Saturday, April 25, 2009
She stood at peril's threshold --
then love beckoned her in…...
A prim, well-bred gentlewoman, Sara Fielding is a writer who puts pen to paper to create dreams. But now curiosity is luring her from the shelter of her country cottage into the dangerous world of Derek Craven -- handsome, tough, and tenacious -- and the most exciting man Sara has ever met.
Derek rose from poverty to become the wealthy lord of London's most exclusive gambling house. And now duty demands that he allow Sara Fielding to enter his perilous realm of ever-shifting fortunes -- with her impeccable manners and her infuriating innocence. But there is a hidden strength and sensuality to the lady that captivates him beyond his better judgment. And in this world, where danger lurks behind every shadow, even a proper "mouse" can be transformed into a breathtaking enchantress -- and a cynical gambler can be shaken to his core by the power of passion and the promise of love.
She's done it again, another Lisa Kleypas book I've loved. I must say her record with me is pretty high. Is it any wonder I consider her one of the best romance authors out there? The writing in her historicals is always true to period, though in this one it's a little vague about what year it actually is. Sometime after the regency period, but before Victoria's time. This is one of her earlier books, the sequel to Then Came You (which I loved as well). For an early book, it was really great. It had all the bells and whistles needed to make it a great story. This one is about Derek Craven.
Derek Craven. Some people I know consider him their favorite hero. He's a complex man. Born to a prostitute - reputedly in a drainpipe - in the worst section of London, he grows up a poor Cockney, forced to make his way in the world on his own. He is no stranger to thievery, grave robbing, prostitution and any number of nefarious occupations. But somehow with cunning and luck he earned enough money to open the greatest gambling club in London and made a fortune at it. But, at the age of 30, he has never fallen in love - the one thing he is missing in his life. Derek considers himself incapable of loving anyone. For all his wealth, Derek still does not consider himself good enough for any of the proper young ladies of the ton. Low born - flash gentry - he avoids love and relationships for fear he'll be rebuffed. What father would ever let his daughter marry the likes of the disreputable Derek Craven? A ladies man and a rake, known for cuckolding husbands and sleeping with only women of nobility he's no slouch in the bedroom, but he's never courted a woman, he's never cared for anyone enough to want to say "I love you" - until Sara Fielding comes into his life.
Sara, a prim and proper young woman who is the best selling author of a Moll Flanders type book called Mathilda meets Derek and rescues him after he is slashed across the face by ruffians in a back alley. Doing "research" on the seamy side of London for her latest book that centers on the gambling dens of London, she saves his life. Sara might be meek and spinsterish, but she carries a gun and knows how to use it. She shoots and kills a man to save Derek and then helps him back to his club. This crazy ex-lover of Derek's, Joyce Ashby, who has an obsession over him sent the men to slash his face. He "dropped" her and ended their affair and she can't get over him. She will stop at nothing to make sure no one else can have him either. Derek should have strangled her when he had the chance. She's always popping up in the story.
Derek is put off by Sara at first with her old-maidish demeanor. He's gruff and callous with her at first, but I kind of like that in him! She begins to grow on him after she receives his reluctant approval to visit his club so she can take notes on what it is like to be in a gambling den for her book. She's wins over everyone in the club, but he's the last one to give in - outwardly at least. He's amused by her at first, but then finds himself unexpectedly attracted to her beauty, which is hidden most of the time behind spectacles and a cap on her head. He makes her remove these items, secretly taking a pair of her spectacles and carrying them around with him in his pocket. Little does he know that Sara is developing the same feeling towards him.
She is drawn to him from the beginning. This larger than life, virile man's man who is so different from what she is used to. Nothing like her milksop "almost" fiance back home, who is a mama's boy that has been stringing her along for four years with the promise that one day they will marry - but still with no official proposal! Derek Craven blows him away in comparison. Before long, Sara is wondering what it would be like to kiss Derek and in one scene she takes a great leap and asks him to kiss her for "research" purposes, of course! He's been dying to kiss her, but he can't do it. He's afraid that once he starts he won't be able to stop. He turns her down. Poor Sara, having no idea of his true feelings, she is humiliated, convinced he thinks her so unattractive he can't bear to kiss her. Grr, I hate these sort of miscommunications! Anyway, Sara, with some help from her new friends, Lily (from the last book) and Craven's right hand man, Worthy, attends a masquerade ball at Craven's that night dressed in disguise as her "Mathilda". She's dressed as an enchantress and is the sensation of the evening. Derek does not recognzie her. All he sees is this gorgeous, vivacious woman that he claims as his for the evening. He keeps her next to him all night. Now, I did find it remarkable that a smart man like Derek Craven didn't recognize her earlier on, though he does recognize her eventually in a very hot and heavy scene (my favorite part!) Once his eyes are opened and he knows who she is and the danger she poses to his good judgment, he realizes he must send her away back to her home town away from the danger he represents. He's going to bed her (she's a virgin) if she stays in town. He must get rid of her. Now he decides to be noble!?
