Archive for November, 2012

November 27, 2012

Thoughts on some historical romance novels #7

This was supposed to be included in the same post with my short review of Mary Balogh’s More Than A Mistress but then it took a (very) different turn and Yours Until Dawn was to get its own post. Then I thought I was gonna post it together with a review of Julia Quinn’s Romancing Mr. Bridgerton but I got carried away (just scroll down and you’ll see how) and so here you go. My review of…

Yours Until Dawn by Teresa Medeiros (a.k.a. A toi jusqu’à l’aube)

I wasn’t really impressed by this. The whole idea of a woman looking after a man is very attractive to me but this book wasn’t really what I expected. Don’t get me wrong, I liked it. I really did. It’s just… Well, I blame it on the French! I attempted to read this one in French because I thought, well, if historical romances can get me to read so much, at least I could make it useful by polishing up my French. And I certainly don’t regret the decision. Besides the challenge proved to be rather easy. I had no difficulty following the plot. Although I would look some words up from the dictionary, its frequency didn’t bother me.

The characters are good, except for their stupid behavior towards the end. Gabriel is depicted as a rake struck by love. To prove his love is real, he goes as far as enlisting himself to fight at the war which costs him his eye sight. He returns home as a wounded man. Not only physically but also emotionally because his beloved, seeing his pitiable condition, leaves him. I would like to read a prelude to this story. To see how Gabriel fell in love with Cecily. We are given insight to this period though short passages from letters exchanged between Gabriel and Cecily at the beginning of each chapter. This was definitely a winner for me, though I was too daft to understand their purpose until it was revealed.

Samantha/Cecily is full of surprises and pleasant ones at that. I admire her for trying to atone herself for abandoning Gabriel when she finds out that he got blind at war. Adopting a false name and disguising her natural perfume to avoid being uncovered by Gabriel, she becomes his nurse. Gabriel falls in love with Samantha without knowing that she’s the same woman he loved before. When Gabriel regains his eye sight at the end (bah!) Cecily has no choice but to leave him. Burdened by guilt over having left him helpless and vulnerable, she can’t have him know her true identity. No matter how much it breaks her heart… Wow, I should try my hand at writing romance blurbs!

I did like this book but going back and rereading some parts, I realized that it contained some morally disturbing scenes… At least to me. So, I want to take a closer look at the love scenes. There aren’t so many anyway but already the size of this review is scaring me. Anyway, the following four quotes are from when Gabriel and Samantha make love for the first time.

All excerpts from the book © Teresa Medeiros All rights reserved

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November 26, 2012

“Because of the way you are looking at me now…”

William Wallace & Isabella of France

I was very little when I watched Braveheart for the first time. Now, like ten years later I watched it again two days ago and well, I have been in a constant daze ever since. How can something so cheesy (and old for my taste!) make me walk around with a stupid smile plastered on my face? And how is it possible that I find Mel Gibson (of all people!) attractive? Well, he was simply breath taking in this role, I gotta give him that. Now as for why I thought of watching this movie now after all these years, the time will come for that… *winks*

from "Braveheart"

November 20, 2012

Natural gas will knit you a cozy for anything!

Waaaah!

November 15, 2012

Thoughts on some historical romance novels #6

Waking Up With the Duke by Lorraine Heath

“You may, of course, ignore all her rules—”
“I have no intention of ignoring her rules.”
“But it will be little more than—”
“Hell for us all, I’ve no doubt.”

The following review contains spoilers. Click here to read the spoiler-free version.

This one caught me unawares. Definitely five-star material! Way to go! Bravo! Purple must be my lucky color as far historical romance books go… *hint* Madeline Hunter’s The Romantic *hint* I missed this feeling really. It’s been a while since I read a really good romance novel. Lorraine Heath, an author I’m reading for the first time, wrote this sweeping love story according to my favorite recipe. Great main characters, even greater antagonist (if you can call Walfort that of course!), adorable secondary love story, drama, an impossible situation, yearning, and tender heartfelt love… Really, wow!

