Regency Romance Done Right

5 stars for Scandal by Carolyn Jewel

This book immersed me in the time period from the first paragraphs. The writing was moving and evocative of the world of lords and ladies of the regency period. It was not done with the use of archaic words but with deft word choices and sentence structures.

As an example, here are the first 2 paragraphs:
“The first thing Gwilym, Earl of Banallt, noticed when he rounded the drive was Sophie perched on the ledge of a low fountain. Surely, he thought, some other explanation existed for the hard slow thud of his heart against his ribs. After all, he hadn’t seen her in well over a year, and they had not parted on the best of terms. He ought to be over her by now. And yet the jolt of seeing her again shot straight through to his soul.
He was dismayed beyond words.”

The story was lovely. The journey of an unrepentant rake to a man whose only thought is to be true to one woman is told through judicious use of flash backs as well as scenes in the present. The plot absolutely made sense and did not rely on silly misunderstandings. It was very emotional all around as you felt for Banallt as he tried to convince Sophie that he was a changed man. When he assumes that he cannot have her and contemplates which other man might best make her happy, my heart was in my throat.

These characters acted as if they really lived in that time period. They did not run around with modern ideas and attitudes. There were some love scenes. They were integral to the story and were explicit without being in any way raunchy and they came over as full of love and you could feel the emotions of the characters.

This book was a wonderful example of showing not telling. Almost everything you learned about the hero and heroine was illustrated through their interaction and dialog. For example during their first love scene his hands are trembling so much that he almost couldn’t get her dress off. The author could have just stated that he’d wanted her for years and was excited to finally be touching her. Trembling hands were much more effective.

Usually I don’t mind one way or another if there is an epilogue but I did wish there had been one here. The book took place over about 4 years and the characters suffered so much angst that I would have liked to see them a couple of years down the road happy and content.

I could rave on and on but really, if you love well done historical romances with a nice helping of true love and angst, do yourself a favor and read this book.

Near Future Military Sci Fi

47 Echo  – 4 stars

Shawn Kupfer

First let me just say that the word smirked is not a synonym for said. It was absolutely jarring how often the dialog was spattered with “he smirked” in place of “he said.” Probably 20 or 30 times in the book. That’s a lot of smirking.

Barring that I really liked this near future military thriller. The main idea of using convicts for cannon fodder was really interesting. The setting of a war with China was plausible. The future tech seemed a rational extrapolation of current technologies. The story was faced paced and intricate enough to be interesting but not so convoluted that you couldn’t keep track of what was going on. There weren’t really any dragging spots and the story was told through action not character introspection. There were no big info dumps. My only real complaint is that the convicts straightened up so quickly and easily after Nick took over. Some of the gritty feel was lost once they became a well oiled and highly functioning military team.

Still a quick fun read for military thriller enthusiasts.

 

This book was provided to me free from the publisher for review.

The Heart and the Fist

5 stars

By Eric Greitens

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Date: April 11, 2011
Edition: Illustrated
ISBN13: 9780547424859
ISBN: 054742485X


A very worthwhile read. This is not a gungho description of military action but is the story of a man’s personal experience as a humanitarian and a US Navy SEAL. The gist of his story was not so much an autobiography but a story of a journey to understanding. The author as a young man travels the world doing humanitarian work and begins to understand that helping after the fact is not the answer but that the horrible acts of man that lead to the necessity of humanitarian aid need to be stopped before they happen. That is the reason that he becomes a SEAL. The author explains his philosophy of ways that humanitarians and the military alike could make changes and do a better job at both ends of the dilemma. During the course of the book, he also illustrates what it means to be a man whether he intends that message or not.

This is a book that anyone who is searching for some way to serve, to have an impact on the world, to achieve something important with their life would benefit from reading. I believe that a person searching for such meaning could come away from this book with a reinforced commitment to finding their personal mission and following after it.

As to the book itself, it was well written and easy to read. Each episode was interesting and full of details that made the episodes easy to visualize. It did not bog down anywhere and the reader got a very broad view of the different types of humanitarian efforts that go on in the world as well as a very good overview of what the SEALs and other special operations soldiers do.

This book was provided for me free for review from the publisher.

Nice Regency Romance but it Lacks a Little Something Something

This was a cute little regency romance. It had the potential to be much more than what it was however. The hero, Nash, was a third son who

inherited an earldom after the suspicious deaths of his older brothers within a year of each other. Ashby, the estate that he inherits is incredibly run down. More so than I think would be realistic from one year of mismanagement by the second oldest brother and one additional year of being looked after by only a steward, a housekeeper and a child’s nurse. The descriptions were more in line with a house and estate which had been standing empty for 10 or more years.

Nash was wounded at the Battle of Waterloo and his face and shoulder were burned. Here the author was brave enough to say that the man’s face was burned including his cheek, over his eye and up to his forehead and his eye was damaged and is cloudy. Many times a man who is scarred is only scarred a little and then we are told that he is horribly disfigured. I get frustrated when an author tries to tell me that a rich titled man is turned away from in disgust because a bit of the fleshy part of his cheek might be scarred. Have the courage of your convictions. But the author did carry it a bit too far here. No woman had looked at him without disgust in so long that he had begun to despair that none ever would find him attractive again. Is it really that uncommon for a man to go without any nooky for a year? I’m not feeling very sorry for you. He is not written as a libertine particularly. He’s an earl. Surely he knows that women will overlook the face. Particularly women who might be getting a monetary benefit from it. Like say a prostitute or even a bar maid to whom he would be going to toss a coin.

