Thursday, 27 December 2007

The Serpent Prince by Elizabeth Hoyt

How is this a good book??? Already by page 35 I was asking myself,’Is anything going to happen?’ On page 91 again I said, ’Not much talk, not much happening.’ By page 91 in All Through The Night….By page 91 in Enchanted…... There is just no comparison between those two stunning historical novels and this effort.

Let’s get this straight. Lucy, like so many romance heroines, sets her sights (sorry, ‘falls in love with’) on marrying a hero With Money And A Higher Social Status. In the blink of an eye, her tame almost-fiance is no longer good enough for her. Even though the hero comes across as a lightweight, dissolute, man-ho. And has Simon, the hero, actually done anything with his life, other than be born into money? Involved in the arts? Good works? Building power and influence for the good of his nation? Not likely.

However. Once Lucy and Simon actually get married the plot gathers pace and intensity. Although I didn’t really buy Simon’s transformation into a horticultural expert. There’s still lots to be dissatisfied with though. Lucy turning into a sanctimonious prig for one. Leaving Simon when he's so obviously having a massive emotional wobble. Poor greenhouse...only a Lucretia Borgia type drives her husband to commit acts of destruction against beautiful artifacts. If Barbara can stick with Conrad through all the trials and appeals, then Lucy should also stand with her man and not run home to Daddy when her husband chooses to defend his family’s honor. Actually. I had trouble reading the final chapters. I couldn't believe my eyes when it turned out that Lucy was not part of the final duel scene. She remained in the mansion, wringing her hands, totally out of tune with the sentiments of the action.

What is it about romances and wannabees? Like. There has to be one in every novel. This one is called Christian Fletcher and I just know the readers are supposed to love him. As always. I thought he was yet another pain in the butt. I kept expecting him to be a spy for his father and when he turned into something else (the sacrificial lamb) I felt mightily disappointed. btw ‘needing money’ is not a valid reason to break the law by committing insurance fraud. No court of law would accept it as such. Particularly when it involves the murder of an innocent man. Rupert Fletcher should have been banged up in Newgate for a long time…without his family. There was no justice for the women Rosalind and Pocket.

But what really surprised me is that I read Pye and de Raab as being the novel’s comic relief. Definitely not as the heroes of the previous books by the same author.

What makes this novel readable is the hotness. Although I didn’t care for all the ‘sorrys’ Simon says on his wedding night. Nor for the fact that whenever Simon kills someone in a duel he turns into a rough uncontrollable sex-fiend and immediately jumps on his wife. The scenes where Lucy pukes were also quite entertaining.

Simon is just the wrong side of strange for me. He has aristocratic notions of honor but marries a woman with a very provincial moral code. Lucy would have made an entirely suitable bride for Eustace Penweeble, the vicar of Maiden Hill. I didn’t really get any sense of the emotion of Simon falling in love. Not like with Peter Madsen or Superman Hawkins. I can’t remember the last time I read an historical where men duel with swords that was not set in medieval times.

This novel is not going anywhere near my recommended list. There’s just too much miserable cynicism in it. As illustrated by not only Simon’s version of the Serpent Prince fairytale but also by the snake and toad story.

Also. Why does the paperback cost about $2 more than say, Janzen’s or Adrian’s far superior oeuvres? This is the first book I've read that is plastered all over with glowing reviews for a completely different novel by the same author. How weird is that? Another book with a nice cover that flatters to deceive. Because. Actually. Despite the hotness. It's hardly even approaches being a good involving story. Too many missteps in plotting and characterisation. File in the same box as Alexandra Ivy, Jacqueline Frank et al. Pooh!

Sunday, 23 December 2007

Innocent in Death by J D Robb

A few years ago I read the first 10 of this series but decided to give it up when the secondary characters seemed to start taking over the novels. I decided to read this one because, according to the blurb, Eve gets jealous of an old flame of Roarke's. That sounded a bit interesting.

