Blog Archives

Don’t Tempt Me (Loretta Chase, Fallen Women #2)

0.5 out of 5 stars

Cut to the Chase
This is a bit of a fake-out. Calling a series of women fallen implies to me that they actually should be… fallen, and thus different and distinct from the youthful virgins and/or managing spinster virgins we so often get within the genre. Instead, this particular novel would probably be more enjoyable for a male, rather than a female, reader: Zoe, our heroine, is a girl who’s spent the last 12 years in a harem, being trained by experts in how to seduce a man… except, she’s still a virgin. Somehow, somewhere, someone’s fantasy is coming true. Too bad the book is riddled with every cliche you could possibly imagine about the “exotic east” and comes off as having stilted leads, coupled with an ungainly, impossible-to-believe setup, as well as second-act villains that don’t really make sense.

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Mr. Cavendish, I Presume (Julia Quinn, Two Dukes of Wyndham #2)

1 out of 5 stars

Cut to the Chase:
This is a book of wasted potential. It had a great set-up as the companion novel, happening at almost the same time as Lost Duke of Wyndham, but told from a completely different perspective. There are lots of books about the new duke/earl/viscount and how they’ve suddenly risen to power/wealth, etc; there are very few that really address what it’s like to be the deposed, former nobleman, the riches to rags portion of the story. But… this just wasn’t different enough. There are swaths of the book that literally could have been cut and pasted from the first book, there are no surprises, no pay-offs for any number of potentially very interesting side characters and stories, and it was ultimately very, very boring. It’s something that could (and should) have just been edited and combined with the first book to be one, fully-functional novel: the dialogue drags, the plot isn’t just predictable, but redundant, and it’s just a waste!

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What to Read, What Not to Read: Julia Quinn

Strengths:

Dialogue, Dialogue, Dialogue: Quinn’s ability to write witty banter is truly amazing. Whether she’s having her characters invent and argue over imaginary words or laughing at debutantes who think that “inclement” weather means weather “in Clement” she’s just fun, and entertaining. When the dialogue works, it truly sparkles, with back-and-forth quickness that carries you along.

The Un-pretty Heroine: While none of Quinn’s heroines are described as being ugly, Quinn’s best protagonists are pretty, or comely-enough, without being the belle of the ball. They’re women you’d have a good time hanging out with, who feel real and interesting and not overly-dramatic.

Connected Worlds: Quinn’s great at creating characters that are memorable, and that float from book to book. Lady Whistledown’s writings hold many of the Bridgertons books together (and were kind of a brilliant invention), but there are also details like the Smythe-Smith musicals (which start as a joke and later become their own spin-off series) and, of course, Lady Danbury. When you read a Quinn book, you know that you’re stepping firmly into her universe, and that we’ll be revisiting many familiar landmarks.

Good, Lighthearted Fun: With Quinn, you rarely have any dangerous kidnappings (meaning even when there are kidnappings, or highway robberies, nothing ever feels truly dangerous in a someone-might-die way), or terrible villains. Instead, you have people who might be nice or not nice, and might or might not mean well, but basically, you have semi-villains alongside your heros and heroines. There are quick, light, escapist reads and you don’t really have to worry that something terrible is lurking around the corner.

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Posted in Author Pages, Best of, Romance

Silk is for Seduction (Loretta Chase, Dressmakers #1)

2.5 out of 5 stars

Cut to the Chase:
There are some lovely details and characterization, not the least of which is a female protagonist who is ambitious, confident, determined, and very, very intelligent. The way she’s described she could almost be the male lead, which is kind of great! Also, there are some nice side plots and characters who are interesting and are allowed to act in sometimes surprising ways… but what ultimately weighs this novel down is a male protagonist who comes across as being a bit too easy to manipulate (where’s the fun in that?) and the overriding tension holding the main couple apart doesn’t feel like it’s novel-length sustainable. I still enjoyed it enough to finish it, but it’s certainly not at the top of my recommended list. (I have to add the caveat that if you like fashion, or regency-era fashion, you might still enjoy this… I found the details about dressmaking a little overwhelming, but someone who’s interested in that field might find those details intriguing.)

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Impetuous Innocent (Stephanie Laurens)

0 out of 5 stars

Cut to the Chase:
This is, by far, my least favorite book by Stephanie Laurens. Granted, I don’t read all of her new stuff any more, but I’ve read well over half her books, and this really is the worst: our female protagonist is not just naive and innocent but downright dumb. She’s annoying in most of the scenes she shows up in, I have no idea why our hero and heroine are attracted to one another (and he’s soooooo all-knowing that he’s almost unbearable as well). I had a lot of trouble finishing this book.

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The Rebel Bride (Catherine Coulter)

0 out of 5 stars

Cut to the Chase:
Though the characters seem very interesting at the beginning of the novel, and there is certainly plenty of spark between the main characters (she’s the tempestuous hoyden who dresses as a boy and has a terrible past, he’s the one who’ll finally “tame” her), the plot quickly veers into what I consider completely unromantic territory, their spark fizzles, and our all-knowing hero starts to feel more and more like a jerk. There are some spoiler-rific things that I personally could NOT get over…. and that’s what I’ll be going over in the main section.

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When Strangers Marry (Lisa Kleypas)

0 out of 5 stars

Cut to the Chase:
This is my least favorite Lisa Kleypas book (one of her first as a romance author and I think her first with Avon). You’ve got a hero and heroine who marry early and are attracted to one another, but also a lot of things that are just overly dramatic (for the sake of being dramatic). There’s the suspicion that our hero murdered his first wife (of course not), the horrible stepfather who’s trying to force our heroine into a marriage, and rebellious teenaged sons the hero is trying to raise… there are just too many balls to juggle, all of them a little overdone, so that the romance gets lost.

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A Suitable Match (Betty Neels)

2 out of 5 stars

Cut to the Chase:
Though I’m normally a fan of almost everything by Betty Neels, this one just didn’t really jive with me. You’ve got a man who’s marrying to secure a nice guardian/mother figure for his brother’s orphaned children, and a demure (almost passive) heroine who’s secretly in love with him. With Betty Neels books, you know that the love is always in the background and set to a very slow boil, but this one just kept getting overwhelmed with side details and characters until you don’t really remember that it’s a romance at all.

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Arabella (Georgette Heyer)

5 out of 5 stars

Cut to the Chase:
Unforgettable characters, witty dialogue, and a series of lightly entertaining adventures and misadventures make this a wonderfully engaging read. It’s one of my favorites by Heyer and one of my favorites in historical romance genre. If you’ve never read Heyer, this is the place to start. If you’ve never read historical romance (and don’t mind the lack of sex, which some people require, as well as a slightly slower pacing, which I don’t mind) this is the place to start.
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Flavorful Seductions (Patti Shenberger)

2 out of 5 stars

Cut to the Chase:
While I get that novellas are going to be short by nature, it wasn’t just the plot and pacing that felt rushed in this novella (yes, because it’s shorter, it has to progress more rapidly).  The writing seemed to trip along itself, and other than the fact that these two characters are very, very attracted to one another, you never quite get anything to hold onto in order to believe that they will be together, or make it, in the long haul.  Though the sex is sensual, I would have almost preferred a little less sex (gasp!) and a little more interaction to let me believe that these two characters are meant to be together.  Otherwise, I’m left with interesting, funny characters who get together, but in a way that makes it more believable they’ll have a passionate affair that burns out than a longer lasting happily-ever-after.
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