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Recently Read April/May/June/July
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Susan/DC



Joined: 26 Mar 2007
Posts: 1669

PostPosted: Mon Apr 02, 2012 10:03 pm    Post subject: Recently Read April/May/June/July Reply with quote

Thought I'd start a new thread in this new quarter of the year.

Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte

I'm in a reading group at my public library, and the theme this year is Fate versus Free Will. It's interesting to read a classic but look at it from a new angle. I'd not previously thought about how much of what happens in Jane's life is due to choices she makes versus what is beyond her control. In the end, though, one of the reasons I like the book so much is that she is (as one of the other participants called her) fierce in defense of her own code of honor. When we read historical romances and try to know what is historically accurate versus wallpaper history, Jane Eyre is a good example of how even within the constraints of the time, a young woman could maintain her integrity and exert agency in her life. And the HEA makes it all the better.
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KayWebbHarrison



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 1248
Location: SE VA. USA

PostPosted: Mon Apr 02, 2012 11:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Teresa Grant - Imperial Scandal: I really enjoyed this new episode in the adventures of Malcolm/Charles and Suzanne/Melanie Rannoch/Frazer. This one is set in Brussels and its environs just before, during and just after the Battle of Waterloo. There is a murder to solve, espionage to contend with, personal relationship complications to resolve, and THE BATTLE. Grant performs a masterful balancing act of presenting scenes from different characters' perspectives on the battlefield and in the city.

Malcolm and Suzanne deepen their bond, even though she is more torn than ever by her divided loyalties to the French Republican cause and to her husband. David and Simon face a challenge from their different backgrounds. New couple to the series, Harry and Cordelia Davenport begin to repair their marriage, broken by her infidelity.

This is an engrossing read.

Kay
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Susan/DC



Joined: 26 Mar 2007
Posts: 1669

PostPosted: Tue Apr 03, 2012 9:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Silk is for Seduction, Loretta Chase
I don't think Chase could write a bad book if she tried. I did not fall in love with this one as I have with some of her other books, but it was smart and witty and had a hero and heroine who were a perfect match. I like that Chase does not demonize the Other Woman/First Fiancee -- that match may not have been right for the hero, but it was not anyone's fault.

How to Dance with a Duke, Manda Collins
Mixed feelings about this one. Cecily and her cousins are wallflowers, but when she finds the dance card of one of the Season's most popular debutantes, she pretends it is her own. I was puzzled, as I couldn't figure out how the young men who had signed Amelia's dance card wouldn't immediately know that Cecily had stolen it. They might dance with her but they'd certainly talk among themselves and the talk would not be kind. Then once Cecily is married she offers the dance card to her cousins, and that totally mystified me. Weren't dance cards used once, for a specific event? Perhaps someone with more knowledge of this can let me know. OTOH, Cecily and Lucas were actually rather appealing characters once they began to interact, and I think I'll try the next book in the series.

Aftertaste, Meredith Mileti
More women's fiction than romance. Mira Rinaldi and her husband owned a successful Manhattan restaurant together until the day she walked in on him having a far too intimate working session with one of the staff. Food was central to the book, and Mileti gives a good sense of what it's like to be a serious chef who is seriously in love with food and cooking. Mira loses points, however, because it takes her too long to realize what a jerk her ex is. The book picks up when she moves back to her home town, Pittsburgh, and starts to look forward in her life rather than look back at all she's lost. I am inclined to have positive thoughts about the author because when she gave a talk at my local library, she brought cookies based on recipes from the book.
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Tinabelle



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 875
Location: SE Wisconsin

PostPosted: Tue Apr 03, 2012 11:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Virgin River Series - Robyn Carr

Carr continues her strong writing and wonderful storytelling in her long-running Virgin River series. With so many books in the series and so many characters introduced along the way, it would be easy to clutter the stories with a "cast of thousands." Carr gives us just enough of the major players to make the reader feel that she is up-to-date on the goings-on in VR. I truly feel as if VR is a real place and that I know all of these people. Sometimes I find myself wondering what so-and-so is doing! The characters are real, flaws and all. While in some ways VR is an iconic, idealistic small town, there is plenty of drama, tragedy, and sadness to make it real.

