Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Melody Thomas 'Wild and Wicked in Scotland'

Alright, alright, I finally finished this endless book. Can I tell you how much I hate a heroine with blindingly white blond hair. I don't know, one of the Johanna Lindsey books had one and I couldn't stand her. Which one was that? Oh, HERE it is. Hated it and her.

Anyway, I will give this book credit for a decent though complicated plot line. I guess I just didn't like the main characters. They weren't terrible but I felt like the author kept trying to tell me things about their motivation that I just wasn't getting. "The thought flustered her. Not because either of them was incapable of love, but because love made them incapable." WTF? Is it just me or is this author trying harder to find a clever turn of phrase than to tell a story about these two people. Even if I could understand what that sentence means, is it an appropriate thought for a romance novel? And let me assure you, it does not fit with the overall characterization of our heroine.

Whatever, I've already spent too much time reading this book, I give up trying to pinpoint what I didn't like about it. I admit it, I'm not always a gifted reviewer. Sigh.

Historical Romance 2007: 2 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Not a Review...Sorry

I've been spending a bit too much time on the newly launched Romance Wiki site putting up pages for my favorite books, etc. And as I was digging around in the history of romance pages I found this.

If there is a perjorative term in romance fiction, "bodice ripper" is it. The term, officially, refers to a specific era in romance fiction where the hero forcibly "takes" the heroine, or rips her bodice in prelude to raping her. It is not clear why this particular scenario gained popularity, but today's romance authors and readers view the term "bodice ripper" with disgust due to the violent implications of the phrase.

There was a post a while back on Smart Bitches' web site talking about reclaiming the word bitch (as the only word in the english language that's exclusively female, their words, not mine) from it's pejorative history. If they can do it so can I. I'm a romance reader and I don't think of Bodice Ripper with disgust. I guess I always thought it was funny. Now...I haven't been lambasted in any media form for writing trashy bodice rippers lately, but it feels to me like the romance world is a little touchy on the subject. I fall pretty heavily into the 'don't-like-sex-scenes-without-pretty-overt-consent-for-both-parties' camp, but I think the term Bodice Rippers is quaint and funny. Am I wrong??

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Rachel Vincent 'Stray'

If you were wondering why Ms. Vincent's book, Stray, is on my To Be Reviewed list when in fact it's not a romance novel, you are a more astute student of the romance genre than I am. I guess it speaks to the recent trend in genre bending, that I had to get almost half way through the book before I could be sure that a romance novel wasn't hiding in there somewhere damn-it. I'm still not positive but given my romance 'to be read and reviewed' pile, I think I need to cut bait.

I didn't finish the book but I might as well comment since I invested close to five hours in this one. Faythe is a English grad student and a werecat. She has a rather wide independent streak and when someone starts attacking female werecats around the country her Dad calls her home from school to keep her safe. The 'world creating' (or species creating) back story is engaging and I liked the book but the description of this close pride of werecats and Faythe's overwhelming need to be alone didn't gel for me. Her defining characteristic was completely at odds with her description of their species and her upbringing. If it's not nature and it's not nurture, Faythe is either a genetic mutation or a character created solely to echo American teenage angst. But then who am I to judge marketing versus literary integrity? Hell, I judge my romance novels primarily by the fantasy fulfillment quotient of the hero. You Go, Rachel.

[artwork attribution]

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Sophie Jordan 'Too Wicked to Tame'

For the first ten pages I thought I was reading a parody. Her carriage stranded in ankle deep mud, our heroine sets off on foot, the skies open, a stallion comes pounding down the road, narrowly missing trampling her. Prone in the mud, she looks up into gray eyes as stormy as the sky flashing above.

Then either I was dying for a good story or the book actually got better. I really liked Lord Gray-Eyes and Lady Marriage-Is-Female-Slavery. I thought the big misunderstanding was believable but when Lord Gray-Eyes overcomes his own reservations, the plot spins into another almost parody of last minute physical danger.

Since I enjoyed 80% of this book, I'm giving it a decent rating. But more importantly I would pick up this author again. Promising.

Historical Romance 2007: 4 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Suzanne Enoch 'Twice the Temptation'

I'm beginning to wonder if I'm just crabby. Admittedly, I don't generally like multiple stories within one book, the length never seems quite adequate to develop the characters or story.

In the first story (1814) Evangeline inherits a huge diamond that comes with a bad luck curse. Then her carriage runs into Connoll and the story is off. He's drunk at ten in the morning, giving her a reason to be mean to him while he pursues her. Probably the biggest problem with this story is why a marriage-avoiding-Marquis suddenly pursues her so assiduously. But I can forgive this and the unlikelihood of them doing the nasty on a chaise lounge at a ball in the garden because I like these characters and they are funny.

The second story(2007) has Richard Addison, descendant of Connoll and Evangeline dating Sam, former cat burglar extraordinaire. Sam has gone straight and is organizing the security for a V&A traveling exhibition of gemstones that will be housed on Richard's estate for two weeks. While they are setting up she finds the hidden cursed diamond and the fun ensues from there. I just didn't like these two's dynamic, they are both rather tetchy and I was into Richard until he led her horse into a canter and wouldn't stop until she told him something. That's just mean. And the sex was abrupt. (FYI, I switched subjects there, there's no sex on the horse. Sorry to disappoint.)

Historical Romance/Contemp Romance 2007: 3.5 out of 5 Stars.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Marjorie Liu 'Soul Song'

I'll start by saying there is something so not threatening or sexy about a man who sings to kill or entrance. It made me think of cheesy weddings where the groom or bride (or both, horrors!) sing to each other. Hey, I like to sing, I love listening to singers, but given my reaction to the premise of the book, maybe I was biased.

M'cal is half human/half Krackeni (merman) and has been ensorceled by a not nice witch who compels him to 'work the streets' as a male prostitute, take the women's souls that hire him (by singing), and bring them back to her so she can use them to remain young. Kitala is a successful fiddle player touring the country. She has this unfortunate ability to foresee violent death in other people's futures.

And in the end they get together. There now, I've saved you the pain and agony of having to read this book. Okay, to be more specific, the storyline doesn't bother to develop these somewhat promising characters and the plot is disjointed and jerky in very annoying ways. And the hero bites off the witch's nose, "M'cal spat out the knob of bloody flesh. It bounced against the shag carpet, landed at Ivan's feet like an odd red button." Hey, I don't mind some gratuitous violence, but that's just totally gross!

The writing isn't terrible and I actually liked Kitala, our heroine who is, refreshingly, African American, I even liked her voodoo wielding grandma, but the rest falls way short of tolerable.

Paranormal Romance 2007: 2 out of 5 stars

Friday, August 3, 2007

Jo Beverley 'Lady Beware'

Hmmm. This book starts slow, but quickly you begin to really like the characters, and like them being with each other. Then the last fourth of the book kind of falls apart. There are two big evil moments, there are plot tie-ups that are anticlimactic to say the least, all while the hero and heroine are apart no less.

I can't fault the writing, the characterization is good, the plot is, well, acceptable mostly. I'm going to put it more down to pacing. If you are a Jo Beverley fan, Darien is a wonderful hero and Thea is terrific as well and you could probably forgive the pacing to have another book related to the Rogues. But if not, this could be skipped.

Historical Romance 2007: 3 out of 5 stars

[Hero's nickname is Cave Canem: Beware the Dog]