K.'s Reviews > Thunder and Roses

Thunder and Roses by Mary Jo Putney
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's review
Aug 03, 2009

it was amazing
bookshelves: dead-tree-books-i-still-own, 5-keepers
Recommended to K. by: booklover; Nicki C.
Read from November 16 to 26, 2010 , read count: 1

The only Mary Jo Putney book I'd read previous to this one was "The Bartered Bride," which if I'm truthful, I didn't "read" ... I listened to. It had some "pirate" type elements (at least a long sea journey) and ... I HATE that, so obviously it didn't inspire me to say "more please."

That said, a couple of Amazon posters DID inspire me to pick this one off of my TBR (in fact they chose it for me after taking a look at my TBR mountain here on GR! Just goes to show you, many times those who don't have an emotional response to picking a book for others (as we do for ourselves) can lead you down the path of a spectacular read. AND a new author obsession!

"Thunder and Roses" is an epic '90's romance without any bodice-ripper feeling left over from the '80s. It clearly is one of the many evolving 90's "best romantic story decade" historical romances the 90s has become famous for. Some of the best romances written to date (in my opinion) were written in the '90s, and I think this one is in that class. The 90's discarded the 70's and 80's notion that abusive heros were sexy and romantic and that heroines had to be obnoxiously TSTL fiesty, and gluttens for the abuse dished out by those heros.

Nicholas Davies has suffered multiple rejections over the course of his life. He's the epitomy of an example where money and title don't guarantee happiness, especially when the road to that money and title will never include acceptance. Nicholas' father, a second son who later became the heir to an earldom, initially felt free to seek his own happiness and fell in love and married his gypsy mother unbeknownst to his stick-in-the-arse father. When Nicholas' mother drops him off on the doorstep of his grandfather (after his father's death) at an early age, he feels abandoned and confused. Throughout his life he'll continue to hurt and resent his mother's decision to leave him in a "foreign world" with a man who never stops despising him and plotting ways to illegitimize his birth.

Clare Morgan grew up in a staunch Methodist community as the daughter of their minister and leader. She's always suffered (and I mean literally "suffered"!) for the life that she's been born into. Her father is not just her idol, but she shares him with the community to a point of child neglect on his part. As an adult after his death, she naturally takes on his role, but fate has played the part in putting her in an identity not her own. Throughout the book she'll grapple with feelings of inadequacy of filling her father's shoes, not to mention struggling to come into her own.

The local village is suffering a great depression after years of being subjected to the neglected and absent largest landowner (and of course employer), the "Demon Earl" - Nicholas. Town gossip in his absence hasn't helped his legacy when he returns to "deal" with his grandfather's estate upon his passing. The biggest employer keeping the town alive is the local mine, and with the deplorable working conditions going on there, the town blames a lot of their troubles on the Earl's absence. With Nicholas' return, Clare decides the only available option to save the town from poverty and death is to go to the new Earl and emplore him to intervene with his money and influence. With much reluctance, Nicholas concedes to her requests (after lapsing into coercion) ... with a "bet" if you will: He'll finance a path out of the town's economic whoas if Clare will put her respectible reputation on the line by living with him for 30 days unchaparoned. Seeing no other option, Clare marters herself and agrees to the strange "deal." Since Nicholas' only proposed the idea being certain she'd never agree and would just go away ... after her shocking (and unwanted) acceptance he sweetens it for himself by adding the caveat that Clare will also have to allow him one kiss per day. Although completely shocked by such a suggestion, and after much wheedling to try and get herself out of it, Clare eventually sees it as the only option, and captulates. Thus Putney sets the stage for a classic romance in a clash of wills that will be tested at close proximity. All kinds of opportunity to keep the storyline close to the romance I love and Putney blends in plenty of teasing "slap and tickle" with the bet to keep things interesting as they slowly build to a serious confrontation of wills and sexual tension.

Having laid out the premise, Putney delivers with epic storylines and plenty of character development. I can't think of one character in this book (and there are a LOT) that wasn't clearly drawn or "disposable," nor that unnecessarily bored me. MJP stays focused on Nicholas and Clare and with all that's happening still clearly manages to set up a series in this first book. Nicholas is the perfect blend of sensitive, brooding, manly, tortured hero. Clare is the staunch church-going woman with honest questions to herself that "Maddy" of "Flowers From the Storm" never could quite come to terms with.

