I expected very little from this title given the reported story line and cover picture, but one reviewer's comments caught my eye, and I decided to go for it. As it happens - I loved it! I loved the narration - particularly the hero's rather deadpan-ish voice - as well as the heroine's sassy one, both contributing to my enjoyment of the story. Really the book is carried by the narration (for me anyway) and the characters. Eva, the heroine, is strong, intelligent and delightfully wicked, and I found myself laughing out loud at the interactions between the characters. The story is interesting enough, given the rather limited options for this genre (which I happen to love anyway), and I especially appreciated that when the plot line ran out, the author let it go and concentrated on the relationship between the lovers - which is the main interest anyway. It's a fairy tale to be sure but one with more humor and self-awareness than most romances, which is why I gave it such a high rating.
The heroine and hero are strong charming and delightful together. There are plenty of lol moments, but it must be said that aspects of this story are very dark and upsetting as well.
Throughout the series, we have known Annabelle as the shy little spinster who sighs every time that her boss Derek Knightly walks into the room. But mousy little Annabelle seems the least likely candidate to win the hard-driving editor who loves nothing but the paper he owns, until...she comes upon the idea to ask her readers for advice in how to win the love of her dreams. As she practices the increasingly daring suggestions sent in by her readers on how to win the "nodcock" (a name given to her lover by her readers) who overlooks her, "old Annabelle" begins to become "New Annabelle," with lowered necklines and suitors vying for her affections, and new Annabelle is daring, funny and charming. And all of England loves "Dear Annabelle." Inevitably, Mr. Knightly begins to "see" Annabelle, and he likes what he sees. Meanwhile, an unhappy member of Parliament has begun a war on newspapers to clean up the way that they research their stories and stir up gossip. The war on newspapers and Annabelle's campaign to win over the nodcock become intertwined as Mr. Knightly fights to protect his newspaper, and all newspapers, and to win Annabelle at the same time. sigh.
I was extremely moved by this story because unlike many other romances, it eloquently portrays the true difficulties of finding love for people who have been deeply wounded by painful experiences. Putney is known for not shying away from difficult topics, and female slavery-both in the East Indies, and the U.S. is a significant issue in this story. which is quite unique in that it begins at the end. As one of the main characters Alexandra says to Gavin , "We did things backwards, starting with disaster, marriage and then love." How they work their way back from events they could not control makes their story less a fairy tale and more a story of real human love with all its difficulties.
Sea Captain and international merchant Gavin Elliot has made his fortune in America and Asia, and he is heading back to London to set up a new office as well as to face his difficult family history. When he discovers British citizen Jeannette Warren in a slave market on his visit to a tropical Island, he tries to buy her, but the ruler decrees he must win her through a series of difficult physical challenges. Gavin frees Jeannette and marries her shortly after in an effort to preserve her reputation in London society.
Meeting Alexandra's relatives brings Gavin into contact with Dukes and Duchesses, members of the landed gentry, an institution he has learned to despise in America. Gavin suffers to find his place among them but is even more baffled when his own history brings him into society in surprising ways. However, the overriding issue for the love between Gavin and Alexandra is her fragility due to the way she was treated as a slave. And just when the two are finding their way to towards love and romance, catastrophe enters their lives again with potentially disastrous results. Through it all Alexandra demonstrates courage and determination to fight for herself and for their happiness. While some readers have labelled the story "predictable," it doesn't seem possible to use that adjective in a tale about human bondage that works backwards through pain and brokenness to create love. Even though the author uses every plot device available to create what seems like melodrama, the story itself is compelling and lovely in the way it shows real human striving, using their compassion found through pain to create a life full of love and dedication to the betterment of society.
I admit that I too fell in love with Lord Colin Payne and the story of his escapades with the bookish Minerva Highwood, who seems likely to become one of Spindle Cove's future spinsters. Minerva talks Lord Payne into escorting her in a fake elopement to Scotland, where she hopes to present her paper on fossils at the Geological Society in Edinburgh. Before he agrees, Colin sets several conditions on his participation, all of which Minerva knows are certain "ruin" her socially. But she is willing to sacrifice all to further her academic career. The journey becomes a comedy of errors of sorts where Colin's knack for storytelling creates unexpected surprises and brings Minerva out of her shell in astonishing ways. Minerva learns about his tragic past and brings Colin out of his "shell" as she comes to understand his secrets and what he needs to get beyond them. Lots of laughs as well as a sexy and touching romance.
