>> Thursday, February 07, 2008
I've fallen a lot behind with my reviews, so I refuse to spend a lot of time writting about C books. So here we go, a quick round-up.
TITLE:The Lightkeeper's Woman
AUTHOR: Mary Burton
This Harlequin Historical has a unique setting and the storyline intrigued me (plus that cover... ohhhh!). It's set in an isolated lighthouse off a small North Carolina fishing village in the late 19th century, and it's a reunion story.
A few years earlier Alanna, the daughter of a shipping magnate, had fallen in love with Caleb, one of her father's ship captains. Evil dad engineered a separation in such a way that each believes the other one comitted a huge betrayal. But now they meet when Alanna seeks him out in the lighthouse he's taken over, determined to give him a box left to him by her father (yeah, very flimsy reason). Isolated surroundings, forced proximity (there's a huge storm), you can guess what happens.
It could have been a nice story, but though I loved the atmospheric setting, I found it hard to remain interested in Alanna and Caleb. Part of the problem is that I didn't really see much of an obstacle to their relationship, so the time it took for them to finally get together felt more like the author trying to prolong the story than anything else.
GRADE: A C.
AUTHOR: Amelia Elias
Hunted is the first in the author's Guardian League's series. Diego Leonides is a 1000-year-old vampire from Spain (his last name sounded more Greek than Spanish to me, but what do I know). One night he's hit by a car driven by Sian Lazuro, a former policewoman on the run from a mobster who wants to kill her for testifying at his trial. She's injured as well, and Diego (who's only slightly hurt, being a vampire) brings her to his home to recover.
Enter a meddling all-powerful vampire who does some hocus-pocus, and Diego and Sian are now bondmates, something Sian refuses to accept. Not that it's easy for Diego, but his strong attraction to Sian has him soon very happy the other vampire did his meddling. And that's it, really. It's all about Diego trying to convince Sian to accept the bond and Sian resisting and running away. There's also some evil vampires floating around, and the obligatory final confrontation.
All in all, it's a competently done book, but not one that excited me. There was nothing particularly interesting or original in the worldbuilding, and though Diego was a nice enough guy, he and Sian together didn't make a particularly compelling couple. This just struck me as yet another vampires, vampires! mates, mates! paranormal without much to distinguish it from the crowd.
Oh, and BTW, I feel like a broken record, but authors, an English-Spanish dictionary will NOT give you even passable translations. In this book I was treated to such ridiculousness as "Tú es muy hermosa" and the best, "No sé cómo viví sin tú. Te amo, mi gatita, y yo siempre voluntad". For those who feel as puzzled as I did when I read that last part, "yo siempre voluntad" is meant to mean "and I always will". Heh!
GRADE: A C+
TITLE: Best Gay Love Stories 2005
AUTHOR: editor: Nick Street
This collection of short stories from Alyson Publications has a bit of everything. There's hot and there's subtle, there's sordid and there's romantic, there's happy and there's sad. However, too many of the stories didn't strike me as "love stories" at all, not even of the tragic variety. Even not taking that into account and just taking them at face value, there were only a few I enjoyed. And damn it, I returned the book to the library already and I can't find a list of the stories online, so I can't quote any particular titles or authors. All I can say is that my favourite was a very sad but ultimately sweet and hopeful one, one in which a man meets a woman on a train an reminisces about his late partner with her. In the end, they become friends and she introduces to someone else. I'll try to look for the title if I ever see the book again.
GRADE: A C.
TITLE: The Rogue's Return
AUTHOR: Margaret Moore
When I wrote about Moore's The Dark Duke a few years ago, I spent half my review ranting about the horrible, horrible character of the hero's brother and how it had really bugged me that Moore seemed to be excusing his execrable behaviour. I closed with "the guy seduced a woman, got her pregnant and abandoned her to go crazy alone, while her child died (and that's just one of the very few little pecadillos we find out about), and we're supposed to feel sorry for him?? Thank god he wasn't the hero here, and hell will freeze over before I read the book in which he is!".
