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Tempting the Bride (Sherry Thomas)

5 out of 5 stars

Cut to the Chase:
There are a ton of cliches in this book — the friend who’s always secretly been in love with the best friend’s sibling, amnesia, perfectly well-timed recovery from amnesia, one of the protagonists bein an author (shocker). But Thomas expertly turns each of these cliches on its head, giving us layered characters and a wonderfully believable and multidimensionally layered love story. It’s almost like she’s set a challenge for herself: to use all the standard cliches in a creative and thoroughly enthralling way. This was a wonderful historical romance, and though I am usually NOT a fan, this is one of the best historical romances I’ve read in a long time.

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His at Night (Sherry Thomas)

2.5 out of 5 stars

Cut to the Chase:
Thomas’s romances are creative, interesting and intelligent — her characters talk of inveigling one another, postulate about art and politics, and debate internally about their prurient thoughts.  This particular novel is no different: we have two well-crafted lead characters, both of whom are thespians (he is an agent for the crown and assumes a facade of staggering idiocy, and she is living under her malicious uncle’s thumb, hoping only for freedom for herself and her aunt).  She traps him into marriage, he is suitably angry, cross purposes, misunderstandings, et cetera.  It may just be me, but there is something about Thomas’s writing which leaves me a little cold — her characters are a little too hard-edged, and though this book at least had enough humor and sensitivity, I find her novels more admirable than enjoyable.  I can read it and say: yes, this was clever, well-plotted, and shows and impressive range of vocabulary with a good attention to detail… but it doesn’t really draw me in. Her books have enough awards and reviews that there must be an audience, and I don’t exactly regret reading this, but I found the book more exhausting than entertaining: the characters, though interesting and larger-than-life, are a little too much, somewhere between superhero and Don Diego, the villains, despite the eventual explanation, a little too one-sided devil, and the plot twists… mostly tiring.

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Not Quite a Husband (Sherry Thomas)

2.5 out of 5 stars

Cut to the Chase:
This book and I have a love/hate relationship.  On the one hand, it’s very well researched (including medical details ranging from dissection to infiltration anesthesia and background information on Indian geography, coolies, and fakirs).  On the other hand, the characters (and author) seem so eager to impress us with their genius (he’s a mathematical prodigy, she’s a distinguished 18th century surgeon), vocabulary, and range of knowledge (discussing the “insufficiencies of Euclidean geometry,” intermingled with descriptions like “an intrepid deodar” or “pellucid mountain clarity”) that they’re almost unbearably pretentious.  It’s creative in terms of its setting, characters, and story arc – they’ve annulled their marriage by the end of the prologue, and so we watch them three years later, getting to know one another and flashing back to their prior relationship. Ultimately, though, the novel vacillated between completely engrossing and downright annoying (with sometimes creepy sex scenes, see spoilers below).  I’m intrigued enough to read her other works, but it isn’t a book I’ll be repeating, and I can’t quite bring myself to recommend it.

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