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Archive for the ‘A-’ Category

Family Ties

Posted by Wanderer on July 14, 2009

Smooth Talking Stranger by Lisa Kleypas: The main theme of this book is family. Yes the romance is there along with the HEA but the root of the story is family dynamics. I think most families have certain roles that each person plays. One person may be considered the black sheep who does things on their own terms. Another can be the needy one who somehow always ends up in a bind. On the opposite end is the dependable one who is expected to have all the answers to everyone’s problems. For some reason, someone out there had a sense of humor and decided to grant me that last role. So with my knowledge of what that role entails, this book absolutely hit home with me.

Ella Varner has it all–a successful career as an advice columnist, a handsome boyfriend, and a circle of friends in Austin. When anyone has a problem, Ella knows the answers.

But one night she receives a call that changes everything. And as Ella’s world is turned upside-down, she meets a man who is the opposite of everything she ever wanted . . . a man who will offer her the most irresistible challenge she has ever known . . .

The heroine of this book is Ella Varner (role = dependable) who one day receives a frantic call from her mother asking her to come over and pick up her baby nephew. Ella’s sister Tara (role = needy) dropped her son off with their mother and took off. Their mother is an “all about me” character and knowing the childhood she and her sister had, Ella decides to go and ends up taking care of the baby, Luke. Well this does not sit well with Ella’s boyfriend Dane who has no interest in starting a family and tells her not to come back home with the baby. Say it with me now everyone, “ASSHOLE”! Although, I do have to give credit for being upfront about it. I may not like his stance but I can respect it. So maybe he’s only an ASS 😉 .

So begins Ella’s journey to find out where her sister is and who the baby’s father is. In finding Luke’s father, she is hoping to secure some form of financial and emotional stability for him. One of the possible baby-daddy candidates is handsome, rich, available Jack Travis. When it becomes clear there is no possible way he can be Luke’s father, Jack offers to help Ella in her search. It is during this search that a wonderful and believable romance is built.

One of the things I really like about this book is the amount of conversation between the two main characters. Then we have the added element of Luke. Ella has never taken care of a baby and Jack has some experience since he is an uncle but the two of them navigating the foreign territory of parenting is a wonderful thing to watch. At one point Ella is alone with Luke as he wraps his tiny little hand around her finger:

Living with Dane, I had heard and discussed and pondered any number of injustices in the world. But it hardly seemed that there could be anything worse than an unwanted child. Lowering my head, I pressed my cheek against his pale baby skin, and kissed the fragile curve of his skull. I watched his lashes lower, and his mouth compress like a grumpy old man’s. His hands rested on his chest like tiny pink starfish. I touched one of them with my finger, and his hand closed around it with surprising tightness.

He fell asleep holding my finger. It was an intimacy unlike anything I had ever felt before. And an unfamiliar, sweet pain spread in my chest, as if my heart were cracking open.

That line right there, it has a direct line to my heart. While I have no children of my own, each and every one of my nieces and nephews has made their mark. From tiny hands wrapped around my finger to first smiles and first hugs. There is nothing like it in this world.

Then we have Jack, who is always there to lend a helpful hand to Ella and Luke. Although he is wealthy, Ella insists on paying her own portion of the expenses which is something I love about her character. With that said, even with his money Jack never comes across as overbearing or arrogant – just a hard working, caring and down to earth man. With his help, they soon discover Tara’s whereabouts and have a better idea of who the father is and go to meet with him to get things set in motion for Luke’s future.

Although there is some difficulty due to issues stemming from Ella’s childhood, Jack and Ella grow closer and yes, they end up having some hot sex. Not too much, not too little, just right. I love the way Jack takes charge yet is still gentle:

I chuckled, and Jack pressed his cheek against the soft bounce of my breast. His hot breath rushed against the distended tip. Slowly his mouth opened over the rosy flesh, his tongue circling. Sliding my arms around his neck, I kissed the thick, damp locks of his hair. He lifted his mouth and took the nipple between his fingers, clamping softly while he moved to kiss the other breast, and my hips pressed upward into his weight. In a matter of seconds I was steaming. He browsed over me as if I were some lavish buffet, nibbling and licking and kissing, lifting and turning me to make certain there was nothing he had missed. I lay on my stomach, gripping fistfuls of amber quilt as he took my hips and hoisted them upward.

“This okay?” I heard him whisper.

“Yes,” I panted. “God, yes.”

