Saturday, May 26, 2012

My Ruthless Prince

My Ruthless Prince by Gaelen Foley

Emily Harper was the woodsman's daughter on the Westwood estate and had been in love with the son of the house, Drake, since she was little and though he returned her feelings it was made clear by both their family's that nothing could come of their relationship. So Drake went to fulfill his familial duty by becoming an Knight of the Order of St. Michael and studying to defeat the evil Promethean Council while Emily learned how to live without the man she loved. Drake was kidnapped by the Prometheans and after undergoing torture and refusing to break he lost his memory before being released by the Council President, James Falkirk, and now he feels he owes his loyalty to James. Even when he is brought back to England he cannot comprehend his old life and that his savior is evil, but he does understand that he has a special connection with his nurse, the beautiful Emily, and begins to regain his old memory. However, he cannot let his old Order friends kill James and he helps James escape and together they go to the Promethean stronghold in the Bavarian alps with Emily tagging along behind them.

Drake finds her and manages to convince the Prometheans that Emily is his mistress in order to save her life but Emily is still not entirely sure that Drake has truly returned from the dark side and worries that he may truly believe in the Promethean Plot to take over the world. Drake hatches a plan to burn the top 100 Prometheans during the eclipse when they all get together to sacrifice and innocent but his first duty is in protecting Emily and he still has qualms about putting James in harms way. But when the Prometheans discover the Emily is an innocent they decide that she would make the perfect sacrifice and Drake's plans are once again thrown to the wind. He and Emily realize they would sacrifice anything for each other, including their lives, and risk everything for one night together. However, there is also a Promethean civil war going on and a big battle between James and his enemy draws Drake back into the fray just as it looked as if and Emily were going to escape. Drake's fellow agents from the order show up just in time for the eclipse ceremony and they have one last chance to destroy the Prometheans and give Emily and Drake a chance for a happily ever after free from evil.

The first thing I quickly noticed was the Emily and Drake were going to take a backseat to the Promethean plot. This has been the case in most of this series, but in this book it was particularly bothersome to me because it was far more prevalent here than in the other books and because I felt like the author was really relying on the fact that they had fallen in love previously. They spent very little time alone together, probably 50 pages in the entire book if not less, and much of that was spent worrying about the Prometheans and what little was about their relationship was about their past and not who they were now. They had a strong connection from when they were little and they were destined for each other but I did not really get a sense for this at all and felt like it easily could have been two people in a desperate situation turning to each other for comfort which doesn't equal love to me unless they can be out of the stressful situation and still have that strong connection. The promethean plot finally came to a close in the only way it could have but I think it was a mistake for Foley to leave so much to be resolved in this book because there was so little room for the romance.

Emily was flat out impossible to like because her following him to Bavaria was so incredibly stupid that everything she did from that point on was just tinged with my knowledge of how dumb she was. I know we were supposed to see it as a sign of her love that she was willing to sacrifice so much for him, but since the plot that created those problems was so impossible to like in this book, I couldn't like anything that sprang from it, including her "noble" actions. Drake was teetering on the edge of complete destruction after being tortured and losing his memory and we are supposed to see how the love of a good woman can save any man but there were so many problems with this because it didn't really seem to make a difference. There were so many times it seemed like they could have gotten away but Drake's duty got in the way or even his loyalty to James prevented him from securing her safety. He claimed she was the most important thing to him but his actions really proved otherwise and it seriously annoyed me and made it impossible for me to like him. And last but not least the writing was horrible and purply and flowery and every other page there was something ridiculous that made me want to laugh, for example this gem, "she was not prepared to take the chance of leaving this life without having poured out the fullness of her love upon him." Seriously, wtf?

Rating: Two awful characters, overly awful flower writing, a overwhelming "side" plot, and a complete lack of romance leads to a terrible romance novel.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Duke's Perfect Wife

The Duke's Perfect Wife by Jennifer Ashley

Lady Eleanor Ramsey was engaged to Hart Mackenzie, a future Duke, but was forced to call of the engagement when his former mistress revealed that there was a dark side to him that he was not telling her. She realized that Hart was primarily selfish and thought only of his own needs and desires, but even though she left him, she kept him in her heart. So when someone starts to send her nude pictures of Hart she wants to get to the bottom of it before the person exposes him just as Hart is poised to make a run for Prime Minister. Hart had not expected to see Eleanor again but realizes that it is perfect timing as he had been planning to take a wife and Eleanor would be a great political companion and he remembers how perfect they had been. Eleanor was the one person Hart trusted with his secrets, like his father killing his mother and his brother, Ian witnessing it and being thrown into a mental institution and Hart's own fight to keep from becoming like his father. He accepts her help really intending to make her his wife, but Eleanor is just as determined to not fall for Hart's charm again.

