Monday, May 26, 2008

Sabria Jeffries 'To Pleasure a Prince'

I am definitely feeling jaded. *gasp* I apologize fair reader, but I've got to re-charge my reading senses by inserting a decent book. I'm afraid my reviewing abilities are being worn down by nothing but trash.

Beautiful Lady Regina has dyslexia, Marcus the Viscount is the bastard son of Prinny, who avoids society ever since his mother spread nasty gossip about him as a young man. He's gained a reputation for being quite volatile so society calls him the Dragon Viscount. When his younger sister has her first season, Lady Regina goes to talk to Marcus to see why he has forbidden her brother from seeing his little sister. For some bizarre reason he agrees to a month long courtship between the siblings as long as Regina allows him to court her.

In my opinion, dialog is everything, and these two are terrific together. He is quite overbearing but she gives as good as she gets and doesn't back down. By the end his belligerence begins to wear however, and it would have been nice for his character to have been changed by her's more gradually. Of course this would have interfered with the BIG ARGUMENT part of the plot....

The sexual tension is very good, and consummation was terrific if sparse by todays standards. This book had a great start, then falls into some old patterns (misunderstandings, big argument for plot climax) by the end.

Historical Romance 2004: 4 of 5 dark dungeons.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Celeste Bradley 'Duke Most Wanted'

I think I need a break from romance. These books are starting to run together, well, more than usual that is. Sophie is the third grand-daughter of Hamish Pickering. She's in the running for a trust that will be given to his first female decedent who becomes a duchess. She's not all that interested in the money, just the time in London that the competition has provided her.

Graham is the fourth son of the Duke of Edencourt, does not expect to inherit, but becomes friends with Sophie. She has an unrequited tendre for him of course, but she's realistic about her chances with him until he announces he's going to marry. She is horrified enough to reach out to a dress maker who offered to transform her a few months earlier. Thus ensues the story.

The writing is good, the characters are well drawn, their motivation wanders a bit, the sexual tension is okay and the consummation is good. A generally good bit of fluff to pass a couple of hours, but again, nothing that makes it stand out in the crowd.

Historical Romance 2008: 4 of 5 Lementuer gowns.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Susan Wiggs "Charm School"

I so almost loved this book. In the eighties my favorite books were the heroines who stowed away on ships, where the crew came to love her because she's so genuine and nice, and finally the hero is shown the light of her gloriousness by how much the crew like her. Never mind the complete lack of any inappropriate advances by any of these PIRATES who've haven't seen a woman in five months. But I digress.

Charm school has the classic, wonderful, ugly duckling heroine. She's smart but a wall flower in a family of beautiful people. She runs away to sea with the unconventional southern captain, she gets some sun, becomes active and eats less, thereby losing some weight, and gains confidence by befriending every single crew member on the whole ship. The consummation is late in the book. It fit well with the storyline but I have noticed most books put it on page 3 these days, and I'm assuming there is some market research behind that decision. Anyway, I am a total sucker for these transformation storylines, I was even tolerant of some plot twists near the end that were a bit silly. BUT, when she starts into the "Why didn't I tell him I loved him. How could I not know I was in love with him." My snort-o-meter went off big time. This smart character would not have been thinking this drivel.

In the scope of a highly enjoyable book, this was a minor annoyance. And for those of you paying way too much attention to the rules I set down about this blog, yes it was published in 1999. I was snookered by the "re-issue." Usually I check for that but I missed this one and thank goodness I hadn't read it before.

Historical Romance 1999: 4 of 5 salty knaves.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Margo Maguire 'Temptation of the Warrior'

You may have noticed by now that my bar is pretty low for silly storylines, especially ones that stray into the fantasy genre. Here's another good example. Merrick is high chieftain of the Druzai, a people from another land. He must travel to the Tuath lands (regular humans) and to another time to find a magical stone that will help protect his people from a nasty witch's attack.

After arriving in 19th Century northern England, he happens across Jenny being attacked by some ruffians on the roadside. While he is defending her he gets hit on the head and loses his memory. Gypsies happen upon them, scare off the ruffians, and assume he's Jenny's husband.

I particularly liked this hero, I enjoyed the time they spent together with the Gypsies, I suppose I like the magic, the sex is good, the heroine is admirable, but in the last third of the book things bog down. It just takes too damn long to track down this magic stone. The heroine's dithering about whether to leave Merrick or not wouldn't have been too annoying if it hadn't been the exact same scene three times over. If you are going to repeat a moment of indecision, at least vary it a bit, location, time of day, motivation, anything! And the sections of the book where we read about the Druzai waiting for Merrick, completely flat, yuk. I enjoyed this book, I will pick up this author again but it wasn't without faults.

Historical Paranormal Romance 2007: 3.5 of 5 magical threads.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Catherine Coulter 'Wizard's Daughter'

This is where my lack of an English degree will show. Well, maybe it always shows in this blog, but this is when I'm aware of it as well. Rosalind was adopted as a girl by an English family after being found nearly beaten to death. Nicholas has dreamt of her all his life and when he comes to London to find her he knows he must protect her, and the easiest way to do that is to marry her. They fall in love, marry, and begin to try to solve the mystery of The Pale and their joint history of wizardry.

Nothing in the set up prevents this from being a good book. Even the characters are decently drawn, EXCEPT for their dialog. The disconcerting effect of the strange sounding dialog is strongest with hundreds of pages of exposure but here's a little sample: Rosalind says, "I agree, the Wyverly heiress wasn't the magic one, it was this ship captain, Jared Vail, he was magic and you know it, else he couldn't have built this magnificent house that must whisper of secrets and ancient magic rattling about behind it's walls. You also know it because you carry your grandfather's blood and his teachings,..." I wish I knew exactly what drives me insane about how the characters talk, the short choppy sentences, rambling on just to reveal plot details, passive voice? UGH!

I had this exact reaction to a Coulter book about ten years ago and swore never to read her again, but I thought for the purposes of this blog I would give her another chance. If you like Catherine Coulter, great, if you haven't read her before, in my humble opinion, don't bother.

Historical Paranormal Romance 2008: 0 of 5 pale wizards.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Nicole Jordan 'To Bed a Beauty'

My five year old is starting to read and while looking at the front of this book said, "Too Bad a Beauty? What book is that Mommy?" All mom romance readers must come to this point where they wonder if having all these trashy books around the house with half dressed people on the covers is really a good idea for impressionable small people. I'm not even going to touch the idea of those small people finally finding my blog, yikes.

This is one of those very decent but not special kind of books. It's heavy on the sex, light on the plot, but with a heroine who was consistently smart. At each point where the typical romance heroine would misconstrue the hero's intent or where she would typically lie to protect herself emotionally, she was refreshingly smart and honest, making me like her immensely. I didn't love the hero but I didn't dislike him which is sometimes enough.

I did have the annoying feeling that these two would not have been able to spend so much time together unchaperoned. This certainly makes the hanky panky easier to pull off but left me with that vague 'not so historically accurate' feeling which I can usually suppress. In the end the book was well written, had a terrific heroine, was an enjoyable read, but failed to jump out of the crowd for a higher rating.

Historical Romance 2008: 4 out of 5 rakish dukes.