Yes, and in fact I already have. I don't love Anne Flosnik, but she isn't awful either. Elizabeth Hoyt is notable among modern romance writers for her extremely explicit and very steamy (ahem) love scenes. She is sometimes a little flimsy on plot and accurate period detail. But the relationships are interesting, the characters are generally a little outside the norm for romance novels, and again - the erotic scenes are really something.Personally I found the little fairy tale intro to each chapter an irritating diversion from the main plot. I mean, we're already being told a story that is based on a fairy tale - it seemed a bit heavy-handed to have yet another fairy tale that tells us the same thing, more or less, as the main story. What's the point?
What did work for me was that the hero is genuinely unconventional - truly disfigured (not just a rakish facial scar) and he genuinely suffers as a result of his injury and disfigurement. He doesn't miraculously recover at the end. So that was refreshing.
The heroine was fine, if a little vapid. There are children in the book, which I normally dislike, but I found them only moderately annoying. So it breaks down like this:
Tortured hero: yes, terrific. Great hero.
Heroine: Okay. She is insightful and has basically no issue with the hero's looks and doesn't act like she's doing him any favors, which is nice. The weakness is that the plot has her actively pursuing a job as a housekeeper, then lamenting her utter lack of experience as a housekeeper, and later demanding respect for her housekeeping despite the fact that her "employer" said he didn't want a housekeeper. Then, after she becomes her employer's mistress, she pretty much acts like his mistress while hoping she doesn't seem too much like his mistress. It makes her seem kinda dumb.
Kids: present, and annoying, but not the MOST annoying I've ever read.
Sexy bits: Hot. There is a part with a lemon that was more disturbing than sexy, but whatever. It wasn't totally repulsive or anything.
"Meh." There wasn't a lot of genuine conflict here, just two unattached adults who clearly loved one another - plus, it's a romance novel. The ending is pretty much a foregone conclusion.
Syrupy, breathy, slightly overdramatic.
Um. Was it supposed to?
I really enjoyed A Discovery of Witches, and although I didn't like Shadow of Night quite as much, I had high hopes for The Book of Life. This book has gotten fantastic reviews, so it obviously works for most people. If you loved both of the previous books, you probably don't need me to tell you that you'll like this one, too. BUT. If you were beginning to have some doubts by book 2, you might want to save your money (or your credit) for something else.
Characters move from city to city, discuss the incredibly urgent danger they face (but don't do anything about it), bicker, travel, drink tea, and discuss how possessive Matthew is about Diana. There is a seemingly endless review of vampire family politics and legal issues, and there is a huge cast of characters, although most of them are superfluous to the plot. Somehow Ms. Harkness made this all work in the first two books, but it felt to me like she had lost the rhythm and pace of the story in BOL. There is too much telling, not enough doing; too many plot points that go nowhere. There are many conversations that cover ground that has already been tread and retread in earlier chapters - I felt totally bogged down for the first 18 hours or so of listening.
I so wanted to enjoy this book! I found the first two difficult to put down, but this one was all too easy to set aside. The ending was fine, but I'm still not sure it was worth the tedious slog through 20+ hours of listening to get there.
I've really enjoyed all of the Outlander novels, but some more than others. As Jamie & Claire's circle of family & friends has grown, their goals - and the storylines - have gotten more diffuse, and this has diminished my enjoyment of the last couple of books, mostly because I never really connected with Brianna and her family, and am bored by the segments that focus on them.
This book has more shoots & vines than any of the previous installments, but the pace of the early chapters really worked for me - there is a lot of action and adventure, and things happen very, very fast. Then - uh oh - we're with Brianna in the 1980s, but somehow, it's not boring! One of my favorite things about these books is the mystery of how the time travel actually works, and there's a fair amount of attention paid to the standing stones, the gemstones, how to "steer," and all that. Good stuff.
More importantly, Brianna manages to be less annoying than usual, although she does commit some acts of inexplicable stupidity on a few occasions. She has a few great moments, too, so I suppose it all balances out.
By the time the plot shifts back over to goings-on in 1778, I was a little sorry to be diverted from the Roger & Bree part of the story, which has never happened to me before! This latest installment has LOTS of battle, some very sad deaths, and more time travel (and time travelers!) than ever.