Eleanor throws herself into finding out who has the nude pictures of Hart and repeatedly finds herself admiring said naked pictures and remembering what it was like to make love to him. Hart worries that Eleanor's quest will lead her to discover the darkness in him that he wants to keep hidden. It is obvious that Hart is different in bed than most of the men of the ton and ladies speak about his prowess in whispers while men seek him out for advice and help. Eleanor does not know what these hidden facets are but she wants to find out and knows that the only way for her and Hart to move forward is for him to be completely honest. In his attempt to derail Gladstone's coalition government Hart opposes and Irish home rule bill that makes him a target of Irish independents and several attempts on his life are made. Hart cannot risk Eleanor getting hurt just as the two of them are working through their problems and possibly starting a new, more honest relationship. He is just as determined to protect her as she is to protect him but even aside from their outside threats, Hart's own secrets will prove the biggest obstacle to their happily ever after.

Eleanor was sassy and spunky and certainly jumped into her self appointed assignment of finding out who sent the nude pictures of Hart. The thing I admired the most about her is her dedication to her absentminded father and how cute and fun their relationship was. I thought the picture thing a little ridiculous and couldn't understand why she felt like she should be in charge of finding the pictures since Hart didn't really seem to care. I also could not understand what she found so likable about Hart as he was rather cold and distant and kind of took advantage of people, even if he thought he was doing it for their own good. Hart was certainly the strong, dark, brooding type as he directed the little people all around him because he knew what was best for them. I will admit his past was certainly haunted since his father was a grade A asshole but he was completely driven to be prime minister and the only real hint of a reason we were given was his future hope for Scottish home rule. It seemed a little far fetched. They spent quite a bit of time together and I did like how their relationship evolved beyond merely loving each other because of their past together.

Their previous relationship was brought up a lot but the reason behind their breakup was really poorly explained as Eleanor wasn't upset about his mistress, but about his "darkness" in the sexual arts. This is a recurring problem for me in Jennifer Ashley books as she constantly hints about how scandalous and sexual her male characters are and it ends up being sexy enough but not anything to merit all the worry. This book was even worse then usual as his "dark" side was the cause of much anxiety among both of them and even I started to buy into the hype wondering what was so exciting and secret. Needless to say I was incredibly disappointed and thought the whole build up was ridiculous and ended up being a complete let down. Hart's political career was a big part of the book but I found that I didn't really enjoy reading about it and I felt like it was a side story instead of a well integrated part of their romance. Past characters make frequent appearances, which I don't mind since they're family and it's done in a subdued but important manner. What I didn't like was that Ian ended up being my favorite hero in this novel when I was supposed to be thinking about Hart.

Rating: A big let down all around with totally unrealistic characters, the very disappointing secret, and a hero who's brother overshadowed him.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Seduction of Lady X

The Seduction of Lady X by Julia London

Lady Olivia Carey is very unhappily married to Lord Edward Carey, Marquis of Carey, who is drinks too much, verbally abuses her, and makes her life a living hell. The only bright spot in her life is the Carey Steward, Harrison Tolley, who always has a smile for her and a way of making her forget her troubles. Harrison has been in love with Olivia since she first came to the estate and even people in the village know that he secretly pines for an unknown "Lady X" even if none are quite sure who precisely holds his affections. The Carey marriage has gotten worse as the years went on and Olivia had failed to conceive and Edward, of course, blamed Olivia, for the problem and took his frustration and anger out on her. Things are made even worse when Olivia informs him that her unmarried younger half sister, Alexa, is pregnant from an unknown lover from her trip to Spain. Edward wants to send Alexa to a convent and take her child away to prevent any scandal from attaching itself to the Carey name. Olivia is horrified and seeing her distress, Harrison steps forward and offers to marry Alexa.

Alexa has been looked after her whole life and it takes awhile for her to realize that she has no other option, but her spoiled attitude makes it clear to Harrison that he does not want this marriage, not least because he is in love with her sister, but he sees no alternatives and no hope for a relationship with Olivia. The prospect of Harrison marrying Alexa breaks Olivia's heart and the feelings she had suppressed for so long come bubbling to the surface. Suddenly her life with Edward looms before her like a nightmare and she does not know how she will survive, even while Alexa has decided to make the best of the situation. Edward is furious with Harrison, and as always with his wife, and makes public accusations against them before dying in drunken accident, but even with his death the rumors he started did not die. His family cannot let the hint of scandal affect the Carey name and Harrison has no idea how to get out of his marriage to Alexa. The two of them seemed destined to miss happiness unless one of them can take the first brave step to love and happily ever after.

