Archive for ‘Historical Romance’

August 23, 2014

Mr. Darcy’s letter

Be not alarmed, madam, on receiving this letter, by the apprehension of its containing any repetition of those sentiments or renewal of those offers which were last night so disgusting to you. I write without any intention of paining you, or humbling myself, by dwelling on wishes which, for the happiness of both, cannot be too soon forgotten: and the effort which the formation and the perusal of this letter must occasion, should have been spared had not my character required it to be written and read. You must, therefore, pardon the freedom with which I demand your attention; your feelings, I know, will bestow it unwillingly, but I demand it of your justice.

Hanımefendi, bu mektubu alınca sakın dün gece sizi son derece sinirlendirip tiksindiren önerilerimle duygularımı yineleyeceğimi sanarak korkuya kapılmayınız! Sizi üzmeye ve kendimi alçaltmaya hiç niyetim yok! O duygu ve dilekler ne denli çabuk unutulursa ikimiz için de o kadar iyi olur. Üstelik kendimi bu mektubu yazmak, sizi de okumak sıkıntısına bile sokmak istemezdim. Ne var ki onurum ve saygınlığım söz konusu olduğu için bunların yazılması ve okunması gerekiyor. Onun için sizden bu sıkıntıyı yüklenmenizi dilediğim için cüretimi bağışlamalısınız. Duygularınızın beni bağışlamaya pek razı olmayacağını biliyorsam da bunu hakseverliğinizden bekliyorum.

This first paragraph of Mr. Darcy’s famous letter from Pride and Prejudice always gets me… Turkish translation is by Nihal Yeğinobalı, Can Yayınları.

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May 19, 2013

That carrot would feed an entire village!

I admit, I read this book for the cover, and the back cover. And I don’t regret it one bit. Just look at it!

The blurb clearly reveals the genius of Julia Quinn, one of the most popular historical romance writers today. And not unfairly so. Her stories and characters are so witty and fun to read. A bit too much fun for my taste. There is no heart wrenching tragedy in her books. They’re more like a romantic sitcom, set somehow in 19th century England. The dialogue is so much fun to follow. I was reading the Goodreads quotes from this book and, oh my, she’s funny!

Marcus’s appearance the day before had been discussed, dissected, analyzed, and—by Lady Sarah Pleinsworth, Honoria’s cousin and one of her closest friends—rendered into poetry.
“He came in the rain,” Sarah intoned. “The day had been plain.”
Honoria nearly spit out her tea.
“It was muddy, this lane—”
Cecily Royle smiled slyly over her teacup. “Have you considered free verse?”
“—our heroine, in pain—”
“I was cold,” Honoria put in.
Iris Smythe-Smith, another of Honoria’s cousins, looked up with her signature dry expression. “I am in pain,” she stated. “Specifically, my ears.”
Honoria shot Iris a look that said clearly, Be polite. Iris just shrugged.
“—her distress, she did feign—”
“Not true!” Honoria protested.
“You can’t interfere with genius,” Iris said sweetly.
“—her schemes, not in vain—”
“This poem is devolving rapidly,” Honoria stated.
“I am beginning to enjoy it,” said Cecily.
“—her existence, a bane . . .”
Honoria let out a snort. “Oh, come now!”
“I think she’s doing an admirable job,” Iris said, “given the limitations of the rhyming structure.” She looked over at Sarah, who had gone quite suddenly silent. Iris cocked her head to the side; so did Honoria and Sarah. Sarah’s lips were parted, and her left hand was still outstretched with great drama, but she appeared to have run out of words.
“Cane?” Cecily suggested. “Main?”
“Insane?” offered Iris.
“Any moment now,” Honoria said tartly, “if I’m trapped here much longer with you lot.”

Finally here‘s some good advice.

May 18, 2013

Wallflowers #4

Scandal in Spring by Lisa Kleypas

As I had guessed, this one turned out to be my favorite in the Wallflower series. It is an sweet love story with great characters and a small mystery (which wasn’t really hard to guess). Every ingredient for a good (not great) historical romance novel was equally balanced and, with the addition of Daisy Bowman, turned out to be a wonderful read to cure your blue mood.

