The first novel in a magnificent new quartet of historical romances.
Audrianna Kelmsleigh is unattached, independent-and armed. Her adversary is Lord Sebastian Sommerhays. What they have in common is Audrianna's father, who died in a scandalous conspiracy-a deserved death in Sebastian's eyes. Audrianna vows to clear her father's name, never expecting to fall in love with the man devoted to destroying it.
©2010 Madeline Hunter (P)2010 Penguin
"Richly spiced with wicked wit and masterfully threaded with danger and desire, the superbly sexy first book in Hunter’s new Regency historical quartet is irresistible and wonderfully entertaining." (Booklist)
In the beginning, I had a hard time keeping my interest in the book. It started okay but something was missing. I continued to listen and then the story took off and I had a hard time putting down my iPod so I could do things I needed to. Once the story got going, it definitely kept my interest. The plot was interesting, the romance sweet, and there are enough subplots and twists to keep you on your toes. The two characters were actually quite refreshing. I enjoyed their interactions and the thoughtfulness of each. I also enjoyed that the female character had a backbone. In sum, I'd say this book is worth your credit.
There were times while listening I thought I wasn't particularly enjoying the book because I'd taken an instant dislike to the narrator's timid, little girl voice. As I progressed through the book I also realized the story line was hum drum. Even the "sizzling" scenes lacked steam. I gave three stars because I love historic romance and cannot give less than a three to any author writing this genre!
What a great depiction of the evolution of love! Too often, romance novels focus on instant attraction to the detriment of mature commitment and self-sacrifice. Though the main characters in this book share an intense and exciting initiation into their acquaintance, the love story involves a journey of introspection and discovery about themselves and about each other. This pilgrimage from strangers to intimate friends and lovers felt very true to my own experience with my husband, something that did not match up to the hype of spark and fire all the time, but, with its share of excitement, also grew into a deep and lasting affection. The characters' love is much more realistic than most depictions while retaining a great deal of excitement and energy. Don't get discouraged when the characters marry half-way through the book! The suspense continues regardless! I wish I could give 4 and half stars, because I love the book, and my caveats are very small. 1. I am not one who enjoys hearing detailed descriptions of sexual encounters, though I give the author credit for developing these trysts in an intimate and satisfying way. 2. The buildup of action was so slow (in a good way) that I wanted an intense, breath-holding climax that resulted in a little heart pounding. Instead, I got a satisfying resolution that more swelled like a wave in the deep ocean than crashed over me like a tidal wave on shore. All that being said, I haven't felt sorry to see the end of a book for several months, but I miss this book already. I will be buying the next book.
I've never read or listened to anything by Madeline Hunter before and I won't do it again. The story is sluggish, the character's cold and hard to like, and the mystery so strung out that it lost any spark of interest.
Read in December 2011
As mentioned in my review of Provocative in Pearls, I accidentally read the second book in this series first and had a few issues with it. But since many of the reviewers there said they liked the first book in the series better, I decided to give it a try. Ravishing in Red was definitely better than Provocative in Pearls as the resolution of the plot happened on page rather than just being summarized later, as an afterthought.
However, I'm getting somewhat tired of books in which the heroine (especially) is instantly sexually attracted to the man (to the point of feeling heat "down there") as soon as she sees him---we're talking inexperienced women in historical settings where sex was not discussed at all. I'm too accustomed to reading books with randy heroes who immediately want to bed the heroine as soon as he sees her for that part to bother me, though it would be nice to read a historical romance novel in which the hero and heroine aren't initially physically attracted to each other but fall in love as they get to know each other AND don't have sex until they're already in love with each other.
The sex in this book happens too early (I lost my respect for Audrianna in the scene in the garden in which Sebastian, whom she barely knows, "initiates" her into the sexual world as she let a man to whom she was not married lift her skirts and have his way with her, even if it was just with his hands) and too often. As with the second book, I found myself skipping past the majority of the sex scenes, which go on far too long, to get back to the plot (which was pretty good) and the character development (which left quite a bit to be desired, though not as badly as in Book 2). Because Audrianna and Sebastian were immediately physically attracted to each other's good looks and perfect bodies, I guess the author felt there wasn't much need to delve too deeply into their true natures/characters for them to "fall in love" with each other (though I don't recall Sebastian ever saying that to her or thinking that to himself, now that I think about it). They basically fell in love over the pleasure they took in each other's bodies.
Madeline Hunter is a good enough author that I'd love to find a novel of hers that depends more on the development of the characters for the relationship to work rather than falling back on explicit, unnecessary sex scenes which are there only to titillate and don't move the plot or the story forward at all.
Polly Lee, as the narrator, does a commendable job with the material provided for her to narrate.
Usually audio is better than print. I'm not finding this to be the case with this series. The narrator is not really able to create different voices for different characters and the men don't sound that different than the women. The exception is the hero's friend who will star in book two. Horrible voice for an upcoming hero, so naturally in book 2 she has to change it. Sometimes I wasn't sure who was talking or thinking. I'm reviewing the performance in comparison to other authors/narrators. On its own this a four star romance novel as is the entire series and I'm planning to buy and listen to the rest.
All romance novels have predictable endings.
I find most such books hard to shut off but no, I wasn't compelled to listen in one sitting. Actually I listen while walking or cooking or doing chores. I could put it down and read for a while.
I enjoyed the book, however the narrator did not seem to get into the book. Her voice was flat and unexciting. This was a big disappointment to me.
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