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Blackjack1



Joined: 21 Feb 2011
Posts: 802
Location: Portland, OR

PostPosted: Fri Oct 12, 2012 4:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tempting the Bride, Sherry Thomas (A-) I think I may have enjoyed this novel best of the three of her trilogy, which surprised me because I thoroughly enjoyed Ravishing the Bride and expected it to be the best. I particularly love the late Victorian era as it holds so much promise for women. Helena benefits from being able to attend university, which was beginning to be a possibility for women around the turn of the century, and the novel has strains of emergent feminism that is well displayed in the characterization of Helena and all of her potential in life. As a Victorian-era background the conservative sexual mores are still well in place, however, and Helena pays a price for her desire for a married man. The amnesia plot worked fine for me, though I did wonder a little at the relative absence of physicians in the novel given the severity of the head blow Helena receives early in the book. What I most liked about this story is the relationship that develops between Helena and David after the accident. I love how bifurcated David is between the Hastings of the past, the man/boy who lived to torment Helena with sarcasm and hostility, and the David post-accident, the man completely in love with Helena and willing to wear his heart on his sleeve to redeem himself for her. It is interesting in the novel how Helena switches back and forth in her own mind between "Hastings" and "David" as she grapples with her own memories and her own feelings about this complex man and their difficult relationship. I completely believed in their love and their HEA by the end, which is a writing feat given where these two characters were at start of the novel.

The main flaw for me in this book and actually in all three of them is that I'm not fully appreciative of Sherry Thomas's minimalism. Her books to put it starkly are too short to carry the heaviness of the plot and the entire novel could well have benefited from an extra hundred or two pages of text. Hugely important and emotionally-wrought scenes take place over two or three pages. I felt the emotions and bought into them completely but still felt deprived at the brisk pace for a story that deserved more time and attention. Nonetheless, I enjoyed all three of them immensely and hope she continues to write historical romances sooner rather than later.
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angela



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 106

PostPosted: Sat Oct 13, 2012 3:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Within Reach - Sarah Mayberry - A+ - This book was a complete homerun for me. Ms. Mayberry is a new to me author and wow,she has a new fan in me. I loved both h and h. So real,authentic, and at times sad.

Desperate Duchesses - Eloisa James - C- I wanted to read this series because I heard it was set in the Georgian period. Thank goodness I only bought the first one, because overall I was very very disappointed. I enjoyed the author's writing, but I cannot stand the multiple viewpoints of the other characters. So the main couple got less "air-time" then the side characters. Maybe it would have worked better if I cared for Jemma and her husband and Villiers. Unfortunately I didn't like any of them,so I ended up skimming their scenes. Though I did enjoy what little scenes that Roberta and Damon had.
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pwm in mi



Joined: 19 Oct 2011
Posts: 368

PostPosted: Sat Oct 13, 2012 8:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

On Dublin Street by Samantha Young
This is a contemporary set in Edinburgh, Scotland. Jocelyn is a 22 yr. old American who lost her family at age 15. She relocated to Scotland, her mother's homeland to attend university and now is her home. To cope with her staggering loss she does not allow herself to attach in relationships, save one college chum, who does not know the details of her history. After moving into a new apartment, she meets Braden, her roommates brother. Instant attraction ensues and Joss battles her desire to explore this attraction/relationship as well as her growing friendship with her roommate.
I really enjoyed this story. It is told in first person and the reader gets clear insight into Jocelyn's terrifying struggle to form relationships. The author does a nice job contrasting the heroines struggle with her innate desire to attach to both Braden and her earnest/ emotionally open roommate, and the intense fear of losing anyone she lets herself care about.
$2.99 at amazon.
P.S. Edinburgh is now on the must visit list!


Last edited by pwm in mi on Sat Oct 13, 2012 8:37 am; edited 1 time in total
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Rosie



Joined: 01 Apr 2007
Posts: 291

PostPosted: Sat Oct 13, 2012 8:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

angela wrote:
Within Reach - Sarah Mayberry - A+ - This book was a complete homerun for me. Ms. Mayberry is a new to me author and wow,she has a new fan in me. I loved both h and h. So real,authentic, and at times sad.


You have some great reading ahead of you. She's got a backlist full of wonderful books. I loved Within Reach also.

