Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Lady of Scandal

Lady of Scandal by Tina Gabrielle

Victoria Ashton is not at all pleased when she discovers that her brother has been borrowing money from Blake Mallorey, the newly minted Earl of Ravenspear, to gamble. Ten years ago their families were embroiled in quite the scandal and Blake's father committed suicide and he and his family ended up in the poorhouse. Sure enough Blake is out to get revenge as he has bought up her father's debts and comes calling at the Ashton house with a proposition: either his bankers collect the money now (sending the entire family to the poorhouse) or they can have a one year reprieve if Victoria will become his mistress. Victoria is secretly a trader on the London stock exchange, but she has not collected enough money to pay of her family's debts. Knowing there is no choice she agrees to become Blake's mistress, but he agrees that he will not have sex with her unless she asks for it. He sets out to seduce Victoria, and between his touches and his surprisingly caring attitude towards her she begins to slowly give in, both to Blake and to her own desires.

Unfortunately her father and his business partner have asked her to spy for them and she does so by disclosing one of Blake's secret enterprises. When Blake finds out he is upset, but he is more impressed with the intelligence that enabled her to decipher his complicated business papers. He surprises Victoria once again by purchasing her men's clothing and allowing her to come with him to visit the males only floor of the London Stock Exchange. It is things like this that give Victoria hope that Blake cares for her more than he lets on. He does not take advantage of the town's biggest gossip to spread knowledge about their affair, he reads the morning paper with her and discusses business practices with her, and generally treats her far better than she expected. But as Victoria falls more and more under Blake's spell she worries that he does not feel the same way about her and is hurt that he will not give up his long seated desire for revenge against her own family. When her father offers her a way to discover Blake's true feelings for her Victoria takes it, but when things do not go as planned Victoria is left to worry if she destroyed any chance of Blake caring for her forever.

Blake definitely holds the upper hand in their relationship and I have realized that having one protagonist hold all the power really only works when there is a significant portion of the book told from their point of view. This allows the reader to realize that, despite holding said power, the character is still caring, reasonable, and is falling in love with the other character. I can excuse a bit of bad behavior on the hero's part if we are given reasonable explanations and insights into why he behaved that way. This book had just enough to keep me from feeling that Blake was completely awful, but I really would have appreciated quite a bit more throughout the book. Victoria was definitely a flawed character as twice near the end she falls for her father's lies when it is fairly obviously to the reader that he is up to no good. She is obviously very intelligent as far as business deals go but when it comes to those she cares about she is as flawed as everyone. Her feelings for Blake lead her to make some very misguided decisions and she has a definite weak spot where her father is concerned. No matter how horribly he acts she has tremendous difficulty letting go of the fact that he is her father and this just makes her human.

I would prefer a more nuanced villain than Charles Ashton as he really is quite the horrible man. He betrays his country, his business partner, his friends, and his own family in his quest for money and he is completely one dimensionally awful. The book maintained a very good focus on the development of the relationship, and the development of feelings between the characters, throughout the book. Even as treason and arson and revenge were going on around them Gabrielle kept the core of the book about Victoria and Blake. This was even more of a feat because what was happening around them was interesting and important, and not just thrown in there at the last minute. There was a decent amount of steam throughout the book as these two definitely have the hots for each other. It was well written and very hot and there was just about enough of it. Throughout the book I noticed that characters, although mostly Blake, said things that I felt were things that no one would ever say; such as when he talks about the fiery beauty of an emerald and how he had to possess it. This is a fairly common problem in romance novels, however so I can overlook it.

Rating: I probably would only give this 3 1/2 hearts because I really wanted more from Blake, but I did really like both characters and the relationship between them was very well done so 4 hearts it is.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Bargain Bride

The Bargain Bride by Barbara Metzger

Thirteen years ago, Kendell Westmoreland was the second son of a viscount and his father engaged him to Persephone Goldwaite, a banker's daughter, in exchange for a large dowry paid up front. Penny spent the majority of those years infatuated with her handsome fiance, even as he broke her heart by returning home from the army and spending the next four years sleeping his way through the widows of London. When Penny's father declares that enough is enough West, who has inherited the title of Viscount Westfield with the death of his father and older brother, rushes off to York to try to convince Penny to call off the wedding. He is expecting the scrawny and homely teenager he'd last seen and is unprepared for the vivacious and beautiful young woman who greets him with hostility, agrees to cancellation of their wedding, and then punches him in the face on the way out. But Penny's father refuses to allow the wedding to be cancelled as he needs Penny to marry well so she can help him get his stepdaughters out of the house and married. So Penny and West decide to make the best of things and get married.