All excerpts from the book © Lisa Kleypas All rights reserved

Daisy clearly owns the book. First of all, let me just say that I love her. She’s certainly one of my favorite historical romance heroines. I’m sorta like her in some ways: I love daisies, she also enjoys reading romances, I’m “five foot and one debatable inch” too, her story is set in my favorite season, and I got Daisy when I took the Wallflowers personality test on Lisa Kleypas’ website. But that’s not the real reason I’m so fond of her. Daisy is a peculiar child whose mind works in a completely different, but adorable manner. Her character is very difficult to explain in plain adjectives, but the author does an excellent job with metaphors:

She was the most provoking, beguiling woman he had ever met. Thunderstorms and rainbows wrapped together in a convenient pocket-sized parcel.

Did I mention that the writing of he book is excellent, by the way? It is.

One of my favorite passages depicting Daisy is by Westcliff whose role in this book is unnecessarily big, if you ask me. But my impression of him increased by ten fold after this:

“Daisy is a charming little scamp, not to mention lovely. Had she a bit more confidence, and far less sensitivity, she would have learned by now to attract the opposite sex with ease. But to her credit, she doesn’t have the temperament to treat love as a game. And few men have the wits to appreciate sincerity in a woman.” 

This statement (especially the last sentence) is so true in so many different respects that I can’t begin to recite all of them.

On a negative note on Daisy, I think she falls in love rather too unexpectedly. One minute she can’t stand Matthew’s presence, the next she is plotting to make him jealous and confess his feelings (which, by the way, was rather uncharacteristic of her). But in the meantime, the two share some very good moments, like when they play lawn bowling for hours at end and when Matthew comes to her rescue during the silly drawing room games. Those were very well-written scenes. As for Matthew’s feelings–oh, I’m bubbling with glee just thinking about it–he has always loved Daisy since the first time he laid eyes on her.

“Over the years I’ve collected a thousand memories of you, every glimpse, every word you’ve ever said to me. All those visits to your family’s home, those dinners and holidays—I could hardly wait to walk through the front door and see you.” The corners of his mouth quirked with reminiscent amusement. “You, in the middle of that brash, bull-headed lot…I love watching you deal with your family. You’ve always been everything I thought a woman should be. And I have wanted you every second of my life since we first met.”

Isn’t that my favorite kind of hero? Well, no. Matthew had this similar I’m-no-good-for-her-so-I-can’t-have-her thing going on like Kev in Seduce Me at Sunrise, but it wasn’t that plausible. For one thing, his resolve literally crumbled when Daisy took off her chemise (See, I like that bold quality in her) and that made it appear sort of weak. We knew that it was weak but couldn’t he have pretended otherwise and done something? It was as if he was just looking for an excuse (One can’t blame him, can he?). In other words, he didn’t reach the “miserable enough” threshold. Yes, you wouldn’t want to be a character in a romance I would write. I would probably make you go through hell.

But Matthew is a great hero. He’s a moral, self-made man who is trying to escape the clutches of the world order which has no mercy on those without means. tI goes without saying that he is the completely opposite of what Daisy is. Practical and hardened by the world. Hence, I think, his immense attraction to our little pixie.

She let a teasing tone enter her voice. “Is there any emergency for which you are not prepared, Mr. Swift?”

“Miss Bowman, if I had enough pockets I could save the world.”

Although it wouldn’t be wrong to say that Daisy’s unique qualities are not always embraced by her family, especially by her father, who doesn’t seem to know how to deal with her.

One of the servants had reported that Daisy had been sneaking around the house at night, deliberately tripping all the traps to keep the mice from being killed.

“Is this true, daughter?” Thomas Bowman had rumbled, his gaze filled with ire as he stared at Daisy.

“It could be,” she had allowed. “But there is another explanation.”

“And what is that?” Bowman had asked sourly.

Her tone turned congratulatory. “I think we are hosting the most intelligent mice in New York!”

I can’t stop grinning now…

If I’m to comment on other aspects of the book, there is one bit towards the beginning of the book that I absolutely adored. Daisy’s thoughts linger on Cam Rohan, (the hero of Mine Till Midnight, the first book of the Hathaway series) who had stolen a kiss from her in the previous book. She asks Evie in a rather shy manner about his past wondering if perhaps he might be a “long lost Irish lord or something.” Little does she know that he actually is! Well played Ms. Kleypas…

As for some other random comments, I could really kill Lilian for showing such hostility towards Matthew without any real cause, but I guess the fact that the book delved into the Bowman sisters’ relationship was a good thing. The drama at the end, too, was okay, I guess. At least it wasn’t ridiculous or irrelevant.