I read her book All They Need last week and gave it a B+. She writes some of the best nice-guy heroes.
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Lillian Sulivan



Joined: 05 Feb 2010
Posts: 237

PostPosted: Mon Oct 15, 2012 1:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Governess and Mr. Granville - Abby Gaines

I picked this up because of this Regency era romance's sheer hutzpah in naming the titular hero "Mr." That's right, no Duke, no Earl, no Baronet, no Colonel, no Captain, no Sir-ee Bob; no, he's mere landed gentry!

I got started but almost gave up on it. While there were numerous wonderful, historically accurate references to behaviors, customs and social mores, the first half of the story was a bit of a paint-by-numbers Regency-era romance that channeled Sound of Music.

But I'm glad I stuck with it. Despite an invocation of the long lost, return from the dead fiance' trope, the emotions and feelings were genuine, the romantic plot twists were believable and the resolutions founded firmly in honesty on several levels being rewarded. The secondary characters were interesting and present just to their level of necessity, and the secondary romance was really, really interesting.

Okay, this is an inspirational. I'm used to inspirationals written to a commercial standard of offending the smallest number of readers, so that typically means you get no sex, one Bible verse and a couple of quick prayers. The Governess and Mr. Granville (still doesn't go past first base but) actually explores living with the consequences of one's past actions and behaviors, the challenges of post-salvation life change and the struggle of practical application of values and beliefs.

Best,
Lilly
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Shall we still be together with our arms around each other,
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jaime



Joined: 23 Sep 2011
Posts: 529

PostPosted: Mon Oct 15, 2012 4:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

angela wrote:
Within Reach - Sarah Mayberry - A+ - This book was a complete homerun for me. Ms. Mayberry is a new to me author and wow,she has a new fan in me. I loved both h and h. So real,authentic, and at times sad.

Desperate Duchesses - Eloisa James - C- I wanted to read this series because I heard it was set in the Georgian period. Thank goodness I only bought the first one, because overall I was very very disappointed. I enjoyed the author's writing, but I cannot stand the multiple viewpoints of the other characters. So the main couple got less "air-time" then the side characters. Maybe it would have worked better if I cared for Jemma and her husband and Villiers. Unfortunately I didn't like any of them,so I ended up skimming their scenes. Though I did enjoy what little scenes that Roberta and Damon had.
Smile

Smile Those three characters you don't like are the main characters of the whole series. From the perspective of the series Roberta and her hero are just supporting characters.
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angela



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 106

PostPosted: Tue Oct 16, 2012 3:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

jaime wrote:


Smile Those three characters you don't like are the main characters of the whole series. From the perspective of the series Roberta and her hero are just supporting characters.


Which is why this series will not work for me. I guess I felt a little ticked off honestly. The blurb only mentions Damon and Roberta. Nothing about any of the others. So in my mind I was expecting Roberta and Damon as the leads and to be mostly in their heads. Since I didn't warm up to Jemma and the others, it was a very disappointing read. And honestly? I HATE books like that, one reason I stopped reading J.R. Ward.

Marrying the Captain - Carla Kelly- B - A really great read. Very sweet and enjoyable romance. The first for me by this author and will not be my last!
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Tinabelle



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

PostPosted: Tue Oct 16, 2012 8:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Death in the Floating City - Tasha Alexander
Grade: A-

I was totally captivated by this latest entry in the Lady Emily Mystery series. The last couple of books were a bit of a let down for me but I really did like this one a lot. It definitely can be read as a stand-alone which is both a good and a bad thing. I felt there was really a lack of character development for Colin and Emily and very little about their relationship. I missed that. I almost felt it was a bit "impersonal" towards them.

The historical detail about Venice in both the 15th and the 19th centuries was wonderful. Obviously Alexander did her research and taking us to another time and place is a strength of her writing. I am a fan of the story-within-a-story if it is done well as it is here. The 15th c. story of Besina and Nicolo was heartbreaking and gut-wrenching; it's tie-in to the 19th c. murder Colin and Emily are sent to investigate was intriguing. Alexander crafts a fine mystery here. A very satisfying read.
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Blackjack1



Joined: 21 Feb 2011
Posts: 802
Location: Portland, OR

PostPosted: Wed Oct 17, 2012 6:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

