I was not enamored of this book. It falls somewhere in the middle of the plethora of historical romance novels I have read. I didn’tPenny’s Rating: C
I was not enamored of this book. It falls somewhere in the middle of the plethora of historical romance novels I have read. I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it either. I was actually impressed by first time writer, one Alyssa Everett, but have to acknowledge that this book just isn’t my thing.
In addition to the romance between Ben and Barbara, this is also a whodunnit mystery, and for me, it just fell flat. I couldn’t connect with the characters, and I figured out who the killer was way before everyone in the story. Plus Ben and Barbara, are both kinda angsty and came across as too insecure. They are easily insulted not only by what they say to each other, but what everyone else says to them as well. Plus the story alternates between Ben and Barbara’s points of view, and it is a little discombobulating.
If you love historical romances, with murder, spying, and shenanigans, you’ll probably love this book. The dialogue is witty, and the story does have some unique elements not often found in your typical historical. In spite of the angst, none of the characters fit their standard stereotypes, and in all honesty had more to them than I expected, which was a nice surprise. All in all, not bad for a debut novel, and it kept my interest enough that I will be keeping and eye on author Alyssa Everett to see what she does next....more
Let me preface this review by saying, I am not religious. If I were, I probably really would have enjoyed Jamie Carie's new novel The Forgiven Duke a good deal more. The main characters are very, very Christian, and while that is probably accurate in a historical context, it really got in the way of the story for me.
The Forgiven Duke is a good yarn, even when you spend half of the time you are reading irritated at one character or another for being naive, stubborn, innocent, or just plain stupid. Alexandra Featherstone has run away from her appointed legal guardian, the handsome duke of St. Easton in order to search for her parents. She is certain are still alive and in trouble somewhere, not dead like everyone thinks. Against her better judgement, in order to follow her parents trail to Iceland, she has promised herself in marriage to one Lord John Lemon. John and Alex journey to Iceland, and frequently masquerade as a married couple so that no one will question their traveling together. Though Alex has made a promise to John, Alex knows that the feelings she has for her guardian are not those of a child for a parent. As a reader, I was easily engaged in Alex's journey and found her intelligence and enthusiasm endearing. The affection between St. Easton and Alexandra is obvious from their first distant glimpse of each other, and it is clear that they love each other, in spite of the "ridiculous circumstances" that keep them apart for almost the whole book.
Spoiler Alert: Please note, this next segment contains a few spoilers. You have been forewarned.
Below are some of the aforementioned "ridiculous circumstances":
Ridiculous Circumstance #1: Alexandra assumes her guardian will obey the prince regent and drag Alexandra back to England, forcing her to have a season, get married, and give up the search for her parents. That is why she runs away. Actually, St Easton is more than happy to help Alexandra and disobey his orders. So there was in fact, no actual reason for her to run away in the first place. Ridiculous Circumstance #2: St. Easton is hindered in his pursuit of Alexandra by British soldiers, who basically kidnap him, make him a prisoner on their ship, and bring him back to England to meet with his Royal Highness himself. Ridiculous Circumstance #3: St Easton is hindered in his pursuit again, when he is kidnapped (for real) from the streets of London, made prisoner on a ship again, and brought to Spain, where he is tortured for information about the archeological discovery that Alexandra's parents were pursuing for when they disappeared. Ridiculous Circumstance #4: John Lemon is a horses ass. He reveals himself as an ass many, many times, but Alexandra in her naivete, gives him the benefit of the doubt again and again. For someone who appears to be extremely smart, Alex is really dumb when it comes to knowing who to trust. Ridiculous Circumstance #5: Neither Alex nor St. Easton follow their hearts. For people who exhibit such tremendous faith in God, neither of them has any faith in their own ability or judgement, or even listens to their own instincts. It's really annoying, and it causes them nothing but heartache, over and over again throughout the book.
Really. St. Easton is kidnapped twice? Why draw the line there? Shouldn't he have been sold into slavery too? Maybe in the next book he can be kidnapped by cultists and brainwashed to forget Alexandra. Being kidnapped twice, is just beyond absurd. St. Easton spends a lot of time is this book being seasick and miserable, and then when he finally gets to be with Alexandra, he avoids her like the plague. Are you kidding me? You get kidnapped twice, and tortured, all because of this girl who you love, and now you're not even going to talk to her? Grrrr.
Alex is no better at honesty than St. Easton. She never talks to him about anything that happened with Lord Lemon, and she really really should. A lie of omission is still a lie. Because of this, readers are left with some major cliffhangers at the end of the book. When the book ends, Alex still hasn't told St. Easton about John's trickery and betrayal. So, grrrrrrrrr to her too. Plus, Alex's parents are still missing, and still in very grave danger, and every government in the world wants to get their hands on their alleged discovery.
I would also like to note, I do think it's possible to have common sense and have faith in God. In Carie's world however, for most of the book, they appear to be mutually exclusive. I think this is perhaps why their faith irritates me. It's not their faith in God per se, so much as their utter rejection of their own conscience and instincts. Here's my problem with this. If you believe in God, God gave you instincts and a conscience right? So why don't you listen to them? Of course if you don't believe in God (like me), you rely on yourself, (not a higher power), so maybe I place more importance on common sense and conscience? I don't know. There are instances in the book where both Alex and St. Easton realize that in ignoring their own instincts that they are in fact not listening to God, so maybe that is part Carie's message.