I found this part poignant. Both of them want each other, but he sends her away. I felt so sorry for her. He rejects her quite often in this book, at least three times. I felt like hitting him after a while! But, she never gave up on him. Still, she returns to her small village and dull fiance (he finally proposes to her.) But things are not the same for her there, she has already changed. Experiencing the hot kisses from a Derek Craven will do that to a girl! Her fiance doesn't like this change in her and they break up (she's well rid of him anyway!) With perfect timing (as is often the case in romance novels) she is invited to a weekend party at Lily, now Lady Raiford's, country estate. And guess who is also there? Yup! From there, all hell breaks loose! Turns out crazy Joyce Ashby, who is up to no good, is there as well. But, before she wreaks havoc, Derek and Sara are reunited, yet he is still fighting it, he can't get over this insecurity of his that he's not good enough for her. Will he ever give in and finally ask her to marry him? I won't spoil it, but they find their way together and it's a pleasure to read about how they do it (this is a romance after all - you know they will eventually!) and live their lives until that crazy bitch, Joyce comes into the picture again! I kept wishing someone would take a gun to the woman (I kind of got my wish!) One of my favorite lines was when Sara yells at Joyce "and give me back my necklace!" (You'll get it when you read it!)
With an exciting lead up to the conclusion involving the usual angst, a kidnapping and fire, the ending is satisfying and happy, I can assure you. Do yourself a favor and read this book, you won't be sorry. This is a quick read and one of the things I loved most about it was seeing the way Derek was able to overcome his inability to love and say "I Love You" to Sara. He's got so much "stuff" in his head from all his childhood, it's rewarding to see him finally happy at the end. I think when he finally tells Sara he loves her it was my favorite part. Derek makes the story. Sara is such an unusual choice for him at first, so it made it that much more interesting to see if this little mouse can capture a big fat cat like Derek - but she does and it's a can't-put-it-down read until the end! Enjoy it, I know I sure did!
Friday, April 24, 2009
A Splendid Opportunity
A shipload of women -- theirs for the taking! Pirate captain Gideon Horn couldn't be more delighted. His men are tired of wandering the high seas and want to settle down with wives on the uncharted island paradise they've discovered. And the women are bound to be grateful to be rescued from the life of drudgery awaiting them in New South Wales ... Lord, he's so clever!
A Splendid Passion
Married? To pirates? Sara Willis couldn't be more appalled. First she demands proper courting -- at least a month. The darkly handsome pirate lord gives them two weeks. Then Sara insists the men vacate their huts for the women -- Gideon demands her kisses in return. As the demands heat up, so do their passions -- and soon Sara can't remember just why she's fighting the devilishly seductive captain so hard...
Ordinarily I don't read pirate romances, but this one was chosen as the April Group Read at LibraryThing so I thought I'd join in. It was cute and not half bad! I was reading it only when I went to the gym, so it took me most of the month to get through, but ordinarily if I were reading this the usual way, I probably would have finished it in a day.
This is the story of Sara Willis who is the stepsister of an English earl during Regency times. Sara is a reformer, she's always looking to improve the conditions of the working or lower classes. She's a do-gooder and doesn't mind getting her hands dirty or mixing with the riff raff to do it. Not your typical society debutante who is only interested in balls and finding a husband. She is scrappy and speaks her mind - she's also a rabble rouser when it serves her purpose.
She talks her stepbrother into allowing her to sail on a female convict ship to Australia. I thought this was terribly far-fetched that her brother would agree and let her, but I went along with it. She is there to see to it that the conditions on board the ship are decent for the women and she is there to teach them how to read and sew as well - basically to look out for their interests and make sure they're not used by the sailors. She wants to be sure they are treated justly. Unbeknownst to Sara, her brother has hired Petey, the sailor brother of his butler, to work on the ship and keep an eye out for his sister and protect her.
En route to Australia the ship is captured by the notorious pirate, Gideon Horn, known as the Pirate Lord. Of course, he's tall, swarthy, handsome as sin and he and Sara clash immediately. He wants all the women on the ship to become the brides of his crewmen. The pirates want to settle down and retire on a remote tropical island they call Atlantis. They think of it as a Utopia that they can colonize. Naturally, Sara is outraged by this idea but comes to realize that the women have no choice. But, Sarah at least makes a bargain with the attractive pirate captain and talks him into agreeing that the women can choose who they want to be their husbands after a week.
Over time, not only do Gideon and Sara argue, but he becomes strangely attracted to this wilful and feisty redhead. He desires her and plans on seducing her. She can't help but fall for his charms as well and they have some sizzling encounters which are satisfyingly sensual, but not over the top, well done. She fights her desire at first, but then comes to realize she doesn't want to anymore and they begin to fall for one another. Fortunately, but unfortunately, Petey is there to protect her and he leaves the island intent on going back to England to get her brother to rescue all of them from the island. Sara gave Petey her blessing to do this when he left, but that was before she and Gideon became inseparable and affianced - she wants to be his wife now and live on Atlantis with him forever as man and wife.