Married life is not what either of them expected as right away Penny's father tries to undercut their authority by hiring staff and having his wife decorate their house with her castoffs. Penny initially wants to hold of marital relations until they get to know each other better, and while this works for a few weeks, the two have a very difficult time keeping their hands off of each other. It isn't long before the two are married in more then name only and as they get closer to each other penny begins to fear that West will leave her when he grows bored with her and West fears that Penny will hold all the power in the relationship since he is infatuated with her body and she has access to far more money than him. When West is forced to leave after a stable on his horse farm is burned down, Penny's stepbrother, Nigel, decides to blackmail her by threatening to "reveal" that he and Penny are engaged in an affair. When things don't go precisely as Nigel plans he knows he has to get the money somehow and eventually comes up with a scheme to kidnap and ransom Penny. West goes racing off to save his wife, the woman he avoided for thirteen years who has suddenly become everything to him.

This book has somewhat of a personality crisis as there are instances when words or phrases are used that really throw me out of regency England, such as when West's brother refers to him as "bro." Normally this doesn't bother me, and in fact I rarely notice, but I figured "bro" was kind of a big one. I also had a problem with the way the non- titled wealthy are portrayed. Penny argues that people shouldn't judge her family because of their new wealth and then Metzger goes and has Penny's father, stepmother, and stepbrother literally portray all the negative stereotypes possible among the nouveau riche. However, this book does contain an almost overwhelming talk of money, and while it was not exactly interesting, it certainly was more palatable then no discussion at all. Despite the immense attraction these two felt, the sex scene is brief, not fleshed out at all, and very lacking in steam. The reader is told that they have sex in every room in the house, break several pieces of furniture, and go at it for over 24 hours straight, but we really don't get to read about it all.

Penny was an interesting character and there were times when she really seemed like a fleshed out heroine, but sometimes she seemed more like a caricature. Her emotions and feelings surrounding her relationship with West were very well written, very realistic, and interesting to read about. Her fear of trusting West were well founded, and she reacts exactly as I would expect a woman whose fiance/ husband had abandoned her for thirteen years would act. However she is a "good" heroine and we know this because she mentions several time that she likes to work with, volunteer for, and donate money to those less fortunate. West is not quite as complex as Penny, and not quite as likable either, although by the end he does win over for being so obviously in love with Penny and is willing to put his feelings, and his life on the line for her. The side characters in the novel were sometimes the most fun, from Penny's horrific stepmother, the penny-pinching father, to the blind artist grandfather who lives with his VERY close friend Marcel (who enjoys dressing up in Native American costumes). The kidnap plot was quick, mildly interesting, and led to a beautiful little family reunion at the end.

Rating: This book was really fairly average. The characters were likable enough and I enjoyed the plot and the small little side characters were quite a bit of fun. Nothing incredibly special though.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Wild Heart

Wild Heart by Lori Brighton

Ella Finch is not at all pleased when she is tricked into becoming a governess for a fully grown man, but she agrees to it because she is promised a cottage for herself and her friend Fran at the end of six months. Leo Roberts is the heir to an earldom after recently returning to England. He had accompanied his parents on a tour of India and both parents had been killed when some of those they trusted turned on them. Leo and his friend, Ashkay, had hidden in the jungle for several years before Leo had ended up in Italy and learned to paint. Ella quickly discovers that Leo's animal like behavior is an act as when she tries to teach him how to dance and which utensils to use he already knows. Leo's grandfather holds out hope that Leo can be civilized because he responded far more positively to Ella than he had towards any other person. Ella has a "gift" that enables her to feel animals' emotions and also allows her to, in a sense, get in their mind, and influence their thoughts or calm them. Leo is the first person that Ella has been able to use her gift on and she knows that there is a special connection between the two.

