Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Romance Novels, a Catch Up Post

I've already said I'm not going to write about every book that I read during my "fallow" period, but I will re-list all of the Romance novels, mostly so I have a convenient list to pick from.

'Ripe for Scandal' by Isobel Carr
'Ten Ways to Be Adored When Landing a Lord' by Sarah MacLean
'The Seduction of His Wife' by Tiffany Clare
'Cloudy With a Chance of Marriage' by Kieran Kramer
'Millie's Fling', 'An Offer You Can't Refuse', and 'Miranda's Big Mistake' by Jill Mansell
The Surrender of Lady Jane' by Marissa Day
'Venetia' by Georgette Heyer
'Viscount Breckenridge to the Rescue' and 'In Pursuit of Eliza Cynster' by Stephanie Laurens
The Goblin King' by Shona Husk
'Utterly Charming' by Kristine Grayson
'Dangerous Lord, Innocent Governess' by Christine Merrill
'Lady Sophie's Christmas Wish' by Grace Burrowes
'Flawless' by Carrie Lofty
'The Seduction of Scandal' by Cathy Maxwell
'One Night in London' by Caroline Linden
'The Rose Garden' by Susanna Kearsley
'Always a Temptress' by Eileen Dryer
'The Dragon & the Pearl' by Jeannie Lin

So, 21 of 57--more than a third, but less than a half. But, of those 21, what stood out? How to choose? I'm just going to go with my gut. If I have something to relate, then that book gets picked. And, just because a book doesn't get more than a listing doesn't mean it isn't worthwhile. With only a couple of exceptions (at least one of which I'll detail), I quite enjoyed the time I spent with each of these novels, I just don't necessarily have much to say.

'Cloudy With a Chance of Marriage' is Kieran Kramer's third book and I loved the first, but was disappointed by the second. Happily, this third book had all the wit and charm that I found so endearing about the first. Thank goodness. Now I don't have to relegate her to the "One Hit Wonder" list.

I love Jill Mansell like chocolate. I had a little mini-binge of some of her older titles because I needed some comfort food reading. I don't really have anything meaningful to say, just wanted to show some love for a favorite author.

Same for the Laurens books. The first two titles in a new trilogy are exactly what I wanted and expected from Ms. Laurens. And, now, I'm waiting impatiently for volume three.

'The Goblin King' by Shona Husk is one of the disappointments from the list. I wanted it to blow me away. Instead, and maybe this was just me, it read like thinly-disguised 'Labyrinth' fanfic. And, once I had that notion in my head, I couldn't shake it. It may be brilliant, but I couldn't get past my initial impression to enjoy (or not) the book on its own merits.

'Utterly Charming' by Kristine Grayson was quite enjoyable, but I had a hard time with some of her geography. Her heroine worked in downtown Portland, Oregon and her office had a view of the Columbia. If someone figures out the logistics of that, please let me know. It's been a couple of weeks since I finished the book, and that one detail is still nagging at me.

'Lady Sophie's Christmas Wish' is another absolutely gorgeous book by Grace Burrowes. Only three books into her career and she's already keeper shelf-worthy. Seriously, if you haven't discovered her yet, go read 'The Heir' and 'The Soldier'. However, you may want to hold off on 'Lady Sophie' until after 'The Virtuoso' is released in November, since the events in 'The Virtuoso' occur before those in 'Lady Sophie'. Of course, I didn't do it that way, and it certainly didn't lessen my anticipation for 'The Virtuoso' one whit. I'm so thrilled that there are four more sisters, so at least four more books.

'Flawless' was a completely unexpected surprise. It's an estranged husband and wife tale that starts in New York at the end of the 19th Century (I want to say 1893, but don't quote me on that) at the reading of a will. None of which is terribly unique. Where this book really surprised me was that it quickly moved from New York to the diamond mines of Kimberly in southern Africa. And it never, not once, shied away from the racial and economic disparities that were part of that time and place (and still exist to this day). It could've had a crap plot and characters (which it very much didn't) and I would have kept reading just for the unique setting. I hope the next two books in the series take us places equally unexpected.

Susanna Kearsley writes beautiful stories of time travel and romance, with contemporary women who find themselves slipping back into the past, usually around the time of some doomed-to-fail rebellion against the English throne. They're lovely and charming and dreamy and romantic and should be read in a comfy chair in front of a fire, preferably with a cup of tea or a tumbler of whisky. 'The Rose Garden' didn't quite captivate me the way 'The Winter Sea' did, but I still really, really, really liked it.

Jeannie Lin's 'Butterfly Swords' was one of my favorite Romance novels last year. 'The Dragon & the Pearl' is kind of a sequel, in that the "villain" of the previous book is the hero of this one, which is the sort of thing that can only work if it's handled just right, which Ms. Lin does. Part of the appeal of these books for me is that they're set in China in the 9th Century, which is a very unique and intriguing setting for Romance novels. But, they also have quite strong, capable, intelligent heroines and well-developed love stories. I did feel that the ending to this one was a little too convenient, but that's a minor quibble about an otherwise engrossing story.

Well, there's that done, then. Next up: Kids' books.

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