And finally, the love scenes were weak again. Unfortunately, this is a general quality of the Wallflower series. But this time, I was irritated all the more by the characters’ incessant chatter! I’m sorry, but they are both very verbal during the act and it takes away the magic of it. The scene was supposed to be a crucial one, overshadowed by agony, because Matthew finally gives up his defenses and decides to make Daisy his and marry her afterwards. There shouldn’t have been any words, but just feeling and utter abandon. I’m thinking too dramatically again…

On the whole the Hathaway series were much better than the Wallflowers, in my opinion. In terms of characters, drama, plot, feelings and yes, love scenes, the author has improved herself a lot. But the Wallflowers are a good distraction and easy reads, if not memorable ones. I recommend it to all romance readers who are not looking for anything too specific.

Sensuality rating: Hot (according to All About Romance)

May 4, 2013

Thoughts on my baby

Yesterday I saw the book I translated on the shelves of D&R for the first time… It was an amazing moment. It only had 4-5 copies standing at the bottom shelf of the New Releases section, but I was jumping up and down already, asking people to take a picture of me holding it…

So since I translated the damn thing, I might as well review it, right?

The Hawk by Monica McCarty

This is the first time I’m reading a romance novel not set in the 19th century England. I had thought of reading Madeline Hunter’s medieval romances but couldn’t quite imagine myself enjoying them. I mean everything would be too… primitive, right? Well, no. Regardless of the fact the The Hawk is a mediocre book, I realized that I would enjoy medieval romances just as much if not more *gasp* Turns out dashing knights and sexy Highlanders are my thing! No, not really but they’re great to read about too.

Take Erik MacSorley… He’s not my type of hero but he was very fun to translate! He’s your typical arrogant but extremely likable guy. You know, this forever-happy person who lightens the mood wherever he goes, who has never been serious about anything (except loyalty to his liege lord Robert Bruce) and who has this constant devil-may-care attitude (Monica uses this word way too much). And he’s a seafarer! I like him much more than Tor MacLeod, who’s the hero of The Chief, the first book in the Highland Guard series.

Here’s my favorite passage from the book when Ellie is getting to know Erik’s er, body for the first time.

“You’re so soft.”
Hardly. But he didn’t have the strength to quibble about semantics.

Did I mention that I love puns? *winks*

But Erik took a long (too long) time to admit to himself that he has feelings for Ellie and an even longer time to convince himself that they can actually be together. And along the way, he sometimes acted too much like a sexist ass for my liking. So when he and Ellie were finally reunited, the excitement was already gone for me. And I don’t think that scene played out very well. Ellie was almost reluctant to say yes to him. It was as if she were really saying, “Well, if finally that’s what you wish, fine.”

Don’t get me wrong, Ellie is fine (as a character *grins*). She’s not very pretty and she knows it. She’s also not one of these heroines who are all about how free-spirited and tomboyish they are. I seriously have issues with this disdain of the traditional feminine. I love tomboyish heroines (Hell, my all-time favorite fictional character is a woman who was raised as a boy by her father!) but I cannot tolerate them when they flaunt it as if being likened to men somehow makes them superior. Ellie is not like that. She’s free-spirited as she should be. She’s also dutiful, serious and a bit too bossy. In short, she’s the perfect nursemaid!

Unlike Erik, Ellie (by the way her real name, Elyne, is very pretty I think) is much more honest to herself about what she’s feeling. She doesn’t panic when she realizes she’s in love with Erik, but tries to make the most out of their precious time together. And you know I can’t resist a heroine who tries to seize the moment rather than run away. So Ellie is a winner!

But… both the hero and the heroine and also the plot basically ended up not satisfying me with its depth. Everything was just too superficial. It was a wonderful experience to translate this book. I strived to make it perfect and put an enormous amount of effort in it. In fact, I don’t think I ever worked harder on something in my life. But I don’t think I would pick up this book to read.  It lacked the maturity of the works of Madeline Hunter, Lorraine Heath, Anne Mallory and Sherry Thomas.

Actually, I think Monica is a great storyteller. It’s just that she’s not such a great author. I can only imagine how much research she has done for this story (the battles, historic figures, etc.) by how difficult it has been for me to try to keep up with her to convey an accurate translation. The way she turns all her findings into a story is astonishing. But when it comes to romance… everything seemed a bit too cliché to me. I know that romance novels are all about cliché, but the trick is to make the reader think it’s actually not. And Monica couldn’t really do that for me.

But I recommend The Hawk nonetheless. It’s a great book if you’re looking for a fun, irresistible hero and a heroine that you want to relate to. But most of all, if you’re looking for a story which offers more than just witty drawing room chatter, this book (in fact the whole Highland Guard series) is for you. Even if it’s not a great romance, The Hawk is a somewhat historically accurate story and it does a brilliant job at reflecting the all the aspects of an epic war.