Leo is back in England for one purpose only: he wants to find who killed his parents, exact his revenge, and then go back to Italy. Ella is definitely standing in his way and he finds himself desperately wanting this young lady and, despite his actions to the contrary, he does not want to hurt her. Leo and Ella try to repair his damaged reputation but his cousin, Henry, is working very hard to ensure this does not happen by baiting him into acting "uncivilized." But Leo cannot let go of his hatred for those who wronged him and it does not take long for those who hunted him in India to reappear in England. Soon the two of them are racing around the countryside, and back and forth to London, chasing down leads, and trying to discover the truth behind what happened to Leo's parents, and Ella's Uncle, and why it happened. Leo knows that the deaths had to do with a map, but he is unsure what or where this map is, until it is discovered that this map is linked to a statue that gives the possessor/s unlimited power. Leo and Ella are the key to this map/ statue and there are some very dangerous, and very close, people trying to get them to unlock this power- even if it means their deaths.

Ella was not entirely a likable character. There were many instances she tipped precariously close into TSTL land such as when she goes hiking through the forest by herself after someone has tried to kill her and then when she goes to her nasty, mean ex-employer for help. I found Ella's gift absolutely ridiculous. I assume we were supposed to get a sense of how mystical she is and how wonderful she is because all the little creatures in the forest love her. It does impact her interactions with Leo in that there are many times when she feels what he feels (this happens a lot during the steamy scenes), but it just seemed, if not pointless, then absurd. Leo is very attracted to her innocence, her complete naivete and lack of guile, and her big blue eyes that look up at him so attractively. Ella is attracted to Leo's loyalty, but the only loyalty I could find from Leo's character was his slightly crazy loyalty to his dead parents. He certainly doesn't have any loyalty to her as he constantly keeps her off balance, threatens to leave her, and purposely baits her by having her do things she doesn't want to do- like posing nude for a painting by promising he'll participate in lessons. It did not make him very likable either.

It was very difficult to be truly intrigued in a romance between two such dumb characters and it did not help that the main thing they had going for them as far as I could tell was their attraction for the other. Unfortunately they only had sex once and that was not all that steamy either. And of course the revenge/ murder/ attempted murder/ magic statue/ secret power stuff was... interesting. It actually was written very well and certainly did keep me interested and reading, but I was not expecting it at all. I also felt as though the whole thing could have been handled much better, and much faster as the book was over 400 pages, if either Ella or Leo had just had better sense. If Leo could have just pretended to adhere to the rules of English society, or Ella had not been so damn trusting of everybody despite the fact that someone was trying to kill her, it would have been a much better story. The magic/ mystical/ secret power part of the book I really just tried to ignore and push to the back as that sort of thing always takes me out of the story with a little jolt.

Rating: I did not like the characters and that inevitably made the romance very lacking. I did not mind the murder plot although it definitely took over the book and I really did not like that NO mention of it, or the magic/ statue/ secret power stuff, was made on the back blurb.

Monday, April 19, 2010


Indiscreet by Carolyn Jewel

Sabine Godard has lived with her scholarly uncle, Henry, for years before they are forced to leave England when vicious rumors surface that she had slept with the Earl of Crosshaven. It turns out these rumors were merely an attempt to distract the Edward, the Marquess of Foye, from the fact that Crosshaven was secretly courting Edward's fiance Rosaline. When his wedding is called off, because of Rosaline running away with Crosshaven. Edward decides to travel far away and ends up in modern day Turkey/ Syria area and finds that Sabine and her uncle are also traveling in the area working on Henry's book. Despite the fact that Sabine is not stereotypically pretty Foye knows that there is something special about her; she is one of those mystical women that men are just "drawn" too. She is immensely intelligent, she is incredibly well read, she speaks many languages, and despite her small statue she is quite curvy. Foye is over a foot taller than Sabine, and although he is in very good shape his face is certainly not pretty and there is also a fifteen year age difference between the two.

Foye's blue eyes speak to Sabine and being with him makes her feel safe and cherished while Foye finds Sabine to be the most fascinating woman he has ever met. The two spend quite a bit of time together, but it is not long before Henry wants to move on and Sabine has to go with him. Foye makes it only a couple weeks before going after her and when he arrives at the Nazim Pasha's palace he discovers that Henry has died and that the Pasha is holding Sabine prisoner. He demands a ransom of Foye or else he will add Sabine to his harem or send him to the Sultan. Under cover of darkness Foye manages to disguise Sabine as a young male servant and Sabine travels with Foye as his dragomann as Foye travels to the English consulate. It is in these circumstances, as Foye and Sabine are stressed over being found and exhausted from the long, hot, and very dangerous journey that Sabine realizes how strong and reliable Foye is and both discover that they want to spend the rest of their lives together. But the Nazim Pasha has been following for quite some time, trying to discover Sabine's whereabouts and they must make it to the capital before he does and marry, or else Sabine could be at the mercy of the Pasha's whims.

