigued in the text. Foley writes some very colorful secondary characters, too. I loved the hot-headed King Lazar, who (view spoiler)[steals a hilarious scene tackling and antagonizing Darius after he finds out the Spaniard deflowered his daughter (hide spoiler)]. There's also an intriguing court-slut (my term) named Julia who manages to remain sympathetic even though she ends up committing an unforgivable act near the end of the story. The fictional setting of Ascension, which is supposed to be a tiny Italian island on the Mediterranean, is lush and captivating. Despite all the angst and political intrigue, Ascension manages to read like it's straight out of a storybook.
Overall, Princess is an entertaining read. You might want to bring along some Pampers for Darius and Serafina, though.
One Thing That Confused Me (view spoiler)[During their first make-out/fondle session, Darius manages to - FUCK, I can't believe I'm typing this - draw milk from Serafina's glorious royal breasts. Now, I'm not a doctor, but a quick Google search clarifies that it IS possible. But really, Darius gushing about "tasting her milk" catapulted me out of the story faster than a bucket of cold water over my head. So leave your vote in the comments. Breast-feeding heroes: Sexy Ya-ya or Icky Yuck-yuck? I feel so mature right now. >:D (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I didn't expect to enjoy this book as much as I did. Full disclosure: The main reason I read this book is because the blurb revealed that the...more3.5 stars
I didn't expect to enjoy this book as much as I did. Full disclosure: The main reason I read this book is because the blurb revealed that the hero is named the Duke of Mountjoy. Throughout the book, his given name is never revealed. He's just Mountjoy. Mountjoy. Call me immature, but I couldn't resist some good Mountjoy action.
SUMMARY: Lily Wellstone, an independent heiress, travels to Bitterward Estate to visit with her recently widowed friend Ginny. On the way there, she encounters a gypsy king who gives her a magical love medallion. Naturally, upon her arrival at Bitterward, the first person Lily meets is Ginny's older brother, the poorly dressed but super hot Duke of Mountjoy. The two of them immediately develop a flirtatious banter and start to screw around like brazen hussies. Good times. But Mountjoy's practically engaged to another woman, and Lily has vowed never to love again. Will all of their mounting be for nothing, or will that mounting lead to joy?
Not Wicked Enough is one of those rare books that includes its title in the text of the story. During one game of verbal foreplay, Lily asks Mountjoy if he thinks she's too wicked. Little Mountjoy (that's a euphemism for his penis) prompts him to respond that she isn't wicked enough. Thank you, Carolyn Jewel, for making the connection, even if "wicked" is among the Top 10 Most Overused Words for HR Titles, right up there with rake, rogue, sin, scoundrel, and seduce.
Lily is a pretty awesome heroine. I'm used to hating Regency heroines, so she really came out of left field. She isn't a blushing virgin, so I didn't have to put up with any of the blushing virgin wangst. She's fun, energetic, and good-natured, and I fully understand why Mountjoy A) wanted to put his Little Mountjoy in her and B) ultimately fell in love with her. Even better, she's discreet! She understand the dangers posed by forming a liaison with the duke, and she keeps a proper distance, just as you would expect a mistress to do back in the day. Granted, she totally boinks her best friend's brother, which some might consider indiscreet, but her actions made way more sense than 99% of Regency heroines these days. So good for you, Lily!
Mountjoy, aside from having an epic name, isn't as much fun as Lily, but he makes up for it by being adorably vulnerable at times. He's honorable (if you ignore the fact that he's screwing his sister's best friend), dedicated to his title and tenants, and really likes the smexytimes. He grew up on a farm before learning he was so close to the title and still dresses like it. There's some cute banter between Mountjoy and Lily about her becoming his valet.
Although the characters are stand-up people, not a lot happens in the story. It's more of a character study than anything, and I love characters. But honestly, in my old age, I need more action. There are only so many smutty lover's trysts I can read before I get bored and start praying for a sword fight. So I wasn't particularly thrilled with the storyline. The magical gypsy love medallion is only faintly alluded to in the story, and it could have been used for some freaky stuff. However, I enjoyed the characters enough to give this book 3.5 stars. Since I'm feeling generous, I'll round that up to 4 stars for the Goodreads rating. (less)
For entertainment value alone, this book could have earned 5 stars from my grumpy, grubby talons. I never got bored. Shit just happens all ov...more3.5 stars
For entertainment value alone, this book could have earned 5 stars from my grumpy, grubby talons. I never got bored. Shit just happens all over the place in The Officer and the Proper Lady. Most authors would gravitate toward just one of the three avenues Allen explored in the text, and that's the problem with romance today. They think we can't concentrate on more than one thing at a time. Sure, that's true 97% of the time. Like, as I write this review, I lose my place every time a car drives by the building. But seriously, I'm so flattered that Louise Allen thinks I can be teh smartz. Also, some of the conflicts are fucking HILARIOUS.
