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Opinions on Stephanie Laurens?
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Susan/DC



Joined: 26 Mar 2007
Posts: 1653

PostPosted: Thu May 08, 2008 10:00 pm    Post subject: That's just it Reply with quote

Schola wrote:

That was deliberate, I think. There's a part at the end when Honoria herself realises that Devil has never said "I love you"--and she rationalises that he never really had to because, like all Cynster men, he let his actions speak louder than any words could.

(Well, that's a clumsy paraphrase of the actual line, but I'm not getting up just to find my copy and quote her properly! Laughing )

While I do see where she is coming from, however, I would not interpret Devil's actions throughout the novel as evidence of love. Overbearing possessiveness, maybe, but not love. I guess we're supposed to read Honoria's understanding as proof that she really is his true mate (because she understands him so well), but the omission leaves a big hole in the romance for me. I mean, if we didn't have that paragraph with her musings, would we be convinced of Devil's love? Confused


That's what I meant -- I don't necessarily need the words if the actions speak for them, but if the hero in essence belittles the supposed beloved by ignoring her hopes, dreams, fears, then I don't see the actions as saying "I love you." Aren't her dreams part of what makes her the person she is? If you ignore her dreams, aren't you therefore ignoring part of her?
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Schola



Joined: 10 Jun 2007
Posts: 1867

PostPosted: Fri May 09, 2008 6:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There's another thing, Susan: Honoria's dreams of traveling. Another reason the novel felt incomplete was that there was no scene where Devil takes her to Egypt or hints that he is planning an exotic honeymoon.

I'm surprised Honoria just lets it slide. Confused
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dick



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 2477

PostPosted: Fri May 09, 2008 9:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Seems to me some of the posters are being a bit hard on Devil. He marries Honoria because, under the circumstances, he has compromised her, and he does so IIRC, without knowing she's an Anstruther-Wetherby, which fact makes the marriage even more necessary. Seems to me that Laurens suggests that both he and Honoria make a successful marriage of what begins as a call to honor. (That even makes a nice pun of the heroine's name, don't you think?)
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MarianneM



Joined: 26 Mar 2007
Posts: 374
Location: Houston, Texas

PostPosted: Fri May 09, 2008 12:07 pm    Post subject: In defense of Devil Cynster-- and Stephanie Reply with quote

I really don't think that those among you who posted on this subject would indeed enjoy Stephanie Laurens' books. I get the idea that many of you don't seem to understand or like the classic alpha male she is using as her heroes. Her heroes grow out of the period in which they lived. Aristocrats and members of the nobility had, as Laurens pointed out in an interview some years ago, very few behavioral restraints placed on them by the society in which they lived. Society had expectations for them, but few laws to punish them if they misbehaved. Oh, they couldn't commit murder. But the House of Lords had to try them for murder. And that wasn't done very often.

Society could, however, punish them by exiling them from polite society if they openly misbehaved. . . if they seduced a young female member of that society, for instance, and then refused to marry her. Seducing a servant, however, was a matter of private conscience. We all know the consequences of that so I don't need to go into that.

Laurens knows quite a bit about the attitudes and unwritten rules of the Georgian and Regency periods in England -- more than many of today's authors of books about the period. I happen to like her alpha male heroes. They're fun to read about, unlike many of the books about today's confused male wusses, trying to find their way among the unspoken rules of political correctitude. Laurens' heroes operate by their own code of honor, take care of their chosen women and the members of their families, protect and encourage their estate workers and servants, and live up to their own sense of responsibility and their own concept of personal honor. I think Devil's Bride, and several of the books about the Cynsters which came after, are entertaining and enjoyable. Devil's Bride, in fact, is excellent because it does quite accurately portray the best kind of titled, privileged alpha male of that day.

Several of the commenters criticize Devil for not indulging Honoria in her dreams of travel and adventure. I can see him in later years taking her with him to 'the Continent' which of course includes France, Italy, Greece and other portions of the 19th century 'civilized world.' But I can equally well understand his not wanting to encourage her to go to Egypt and the Middle East alone. That's dangerous even today, as we are well aware. And a protective, possessive husband of the 1800s in love with his wife would not want to have her exposed to danger.

