Sunday, June 2

Mad About the Earl by Christina Brooke

Book 2 in the Ministry of Marriage series



This is the first review I've done in a while, so bear with me as I organize my thoughts.

First, I love Beauty and the Beast tales - and boy was this a good one! Lady Rosamund Westruther is the perfect innocent, a lady with stars in her eyes. While those stars may dim a little throughout the course of her tumultuous romance with the occasionally boorish yet strong and handsome Earl of Tregarth (Griffin), her strength of character, persistence, and innovation make her a lovable and unique heroine. I enjoyed her from the very beginning when she first set her stubborn sights on Griffin and set him in his place. Brooke did an excellent job walking the line between emotional strength and high-strung prissiness with Rosamund. Similarly, I enjoyed how Griffin never truly lost some of his more gruff, burly qualities. Rosamund may have polished him a little bit, but she certainly didn't make him change for her. Rosamund's naivety was a little startling at times, considering her mother's more scandalous behavior, but I found her shy sensuality adorable and refreshing. I think the only thing I could have wished for was to understand Griffin's epiphany moment a little better - it seemed rather sudden and unprovoked. 

While the romance itself was lovely, a dash of drama with hints of tortured hero and exasperated heroine, the main plot of the book was overused. Hint, hint: There's a murder and some smugglers. To be honest, I didn't like this overly dramatic plot the first book I read it in, and become less enamored with it with every reboot. Also, the plot feels a little rushed - it's undermentioned in the first half of the book, so suddenly we're in a cave, fighting some smugglers like 'the fuck'? When the real murderer is revealed, the motivation behind it doesn't real come across so you're left confused as to why the author chose to use this inane plot device in her story at all. The sheer annoyance of having to read through the babble about the 'mystery' really turned me off during the second half of the book and I couldn't have wished it to be over fast enough.

For supporting characters, we have a clever and cynical Duke (Rosamund's guardian), a nasty mother (on that note - the painting catastrophe was also a strange and unnecessary addition to this book that I could have done without), a supportive sister, and a set of sometimes-loyal-sometimes-not townsfolk. I'd love to see more of the Duke and Xavier (the brother) for sure and was happily amused at the mother's situation, as it was revealed during the epilogue. 

Favorite Quotes:
Sadly, I did not take down any this time - I was not planning on reviewing the book (due to limited time constraints indicated by my clear inactivity on my blog in the past year or more) so I didn't take any notes. But trust me, there were many heart-melting and rotfl-inducing moments in this tale!

"Sexy"ness Rating: Hot! Only a few lovemaking scenes but dayum are they delicious!

Overall Rating: B+

Bottom Line: If you like gruff heroes and the stubborn heroines who step on their toes then this is a book for you. Beware the overused and dramatic main plot - skim if possible - and enjoy!

Pages: 328
Published: January 3, 2012
Genre: Historical

Saturday, July 21

Where Have You Been?

That is a good question indeed, my dear reader.

I apologize for the trickling off in my reviews over the past year. My senior year of high school, along with my jobs and extracurricular activities, took a lot of time away from my schedule and the only thing that could give was my reviewing and reading time.

But here we are, back again. I'll give you some updates - I've graduated! Yay! I'll be going to college in the fall, publishing my first book (under my real name and it's not a romance so you won't see it advertised on here) in about a month, and working on publishing my first romance in the winter. It'll be cool. Trust me. ;)

Thank you so much for your readership, those of you that do, and I hope to get this blog back up and running with a review or two a week in the near future. Thanks again!


Saturday, May 26

The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie by Jennifer Ashley

Book 1 in the Highland Pleasures series


http://www.jennifersromances.com/

It’s mighty sad that it took me about half of the book before I recognized that these Mackenzie men are Highlanders. With names like Ian, Cameron, Hart, and Mac… well, some days I prove to be slow-witted.

Moving on. Ian Mackenzie was locked in an insane asylum as a child for his unusual penchants – but has been released again to roam in polite society (rather impolitely). A collector of porcelain, he is fascinated by beauty and truth. Beth Ackerley has recently inherited a large fortune from the wealthy widow to whom she was a companion. Beth is about to marry the sordid Sir Mather. Ian feels compelled to save her because of her beauty and sincerity – he deems her worth saving and so he reveals Mather’s sexual proclivities and massive debt. While the two could’ve parted ways, Ian is drawn inexplicably to Beth and follows her to Paris. The two become quite entangled and as dark, mysterious elements from the Mackenzie brothers’ past begin to show up, Beth becomes determined to help Ian discover the truth. At any cost.