Unfortunately, most of the conflicts are fucking hilarious because of inconsistent characterizations. I can deal with irrational characters behaving irrationally, but when an otherwise sensible person does something so goddamn DUMB that my brain weeps its own brain cells into my sinus cavity, I chisel away at the stars. This teh smartz thing works both ways, fictional characters! Add to that a sluggish final 1/3 of story and some major Kindle formatting issues. Words kept breaking apart or being forced together, so I spent a lot of time translating sentences that should have been easy. At one point, Hal refers to himself as a "cockscomb", but the formatting made it read "cock scomb", and I laughed and laughed because I thought Allen had misspelled "scum" or something. Because what kind of man calls himself cock scum, right?
Oh, the stories I tell ...
Anyway, let's get to this grand, one-of-a-kind ... Harlequin Historical #1020.
An Officer meets a Proper Lady in Brussels in the days leading up to Waterloo. He's a rake, and she's a ... well, she's a proper lady. They try to stay away from each other because she's in desperate financial straits and needs a husband. Just being seen with him can destroy her reputation, but their passion burns too strong. Can their tenuous relationship survive the ravages of war? Will Wellington defeat Napolean? (view spoiler)[He does. (hide spoiler)] Most importantly, can the officer tup his virgin miss without acting like a dwamatic wittle bitch about it? (view spoiler)[He can't! (hide spoiler)]
Major Hal Carlow is the second son of an earl and a dissolute rake. An outrageous flirt, Hal enjoys sexing up the ladies. Unless those ladies are virgins, in which case, Hal runs like the hounds of hell are on his heels. Naturally, his horse is the biggest, most fabulous-est horse in the British cavalry. And if the descriptions of his super-tight pants are to be believed, then he also has the biggest, most fabulous-est (view spoiler)[cockscumb (hide spoiler)] in all of Brussels.
I liked Hal. He's a fun guy who enjoys drinking, gambling, and sleeping with married women without too much wangst. He lives a soldier's life and maintains a soldier's mentality. It isn't until Hal tries to "reform" for his proper little miss that his character starts to derail. He explains the change away as trying to be "worthy" of her. This leads to his laughable "What the hell do I do with a virgin?" hang-ups. Did he really think that using his rakish tricks in bed would give her pause? As a "proper lady", she has no point of comparison! Hal, this opportunity is golden. Stop crying!
The Proper Lady
Miss Julia Tresilian is set on finding a proper, staid husband to secure her mother and her younger brother for the future. She's pretty, but not too pretty, and she's hot in the knickers for Hal Carlow. For a so-called proper lady, Julia rarely acts particularly proper. Sure, she isn't riding bareback through the park with her breasts exposed or anything, but any time she's given the choice between ignoring temptation and embracing it, she wraps her arms around that devil so tightly that air can't get between them.
Julia is also a fucking dimwit. TSTL to the max! When Napolean's troops cross the Belgian border and everyone else in Brussels is getting the fuck out, what does Julia - a girl who has never done ANYTHING that would make her handy in a crisis - do? She tricks her mother and stays behind, of course! Because that's obviously the most SENSIBLE and PROPER thing to do! Now, I'm not from the early-19th century, but I can guarantee you that if there was even an off-chance that Napolean would charge into my town and blow my house down, I would run like the fucking wind. For the love of god, Julia! She can't keep "an eye out" on Hal if she ends up dead or displaced. Has this woman never heard of collateral damage or war refugees? Dumb. Just so dumb.
Later back in England, Hal and EVERYBODY ELSE tells Julia, "Hey, there's a gypsy bent on revenge against our inner circle who sometimes kidnaps our ladies and keeps trying to ruin our lives. Stay away from him." But Julia, Queen of TSTL Mountain, decides to take YEARS of grudges and politics between PEOPLE WHO ARE NOT HER into her own hands and approaches the vengeful gypsy ALONE IN HIS HOUSE to "work something out". Such a dumbass. Granted, Julia is a lucky woman. Staying in Brussels (view spoiler)[puts her in the position to save Hal's life (hide spoiler)]. Going to the vengeful gypsy's house (view spoiler)[does not, in fact, result in gypsy rape and murder, although she very nearly gets Hal killed when he shows up to rescue her (hide spoiler)].