Another favorite scene is Jack’s proposal which is unique to Ella. I love that kind of stuff! Yes a candlelight dinner or walk on the beach before you propose is great but if you personalize it to your loved one……tres magnifique!

Towards the end there are some iffy parts like when Dane finds out about Ella and Jack he is ok with it because he and Ella always had an open relationship. I found it strange that Ella never knew about this arrangement. Then there is the issue of Tara’s return and wanting Luke back and the brief moment of grief we have over his loss before another traumatic incident occurs. In the end, none of these iffy parts took away from the emotional ride this book invoked in me. The very last word of the book is a beautiful wrap up that confirms what it’s all about……family.

This is the first book I’ve read by Lisa Kleypas but it definitely won’t be my last.

Final Grade:

Around the Net:

Romance Novel TV: 5+ Stars
Smart Bitches Trashy Books: B+
Katiebabs: B+
Bibliophile Musings: A-
Dear Author: B+
Love Romance Passion: 5 Stars
The Book Binge: 4.75 out of 5 Stars


Posted in A-, Contemporary Couplings, Reviews, Wanderer, When Spoilers Attack | Leave a Comment »

Eve of Darkness by S.J. Day

Posted by Mistress on May 16, 2009

As a consequence for sleeping with the wrong man, the life Eve’s created for herself has been ripped away. Finding out if she’s strong enough to survive what her life has become, is the stuff Urban Fantasy dreams are made of.

The other night I had more fun milking UncommonJen for Grey’s Anatomy Finale spoilers and talking smack, than I had watching the finale. On the logic of sharing the luv; I harassed my internal Jaded Genre Fan also known as Evan ; until he consented to grill me for my take of this book. And yes my internal jaded genre fan is male. We’ve made peace with this oddity, mostly.

Cursed by God, hunted by demons, desired by Cain and Abel… All in a day’s work.

For Evangeline Hollis, a long-ago fling with a bad boy from the wrong side of the tracks just became a disaster of biblical proportions. One night with a leather-clad man of mystery has led to a divine punishment: the Mark of Cain.

Thrust into a world where sinners are drafted to kill demons, Eve knows her learning curve must be short. A longtime agnostic, she begrudgingly maneuvers through a celestial bureaucracy where she is a valuable but ill-treated pawn. She’s also become the latest point of contention in the oldest case of sibling rivalry in history…

But she’ll worry about all that later. Right now she’s more concerned with learning to kill while staying alive. And saving the soul she’d never quite believed she had.

Mistress: Just do it already Ev, stalling gets us nowhere

Evan: F-i-n-e, but we already know how this is going end. You’re a mean bitch who hates pretty much everything.

Mistress: Nuh Uh, I like lots of things.

Evan: Like what?

Mistress: I like Lifetime movies.

Evan: …Yeah to laugh at their pain, not normal.

Mistress: Hey I’m plenty normal. If you cut me do I not bleed, if you play Forest Gump will I not watch.

Evan: What about walks on the beach?

Mistress: What about them?

Evan: *sigh* Do you like them?

Mistress: What’s that have to do with anything?

Evan: Everything. You crisp in the sun like an albino, despite your abundance of melanin. You’re allergic to beer and hate children.

Mistress: Jeeze E, want my number or something? You’ve put way too much thought into this = /. What’s your point?

Evan: You’re a freak. I’m in your head, no digits neccessary. You iz minez ,whether I want you or not.

Mistress: Less sniping and more interviewing. Now.

Evan: Don’t be like that babe, it’s a compliment really.

Mistress: …

Evan: Um, this book sounds like your kind of ride. Did you have high apple pie in the sky hopes?

Mistress: No. I didn’t expect much from this book. The when meaningless nookie goes horribly wrong meets Cain & Abel love triangle had me prepared for vapid UF wanna be fluff.

Evan: So why’d you buy it then?

Mistress: The thrilling blurb, Jeri Ready Scott’s endorsement, and the kick ass cover.

Evan: Ohh this is gonna be fun. So how bad was it?

Mistress: Not

Evan: Not?

Mistress: Not bad, Eve of Darkness is one of the best Urban fantasy novels of 2009.

Evan: Wait pause that thought… back to the Cain & Abel Love triangle. Sounds Zexy & hussyrific, I bet it gets all mindless and porny.