I really don’t have much to say except that every romance reader should go on and read this book. I did try to find fault with it and failed miserably. The plot seemed impossible at first and I thought I wouldn’t like the direction it would take and be very disturbed. I mean, come on! A paralyzed man asking his cousin (who supposedly caused his paralysis) to get his wife pregnant. As one of the reviews on Goodreads points out, the opening sentence just hits you flat on the chest.

“I’ll consider your debt paid in full if you get my wife with child.”

Oh my… Right? How can this end well and, more importantly, righteously? Well, it does. The way the hero and the heroine slowly but inevitably fall in love was handled expertly. To have the woman of your dreams (who, by the way, hates you for causing her husband to become a cripple) to yourself for one month to get her pregnant and then to let her go, relinquishing any claim you might have on your unborn child… An eternal dilemma of the worst kind to be sure. Ainsley had been struck by Jayne ever since he first laid eyes on her. And I always love the hopelessly-in-love hero. But his secret admiration for Jayne, his desire to make her happy, for which he would need to be both selfish and selfless at the same time, made him one of the greatest romance heroes I’ve ever had the pleasure of sighing dreamily over. And I rarely do that!

As for Jayne, to have your own beloved husband suggest you break your vows and sleep with another man (who is responsible for causing your husband to become unable to get you pregnant in the first place!) to give you a child you so longed for and when you have finally achieved that, becoming an emotional mess in the meantime, to hear your husband confess on his deathbed that he never loved your and had been cheating on you for years… That’s basically how fucked up the situation is in a (slightly too elaborate) nutshell. But Jayne’s guilt and suffering before coming into terms with her feelings made her a flesh and bone character. And I love how the author named her to evoke Jane Seymour, one of the six wives of King Henry VIII. Really, I can’t decide which one of the main characters shone brighter in the story. I’d say they equally own the book.

But then I would be unfair to the rest of the characters. It must be the first time that I love each and every character in a historical romance book. Take Walfort, for instance. I love him! He’s such an awesome character with all his flaws. I love him so much because it’s so rare to come across a grey character in the world of historical romance where everything is usually either black or white.

“I owe you your legs. Not my seed.”
“You owe me a bloody cock!”

Considering that all my favorite passages quoted here include Walfort, you can conclude how much I love him. Then there is the love story between Ainsley’s scandalous mother and her long-time lover, Leo, who’s an artist! *faints* By the way, it must be them on the cover image. Would be fitting, right? And yes, you read my mind, they should have their own book. But, no, this time I won’t stop there. I would love to read the love story of Tessa. She’s indeed a grand lady. I guess the two previous books in the series would be worth reading for her if not for anything else.

In conclusion… Buy this book! Read it and love it! Trust me, you won’t have any difficulty.

Sensuality rating: Hot (according to All About Romance)

November 14, 2012

Thoughts on some historical romance novels #5

Romancing Mr. Bridgerton by Julia Quinn

Now, I was gonna combine this review with that of Teresa Medeiros’ Yours Until Dawn but since that one is on its way to evolving into a monster of a blog entry, I thought I’d go on and post this. I don’t think this book deserves a post of its own but since it’s my first Julia Quinn read and since Julia Quinn is so incredibly famous, I’m devoting this post solely to one of her books.

Yes, Romancing Mr. Bridgerton… A sweet story, good characters, clever plot twists, solid romance and deep emotional analyses… So far everything seems fine, expect that this book wasn’t written in the language of historical romances I’m used to. I felt like reading a Gilmore Girls adaptation of the Regency period. Ms. Quinn uses a very contemporary language that I find in contrast with my other favorite historical romance authors. And frankly, I didn’t become a fan of her style. Yes, it was a fun read but it was too charged with dialogue and with a very American-sounding humor. Not exactly what I am looking for in a historical romance.

As for the main characters, it was nice to read about a cheerful, happy hero (with inner turmoils nontheless) for a change, instead of a brooding, dark one. I found Colin to be a very lovable hero. And Penelope is a mixture of Pride and Prejudice‘s Elisabeth Bennet and Mansfield Park‘s Fanny Price. Her harsh and witty criticism of the society around her and her wallflower quality compelled me to make this comparison.