Yes, there's a Mysterious, Vengeful Gypsy in this story.
He's apparently been around for several of these Harlequin Historicals, and nothing - NOT EVEN WAR - can stop him from using his trickery against Hal's family. I'm not convinced that the gypsy's all bad, to be honest. I imagine he'll get his own book eventually, and the author will go to great lengths to describe how he's just misunderstood.
Julia Acquires a Groom with Knowledge about MODERN MEDICINE.
There's a hilarious scene in which Hal's dying of battle wounds, and Julia's newly acquired groom is just like, "I'll just stitch him up like I stitch up my horses." And then, OF COURSE, he keeps a clean environment because he learned that "just works better" with his horses. Also, he douses the wounds in alcohol just 'cause. My favorite part by far was when the groom scrubbed Hal's wounds with saltwater, apparently because he takes the horses out for rounds of aquatic water therapy. This can only bring me to one of 2 logical conclusions - A) Julia's groom is a time traveler, or B) Hal is a horse. You decide.
BUT I LIKED IT!
Despite Hal's virgin phobia and Julia's mouse brain, I genuinely enjoyed this book. The romance is very well done. It's easy to believe Hal and Julia's chemistry from beginning to end. My favorite part by far was chronicled in the days leading up to Waterloo. There was something very unsettling about following these people going to parties and balls, joking around in the park, and living rather ordinary lives just days before a huge battle. I couldn't help but read some of the descriptions of military characters and think, "Wow, he'll probably be dead soon." I loved reading about Brussels in that particular time, and it's clear that Allen did her research.
So sure, 3.5 stars to you, The Officer and the Proper Lady. The story isn't perfect, but I was certainly entertained!
Trying out a new romance author is very similar to trying a new hair style. Sometimes the cut works and sometimes it makes the world seem like it will...moreTrying out a new romance author is very similar to trying a new hair style. Sometimes the cut works and sometimes it makes the world seem like it will come to an end. Fortunately for me, Maya Rodale ended up being a good decision.
A Groom of One's Own tells the story of once-jilted at the altar Miss Sophie Harlow. Humiliated, Sophie flees to London, where she somehow gets a respectable job writing a column about weddings for a newspaper. But Sophie hates weddings. Hers was such a disaster, and every time she attends one for her job, she ends up having a panic attack. If Sophie were alive today, there would be drugs for that. Unfortunately, this is a story and a Regency one at that, so Sophie has to suck up her distress and keep cranking out wedding articles. Poor dear. The hero of the story is the Duke of Hamilton and Brandon, who gave me constant flashbacks of 90210 episodes by insisting on being called Brandon. He's a respectable guy with a respectable family and a respectable fiancee who has an equally respectable aversion to romance. Hmmm ... I wonder what will happen when the lively Miss Harlow ends up covering the duke's wedding?
Rodale trods on dangerous territory with this book. I personally can't enjoy a book about unfaithful people. It makes it so difficult to cheer for their happiness. Fortunately, the characters are all very open about their feelings. It's a bit creepy how open they are, actually. Brandon's fiancee is very aware of his feelings for Sophie. He, in turn, is very open about his feelings for Sophie with Sophie. At times, I felt like these kids were stuck in some sort of Masochism Tango: Cravats and Pelisse Edition. Brandon is too honorable to ditch his prospective bride before the wedding day, but his relationship with Sophie is at times heart-wrenching in its sweetness. He's such a good guy that even when I wanted to smack his figurative head through the book for being a nimwit, I couldn't. Kudos to Rodale for creating an indecisive character who I didn't hate.
YE OLDE GOOD STUFF: Sophie is a very fun character to read. She has a good sense of humor and tries to do the right thing. Granted, I felt like she was maybe a little too eager to hook up with a man she couldn't have. In that time, Sophie wouldn't have been accepted in the vaunted circles she frequented, and she likely wouldn't have had a chance to break up the wedding of the year. Fortunately, this was a romance novel, so happy ending trumps realism. (Thank God!)
Brandon, even though he suffers from Chronic Can't Love 'Cause It Makes Me FEEL Syndrome, is a refreshing take on a Regency hero. He isn't a rake (so overdone these days) and doesn't want to play fast-and-loose with the feelings of the women in his life. It takes a long time for him to even kiss Sophie, creating a generous heaping of sexual tension.