Strictly speaking. Not a romance at all. The author has cut down on the emotional hotness. But I'm just so grateful the main couple are still intact. They haven't cheated on one another, nor are they semi-alcoholic nor do they do drugs. Nor have their economic circumstances reversed or even changed. Thank goodness. Seriously. I was totally traumatized by what Ed McBain did to the central characters from his 99th precinct series. Not a pleasant experience to read novel after novel where the author so obviously hates the people he is writing about and puts them through unnecessary hell because of it.

I wasn't really that interested in the murder plot. Boring old teachers die. But the jealousy aspect was quite amusing. imo The author handled it very well. Because it could so easily have soured the whole marriage for the next few novels. Eve should get down on her hands and knees to thank Mavis for saving her relationship with Roarke. I loved the fact that Eve had no compunction about calling Magdelana a slut, completely without any supporting evidence, from the very beginning. Only when Roarke told Eve that Maggie was in the habit of sleeping with their marks as part of their con did I definitely know that the happy ending would be convincing. And that's at least two-thirds into the book. Naughty ol' Roarke for not letting Eve know that important fact from the very beginning. And could he really not tell that Maggie had in fact chosen him as her next mark? Clever ol' author for keeping the reader in the dark too.

This is another novel where children feature heavily. But my own emotions were left completely undisturbed. A fairly entertaining read. But too mainstream and vanilla to feature on my recommended list.

My favorite is Vengeance btw. Roarke was a lot less respectable and the murder plot was again based around the theme of trust in (a new) marriage.

....and then there was the one where Roarke and Eve were basically brainwashed into having hot sex all over the novel. Very entertaining.

...favorite single scene was when Eve n Roarke visited suburbia. Absolutely loved that. (that was in the novel where Eve got kicked off the force for some reason or other...temporarily I should add.)

Saturday, 15 December 2007

Dear Author, Please Don't..

This is in tribute to a very popular thread over on;

Dear Author,

Please DON'T; Ever Take Advice From Readers! ...about characters, endings, heroes, heroines...

Stay True To The Story That You Imagined and sold to the publishers. (but editor advice has to be taken...with negotiation of course...we all of us have to put up with crap from supervisors at some stage in our lives.)

Thank you!

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Crazy Kisses by Tara Janzen

This is a well written book. Very well written. Well plotted. All the strands coming together. Furthermore. You know what. I thought this was quite a serious book. Unusually for Steele Street.

Choices and decisions. Is what this novel is about. I suppose. So much time is not spent in the bedroom. Plus. Actually. The main couple don’t spend enough time together. He’s always running away from her. Because he feels angst over what the consequences of his job are for her. They tend to meet in crowded situations. Or when they are alone together they don’t really communicate. But I got tired of it all. Honestly. Too little happiness and joy. This is also a romance where the guy keeps thinking ‘I’m not worthy.’ Over and over again. And again.

On the other hand. This is the best ‘virgin’ romance I’ve read in ages. And definitely the best ‘tame fiance’ romance I’ve ever read. Where the lame-duck fiancĂ© is actually a very nice guy…and talented. Just a teensy shame the author wrote him in a wheelchair. Because as everyone knows nowadays. People in wheelchairs have sex too. Although. I’m not sure that Peter was aware of that fact.

I hate to admit it. But. Quite early on. I got bored. Mainly with all the descriptions of the artwork. Plus. There were over a hundred kids hiding in the old theatre. As if that could work. What with the hundreds of people at the art gallery showings. And another coupla hundred at the club. To say nothing of the warring gangs and tons of cops. Just too many people in 1 novel for me I guess. All in all. This novel was brim-full of eccentric characterisations. Urchins, models, gangstars, drug-barons, transvestites and of course artists. Probably the Bhagavad Gita has fewer people in it.

Not a patch on the highly personal interactions between Katya and Superman. The trouble is. Peter sees Nikki as being so perfect. Superman saw all Katya’s imperfections and loved her anyway. Also. I didn’t see much effort on Nikki’s part ever to help Peter in difficult situations. Kat helped Superman a lot the second time around. When I thought about it. It seemed Nikki was much more of a precious american princess than even Katya. A week in a yurt in exchange for a year in Paris is not an equitable bargain.