I got caught up with the last 6 books in the series: Promise Canyon, Wild Man Creek, Harvest Moon, Bring Me Home For Christmas, Hidden Summit, and Redwood Bend. This series is consistently in the solid "B/B+" range for me and every once-in-awhile, an "A" read slips in there. My favorite (and "A" read) in this batch was Wild Man Creek. There was just something about Colin and Jillian that really appealed to me and I liked them both so much. That ending had me sighing and smiling even though I knew it was coming! And I'll keep reading.
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veasleyd1



Joined: 02 Dec 2007
Posts: 2064

PostPosted: Wed Apr 04, 2012 7:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's taken me a long time to get through them, so it probably seems as if I haven't read much lately. A friend insisted that Lora Leigh's "Breeds" series was great and loaned me her copies - she had eleven, but there are more, so I bought the most recent one to see how far the story had gotten.

I'd tried a couple of Leigh's contemporaries ten or so years ago, didn't care for them, and hadn't read any more by her.

For a historian, the world-building is interesting. There are the echoes of the Eugenics Movement, the echoes of Nazi pseudo-scientific experiments involving torture, echoes of the Ku Klux Klan, etc. However, it doesn't work for me that the purpose of this originally was supposedly to produce merciless and easily controlled soldiers, but the labs end up being scattered all over the map -- the US, Russia, France, Germany, Libya (I didn't make a complete list), with no explanation of who was funding all this international activity. Some of the books imply that the US government was involved in funding the labs in the US, but it's not likely that they would have been funding labs in Siberia during the Cold War.

The second aspect that bothered me was the tendency to use the word "scientist" as equivalent to "evil, unfeeling, villain," as if every scientist on the globe has the same interests and does the same things. A botanist studying the ecology of wildflowers on Canadian prairies is a "scientist" just as much a biologist in a CDC lab. The word is just too vague for the amount of baggage the author was assigning it.

Those aspects aside, the story arc running through the books is generally interesting, (B) but the amount of time taken up by the sex scenes didn't add anything to it once a person got through the first one for each of the breeds. Talk about repetitive! I ended up, when I got to the start of one, just thumbing over about 15 pages and picking up the plot again (D-).

My feeling at the moment is that if she ever writes a final book to the series, I'll probably read it just to see how the plot comes out in the end, but it isn't a series I'll be waiting for.
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Natalie



Joined: 25 Mar 2007
Posts: 1693

PostPosted: Wed Apr 04, 2012 7:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Meredith Duran At Your Pleasure - DIK

Finally read a book to break the historical romance tedium. See my posting for more detail Laughing
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Lillian Sulivan



Joined: 05 Feb 2010
Posts: 237

PostPosted: Fri Apr 06, 2012 1:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I finished up my personal 'retro March' with:

The Persian Boy - Mary Renault (1972)

Equal parts historical fiction and (a very different sort of) romance, this 40 y.o. book spins a sweeping tale around the history of Alexander the Great's life, and the few known historical mentions of his eunuch lover Bagoas. Told from Bagoas' POV, the story goes from his castration at 10 y.o. to 16 and meeting Alexander (then 25) through AtG's death at 33.

The psychological work up on AtG was interesting, and from a romance standpoint, well, even in today's liberated and poly-sexual world, we still don't have anything like this.

Best,
Lilly
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And shall you be my new romance?"
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dick



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 2511

PostPosted: Fri Apr 06, 2012 10:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

C.S. Harris' stories of the James Bond of the Regency, Sebastian St. Cyr.
I've enjoyed reading them, but would, I think, have disliked reading them out of order. They intertwine so completely, I believe I would have been lost had I tried to read them in any other way. I must admit, too, that given Sebastian's passion for justice, the ease with which he kills opponents seems contradictory.
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Eggletina



Joined: 06 Jul 2010
Posts: 441

PostPosted: Fri Apr 06, 2012 12:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

dick wrote:
C.S. Harris' stories of the James Bond of the Regency, Sebastian St. Cyr.
I've enjoyed reading them, but would, I think, have disliked reading them out of order. They intertwine so completely, I believe I would have been lost had I tried to read them in any other way.