Davina Porter is the perfect narrator for this series, and adds to the enjoyment with her personal awesomeness.
Some people like Anne Flosnik's narration; I guess I'm not one of them. I find her deeply annoying; it sounds almost like she's patronizing me when she reads.
The incomparable Barbara Rosenblat read almost all of Amanda Quick's work for Recorded Books; very few of those are currently available on Audible, which is too bad. Flosnik's narration was unlistenable (for me) and I had to stop listening about 3 hours in. Maybe Audible will be able to buy the rights to the Rosenblat editions of the Amanda Quick books - until then, no more of these!
This is such a thought-provoking book.
Laura Kinsale is known for sending her characters on long, difficult journeys, physically, intellectually, and emotionally. It's one of the things I really like about her books; the characters' struggles have costs and transform people over the course of the story. This story is no exception to that trend. The story begins with a setup familiar to many readers of historical romance: the young and innocent maiden taken captive by a violent, troubled outlaw and forced into a marriage, or at least into bed, where she eventually comes to love him. This is one of the most problematic things about the genre, but Kinsale, as usual, quickly mixes up the formula and creates something completely new.
Instead of presenting us with a milquetoast heroine who succumbs to piratical ravishment, Kinsale gives us Elena, who never misses a lesson and continually finds some agency even when she seems most helpless. One review I read of this mentioned the "disturbingly alpha hero" as a possible problem for some readers - I'm almost done with this book, and I'm wondering if maybe they meant the "disturbingly alpha heroine?" Yes, Allegreto is powerful, wicked, menacing. He does things that are not okay to advance his own interests. But pay attention to Elena and I think you'll find an capable, intelligent heroine who takes charge of every situation through the application of a little wit and daring. I never saw her as anything but an equal to Allegreto, and I didn't think he was over-the-top macho - in fact, he was desperately, beautifully vulnerable.
Much has been said about the sadomasochistic nature of the sex scenes; I didn't find them troubling at all. Everything made sense within the context of the story and the characters' experiences, and the romance between the H/h was so intense at times I actually found some of their conversations more overwhelming than their physical intimacy.
Laura Kinsale really pushes the boundaries of romance, but it pays off in this sensational novel. Nicholas Boulton totally kills the narration, too.
I have read and enjoyed many Kinsale novels, and when Audible started offering them narrated by the perfectly astonishing Nicholas Boulton, I snapped them up one by one...and stopped when I got to "For My Lady's Heart." I tried to read this years ago and didn't get through even the first quarter of the story - at the time, I was put off by the quasi-Middle English and the slowish start.
I was tempted to listen to this only because Nicholas Boulton is magic; he doesn't just perform, he transforms. So, during a dry spell, I finally decided I'd give this a try.
The beginning still requires some patience. Yes, there is some Middle English, and yes, if you are a really persnickety scholar of the medieval period, you might be bothered by it. I decided that while it isn't perfect, it was at least consistent enough to set the tone of the book - fully modern English would have felt too jarring given the antique nature of this story. From what I understand, the author wrote the dialogue entirely in Middle English, and between herself and her editor, they negotiated a version that was modern enough for her readers but archaic enough to suit the story and characters. And the Mr. Boulton narrates the book and makes it all wonderful. Seriously.
If you've enjoyed other Kinsale novels, you will find a lot to like here, too - the hero is utterly lovable, a profoundly good man whose ultimate task is to redeem the haunted and capricious heroine from her mysterious past. As usual with Kinsale, it's not just a good romance novel, it's a good book. Glad I overcame my doubts and listened to this one.
I didn't think it was possible for this book to live up to its hype, but it did. It might have even surpassed it. Does it contain a host of romance novel tropes and dated stereotypes? Of course, but I'm glad I didn't let that stop me from reading/listening.
The Marquess of Dain was unloved by his remote parents and so naturally, he decided to spend the rest of his life in a constant self-destructive orgy of drink, prostitutes, and gambling, among other things. Jessica Trent is a beautiful and virtuous young woman with no fortune, living by her wits and trying to rescue her idiot brother from Dain's malevolent influence. Generally I'm tired of rakes being reformed by the magic of a good woman's love, but thanks to Loretta Chase's intelligent, light, tripping prose, this plot actually ends up making sense. It was delightful. And amazing.