Finally. I need to say it. Although I have realised this isn’t really a lightweight series I wish J.T. hadn’t had to die that horrible death. Crazy Love managed perfectly well without constant references to it. And it didn’t really ring true that Superman would have accepted being a bodyguard to the Prom Queen if he had truly wanted to avenge J.T’s death.

Also. Explain this to me. Why would a black ops guy doing dirty business in Colombia check into a Bogota hospital using his real (yes, his home id) name. Is that mofo dumb or what?

But whenever a person gets into a series. Some you love, some are just ok. Like this one was for me.

Did I mention that the cover is just as horrible as all the others?

Monday, 10 December 2007

Elizabeth's Wolf by Lora Leigh.

Should really be called. Elizabeth's Coyote. The most outrageous Breed plot yet. Although this is one of Lora's earlier Ellora's Cave books.

I'll start with the spoiler. The daughter Cassie turns out to be a Breed child. One of the evil coyote Breeds. And she knows it. So she makes endless efforts to be good. Poor kid. Only 8 yo. She'll have a breakdown for sure when she gets to her teens. Probably. She's been keeping a lot of secrets from her mother. I could have done without evil adults calling sweet damaged Cassie a 'monster' to her face too. Also. Readers need to ask themselves. What on earth is an 8 yo doing in a piece of erotica? Strictly speaking. This novel is more about her than about Dash and Elizabeth.

Amazingly. The smut totally gets in the way of the excellent plot that surrounds Cassie. As with all the Breed stories I have read, I had absolutely no emotional empathy with the main couple. Nevertheless. I rank them #1. Way before Megan and Braden. Because the hero, Dash, has some insecurities. While Braden came across like he thought he was god's gift. Despite what she repeatedly says. Elizabeth entrusts the care of her hunted child to acquaintances of a man she has known for about 1 day. tsk, tsk. I understand completely that the demands of the plot made that a necessity. Not least because she and Dash could hardly consumate their relationship in the usual noisy Breed manner with an 8 yo around in the next room. But it just meant there was a huge discontinuity between her intentions and her actions.

The novel ends rather abruptly. Like many of the books. In addition the author seemed to have to struggle to fit in the required anal scene. Ok. The heroine faints from the resulting ecstacy. But there should have been at least one more bedroom scene just to show that she felt happy in the relationship following that weird event.

I bought Elizabeth's Wolf as a $15 paperback. From the smut point of view. I don't think it was worth it. Not enough. Because understandably it can't really get going until Cassie is off-loaded at around page 170. From a 'good story' point of view the price was not a problem. On one level I suppose you could call this book 'good edgy fiction.' But I found it a bit too scary to enjoy as a novel. Obviously I guessed quite early on that Cassie was Breed. It's just that the details, and especially the ending were just too sad for me to cope with comfortably.

I'm going to add this to my recommended list though. Because this novel is very well plotted and written. And the cover is nice too. It will go below Dance With The Devil because even that is much more emotionally involving. imo

The next Lora novel I'll read will be one of her bodyguard series. This Breed schtick is getting to me.

I'm currently using the Detra Fitch profile on amazon to get ideas for further romance reading. So some more series romances are due to be reviewed in the near future. (Nice and cheap too).

Saturday, 1 December 2007

Crazy Kisses by Tara Janzen

Sorry. I couldn't get into this novel at all. Just too many branches to the story.

Why are all those kids running about in it? Are they juveniles or what? Currently I absolutely do not read books with kids in. Although Tanners Scheme featured a perfectly acceptable child in the end chapters.

My other problems were that the heroine was toting a tame (and crippled) fiance at the same time as pining for the hero. I didn't like that at all. And as everyone knows the secondary couple do not last. Travis goes for another female entirely in the Crazy Sweet.

Or maybe my head just wasn't in the right place for this story. I'll save it to read some other time in the future. More likely. It's because I'm still totally entranced by Crazy Cool. Which I keep re-reading. Christian is wonderful. Kat is just...! Thirteen years was way too long to keep them apart.