I am, in spite of my irritations with the book, curious to find out what happens to Alex and St. Easton as they embark on their next journey to pursue her parents. I for one will be keeping an eye out for book 3.
by Brenda Novak Published on November 1, 2011 ISBN: 00B005Z4ZX94 Kindle Edition, Published October 23rd 2011
Penny's Rating: B-
A penniless French daughterby Brenda Novak Published on November 1, 2011 ISBN: 00B005Z4ZX94 Kindle Edition, Published October 23rd 2011
Penny's Rating: B-
A penniless French daughter of a nobleman (Jeannette Boucher) flees from her new English husband and a fate worse than death. To escape the clutches of her powerful husband, (St. Ives) and his nefarious plans for her wedding night, Jeannette chops her hair, dresses in boys' clothing, and joins the crew of a Royal Navy ship. In running away, she runs right into the arms of one Lieutenant Crawford Treynor, who protects her even before he discovers who "Jean" really is. Their growing attraction causes both great frustration and pain as they struggle to guard their hearts. Not to mention, Jeannette is already married. Will she be able to escape her husband for good, and find true love?
This book has some classic storytelling elements that when I list them off sound pretty cliché:
A girl masquerading as a boy A wedding without a wedding night A jaded but honorable bastard, (the handsome Lt. Treynor) A heroine who gets into scrape after scrape A hero who nobly sacrifices himself again and again to get said heroine out of trouble A voyage that goes awry A battle at sea and a sinking frigate A duel to the death
There are a lot of cliché archetypal elements in this novel, than at first glance, might not seem like they would go together in any sort of cohesive way, but Brenda Novak manages to tie them up into a neat little enjoyable story. If you are looking for something deep and brooding, this is not it. It was however, more than I expected, in terms of a pleasant quick read, and in terms of characters and character development.
Some of the situations Jeannette gets herself into are pretty funny, like when the crew decides that "Jean" should get "his" first tattoo, and she very nearly ends up with a naked lady tattooed to her arm.
Others are a bit more far fetched, like when Jeannette and Treynor help a stowaway pregnant hooker give birth to a baby in the bellows of the ship.
The chemistry between Treynor and Jeannette is palpable. Their love for each other grows from their mutual attraction and all of the not sex that they are having. They have to share quarters on the ship for part of their journey and they see each other naked, a lot. They also bathe in front of each other, which leads to some pretty interesting moments. Treynor does live up to the books title on occasion, and hurts Jeannette, while hiding behind a callous facade.
Though the book is called "The Bastard", a great deal of the story is told from the point of view of the heroine Jeannette. It would have been great to hear more from Treynor, and to know a little bit more about what he is thinking. Also, though it does factor into Treynor's character development, the fact that he's a bastard is such a minor sub-plot in the book, it almost feels like the book should have been called something else.
By the end of the novel, I was irritated at both characters for being so stubborn and idiotic. It always irritates me when pride and ego are the obstacles in the way for two people who love each other. Really, after all they went though, Treynor doesn't think he's good enough for her? At this point he's saved her from basically everything....it's just infuriating that now he turns into this wet blanket.
There isn't much more that I can say without giving away too much of the story, but on the whole I was pleasantly surprised but this tale. B-
Note: Though the cover of this book plays host to a very attractive shirtless man sporting a very manly chest, I don't think that the man on the cover looks like Lt. Treynor at all. ...more
By: Manda Collins ebook, 400 pages Published January 31st 2012 by St. Martin's Press ISBN: 142995261X (ISBN13: 9781429952613) original title: How to DanceBy: Manda Collins ebook, 400 pages Published January 31st 2012 by St. Martin's Press ISBN: 142995261X (ISBN13: 9781429952613) original title: How to Dance with a Duke (Ugly Ducklings, #1)
Meh. I think Manda Collins shows promise as a writer. Really, I do. The book was well written, no glaring holes, typos or horrible grammar, decent dialogue, but I had trouble connecting with the two main characters. It showed so much promise that I wanted to love it, but it just didn't happen for me.
The plot meanders and gets bogged down in exposition, a lot of exposition. There is a lot going on. A lot of scenes that were written to illustrate the personality of the characters, and to expose the clues of the mystery that Cecily and Luke have to solve, are repetitive and unnecessary. Dead horse, meet stick. I also felt that Collins' portrayal of Regency London was rather like my high school. Aside from Luke and Cecily, the other characters were pretty shallow and snobby, and stereotypical. The main characters do fulfill their archetypal roles, but I didn't find them to be too annoying. Luke embodies the reluctant Duke hiding from marriage minded misses, with a war injury and a limp thrown in for good measure, and Cecily is supposed to be a brilliant archeological scholar, who's been labeled a bluestocking by the ton because she's intelligent. I don't really think that Cecily really deserves the label of an "Ugly Ducking". She's obviously not ugly at all. This is book #1 of a three-part series, with Cecily's cousins Madeline and Juliet as the heroines for the remaining two books in the series.
One of the things I really did like about the book were the love scenes. It took forever for Cecily and Luke to get around to it, but when they can't fight their growing attraction any longer, and conveniently get locked in a dark room together, sparks do actually fly, and there are some lovely, steamy moments. They also have some nice banter, and some of their dialogue is actually pretty funny. Luke and Cecily do have exciting adventures in the scenes where they work together to solve the mystery. Much of the story however, consists of Cecily and Luke trying separately to solve the mystery instead of working together, because they are being either insecure, stubborn, or are afraid of their feelings, and this really drags out the story.
The mystery of Cecily's Father's illness and the disappearance of Luke's Brother takes forever to solve, and even without all of the twists and turns, the reader is aware of who the villain is way before Luck or Cecily ever figure it out. You know who the villain is long before you know why he is the villain, so that add to the suspense a wee bit.
Overall, though not my favorite read, I am going to keep my eye on Ms. Collins. I am interested to see what she does next with the next book in the Ugly Duckling series, How to Romance a Rake....more