Mistress: It’s not like that, well it is sorta. I mean yes, this book is sexy as hell, but it doesn’t detract from the story quality. Yes she feels an attraction to the brothers ( heck I do too), their similarities and difference are so dangerous and yummy. But Day weaves the tension and action like a pro, so it adds depth and texture to the interaction/motivation of the players in this drama. Eve’s much more than a woman drawn to 2 men, though .

Evan: Oh really, what is she then?

Mistress: She’s intelligent, endearing, realistically tough and really pissed off at her circumstances. Being drafted into protecting mankind from threats never imagined, is hard to swallow. Her focus is staying alive, which will take figuring out the ins & outs of being God’s assassin. Then finding how to regain the life she’s made for herself. And is porny even a word?

Evan: Silence Wench, I ask the questions here.

Mistress: lol, whatevz.

Evan: What about the dialouge, plot, characterization, & world building etc ?

Mistress: Thrilling and insanely brilliant. Humans ignorantly co-existing with creatures of good and evil. Uniquely fierce and amusing Baddies not down with G.O.D. Heavenly hierarchy taking shady corporate rat race shape, where even Angels have gray or dark motives. Just enough old testament nuggets to add heft and substance without going into preachy snore territory. Full fleshed out characters and motivations. It’s good, all good.

Evan: So it’s safe to say you liked the book?

Mistress: Yup

Evan: How much did you like it?

Mistress: If I had to burn this book for heat & live or freeze to death, I’d die smiling.

Evan: In english please, sans dramatics.

Mistress : Hmm well Day has reached UF auto buy status, which is a sacred conjugal involment level for me. I’ve also pre ordered the back to back releases for Eve of Destruction (June) and Eve of Chaos (July). So I liked it very much.

Evan: Hmpf. When’s the wedding?

Mistress: Soon, your invitation’s in the mail.

Evan: Lay the flaws on me. What’s wrong with this book?

Mistress: Bupkis. It’s awesome, every aspect.

Evan: I dont understand

Mistress:Neither do I, but I’m not questioning my good fortune. You should read it Ev you’ll like it.

Evan: I think I will, the biblical remix sound fun..wait, what the hell? We’re not done Mist, You can’t leave it at that. Say one non flattering thing about the book.

Mistress: But, I dont wanna.

Evan: Tough titties, spill.

Mistress: Ok ,Some readers might not be as enamored with the intimacy building aspects here and there; as myself. But it’s blended well into the Fantasy, Mystery and Horror aspects; so I hope the fellas don’t sleep on this series. Eve falls somewhere between Mercedes Thompson and Riley Jensen heroine wise, which is damn good company to be in. That’s the best I can do, unless want me to make up something?

Evan: No, I guess that will do.

Final Grade:

Utter Perfection, I wanna have it’s babies. Can’t find fault with it nor can I come down from the bookgasmic high it induced. This is a not a test. Buy, read, and pimp this book to others, as long as there’s breathe left in your body.

Around The Net:

Katiebabs – A-

Sci Fi Guy
– “I found Eve of Darkness to have thoughtful and subtle layers that are not immediately evident until further reflection.”

– B

Posted in A-, I Heart Monsters, Mistress, Reviews, Urban Fantasy | 3 Comments »

Julie James – Practice Makes Perfect

Posted by Wanderer on May 10, 2009

It feels like it’s been ages since I read a contemporary romance so for anyone else looking for a great one to jump back in with, look no further. PMP is about Payton Kendall and J.D. Jameson, both hot shot lawyers at the same firm. They’ve worked there for 8 years and have always been in competition with each other but now a chance at making partner has them upping their game. This leads to pranks being played on the opponent which are done in fun yet somehow end up going a lot further than intended.

Book description: When it comes to the laws of attraction, there are no rules The battle between the sexes is about to make these two lawyers hot under the collar. Opposites collide when two lawyers try to make partner at the same firm. Payton Kendall is a feminist to the bone. Cocky J.D. Jameson was born privileged. But when they’re asked to join forces on a major case, they gain a newfound awareness of each other’s personal assets. The partnership spot will be offered to only one of them, though. The competition heats up. Sparks fly. Let the games begin.