The heroine is a woman who was raised as a vicar’s daughter but finds out she was a foundling when her mother dies. She comes as a governess to Nash’s house to take care of his little niece. Obviously she is going to turn out to be the long lost granddaughter of the duke whom we know is looking for his granddaughters from the preface to the novel. Her actions are not true to those of a strictly brought up girl. She has spent her whole life being quite and demure but has no trouble acting sassy etc. Except that her level of sassyness is not very high even then. She is not a strongly written character.

Problems with the book. There is not a lot of interaction between the hero and the heroine. The conversations are short and not that interesting. Then they seem to spend pages thinking in convoluted circles about each other. I don’t know why they fell in love. I certainly didn’t see enough there. She is a properly brought up young virgin yet she gives in to him sexually with maybe one obligatory thought of maybe she shouldn’t have done that. She gives no thought to her reputation while living with 6 or 7 men with not another female in the house. She gives no thought to her reputation while sleeping with the hero. She gives no real thought to maybe getting pregnant.

He keeps thinking I can’t take advantage of her. But he does so with very little emotion shown. No angst and very little self condemnation that he shouldn’t have done it. I expected him, as a gentleman, to offer marriage the very next day. This is a regency after all. But no, he blythely sleeps with her again and again. I didn’t have much respect for him.

In the end she decides to chase after him and persuade him to marry her. That just gave me a yucky feeling. He done her wrong and she shouldn’t run after him. He should have been begging her to marry him. In fact, he almost leaves it too late to be acceptable.

The ending is very rushed. Expose the bad guy, propose marriage while running down some stairs after she had pleaded with you to love her. Find out about the duke looking for her. Elope. Done.

Whoa I really expected a scene where she meets her grandfather.

I felt like there were several bits of story that started and then just went nowhere. The letter to the old suitor. The seeds and interest in gardening. The painting abilities of the young girl. The let’s get the house ready for a party we’re never going to have. The lets find out who all was at the hunting party where the oldest brother was shot but not actually talk to any of them. The book in general needed more focus, a stronger sense of being in the regency period, more interaction between the hero and the heroine during which interaction their love develops. Less actual love scenes and more falling in love and yearning to be with each other.

The love scenes were nothing special. There was no feelings involved on the part of the hero or the heroine and thus no real feeling on the part of the reader. I don’t read a regency for smut or explicit scenes. I want to experience the couple falling in love. There was great potential for angst but it just flew right by. Denial of the physical expression of love is stronger than just giving in to it. So all in all it was cute but not memorable.

Some Hits and Some Misses

I’ve been doing a bunch of sci fi romance reading on both my Sony Reader and my Kindle.  Most of these books are shorter novella length.  Some are well done within those parameters, some not so much.


Burning Up Flint by Laurann Dohner

– 4 stars

#7 for the SFR Challenge

I was interested in a later book in this series and decided  to start here and read in order. I read the others reviews and the people who didn’t like it had some valid points but I think I’m coming at it from a different place. First of all some of the things that bothered people are the types of things that were pretty typical happenings in the bodice rippers of the old days. And since I avidly read them as a teenager in the 70s, my mind just told me “bodice ripper” and I went with it.

Also I am a huge fan of sci fi romance so it gets an extra half star just for genre. I thought the world building here was pretty good. You don’t have to like or want to live in the world the author has created you just have to be able to clearly understand it in order for it to be good world building. Also I like that alien worlds/cultures are different from Earth culture/accepted norms. Otherwise what is the point in writing an SFR?

Flint was an ass true but he was a cyborg. I didn’t want him to act like a human. I, in fact, thought that he came to his “lightning bulb moment” where he realizes he loves her much too easily. Mira was a bit wimpy and I didn’t agree with all her actions but she was true to how she was written. She was a pretty weak woman not a butt kicking heroine at all. She didn’t suddenly change in the middle of the book.

Unlike some SFR books which I feel are mislabeled, this one is really erotica. The scenes are explicit, raunchy and plentiful and not necessarily full of love.

I will definitely go on with the series.


Kidnapping Casey by Laurann Dohner

– 3 stars

#8 for the SFR Challenge

I thought this was better than the first book. This new author seems to be improving her craft. These aliens are interesting, very alpha. The heroine here overreacts here and there which I feel is a plotting issue. The overreaction drives the plot a bit. Hopefully, this too will get better as the series goes on. As this author’s books have tended to be so far, this is erotica. There is a lot of sex in this book because the guys just need it physically and their women can’t handle that much so each guy has 2 or 3 women to share the burden. But glory be! The women from Earth don’t have this same physical restriction so they can go at it all day long. Still I love alien/human stories and these are good. I will be reading the rest of the series.

Cyborg (Cyberevolution #2) by Kaitlynn O’Connor

5 stars

#9 for the SFR Challenge

A real good one by Kaitlynn O’Connor. The story here was quite strong. As usual with KO’s books the sex while hot is only part of the story. The feelings between the 3 heroes and the heroine are the main part of the story. Strong world building. Plot makes sense. Writing is well done. The romance is strong. I loved the whole thing. The only minor quibble I had was that the epilogue was more tell than show but like I said pretty minor. this is the second or third of this cyborg series I’ve read. The other two were lighter, more comedic. This one was darker and more angsty. Very good. Not a short story but so good I’d have been happy to have it even longer.