Well, you can guess what happens, her brother returns and forces her to leave the island with him or he'll burn it all down. So, she must leave Gideon without saying good-bye and he gets the wrong impression and thinks she is just some fickle society girl and never really cared for him. Bitter over highborn women, Gideon is carrying around his own baggage. His mother was the daughter of a duke and she ran off with a tutor and had him and then left him behind with his drunkard father to raise him while she went back to her ducal life. He's never forgiven her for it, and because of it, distrusts and hates the nobility. He thinks the worst of Sara at first. He jumps to all the wrong conclusions, which I felt was also far fetched. He's a smart and worldly man, he should have trusted his instincts better in her regard, despite his insecurities - but then there would be no angst! Of course we know she really does love him and it all ends well, she is indomitable and stubborn, but knows how to get things done and ultimately she is able to restore his faith in women. It's a bit predictable and I guessed the ending, but still it was a fun little book to read while working out at the gym.
If you like pirates and romances, this isn't bad. The side characters are interesting, I really liked Silas and Louisa's story and Queenie, the prostitute redeems herself by the end. (It was no surprise who she winds up marrying, we already get a clue on that one earlier on.) Like I said before, it was a cute, sweet story. My first romance by this author, but probably not the last. I have a feeling the next book in this series is about Sara's brother, since there was very much of a lead in to a sequel with him. I'll probably read it.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
This is the climactic book in Paullina Simons' epic trilogy that began with the international bestseller, the heartbreaking "The Bronze Horseman". This is the magnificent conclusion to the saga that was set in motion when Tatiana fell in love with her Red Army officer, Alexander Belov, in wartime Leningrad in 1941. Tatiana and Alexander have since suffered the worst the twentieth century had to offer. After years of separation, they are miraculously reunited in America, the land of their dreams. They have a beautiful son, Anthony. They have proved to each other that their love is greater than the vast evil of the world. But though they are only in their twenties, in their hearts they are old, and they are strangers. In the climate of fear and mistrust of the Cold War, dark forces are at work in the US that threaten their life and their family. Can they be happy? Or will the ghosts of yesterday reach out to blight even the destiny of their firstborn son? Epic in scope, masterfully told, "The Summer Garden" is a novel of unique and devastating emotional power that spans two thirds of the twentieth century, and three continents. "The Summer Garden" is for: love, for beauty, and for ever.
This was a great book.
I really loved the first two, The Bronze Horseman and Tatiana and Alexander, but this was even better than the first two. Emotionally intense, I was riveted to the story and what becomes of Tatiana and Alexander as they live in post WWII America. We follow them with their ups and downs in life, love, marriage and learning to live with their nightmarish memories of war and imprisonment in Russia. It was an amazing and exhausting journey - but so worthwhile!
A lot of this story is about the relationship between Tatiana and Alexander (Tania and Shura). They have this incredible love that has held them together, yet as a young married couple living in the '50's they face so much together. It's not easy for them. It's the story of their marriage primarily, infidelities - or supposed infidelities - having a young son who is insecure and coping with life in so many ways. I could really relate to them and trying to hold onto their marriage and just living day to day. Alexander is trying desperately to cope with life. He's been horribly scarred by what happened to him in a Soviet prison in Russia after the war where Tatiana rescued him in the previous book. She left their young son, Anthony, to go to get him in Europe and bring him back. She succeeds, but Alexander still suffers inside with his memories. He's just trying to live a normal life, to work, to get along, make friends and live the good life with his family in the post war boom of the 1950's.
Much of their life seems ideal on the surface. They travel in a trailor home all over the country, Alexander finds work where he can, and they finally settle in Arizona. But Tatiana is carrying around the burden of worrying what is happening to her Shura. She wants to keep him safe from harm, even though she knows the US Government wants to question him and debrief him about what happened to him in Russia, and the fact that his parents were Communists who moved there in the 1930's and were killed by the Soviets eventually. To say the least, Alexander has a lot of baggage to carry around yet he's still such an incredible guy - he's amazing - I love him!
He's tall, dark and handsome in every sense of the word. The descriptions of him are awesome and his love for Tatiana is amazing - their love for one another is amazing! Some might say, the sex scenes in this book are over the top, but I don't think so, I think they only enhance their love for one another. They're well done, and not that unrealistic considering all they've gone through. Sex is the one way they heal each other. I also really love Tatiana, she's a great heroine. Quiet strength and beauty. A determination that is indefatigable. Her love for Alexander is unswerving, except for one incident that happens, and it rips your heart out to read about how they get through it. Very well done, you are right there with them going through the hell they're experiencing. It's so emotional!
Those of you that have read the Outlander books are probably thinking - this sounds vaguely similar... it is! That's why I love these books so much! The Summer Garden spans 60 years. We see Alexander and Tatiana grow old together but there is so much more to this book than just that. Their son Anthony grows up and goes to Vietnam and is taken prisoner by the North Vietnamese. Alexander, now 50 years old, must go rescue him. It's one of the most nerve wracking intense scenes I've ever read in a book, reading about Vietnam and the whole rescue! The whole scene is so well done and so reminiscent of when Tatiana rescued Alexander in the previous book. It's exciting and riveting and scary, I was on the edge of my seat reading it. There are some odd twists in the storyline concerning Anthony that were kind of shocking and unbelievable, but it just makes the book that much more interesting and hard to put down.
