Overall, this was a 4-star read. I enjoyed it very much, and loved how refreshing and clever it was. However, I did think that things were resolved aOverall, this was a 4-star read. I enjoyed it very much, and loved how refreshing and clever it was. However, I did think that things were resolved a bit too quickly during the end, and the speed at which it was done ruined my overall enjoyment of the book. This is a problem I've noticed with a lot of other books (historical romances, contemporary romances, YA, you name it, it's all across the board in terms of genres), although it may be more of a personal taste thing.
I originally gave this a 3-star rating and induced poor Christina and co. to have hernias, but upon further recollection, it's a bit unfair of me to give it only a 3-star rating when I often adjust similarly rated 3.7/3.8 books to a 4-star. At times I wish Goodreads had a A-F rating scale for books rather than a 1-5 star scale, because I feel that the star scale is rather limiting to what one can express in regards to overall enjoyment of a book; my 3-star rating does not mean that I did not enjoy it (in fact, I liked it quite a bit. I usually reserve 4 and 5-star ratings for especially wonderful books), while for some of my friends a 3-star rating is the 'rating of death'.
That being said, perhaps I'll reread this soon, and I will likely fall more in love with it the second time 'round and enjoy it even more. :) ...more
most of this was a 4-star read, but the last (not epilogue) chapter with the scene in the church was so cheesy that it ruined my overall enjoyment ofmost of this was a 4-star read, but the last (not epilogue) chapter with the scene in the church was so cheesy that it ruined my overall enjoyment of the book. so I would say 3.8ish overall, but ugh baaaaabies...more
Although it seems there are a great number of classics filling our shelves today, few works of literature have managed to truly endure throughout theAlthough it seems there are a great number of classics filling our shelves today, few works of literature have managed to truly endure throughout the years and remain such fascinating subjects to each new generation. In that regard, Pierre Choderlos de Laclos' defining work is an unparalleled tale that depicts a cunning game of love, betrayal, sex, revenge, and cruelty. Les Liaisons dangereuses has remained a subject of fascination for legions of readers since its release in 1782 and remains so today. Indeed, upon its initial publication, it caused a stir in France, shocking and exciting its readership. Laclos was condemned for his work even as it flew off of the shelves and into the hands of thrilled readers. When it was eventually banned, this did not stop illegal circulation (some complete with lewd illustrations) from being read in droves among intrigued audiences. Today, there have been numerous adaptations among a variety of mediums, including film, opera, theatre, radio, and ballet. It arouses fervid discussion and debate regarding how it should be interpreted and its possible themes (such as the feminist deconstruction of the Marquise de Mereteuil). Some believe that Laclos meant his novel to be a moral lesson to warn his readers; the consequences of such licentious behavior depicted by his characters should be interpreted as having dire consequences. Others dismiss this explanation, as both the heroes and the villains in this novel are of aristocratic standing. Regardless of its original intent or numerous interpretations, Les Liaisons dangereuses remains a necessary component of classic literature.
The story is told through a series of correspondence among two bored aristocrats and the pawns in their game in eighteenth century France. The Marquise de Mereteuil is still smarting from the fact that one of her lovers, the Comte de Gercourt, left her for another woman. Gercourt has now set his eyes on the convent-educated Cécile Volanges, whose virginity he prizes, as his bride. Mereteuil asks her ex-lover, the Vicomte de Valmont, to do her the favor of seducing Cécile, which would turn Gercourt into a laughingstock once he discovered that his bride had already been deflowered. Valmont initially refuses, as he sees the task of seducing a young chit fresh from the schoolroom to be simple and requiring no effort at all. Instead, he has set his sights on seducing a visitor of his aunt's: the married Présidente de Tourvel. Tourvel is a paragon of virtue famed for her devotion to God and her marriage. Valmont believes that his success in this endeavor will be the crème de la crème of his career as a rogue and thus solidify his skills in seduction as unparalleled. An amused Mereteuil tells Valmont that if he is able to succeed in seducing Tourvel and provides written proof, she will reward him by once more taking him as her lover. So begins a game between the two that doesn't exactly turn out the way that they expect.