There isn’t much about this book that I didn’t enjoy. The characters were well developed, the pranks were funny and the growth of the character’s feelings from beginning to end was believable. I liked the secondary characters as well, from the best friends to the secretaries to the brief moments we saw of the h/h’s parents. The interaction between all of them was right on. I liked the revelation at the end of how the h/h’s feud began 8 years prior. That kind of stuff absolutely happens in real life (I can speak from experience although I don’t think I’ve ever gone quite as long before things were cleared up). I also loved the moment when the secretary realized what was going on. Been there done that too. The only thing I didn’t like and felt was unnecessary was when Payton overheard something that J.D. had told their boss years ago and this causes conflict between the two. I guess I can see why that was done because at the end we see the resolution of that but maybe that same resolution could have come about without the secret reveal being thrown in? But that is just a minor detail that in no way takes away from the enjoyment of this book.

This is the first book I’ve read by Julie James and after completing it I googled her name and was surprised to find this is only her 2nd novel. I have added her 1st book, Just the Sexiest Man Alive, to my TBR pile and added her to my authors-to-watch list. I was also pleasantly surprised to see that PMP is being sent out to Hollywood producers because as I was reading it I kept thinking how it would make a great romantic comedy. The author’s blog even has a few candidates listed for the main characters. I like a couple of the people already listed but here are my picks:

Payton: Christina Applegate

JD: Josh Duhamel

When all is said and done, for me, PMP was near….well….perfect. I was only left with one question: What does J.D stand for? 🙂

Final Grade:

Around The Net:

The Book Binge: 4.5 out of 5

Tracy’s Place: 5 out of 5

Manic Readers: 3.5 out of 5

All About Romance: B

The Book Smugglers: 8

Babbling About Books and More: A

Posted in A-, Contemporary Couplings, Julie James, Practice Makes Perfect, Wanderer | 4 Comments »

Mission Accomplished

Posted by Wanderer on April 18, 2009

Sorry for the lateness of this post but the real world has a way of getting in the way of my fun 🙂 I want to thank those who offered suggestions for my Mission Possible a couple months back. I read a few of the books mentioned as well as a couple others that I found on my own and final verdict: I read some good stories, a couple ‘bleh’ books but my favorite would have to be A Knight In Shining Armor by Jude Deveraux!

Abandoned by a cruel fate, lovely, thoroughly modern Dougless Montgomery lay weeping upon a cold tombstone in an English church. Suddenly, as if in answer to her prayers, the most extraordinary man appeared.

He was Nicholas Stafford, Earl of Thornwyck…and according to his tombstone he had died in1564. Tall, broad of shoulder, attired in gleaming silver and gold, he was magnificent. Drawn to his side by a bond so sudden and compelling it overshadowed reason, Dougless knew that Nicholas was nothing less than a miracle: a man who would not seek to change her, who found her perfect, fascinating, just as she was.

Yet she could not imagine how strong were the chains that tied them to the past…or the grand adventure that lay before them….

I’ve read a couple of Jude Deveraux’s books in the past and they were just on my OK scale. Decent stories with a cute love story but nothing that stuck with me after the fact. A Knight In Shining Armor broke that mold and is a definite keeper that I can see myself re-reading in the future.

I’ll admit, the beginning started out bad for me. First of all, I have a thing with character names that make my eyes roll and this one had that: the heroine’s name is Dougless. But after seeing the name a few times, I got over it. Then the beginning of the book makes Dougless sound so pathetic with all she puts up with that I thought I had another TSTL heroine on my hands. I did put the book down a couple times but after finally getting over that beginning bump, there was no looking back.

I was happy to see that this wasn’t another lust at first sight story and enjoyed the build up of the friendship then relationship between Nicholas and Dougless. I wasn’t annoyed each time Dougless had to explain an item and it’s function to Nicholas. In fact, most of the time I found it sweet to look at things through his eyes. Actually, I was surprised at how his comments were very relevant to things going on today what with everyone trying to go green and save the earth. It’s very true how much we take for granted and waste in this time.

I loved the humor in the book and found myself smiling several times throughout the story. It was also cool to have two different time-travel aspects in the book, the second being where Dougless is transported back in time. This book even includes the Buffy/Angel dilemma – all you Joss Whedon fans know what I’m talking about. Basically, the “we want to make love but can’t because something bad will happen” dilemma. There’s a part when Dougless has traveled back and they’re about to get it on but then Nicholas stops them and he says something to her that I found heartbreaking and sweet, sad and beautiful, just a whole mix of emotions.

As for the ending, for a few moments I wished that it happened a different way but after some thought, I felt it was perfect as is.