YE OLDE BAD STUFF: Sophie writes for a newspaper. In eighteen-hundred-and-something-early. Female writes did exist back then (thank you, Jane Austen), but I really don't think that they enjoyed the measure of freedom that Sophie did. Single young women from good families (even seemingly invisible families stowed away in the country) simply didn't walk about London alone or work in an office with countless males. I'm not much of a stickler for historical accuracy in fiction, but it did bother me that Sophie's family kind of disappeared when she moved to London. Wouldn't they have been concerned about her? Why did she have to work to live? Was Sophie just too annoying for them to care?
Brandon's Chronic Can't Love 'Cause It Makes Me FEEL Syndrome gets annoying at times. (view spoiler)[It's because his dad died, (hide spoiler)] which is a really lame excuse. Other romance heroes have come up with much more creative reasons for their stunted emotional behavior. Try harder, Brandon.
THE SEX: Not too graphic. Rodale focuses more on the emotional connections between the characters than the physical. Don't get me wrong. There was definitely some sexin'. It just packed more of an emotional punch than an erotic one. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
After reading far too many "romances" with crazy-ass new alphas, I bought Ruined by Rumor on a whim. When BAVR gets depressed about the state...more3.5 stars
After reading far too many "romances" with crazy-ass new alphas, I bought Ruined by Rumor on a whim. When BAVR gets depressed about the state of the romance genre, she needs a good beta to bring it all back into perspective. Yes, you read it here: BAVR loves beta heroes. They're sweet, sexy, usually have some deep-seated angst that they try to ignore, and most importantly, they don't act like raging lunatics.
So call this my Great Beta Cleanse of 2013. I will be reading more to wash the yuck of REAL out of my mind because Ruined by Rumor and its adorable beta made for a pleasant, cozy surprise.
It isn't perfect, but no formulaic Regency romance is. It has a classy spirit, though. The sex is romantic, not gag-me explicit. The romance is slow-building, not unbelievably instant. Alex, Earl of Ayersley, has been in love with Roxana Langley, his best friend's sister, for years. Unfortunately, when he first intended to court her, he was too awkward and shy to make a move before the dashing (read: douchebagguette) George Wyatt swooped in and proposed to her. George joins the cavalry and leaves Roxana for FIVE YEARS, and for all that time she pines after him and quietly resents Alex because Wyatt once told her the earl thought she was silly or whatever.
When Wyatt returns, Roxana is excited to finally marry her true love. Then the douchebaguette jilts her, and Alex attempts to comfort her. Naturally, a beta's form of "comfort" is to kiss the girl like a starved lip ninja, and Roxana is promptly ruined because the people who accidentally spied them thought he was humping her.
Thus begins Alex and Roxana's marriage of convenience. But it isn't really that for him because he secretly loves her. Roxana, on the other hand, is plagued with guilt because she thinks he's marrying a woman he doesn't like in order to do the honorable thing. And she's still mourning her relationship with George, who keeps showing up and casting doubts on her confusing marriage.
At times, I wished I was a time-traveling assassin who could shoot George in the face and come back to 2013 like nothing had happened.
It's a good thing Roxana and Alex are so attracted to each other, or the marriage really could have been a disaster.
Roxana remains a little too willfully blind to George's manipulation for my taste, but she makes up for that by genuinely trying to make things work with Alex. The earl, on the other hand, tries not to smother Roxana with his overwhelming love, leaving her to think he doesn't care. While I usually hate Misunderstanding Plots, Alex and Roxana are likable enough to make it entertaining.
The whole book, I was waiting for Alex to have a meltdown - a spectacular, irrational meltdown that would bring his character to another level. He DOES. And it's FABULOUS. >:D
So, yes, while Ruined by Rumor is formulaic, and actually a little old-fashioned, Everett has a charming, competent way with prose that makes reading very easy and enjoyable. As romances go, this is a refreshing change from the dirtied-up style everyone else is going for at the moment. I'm actually excited to pick up another one of her books for future brain cleanses.(less)
There wasn't anything particularly "scandalous" about Mary Balogh's Slightly Scandalous, which leads me to a burning question: Who the hell is naming...moreThere wasn't anything particularly "scandalous" about Mary Balogh's Slightly Scandalous, which leads me to a burning question: Who the hell is naming books these days? I could throw a mish-mash of words in a hat, draw out 2, and I swear to all the Your Graces and My Lords in Regency England, I could come up with a more apt title. OK, I suppose that the plot of this book - my first Mary Balogh read, new things are cool - was slightly scandalous, but aren't all these Regency Romance plots the same way? Oh gosh! Margaret's in the garden maze with that wicked Marquess of Blackraven! Surely, she is ruined. They must marry immediately! This is entirely too slightly scandalous!