The setting of the novel in the drawing rooms and châteaus of eighteenth century aristocratic France serves as not only a glamorous backdrop, but a driving force that makes up several aspects of what motivates the characters. Like the le bon ton of Regency England, the upper set of France during this era was guided by its own set of rules and customs that defined the people who were a part of its rank and all those who lived around it. This was a society that bred a lush range of different personalities that are reflected in Laclos' characters. Here we can find an array of personalities, from innocents who fail to see sinister intentions before their very eyes to the jaded blackguards who seek to ruin those around them. As they gather at the same parties and estates, sprawling from Paris to the countryside, we see a group of people who are dripping in extravagance, decadence, leisure, and indulgence with a devil-may-care attitude.
Having the book written as an epistolary novel allows us, as readers, to see the private thoughts and inner workings of an array of personalities; it's intimate in a way that regular narrative point of view (and even those with alternating points of view) cannot normally achieve. We are privy to these characters' deepest secrets, and are able to watch as they change (or, in a few cases, remain the same) in front of our very eyes - before they even come to terms with it. Epistolary novels are not always easy to pull off; they can go terribly wrong if they are not done correctly, turning them into crashing bores. However, Laclos is clearly in his element, as he rackets up the levels of sophisticated intrigue in a smart and dramatic style. It's cleverly done in such a subtle way, adding a distinct uniqueness to Les Liaisons dangereuses that sets it on a level entirely its own.
All of the main characters, no matter what type of personality they may have or what morals drive them, are people that we come to truly care about and whose impending fates we fret over. Les Liaisons dangereuses is a character-driven story that absorbs us through its multiple narratives. At first glance, this cast of colorful personalities may all seem to fall into the typical cliché of historical character tropes. However, each of these people who initially seem so easy to understand are, in reality, deeply complex personalities.
Cécile and Chevalier Danceny's naïveté reeks of the innocence of untried youth, but they are both so charmingly unaware of the net that they are being pulled into that all we can do is shake our heads and give them a sad smile. Their willingness to accept, without much thought, the help of others who are marked out against them is indeed ridiculously gullible, but we can see that the taste of first love blinds them. And for those of us who have experienced the pangs of such affections, how can we not feel a bit of pity for them? We may want to take them by the shoulders and shake some sense into them, but we can see reflected in them every twinge of foolish, beautiful, and green echoes of such heady young love.
Madame de Tourvel, the epitome of charity and virtue, is perhaps the one we sympathize with and worry over the most. Her path towards tragedy is one we feel every painstaking and fleetingly happy step of the way. She is someone strong in her own right, and should not be simply brushed aside as just another run-of-the-mill goody two shoes. Having such a steadfastly faithful countenance is not so easy to maintain as most of us would believe. As such, Tourvel may initially choose to believe the best in Valmont not because she is a fool, but because she chooses to see the good in people (which in itself requires a resounding sort of personality). Thus, she does not view him as anything more than a platonic source of friendship. She grows alarmed and suspicious once she learns Valmont's true intentions, and remains quite steadfast in upholding what she sees as most revered.
Her growing love for Valmont does not change her into some sort of blasphemous non-believer. Indeed, Valmont would not have it be so. He recognizes that the most tormenting of ways for Tourvel to give in to such feelings he may arouse is not by changing her morals, but by having her fall for him in spite of still holding up her beliefs: 'What delight, to be in turns the object and the victor of her remorse! Far be it from me to destroy the prejudices which sway her mind! They will add to my happiness and my triumph. Let her believe in virtue, and sacrifice it to me; let the idea of falling terrify her, without preventing her fall; and may she, shaken by a thousand terrors, forget them, vanquish them only in my arms. Then, I agree, let her say to me, “I adore thee”; she, alone among women, is worthy to pronounce these words. I shall be truly the God whom she has preferred.'
