Month: September 2016

Throne of Glass, by Sarah J. Maas

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Am rereading this series in preparation for the newly released fifth book, and it is well worth the reread. In the opening novel, our heroine Celaena, 18, is an acclaimed assassin condemned to hard labor in the salt mines. When the handsome Prince Dorian arrives to offer her a deal, she has no choice but to take it. And her arrival at the Glass Castle will lead the reader on a wild ride filled with fights and monsters and magic and ghosts and betrayal and romance. A pulse-pounding story for older teens, say, 16 and up.

 

How to Lose a Duke in Ten Days, by Laura Lee Guhrke

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Guhrke has set herself a challenging love story, as it deals with a heroine who has been raped. Unwilling to ever subject herself to that risk again, Edie strikes a bargain to marry the Duke of Margrave if he leaves for Africa immediately and never returns. Five years later, he has broken their bargain and come home.

I feel that any romance that deals with this level of baggage has trouble making the transition seem realistic in 371 pages, and this romance does seem to come more easily than it would in real life. That said, romance novels are not real life, and I think this one works within the context of what the author has established.

I enjoyed this novel, but would probably not read it again. For 18 and up.

Say Yes to the Marquess, by Tessa Dare

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I liked this book even more than the first in Dare’s series. Heroine Clio and hero Rafe both had journeys that made sense to me, and genuine conflicts keeping the apart. Clio has been engaged for eight long years to Rafe’s brother, a diplomat who is only home every couple years and hasn’t seen fit to marry her yet. Rafe has repudiated his title and become a champion in the world of illegal prizefighting. So when Clio decides to give up on her engagement, it is in Rafe’s interest to marry her off to his brother, so Rafe doesn’t have to keep the responsibility of being a marquess and can leave that and all it entails to his happily married brother while Rafe fights. Wonderful period bodice-ripping, for 18 and up.

 

When Beauty Tamed the Beast, by Eloisa James

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I liked this novel even more than the first in James’ Fairy Tale series. Piers is considered a Beast, because not only is he permanently disabled, but he has a temper to match his wound, and he serves as a medical doctor, which makes his conversation unfit for a well-bred lady such as Linnet. Linnet is lovely, but can she show the Beast that she can be at home in his lair?

I loved both the hero and the heroine, and was thrilled by their tempestuous romance. Wonderful, for 18 and up. Can’t wait to read the next one.

Storming the Castle, by Eloisa James

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A sweet and sexy follow-up to A Kiss at Midnight, this novella focuses on our handsome prince’s illegitimate brother. Wick is as charming as the prince, but his work in service and the factors around his birth make him ineligible for Lady Phillipa Damsen, who comes to the castle to serve as nursemaid to the infant prince. Can Wick find his way beyond his duty into love? For 18 and up.

 

A Court of Thorns and Roses, by Sarah J. Maas

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Another excellent Maas novel, this one targeted older than her Throne of Glass series. Our 19-year-old heroine, the sole hunter for her impoverished family, is taken abruptly from them to the world of Faerie. There is romance, adventure, and a nightmarish evil in this world, and our Fayre fights to handle all of it. While this one is self-contained, there is clearly more to come. Recommended for 18 and up due to graphic sex and violence.

Ransom, by Julie Garwood

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Lovely, detailed historical fiction romance focusing on an Englishwoman sent on a mission to Scotland by an evil baron. The romance portion is well-done, though the couple has serious trust issues to overcome. And the mystery of the missing jewels is handled well, and of course the evil baron gets his comeuppance. All very satisfying. I’ll be looking for the other novels in this series and other work by this author.

Whitney, My Love by Judith McNaught

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I see why some people love this romance novel, written back in 1985, but even though I read the author’s expanded version from 1999, it still feels very old-school, including (SPOILER) a detailed rape of the heroine by the hero. To my mind, this disqualifies the book for contemporary bodice-ripper fans, who focus on issues around consent. There are many current authors who work consent into their stories beautifully. This is NOT one of those novels.

That said, this romance focuses on a strong-willed heroine, and the hero who disguises himself to try to win her. But the hero’s overall arrogance and her strong dislike of him make it very tough to imagine they will ever turn it around. That affects the believability of the novel.

On the plus side, McNaught is strong writer, and her sweeping plot lines, moving from England to France and back, helped make this a bestseller. But the 21st century has not been kind to this novel. For 18 and up.