Ian… is a very unique hero. He was mad enough (he has various attention issues, observation issues, etc) that he was interesting and inimitable but not so mad as to be strange and unlikeable. Overall, he was a good man if a little overprotective of Beth (way before his time, I might add). He acts like a caveman sometimes and while it’s endearing too a point he went way beyond endearing to Neanderthal. His absolute obsession and absorption with beauty was fascinating. I liked seeing how Beth opened him up to more feeling and depth of emotion – he wasn’t miraculously ‘fixed’ by the end of the book but he was better (this is good. I despise the miraculous fix). My only complaint is that his character was occasionally inconsistent – at one instance he talks of how he is unable to talk when he gets too overwhelmed or angry but at the next moment he’s screaming ‘Fuck you’ in a man’s face (and I quote).

Beth, for her part, was a fantastic heroine. I loved watching her stand up to all the patriarchal men around her. I loved her sass, her loss of inhibition, her beauty, honesty, and trusting nature. She didn’t even seem out of place for the era despite her un-lady-like tendencies. She was strong-willed, stubborn, and I loved her for it. Ian was indeed a lucky man to end up with her. There’s not too much more to say about her than that – she’s well-developed, well-rounded, intelligent… all-around a good woman with a good heart.

The plot was a bit tired. It was clearly overused and didn’t always make sense. Frequently, conclusions were reached on assumptions. A lot of the time it required me to suspend my belief in reality and good police work which, frequently, I was happy to do. But it still niggled at the back of my mind. Other than that, I liked her style of writing – the prose flowed nicely and the dialogue was excellent (especially between Beth and Hart and Beth and Fellows). I liked that some of Beth’s journal entries were included in the book – the change in narrative perspective was nice. Often, the reader is in the hero’s head and can miss the female perspective. Not here! I appreciated how the setting of the book appeared to be constantly changing - it was a good reflection of Ian's restlessness. Finally, there were some really poignant scenes between the brothers. While I didn’t find all of the romantic scenes especially powerful, all of the scenes between the brothers pulled at my heart-strings. This looks to be a promising series and I look forward to reading the other books.

Favorite Quotes:

“‘I find that a Ming bowl is like a woman’s breast,’ Sir Lyndon Mather said to Ian Mackenzie, who held the bowl in question between his fingertips. ‘The swelling curve, the creamy pallor. Don’t you agree?’
Ian couldn’t think of a woman who would be flattered to be compared to a bowl, so he didn’t bother to nod.”

“‘Find her,’ Ian said. He jerked Fellows upright. ‘You’re a detective. Detect something.’”

 “Sexy”ness rating: Hot… except for the cunny. Why, why, why would you EVER use the word cunny? I know about historical accuracy… but there are fewer words less appealing to come across in the middle of a hot sex scene. Really.

Overall Rating: B

Bottom Line: Well-developed characters, a moderately interesting (if not terribly extended) plot to keep things moving, some interesting twists and the classic I’m-pregnant-I-promise-you-won’t-be-like-your-dad-honey happy ending, if you like historicals this one will likely suit your tastes.

Pages: 323
Published: April 28, 2009
Genre: Historical

Tuesday, January 10

The Top Ten of 2011

Without further ado, I present to you the A+ books of 2011, and my TOP TEN PICKS for 2011!!!
     
A+ Books List:
  1. Midnight's Wild Passion by Anna Campbell
  2. Warprize by Elizabeth Vaughan
  3. What I Did For a Duke by Julie Anne Long
  4. Too Hot to Touch - Louisa Edwards
Top Ten Books of 2011:
  1. Midnight's Wild Passion by Anna Campbell (Historical)
  2. Warprize by Elizabeth Vaughan (Fantasy)
  3. What I Did For a Duke by Julie Anne Long (Historical)
  4. Too Hot to Touch by Louisa Edwards (Contemporary)
  5. Nine Rules to Break While Romancing a Rake by Sarah MacLean (Historical)
  6. Ten Ways to be Adored When Landing a Lord by Sarah MacLean (Historical)
  7. Taken by the Prince by Christina Dodd (Historical)
  8. Slave by Sherri Hayes (BDSM romance - does not go beyond kissing)
  9. Heart of Honor by Kat Martin (Historical)
  10. An Indecent Proposition by Emma Wildes (Historical)