I was attracted to this story from the beginning and prepared myself for the angst that would accompany two people in love with no foreseeable hope for ever ending up together. Olivia was a happy person, who wanted to help others an was genuinely kind and generous, but her marriage was slowly crushing her and she was changing from that person into someone beaten down and London did a great job of making her sympathetic and likable and making us root for her not to completely lose herself. Harrison was great because he was so noble and so in love with Olivia that he sacrificed his own happiness and hope for a future with her because he knew that it was not what was best for her. I had a lot of trouble understanding why he did not accept his inheritance and fought it for so long and he came across as rather dumb for this. I wanted to admire him for stepping in to marry Alexa but really that was just too "good" for my taste and he went from being a noble hero to an unrealistic caricature of noble-ness. Alexa was a spoiled brat, and her actions made her stupid to boot, and I just could not stand to see Olivia and Harrison sacrificing themselves for her.

Unfortunately Olivia and Harrison were pretty much in love before the book started and the scenes of them together were about reinforcing this love instead of developing it, which I don't really like as much. While I understood that their predicament was depressing and left little hope for them I quickly became bogged down with it. First they were impeded by Olivia's husband being alive and then, after he died, by Harrison's promise to marry Alexa. I could not understand why they didn't just talk to Alexa because I felt like, despite her immaturity and selfishness, she would have happily stepped aside and, as the new earl, Harrison could have protected the baby. It just made the book drag on and seemed completely pointless which I absolutely detest. Harrison and Olivia, being incredibly noble, do not have sex until the husband is dead and it is brief and not very hot, especially for people who have been in love for so long. Harrison's new family are the characters from the previous books in the series and they're kind of thrown in willy nilly and it comes across as blatant plugging which I also did not enjoy.

Rating: Two characters and a plot with so much potential that quickly became tiresome when it dragged on needlessly.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Taming an Impossible Rogue

Taming an Impossible Rogue by Suzanne Enoch 

The Marquis of Fenton is humiliated when his longtime fiance runs out on him at the church and takes up residence at a scandalous gambling hall working as a hostess. He hires his cousin, Keating Blackwood, to bring her back to him and offers him 10,000 pounds, and as Keating is in desperate need of funds he agrees. Lady Camilla Pryce took one look at Fenton and realized that if he'd never even said hello in all the years they'd been engaged, their marriage was doomed. She enjoys the freedom of working at the Tantalus club and the friendships she is making. When Keating shows up at the club it stirs quite a scandal as he had previously admitted to killing his lover's husband, earning himself the nickname "Bloody Blackwood." Camilla finds herself drawn to Keating anyway, especially since he admits that he is trying to get her back with Fenton and does not lie about his motives.

Camilla agrees to go along with Keating and allows him to escort her around town and as they get to know each other they discover they have a lot in common. They both have ruined reputations and for each of them the other is the only one who understands their motivations and why they have done what they have. Keating trusts her with his deepest secret; that he had a child with his former lover and he has been supporting her for years and he needs the promised money from Fenton to support his son. Camilla knows what she must to do to help the man she has fallen in love with and agrees to the marry Fenton and give up the chance of something more- give up the chance for love. But luckily their friends are determined for neither of them to settle and they make their own discoveries that make a happily ever after possible for Keating and Camilla. 

I loved both Keating and Camilla because they were both noble, and scared, and full of hope and passion that had been tamped down by society but together they were able to be true to themselves and be happy. Camilla was wonderful and so real and I felt like every emotion she was feeling was so true and I was rooting for her the entire time. Keating was great as the reformed rake who had made the hard decisions and was willing to live with the consequences of his actions. They were able to heal each other's hurts and become better, happier people with each other and I really liked reading about each moment they spent together and luckily there was quite a lot. It made their relationship seem so strong and based on a really strong connection. Because of their noble-ness there was not very much sex but there was some but it was not exactly hot. 

There was a lot of talk about Keating's past in this novel, and with good reason, but it got to be a little too much for me and I got tired of both of them being so willing to sacrifice their own happiness in order to save the other. A little of that is good but what they were doing just came across as ridiculous and of course, everything was wrapped up a little too conveniently in that department for my taste. I really enjoyed reading about Camilla's relationship with her family because she had to deal with so much from them and learn how to be independent. I thought there was a decent presence from previous characters and the next novel was set up very nicely. The writing was, as always, fast and fun and very enjoyable.

Rating: A fun book with two very lovable characters who could be a little too self-sacrificing for my taste, but overall had a very strong connection.