More Than a Mistress, Mary Balogh (A) - I have to admit first that I've never been a Balogh fan, though I've always wanted to be one. Her writing always seemed as if it would be a good fit for my tastes but for some reason the two books I've read, Slightly Dangerous and A Summer to Remember, did not pull me in emotionally even though I recognized the quality of her character development and ability to take time to show events unfolding in a believable way. Nevertheless, I still wanted to try again with another Balogh novel and was so pleasantly surprised at just how much I loved More Than a Mistress. It shows up regularly on Top 100 lists and seemed to be a book I should at least read once. I'm so glad I did as it was a great story. I loved the push and pull between Jane and Jocelyn as they fought the attraction and growing love they were feeling. I love too the basic premise that things are more than they seem in this book as it provokes a great deal of suspense for the reader. We know that Jocelyn is more sensitive and vulnerable than he's willing to show to the world and we know Jane is an intelligent and modestly raised woman trying to survive in disguise as a servant and then quasi-courtesan. Their discovery of the real person behind the facade was exciting to witness and I could hardly put this book down. I don't know if this is a turning point for me but I do know that I can't wait to read another Balogh again soon.
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Tee



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

PostPosted: Wed Oct 17, 2012 6:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This was one of my favorites from Balogh, too.
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stl_reader



Joined: 03 Aug 2011
Posts: 236
Location: Missouri

PostPosted: Wed Oct 17, 2012 9:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think More than a Mistress may be my favorite Balogh book so far. (And I've read a lot of them.) True, Jocelyn occasionally "over-thinks" things--a trait I find in a lot of the author's books, this tendency toward including perhaps a bit too much internal dialogue--but I absolutely love how baffled he is by Jane's pride and unwillingness to be (to his mind) properly subservient.

Strangely, I hated the 2nd book in this trilogy, No Man's Mistress. The final book, The Secret Mistress, was a nice read (but should not be read before More than a Mistress, or it won't make as much sense).

I also kind of liked Balogh's A Precious Jewel, if you have not read that. It doesn't have the oomph that MtaM has, but it had an interesting story line.

I'd say Mary Balogh's books are on the more "genteel" side (or as someone else put it, the "sedate" side). As such, they are not everyone's cup of tea.
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Blackjack1



Joined: 21 Feb 2011
Posts: 802
Location: Portland, OR

PostPosted: Thu Oct 18, 2012 2:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree about Jocelyn from More Than a Mistress as he's pretty consistently wrong about Jane, and he pretty consistently pays a big price every time and suffers along the way. I really loved his character -so gruff, arrogant, and disdainful of others and so miserably in love that he's willing to do anything by the end to make Jane happy.

I do agree too that Balogh is a genteel writer and maybe a bit constrained at times. It worked brilliantly here as MtaM is a very introspective novel about two characters who need to reflect deeply about themselves and each other in order to be happy. There is such an enormous backlist of Balogh novels that it's daunting to know where to get started, but I suddenly feel very energized to do it!
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Tee



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

PostPosted: Thu Oct 18, 2012 8:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

stl_reader wrote:
Strangely, I hated the 2nd book in this trilogy, No Man's Mistress.

That was my take on it, also. I recall at the time the first book came out, that I thought I would love the second one. Turned out to be just the opposite. It was awful.

Blackjack1 wrote:
There is such an enormous backlist of Balogh novels that it's daunting to know where to get started, but I suddenly feel very energized to do it!

She does have that. Unfortunately, not all are great and wonderful. I'm finding some of her most recent issues are not all that good; however, her earlier stuff can make for some fine reading. But don't be surprised to find some fantastic stories, then come across a few that totally run in the opposite direction. But that's Balogh--she's unique that way. I would check out the listing of the AAR readers' favorites of hers elsewhere on this site. That could be helpful. Her very early regencies, for the most part, are wonderful.
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dick



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 2511

PostPosted: Thu Oct 18, 2012 8:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I, on the other hand, think most of Balogh's early trads are records of misery. Rarely is the HEA in them earned by the events in the story, but rather imposed by the deus ex machina hand of the author. They are excellent sketches of types of characters, but I have difficulty including them in the class romance fiction.
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Tee



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

PostPosted: Thu Oct 18, 2012 9:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

dick wrote:
I, on the other hand, think most of Balogh's early trads are records of misery.

There are some that I've read that fit your description completely (Dancing with Clara, anyone?). I haven't read all of Balogh's slim books, only the ones that have been available from the libraries. So maybe many of those I haven't read fall neatly into that category of misery. She's a different sort of writer in that once you think you have her pegged, she writes a story that dispels that notion quickly. She can have me totally captivated emotionally in one book, then in another one I'm checking all the fine print to be sure it's Balogh who wrote it. One book can have such deep characterization, and another, total fluff. I still read her, but am less pleased these days with the types of stories she's writing. There will be a day, I'm sure, when I'll no longer pick up her books. But knowing her past record, I don't want to miss that great one interspersed among the others. Very Happy
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