On the whole, I would recommend this book to those who are looking for an fun, easy read. I’m not taking the book lightly when I say that, mind you. Ms. Quinn describes emotions in a very sincere manner, which I admire. But there is no great conflict or drama to get me hooked. Thus, this book is a great distraction with a funny, but nonetheless good love story.

Sensuality rating: Warm (according to All About Romance)

November 12, 2012

Pâle Septembre

Pâle septembre,
comme il est loin,
le temps du ciel sans cendres
il serait temps de s’entendre
sur le nombre de jours qui
jonchent le sol
d’octobre

Mâle si tendre
au début de novembre
devint sourd aux avances de l’amour
mais quel mal me prit
de m’éprendre de lui?

Sale décembre
comme il est lourd le ciel
sais-tu que les statues de sel
ont cessé de t’attendre?

Pâle septembre
Entends-tu le glas que je sonne?

Je t’aime toujours
Je t’aime toujours d’amour
je sème l’amour

Les saisons passent mais de grâce
faisons semblant qu’elles se ressemblent
qu’elles se nous ressemblent

Mais qui est cet homme qui tombe de la tour?
Mais qui est cet homme qui tombe des cieux?
Mais qui est cet homme qui tombe amoureux?

I’ll never go to the sun
I’ll never ever know if he’s still alive
I’ll never reach the sun

Pâle septembre,
comme il est loin,
le temps du ciel sans cendres
il serait temps de s’entendre

Click here for English translation of the lyrics. I tried my hand at translating them into Turkish and here’s what I came up with…

Solgun Eylül,
külsüz bir gökyüzü
hala uzakta ki,
daha kaç gün
Ekim’in toprağını örtecek
diye anlaşmanın
vakti gelmiş

Erkek öylesine ince davranırken,
Kasım başında
aşkın hamlelerine kulak asmaz oldu
Bana ne haller oldu da
kendimi ona kaptırıverdim?

Pis Aralık
Gökyüzü öylesine ağır
Haberin var mı?
Tuzdan heykeller dönüşünü beklemeyi bıraktı

Solgun Eylül
Duyuyor musun çaldığım yas çanlarını?

Seni hala seviyorum
Seni hala aşkla seviyorum
Aşk tohumlarını ekiyorum

Mevsim değişiyor ama yalvarırım
birbirlerine benziyorlarmış gibi yapalım
Bize benziyorlarmış gibi yapalım

Öyleyse kim bu kuleden düşen adam?
Öyleyse kim bu gökten inen adam?
Öyleyse kim bu aşka düşen adam?

Güneşe asla varmayacağım
Asla o yaşıyor mu bilemeyeceğim
Asla güneşe dokunamayacağım

Solgun Eylül,
külsüz bir gökyüzü
hala uzakta ki,
artık anlaşmanın
vakti gelmiş

November 8, 2012

Wallflowers #1

Secrets of A Summer Night by Lisa Kleypas

Simon Hunt.  Really a great hero. I always have a soft spot for heroes with common origins. His rakish attitude in the beginning didn’t bother me much. And when he took so great care of Annabelle when she was bitten by an adder, I knew he’d be a memorable hero. Knowing that she can’t afford to buy more sturdy shoes, he buys Annabelle ankle boots! That was so sweet! He’s considerate, content, confident (I’m running out of “c”s here!), kind (yay!) and oh so loving…

I didn’t like Annabelle. She was too conservative for me. First I was infuriated with her for being such a whiny bitch about her reduced circumstances after she married Simon. When she was on the brink of becoming a mistress to some peer, she ended up being married to a man who loved her deeply and saved her family from their debts. What more can she ask for? But on second thought (I am learning to think like Lisa Kleypas!), one can say that she wasn’t that desperate as she has managed to ensnare Lord Kendall and would marry him if she didn’t do the honorable thing and give up on her plot. Simon would certainly think this way as he never saw himself as her savior. But still…