The background story with the mine is so well written, I became more than a bit claustrophobic feeling when the characters journeyed into the mine ("NOOO -- Don't go down there! LOL!). The game of "kissing tag" these two engage in is peppered throughout as it builds to it's ultimate showdown between the two. The overall story is piled high, rich in adventure/intrigue/romance at every page you turn. It's definitely "living and breathing" when it comes to good, old-fashioned story-telling.

My first MJP was pretty "lack-luster." Just goes to show me that having done the footwork by piling my TBR with good recommendations, followed by letting go of the control and allowing those "in the know" to choose for me -- can certainly equal "wisdom meeting opportunity." T&R is an emotionally rich book. Any historical romance devotee shouldn't hesitate to add this classic to their personal romance knowledge base.
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Reading Progress

11/18 page 115
30.0% "Very absorbing book; I can see why this is high on the favorite lists of many. I think I'm going to like this series.
11/21 page 165
43.0% "I'm really shocked at what a page-turner this book has turned out to be! THANKS booklover and Nicki C.! You definitely know a winner when you've read one! :) Can't put it down!"
11/23 page 267
70.0% "I see why some compare the heroine to Maddy in "Flowers From the Storm." Fortunately for me ... Clare is MUCH MORE likeable. I think it's because she's much more honest with herself."
11/27 page 384
100.0% "This was an exceptional read. Enjoyed it's "old school" flavor (a bit shocking for me), even if the ending was pretty predictible. :)
03/30 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-17 of 17) (17 new)

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message 1: by Pam (new) - rated it 5 stars

Pam K...I loved this book! I'll never be able to look at a pool table without thinking of "that" scene!


message 2: by K. (new) - rated it 5 stars

K. LOL! Pam ... WHAT? Okay, this sounds like something I'm really going to be looking forward to now! Thanks! HA!

KarenH K., I had this book in my hand the other day thinking I would finally start this series since we've heard so much about it at Ami. LOL Imagine my surprise when I saw you were reading it! (Actually, I wasn't too surprised...great minds and all that ;) I decided to wait and see what you think.

message 4: by K. (new) - rated it 5 stars

K. K2: OMG!! Start reading it immediately because it is truly a page-turner! YOU know how I'm probably "jaded" at this point with my romance reading (i.e., it takes a LOT to excite/entrance me anymore after so many books). I'm LOVING this book (very surprised since it was written in 1993 -- I thought it might feel dated! NOPE! It's definitely a love story to be read (even when you've read a LOT of love stories. :)

It's been on my TBR for quite some time ... Too bad -- since I've read a LOT of losers in the interim (AARG! - figures ;). I should have listened to everyone K2 and read this sooner!:)

KarenH Thanks, I'll read it next. I picked up the whole series after that big discussion at Ami last year. Good thing PBS exists or I'd be quite poor!

message 6: by [deleted user] (new)

I'm so glad you liked it!

message 7: by Pam (new) - rated it 5 stars

Pam K:
I just knew you would LOVE this book! It is my favorite Putney book.

Ridley This is among my favorite books, period. I remember Nicholas's pained "He always called me Nicholas" when Michael Kenyon treats him coldly and just sigh. He was just such a sweetheart.

Kathy Loved this one and glad you enjoyed it too.

message 10: by Dina (new) - added it

Dina "Clare is the staunch church-going woman with honest questions to herself that "Maddy" of "Flowers From the Storm" never could quite come to terms with."

LOL, K. You just had to poke fun at your "favorite" book, didn't you? Excellent review! I'm sold.

message 11: by MelissaB (new) - added it

MelissaB Wonderful review K! I am sold!

message 13: by AgentScully (new)

AgentScully Wonderful review K! So fab to see you writing reviews again :-)

Fani *loves angst* great review K! Seeing this only recently in the Top 100 romances list, and after reading your review, I plan to add this in my TBR soon.

message 15: by Quinn (new) - added it

Quinn Great review, K. I've already got this on TBR so I might have to bump it up closer to the top.

message 16: by K. (last edited Dec 12, 2010 06:53AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

K. Thanks ladies!! For everyone whose commented (and all my reading buddies) so far and hasn't read it ... I really think it's one you should pursue. It's one of those rare romances that is very emotional; filled with angst, rich plot-line, TONS of kind of weird "Indiana Jones" experiences, and ... LOVE/SEXY LOVE ... not too graphic ... but definitely enough! Okay, I like the balance of this book. For those of you that know my romance reading spectrum, I think you'll be able to judge how it will work for you. :)

Thanks for the reveiw cudos gals. It's a good "add." Read this one! :)

UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish Great review! This was my first full length Putney and I ended up enjoying it more than I thought I would (based on the short stories I'd read.)

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