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Opinions on Stephanie Laurens?
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Schola



Joined: 10 Jun 2007
Posts: 1867

PostPosted: Thu May 22, 2008 12:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

bbmedos wrote:
Schola wrote:
Perhaps it wouldn't be so bad if the heroines had some variety to them, because then we would have relationships with different chemistry, but I do feel like I'm reading the same story over and over again. Yes, the plots are different, but the characters (perhaps I should say, the couples) are just like the ones who came before. I'm all right with Laurens' heroes, but Honoria is, so far, the only heroine I can really stand. Confused


See, now, it's statements like this that puzzle me because they "appear" to be so contradictory. How can someone feel the couples are just like the ones that came before and yet also only be able to stand Honoria? Doesn't that, um, logically imply that something is majorly different about the rest, at the very least?

What am I missing here? This is honest curiosity.


I can stand Honoria because she is the one I read about first. Embarassed It may not be the most insightful answer in the world, but it's the truth. I suspect that if I had read another book first, I wouldn't have cared much for Honoria. Confused (I remember muttering aloud to the heroine of another Cynster book, "I liked you better when you were a finishing governess." Laughing )

It may also be that Devil's Bride is the best written of the Cynster novels and also better than all the Bastion Club books I've read. I remember being truly disappointed by A Fine Passion and asking myself how Laurens got from the former to the latter in ten or so years. So I reread Devil's Bride and noticed some of the things that annoyed me in the later novel were already there--or at least the potential for them was already there.
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Allyson



Joined: 23 Mar 2007
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PostPosted: Thu May 22, 2008 1:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Condescending because it assumes all readers are looking for the same thing, and that if there are a multitude of posts from readers who dislike Thing A, that means that ALL readers therefore feel this way. I also would personally be leery to extrapolate from 'I don't like this plot/character type' what the reader does like.

If, when a thread comes up discussing how some readers don't like Author A, noted for writing more thoughtful stories, if I wrote that I was surprised because so many readers said they didn't like just 'fluff' that would be considered rather rude. It assumes that because *I* find an author thoughtful and intelligent, so will everyone else, for one thing. Also, a book could be thoughtful and intelligent and also have other things about it that downgrade it in my mind.
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bbmedos



Joined: 26 Sep 2007
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Location: Western Kentucky, USA

PostPosted: Thu May 22, 2008 3:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Schola wrote:
I can stand Honoria because she is the one I read about first. Embarassed It may not be the most insightful answer in the world, but it's the truth. I suspect that if I had read another book first, I wouldn't have cared much for Honoria. Confused (I remember muttering aloud to the heroine of another Cynster book, "I liked you better when you were a finishing governess." Laughing )


Actually, I can accept that type of reader response, although I will also admit it brings up more questions. The primary one being, and this isn't directed specifically at you, Schola, but anyone who might feel this way or similarly and kept reading her or any other author for that matter, why keep reading her or them? Seriously, that level of dissatisfaction would've ended it for me with an author after about the third book.

I'm honestly not being sarcastic. I'm trying to understand what some of you might be looking for that I don't believe you're going to find with this author or most authors when they're as consistent as she is in the exact things being discussed. Now some readers call these things comfort zones with an author but the simple fact is that this isn't about an author improving. Or not. This is about an author's basic style not meshing with some readers.

Because . . .

Quote:
It may also be that Devil's Bride is the best written of the Cynster novels and also better than all the Bastion Club books I've read. I remember being truly disappointed by A Fine Passion and asking myself how Laurens got from the former to the latter in ten or so years. So I reread Devil's Bride and noticed some of the things that annoyed me in the later novel were already there--or at least the potential for them was already there.


I completely disagree that Devil's Bride is the best written. It has probably the two most distinctive and larger than life characters who laid out the prototypes for what she was going to do with that series, sure, but it is by no means the best or most flowing story by any means. I could give you strong arguments about several other later, much later, books of hers being just as good if not much better in both plotting and characters.

But then, as a reader who likes her books, I've also freely admitted that some of my favorites are in the secondary Cynster group as well as the Bastion Club group. And so it goes.
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MMcA



Joined: 26 Mar 2007
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PostPosted: Thu May 22, 2008 5:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
The primary one being, and this isn't directed specifically at you, Schola, but anyone who might feel this way or similarly and kept reading her or any other author for that matter, why keep reading her or them? Seriously, that level of dissatisfaction would've ended it for me with an author after about the third book.