Women of the early 1800s had very few rights and freedoms on their own. That's simply a fact, unpalatable as it may be to today's feminists. Their property became their husband's upon marriage, except for that specifically agreed upon in the marriage settlements [which is why the marriage settlements sometimes took weeks to agree upon] and their husbands pretty much controlled their lives. They couldn't get a divorce, at least not easily. If they were lucky, and Honoria was a lucky woman for that time period, they were petted and indulged by their doting husbands. But they didn't have 'rights' as today's women have, guaranteed to them by this country's laws.

So please don't try to judge Devil by today's expectations. He's a man of his time, and a good one, I think. If he has trouble saying easy words of love, that's a difficulty shared by many of today's men. He lives it even if he doesn't say it. And eventually he does say it.

MarianneM
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Kelly B



Joined: 19 Apr 2007
Posts: 136

PostPosted: Fri May 09, 2008 8:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

But Laurens isn't consistent with the time period. I remember one of her books where the Cynsters stood guard while the hero of whichever book it was was having sex with their young, unmarried cousin in some side room during a ball. I find it hard to believe that is consistent with the mores of the time.

Also, for me anyway, romance--particularly historicals--is fantasy. If I wanted to read totally true to life representations of relationships between men and women in the period, I wouldn't be picking up a romance novel. Total mental and physical domination of someone because that is what you want, their wants and desires be damned, just isn't romance to me, however accurate it might be. If Laurens works for you based on the standards you gauge your reading experience by, that's wonderful, but those are your standards which you are free to apply. I think part of the reading experience--particularly the reading experience in what is by and large escapist in nature--is judging it by whatever standards the reader wants to apply. Others applied their own. The difference is all part of the fun.

Also, and I don't know if you meant it this way, but I would like to say that I am a proud feminist, and that I am fully aware of the situation of women in prior periods (and in our own). I am not ignorant of how things were because of my views--my views are in part shaped by that knowledge. I'm not saying it has to be all PC all the time, but when I read a romance novel, I want to read something that I find romantic. I don't find Laurens romantic, I don't find Devil to be a swoon-worthy romance hero, and I am fine with that. You explained why it works for you, some of us are explaining why it doesn't. That's ultimately the purpose of these boards--each reader sharing what works or doesn't for him or her.
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xina



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 6635
Location: minneapolis

PostPosted: Fri May 09, 2008 9:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't find Laurens romantic, I don't find Devil to be a swoon-worthy romance hero, and I am fine with that. You explained why it works for you, some of us are explaining why it doesn't. That's ultimately the purpose of these boards--each reader sharing what works or doesn't for him or her.[/quote]


Well, typically Laurens writes a very alpha male, especially in her Cynster series. I have read 5 or 6 in that series and all the heroes are very alpha and.... sometimes, controlling. Like it or not, that is the male she writes. Personally,I enjoyed the books I read, and the first book was my favorite. It's fiction...it's romance, therefore, not real life. Would I want to live with a person like Devil....nope, but when I read these I saw the books for what they were. Rmantic fiction. Probably more unrealistic than most, and maybe men were more controlling in Devil's time. I think readers who know this sort of hero appears in the Cynster series and is uncomfortable with it choose not to read it. Myself, I wasn't uncomfortable with it. It is...what it is.
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Kelly B



Joined: 19 Apr 2007
Posts: 136

PostPosted: Fri May 09, 2008 11:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't always mind an alpha. My favorite of all of Madeline Hunter's books is By Possession, and I think Addis is arguably her most alpha hero (in the medievals--I haven't read her Regency-set historicals)--lord of the manor, asserting his rights over Moira, etc. But, gradually, he's able to see and understand her wants and needs and is willing to sacrifice his own desires for hers because he comes to value her personhood, rather than a relentless pursual like a baby crawling after a shiny object. I also love many of Judith McNaught's alphas (not that horrid Clayton, though) because we see that their view of the heroine over time changes--it isn't a case of "I want and I get on my terms and my terms alone." For me, I think it is how the alpha tendencies manifest that matters.

