Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

About Sunita

Sunita has been reading romances since she ran out of Cherry Ames, Student Nurse and Chalet School books and graduated to Mary Stewart and Georgette Heyer. Other old favorites include Mary Burchell, Betty Neels, Elsie Lee, and Edith Layton. Among current writers, she reads and rereads Anne Stuart, Tamara Allen, Sarah Morgan, Marion Lennox, Josh Lanyon, and Susanna Kearsley. She blogs as VacuousMinx and tweets as @sunita_p.

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Daily Deals: Hugo nominees and historical romances

Daily Deals: Hugo nominees and historical romances

equoid strossEquoid by Charles Stross. $ Free

From the Jacket Copy:

A Laundry novella.

The “Laundry” is Britain’s super-secret agency devoted to protecting the realm from the supernatural horrors that menace it. Now Bob Howard, Laundry agent, must travel to the quiet English countryside to deal with an outbreak of one of the worst horrors imaginable. For, as it turns out, unicorns are real. They’re also ravenous killers from beyond spacetime…

Tor has made all its Hugo nominees available for free for a limited time, and without DRM (even at Amazon). The Hugos are one of the highest honors awarded in the SFF genre, and this is one of the nominated novellas, by an admired and respected author. The full list of free stories is here, with links to all the major retailers. Among them are a novelette by Mary Robinette Kowal and a short story by John Chu that look predictably fantastic, and that’s predictable in the sense that they are excellent writers, not that the stories are predictable. Oh, you know what I mean. Go forth and download!

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indiscreet jewelIndiscreet by Carolyn Jewel. $ 0.99

From the Jacket Copy:

After a lie destroys the reputation of Sabine Godard, a young woman raised by her Oxford Don uncle, she and her elderly uncle travel to Turkey to escape the gossip. In Constantinople, she meets Edward, Marquess of Foye, an outsized man who refers to himself as a beast. He fascinates her and then earns her admiration. He doesn’t care that she’s better educated than many men, and he, too, was hurt by the lie that forced her to leave London.

Foye knows Sabine is innocent of the disgrace that forced her to leave England and quickly finds himself captivated by her. It doesn’t matter that she’s beautiful and he’s far from handsome. Sabine is the woman who restores his heart. He can scarcely believe she returns his feelings. If he must wait for her, he will. When Sabine and her uncle fall into the hands of Turkish Pasha, Foye will do anything to make sure Sabine and her uncle are safe.

I love Carolyn Jewel’s books. They’re compelling, sensual, atmospheric historical romance. (Full disclosure: she and I follow each other on Twitter and we’ve had coffee and brunch together several times. But I loved her books long before I knew her). This was originally published by Berkeley in 2009 and Robin/Janet reviewed it when it came out. She gave it a B+ and said “There is just so much to admire about Indiscreet, from the restrained but lyrical prose to the depth of the protagonists’ characterizations, to the lovely surprises placed throughout the novel that challenged and shifted my expectations subtly but effectively.” If you haven’t read Jewel’s work, this is a great place to start. And for .99 for a full-length novel, how can you resist? You can’t. Resistance is futile.

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corinthian heyerThe Corinthian by Georgette Heyer. $ 2.99

From the Jacket Copy:

A daring escape

Penelope Creed will do anything to avoid marrying her repulsive cousin. Dressed in boy’s clothing, she’s fleeing from London when she’s discovered by Sir Richard Wyndham, himself on the verge of the most momentous decision of his life.

And a heroic rescue

When Sir Richard encounters the lovely young fugitive, he knows he can’t allow her to travel to the countryside all alone, so he offers himself as her protector. As it happens, at that very moment Sir Richard could use an escape of his own…

This is another one of the currently discounted Heyers, which for some reasons doesn’t get talked about much. I like it quite a bit (big surprise) but it’s not one where I’ve memorized large chunks of it. Sir Richard and Pen (short for Penelope) are both escaping their families (he metaphorically, she literally) when they meet cute. Pen is dressed as a boy for easier traveling and Richard poses as her uncle. Adventures ensue. It’s sort a May-December romance, although not nearly as age-disparate as These Old Shades or The Convenient Marriage. The Young People get a bit cute at times, but it has some sparkling dialogue and plenty of humor.

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tempting a devil kaneTempting a Devil by Samantha Kane. $ 0.99.

From the Jacket Copy:

In Samantha Kane’s erotic tale of secrets and temptation, a woman whose only defense is seduction targets a rake who teaches her the true meaning of love.

As wealthy and beautiful as she is desperate, Harriet Mercer can have any man she wants—which makes picking the worst of the lot quite easy. By convincing the ton she is a ruined woman, Harry hopes to outwit the greedy, conniving cad blackmailing her into a loveless marriage. Roger Templeton is a rogue with a scandalous reputation, no expectations, and no shame. He is perfect for Harry’s fall from grace. Her brazen attempts at a very public seduction are delightful fodder for gossip . . . and pure torment for Roger.