Probably a topic all on it's own. I think three books is about right, with an author you've loved - the disappointing book, the book you buy because the disappointing book may have been a fluke, and the one-last-chance book.
But I think with series, it can be hard to let go, because you do still want an end to the stories. I know with Laurens part of the motivation to keep reading was to find out what happened to everyone. Same with Julia Quinn - I was probably Bridgertoned out by the end of that series - but I'd have hated not to have finished the family.

I find it easier to let go of series when there's no over-reaching story to be completed - I gave up on J.D. Robb and Stephanie Evanovich comparatively easily, because there's no resolution to read towards.
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Schola



Joined: 10 Jun 2007
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PostPosted: Fri May 23, 2008 1:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

bbmedos wrote:
Schola wrote:
I can stand Honoria because she is the one I read about first. Embarassed It may not be the most insightful answer in the world, but it's the truth. I suspect that if I had read another book first, I wouldn't have cared much for Honoria. Confused (I remember muttering aloud to the heroine of another Cynster book, "I liked you better when you were a finishing governess." Laughing )


Actually, I can accept that type of reader response, although I will also admit it brings up more questions. The primary one being, and this isn't directed specifically at you, Schola, but anyone who might feel this way or similarly and kept reading her or any other author for that matter, why keep reading her or them? Seriously, that level of dissatisfaction would've ended it for me with an author after about the third book.


Speaking only for myself, it's because I'm the kind of reader who would rather stick with a "proven" author than take a risk on someone unknown. (I don't live near a library and none of my friends are Romance readers. Everything I read, I must buy. Sad ) So when an author has "delivered" even once, I tend to stick with her.

Then there's the fact that Devil's Bride made such a great impression. I keep thinking, "Okay, this next one will be better, because it's earlier in the series"--and it usually is, though not in the way I'd like it to be.

For instance, I liked the set up of A Secret Love, but I thought that the heroine's disguise and all the complications which ensued were simply over the top. Their first meeting seemed so campily Gothic to me--and I had a difficult time believing that the hero didn't figure out earlier on that his mysterious countess was a woman he had known since childhood. Rolling Eyes It might have worked better, I think, if the heroine hadn't been so distinctively tall. On the whole, the story was pretty good; I just couldn't get into it as smoothly as I would have liked.

MMcA wrote:
But I think with series, it can be hard to let go, because you do still want an end to the stories. I know with Laurens part of the motivation to keep reading was to find out what happened to everyone. Same with Julia Quinn - I was probably Bridgertoned out by the end of that series - but I'd have hated not to have finished the family.


That's another factor. I liked what I saw of the Cynster males in the first book and I wanted to give them all a "fair chance" as it were.

bbmedos wrote:
I'm honestly not being sarcastic. I'm trying to understand what some of you might be looking for that I don't believe you're going to find with this author or most authors when they're as consistent as she is in the exact things being discussed. Now some readers call these things comfort zones with an author but the simple fact is that this isn't about an author improving. Or not. This is about an author's basic style not meshing with some readers.


I agree that it could be just a bad mesh with me and Laurens. I find it difficult to slide into her imaginary world. It was that way even with Devil's Bride.

I remember reading somewhere on this site that another reader thought their first kiss (during the storm, when Honoria was asleep and having a nightmare) was unbelievably romantic and lovely--and I remember because that scene fell a bit flat for me, not because it was "well" or "badly" written, but because I hadn't lost myself in the story yet. Confused

I guess it's easier for someone who sees the elements from the "outside" like that to accuse Laurens (unfairly, it seems) of just recycling everything.

Quote:
I completely disagree that Devil's Bride is the best written. It has probably the two most distinctive and larger than life characters who laid out the prototypes for what she was going to do with that series, sure, but it is by no means the best or most flowing story by any means. I could give you strong arguments about several other later, much later, books of hers being just as good if not much better in both plotting and characters.

But then, as a reader who likes her books, I've also freely admitted that some of my favorites are in the secondary Cynster group as well as the Bastion Club group. And so it goes.