Final grade: A-

Posted in A Knight in Shining Armor, A-, Historical Hook-Ups, Jude Deveraux, Mission Accomplished, Mission Possible, Pilates of the Page, Wanderer | 2 Comments »

Underground by Kat Richardson

Posted by Mistress on August 11, 2008

Unexplainable creepy stuff is hell on relationships in general I assume. When the man you love runs away from you into the night like a little bitch then it really sucks to be you. But Seattle’s homeless are showing up dead and partly eaten; so put a rain check on that breakdown. Cause it’s time to get some answers and kick some ass.

As a favor to a mysterious friend a private investigator starts looking for whom or more likely what is preying on the destitute. All the victims are undergrounders, a sub group who traverse the maze of building remnants and passageways beneath the streets and live off the grid; homeless by circumstance or choice. Harper’s near death experience was not the touched by angels white light affair. She now can see and interact with the gray, the very threads of magic, and the ghost, monsters, and plethora of other creatures who are made of it.
There may be something to the crazed old woman’s mumbling of zombies. Something is connecting Native American: legends, curses, & monsters with tragic deaths in the city’s history. Harper needs info from the big boys to make sense of this aka the areas vampires. And isn’t there always a debonair master vampire who sweats axe body spray. Not that I’m complaining. Well this ones name is Edward and he’s just how I like my vamps sly, dangerous, and with ulterior motives. The eternally tortured, forever mate seeking, knowing love at first sniff or suck types; can eat stake and die in my opinion. Where was I … oh yeah Edward is cold as ice and scary as fuck..*sighs* yummy (I know I have issues heh heh)

Kat Richardson’s writing is so masterful I wanna have her babies. It’s equally as rare to find such well fleshed side characters also interesting in their own light. Sharp and intricate Urban Fantasy that bleeds mystery, danger, folklore, and magic to the reading masses in the best possible way

Posted in A-, I Heart Monsters, Mistress, Reviews, Urban Fantasy | Leave a Comment »

Duchess By Night by Eloisa James

Posted by Mistress on August 8, 2008

I’ve always loved Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night so upon reading the blurb of Eloisa James’ newest offering, I figured that this book is right up my alley. I’ve pretty much read all of James’ stuff and I find her stuff pretty hit or miss. And as much as I enjoy Twelfth Night, I usually don’t like the tranny stories because it’s so rarely done well. So how does Duchess By Night fare??

The third in her Desperate Duchesses series, Duchess By Night is about Harriet, the Duchess of Berrow, who attends a house party at the scandalous Lord Strange’s estate. At the beginning, Isidore, Duchess of Cosway and friend to Harriet schemes to force her explorer husband home. Estranged from him for 14 years, she’s lonely, pissed, and wants to have a true marriage with the errant duke. The plan is to attend his non-stop hedonistic and notorious house party with pals, the Duke of Villiers and Harriet.

To preserve her unimpeachable reputation Harriet decides to go in drag and masquerade as a dude, Harry Cope, and pose as Villier’s nephew and ward. When Lord Justinian Strange first sets eyes on the group of three, he gets an insta-boner for Harry. Awesome. Blaming his attraction for Harry at Harry’s effeminate nature, Strange sets out to make a man out of him. Unfortunately, this means riding at dawn, rare steaks for breakfast, and fencing lessons for Harry. Except it doesn’t work, he gets more and more attracted to Harry and starts questioning his own sexuality. Priceless! Before too long, Strange discovers Harry’s little secret and goes about exposing her in the most delicious way at their private private fencing lesson. One of the things I love about this book is the fact that James’ does an excellent job of showing how liberated Harriet becomes dressed as a man without shoving it down our throats. Another thing is that fact that Strange is smart, passionate, open, and really loves his daughter. I was really suprised by not feeling even mildly annoyed by her presence in the story cos I usually hate that Mary Poppins shit. The focus on Harriet and Strange and the gradual way in which they get to know one another shows James’ skill. The writing is never heavy handed nor does it ever come across as contrived. The book is narrated from Harriet’s point of view but we get occasional glimpses into Strange’s thoughts which are rather disconcerted at the idea of being in lust with a dude.

All that aside, the writing is engaging and vastly entertaining. The sense of humor is never contrived and the character development believable. The lack of resolution regarding the Beaumonts (Harriet’s friends introduced in the first book in the series, Deperate Duchesses) is my only source of frustration in this book.

The next in the series will be about Isidore and her errant husband. Eventually the Duke and Duchess of Beaumont will appear again, hopefully still together, and the Duke of Villiers with any luck, gets his own happy beginning..