My other problem is that I have a hard time letting go. I'll keep giving authors chances (unless I hate their prose or stumble across something that disgusts me) even if it continues not to work, especially if it continues not to work for different reasons. In Devil's Bride, I disliked the hero, I just thought A Rake's Vow was dull, in Scandal's Bride, the drugging/mystical lady turned me off and so on. I figured if I kept trying, finally all of the elements would come together and I'd get it. I'll read reviews or plot summaries or excerpts and thing "THIS sounds more like it" and give it another go. Sometimes this pays off--I disliked Nora Roberts, but kept trying and now I really enjoy her work, even some of the books that had previously left me cold. I think my bank account would be happier if I were a little more "once bitten, twice shy."
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xina



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 6635
Location: minneapolis

PostPosted: Sat May 10, 2008 8:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My other problem is that I have a hard time letting go. I'll keep giving authors chances (unless I hate their prose or stumble across something that disgusts me) even if it continues not to work, especially if it continues not to work for different reasons.


I can't say that I do the same. It seems I have every intention to not give up on a favorite author, but I find myself doing it. I have too many books on deck to imagine myself wasting time on something I might not like. I always take note of new releases of past favorites, but so often, I just don't go back. There was a time when Laurens was a favorite of mine, but I haven't read her in a few years. In the romance genre, it's easy to move on and find new favorites.
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Susan/DC



Joined: 26 Mar 2007
Posts: 1653

PostPosted: Sat May 10, 2008 10:33 am    Post subject: Men of Their Times Reply with quote

I don't think I'm asking a Regency lord to become Alan Alda, but I would think that even 200 years ago a man supposedly in love with his wife would try to make her dreams come true. Honoria certainly wouldn't be allowed to travel alone, but why couldn't her husband travel to Egypt with her? In Patricia Gaffney's To Love and To Cherish, that's exactly what Christy does, and in fact it becomes one of the romantic highlights of the book, because it's in Italy that Anne realizes that her home and her dreams reside wherever Christy is, not a specific geographic location but in her husband's heart.
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Schola



Joined: 10 Jun 2007
Posts: 1867

PostPosted: Sat May 10, 2008 10:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

dick wrote:
Seems to me some of the posters are being a bit hard on Devil. He marries Honoria because, under the circumstances, he has compromised her, and he does so IIRC, without knowing she's an Anstruther-Wetherby, which fact makes the marriage even more necessary. Seems to me that Laurens suggests that both he and Honoria make a successful marriage of what begins as a call to honor. (That even makes a nice pun of the heroine's name, don't you think?)


He's actually the first to figure out that she is an Anstruther-Weatherby. (To be really fair to him . . . I agree, from how his character is drawn, that he would have done exactly the same, whether he had known that about Honoria or not.)

For the record, I actually do like Devil's Bride. I just found more loose ends in the plot than I would have liked.

MarianneM wrote:
So please don't try to judge Devil by today's expectations. He's a man of his time, and a good one, I think. If he has trouble saying easy words of love, that's a difficulty shared by many of today's men. He lives it even if he doesn't say it. And eventually he does say it.


Despite my harsh judgment of him, it's not really Devil I have a problem with, but the book itself and those aforementioned "loose ends."

Regarding Honoria's dream of traveling: I just wanted it addressed properly at the end, because it was a huge part of the beginning. Devil wouldn't have had to take her on a tour of the Continent and Asia; she could have realised, for instance, that her insisting on her dream was just her way of defying her brother and all men--but since she fell in love with Devil, she hasn't felt the need to flout anything at the male world. Something like that . . .

Then there is the missing "I love you." I just didn't find Devil's actions alone to be very convincing . . . but the fault is probably mine rather than his. Even Jo Beverley, who is my favourite Romance writer, has a few heroes who fail to reassure me about the "E" in the HEA. Confused
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lizlt



Joined: 07 Apr 2007
Posts: 29

PostPosted: Sun May 18, 2008 2:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

But Honoria's dream of traveling really wasn't a true desire -- it was actually part of her grief over losing her parents and little brother and sister. Traveling, avoiding children, and her aversion to marriage were ways for her to cope with the devastating loss. Once Devil came into her life -- holding her during thunderstorms, for example, and loving her -- she was able to heal from her grief. And Devil does love her, even if he doesn't say it in so many words; his actions are what defines his feelings. He finally tells Honoria he loves her in "On a Wicked Dawn" and explains why it's so difficult: "It's easier ... to live the reality rather than declare it, to acknowledge it in our hearts but not put it into words."
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MarianneM



Joined: 26 Mar 2007
Posts: 374
Location: Houston, Texas

PostPosted: Sun May 18, 2008 3:05 pm    Post subject: Question for Kelly B Reply with quote

You mention a book by Laurens in which the Cynster cousins are supposed to have stood about keeping a room from being entered while some male [not a Cynster] was inside with the door closed ravishing a young unmarried Cynster girl cousin.