I am always skeptical of books where the characters are "drawn" to each other and this book was quite a culprit here. Apparently all men wanted to be with Sabine because she had some indefinable quality that men can sense. As the book went on Foye did learn all of the amazing qualities that did make him fall in love with her, such as her intelligence, her loyalty to her uncle, her strength during extremely stressful situations, and the way she makes him feel like he is as beautiful as she is. I liked that the heroine was so intelligent, but it was a little too amazing that she was a fabulous artist, she spoke at least five different languages, and was just so attractive to men. Foye was just as unreadable as Sabine in the beginning with Sabine feeling this immense connection to him even though it is not until later that she learns of his commanding presence, his dedication to his loved ones, and that he makes her feel cherished. Jewel dealt with the age difference between the two very skillfully and she writes some very impressive sex scenes. They were very steamy, if not quite plentiful, but the attractin Sabine and Foye feel for each other is felt throughout the book.

I did spend quite a bit of the novel not quite so impressed with the location of this novel and there was quite a bit of talk about the different rulers and sub-rulers throughout the area. It was not hard to guess that a book that took place in Asia Minor would contain some sub-plot involving a man in authority wanting to add our heroine to his harem. Despite the fact that I knew it was coming I was very intrigued by the way Jewel pulled it off and I liked that the book did not contain vast descriptions of said harem. It was very interested, provided quite a bit of titillation, and served the story very well. Jewel also starts off certain chapters of her books with a little "introduction" that states the date, the location, the characters, and some brief information about what is going on. I did not find them particularly necessary, unless a large amount of time had gone by, and the information would be learned by reading the chapter anyway, but I did not mind them and they were certainly something new and unexpected. The book was rather slow paced with lots of descriptions that I felt went on a tad too long and not enough dialogue and there were very few parts that I found amusing (as in funny).

Rating: The book was not precisely fun but I really did find myself enjoying this book immensely. I definitely had some problems with it, but despite these I would recommend this book.

Friday, April 16, 2010

A Rake's Guide to Seduction

A Rake's Guide to Seduction by Caroline Linden

This is the third addition to the Reece family romances and our heroine is Celia Reece, younger half- sister to twins Marcus, the Duke of Exeter, and David. Celia is out for her first season and she quickly catches the attention of several eligible young men, and one exceedingly un-eligible man. Anthony Hamilton has been a friend of the Reece family since childhood when he parted ways with his father, the Duke of Lynley. Everyone believes Anthony to be a bastard and he learned quickly to at least appear not to care what anyone else thinks about him. He has courted a reputation as a rake and a gambler and Celia should be terrified him. However one outing on a balcony shows Anthony that with the right incentive he could come to care about someone. He asks Marcus for permission to court Celia but it is already to late and Celia marries Bertram, heir to the Duke of Lansborough. Celia fancies herself in love with Bertie but soon into their marriage she realizes she has made an enormous mistake as Bertie is not who she had thought him to be. Three years later Bertie dies and Celia's mother, Rosalind, comes and takes her back to the family homestead.

Rosalind notices that Celia is very downcast and decides to host a month long house party to get her daughter's spirits up. David invites Anthony and he only decides at the last minute to attend. Celia is no longer the carefree, blushing young woman he remembers. She now has a depth and a level of experience that makes her even more attractive to him. He decides to raise her spirits by sending her annonymous love letters and while at first she is wary, they achieve his desired intentions and Celia guesses the identity of her secret admirer. When she confronts him the two end up in a very compromising position in the library in front of her brothers and several house guests. Celia knows she needs to time to decide if she is ready for another marriage; she had been so sure that Bertie was the one for her and she does not want to make the same mistake. Meanwhile Anthony is worried that he can never be good enough for Celia as there are rumors circulating throughout the ton about his black nature. Celia knows not to believe the gossip but there is someone else who will do anything to keep Celia and Anthony apart.