April 23, 2013

Wallflowers #3

Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas

The following review contains spoilers (from It Happened One Autumn).

As I expected, this one turned out better than the last two, though still not as much as I would have liked. It started out really nice. The way St. Vincent took care of Evie on their way to Gretna Green was adorable. The later events were not so appealing, but I’ll come to that later. First, the characters…

Evie is a quiet, loving girl who’s had to suffer her relatives’ cruel designs since she was born. Years and years of repression, disdain and severe punishments have turned her into a shy, stammering wallflower. The only way out of the of her relatives’ clutches is eloping. And she is willing to do so with a man who, by all accounts, has no heart. It is really sad to see the extent of her desperation to get away from her cruel family. But she is determined, not to mention strong. Her relatives didn’t succeed in breaking her spirit (but their effort manifested itself in the form of her stammer). She tells the the other flowers at some point in It Happened One Autumn that she knows she’s not responsible from her mother’s death (her mother died while giving birth to her) although her aunt tells her otherwise. So if she has managed to preserve her essence all these years, she believes that she will be able to continue to do so as the wife of St. Vincent, who makes it clear to her from the beginning that he’s only agreeing to her proposal for the money.

I like Evie. She’s my type of heroine. Shy but courageous, loving and kind but ill-treated. Her stammer and the way she indignantly says “I don’t like that word” every time St. Vincent curses is adorable. And she is a redhead! OMG, freckles! How can I resist that? However, the fact that I like her puts all the more pressure on her character to outdo herself in the story, but, unfortunately, she doesn’t. I can’t quite put my finger on it but she doesn’t act the way I would deem appropriate to her character. But the intent is appreciated nonetheless.

As for St. Vincent…

“If your concern is that I may be overcome with manly ardor and ravish you in a moment of weakness… I may. If you ask nicely.”

Haha! Yeah, I know, he’s fun to read about with all his wicked and witty remarks (reading the quotes page on Goodreads has helped refresh my memory). In this respect, he’s like Leo (Lord Ramsay) from the Hathaway series. But I’m afraid, St. Vincent doesn’t have as much of an excuse as Leo does to act like the jerk that he is. Yes, he is a tortured soul, I get it, but there is a golden rule: Guys don’t betray their buddies. Period. And St. Vincent does exactly the opposite in the most despicable manner by kidnapping Lillian, Lord Westcliff’s fiancé.

Now, about the rest of the book… The ending held too many moral conundrums for me to digest, so I’ll just skip that. Cam Rohan was a welcome sight, although I’m not such a great fan of him from the Hathaway series. And again, the love scenes were kind of dull. However, for some inexplicable reason, Devil in Winter has a very high ranking in lists in Goodreads. For example, it’s voted the highest among Lisa Kleypas’ books. It is definitely better than the first two Wallflowers and it’s classic Lisa Kleypas goodness. But compared to any of the Hathaways, I don’t think it’s very deserving.

Sensuality rating: Hot (according to All About Romance)

April 9, 2013

Wallflowers #2

It Happened One Autumn by Lisa Kleypas

The following review (if you can call it that) contains spoilers.

Aaaand I tolerated It Happened One Autumn. I knew I would be feeling like this after reading this book, so no surprises here. I don’t like heroines who are ridiculously stubborn and who pride themselves in having the upper hand in everything just out of spite. So Lilian is not my kind of heroine but that’s still okay.

What’s not okay is god-damn Westcliff seducing her when she was clearly drunk. Yes, these things happen, for the good sometimes, but still it would have been nice if he were more sensitive about it afterwards. And for the first time while reading a historical romance novel, nonetheless one written by Lisa Kleypas, I couldn’t picture the hero in my head. I just couldn’t come up with a handsome, breath-taking Westcliff. Thank goodness, Simon Hunt was present during most of the book. (“Once a week you said?” Haha, good one!)

But I guess the one thing that had me really hanging at the end is how the hell St. Vincent turned out to be the villain? And more importantly, how the hell is he going to be the hero of the next book, when he was on the brink of raping Lilian (let alone fondling her breasts!)? Yes, I’m very curious indeed *snorts*

Then why am I still reading the Wallflowers, right? Let’s not do any injustice to Lisa Kleypas. She is not the most brilliant author out there (*cough* Madeline Hunter *cough*) but she sure is one of the most (recently) popular ones. And that’s for a reason. I just find myself reading her books. She is the author I’ve read the most books of in the historical romance genre (somebody please correct the syntax here!) Her novels are excellent for light reading. And sometimes she does surprise you by writing something really deep and endearing. I just hope that she’s going to do that for the remaining Wallflowers.