Over and over I was in awe of how well the author did her homework in writing about this time period and all the millions of little details she wrote about. Vietnam, weapons, nursing, building homes, living in a trailor home, lobster fishing, baking bread, the desert, there are just too many things to list, but it all sounded authentic to me and I took it all in. I loved reading about this period in America too, the baby boom years my parents lived as young marrieds having six children. I really enjoyed it.
Frankly, I'm still reeling from reading this book that left me breathless. The scope of it is still hard for me to grasp. I felt like I was living their life with them. The ending kind of went on for too long, I would have been happier with just a few epilogue-like pages instead of thirty. Lots of explanations and descriptions and details, though it isn't boring, except for maybe what seemed like the endless discussion on the SALT II talks and theory behind them during the 1980's between the US and the Soviets.
Still, this was a fabulous book, but to really appreciate it you must read the first two. This was, in my opinion, the best of the three. Not for the faint of heart either, it's over 700 pages long and a roller coaster ride to read, but I'm so glad I did. Plus, I've crossed off another book from my TBR Challenge.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Many thanks to the wonderful and very generous Lea at closetwriter who made it possible for me to have 3 columns in my blog now! *preening* Since I'm clueless about this sort of thing, I find it is absolutely magical that she knows how to do this sort of thing!
Many, many thanks for your help, Lea! *hugs*
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Highland warriors sworn to protect innocence through the ages...
Malcolm of Dunroch is a newly chosen Master, a novice to his extraordinary--and dangerous--powers. But he has already broken his vows--and a young woman's death is on his hands. Malcolm is determined to fight his darkest desires, denying himself of all pleasure...until fate sends him another Innocent, the beautiful bookseller Claire Camden.
Since her mother's murder, Claire has done everything possible to make a safe, secure life for herself in a city where danger lurks on every street corner, especially in the dark of night. But nothing can prepare her for the powerful and sexual medieval warrior who sweeps her back into his time--a treacherous, frightening world where the hunters and the hunted are one and the same. Claire needs Malcolm to survive, yet she must somehow keep the dangerously seductive Master at arm's length. For Malcolm's soul is at stake--and fulfilling his desires could prove fatal...
Reader beware - strong use of outrage and sarcasm ahead!
Have you ever come across a book that is just so God awful you can't even begin to list all the horrendous things about it? That's how I feel about this book. Classified as a paranormal highland romance it was excruciating to listen to - if I had been reading it, instead of listening to it, I would have tossed it after the prologue. For one thing, the woman narrator was absolutely horrendous! She made me despise the heroine, Claire. Then, every time she did the male Scottish voices (which weren't too bad, but over the top) and had them say "lass" (which happens a lot) it sounded more like "lusssssssssssssssssss" (not to be confused with when they say, "I lusssssst for ye!") It got old real fast.
My car has been in the shop for a month (yes, a friggin' month!) and I left my Dragonfly in Amber CD in it, so I downloaded this book thinking it would help me while away the time commuting in my loaner - well, it was endless! I couldn't wait for it to get over with, and didn't want to chuck it since I used up one of my precious Audible points for it! Sheer torture, but at the same time, it was amusing to see just how much worse this book could get - and believe me, it really got worse and worse!
The author of this book could give lessons on how to write in superlatives. Everything was the greatest, the sexiest, the biggest, the scariest thing this heroine had ever seen in her entire life! Oh my God, this was repeated so many times I was outwardly groaning over and over at how horrible the prose was - and just plain bad writing! And then, although this heroine was a modern day woman swept back in time to the 15th century, she never spoke in contractions! "Malcolm, I can not" "You can not." "We can not..." Uggh, just once I wanted her to say "can't", "won't" "couldn't" - anything!" Who really talks that way? And the narrator's voice was so flat and wooden and emotionless - I felt like slapping her!And the heavy breathing during the pauses! *choke*
But back to Claire herself...
One minute Claire boasts on how fit and buff she is from all her kickboxing classes -she can beat anyone up - she's tough with her weapons and guns. Then in the next paragraph she talks about how much of a wuss she is and she's boo-hooing all over the place! Another thing that I couldn't stand? Throughout the whole time she's riding around the Scottish countryside she is wearing cowboy boots, a bluejean miniskirt and a thong! A thong! And the hilarious thing is Malcolm, her sexy Master Highlander who is so attracted to her for some reason, refers to her skirt as "the rag." Or was he talking about the thong? Yecch! Claire was so unappealing, yet every man that met her "wanted her." And she was just so annoying! Every woman she met, she'd instantly think Malcolm was sleeping with her - constantly jumping to the wrong conclusion and making a fool of herself. I can't stand these types of heroines, I really can't.