Valmont is truly a chameleon-like degenerate of the first order who does not realize that his eventual love and happiness with this woman, which he refuses to accept as it is, will be his downfall. His pride and reputation cannot allow it, so he sacrifices what joy he may have to avoid the humiliation he feels he will face. Mereteuril can see it far before he is wiling to come to terms with it, and his vehement denial is met with alarmed astonishment by the marquise even as she is jealously angry over how this affair has altered him towards her. In her view, he has become nothing more than a pathetic parody of what he once was.
Valmont and Mereteuil are villains a set apart from the usual archetype we find in fiction - sleek and aristocratic, they view the majority of the world (and especially their pawns) with an air of contempt and paternalistic disdain. They are wolves in sheep's clothing who are interesting foils to one another. Mereteuil wears a perfect mask of decorum and smiles, while inside she plots her next move and extracts others' most inner secrets to wield against them. (We can compare her here to Tourvel, who also presents a virtuous and religious front that is true of her nature, while Mereteuil hides the opposite that is inside.) Valmont oozes a slyly bored disposition and a cunning veneer of rakish charm that is fitting for a lothario of his standing.
Mereteuil is more subtle with how she accomplishes her goals, while Valmont makes no move to hide what he is. This very well has to do with the fact that one is female and the other male (not to mention in the eighteenth century), thus allowing one of them certain, more explicit public options, while the other must be more covert. Mereteuil knows that even though she and Valmont engage in extremely similar activities, she would be ostracized by society if she were ever found out, while Valmont (though viewed as a dissolute reprobate) is able to carry on as he always does. Her methods are her own sort of revenge at the society that traps her, and although she may be villainous, she is someone we can laugh with and sympathize over. She views herself as alone, a master of her field of games. How can we not feel for her when she wishes to take Cécile under her wing and make the young girl her protégé?
Regardless of whether the duo choose subtlety or more overt methods, Valmont and Mereteuril are people who often get what they want at the expense of others. Nothing and no one is off limits for them; the world is their playground and its inhabitants their playthings. There is very little (often none) remorse felt here for their actions. The destruction of an innocent girl who has the misfortune to be associated with those who have crossed them isn't given a second thought or any pangs of guilt; it is all planned as matter-of-factly as though they are discussing a selection of crumpets and tea. Valmont and Mereteuil are fascinating characters because they may do atrocious things and feel no remorse, and yet still they (like the rest of the characters) manage to worm their way into our hearts and make us hope for a sliver of triumphant redemption or great change in them.
Alas, there is no such resolution. Valmont, although seemingly felled by his love for Torvel, does not act that differently. He is ashamed by the happiness that his feelings bring him (and afraid to admit the depth of them aloud) and what ridicule will face his reputation as a result. We see him thus lash out by carrying on his rakish behavior with other women even as he embarks on an all-consuming love affair with the object of his affections and deepest obsession. The only redemption Valmont receives comes at the cost of his life, and his declaration of love for Torvel does not stop her death from happening, the result of a tormented and broken heart. It is a cruel sort of reality that reminds us that in life, unlike the happy contentment of stories, lovers betray one another without much thought and deception abounds on all fronts of life.
This game proves to both Mereteuril and Valmont's last, as he dies and she is shunned. While Valmont is given a small flicker of repentance by his confession to Danceny and the uttering of last rites, Mereteuril receives no such quarter. Valmont may have passed before her, but he is the one who seems to have the final revenge in their game: the discovery of her deceit causes society to close its doors to her. Indeed, it is not enough for her to face shameful banishment; Mereteuril contracts the pox and loses a lawsuit, thus thoroughly ruining her and causing her to flee from France. She is disposed of not only her wealth, but her most powerful arsenal: the beauty that brought her so much power.
Les Liaisons dangereuses is a powerful novel that cannot be ignored. It a timeless story of sex and revenge, seduction and betrayal, love and cruelty, of pawns and their players. All of the characters are so deeply human and invariably flawed that despite the setting of another century, it is a tale that can transpose to any time period or language (and has been done, in several media adaptations) and still have the same powerful effect. The characters' flaws and traits are what ultimately lead to their downfalls, and it is a sobering reminder of the human story. No matter what its original intention, Les Liaisons dangereuses is a significant work of literature that is in turns delightful, heartbreaking, amusing, fresh, and thought-provoking.
oH MY GOD MEGAN WHERE ARE YOU I HAVE IT!!!!!! JAKLSD;FJKALS;G FUCK OUR STUPID BABIES!!