But the book. Right. The book. Let's get started, shall we?
SUMMARY: Lady Freyja Bedwyn takes off to visit a friend in Bath, which apparently isn't fashionable anymore, to avoid the birth and christening of her first love Kit's son with his new wife. Freyja's a noble sort with exacting standards, being the daughter (and now sister) of a duke and all. So, when Joshua Moore, Marquess of Hallmere, stumbles into her room at an inn en route to Bath whilst attempting to escape an enraged father with intentions of forcing Joshua's marriage to his daughter, Freyja is filled with righteous indignation. She screams bloody murder until he is forced to jump out the window and continues her journey to Bath. Of course, they run into each other again in Bath and butt heads and snipe and flirt shamelessly. It's all very sedate until Joshua's aunt, the marchioness, arrives in Bath with plans to wed him to her daughter Constance. Of course, the marchioness is a scheming scheme-ster with manipulative tendencies and no end to her psychological warfare. Naturally, the only thing Joshua can do to escape getting "leg-shackled" is to fake an engagement to Lady Freyja Bedwyn. But will their fake engagement become a love match in reality?
You betcha, gov'nuh!
YE OLDE DELIGHTS: I liked Joshua. His sunny demeanor was a refreshing change from the brooding alpha virility monsters that HR authors are so fond of these days. Joshua's upbringing wasn't incredibly happy, but he made the best of it and cultivated love and respect from the people in his town even before he became heir to the marquessate. At first, Joshua is interested in Freyja out of boredom, but he eventually grows to love her without utilizing any of the I'LL NEVER LOVE A WOMAN BECAUSE THEY'RE ALL WHORES / REMIND ME OF MY MOTHER / NEVER MEASURE UP TO MY DEAD PERFECT WIFE tropes that annoy me so.
Freyja is a lot of fun. She demands the best and lets everyone know it. I like that she's an unapologetic bitch a lot of the time and never has to change. She's a good match for Joshua. She isn't very pretty doesn't whine about it. Freyja is comfortable in her own skin and doesn't take any crap.
YE OLDE GARBAGE: I know this is part of a series, but Slightly Scandalous has some major "Look, See How Happy and Perfect All My Past Characters Are? See It? SEE IT?" syndrome. If I had to read one more thing about the Bedwyn nose or their haughty glances or dignified poses, I would have thrown the book against the wall (a very costly outcome for my Nook). It's all Babies Ever After and Doting Husbands for a large portion of the book, and I almost went into insulin shock. Sorry. I'm an upbeat person. I swear I like happy things, just not jammed into the middle of narratives.
The big crisis at the end of the story is too easily wrapped up and tied away with a little bow. It didn't even need to be drawn out for as long as it was. A couple of characters just say a few things, and *POOF!* went the conflict! I get that the story was more of a character study than a rousing adventure, but damn it, there's always room for a little adventure!
Also, I was put off by Freyja's propensity for punching people, namely Joshua, in the nose. Not to get all After School Special in my review, but violence isn't cool. I'll excuse Freyja for the first punch because Joshua kissed her without permission. All ladies would be wise to punch a virtual stranger who bursts into their rooms and makes unwanted advances. However, I can't give her a pass for the second punch, the third attempted bunch, or the subsequent threatened punches. USE YOUR WORDS, FREYJA! Having 4 brothers is not an all-access pass to violence. Imagine if Joshua and Freyja were in reversed roles. I'm sure no one would find it amusing if he socked her in the face every time she got his temper up. Strange double standards in fiction are strange.