Don't even get me started on the the sex descriptions which were trite and blecchy! No imagination in them, just really, really stupid - I can't even begin to repeat the descriptions except that they were all over the top and embarrasingly bad! Not sexy, just raunchy and stressing how big and engorged and swollen everything was - and every encounter was super orgasmic - ugghh! No chemistry, no romance, just wham bam thank you ma'am - starting in the convoluted and confusing prologue! If I recall correctly after one such scene, it morphs into the next paragraph by saying (I'm paraphrasing here):
After performing oral sex on Claire, Malcolm got up from the bed leaving her in a hazy mist of unmitigated bliss.Now is it just me, or does that just sound a bit - abrupt? And couldn't she have had a more romantic way of putting it or describing "oral sex" without saying oral sex? So romantic and sexy!
The gist of the story is this girl Claire meets these oversexed Masters in medieval Scotland who are sworn to save the innocents (whatever that means). Every one is super good looking, one even described as looking just like Matthew McConaughey. They all have supernatural powers and if they are hurt, they must have sex, sex, sex to power up again, yet they kill and take the life of who they are having sex with (at least the ones that give into the evil dark side of their powers). At least their partners die of pleasure with a smile on their face - arrrgh! It was so dumb! Claire meets Malcolm, but they have relationship problems - namely, how can he have sex with her without killing her? Gee, what a predicament, not your average every day couples problem, though she treats it like it is! She was mind numblingly too stupid to live - frankly I wanted her dead to end my suffering.
Do yourself a favor - run away from this book! Don't read it, it was probably the worst thing I could have bought, I had no idea - if only I'd read the reviews on audible before downloading it! Beware! Never again! *I'm dancing that I finally finished it and don't have to listen to this tripe ever again!* I learned a big lesson about what I buy now! I've heard Brenda Joyce's historicals are good and this venture into paranormal is not like her other books, but I've been so traumatized by this one, it will take a lot to get me to read another book by her.
I give it a whopping 1/2 a star out of 5.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
The Royal Reviews Hunky Hero needs a bit of help in learning how to be a leading man!
So I've agreed to help him out with some pointers from my favourite hero
I've been tagged by the Hunky Hero over at Alaine's Reading Blog. This Hunky Hero has been making the rounds, if you know what I mean. I've seen him everywhere! What's a girl to do?
My Favorite Hero: This is a no brainer. Jamie Fraser from Diana Gabaldon's Outlander Series I'm borderline obsessive when it comes to him. Never did I think someone could make me forget Mr. Darcy, but this Scottish hero swept me off my feet!
Why he stole my heart:
Jamie is my dream man. He's a Scottish highlander, tall, brave, proud, honorable smart, handsome, virile, kind, compassionate and oh so sexy - aah, that accent! *swoon* I never thought I'd go for a red haired guy, but he has stolen my heart. His one love is Claire who drives him and he is true to her and her memory and never stops loving her. Plus, he's got a great sense of humor and is so cute when he tries to wink (which he can't do, and winds up blinking both eyes instead, like an owl!)
"I will find you," he whispered in my ear. "I promise. If I must endure two hundred years of purgatory, two hundred years without you--then that is my punishment, which I have earned for my crimes. For I have lied, and killed, and stolen; betrayed and broken trust. But there is one thing that shall lie in the balance. When I shall stand before God, I shall have one thing to say, to weigh against the rest." His voice dropped, nearly to a whisper, and his arms tightened around me. "Lord, ye gave me a rare woman, and God! I loved her well."(From Dragonfly in Amber)
Who would play Jamie in a movie:
(Umm, if you look straight up to my banner, you'll see him.)
My first choice is Gerry Butler. *swoon* He might be a tad too old to play a 24 year old virgin, but hey, they can do anything in the movies now! Look what they did with Mel Gibson in Braveheart. At least Gerry has the muscles and accent going for him! I happen to be somewhat of an expert on this topic, since I make Outlander icons at LiveJournal of all the characters based on actors and actresses. But, another actor that I think would make a very sexy Jamie (but can he act?) is Halle Berry's main squeeze, Gabriel Aubry, and herself has even said she think he'd make a good one. But, something tells me whoever they choose to play Jamie in a movie (which is in the works so I hear), I just hope he's tall, broad shouldered and is a real Scot! (or at least fakes it like a real one!)
I'm not going to tag anyone, but if you feel like playing to help the Hunky Hero be my guest!
Friday, April 10, 2009
She thought her heart was safe, but…...
Reckless, wild, and beautiful, Lily Lawson delights in shocking proper London society -- and now she is determined to rescue her sister from an unwanted impending marriage to the notorious Alex, Lord Raiford, by fair means or foul. But while she succeeds outrageously, Alex is a master gamesman who is not to be undone.
Alex has lost one bride, yet he is enchanted by this remarkable lady who is willing to break any rule to flaunt her independence. When Lily offers him only scorn, he counters with kindness, and he parries her blistering barbs with gentle words and a soft, tender touch. The spirited miss will pay dearly for her interference -- with her body, her soul, and her stubborn, unyielding heart. But will Alex's own heart be the prize to be won in this sensuous game of love?