My favorite parts of the book are the scenes between Annabelle and Simon when Annabelle was still too weak to get out of bed. And of course when they continued their game of chess for days, making one move a day. I found the love scenes weak in comparison to Kleypas’ other novels. But in one such scene when Annabelle was on the brink of tears as she struggled to contain her passion for her husband, I was really moved. The honeymoon party scene was really great as well. The newly weds are on their honeymoon in Paris and two men at a party start arguing with each other on which one of them is to drink champagne out of Annabelle’s shoe. Finally, Simon comes to the rescue. He removes both Annabelle’s shoes, hands one to each man and says, “You may have the shoes gentlemen–just so long as you’re both aware that their contents belong to me.” Then he scoops up an astonished and barefoot Annabelle and carries her out of the room while he picks up a bottle of champagne from a waiter passing by! *dies*

I also liked at the end when they both confessed their love for each other. I was like “Yes! That’s the spirit!” But then, this came along…

You wouldn’t have left had it been me on the foundry floor–“

“I knew you were going to say that ,” he said in savage disgust. “Of course, I wouldn’t have left you. I’m the man. A man is supposed to protect his wife.”

“And a wife is supposed to be a helpmate,” Annabelle countered.

Now what is wrong with this? Nothing really, but I couldn’t help but wince and had to rub my feminist toes while reading this part. If I were to create a heroine, I would have had her wretchedly yell out something like “And I wanted to protect my husband!” in a situation like this. By saying what she says, Annabelle reaffirms her subordinate role. But actions speak louder than words and she was willing to die along with him. So I should probably just shut the fuck up. Yeah.

However, I do have a serious complaint about the emphasis on material possessions. This is the one thing I can’t stand. It spoiled the whole Twilight Saga for me more than anything. No, Annabelle does’t need “a bit of spoiling.” Simon buying all these jewelry and clothes for Annabelle (not to mention getting a house built in Mayfair because Annabelle wanted to live there of all places!) and then showering people with gifts and money to keep quiet about the stabbing… Yes, it’s all very nice that they can live comfortably thanks to Simon but the fact that he’s super rich is mentioned so many times that I started to wonder about possible allusions. Is Lisa Kleypas trying to make his hero more attractive to readers this way? Do romance readers really like the hero more for his money? Seriously?

I would like to ramble on some more but although I finished the book just yesterday, I can’t think of much to say. Which means that the book didn’t leave a great impression on me. Now I’m really curious about Evie and Daisy’s stories. I don’t like either Lilian or Lord Westcliff from what I have read about them in this book. So I guess I will tolerate It Happened One Autumn. But who knows? Surprise me… Please do.

Sensuality rating: Warm (according to All About Romance)

November 7, 2012

Yeah, really why?

Cartoon by Bestie. Couldn’t have expressed it better… That is the wonderful feeling of being immersed in a romance novel.

November 5, 2012

Additions to “A Hathaway Review”

After rereading some passages (guess which ones!) and giving the series a little bit more thought, I came up with a few additions to my original review.

The good first… I discovered that there are things I really find adorable about Cam and Amelia. For one thing, I love it when Cam calls Amelia “hummingbird.” That is very fitting because Amelia is always busy with something, running from one place to another solving problems, being therefore people and looking after her siblings… just like a humming bird. Every once in a while this all becomes too much for her so she has this habit of tapping her foot whenever she gets nervous. And I love it when Cam touches her leg with his to stop her. The role Cam assumes as the head of the family to take some of the burden off Amelia’s shoulders is also very touching and all the more fitting because he is also renowned for “managing” things because he’s the manager of a tavern.

And now the bad… Or rather morally problematic, disturbing sections. In the beginning of Tempt me at Twilight, shortly after Harry sets his sights on Poppy, he tells his assistant Valentine to deliver a piece of jewelry to his mistress, Mrs. Rawlings. And as an explanation, he simply says, “I’m getting rid of her.”