(view spoiler)[In addition, Joshua's cousin Prudence, who clearly has a mental disability and is frequently described as child-like, is married off to a man at the end of the story. This is implied to be a good thing, but it rubbed me the wrong way. If Prue is truly "forever a child," does she really have the means to consent to an adult relationship? I felt like this was glossed over very carelessly. (hide spoiler)]
Overall, the book wasn't awful. I'm not chomping at the bit to read another Balogh book or anything, but I may give her a chance in the future. With a little more something to the plot, this could have been a 4-star. Alas, it wasn't meant to be. Now that's what I call slightly scandalous.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Twice-jilted stick-in-the-mud (thrice, if you count her dearly departed husband) Grace, C...moreEh, 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["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I've been sitting here for five minutes clicking back-and-forth from the second to third star. Because it's Friday, though, BAVR is being nice. (And h...moreI've been sitting here for five minutes clicking back-and-forth from the second to third star. Because it's Friday, though, BAVR is being nice. (And honestly, 3 stars is my go-to default when I can't make up my mind about something.)(less)
A Tale of Two Lovers was a bit of a wall banger for me. Rodale's a good writer, so the prose flowed well and kept me invested in the story. Sadly, the...moreA Tale of Two Lovers was a bit of a wall banger for me. Rodale's a good writer, so the prose flowed well and kept me invested in the story. Sadly, the main characters in this story are HORRIBLE PEOPLE (TM). I don't mind abrasive characters. I don't even mind characters with problematic personalities. But I do mind characters who intentionally inflict pain (physical or emotional) on others and never embark on a redemption arc. And on that note, meet our heroine, Julianna!
SUMMARY: Julianna, Lady Somerset, is a widowed gossip columnist trying to break the next big story by besting her nemesis, The Man About Time, a gossip columnist from another paper. In order to do this, Julianna writes a damning story about notorious rake Lord Roxbury that ends up getting the man all but shunned by the Ton. In turn, Lord Roxbury ruins Julianna, and the two crazy kids are left with no other option than to marry (naturally). Is it a spoiler to say that they end up being meant for each other?
YE OLDE DELIGHTS: Rodale's writing is the real star in this book. She kept me reading even when I was angry. The mystery surrounding The Man About Town was a fun diversion from the angst between the two main characters. I never guessed the identity of the man, and that's rare.
YE OLDE GARBAGE: Julianna. Julianna, Julianna, Julianna, why doth thou hateth me so-eth? (view spoiler)[Even though the silly girl KNOWS that she published a false story about Roxbury, a story that in those times would have done more damage than to cause a few smirks (she implied that he was having sex with a man), she refuses to print a retraction. She watches two men duel over the story and is all "Woe is me! 'Tis just a story!" (hide spoiler)] What she did was horrible, and she never took responsibility for it. While Roxbury wasn't much better, at least he stopped being a nincompoop halfway through the book when he was "redeemed by love." (view spoiler)[Is anyone else concerned that Roxbury was diseased in some way? He couldn't even count the number of women he'd sexed up, and that's troubling. It's no wonder he didn't think he could stay monogamous. (hide spoiler)]
I thought that the focus on the gossip columns would lead to some type of moral awakening - like, oh I don't know, gossip can be really MEAN and DAMAGING. But no. Julianna loves her work, which is nice, I guess ... if I considered dragging peoples' names through the mud for money NICE. I just couldn't relate. It especially irked me when (view spoiler)[Julianna sulks about being spurned by society when the gossip is focused on her instead of other people. Why Pot, I don't believe you've met Kettle, have you? (hide spoiler)]
I wanted to like the characters. I really did. They even grew on me a few times, almost redeemed themselves by being charming. But in the end, I felt like they didn't learn anything other than how to love each other. That's great and all, but how am I supposed to believe that their love will last when they have so little respect for other people? ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Back when BAVR still had her baby talons, we read a ton of Julia Quinn books. Almost all of them, really. And despite those years of frivolous happine...moreBack when BAVR still had her baby talons, we read a ton of Julia Quinn books. Almost all of them, really. And despite those years of frivolous happiness, I swore off Quinn books after the first in the Smythe-Smith series, Just Like Heaven, was pointlessly dumb enough to make me rethink what I was doing with my life. Did I really want to read the same banter and self-gratifying me so clever "comedy" for the rest of my life? No, I said. No, I do not want to read this funny stuff that isn't funny from an author who can do SO MUCH BETTER anymore. So I put away my Quinn books and summed this up to a "phase" never to be revisited again.
Then I came across A Night Like This, the second book in the Smythe-Smith series, on sale for $1 at a used book sale and bought it because REASONS, okay?
On the bright side, A Night Like This isn't nearly as mind-numbingly frivolous as the prior book in this series. There's a plot, there's more romance, the scenes didn't make me want to take a meat mallet to the next face that said something stupid. I was pleasantly surprised. Look at that. 3 stars. FOR AN AVON. That's, like, 3 billion stars in Avon ratings.
The story isn't particularly complicated. It's the standard regency fare, except that Quinn can write, so the tropes aren't quite as annoying. A Night Like This goes thus:
(view spoiler)[DANIEL, EARL OF WINSTEAD: Oh noz! I have accidentally attended a duel and accidentally shot my friend in the leg. These things happen!
