Posts tagged ‘review’

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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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 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 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 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!