Posted in A-, Historical Harlots, Reader, Reviews | Leave a Comment »

Stronger Than Magic by Heather Cullman

Posted by Mistress on August 4, 2008

Don’t be fooled by the book’s obscure author, unassuming cover, and multi-genre arc. This one belongs firmly on the keeper shelf. Nobody does tortured heroes like Heather Cullman and I’ve never read a TSTL heroine from her just yet and simple as my requirements are, they are not always easy to come by.

Beware: here be spoilers.

The year was 1315, Alys le Fayre is a beautiful much sought after maiden who got her rocks off pitting her suitors against each other. One such suitor was a hawt knight stud named Lucan de Thistlewood. A Battlefield prodigy, the only thing Lucan loves more than a good and bloody fight is manipulative Alys. However, as much (or as little) as she loves Lucan in her own way, the only thing Alys loves more is riling up the jealousy of her suitors. Obsessive in his quest to win her, one such suitor kills Lucan in a jousting (or something like it) tourney. Unknown to all, Lucan’s father was Aengus, the King Of Faeries who was naturally infuriated by his son’s murder. Other than the unnecessary death of his son, the reason why King Aengus is up in arms about it is because faeries, being fallen angels, have no soul, and as a result of being half faerie, Lucan only has half a soul which naturally bars him entry to heaven. The only way Lucan can complete his soul and gain entry is by loving and being loved back by his soulmate and one true love. As punishment Alys is kept captive by the fairy daddy for the next 500 hundred years (ha ha!) playing matchmaker to humans as practice for when Lucan is reborn. Time it seems have taught Alys humility, compassion, and understanding, but not the true meaning of love. Uh oh.

Fast forward to 1816, Regency England, Alys gets a brandspanking new assignment, the very one she’s been waiting for, her one chance at redemption and the salvation of her mortal soul, to match 32 year old Lucian Warre, Marquess of Thistlewood with his one true love. Given 500 years of matchmaking experience, it should be easy as pie, except it’s not. Lucian’s faerie essence (the non-soul half of his soul) expires in 4 months and things aren’t looking up for Alys. If she doesn’t find him his one true love he will forever be in purgatorio and so will she. If she fails she is doomed to wander the earth as a ghost ad infinitum. Too bad for her, Lucian has a lump of wet coal in place of his heart. Or was it a smelly gym sock? I forget. Anyway, so how can Lucian feel if he’s dead inside??

When her murderous suitor (like her, became a captive to the faeries) is sent to earth to protect Lucian in the battlefields against Napoleon, he takes a bullet and dies. This becomes her ticket into Lucian’s home and heart. She becomes Alys Faire, sister to the deceased Bevis Faire, and ward to stone cold Lucian Warre. Lucian is naturally indebted to the Faire family so he takes Alys on, intent on giving her a proper season and fitting husband.

When we first meet Lucian he is a cold, cold man. Brrr. Heartless, unfeeling and completely unsympathetic. He is utterly repulsed by Alys’ blonde hair and lack of cha chas. No insta-erection for this hero. Heck, he doesn’t even enjoy the sexxoring with his mistress and only does it to clean his pipes. As natural as tea in the morning and brandy in the evening. What a charmer. Alys immediately recognizes this about him and goes about her business by teaching him how to feel. How does one teach a dead man feel, you may ask? Well, by pissing him off, of course! And boy did I have fun reading about her antics. She constantly yells at him, disobeying his every domineering command, pushes all of his buttons and before you know it his cold dead heart starts twitching a little bit. When he starts thinking that there’s something wrong with her upstairs (he catches her talking to Hedley, a faerie only she can see) he decides to show a little sympathy for the grieving and traumatized girl. They become great friends (oh! how I love their nightly ritual of noshing in the kitchen) and although Lucian doesn’t get it from the get go, he starts falling in love with Alys a little bit more every day. Alys on the other hand, has a little bit more self-awareness, she recognizes that she’s in love with Lucian but has long deemed herself unworthy of his love. So she goes about matching him with whomever she can when she realizes that true love is supposed to be selfless and requires sacrifice. No canned awwws for this one.

Heather Cullman is one of the few authors who isn’t afraid to massacre her hero and heroine’s characters and she needn’t be because the utter skill in how she redeems them is simply wonderful. No cookie cutter hero or TSTL heroines in this book.

Oh man, this book totally rocks my socks.