MAIMED FRIEND'S DAD: I will KEEL you!
DANIEL: Oh noz! I must flee to the continent to avoid a sure death!
*THREE YEARS LATER - Daniel returns to England on the night of the infamous Smythe-Smith musicale, an event that has been DONE TO DEATH in Quinn's world. It's funny because the girls suck at playing instruments. But they play every year anyway. It's funny. No, really. Funny.
DANIEL: Hark! Who is this fair maiden I have never met sitting at the piano playing poorly. She is not my relative.
ANNE WYNTER, GOVERNESS: I am thine fair maiden, but you cannot eye-fuck me like that because I am a governess.
DANIEL: You are beautiful!
ANNE: I really can't ...
DANIEL: I must have you!
ANNE: Seriously, not a good idea. I still think you're hot, but ... Oh, what the hell? My feminine loins are quivering or whatever.
*KISSES, MAGIC, RAINBOWS, LOVE*
ANNE: But no! We can't do this because I have issues.
DANIEL: I don't care.
ANNE: I have issues, and fooling around with you will get me fired and thrown out on the street with nowhere to go. This is fucking 1815 or whatever. They'll make me be a prostitute probably, and then I'll die.
DANIEL: That's an excellent point. Nonetheless, I will have you still.
ANNE: Don't you listen? I'm, like, damaged and stuff.
*Daniel maneuvers blatantly obvious ways to see Anne that fool absolutely NOBODY and attempts to woo her.*
ANNE: *is wooed*
DANIEL: You have secrets. Let me help you.
ANNE: They're too shameful!
ONE OF ANNE'S SECRETS: Muawhahahaha! I will kill everybody because I was a dickbag a long time ago and ended up paying for it. *stalks Anne shamelessly*
DANIEL: Let me help you.
ANNE: I'm in mortal danger! *disappears*
DANIEL: ZOMG! WHERE IS ANNE? I CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT HER WHERE DID SHE GO OMG I'M DYING GUYZ!
ANNE: *reappears* It's cool, stop crying. But I'm still in mortal danger! *tells him all her secrets*
DANIEL: OMG, I love you so much.
ANNE: OMG, I love you, too.
*They make all the love. Starbursts. Sunshine. Supernovas.*
DANIEL: Marry me.
ANNE: I told you I'm NOT WORTHY.
DANIEL: Marry me!
*Things are good for a minute*
ANNE: *disappears again*
DANIEL: ZOMG! I CAN'T EVEN WHERE IS ANNE? WHERE IS ANNE? I WILL DIE I WILL DIE. I MUST FIND HER. WHY DOES SHE KEEP DISAPPEARING THIS IS AWFUL OMG!
ONE OF ANNE'S SECRETS: I'm evil and bonkers. Time to kill Anne!
DANIEL AND WACKY SUPPORTING CAST OF DOOM: Oh, no you don't!
MURDEROUS PLOT: *foiled*
OBVIOUS HERO OF NEXT BOOK: I'm going to act really cool OUT OF THE BLUE for a couple of pages so readers will buy the next book.
You know what I think the biggest problem is with Quinn's recent books? The characters are too NICE. She needs to rough them up a bit, give them something to fight about. Back in the day, she wrote a few intriguing jackholes. I MISS THE JACKHOLES. Daniel and Anne are wholly inoffensive. They never even offend each other. I think my husband and I piss each other off more in one day than they did in the entire book, and my marriage is incredibly civil.
Also, the secondary characters can be all kinds of distracting and annoying. Stop setting me up for sequels, writers. I don't bleed money. ["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"]>(less)
Remember how Historical Romance was in the 90s, fellow readers? The teeth-pulling level tediousness of two characters hating each...moreWarning: 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. (less)
Somehow, this is my first Tracy Anne Warren book. I know - unbelievable. You'd think I would have come across her in on...moreWarning: GIFs and some spoilers
Somehow, this is my first Tracy Anne Warren book. I know - unbelievable. You'd think I would have come across her in one of my Avon HR binges before now, but it appears that her series catchphrase -- Everyone knows the Byron brothers are "mad, bad and dangerous." -- discouraged me. Shocking, I know.
The Byron brother in At the Duke's Pleasure, Edward, the Duke of Clybourne, is hardly dangerous, but I consider him abso-fucking-lutely mad for putting up with the heroine, Lady Claire. Just take a list of the most annoying HR tropes, and Claire has a hand in almost all of them. Is this a secret time travel novel? That's the only thing that could explain why she acts like a spoiled, impetuous 16-year-old.