One of the reasons it works is that Jessica is the best romance novel heroine of all time. She actually behaves like a rational human being, who happens to be fabulously self-confident and mature and spectacularly awesome.
Dain, of course, has to overcome his demons, and in the process he spends a lot of time brooding and being kind of oblivious to Jessica's greatness. It totally doesn't matter; I had so much faith in Jessica to bring him around, and he had enough self-awareness to see how his issues were destroying his life and he really wanted to overcome them. Also: unlike some "classic" romance heroes, he does nothing without Jessica's explicit, enthusiastic consent.
I also loved the secondary characters, and actually wished there were more of them - especially Jessica's grandmother. Also, the narrator was amazing!
I've mostly enjoyed this series - there is definitely a formula at work here, but it results in a good, light story with attention to historical detail. However: I flat-out HATE Daniel Sullivan, the main character's love interest, and I'm quickly losing respect for Molly as she seems to be oblivious to his unrelenting sexism. Also, Daniel and Molly keep having this conversation:
Molly: I need you to use your police skills to find out X.
Daniel: I will not, because I disapprove of your pursuit of your career, and also I think you are a hysterical female and no crime has actually occurred, you just think there is one because you are so fantasy-prone.
Molly: But (however many) people have died, and someone tried to kill me!
Daniel: Then your work is too dangerous and I forbid you to pursue it. Also, you're just imagining things.
Molly: I've also been receiving threatening letters/been poisoned/been locked in a trunk and thrown in the river, etc.
Daniel: Your delicate ladybrain is just overwrought (pats hand patronizingly). When we are married, you will not have to think anymore, you will just do what I say. Won't that be easier? Also, stop pursuing this dangerous career, which is full of terrible danger, even though you have imagined all this danger.
Adding to his terribleness, Daniel hates Molly's friends and actively works to keep her away from them, is embarrassed by her whenever he is with any of his friends or colleagues, and frequently mentions how once they are married, she will be too busy doing laundry and raising babies to do anything outside the home, in a "joking-not joking" kind of way. At the beginning of the series, there was some nice romantic tension between these two, but at this point I think the best thing that could happen would be for Daniel to die and for Molly to run off with Sid and Gus to start some sort of lesbian commune for artists and detectives.
I have recently finished this entire series, and I pretty much loved the whole thing. These are deftly written, a lot of fun, and I honestly think they were made to be read by Katherine Kellgren. I don't think I'd have enjoyed them half so much without her narration. Are the stories a little contrived, a little formulaic after a while? Sure. But the characters are charming, the prose effortless, and the mysteries compelling enough to carry the whole thing off.
I thought these might be a little too cute for me, but they're actually reminiscent of Agatha Christie's works from the 1930s, to which they consciously pay homage. Bowen's books come by their high ratings honestly, so go ahead and give it a chance.
This is such a original, compelling, and flat-out freaky story. All the elements of a classic haunting story are here: something terrible in the woods, a tragic and violent historical event (or series of events), a teenager and her innocent young sister left alone in a spooky farmhouse out past the edge of town, unexplained deaths...but McMahon has assembled all these familiar elements into an unsettling, dark story that is fresh and unpredictable.
The story unfolds in two time periods: 1908, in the pages of Sarah Shea Harrison's diary and descriptions of events from the points of view of other characters, and in the present day. This is a twisty, complex story, but the pace builds and the spookiness escalates as the reader/listener and the protagonists gradually piece together the clues and start to figure out what's really going on.
I stupidly started listening to this while I was alone in the house for the weekend, and the spooky atmosphere definitely had me steering clear of the basement and double-checking the closet doors - but at the same time, I couldn't stop listening!
This is a really beautiful story, but be warned: it's almost impossible to stop listening, and even though the narrator warns you in advance about how terrible everything will be, it's still worse than you expect somehow. The ending is pretty hopeful, all things considered, but I still finished this book in tears and had to go off by myself for a while.
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