This is extremely hard to believe, given the manners and behaviors of the time. It would be hard to believe of today's responsible males, but back in that period, an aristocratic young woman had two great assets to bring to a good marriage: her virginity and her dowery. Her virginity was very important, since any young man of good family would need it to be assured that the baby which she bore him after the wedding was indeed of his blood, and thus could inherit his entailed properties when he himself died. No DNA testing back then to prove the now adult baby was his blood. Just the marriage lines and the virginity of the bride.

This is the major reason that young virgin girls were so closely chaperoned, not allowed to go anywhere alone without a chaperone, not allowed to be alone in a room with a man, even for two minutes, or they would be "ruined." Many modern "historical" novelists, many of whom seem to be writing historical fantasy, don't seem to recognize that this was dead-serious stuff back then. Most marriages were not romantic. They were dynastic, the joining of one aristocratic family with another. Inheritance was based on primogeniture -- a fancy word for inheritance [by blood kin] of all entailed property by the eldest son of the current holder of the property.

Soo ... not only was this allowing/ protecting of the ravisher of your young female cousin against the rules of primogeniture, it was disgusting and extremely tacky by any standard of decency, Regency or modern.

So, Kelly B., could you please give me the name of the Laurens book in which this happened? I have virtually all of the Laurens books, that weren't Mills & Boon books, and I have some of those. I don't remember any of her books in which this plot point is featured, and I've searched back through some of them during the past week since your post. I can't seem to locate the book.

Could you help me, please?

MarianneM
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Elizabeth Rolls



Joined: 26 Mar 2007
Posts: 1066
Location: Australia

PostPosted: Sun May 18, 2008 6:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Marianne, I think it's the first book about the twins, On A Wild Night. The hero (Dexter?) has proposed to her after having sex in some variant on the "now we'll have to get married" gambit and she's miffed because she wants him to admit that he loves her. He's approached Devil et al to ask for her hand in marriage and explained his problem in very reticent male terms. So it's not exactly ravishment of an innocent. The cousins are in their male way trying to further his marriage plans.

Elizabeth
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veasleyd1



Joined: 02 Dec 2007
Posts: 2064

PostPosted: Sun May 18, 2008 6:40 pm    Post subject: Re: Stephanie Laurens Reply with quote

jitterbug wrote:
Susan/DC wrote:
Plus, the villain was quite obvious


A glaring neon arrow pointing to a huge placard hovering constantly over the man saying "I cannot possibly EVER be a SL's hero" couldn't have been more explicit Wink
As soon as he was presented I thought... Rolling Eyes of course it must be him!


Not to mention that In the Promise of a Kiss (or whatever the prequel was called), the villain in Devil's Bride was presented as already appalling at the age of two!
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veasleyd1



Joined: 02 Dec 2007
Posts: 2064

PostPosted: Sun May 18, 2008 6:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Elizabeth Rolls wrote:
Marianne, I think it's the first book about the twins, On A Wild Night. The hero (Dexter?) has proposed to her after having sex in some variant on the "now we'll have to get married" gambit and she's miffed because she wants him to admit that he loves her. He's approached Devil et al to ask for her hand in marriage and explained his problem in very reticent male terms. So it's not exactly ravishment of an innocent. The cousins are in their male way trying to further his marriage plans.

Elizabeth


Not to mention that Amanda had been chasing Dexter, quite single-mindedly, through any number of inappropriate venues for a properly-brought-up young lady. By this time, her cousins were probably of the opinion that if she didn't marry him now, they would have a total social debacle on their hands in fairly short order.

It wasn't as if she was an unwilling innocent. She'd just been written as having a typical Laurens-heroine-snit.
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