I WAS GOING TO GIVE THIS 3.9/5 BUT I HAVE STUPID DUMB FEELINGS AoH MY GOD MEGAN WHERE ARE YOU I HAVE IT!!!!!! JAKLSD;FJKALS;G FUCK OUR STUPID BABIES!!
I WAS GOING TO GIVE THIS 3.9/5 BUT I HAVE STUPID DUMB FEELINGS ABOUT THIS OTP SO I'M ROUNDING UP ALSO IT'S AWFUL AND I AM GOING TO BE SO TIRED STUDYING FOR MY MIDTERM BUT IT WAS WORTH EVERY MINUTE JAKSLD;GAS GA FUCKKKK
I'll admit that despite rave reviews from my friends, Elizabeth Hoyt's books have been a bit hard for me to get into. There's no doubt that she writesI'll admit that despite rave reviews from my friends, Elizabeth Hoyt's books have been a bit hard for me to get into. There's no doubt that she writes well, but many of her romances feel extremely rushed. This leads to the characters only being really attracted to one another due to physical attributes or how great of a kisser or lover they are, and the emotional side of the story doesn't really come into play until it's too late (or at all, sometimes). Going into the third book of her Maiden Lane series, I had my doubts as to whether it could hold up to all of the praise it's gotten.
Of all her work, Scandalous Desires is the one that shines brightest and delivers more than expected. The characters are incredibly fleshed out and don't fall into the genre tropes that you might expect of them, and there's a deep emotional attachment and growth between them that is truly the heart of the story.
Scandalous Desires builds upon previous interactions between Silence and Mickey from the first two Maiden Lane books, and that backstory is key to the dynamic between them. For the love she bears the child he left on her doorstep several months, the widowed Silence Hollingbrook agrees to stay with the notorious pirate Mickey O'Connor as he protects them from his enemies.
There is immediate tension between the two of them, as their history together ignites a series of angry exchanges. It's such a wonderful clash of personalities, as they're such opposites. Mickey is a hardened, cold personality who will take ruthless measures to get what he wants. Silence, gentle but incredibly strong in her own right, is the perfect contrast for him.
Trust and deeper emotions slowly bud between them, and it's beautiful to watch it unfold. Hoyt takes her time with these two, building a strong emotional connection and incredible awareness of one another. The constant tension in their interactions, whether it be through simple touches here and there, or the banter in their conversation, had me reading with bated breath. All of the slow buildup pays off as the gorgeous story of these two unfolds and blossoms into something that is truly magnificent.
I wasn't sure that I could like Mickey after what he'd put Silence through in Wicked Intentions, but Hoyt masterfully builds him as a character with realistic vulnerabilities who possesses an intriguing personality and is willing to change. That's not to say that what he's done is dismissed or is simply written off by either of them, as is so normally done with love stories. There is no "I'll forget what happened and can easily forgive you because we're in lust with one another" or "Although you appear to be the worst of scoundrels, I know you had a heart of gold and that was just you expressing your affection to me in a strange way" here. Silence, though she forgives Mickey, confronts him head-on and makes him uncomfortably face how he shamed her. It's at that moment in the book that he realizes he has begun to change, and although we the readers have been able to progress so beautifully, it's an incredibly touching moment.
At this point, it might seem like the book ends with the "love of a good woman changes his villainous ways and all is well" trope. Hoyt doesn't take the easy way out, however, instead painstakingly building this book into something that is more than just your typical bodice ripper. The change in Mickey happens more than halfway through the book, and from there it's a series of plot turns that allow the love between the two to shine. There is no doubt that Silence and Mickey are Hoyt's most engrossing and lovable characters, as they make us laugh, cry, and worry in equal measure.