I rarely get in to series books where past characters show up but from the beginning I knew that I would want to read all the books about the Reece family. I am certainly glad I did as all three of them, and their chosen spouses are very fun and all three books are very well written. This book was no exception in either case. Linden also did a wonderful job balancing Celia's first marriage: Bertie was not a villian but neither was he a loving dead husband. He was a very flawed man and Celia recognized these flaws and her own fault in not recognizing them sooner. Her reflections on her misguided actions in betrothing herself too quickly to her first love were very well done and quite realistic. Anthony is a scandalous rake like many heroines but I liked the backstory involving his family life that made his issues so much "real" than a lot of other romance novel hero complaints. I also really liked how they were really destined for each other but fate stood in their way until together they made a life for themselves possible.

And of course Linden is great at writing inner dialogue and some very amazing emotional scenes in her book. I LOVED the scene where Anthony went to ask Exeter for permission to court Celia only to discover that she was already betrothed to another. It was so poignant and full of just such overwhelming emotions and really gave great insight into Anthony's feelings for Celia. As usual Linden worked some great sex into the story, although it was rather similar to her other books, and I wish there had been more of it.There was also a nice little side romance between Rosalind and the Earl of Warfield, a distant relative of Anthony's, that was very underdeveloped but still very fun to read about. The ending was a tad weird when Celia is kidnapped by a man who had wanted her to marry him as it was not at all developed in the rest of the story and while not completely coming out of left field still felt rather random. It was also wrapped up a little too quickly and neatly for my taste.

Rating: I very much enjoyed this book. It was better than David's story because it definitely had more of the emotion I was looking for. Just did not quite sparkle.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

What a Rogue Desires

What a Rogue Desires by Caroline Linden

David Reece is determined to prove that he is not the wastrel that he has been his entire life, and he wants to make up for all the times his brother, the Duke of Exeter, had bailed him out of sticky situations. When the Duke goes on an extended honeymoon, David takes on the Exeter responsibilities including a signet ring his brother has made for him. On his way to London he and his fellow passengers are set upon by highwaymen and his signet ring is stolen from him. The beautiful widow Mrs. Gray, who had attracted David's attention on the beginning, turns out to be in league with the thieves and her job is to fence the stolen merchandise. But David has set out feelers to all the men in the business and it is not long before David is called in to apprehend "Mrs. Gray." David is shocked to discover her identify and even more so that she does not have the ring with her. He is furious, kidnaps her, and locks her up in his house. Mrs. Gray turns out to be Vivian Beechem and Vivien has been living with her brother, Simon, and a gang of thieves headed up by a bully named Flynn.

Needless to say she is not at all happy to find herself locked up in a strange man's house, but she has to admit that she is certainly liking having a full stomach, a warm house, and a nice soft, clean bed to sleep in every night. David finds that all his old rakish friends do not like his new respectability and that everyone in London is betting that he bankrupts his brother's estate. That leaves him with his unlikely house guest for company and he finds himself spending more and more time with Vivien. She tells him her life story and it is not long before he is no longer judging her for the choices she has made and getting back the ring seems almost unnecessary. He delights in taking her to plays and letting her experience all the different opportunities she'd never had before. But when Flynn begins to wear the ring during the robberies while claiming to be the Black Duke, suspicion falls on David. He and Vivien hatch a plan to track down Flynn, get the ring back, and save her brother Simon from a life of crime. This does not go quite as planned and at the end of the day the two end up having to save each other and move past society's rules to find happiness with each other.

I have to admit that I began to wonder if Stockholm Syndrome played a part in Vivian's learning to like David, as really the situation they found themselves in would have certainly leant itself to that. The book kind of skips over some time (most books do) and I wish it could have been more specific into how long she was locked up before he also started taking her into the real world. I didn't hate the kidnap/ lock her up plot as much as I feel like I should have. I guess the nice amenities that came with it kind of made up for it, although I do know that I should say it was horrible and wrong. However it was really enjoyable to read about the joy David found in making Vivien happy: he absolutely loved seeing her face light up at plays, when she said something clever, when she had fun reading a novel, and when she called him on his theatrics. Given where she had grown up Vivien had absolutely no problem telling David straight to his face when he was being self-pitying and needed to get over it. The sex was really good and quite hot, even really spicy at one point, but I wish there had been more build up to it and more of it throughout the book.

