Friday, October 26, 2012

Seven Nights in a Rogue's Bed

Seven Night's in a Rogue Bed by Anna Campbell 1014

Jonas Merrick was born to the wealthy Viscount Redville and his beautiful foreign wife, but after her death the marriage certificate was lost and the Viscount's younger brother wasted no time in declaring Jonas a bastard. Depressed and lonely Redville retreated into himself and abandoned his son to the mercies of the very cruel world and Jonas grew up bitter and jealous that his cousin Williama would inherit all that should be his. As an adult he inherits his father's fortune, if not the title and estates, and wastes no time in shoving his cousin's nose in his wealth and William's own poor luck at investments. When the opportunity arises William tempts William's wife Roberta to the tables and she ends up losing badly; she promises him a week in his bed. Sidonie Forsythe has seen what marriage to the abusive William has done to her beautiful and vivacious older sister and has no intention of marrying anyone ever. She knows what will happen if William finds out what she has done so she agrees to take Roberta's place in Jonas's bed. She expects a monster, and though Jonas's face is scared, he is far more than she was expecting.

Jonas is not happy at this turn of events as he had hoped to get revenge on his cousin but he does begin to warm toward the idea of having the beautiful and kind Sidonie in his bed. But she is a challenge he was not expecting and warmed his heart in a way he had thought previously impossible. He agrees that he will not force her but will wait until she comes to his bed, however, he soon realizes that he does not want her under duress but of her own volition. With this he has proved to Sidonie that he is a worthy and caring gentleman with a soft spot no one else can see and the two tumble head first into a passionate affair. The term of their relationship was set for 7 days and all too soon their time comes to an end and Jonas knows that Sidonie is too good for him and believes himself unworthy, while Sidonie still believes she will never marry anyone and she knows that Jonas will not love her when she finally reveals the secret she has been keeping from him. The two have their pasts to muddle through before they can finally contemplate a happy future with each other.

Sidonie was, I suppose, noble for sacrificing herself to save herself, and while I recognized that her waffling was a part of her innocent allure, it was frustrating to read about her and Jonas circling each other so long and avoiding the whole reason they were there. I honestly felt like neither of them were very well developed with her being entirely concerned with her sister and finding out how good Jonas truly was behind his mask and him being obsessed with his being a bastard and not good enough for Sidonie. What did they enjoy doing? What made them real people? I just feel like I don't know. They spent a lot of time together obviously but it seemed like purposeless time with not much getting accomplished and there were only so many times I could be interested in her revelations that he was wounded and had been hiding his good self from everyone. The sex, when it finally came surprisingly late in the book considering that was what brought them together, was lukewarm and incredibly dragged out and just too much for me to find exciting. I believe the story of his scars was supposed to be an interesting little side mystery and while Sidonie apparently found it fascinating I found it to be much ado about very little.

Anna Campbell's novels are always very emotionally draining and very exhuastively detailed about the characters often angsty and mournful feelings despite the happier cover this book was no different. Both of them had so much to worry about and while I found some of it legitimate obstacles to their happiness together, such as her keeping a certain secret from him, others I found just too drawn out, such as his fear that he is too ugly and her fear of marriage. Both were understandable but if they were so all-encompassing as to stand in the way for so long it did not make sense that they would just crumble so quickly. That type of emotion also makes me question how the relationship can survive with so much... darkness (for lack of a better word) behind them. They have no experience being happy and loving with each other without all the other stuff hanging over their heads. I did find Campbell's portrayal of Roberta as the abused wife very well written as she fully developed her as a complex character with her own faults and strengths and not just a victim and I was truly impressed with her.

Rating: Far too emotional with two undeveloped characters who couldn't possibly end up having a happy relationship together.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Duke is Mine

The Duke is Mine by Eloisa James

Lady Olivia Lytton has been engaged to Rupert, heir to the Duke of Carleton, since she was born and the fact that Rupert is mentally challenged will not stand in the way of her parents social climbing or his father's desire for an intelligent heir. She has spent her childhood being "duch-ified" and while her sister, Georgette, has learned every lesson, Olivia does not really fit the idea of what a Duchess is supposed to be. She is curvy, she is loud, she is atonal, she enjoys racy limmericks, and she absolutely loathes reading etiquette books, especially the one written by the Dowager Duchess of Sconce. Tarquin, Duke of Sconce, is better with numbers than people and has decided to allow his mother to find his next wife. His first marriage ended disastrously when he allowed his heart to lead him and his wife ended up cheating on him numerous times before she ran away with her lover and ended up drowning, with their son, in the Thames. Olivia has her own duke so when Georgette is invited to a house party with the opportunity to impress the dowager, Olivia agrees to accompany her while Rupert goes off to fight Napoleon and seek glory.

It is quickly obvious that Georgette is the frontrunner to become the new Duchess of Sconce as she has taken to the Duchification process that eluded Olivia. But even as he tells himself that Georgette is better for him, and the two can certainly talk about the mathematical processes that interest him, it is Olivia he is drawn to. Olivia with her dirty limmericks and her very curvy body that he cannot keep from thinking of and whom he enjoys cornering in ballrooms and kissing. Olivia too feels the connection to Quin and she certainly enjoys the kissing aspect just as much as him, but she feels guilty for betraying her sister and her fiance. Nonetheless Olivia and Quin find themselves taking every opportunity to be alone together, sneaking off during balls and climbing trees together and otherwise engaging in activities that they should not be given that her sister could become his wife. Both must realize that, though their relationship will hurt many around them, sacrifices will need to be made for the sake of their love.

When Eloisa James is at her best she writes humorous novels with lovable characters that are immensely enjoyable and this book certainly falls into this character. I did love Olivia because she was loud and "fat" (romance speak for big breasted) and outgoing and enjoyed life while still maintaining her commitment to her duty and her family and was a good enough person not to want to hurt a mentally challenged young man. She loved her sister and her fiance and while she suffered guilt over this she still realized that she had found her chance at love and reached out to grab it with both hands. It is apparently harder for authors to write heroes because they have such a narrow confine to work within and with the success of Jennifer Ashley's The Madness of Ian MacKenzie, asperger's has suddenly become the extra oomph they can add to make their heroes different and unique. Unfortunately I don't believe James does quite a good job here as Ashley and Quin's disability with people seems like just that; a way to make him different without being too off putting for readers and shies away from some of the harsh realities of the disability.

I also felt that Quin and Olivia did not spend as much time together as I would have liked in my protagonists and what time they did spend was hindered by their guilty feelings and the knowledge that their time was very limited because of their circumstances. As with most James' books there was some sex and it was romantic but it was far from being hot and felt like it was just there because it had to be there. I did like that the periphery characters were well developed and that her fiance and sister were never demonized; they were real characters with real stories and didn't just get shoved aside to make way for the happy ending. I did feel like the matter of Rupert was resolved a little too quickly and a little too neatly and apparently was rather historically inaccurate within the history of the Napoleonic Wars. However, I do like to suspend disbelief when reading romance novels and I do like fairly nice little bows made out of big problems so it didn't bother me.

It was fun and fast and I liked reading it but I admit that James has never really been a go to author for me because she's never crossed into that excellent category.