Most definitely. This is one of those series where the ongoing character arc and revelations to family secrets are very important. I just don't see how you could start in the middle or pick and choose certain ones to read. They need to be read in order to really appreciate the character development. It's also one of those series that I'd rate higher as a series but my ratings of the individual books fall a little below the overall series rating.
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dick



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 2511

PostPosted: Fri Apr 06, 2012 1:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

@Eggletina: I forgot to add that I cannot consider the series a romance, except perhaps as a redo of a Medieval roman, a la Song of Roland, e.g. As you suggest, there is a certain sameness to each installment. When it's read as a series, as I did, that sameness--down to exact repetition of some portions--reduces one's interest. After the first two, I read a different author between each in an attempt to avoid that reduction. I have yet to read the most recent installment--When Maidens Mourn--for that reason.
The solutions to some of the mysteries at times are preternatural, as well. Still, it's a compelling series.
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pwm in mi



Joined: 19 Oct 2011
Posts: 370

PostPosted: Sun Apr 08, 2012 9:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Envy by J.R. Ward
Finally got around to the 3rd fallen angels book. I liked this one the best, as I felt it was most tightly plotted of the 3. I still get annoyed with the "wardism" in her writing, but still really enjoyed the book.
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bethaboo



Joined: 25 May 2009
Posts: 40

PostPosted: Mon Apr 09, 2012 10:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fortune's Fool - Mercedes Lackey C+

I really wanted to like this book. I really, really did. I loved The Fairy Godmother, the first in the series, hated the next book, One Good Knight, but thought this had a lot more potential to be decent. And it was, mostly. The beginning was rather episodic, and I didn't really buy into the "sudden love" between Katya and Sasha. Plus, I thought both of their gifts had that knack of filling every plot hole and overcoming every obstacle. Whatever they needed to do or couldn't do, their gifts and magic filled the hole. That was annoying. However, I began to enjoy the novel more with the entrance of the Jinn and their struggle to overcome him. If I hadn't already downloaded the next book in the series, I might skip it, but since I already have it, I'll be giving it a try.

Lover Reborn - JR Ward A-

Nobody was more skeptical than me going into this. In fact, I almost decided not to read it since I was so underwhelmed by Payne and Manny's book. However, I read some good reviews at Goodreads and decided that I might as well, despite the ridiculous $14.99 kindle price.

I am so glad I did. This was the best BDB book since Lover Unbound/Lover Awakened. I didn't really like the setup that Tohr had to move on to "free" Wellsie from the inbetween place, but I guess without it, he never would have changed. He would have gradually faded away, or died in the heat of battle. I really liked how visceral the fight scenes were--I felt them in my bones. The Wardisms annoyed me, but I found myself so engrossed in the stories that were unfolding that I didn't even care. The BoB are fascinating, Layla suddenly has a purpose (it took Ward long enough) and I loved loved LOVED No'One. I know a lot of readers complain about Ward's females being too weak, and god knows, some of them have been (Mary, who I never liked and in the beginning, Marissa), but frankly, not every single heroine can be a Bella or a Jane. It just doesn't work that way, and in her own way, No'One is perhaps Ward's strongest female yet. There is something to be said for a character that bends, but doesn't break. Anyway, I am hoping that this is a return to form for Ward, and not just an abberation.
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LordRose



Joined: 25 Mar 2012
Posts: 87

PostPosted: Wed Apr 11, 2012 10:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dreaming of You by Lisa Kleypas
I know Dreaming of You is immensely popular and well loved, and I did really liked it up until the last 100 pages or so. Then... It kind of lost me. It was nice and all to see them settling into married life, but it was slow, seemingly just there to fill up space before the final climax with the crazy ex-mistress. But I did adore Derek Craven. He was fabulous. Anyway, that was pretty much my only complaint, but I guess that I was looking forward to this book more than most books I read, so it was more disappointing than it would otherwise be.