Which ones are your favourites, then? If I've also read them, we can compare and contrast; and if not, well, all this discussion has made me feel like giving Laurens another try. Laughing
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bbmedos



Joined: 26 Sep 2007
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PostPosted: Fri May 23, 2008 11:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

MMcA wrote:
Probably a topic all on it's own. I think three books is about right, with an author you've loved - the disappointing book, the book you buy because the disappointing book may have been a fluke, and the one-last-chance book.
But I think with series, it can be hard to let go, because you do still want an end to the stories. I know with Laurens part of the motivation to keep reading was to find out what happened to everyone. Same with Julia Quinn - I was probably Bridgertoned out by the end of that series - but I'd have hated not to have finished the family.

I find it easier to let go of series when there's no over-reaching story to be completed - I gave up on J.D. Robb and Stephanie Evanovich comparatively easily, because there's no resolution to read towards.


I can understand this but I guess I don't view family series automatically as over-reaching stories that have to all be read. In particular, Lauren's Cynsters are definitely stand-alone to me. By contrast, I'd say there's more of hint of an annoying overall story arc to the Bastion Club group with the hunt for what's-his-name's nemisis. (I say "annoying" there because it's still not clear whether he's going to get his own book or not and I lean both ways as to whether I want it or not.) And it's still only really a hint of one, though, not totally strong enough that I couldn't take it or leave it if I didn't keep liking the books themselves or the author's writing style in general.

To me a true overall story-arc in a multi-couple set of romances is in something like Linda Winstead Jone's Sisters of the Sun & Children of the Sun trilogies. Two sets of trilogies, each complete within themselves, each individual romance about a separate couple yet each trilogy having an overall plot at the same time.
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veasleyd1



Joined: 02 Dec 2007
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PostPosted: Fri May 23, 2008 1:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

bbmedos wrote:
By contrast, I'd say there's more of hint of an annoying overall story arc to the Bastion Club group with the hunt for what's-his-name's nemisis. (I say "annoying" there because it's still not clear whether he's going to get his own book or not and I lean both ways as to whether I want it or not.)


According to the list on Laurens' website, Dalziel will have a book of his own. It says that Christian's story will be set in August 1816 and Dalziel's in September 1816. The tentative title for Christian's story is The Edge of Desire.

The chronological list also indicates that various books will fill in between The Promise in a Kiss (1783) and Captain Jack's Woman (1811) and continue beyond November 1835 (Where the Heart Leads).
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dick



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
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PostPosted: Sat May 24, 2008 4:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't know about others, but this thread comes closest to what the old boards were like of any so far. I enjoyed reading it.
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Schola



Joined: 10 Jun 2007
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PostPosted: Sun May 25, 2008 4:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Okay, I've spent the past three days rereading A Secret Love, to give Laurens a fair chance, and now I have a modified opinion.

First of all, I stand corrected. Her books are not all alike! Very Happy Nor are her heroes and heroines carbon copies of each other (though Gabriel and Devil did often blur together, despite my best efforts).

However, I now also understand why I had that impression of Laurens for so long. There's something I have done with every one of her novels after Devil's Bride: I skip lengthy passages (often as much as a quarter of the novel) and they are usually the same types of passages. (No, I don't just mean the sex scenes, but also the investigations, the parties, and a host of other things. Perhaps the subplot involving Amanda and Amelia could have been shortened, but then again, I suppose that's a world building thing. Confused )

So I'd say that my problem with Laurens is not the sameness of her books, but the fact that I wish her editor had taken out large chunks of them--or at least shortened them. I do think that A Secret Love could have been two-thirds as long and been better.

Just in case it sounds like I'm bashing Laurens (and I swear I no longer am!), I should add that I have the same problem with Jo Goodman's novels, and she is an author I really like.
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veasleyd1



Joined: 02 Dec 2007
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PostPosted: Sun May 25, 2008 7:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I finished the latest Laurens yesterday evening:

Where the Heart Leads (From the Casebook of Barnaby Adair).

I think it's the best one for a long time -- while agreeing with Schola's last post that a severe edit would have made it better.

The cover art has absolutely nothing to do with the book.

Why did I find it more interesting? I'll try to say some things without doing spoilers, but just in case, will insert some space here.











The focus of the "case," while peripherally involving the ton, was basically in the East End and circled around the Foundling Institution.