The stolen ring plot was very well integrated into the story- it really was the reason for the two for them coming together in the first place really. It did not overpower the romance and the developing relationship between Vivien and David even it really did help to shape it. My problem with this plot was the plan the two of them came up with the capture Flynn and get the ring back: it was really quite ridiculous and made me really wish characters in romance novels would just let the authorities handle things on their own. Basically it was a dumb plan and really it was only a miracle it worked out. I also really enjoyed that David told all of his servants that he was "saving" Vivien from a life of crime as part of his Christian duty to cover up his kidnapping her. It was one of many rather funny parts of this book. After reading "What a Gentleman Wants" I knew I had to read the rest of the books in the series and I am really pleasantly surprised that Linden manages to work Marcus and Hannah's happiness into the story without having the book become a homage to her past works.

Rating: I really enjoyed this book, but I really felt as though there was something lacking in it- I wish there had been more emotion really. I think the book deserves 3 1/2 but I'll give it a three b/c it was not as good as her previous work.

Friday, April 9, 2010

What a Gentleman Wants

What a Gentleman Wants by Caroline Linden

Sarah Preston has been recently widowed and is not looking forward to leaving the vicarage moving herself and her daughter, Molly, back in to her father's house. When Lord David Reece is injured while racing his carriage through her small village she takes him in and tends to his broken wounds. David proposes to Sarah thinking that Sarah will calm him and that the marriage will get Sarah out of her difficult situation but it is not long before he begins panicking about what marriage will mean for his love of gambling, whoring, drinking, and horse racing. He devises a plan to get back at his twin brother, Marcus, for all the times that Marcus has interfered in his life and signs Marcus' name on the register. He packs Sarah and Molly off to his brother's London townhouse and leaves town- after informing the London Times, sending a quick note to Marcus, and dropping by to inform his stepmother and his sister about the marriage. Marcus originally intends to figure out how to stop the marriage, but seeing how happy the marriage has made his female relatives, and discovering that all of London already believes him marriage he decides the easier solution will be to just pretend to be married and then pack her off to the country later.

Sarah is outraged when she discovers what David has done and she originally intends to just leave and go back to the country, but she decides to go along with his plan as the only real solution. What neither expected was that they would find themselves immensely attracted to the other. At first this attraction is only physical but as the two get to know each other Marcus finds himself laughing and enjoying himself for the first time in a long time and Sarah discovers that this taciturn man is actually very caring, sensitive, and quite humorous. Both begin to realize that merely pretending to be married is not enough for them but Marcus fears that because of his responsibilities and his stern upbringing he can never make Sarah happy. Just as things begin to look up for Sarah and Marcus, David returns and brings with him some very sensitive secrets. The men he has been laundering counterfeit money for have come back for repayment and it turns out that someone very close to the family has it out for both brothers. Together Sarah and Marcus have to work together to put down the bad guys and work through the possibility that they can make each other happy for the rest of their lives.

Sarah is quite an amazing characters; she is very strong, she knows what she wants, and she has very real moments of weakness such as when she agrees to marry David. She admits her mistakes and tries to make the best of things while being an utterly devoted mother. Molly is a well-written, slightly more verbal than I expected, four year-old who contributes very well to the plot of the story. Marcus is a very interesting character as he went from a rather stern, unsmiling, controlling patriarch to a man who wants to be happy and wants to find that happiness through a great relationship with Sarah. The best example of his changing is his dealings over a gambling debt that he wants to enforce until Sarah convinces him that doing so will ruin an entirely family. She is a great influence on him and I loved it.Unfortunately I felt that Marcus' "transformation" and the development of their relationship in general, was a little rushed and not really as fleshed out as I would have liked. There were some great scenes between the two of them as they are falling in love, such as the late night tea and the walk in the garden, and they were some of my very favorite parts of the book and I really wanted more of them.