Taming the Beast by Heather Grothaus



http://www.heathergrothaus.com/

First, let me say, I’m a real sucker for Beauty and the Beast stories. If you’re not, you won’t adore this book nearly as much as I do. That warning aside, this book was fantastic! Roderick Cherbon has returned from the Crusades hideously disfigured. The only good news is his hated father has died, leaving him the Cherbon lands – with a condition. He must marry before his thirtieth birthday, to a lady of good family. In an effort to keep his lands, he sends out a proclamation asking marriageable ladies to the castle. Lady Michaela Fortune, also known as ‘Miss Fortune’, comes from a poor but titled family. After being rebuked harshly by the man she thought she loved, she leaves for the Cherbon lands, determined (and I do mean determined) to win the man and the fortune he’s offering to heal her damaged pride and save her family from ruins. But the ‘Cherbon Devil’ turns out to be more than Micheala bargained for at first – can she even hope to tame the beast?

The first thing that I liked, right off, was the uniqueness of the time period. There are so many Beauty and the Beast tales set in the Regency period that it was nice to see one in a different era, during 1103 and the Crusades. The dialogue was active and engaging, and I loved seeing things from Roderick and Micheala’s point of view. Both were especially poignant, and very different from the other. I liked seeing how their differences made them so compatible. I loved seeing her go from a childish, light-hearted dreamer to a more serious and mature, but still kind and caring, woman. I loved seeing her share her light with Roderick. This book actually reminded me a bit of Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase (one of my all time favorites) because of Micheala’s persistence to help Roderick see the good in himself, and his insistence to only see the worst in himself.

Roderick was a heartbreaking character. His abusive father instilled in him a sense of his own worthlessness, and he went to the Crusades hoping to prove his worth. Instead he comes back a failure in his own mind, crippled, missing a leg, and scarred beyond compare. He feels no one can love him as he is - a disgusting failure. He repulses himself, and is so filled with his own self-loathing he can’t find a way to escape it. He, just like Dain in Lord of Scoundrels, is a perfect dark, brooding, angsty hero who tries to hide his pain in his cruel words and actions to other. I loved his fear of being loved because he’d never been loved before, his child-like uncertainty. He was just so… perfect. I was piling on the empathy for this man. My heart still breaks for him.

Lady Micheala Fortune was admirable and loveable. She kept hoping even when it was hopeless, and was the right blend of patient and relentless. She never stopped loving him, or telling/showing him she loved him. I liked watching her change from a girl into a woman without losing any of her fabulous qualities. I loved her guts – how she was willing to yell at Roderick whenever he yelled at her, and how she never left. She was the only kind of heroine to help Roderick, and she made him whole again - or perhaps for the first time ever. She, just as he grew, also really blossomed in my eyes. I especially loved her motherly sentiments towards Leo, Roderick’s son, and how she brought the father and son closer together. (Again, Lord of Scoundrels, anyone?)

All in all, with the sweet little boy, Leo, the wonderful mother-figure Micheala, and the wounded hero father, Roderick, could one have a more perfect family?

Now, one short paragraph of what knocked this book from A+ position. The dialogue was a little inconsistent for the time period. Some of the sentences seemed accurate in structure but others included words or phrases that seemed too modern. Whether they were, I’m not certain, but I had to question the authenticity of the syntax for the time period. The ending was my biggest problem – it was unrealistically happy. Everyone’s friends and ***BIG BIG BIG SPOILER ALERT HERE*** Roderick’s leg that is missing gets healed-ish by some freaky ‘Justice’ man. I hate to say it, but the soldiers over in Iraq who have their legs blown off, despite the injustice of it, don’t get new legs all of a sudden. I really disliked how unrealistic that was. ***END OF BIG BIG BIG SPOILER ALERT***. I like happy endings, but this was completely unrealistic, which surprised me. The rest of the book focused on the realism of Roderick’s injuries, and the very end seemed to make all his previous struggles negligible for the sake of the perfection of the ending. It was too much a fairy tale ending, especially compared to the rest of the book. It just didn’t match and felt forced, and that definitely pulled the book down in my esteem. Finally, the villain was tots cliché. But I was expecting that.

 “Sexy”ness rating: More tender than flaming hot, but there is sex

Overall Rating: A-

Bottom Line: Sweet and beautiful, with a unique setting and good dialogue (and a fabulous cast of characters) this is def worth your time!

Pages: 343
Published: November 3, 2009
Genre: Historical