Sensuality rating: Hot (according to All About Romance)

April 1, 2013

Thoughts on some historical romance novels #8

I wanted to put it off, to take it up at another time when I wouldn’t be as busy as I am now. To no avail. Rereading the love scenes and my favorite passages didn’t help. The book basically sang to me, caught my eye even with that dull purple cover no matter where I hid it in my room, as if it was luring me to lose myself in it again. I couldn’t have been more glad that I did.

Dear readers, it is my great pleasure to present you my review of my absolute favorite historical romance novel.

The Romantic by Madeline Hunter

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

“I never hated you. My anger was never with you, but with the little hell my heart had put me in. The anger always passed. I never regretted loving you. If I had gone to my grave never kissing you or touching you, I still would not have thought it a wasted love.”

I have been hinting at this gem of a book in many of my previous reviews. And I’m finally reviewing it now. Oh, what a joy! Beware because it’s going to be a long one.

It is this book that started this latest wave of historical romance craze in me. I bought it in July last year and was instantly hooked. It left such a great impression on me that I rediscovered my great love for historical romances. After that I read 20 more historical romance novels and I can say for certain that Madeline Hunter’s The Romantic is unparalleled, as rereading it has proven.

So what can possibly be so great about it? Well, first of all, it has a good storyline with a strong plot. Madeline Hunter’s novels are usually too plot-intensive that I forget I’m reading a romance novel. There’s always a mystery to be solved or some sort of mission that the heroine sets about accomplishing. But in The Romantic, the plot didn’t bother me because this time it involved the main characters. But more than that, it set the scene for a great tragedy. Penelope, Countess of Glasbury, has been separated from her husband for more than a decade because the man is an immoral, perverted bastard who, as Penelope puts it implicitly, “he takes pleasure in giving punishment.” The person who negotiated the separation, and the only one who knows the reason for it, is the Laclere family solicitor, Julian Hampton. He has known Penelope and her brothers since they were teenagers and needless to say he has been in love with Penelope since forever. Now isn’t that just perfect?

This already sounds like my favorite kind of tragedy. However, it’s only the background story that is expertly revealed as the main storyline unfolds. That’s another thing that Madeline Hunter handled excellently. Through hints, and passages of memories written in italics, she gives you a whole life story to fill the gaps with your imagination as the characters grow on you. So here, Glasbury wants Penelope back to give him an heir. And Julian, to save his ‘incomparable beloved’, dons his armor once again and swears to slay this sleeping dragon for once and for all. Oh, my… I must have really gotten carried away this time.

All excerpts from the book © Madeline Hunter All rights reserved

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January 13, 2013

Hawkeswell’s farewell letter to Verity

This is Hawkeswell’s farewell letter to his wife, Verity, at the of Provocative in Pearls by Madeline Hunter. Needless for me to say, they  confess their love to one another shortly after and get their happy ending. But there is something about letters written by men that make my insides melt. This one is a prime example.

My darling,

As you can see, we found Mr. Bowman. I will write later with a fuller account of his discovery, and the larger plot as well, but for now it is enough that Katy’s son has also been resurrected.

Your cousin Bertram felt moved to admit his misuse of you and his coercion on the marriage, in writing no less, amid confessing his many other sins and naming his accomplices. With that evidence and my agreement, you will have your annulment quickly when you make the petition, I am convinced. It is only right that you should.

Your maid assures me that your favorite garments are in the baggage, as are your jewels. Your cousin and his wife will not be returning to that stone house on the hill, so it is yours again. I do not doubt that the good memories will return and the bad ones will leave once its chambers are filled with your smiles.

I do not give you back your life because I have tired of you, Verity, I do not want you to think that. Quite the opposite. I have discovered, however, that my love for you means that I want you to have the life that you believe that you were supposed to have, even if it means that I will not have the wife I have come to treasure.

Mr. Bowman seems a fine young man. I like him much more than I want to. I am sure that he will see you safely to Oldbury and, in doing so, spare me a difficult farewell.

Your servant,

Hawkeswell

December 21, 2012

On writing about arched backs, soft moans and mutual climaxes…

Ten Essentials for Writing Love Scenes by Anne Marble

A truly awesome guide.To be read before actually writing the scene. Otherwise it can truly spoil your hard work.

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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