Posted in A-, Historical Harlots, Reader, Reviews, When Spoilers Attack | Leave a Comment »

A Perfect Scoundrel by Heather Cullman

Posted by Mistress on August 4, 2008

The Redemption Of Scum

Jane Wentworth is a shy, mousy, and all around pathetic creature who happens to be in love with Lord Quentin Somerville. Unfortunately, Quentin is besotted with perfection itself, perfection being her step-sister Clarissa. Now if you’ve read “For All Eternity” you know that Quentin is the pus that infects the mucus that cruds up the fungus that feeds on the pond scum. So poor, sad Jane is very unfortunate indeed. Jane and Clarissa have a very good relationship, they truly like each other and I’m utterly grateful for that cos if I read one more book with an evil step-sister I’m going to throw a bitch fit. In Quentin’s pursuit of sunshine, he treats Jane with a modicum of respect which of course leads our heroine to think that this is her time to shine. When Clarissa falls ill one fateful day she makes Jane attend this masqued ball in her costume. Jane of course is both mortified and thrilled by the idea of going as her dazzling step-sister. She goes in pursuit of her first foot popping kiss even if the gentleman in question thinks she’s somebody else. Wonderful.

Unbeknownst to all, Lord Sack of Shit has plotted and schemed with his bestfriend to trap Clarissa into matrimony. See, he whines and whines about how he’s just an untitled second son. No matter that he’s prettier than all of ton-ville. No matter that he’s so rich, he’s convinced that every marriage-minded miss is only after his fortune. He’s a bitter, envious, son of a – err – gun that he’s positive that only Clarissa will do and that the only way she’ll marry him is if she has no choice. Do you see where we’re going now?? What a catch.

At the grand ball Lord Slimebag traps Clarissa-costumed Jane in the garden and makes out with her. Like every unproper lady, Jane doesn’t put up a fight and starts declaring i love you! i love you! like a half wit deb. With his audience in place he unmasks her and that’s when the shit really hits the fan. Long story short, Quentin’s daddy (who controls his purse strings) forces them to marry, but not before he calls her a lying, mercenary bitch. It wasn’t the blissful union she expected. On the happiest day of her life, he (overcome with lust and rage) rapes her then sends her away to his decrepit estate somewhere in the wilds of England-ville. To do what? To wither away in misery of course!

Quentin’s character has been so thoroughly brutalized and mutilated that by the time the author was done with him there was no chance in Hades he could be redeemed. Or can he? dum dum dum dum…

During their estrangement, Jane flourishes and grows a spine. She discovers her excellence in estate management and turns the once floundering town into a prosperous disney-like village. She even sacks his jack-ass thief of an estate manager. So when Quentin comes to take her back to London (under Dear Papa’s strict orders) he’s bitchsmacked to discover that his once meek doormat of a wife is now Queen Supreme in his barely recognizable estate (replete with dancing animals and adoring townfolk). His discovery makes him furious (of course!) How dare she make his estate self-sufficient! How dare she nurse the ill! Jane is none too happy to see the dickwad she married either. However, not long after his return Quentin, with much consternation, realizes what an ingrate scum bag he’s been and begins to walk the straight and narrow into the path of redemption.

Quentin’s repentance was executed pretty well if not too quick. His reformation was truly fun to watch and the courtship of his wife a joy to read. It was infinitely satisfying when he realized that he was utterly useless as a human being and pushed himself to be a real man. Upon realization the he didn’t know jack shit, he rid himself of his lordly airs and prejudice against the unwashed masses. He even asked farmers about things he doesn’t know jack about and got down and dirty (working around town! – get your mind out of the gutter) with the rest of them. He also realizes what a scum bag he was to Jane and works extremely hard to woo and win her over. Admittedly, he doesn’t grovel as long as I would have liked him to. He went from biggest.jack-ass.slime-bag.ever to male mary sue for the masses of all time in almost a split second. I do, however, like the fact that they become friends first and learn to trust each other before jumping right back into the sack. It’s just that, I don’t know, I suppose I would have enjoyed a little more nut-cracking.

Other than the initial nastiness between Quentin and Jane in the beginning of the book there are no big misunderstandings or any other stupid plot devices. The prose flows very easily but it gets a bit dragging in the last couple of chapters. Everyone is so damn nice to each other that I found it overly-saccharine, cloying, and trite. I mean, ok, you love each other, we get it, enough. All that said, this book is on its way to my keeper shelf. It’s rough at the start but if you stick with it, it grows on you. Like a fungal infection.

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