Wonderful love story of the book aside, the plot is equal parts brilliant and thoroughly absorbing. The Vicar of Whitechapel does fall into the typical villain trope so usually employed in the romance genre, but there are a few plot revelations about him that serve to add to the adventure, intrigue, and mystery and don't him seem too cheesy of a cardboard cutout blackguard. The constant sense of bad events about to happen made the pages fly by as I waited for what the Vicar's next move would be and how the beloved characters would react.
One of the things I love about Hoyt's books are the fairy tales that she manages to incorporate. The tale is spread out through the book, with about two paragraphs preceding the beginning of a new chapter. These are by no mean new fairy tales; rather, Hoyt takes the traditional ones and adds new things here and there and makes it fit with the main story she is telling. The one in this book, Clever John, was a lovely and fitting match that was equally beautiful and on par to the ongoing tale.
The seeds for Winter and Isabel's story in the next book, Thief of Shadows, are wonderfully sown. It's well done with Hoyt's usual handling of the subplot, making the reader intrigued about what is in store for these two. There's tension, banter, and just the right amount is dangled before us to keep us hanging. It doesn't interfere with the main story, like Eloisa James' Desperate Duchesses series (which I loved, but all of the subplots going on with other characters that took up several chapters was extremely distracting and took away from my overall enjoyment of the individual books).
Elizabeth Hoyt is one of those authors whose first few books are mediocre, but comes to gradually improve with each new publication. There's a shine to her style that keeps one coming back for more, and it pays off, especially when you get to the treat that is Scandalous Desires. It's a prize of a book that will capture your heart and remain with you long after you finish reading the last page.
Willig's books definitely get better with each installment of her Pink Carnation series, and The Seduction of the Crimson Rose has proved to be my favWillig's books definitely get better with each installment of her Pink Carnation series, and The Seduction of the Crimson Rose has proved to be my favorite thus far. It's witty, fun, with just the right dash of danger and intrigue.
It's a little bit different from her previous books where the main characters are concerned. Mary is not someone who is easily likeable, like the other three heroines. She seems cold and bitter, but I really came to like her as the pages flew by. Vaughn (view spoiler)[isn't exactly in service of the English or the French intelligence - he is his own man, (hide spoiler)] and spending the last three books frustrated and intrigued by his game, I was excited to have him as the protagonist in this book. Mary and Vaughn are perfect fits for one another, because they're both so alike (I know everyone says opposites attract, but not in this case). They're cynical and weary, tired of the world and all of its deceptions. They question one another, bickering and bantering at a refreshing pace that no one else can match.
The running plot - who is the Black Tulip? (that identity is a bit obvious, but it doesn't deter from the fun of the book) - is a lot more exciting than the previous three installments, and had me flipping the pages in a hurried frenzy.
The sublot of the modern day Eloise and Colin was also really enjoyable, with Eloise's chapters interspersed after cliffhangers in the historical point of view; their interaction and story is both amusing and sweet. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Meredith Duran is one of those authors whose writing I feel gets better with each new book that she publishes. I've been enjoying each of her books aMeredith Duran is one of those authors whose writing I feel gets better with each new book that she publishes. I've been enjoying each of her books a bit more than the last, but this one really blew me away.
It's definitely the most intense of all of her novels, and has much more intrigue involved than your usual historical romance novel.
Adrian and Leonara are two very contrasting personalities: he is strong, and she has gone from outspoken to quiet to learning how to speak her mind again.
This is set in a different time period from what I usually like reading in historical romance novels (the early 1700's, dealing with the Jacobite movement), but Duran is a master at her craft, and she makes it much more interesting than most authors do.
Both of the characters, especially Leonara, are torn between the fact that they are on opposing sides and their history with one another.
My only complaint is that Leonara was extremely stubborn in her loyalty to her brother, even after she learned the ways in which he really didn't gave a care for her (view spoiler)[(agreeing to marry her off to her cousin without her consent, etc.) (hide spoiler)].
But at the same time, her loyalty was really different from how most authors deal with such a situation. I thought that Duran's resolution for the conflict of the book was quite cleverly done.
I really liked this story and the constant clash of Adrian and Leonara's personalities. It was definitely a book that I enjoyed much more than I had anticipated, and I'm looking forward to Duran's next book. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more