In my opinion, “getting rid of” is a very strong word to be used for a woman, whether she’s his mistress, a random prostitute or a lady, by a gentleman as respectful as Harry Ruthledge. I wonder if other readers found this bit disturbing because, I’m afraid, there is an underlying message that points to the rivalry between women according to the norms set by the male-driven society. The society treats with contempt women who earn a living through the use of their bodies. Still. Though one cannot make a generalization, if we consider that most of these women were driven to opt for such employment due to dire conditions, it is unfair to disrespect them so openly. I can’t especially bring myself to do so as a woman. So that’s why, such open disregard for a mistress in a book read generally by women and written by a female author of romance caused a little pang in the moral shelf of the “idealistic” department of my brain, which is linked with my heart with a strong artery. Women should be united against men if they should be united against anything. We shouldn’t turn in on each other on such matters. It’s a trap set by the male-driven society. Rather, we should have sympathy for one another and be in solidarity. I’m not gonna start quoting de Beauvoir right now because that’s not the issue I want to devote this whole post to. I’m just saying. Of course, there’s the possibility that I’m reading too much into this. It’s not Lisa Kleypas speaking after all, it’s Harry Ruthledge. In that case, badly done Harry! Badly done!

In Married by Morning when Cat and Leo finally get to it, Cat tries to remember the tactics she learned from her aunt (who is a prostitute!) to please Leo. This just didn’t do for me. Sex in historical romances is all about passion and spontaneity, not making calculations or assessing ways to pleasure your partner (at least not in your first time!) And later on the bit about finding appropriate names for the female genitalia just ruined the mood of the whole scene. Besides, Leo’s account for the French word is wrong. In French, the equivalent of pussy is “la chatte,” meaning a female cat.

That’s all for now… If I come up with anything else, I think I’ll just update this post rather than start a new one. I just started reading the Wallflower series by Lisa Kleypas and I am loving it. Let’s see if it will give more insight to some of the characters in the Hathaway series. I know Cam is in it for one thing!

November 4, 2012

“Look back… Look back to me…”

played by Daniel Danbe-Ashe

I finished watching BBC’s North & South and have played its haunting theme music in my head throughout my stay in Italy (though sometimes it got replaced with “Daughter’s Lament” from the Hunger Games soundtrack). A mini-series with 4 glorious episodes, a wonderful cast and (you got the hint already) a soundtrack that gives me shivers. What more can I ask for? A better plot perhaps… I’m curious about Elizabeth Gaskell’s book of the same name, which this series was adapted from, to see if it follows the same plot. If not, then to find out if I would be sorely disappointed with the TV adaptation if I were to read the book first.

But first I want to tell the story of how I came to watch this series because it’s quite old (released in 2004) already. I was reading reviews of Lisa Kleypas’ Tempt Me at Twilight when I came across screen shots of Richard Armitage from this series. The author of the review wrote that he/she pictured the hero of the book, Harry Ruthledge, as Richard Armitage. The rest isn’t difficult to imagine, I suppose. I was instantly intrigued and immediately settled to watch the series, an episode per day.

played by Richard Armitage

As I mentioned above the plot isn’t my favorite thing about the story. But the cast… Oh my! Daniel Danbe-Ashe appears as the perfect specimen of the understanding of a beautiful women in that period. She’s got curves all right but she’s is quite plump in fact. And I can’t bring myself to see that as a setback. It’s as if it only adds up to her beauty. Her dark blue eyes when widened in an expression of innocent frustration, her shapely nose and full lips and her gorgeous dark brown curls… She inspires me to sound totally like a smitten historical romance hero. Which is a good thing I suppose? To be inspired in any way I mean… Anyway, in my mind I picture her to be Amelia Hathaway, the heroine of Lisa Kleypas’ Mine Till Midnight.

As for Richard Armitage… It was when I heard him speak that he made up for what he lacked with his looks. Don’t get me wrong, he is wickedly, soul-stirringly handsome. It’s just that his voice is the best thing about him, though his smile (which is a rare occurrence throughout the series) may come close. And finally, when I found out that he was to play Thorin Oakenshield in the upcoming The Hobbit movie and that he actually sang Misty Mountains (my boyfriend’s alarm clock melody!), I was simply jumping up and down with joy!

John Thornton and Margaret Hale

As a final note, this series features the best (yes the very best) kissing scene I have ever had the pleasure of blushing over.