Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Romancing the Countess by Ashley March

In a word? Wow.

In three words? Oh. My. God.

Coincidentally, this book is also Elizabeth Hoyt's book of the month for September.

I had the pleasure of discovering Ashley March's debut novel, Seducing the Duchess last year -- and I became an instant fan.

This was a lovely, unconventional read. Leah and Sebastian are the victims of their spouses infidelity. They agree to keep their spouses affairs a secret and try to go about living their own lives. Leah doesn't mourn in the conventional way and this annoys Sebastian. She hosts a small house party in the guise of honoring her husband's life and Sebastian attends, in an effort to control the damage.

They cross paths and match wits during the house party. There is a strong attraction between the two but they fight it. As it ends, Leah accomplishes what she had intended all along. She and Sebastian part ways, knowing they would never meet again.

But circumstances bring them together again.

The story is a wonderful reflection of what love is in a romance novel -- more often than not, lust/desire is the driving force that brings the hero and heroine together.

This one is a thoughtful and very gradual development of feelings and attraction --

Leah and Sebastian are wonderful, consistent and sympathetic characters.

Love, Come to Me by Lisa Kleypas

Love, Come to Me is set in post-Civil War Concord -- about Heath and Lucy -- a Southerner who with grand plans and Lucy, a local girl he pulls out from a frozen river.

Lucy is engaged to be married and she's been waiting impatiently for her fiance, Daniel, to set the date.

As the story progresses, it becomes obvious that Lucy and Daniel are a mis-match. Lucy is far too spirited and lively for Daniel. Daniel tries to contain her passions while Heath encourages her to express them.

Heath and Lucy are forced to marry and they are slowly building a life together in Boston. Lucy's love for Daniel comes between her and Heath from time to time --

Eventually, their love and appreciation for each other blossom.

There's a lot of historical detail in this story and it sets the stage for the love story of Heath and Lucy. There's a lot of things going against them but they also have a lot going for them -- their passions and spirits are compatible.

I'm really glad that Lisa Kleypas has finally allowed her earlier works to be reprinted -- and I found it an interesting exercise to read an author's earlier works and be able to compare it to her later works.

This early on, Kleypas already has a good sense for character and drama. Her later works are more polished and better-edited.

But this one was a lovely read, as well.
Sunday, September 25, 2011

Finished Reading: The Wedding Affair by Leigh Michaels

I felt this was better-written than Just One Season in London --

The biggest challenge of writing a multiple perspective book that is only 300+ pages long is to make sure that the readers know whose perspective it is at any one time --

This book had no problems with that -- however, because 3 stories are being told at the same time, some parts of each story are necessarily left out because of page constraints.

I hope Leigh Michaels tries her hand at writing a story exclusively about 1 couple only. I'm curious about how deeply she can develop their characters and their stories.
Thursday, September 22, 2011

Currently reading: The Wedding Affair by Leigh Michaels

Leigh Michaels is an interesting study --

She's been writing contemporary romance novels for 20+ years -- last year, she decided to try her hand at writing a historical romance novel.

I picked up The Mistress' House and thoroughly enjoyed the novellas about the house on Upper Seymour Street.

This was followed by Just One Season in London which is a multi-POV story about a family and their stay in London during the Season.

Right now, I'm reading The Wedding Affair -- the style is similar to Just One Season in London -- of the characters introduced so far, Olivia (the widowed Lady Reyne) is the most interesting.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Did Not Finish: Secrets to Seducing a Scot by Michelle Marcos

I'm a big fan of Michelle Marcos's Pleasure Emporium series --

It's been 2 years since her last book so I was very excited when it was announced that she had a new book coming out.

I pre-ordered it and, when it arrived, it was at the top of my to-be-read pile.

And I tried to read it --

But I can't get over how annoying the heroine is --

Michelle Marcos intended Serena to be a Carrie Bradshaw-type who meets her own Mr. Big (Malcolm) during a forced trip to Scotland.  (I felt she misunderstood Carrie Bradshaw and her version of Carrie is off.)

I'm certain M. Marcos intended to emphasize the shallowness and pettiness of Serena's character (Will this lead to some sort of epiphany towards the end and she'll change her ways?) -- but I'm halfway through the story and Serena has become a terribly flat, terribly one-sided character.  Selfish and self-centered -- intent only in pursuing her own wants and needs.  (It annoyed me that she could not be bothered to know how to pronounce her Scottish maid's name and calls her "Quinny" --)

To add to Selena's irritation, the girl's brogue was so thick that Serena could understand only every third word that the mousy young thing said. And just calling her seemed an insurmountable task -- her name, Caointiorn, was impossible for Serena to pronounce.