Neither of the two main characters did anything really stupid.

In addition to the two main characters, there's a solid secondary romance involving two people who are neither of aristocratic lineage nor members of the ton.

I had one slight quibble that might only bother someone who is interested in the history of clothing. This book is set in 1835, but she still basically has the heroine wearing Regency-era undergarments. By 1835, the boned corset had made a comeback, so the female bosom was not all that accessible, even when a woman was wearing a low-cut ball gown.


Last edited by veasleyd1 on Tue May 27, 2008 1:28 pm; edited 1 time in total
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lijakaca



Joined: 28 Mar 2007
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PostPosted: Tue May 27, 2008 10:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

bbmedos wrote:

The books speak for themselves.

Now, I know that some of you at this point are gnashing your teeth and wanting to scream "But what if the plots really are all alike?"

Okay, maybe that's right. Then prove it. Like I said the books speak for themselves. How are all the stories so similar? What is the exact plot that she's repeating over and over? How are her heroes indistinguishable from each other in every way?

Because just saying that the heroes are all alphas and the plots are all the same just doesn't quite help clear anything up. That's said about most romances and we all know it's a crock. We also ask for the respect of the genre not being dismissed so out of hand, too.


Someone asked for opinions, and people gave them. I gave mine that I "feel" that the Cynster heroes all seem the same after a few. I didn't think I needed to back it up with quotes, because that's my opinion. But I'll try to be more specific.

Yes, some details are different - Demon's good with horses, Gabriel (or Raphael?) is good with the law. But the way they think, talk and act beyond the introductory chapters felt the same to me. That's what I mean about them seeming the same. Different plot and superficially different characters, but I got the same impression of their personalities after a while. The lust/longing also felt like it was done the same way and that increased my impression of reading the same story over and over. And it got boring for me.

I didn't feel the twins' novels to be the weakest, just that after that I had had enough of the Cynsters.
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bbmedos



Joined: 26 Sep 2007
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PostPosted: Tue May 27, 2008 3:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Schola wrote:
Okay, I've spent the past three days rereading A Secret Love, to give Laurens a fair chance, and now I have a modified opinion.


Heh, great minds and all. Wink I've spent the last few days trying to grab moments reread The Perfect Lover to answer "what's your favorite Laurens?" in greater detail than simple memory would allow but the holiday weekend has definitely interfered. So, I'm still trying on that front. Hopefully more to come later there.

Quote:
First of all, I stand corrected. Her books are not all alike! Very Happy Nor are her heroes and heroines carbon copies of each other (though Gabriel and Devil did often blur together, despite my best efforts).

However, I now also understand why I had that impression of Laurens for so long. There's something I have done with every one of her novels after Devil's Bride: I skip lengthy passages (often as much as a quarter of the novel) and they are usually the same types of passages. (No, I don't just mean the sex scenes, but also the investigations, the parties, and a host of other things. Perhaps the subplot involving Amanda and Amelia could have been shortened, but then again, I suppose that's a world building thing. Confused )

So I'd say that my problem with Laurens is not the sameness of her books, but the fact that I wish her editor had taken out large chunks of them--or at least shortened them. I do think that A Secret Love could have been two-thirds as long and been better.

Just in case it sounds like I'm bashing Laurens (and I swear I no longer am!), I should add that I have the same problem with Jo Goodman's novels, and she is an author I really like.


For what it's worth, my one and only "official" review, and by that I mean one actually written and posted online to what I'd call a review format was on Devil's Bride. It's on this site or at least it was. It was what convinced me I do not review nor do I want to.

Anyway, I haven't read that review in years so I can't remember if I mentioned this there but one of the things I noticed about that book and have since noticed it other books of hers is, well, an irregularity in the rythym of the narrative, for lack of a better way of putting it. And I never have figured out if it was a writing or editing problem. I'm not a literature major so I don't know how to properly phrase it. All I know is what I observe when I read and I've read a lot of romances over the years.

One of the first things that jumped out at me about Devil's Bride what how the love scenes didn't seem to quite fit in with the rest of the narrative. It wasn't that there was anything wrong with them once one got into them. It was just how abrupt the transition was between them and the other parts of the story sometimes. I distinctly remember that there is one scene in that book that I literally flipped back pages because I couldn't figure out how they'd suddenly gotten into or out of a love scene. It was just suddenly there.