I loved this book! I had already heard about it alot, you know how it is... it was one of those early Lisa Kleypas books that I had yet to read because I'd been so absorbed in her later series like the Wallflowers and the Liar's Club. But, still, I was getting so curious about it since so many people have raved about it! Now I know why! It was a really good story, sexy, endearing, sad at times, emotional and different! Just the kind of book I like, and I might add, it's now one of my favorite Lisa Kleypas books!
At first when I started reading it, I was a bit confused by the heroine. I wasn't sure if she was the heroine or not, not having read the blurb on the back cover of the book, which I like to do sometimes for the surprise effect. For one thing, she's not your standard virginal, damsel in distress, but, then again, Kleypas' heroines almost never are. She's somewhere around the age of 30, and definitely reckless! Lily Lawson (loved the name, btw) is well born but wears raspberry pink trousers when she rides - astride no less, has cut her hair short so it's a myriad of little ringlets all over her head, is the only female member of the infamous Craven's gambling club (as alluded to later in Devil in Winter) and flaunts propriety every chance she can get. She never wants to marry, yet many men want her, but she doesn't want a man. Scarred previously by being jilted by her fiance and then she is seduced by a slick Italian ne'er do well in Italy (a painful experience she never wants to repeat) who gets her pregnant. Raising her daughter by herself, her daughter is kidnapped by her father and Lily never sees her again! Poor Lily! She tries to find her, hires detectives, but the slimy bastard father keeps their daughter away from her and blackmails Lily for money for two years.
Finally, when Lily is almost at her wits end (and out of money) she meets Alex, Lord Raiford who is engaged to her meek and mild younger sister, Penelope, who is really in love with someone else. Lily can't stand Raiford upon first sight and the feeling becomes mutual. Lily can't stand seeing her sister marry unhappily and helps to break up the engagement and sees to it that Penelope can run off with her true love, Zachary. This ordinarily wouldn't endear her jilted fiance to Lily, but in fact, Alex has already been developing feelings for her of the lustful kind and can't get her out of his head. Lily ties him to her bed and keeps him there (alone) all night so that Penelope and Zachary can run off to Gretna Green together. Lily, despite herself is intrigued by Alex and starts having feelings for him too. Feelings she never thought she'd have for a man.
To get her back for tying him up, Raiford winds up getting the upper hand when the next night, in a daring bet at Craven's, he wins a night with Lily, who lost the bet, desperate to win money to pay her slimy blackmailer. And so with the winning wager, suddenly the book - and Raiford - becomes really interesting! What a night! Very well done, and Alex suddenly takes on a whole new aura! LOL! Not only that, there are so many little details in this book that are great. I love the descriptions of Lily's clothes, especially two outfits in particular. One she's dressed as Eve (as in the Garden of Eden?) at a fancy masquerade at Craven's, and the other is a beautiful black lace gown over a nude underlay - sounds gorgeous!
The dialogue between the two h/h is fast and furious, they're a good match for each other! Lily is so daring and refreshing, it's fun to see what next is going to happen with her. Yet, at the same time, she's carrying this horrible burden around with her about her daughter. You really feel for her.
I won't spoil anymore of the plot, but this is a GREAT read! Raiford is blonde and handsome and strong and virile. At first we don't really like him too much because he comes across as such an ogre, but he definitely grows on you and softens and changes with Lily. By the end of the book you love him as I did with Lily too. I had tears in my eyes. I can't stress enough what a good story this is! It sounds complicated, but when you read it, it flows smoothly and effortlessly.
Kleypas' heroines are generally complicated individuals with many layers to them, they're usually carrying around some baggage from their past as well. Lily is obviously no exception, but I appreciate these characteristics. Her people are more real to me, I sympathize with them and care for them. I think it takes a talented author to do this and get her readers to feel an emotional bond or tug with her characters. Ms. Kleypas does this in spades over and over again.
First in the Gambler's series. The next one involves Derek Craven - should be interesting!
Am I the worst or what? I've been getting some really wonderful awards from some great people here in blog land and haven't formally thanked anyone on my blog. I'm such a slug, but now I'm going to make up for my bad manners!
First of all, I'd like to thank Carla from My Little Corner... over at LiveJournal (where I have my other blog.) Carla and I got to know each other because we loved to make icons for LiveJournal, and then we both kind of morphed into readers and reviewers of books! Funny, isn't it, now we're too busy reading to be interested in making icons! *grin*
Carla has very kindly awarded me this award:
and most recently:
The rules to follow are:
1) Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award and his or her blog link.
2) Pass the award to 15 other blogs that you've newly discovered. Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.
I'm afraid I'm not passing this on to anyone in particular because I'm still pretty new in this blogger world, and I think those that I do know have this award already!
Another award I received - all the way back in January *blushing with shame* was from Michele at A Reader's Respite She has a great blog, and I am in awe of all that she does! Her blog is always very interesting. Thanks for thinking of me, in this most dubious of honors. ;)
Yesterday VampFan Girl at Lovin' Me Some Romance was kind enough to award me these two awards - aww! (Gives a little color to my blog as well!) She's got a great book review blog, and I also love her comments on my own! One of these days, I'll venture into the paranormal, but for now I'm still dedicated to mortal men! LOL!