With his pockets as empty as his heart, Roger is in no mood for games and decides to show Harry how foolish it is to tempt a devil. But behind her mesmerizing golden eyes, he sees something unexpected: a woman in trouble. Her scandalous behavior would be amusing if he wasn’t captivated by her lush, curvaceous beauty. Worse, every libertine bone in his body has turned traitorously noble. Only a rake would seduce her. But only a gentleman in love can save her.

At first glance this book looks too anachronistic and modern to appeal to my nitpicky self, but something about the blurb and the reviews grabbed my attention. A widow with a small son tries to ruin herself to avoid remarriage with someone she detests. She turns to her childhood friend for assistance. It doesn’t sound plausible in the least, does it? And yet it sounds fun. For 0.99, I say it’s worth a try.

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REVIEW:  The Indian Tycoon’s Marriage Deal by Adite Banerjie

REVIEW: The Indian Tycoon’s Marriage Deal by Adite Banerjie

Dear Adite Banerjie:

You sent me your book ages ago, when it was released in India and then in the UK, but I wanted to wait until it was available in the US to minimize potential buyer frustration. This is the fourth M&B India release I’ve read, and while they each have their problems, they also have plenty to recommend them, not least of which is authenticity of setting and character.

indian tycoon banerjieThe Indian Tycoon’s Marriage Deal is a marriage of convenience story. This is a trope that is hard to pull off in a contemporary, but India’s enduring tradition of arranged marriages makes it more plausible. Krish is the son of a tycoon, and he is trying to avoid an arranged marriage that will bring together two family businesses. Maya is a landscape gardener whose father became an alcoholic after he lost his job and his wife (Maya’s mother) was killed. She holds Krish’s father responsible, although Krish doesn’t know any of this.

So Krish and Maya become engaged for very different reasons and without knowing anything about each other. It’s a well-trodden plot path, but I enjoyed their characterizations, and the bickering didn’t get out of hand. After the wedding the couple go to a country house in the foothills of the Himalayas and get to know each other a bit, and I really enjoyed this part. Krish and Maya both care about their work, not just for ambition’s sake but as fulfilling careers, and they seem well matched.

She finished the sketch and thrust it at him. He was impressed at how quickly and instinctively she had cre- ated a concept and a design for it. As he looked at the sketch, she chewed at the end of her pen. ‘You don’t like it?’

‘I love it. I’m amazed that you came up with this idea so quickly.’

The uncertain look in her eyes disappeared and her enthusiasm sparkled through. ‘This is just one possi- bility. Once I have seen the location, I will be able to give you a lot more choices. Why are you looking at me like that?’

‘I’m fascinated. You have given me more ideas in ten minutes than our architects have been able to come up with in three months. You’re not an architect by any chance, are you?’

‘Nope.’ She laughed. ‘I picked up the basics of gar- dening from Papa. Later, of course, at Evergreen, I read up on whatever books I could find on the subject. And a lot of them were on architecture. What I love to do is put things together…you know, like mix and match…’

‘You really do have a talent for this. I can’t wait to see what you come up with next.’

Maya’s cheeks flushed at the praise. ‘Oh, it’s always easy to come up with ideas for new projects where you start right from scratch.’

‘You are being too modest. Hey, why don’t you go through those pictures while I make us some coffee?

An Indian male who offers to make coffee. I think I fell in love with Krish at that moment.

But then the story loses its footing a bit; the book is nowhere near the end, so a conflict has to appear to drive them apart, and it doesn’t feel organic. There’s a lot of plot in the second half of the book, characters suddenly do about-faces, and the reconciliation isn’t that well set up. I believed it, but then I thought these two should be together at the halfway point.

There are subtle Bollywood-related aspects to the novel: the storyline evokes a movie’s structure by opening with a dance number, sending the hero and heroine off into the mountains for a romantic interlude, and having a soap-opera-like family backstory for Maya. It’s not over the top by any means, but I would have enjoyed it even more without these allusions. It’s a taste issue, though; some readers will like picking up the signals and will appreciate the hat-tips.

The India-specific aspects of the book were excellent, as you might imagine given the author lives and works there. The depictions of Krish’s family life, the wedding, the workplaces, and the glimpses we get of other people and contexts all ring very true to me, and the blend of traditional and modern is well done. The shortcomings are more in the standard romance-novel aspects (this is something that I’ve observed in the other M&B India books as well). I can’t recommend this unreservedly, but if you’re looking for an unusual contemporary that is really well grounded in its context, I think you’ll enjoy it. I’m looking forward to reading Banerjie’s next book and seeing where she goes with it. Grade: B-

~ Sunita

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