The side plot involving David and the counterfeit money was a great addition to the story and I was on the edge of my seat trying to figure out what would happen. It was briefly mentioned throughout the book so it was not completely out of left field, but it did not overwhelm or detract from the romance or lead to lots and lots of issues and angsty discussions. The sex was great and very steamy but it was admittedly crammed in to less than 20 pages of the book. It was offset somewhat by how great the build up was as these two had quite a few passion filled glances and quite a lot of thinking about how great it would be between them. I also liked how they handled David's role in this relationship, with no one obsessing about how she "chose" David first, as everyone understood that she really only fell back on David because she felt she had no other options. The relationship between David and Marcus is also a really intriguing part of this book as Marcus learns that he can't control his younger brother and he needs to let David suffer through the consequences of his own actions and not constantly bail him out.

Rating: Another book I absolutely loved. I really would have liked more relationship development between Marcus and Sarah but overall a great book. Probably 4 1/2 hearts really.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

One Week as Lovers

One Week as Lovers by Victoria Dahl

Nicholas Cantry, the Viscount Lancaster, knows that he must marry quickly to a wealthy woman in order to save his family from immense debts and he also knows that the woman he has engaged himself too likes him no more than he likes her. When Nicholas is informed that his childhood friend, Cynthia Merrithorpe, has died, he rushes to his country estate to gain closure and to escape his life in London. He is horrified to learn that Cynthia committed suicide after her step-father basically sold her to Richmond, a man well known for his very rough sexual proclivities, and a man that Nick himself has a very unfortunate history with. But soon Nick discovers that the "ghost" haunting his house, is not a ghost, but is jut Cynthia pretending to be dead while she searches the cliffs for a long buried pirate's treasure. When Nick had left Cynthia had been devastated as she had spun girlish fantasies and imagined the two of them getting married. At first she is upset that Nick's appearance will interfere in her treasure hunt, but it is not long before he is helping her and the two find themselves getting much closer.

Nick has lived his life in London pretending to be charming and happy while hiding desperate secrets; one from his past and one that involves his sexual preferences. Nick knows he has to keep his hands off of Cynthia because he graves "rough" sex, and by that he likes to tie up his partner. When he discovers Cynthia is not disgusted by this, in fact seems to enjoy it as much as he does, it paves the way for him to reveal some of his demons to her. He wants to marry her but the two know that financial security is a very large obstacle in their path and with their two family's immense debt a happy marriage is difficult to imagine. Everything depends on finding the treasure and even if that long shot pans out there is always the problem of Richmond, the evil fiance who is far more dangerous than Cynthia imagines. When Cynthia's alive-ness comes out in the open Nick takes Cynthia and flees to the Duke of Somerhart's esate to keep Cynthia safe until her birthday, but Richmond follows them and Nick has to take care of the spector's that haunt him and secure his future with Cynthia.

First I will start with how much I absolutely loved these characters. Cynthia was completely level-headed, and no the searching for pirate's treasure did not detract from her wonderful-ness. She was realistic when it came to her future, she was quite funny, and I liked that she was an artist but was actually pretty bad at it. I don't like when a heroine has some supernaturally amazing talent and it was just so cool that her drawings were so awful. Nick was a great character because he underwent some great changes throughout the book and they were written so well and weren't entirely based on the love of a great woman. She helped significantly, which was great for the romantic development, but he really did face down his own demons and learned to accept himself and his past. And it was nice that his "haunted" past was really haunted, although what happened to him is certainly disturbing. The sex in this novel was super hot, like WOW!, and because some of his "issues" with himself stem from his sexual proclivities it was both great for steam and contributed to their relationship in an immense way and helped Nick learn that his desires aren't dirty and awful.

This book managed to be both heavy, in the sense that it dealt with some quite intense issues and emotions, and super fun, in that Cynthia especially is super funny and just full of some little witty sayings. From pretending to be a ghost to making Nick blush after sex Cynthia was just so great. The pirate treasure search ended up contributing the story immensely, especially as it (spoiler alert) did not end up solving their problems. If it had I would have been very let down, but Dahl was great at having the character's solve through their problems in a manner not best assigned to fairy tales. Another thing I liked about this book was that Nick ended up doing something that other heroes are too "noble" to do. It's another spoiler, and while it might not have been noble, it certainly needed to be done and was another point in Nick's, and the book's, favor. The entire ending in general just sums up the book so well as both characters take charge of their lives, even if it is not in the most "respectable" way imaginable, work through their issues, and work together to ensure that their future together is happy.

Rating: Absolutely loved this book. It was fun, intense, sexy, and featured a great plot, great characters, and great romantic development.