Well, hell has frozen over, apparently, because this is his book. My only excuse is that I didn't realize until I was halfway through it and Moore's excuses for Elliot's past rang a distant bell (obviously, The Dark Duke wasn't a particularly memorable book, either).
The plot? Basically that they meet when Grace finds Elliot unconscious at the side of the road. She lives in a gossipy small town, so bringing him home is scandalous, and she hides him. He falls in love with her innocence and realize how he's so corrupt for such an angel, and decides to reform, yadda, yadda, yadda. Nothing new (or interesting) here, and a romance which was particularly unbelievable and chemistry-free.
GRADE: A C-.
TITLE: Bad For Each Other
AUTHOR: Kate Hathaway
Another reunion story, complete with secret baby. Mollie and Charlie were childhood sweethearts, but they broke up when Mollie became pregnant and one of Charlie's family lied to her and told her he didn't want the baby. Some years later Mollie approaches Charlie (who's now a country music star) because their son is sick needs a bone marrow transplant. Charlie is shocked at the news that he has a son, and insists they get married. Will they be able to make this marriage of convenience real?
My main problem with the book was that, to borrow one of Mrs. Giggles terms, Mollie was the brown cow to end all brown cow heroines. Such a tedious, annoying, sanctimonious woman! Not that Charlie (or "Kick", quite a huh? nickname) was that interesting a hero, but what he saw in her I just couldn't understand. Not much chemistry in the romance, not much going on in the story otherwise.
GRADE: A C-.
TITLE: The Secret to Seduction
AUTHOR: Julie Anne Long
Such a disappointment! I was really looking forward to this one, both because I'd heard so many good things about the author and because her voice in her blog is charming and funny. From what I've seen now that I've looked at a few reviews again, I should have probably started with other books (maybe the ones rated keepers by Mrs. G?), because this one was an unoriginal debauched rake / innocent vicar's daughter story with nothing to really raise it above average. The only individual thing it had was the plot about Sabrina's origin, and even that felt tacked on to me, probably because I haven't read the two previous books in the series.
The hero is Rhys Gillray, nicknamed the Libertine, both because of his sexual habits and his erotic poetry (scandalous!). The heroine is Sabrina Fairleigh, a vicar's daughter who's visiting his house as a guest of one of her friends. She makes some imprudent remarks about how she pities those who are at the mercy of their passions, and Rhys reacts just as you would expect of a rake, deciding to prove to her that she isn't above being overcome by her own passions. And of course, they're discovered in a compromising position and have to get married, and Rhys tries to stay away from his wife but finds he can't, and so on.
In a word: boring. Or in two: boring and tepid. Long tells us how Rhys and Sabrina are so hot for each other, but I just didn't feel it, especially not on Rhys' part. If you're going to tell me that such an experienced guy like Rhys will be so overcome that he'll get in a situation like the one he does, you'd better make me believe that he's out of his head with desire. But nope, I never really felt that he found her more than mildly attractive. And also, Sabrina seems to be completely out of her league with Rhys. She tries to stand up for herself at certain points, but he can handle her quite easily. Poor girl.
The original bit I mentioned only rears its head nearer the end, when we discover the link between Rhys' past and Sabrina's, and the story became a bit more interesting there. It wasn't completely successful, because understanding things depended a bit too much on having read the first two books, but at least there was some real emotion here.
GRADE: A C.
TITLE: Court Appointed
AUTHOR: Annmarie McKenna
This one's about Jackson Benedict, a federal judge who has started receiving threats from a stalker and Trey London, the FBI agent assigned to protect him. The two had been ogling each other for some time already, and this is the opportunity for them to do something about it. Which they do, over and over and over again. Yep, you guessed it, I thought this one had way too much sex. I liked Jackson and Trey, both individually and together, but after a while I got tired of reading sex scenes that were adding nothing to the story or their character development.
Best thing in the story: the contrast between Jackson's family, basically a father who's managed to convince himself that no son of his could possibly be gay and that this must be just a phase, and the lovingness of Trey's. I loved the scene when Trey takes Jackson to meet them.
The worst: the resolution of the suspense subplot. Oh, my, that was just ridiculous and stupid!
GRADE: A C+.