Because You're Mine by Lisa Kleypas
In Because You're Mine, I didn't particularly like the beginning or the end. The beginning struck me as somewhat silly and contrived, while the end came too quickly. I did like most of the middle, but the end really bothered me. The hero is a jerk for the second half of the novel, and then suddenly, without any warning, in the very last pages he gives a new reason for why he couldn't possibly love the heroine. And then everything is fine and he's willing to live with his love. I mean, I'd like to have seen at least a hint of what his problem was, but no. It's just thrust upon you and then he and the heroine are all fine and dandy. As for the beginning, yes, she's sheltered, so would she really think up this idea of seducing a man she's only ever seen a drawing of? I am generally leery of plots that involve falling in love with drawings, anyway, and a print seems an exceptionally bad way to begin. (Also, he's a super popular actor with women everywhere throwing themselves at him. Why does she imagine he'd give her the time of day, especially since she considers herself no great beauty?)

But overall, these were both wonderful books, and I did enjoy them. I just like to complain : D

The Duchess Diaries by Jillian Hunter
The Duchess Diaries, on the other hand, not so much. In this case, I really should have checked AAR's review before diving in. I've only read a few of Jillian Hunter's books, and they've been somewhat inconsistent for me. I picked this one up because it had a lovely Georgian dress on the cover. The cover, however, was my favorite thing about the book. And since the book takes place in 1819, the cover is really out of place. The book had a (large) number of annoying points, and I finally gave up after 100 pages. Idiot heroines writing stupid diaries, family members I can't keep straight, and somewhat improbable twists all combined for a rather unenjoyable read. Especially the whole scandal. First of all, why does the family have to suddenly decide thay want to visit the duke's (whichever duke he was- there were far too many of them. Whatever happened to nice earls and barons?) house on their treasure hunt, since they know he's probably with his mistress and would most likely not approve of them barging in, even if he were home? And then charging past the butler and interrupting the duke in his study, where he has conveniently just kissed the heroine. I mean, if I saw a family member in a position like that, I think I'd try my best to just make sure it never came out, rather than trying to force the duke to marry her. Also, scandal sheets, though printed quickly, aren't printed that quickly. The action presumably happened after midnight, and then by the next morning, everyone knows and there's even a cartoon. I assume it's the rejected mistress' fault, but even she, in all her scorned fury, wouldn't be able to disseminate the information so quickly. Cartoons definitely take far more time than that, since thay have to be drawn, engraved, then printed, and finally sold to the masses, all of which take time. And enraged non-mistresses generally don't have the money to create a scandal quite that large in so short a time.

I think I'm going to stop ranting now.
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pwm in mi



Joined: 19 Oct 2011
Posts: 370

PostPosted: Wed Apr 11, 2012 10:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Unlawful Contact by Pamela Clare

This was a bit of a departure for me. I do not usually read romantic suspense, as I find that either the romance suffers or the suspense is lame. But in keeping with my attempt to try new authors this year I gave Clare a try. Clare does an excellent job balance both romance and suspense elements. I adored the love story, as the hero and heroine were wonderful. It takes talent to make a convicted murderer sexy and appealing.
My Pamela Clare glom has officially begun:)
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Tee



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 4225
Location: Detroit Metro

PostPosted: Wed Apr 11, 2012 11:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

LordRose wrote:
The Duchess Diaries by Jillian Hunter
The Duchess Diaries, on the other hand, not so much.

It was a tough one to get through, even though I, too, lasted only about 100 pages before deciding it was a DNF. Most everything you mentioned in your mini review basically agrees with my thoughts about the book and storyline. I think I'm done with Hunter, but then I thought her last book was also the last book I would read by her. Officially, we're done. Very Happy
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