Basically, Edward and Claire have been engaged since she was an infant. It's an arranged marriage, you see, which is what just about everyone back in the day did to create powerful family alliances. As a teenager, Claire is thrilled to be engaged to Edward, because fuck yeah, he's hot AND a duke. She may as well have seen a unicorn using the Loch Ness Monster as a raft for all the more common hot and available dukes actually were. Edward, for his part, is less than thrilled because he feels like he's engaged to a child. A besotted 15-year-old Claire overhears Edward saying as much and is naturally heartbroken.
Whatever. She's a kid. By the time she grows up, I'm sure she'll understand what marriage is like in her time.
What reality did to my expectations.
Right. So, Edward comes back several years later to retrieve his bride. Claire's blossomed into a refined beauty, and she's been raised to be a duchess, so he figures it's a win-win. Note to Avon heroes: NEVER assume it's a win-win.
While Claire is older, she is not wiser. Still consumed with love for Edward, she decides she simply CAN'T marry him if he doesn't love her back. God, I hate this story line. But Edward won't release her from the engagement because it would make them both look bad and inconvenience his carefully arranged plans. So Claire goes to her dad, an earl who is quite pleased with the match, and asks him to release her from the betrothal. And her dad is like:
Thus, Claire agrees to go to London to "get to know" Edward as his fiancee while quietly scheming ways to convince him to jilt her.
To recap: Claire wants the man she loves to jilt her.
Now that you know what a hare-brained idiot we're working with, I'm sure it's easy for you to see how implausible this story will be.
Claire has younger sisters. All they really have to do in life is get married and create heirs. And I get it, the past sucked donkey balls. But this is the world Claire lives in, and she pisses all over it. How marriageable do you think Claire's sister will be after...
She dances THREE TIMES at a ball with a man who's well-known for ruining another young lady, smokes cigars with noblemen, openly defies her fiance in public, races carriages in broad daylight, gambles with gentlemen, cuts all of her hair off, DRESSES AS A BOY TO SNEAK INTO A GENTLEMEN'S CLUB AND GAMBLE SOME MORE (this one irritated me the most), and leaves a ball with the bad man who ruins lady.
Sure, all of these things would usually cause a man to cry off, but they would also RUIN you and your family and bring into question the character of the people who associate with you. Claire lives in this fantasy world where all she has to do is drive away the man she loves (I know, the logic hurts) and go back to living her respectable little life in middle-of-nowhere England. I'm pretty confident that every Jane Austen novel ever has established that life wasn't that damn simple back then.
Edward, bless his stupid little heart, refuses to jilt his spirited bride. He just soaks up all of the scandal with his name and title and goes to great lengths to appease her. But can he appease her with the love she really wants?
I refuse to answer that question.
For all of its character flaws, the book is incredibly readable. BAVR was entertained the whole time, and that's a feat in itself. Warren writes a steamy love scene, and despite the fact that I think Claire will send Edward to an early grave, their chemistry is believable.
To be honest, I'd rather wade in the sea of HR WTFery than read any contemporary or new adult romances at present, so At the Duke's Pleasure was sort of a treat. If Claire had been any less stupid, I may have rated it higher than 2.5 stars.
But here's some good news for Warren: I'll be reading the next book in the series. Avon Soup is my favorite comfort food, after all. >:D
"At the Duke's Pleasure" 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(less)
I liked the stuff about Waterloo, and Captain Allan Landon was a nice enough (if sort of bland) hero, but the heroine Marian spoiled it for m...more2.5 stars
I liked the stuff about Waterloo, and Captain Allan Landon was a nice enough (if sort of bland) hero, but the heroine Marian spoiled it for me.
First, she refuses to call Allan anything other than "Captain," even after he sells his commission. Which might seem minor to you, just reading this review that uses the word "captain" only a few times, but would drive you fucking insane if you read it constantly on every page. He has a first name, Marian. Even a last one. Use them. Please.
Secondly, she believes any and all gossip she hears about her damn captain, even though he has given every indication of being a man of honor and treats her like a lady.
Thirdly, girl in fucking breeches, and she isn't even playing a part in the opera.
Finally, she organizes a soldiers march in London despite it being ILLEGAL and a HANGING OFFENSE for ALL INVOLVED and paints Allan as the enemy when he tries to stop her.
Basically, Marian is too stupid to live, yet unfortunately, she lives.