The only requirement for this award is that you share it with whomever you like, sharing the love is always a good thing. The blog has to show only one characteristic, caring. So, start sharing this enchanted award with five other bloggers. Let your bloggers know they have received this enchanted award. (Remember, fairies are fickle wee things, don't incur their displeasure by ignoring their gift.)
I'm awarding this to two of my special friend's book blogs:
Whitelady3 at My Little Corner...
Renee O. at Renée's book and movie reviews
The other award is:
I'm not even sure how this one got started exactly, but I'll take it gladly and appreciate your thinking of me! This is what it's means:
The blogger who receives this award believes in the Tao of the zombie chicken - excellence, grace and persistence in all situations, even in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. These amazing bloggers regularly produce content so remarkable that their readers would brave a raving pack of zombie chickens just to be able to read their inspiring words. As a recipient of this world-renowned award, you now have the task of passing it on to other worthy bloggers. Do not risk the wrath of the zombie chickens by choosing unwisely or not choosing at all...
I'll pass on forwarding this on for now, since it seems like most everyone I know already has it! So, I reserve the right to pass it on at a later date! When I do, I'll update this post.
Another award is from DeSeRt RoSe BoOkLoGuE who was kind enough to award me with the Premio Dardos Award. I always enjoy her book blog and maybe one of these days I'll enter one of her gazillion challenges!
This award acknowledges the values that every blogger shows in his or her effort to transmit cultural, ethical, literary, and personal values every day.
The rules to follow are:
1) Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award and his or her blog link.
2) Pass the award to 15 other blogs that are worthy of this acknowledgment. Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.
So now I'm passing this on..
15! Are you kidding? I barely know anyone yet - another one in which I reserve the right to pass this on at a later date!
So, again, a big thank you to everyone who made me feel so warm and fuzzy by presenting me with these awards, especially since I'm so relatively new in the world of romance!
Frankly, I think I deserve an award just for posting this complicated post! Sheesh! I need a glass of wine after this one!
Have a great weekend everyone!
Sunday, April 5, 2009
PROTECTING HER WAS HIS PASSION
High-born though she is, Kate Campbell isn't afraid to draw her sword. When raiders strike, she rushes into the fray...and is lucky when a mysterious Highlander shields her from a deadly blow. Swept onto his stallion, she soon discovers that her rescuer is her clan's most hated enemy: Callum MacGregor, the man they call The Devil. Yet she cannot ignore his achingly tender touch or the way his fiery gaze leaves her breathless.
POSSESSING HER WOULD BE HIS PLEASURE
Callum MacGregor has taken many Campbell lives, but he's never saved one--until now. Mesmerized by this spirited lass, he wants her by his side, even if it means holding her for ransom. As his fingers graze her sumptuous curves and tangle in her unruly tresses, Callum realizes Kate Campbell is his most dangerous foe of all. For he can't make love to her without betraying his kinsmen and his honor...and surrendering his heart forever.
I've heard so many great things about this Scottish Highlander romance, I've been looking forward to reading it for a long time. Now that I've already read upteen million highlander romances, I can't say this was the best I've read, but, in comparison to others, it was pretty good! The storyline was good, though it all seemed a bit predictable, and it didn't help, that I just read (in Highland Warrior) about the feuding Campbells and MacGregors. As soon as I began reading this book and realized it was about these two clans, I said to myself with not a little exasperation, "Again?" All in all, this book had it's good points, and I enjoyed it very much.
Kate Campbell is indeed a feisty and 'braw' heroine. Rescued and then captured by Callum MacGregor the laird of the MacGregors who are proscribed and outlawed throughout Scotland, she and Callum have the usual instant attraction to one another. But at the same time, they must fight it because they are enemies. Callum has a much more complex side to him than Kate. As we learn over the course of the story, Callum and his sister, Maggie were imprisoned for ten years by Kate's grandfather, the Earl of Argyll. To say the least, they carry physical and emotional scars from the ordeal. Callum's hatred of the Campbells runs deep and he has killed many of Kate's kin.
When Callum succeeded in escaping his prison with his sister, he killed every Campbell in sight, and made it his goal to one day kill the Earl who imprisoned him and his son, the present Earl of Argyll, Duncan Campbell, the evil, lecherous and cowardly villain of this novel. Kate has no love for the present Earl (her uncle), who wants to take her to his bed (eww gross). Once taken by Callum and his merry men to Callum's castle on the Isle of Skye she grows to like these MacGregors, especially their chief. She realizes that it is wrong for the MacGregors to have to live as outlaws and becomes a sympathizer towards them. This enlightenment also happens to coincide with her dawning realization that she has fallen in love with Callum. This isn't a Stockholm Syndrome sort of love, she really feels for him and is attracted to him and realizes that her family, the Campbells, were wrong in what they did to the MacGregors. Yet, despite her love for him, she feels he can never return her love because of what her grandfather did to him for all those years. It's a complicated problem, but eventually their passion for one another overcomes their family issues and she wants to be with Callum as his wife, no matter what the consequences. Once they consummate their love for one another, there are a couple of very hot scenes between them. She definitely gave into him body and soul! Who wouldn't? Tall, muscular, handsome, larger than life with a commanding presence - yowza! He's the ultimate alpha male Highlander dreamboat! Yet, I still couldn't shake the feeling of it lacking depth and emotion between them. You know where each of them is coming from, but it seemed a little light in that area. Kate fell in love with Callum, but it seemed more because of the injustices done to his clan, rather than falling in love with him - the man. Callum's falling for her seemed more due to his attraction to her and her bravery. Why did he really love her? It's not too clear.
