Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Review: Pleasure Me

Pleasure MePleasure Me by Monica Burns

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An aging (40-ish) courtesan faces retirement by falling for a younger man. Oh, and he's a virgin (despite his rakish reputation) because of a minor genital defect. She's been abandoned by her father, and he's been emotionally abused. Also, they both want to raise orphans. Could there be a more perfect match? This was good; angsty and with great sexual tension.

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Saturday, March 12, 2011

Review: One Night Is Never Enough

One Night Is Never Enough (Secrets, #2)One Night Is Never Enough by Anne Mallory

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A gambler of a father, hoping that his beautiful daughter will make a good marriage to save the family finances, inexplicably gambles a night with her away to a man who runs a gambling business. The daughter, our heroine, and the gambling club owner (our hero) fall for each other after a midnight chess game, but their class differences, her family's expectations, and the danger associated with his lifestyle need to be dealt with before they can be happy together. Like most other books I've read by Mallory, I found this book an enjoyable diversion.

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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Review: An Unlikely Countess

An Unlikely Countess (Malloren #11)An Unlikely Countess by Jo Beverley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another spin-off of the Malloren series. When Cate Burgoyne (male) rescues her from attackers, Prudence Youlgrave is hesitant to open up to him--yet they from a sort of bond as she confesses to him that her middle-class brother (who lives in another town) is neglecting her and she barely has enough money to survive. When she finally goes to her brother and obtains his help, she finds herself married off to an unappealing merchant. Cate arrives just in time to stop the wedding and steal the bride...if only he could keep the outraged spurned suitor from attempting revenge, and get up the nerve to tell his new wife that he's become an Earl since he last saw her...

This is not one of the sexier Beverleys, but I did enjoy it a great deal. The book explores in some detail the contrasts between Prudence's middle-class life and the aristocratic life of the Burgoynes, but does not neglect character development. Both the hero and heroine have things to prove--Cate's been regarded by his family all his life as a screw-up, and he has to prove himself as the head of the family and master of his estates; Prudence, married outside her class, has to prove herself as competent and a a good wife for a man she hardly knows. How they grow into their new roles, and their new relationship, makes the meat of the book, but there is a little bit of action as well (and also a dramatically fun scene involving Diana, Countess of Arradale, from Devilish, hearkening back to what it meant to be a lord or lady of the North (the book is set in Yorkshire) even before the Georgian period). Definitely worth reading.

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Sunday, March 6, 2011

Review: The Irish Bride

The Irish BrideThe Irish Bride by Alexis Harrington

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A novel of Irish immigrants illustrating Stephen Colbert's quip before the House Agriculture Committee: "My grandfather did not travel across 4,000 miles of the Atlantic Ocean to see this country overrun by immigrants. He did it because he killed a man back in Ireland." The hero of this book, an Irish peasant, accidentally kills the heroine's brother, a rent collector for an Evil Landlord. At the exact same time, the heroine (who is engaged to the hero's brother) smacks the Evil Landlord's Evil Son for attempting to rape her. Obviously they have to leave their village posthaste, buttheir relatives make sure they are married before they leave. So they cross the ocean together (unpleasant), and travel west (unpleasant) to begin their new life together (more pleasant but also haunted by tragedy), they need to work through all the fraught brother stuff and tragedy stuff and also evade or defeat the Evil Landlord's Son (who must have nothing else to do for years on end and unlimited funds, because he remains in hot pursuit throughout the WHOLE BOOK). So in the end the only thing in the book that does not really leave me scratching my head is the hero's plot device mad card playing skillz, because, really, how else does a dirt poor Irish peasant afford to travel west and establish himself as a businessman? POKER, of course.

I usually like Harrington but this was far from her best. Yet the glimmering of a good book is hidden here somewhere under the vast plot improbabilities, and the characters themselves were likeable and well-developed--squeaking this book, barely, into 3 stars.

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Friday, March 4, 2011

Review: What I Did For a Duke

What I Did For a Duke (Pennyroyal Green, #5)What I Did For a Duke by Julie Anne Long

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A Duke (10 points!) swears revenge on Ian Eversea after finding Ian in bed with his (the Duke's) fiancee. And what more fitting than to seduce and abandon Ian's sister? But once he meets the sister, he finds her not an easy target--she's heartbroken because the man she has loved for years has declared his intention to wed another. And as our hero gets to know her better, the less he wants to ruin or abandon her, and the more he likes her...could it be love?

The beauty of this book isn't in the plot, but in how well the characters are drawn and the way their relationship is developed. This is a romance where you feel sure the characters love each other rather than just being hot for each other--the hero and heroine share not only banter but also a deep bond--it just takes longer for one of them to realize it for another. Long has written some books that have incorporated the far-fetched (I Kissed an Earl) or just plain weird (Since the Surrender), but when she nails it, she nails it, and this book is not only nailed but sanded and finished to perfection.

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Review: Lord Ruin

Lord RuinLord Ruin by Carolyn Jewel

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Duke (10 points!) finds (drugged) woman asleep in his bed; doesn't know her but has sex with her anyway because that is how he rolls. Discovering the next day that she is an injured, misplaced, respectable woman, he marries her to save his political career. Fortunately or un-, he becomes sexually obsessed with her (in detail; this book is hot). Also there is a subplot involving a serial killer. Well-written, slightly problematic hero, an early work by a promising author who has since done better.

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