True to form, Caointiorn said something that sounded like words a drunkard would say. Backward.

The hero doesn't save this story either -- he's definitely an Alpha male but ... that's all that he is. The prologue is Malcolm's back story -- about what happened to his family and what motivates him -- but I think he has forgotten about this and doesn't seem to have any sort of singular driving will.

M. Marcos's story deals with the Scottish rebellion -- and I felt her musings on the subject lacked ... finesse. While the author cannot be responsible for the comments made by her characters (or can she?) and while this is a work of fiction, I felt that some of the ideas her characters were spouting were outrageous (and not in a good way).

If M. Marcos's intention was to portray her women to be silly, vapid and shallow, she has succeeded -- but, sadly, this success is the reason why her story failed so miserably for me.

... I stopped reading this but I'll probably pick it up again some time in the future just to see how the story goes.

The second installment of this book is coming out in February 2012.
Friday, September 16, 2011

Finished reading: Between the Devil and Desire by Lorraine Heath --

This is actually Book 2 of the Scoundrels of St. James Quartet -- but I read the first and last book first before getting to the middle ones.

This is the story of Jack Dodger and Olivia, the Duchess of Lovingdon.

The two are brought together during the reading of Olivia's late husband's will -- and are forced to deal with each other because of the late duke's conditions.

Jack's a scoundrel -- and he knows it and doesn't apologize for it.  He's a scoundrel with a heart -- a really big one.  And it is this big heart of his that compels him to accept the terms of the late duke's will.

Olivia resists the change in her life and tries her best to put distance between her and her son and Jack -- but the more she resists, the more she realizes that there is more to Jack than meets the eye.

I love how Jack handles Henry, Olivia's son -- it's very no-nonsense -- I am curious about how Henry will turn out when he is older, with Jack as his guardian.

In the end, when the last part of the will is revealed, it resolves a lot of the mystery surrounding Jack --

It's a wonderful read. ^_^

Finished reading: Surrender to the Devil by Lorraine Heath + Promise Me Forever by Lorraine Heath

I really enjoyed Surrender to the Devil by Lorraine Heath -- Frannie Darling was a central character in the previous novel that I read and I was eager to see how her story continued --

She was against marrying Luke because she was so afraid of having to be part of the ton.  Instead, she ends up with a duke -- the highest title of nobility (not counting princes and kings) --

From the start, Frannie and Sterling were attracted to each other -- but they knew they had to stay away from each other because of their stations in life.  Heath was able to capture the confusion and anguish that the two characters felt as they wrestled with their feelings for one another.

Sterling is an imperfect duke (irony with his name!) who hides a deep-dark secret (one that caused the rift between him and his father) and Frannie is too perfect for the world that she was born, raised and live in --

I love how Heath resolved the story.

Promise Me Forever is part of Heath's Lost Lords Trilogy and was recommended to me by F --

The premise reminded me of Again the Magic by Lisa Kleypas -- one of my all-time favorite romance novels.

I love Lauren and Tom together -- I love how the scoundrel constantly tries to corrupt the lady -- and she lets him!

Circumstances cause them to be separated for 10 years and, when they reunite, they are both wary of the other -- so much had changed ... and yet so much had stayed the same with each one.

Unlike Again the Magic, after they sort out the misunderstanding surrounding the last 10 years, there's very little that stands in the way of the two --

How they ultimately come together is wonderful -- and I love Tom's loyalty and steadfastness.
Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Currently Reading: In Bed with the Devil by Lorraine Heath

In Bed With the Devil (Avon Romantic Treasure)

Heath is a new discovery for me. I know she's been around for a long time and I've actually been carrying her books at my online store -- but it wasn't until I read the summary for Waking Up with the Duke that I got intrigued.

I finished her London's Greatest Lovers Trilogy and I'm working my way through her books.

I really like Catherine -- she's consistent.  She's strong-willed and independent.  And she isn't afraid to stand up to Luke and to spar with him.

There's real chemistry between the two of them and I like how the relationship is developing.

I have a copy for sale over at Ebay Philippines.  Clickety click here to see it.


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