The story all wraps up with an exciting ending, Kate's brother comes on the scene to rescue her from the Devil MacGregor and all is revealed just how dastardly their uncle Duncan really is. A couple of interesting side characters are in this book as well, Graham Grant, who'd I'd love to see a book about, and Callum's sister Maggie. Maggie suffers from the memories of being imprisoned and witnessing the carnage wrought by her brother on the Campbells. You feel sorry for her, but also admire her for dealing with her demons. The book was well written and fast paced, (though I could have done without all the belching done by Kate after she drinks alcohol - was that really necessary?)
A quick read. I recommend it!
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Everything was so much simpler...
When he was wicked.
In every life there is a turning point.
A moment so tremendous, so sharp and breathtaking, that one knows one's life will never be the same. For Michael Stirling, London's most infamous rake, that moment came the first time he laid eyes on Francesca Bridgerton.
After a lifetime of chasing women, of smiling slyly as they chased him, of allowing himself to be caught but never permitting his heart to become engaged, he took one look at Francesca Bridgerton and fell so fast and hard into love it was a wonder he managed to remain standing. Unfortunately for Michael, however, Francesca's surname was to remain Bridgerton for only a mere thirty-six hours longer -- the occasion of their meeting was, lamentably, a supper celebrating her imminent wedding to his cousin.
But that was then…Now Michael is the earl and Francesca is free, but still she thinks of him as nothing other than her dear friend and confidant. Michael dares not speak to her of his love... until one dangerous night, when she steps innocently into his arms, and passion proves stronger than even the most wicked of secrets…
Be still my heart - I am in love! Or rather, I am in love with a voice - or should I say - I loved this book? No matter what way I say it - I loved, loved, loved it! Now, something tells me, the fact that I listened to it on audiobook might have something to do with it. This is the first romance I've ever listened to on audio (not counting the Outlander series, which I don't technically categorize as romance).
You know the movie "Broadcast News" (one of my favorite movies, btw) with William Hurt and Holly Hunter that came out in the 1980's? There's a scene in it, in which he's just had his first broadcast with her whispering though the mike in his ear telling him what to do. It's a big success and he rushes to her afterwards and gets down before her. As she swivels towards him in her chair, he forces her to face him and he tells her how much he loved it and how good they were together, listening to her voice in his ear the whole time, and he says to her, "There was a rhythm we got into, like great sex!"
Well... that's how I felt listening to this audiobook! It was grrreat! I found every possible reason to listen to this book whenever I could. I actually couldn't wait to go to the gym to work out so I could listen to it. I made dinner - listening to it! Every bit of driving - yup, I was listening! Thank God for the portablility of an iTouch! This is the sixth in the excellent Regency Bridgerton series - some of my very favorite books - and boy, did I choose a good one to listen to for my first time! *fans self*
Anyway, on to the story... contains spoilers.
Francesca Bridgerton Stirling is a young widow who has been loved by Michael Stirling, her dead husband's best friend and cousin for 6 years. Michael, a notorious rake about town has loved her from the first time he saw her. Then, when her husband unexpectedly dies, he finds it even harder to be around her. One night, they kiss and that does it. They both flee from each other, and Michael goes to India for four years to try and get her out of his system. Finally, when he returns, he finds out that Francesca is ready to remarry and has come out of mourning. It is futile, he still loves her, yet he can't come to terms with it, feeling the guilt of loving his dead cousin's wife. But, he also can't stand the thought of her marrying someone else as well.
Still, life has a way of bringing people together, despite both of them having huge guilt trips, in a deliciously played out story, the two of them finally come together and it's tender, endearing, humorous, sexy, erotic - amazing! The raciest Bridgerton book I've read so far - a tour de force (if you appreciate that sort of thing.) The scene in the gardener's cottage - gulp, not to mention the first one on the table in the Rose Salon! This book, in my opinion, combines the most poignant yet sensual storyline in the Bridgerton's that I've read so far. A winning combination!
As usual, Julia Quinn, who is one of my favorite romance novelists writes an amazing story and yes, I had tears in my eyes at the end - again! Perhaps, because of the dark and sad side of the story it's not for everyone, but I loved it and thought it was wonderful. My favorite to date of the series! I highly recommend it! (and that sexy voice of Simon Prebbles narrating - swoon!)