Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Review: Blame It On Paris

Blame It On ParisBlame It On Paris by Jennifer Greene

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Mugged of her purse while in Paris, the heroine is left with no money, no passport, and no hotel key. So she emailed all her friends to wire money to an address in London while manning the computer from Nigeria--OH WAIT, no, actually a hunky American JUST HAPPENED to be on the scene and whisk her away for a mad romantic sex tour of Paris that would have been even more awesome had she not been engaged to someone else at the time. Turns out the hero and heroine have more in common than nookie in the City of Lights; they both have to go back to their hometown of South Bend, Ind. (home of the OTHER Notre Dame) and work out their daddy issues together. This was actually very cute.

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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Review: Miss Foster's Folly

Miss Foster's FollyMiss Foster's Folly by Alice Gaines

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Sold as straight romance, there was enough detailed nooky here to reclassify it as erotic. Miss Foster, a very wealthy Victorian-era heiress, decides, upon the death of her father, that she wants to travel to Europe (disguised as a scandalous widow to protect her project from her straightlaced relatives)--and sleep her way through England, France, Spain, and Italy (in the order, as you will notice, from lowest to highest, of that country's reputations as lovers). Unfortunately for her plans, her Englishman believes that she is the ONE, the destined wife for him, and therefore wants more than just an affair (and he's not too happy about her travel plans, either, once he finds them out). Sparks and clothing fly as the courtship dance commences. There's an absolutely hilarious scene where the heroine talks about orchids.

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Review: His Sinful Secret

His Sinful Secret (Notorious Bachelors, #3)His Sinful Secret by Emma Wildes

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In the wake of his brother's unexpected death, a former spy takes on his family obligations, including marrying his brother's fiance. The brother had secrets of his own. As does the fiance. And amongst all this secret stuff, someone appears to be targeting the hero violently. Could it be the secret agent, the thesaurus spy (Roget)-- his secret nemesis from the Napoleonic wars? Shhh. It's a secret!

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Review: The Dangerous Viscount

The Dangerous Viscount (The Burgundy Club #2)The Dangerous Viscount by Miranda Neville

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I read a lot of romance, and it's pretty rare for a romance to grab (and fondle?) me like this one did. I enjoyed Neville's other books but they didn't really worm their way into my mind like _The Dangerous Viscount_, which I re-read and then spent several days thinking about. This book is the second in the Burgundy Club series (her series about the sexiness of Regency book rare book collecting) and some characters in the first book are supporting characters in this book.

When Diana Fanshawe meets Sebastian Iverley, it's because she wants to marry his cousin, Lord Blakeney, who is a marquess. However, she likes Iverley, a book collector and Regency-era nerd--he's intelligent (when he's not grunting inarticulately), he fits in perfectly with her eccentric family, he's kind of good-looking behind the glasses and unfashionable clothes, and he's obviously, despite a lifetime of learned misogyny, attracted to her. So when Blakeney and his friends start to cast aspersions on Iverley's sexuality, Diana makes a bet that she can get him to kiss her. She is not aware that by making this bet, she's stumbling into the hornet's nest of Iverley's longstanding family rivalry with Blakeney, and his betrayal and abandonment issues. So when Iverley discovers the bet, he becomes determined on revenge. And his revenge is really, really awful. So Diana must, and does, in turn avenge herself. When things between them seem hopelessly beyond repair, fate steps in and throws them together again.

I think the most intriguing thing in this book is the psychological portrait of Iverley. He's at once intelligent but incredibly stupid, and a serious late bloomer when it comes to relationships with women. He's also a man divided--when he contemplates his revenge, you can see his better self fighting with the angry and betrayed man, and almost--but not quite--winning. And Diana not only stands up to him and holds her own, she helps him become a better man by the end of the book, one who can trust and love her and who is working to overcome his other issues. His nerdiness is both appealing and funny at times (his reaction to most developments in their relationship is to try to buy a book about what is going on, which turns out to be both hilarious and, at times, sexy).

This book also looks at women's choices, and how they are constrained. Minor characters include a mother who must choose between her marriage and her child; a woman grateful to have the choice between being a servant and not a mine worker; and a woman grateful to have the choice between being a servant and being a prostitute. And Diana's and Iverley's actions--good or bad-- also constrain their future choices in ways that may be unhappy at times but that also make redemption possible.

Last but not least, a number of the minor characters in this book are developed very well. Diana's French maid Chantal, her sister Min the teenage Radical, and Blakeney himself are so interesting as characters you want to read more about them; Blakeney and Min could sustain books of their own. (But not a romance between Blakeney and Min! That would be so wrong).

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Announcement: More reviews!

I'm currently arranging for my capsule reviews of romances from Goodreads to be published here as well. So you'll soon be getting new, more, but much shorter reviews.

Review: Undeniably Yours

Undeniably Yours (Kowalski Family, #2)Undeniably Yours by Shannon Stacey

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Undeniably cute accidental-pregnancy contemporary romance. When bar-owner Kevin Kowalski, who routinely gets propositioned by barflies who write their numbers on napkins with lipstick, has a one-night stand with free spirit commitment-phobe Beth Hanson, they never expect to see each other again--until she turns up pregnant. Kevin is immediately into being a dad, and he's into Beth too--but she's afraid he'll take over her semi-transient life. Meanwhile there's a nice counterpoint sub-plot about the bar-waitress who is fleeing her past, but is forced into confronting it. This might well be subtitled "Women Who Are Afraid of Being Put in a Box and the Men Who Love Them." I will be reading more by this author.

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