Her later books aren't as bad but there's still occasionally occurences of this and it's not always centered around the love scenes. I'm not sure rereading favorites helps or hurts either. Rolling Eyes Because A Secret Love is one I reread a lot, too, and I tend to mentally edit quite a bit of it. Some of the time, anyway. Now part of that is because I have this weird habit of starting at the revelation in the middle and looping back to the beginning. Or maybe that isn't so weird. Whatever. Razz It's just that because I've read it so much, I know it's one where there's these odd fits and starts.

They don't necessarily hurt the story and yet . . . they are there.
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bbmedos



Joined: 26 Sep 2007
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PostPosted: Tue May 27, 2008 5:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

lijakaca wrote:
Yes, some details are different - Demon's good with horses, Gabriel (or Raphael?) is good with the law. But the way they think, talk and act beyond the introductory chapters felt the same to me. That's what I mean about them seeming the same. Different plot and superficially different characters, but I got the same impression of their personalities after a while. The lust/longing also felt like it was done the same way and that increased my impression of reading the same story over and over. And it got boring for me.

I didn't feel the twins' novels to be the weakest, just that after that I had had enough of the Cynsters.


Based on the things talked about here, I can see exactly where she's coming from. Because they are all similar in those areas.

Sometimes I do wonder how much of this insistence on them being all the same by some readers, though, doesn't have a great deal to do with the fact that they're all so much in the "family man" mold. There's not a dark, brooding one in the bunch. Would those people be as bored if there was the occasional black sheep Cynster popping out of the woodworks?

Can't see it happening because it's not her style but I suppose it could. Very Happy
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Schola



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PostPosted: Wed May 28, 2008 10:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

bbmedos wrote:
One of the things I noticed about <Devil's Bride> and have since noticed it other books of hers is, well, an irregularity in the rythym of the narrative, for lack of a better way of putting it.


Hmmmm. I can't say I've noticed the same thing. I would use the word irregular for A Secret Love, but only in the sense that Laurens seems to change the "pace" of the storytelling in different parts of the book. In some parts, it goes quickly; in other parts, it drags on and on; in more parts than I would like, I can only think of the word "stacatto." Laughing

Quote:
Sometimes I do wonder how much of this insistence on them being all the same by some readers, though, doesn't have a great deal to do with the fact that they're all so much in the "family man" mold. There's not a dark, brooding one in the bunch. Would those people be as bored if there was the occasional black sheep Cynster popping out of the woodworks?


Wasn't that already Charles? Laughing And not only was he never part of their "Bar Cynster," but they also ended up killing him, disposing of his body, and taking the secret to their graves. Laughing

Laurens has said in an interview that she does prefer a certain type of hero--the Pursuer--which is such an archetypal description that it makes sense for all her heroes to resemble each other.

And no dark and brooding Cynsters??? It's interesting to read that opinion because I've found them all relatively dark! (I do agree they don't brood much; they're men of action.) It must be the famous nicknames. Even Gabriel seems dark because of the Gothic elements in his book. Perhaps I just find heroes who decide unilaterally that they are to spend the rest of lives with their respective heroines, and do everything including premeditated seduction to have their way, kind of scary!

(Oh, dear! Will I have to do a more comprehensive reread before I realise I have the wrong idea again? Laughing )
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bbmedos



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PostPosted: Wed May 28, 2008 12:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Schola wrote:
And no dark and brooding Cynsters??? It's interesting to read that opinion because I've found them all relatively dark! (I do agree they don't brood much; they're men of action.) It must be the famous nicknames. Even Gabriel seems dark because of the Gothic elements in his book. Perhaps I just find heroes who decide unilaterally that they are to spend the rest of lives with their respective heroines, and do everything including premeditated seduction to have their way, kind of scary!

(Oh, dear! Will I have to do a more comprehensive reread before I realise I have the wrong idea again? Laughing )


Well, there's dark and then there's dark. None of the Cynsters seem all that dark to me and you sound more like you're talking about setting than the hero, Schola. Wink

I guess what I mean by dark or even black sheep would be brooding, tortured, loner with a mysterious past - you know the more traditional romance hero type. And I just can't see her doing one of those.
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