I really think most reviewers were way off on this one with high ratings. The narration was almost a monotone with not much energy. The only reason I gave the story a higher rating was because the time travel angle made a basically ordinary story of the good girl getting the rake more interesting. The characters are lovable, and the romance basically sweet, and in that I agree with the reviewers who gave this listen high marks. Jake Owens is about to be convicted of a first degree murder that he did not commit. He is given the opportunity to have his reputation salvaged if he agrees to lead a party of travelers from Iowa to Oregon, but when he agrees, he does not realize that he is going back in time 2 centuries. Part of his assignment was to provide special care for a woman named Rachel Parker, and of course he ends up falling hard for her. The story of how they manage the problems created by time travel and Rachel's apparently married status makes this otherwise predictable cowboy love story more interesting than it might have bee. But the dialogue is stilted and made worse by the poor narration.
This story was brain candy for me. I found it a bit slow at the beginning, with a bit too much detailed conversation as if they were discussing the grocery lists. But I figured it was part of the development of a love relationship that starts out as non-existent - despite their marriage - and builds throughout. Alexander Randall who is suddenly to become the Earl of Daventry needs a bride, and he picks the only woman he's ever found attractive, the widowed midwife Julia Bancroft. Since the marriage proposal comes at a time when they are basically strangers and is offered only as a solution to Julia's life being threatened, they negotiate a marriage that leaves all kinds of doors open for later divorce. Julia's previous marriage has left her afraid of marrying again. Needless to say the plan to allow easy exit grows problematic as they become more involved with each other. Since we know there will be a happy ending, the story's biggest flaw is an inability to create much suspense. The characters are thoroughly lovable, though there are plenty of villains to keep things interesting, and the problem resolutions thoroughly satisfying. Pleasant and not too challenging read.
I really enjoyed this listen and am currently desperately searching for the rest of the "Fallen Angels" Series. I so appreciate an author who is able to provide the expected thrill of sexual romance within a plot structure that remains interesting beginning to end. Putney's characters are also interesting individual creations and not stock characters from the Romance genre's dusty closets. This story of the half-gypsy lord, Nicholas the "Demon Earl," who is embittered by a terrible betrayal and who lures schoolteacher Clare into his romantic trap in return for helping her village does not disappoint. I enjoyed the story's sexual thrills while watching the dynamic duo conspire together to overcome the evil mine overlord and change the village according to the vision that first led Clare to accept the Nicholas's odd proposal. Clare is such a flexible character that she fully participates in the rituals of Nicholas's romantic gypsy heritage and at the same time oversees his large house with the easy grace of one born to the task. One of the best!
I was captivated right from the beginning with this heroine and her story. It starts with an interesting character and an energy that I have found missing from so many of these modern "bad boy" romances. There's plenty of the hot and graphic sex that one comes to expect from these modern stories, but Carter Husdon and Rebecca Alton are interesting individuals who who engage in humorous and witty dialogue. The story begins with a classic misunderstanding as Rebecca goes to the wrong room to apply for what she thinks is a maid's job but which really is the PA tor Carter, lead guitarist to an up and coming rock band. As Rebecca looks around the room and compares her tube top and shabby jacket with the dark suits of other candidates, she realizes she's in trouble, and thus the humor begins. Carter's interview with these candidates is a riot. The two are immediately drawn to each other, and Rebecca proves herself to be an important source of help and inspiration to the whole band. When trouble arises for Rebecca, she finds out how the band and Carter really feel about her. Look for the song that Carter writes for Rebecca...gorgeous.
Sebastian, Duke of Wycliffe is another bad boy hero. In this case, he has travelled the world and bathed nude in the waters of the Islands. Though he's come home to take over his Dukedom, he's penniless and could use a rich heiress to marry and pay his bills. Unfortunately, his reputation is such that the only candidate is a woman he cannot tolerate. Enter Eliza Fielding, another of the writing girls who is trying to make her reputation through uncovering scandals in high society. She becomes a maid in the Duke's home, and a romance develops between her and Sebastian, despite the fact that she is also writing scandalous tidbits about "the tatooed Duke" that simultaneously drive his social desirability into the ground. How these two manage to come together with such a conflict of interests makes for the interesting twists and turns that characterize the stories of the writing girls, intelligent and independent women who also are interested in hot sex with the men they write about. Love it.
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