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CONVERSATIONAL REVIEW: Wicked Intentions by Lydia Joyce

045122567801lzzzzzzzIn which Jennie and Janine discuss Lydia Joyce’s newest historical romance, Wicked Intentions.

Jennie: I have read all five of Lydia Joyce’s previous books; my grades for them have ranged from B+ to C-. This range sort of encapsulates my experience with her work none of her books has been so bad as to be unacceptable, but none has reached the pinnacle of an A range grade for me, either. I ve enjoyed them to varying degrees, but always had the sense that for me, these books did not quite fulfill their promise. So I did not come to Wicked Intentions with hugely high expectations. Thus, I was pleasantly surprised to discover how engaging and enjoyable it was.  

Janine: I’ve read all of Joyce’s earlier books too. I think my grades for them were slightly higher than yours and ranged from a C or so for The Veil of Night (my least favorite) to an A- for Voices of the Night, which I enjoyed quite a bit.Still, I understand what you mean, because although I enjoyed most of her books, I also felt that apart from Voices of the Night, they did not transport me. Perhaps that’s a lot to ask of any author, but I’ve always had the feeling that Joyce was aiming for freshness, intelligence and verve, something I admire very much, and when some of her books did not, for me at least, reach those heights, I did adjust my expectations. She is usually an author of solid B books for me, so it was a welcome surprise to discover Wicked Intentions, a book that exceeded my expectations on every level.
Jennie: Wicked Intentions is a dark tale; it begins with Thomas Hyde, Viscount Varcourt encountering Esmeralda, a supposed clairvoyant who has been all the rage at society entertainments, at a party. Thomas is concerned about the influence Esmeralda has over his mother, a laudanum addict tormented by the death of her eldest son years before. There have long been whispers that Thomas played a part in his older brother’s death, and Thomas has reason to believe that Esmeralda is encouraging his mother to give credence to these rumors. At the same time, he senses that his mother herself knows more than she’s said about what happened that fateful day that Harry drowned.

Janine: You’ve encapuslated a lot of the book’s themes, and readers can probably tell from that summary that this book is no light read. But for me, that was a lot of what made it refreshingly different.

Jennie: Thomas drags Esmeralda away from the party, and later pursues her at her lodgings, essentially kidnapping her in an effort to find out what her motives are (he at first believes she may be in the employ of his enemies in Parliament). There are readers who may find the encounters between Thomas and Em (as she thinks of herself; Thomas chooses to call her Merry) in the first couple of chapters a bit intense. The first sex scenes come early and feature elements that some readers may not like. I am actually a fan of early sex (certainly more than coitus interruptus ‘sexual tension ), and I wasn’t bothered by the other aspects.
Janine: I wasn’t either. The first sex scene was definitely edgy and dark, in that Em got more than she bargained for, but she was knowingly making every effort to get Thomas to have sex with her, so I did see what happened there as consensual. The characters were both testing each other; Thomas was trying to rip off Em’s mask, both figuratively and literally, and Em was trying to push him over a sexual edge in order to keep him from foiling her plans. I think those ulterior motives combined with their attraction to one another to ignite a love affair that was at first a little twisted, but I found that aspect of the book riveting.
Jennie: What follows is a story of two people whose goals place them in opposition, but who are drawn to each other nonetheless. Em convinces Thomas that she can help him find out the truth about his brother’s death. But she is also playing her own game, one in which she has been using Thomas mother as a pawn.
Janine: Yes. Em and Thomas are both intensely strong-willed characters who are not above manipulating others, and each tries to get the upper hand with the other. There’s a real struggle for power in the relationship and when they fall for each other, it’s very reluctantly.
Jennie: I really liked the power-struggle aspect of the romance. It’s a dynamic I like if done well (it’s not always done well; I get frustrated with romances where the power struggle is all about showing the little woman who is boss)Em is an interesting character. She is playing a role in order to gain what she considers to be rightfully hers. She pretends to be both a spiritualist and an experienced woman of the world there are many rumors in society about her assignations with various men. While she is no secret virgin (thankfully!), she is not as worldly as she pretends to be. I suppose that’s not surprising Em is still a romance heroine, after all. But she does have some rather dark depths; she is young but her life has been marked by loss and a sense of not belonging.
Janine: I ended up loving Em, though I started out disliking her. She is one of the most memorable romance heroines I’ve come across in recent years. Her story, which was gradually uncovered, was very affecting. On the one had, she had flirted with suicide in the past, but on the other hand, I saw her as a true survivor, someone who had decided to live, and then to do whatever it took to regain the life that had been taken away from her.
Jennie: The only thing I disliked about Em at first – and it wasn’t really about her so much as the way Joyce chose to write her – was her mysterious musings about her tortured past. I understand an author not wanting to lay the entire plot out on the table in the first few chapters; she has the right to keep some secrets from the reader. But I tend to have little patience for characters’ internal thoughts about all of their dire sufferings when I don’t even know what those sufferings entail. It comes off a bit melodramatic and faux-gothic to me.
Thomas is no less intriguing than Em. He was put in an untenable position from a very young age, expected to watch over and serve his older brother, who was believed by society to be an idiot but who appears instead to have been an autistic savant. Harry’s condition manifested itself in a sensitive and difficult personality (he had the autistic characteristic of needing things to be a certain way, and would throw fits when anything was out of order). Thomas wants to protect his mother from Esmeralda, even as he resents her, both for her suspicion of him and for her retreat into opium dependency after Harry’s death.
Janine: Yes, Thomas had a very interesting past as well. I thought his present was just as interesting. He could be brutish at times, but since Em was a tough cookie, and since he had reasons to feel she was preying on his mother, it worked for me. As the book progressed, Thomas clearly felt more and more for Em, yet he was reluctant to show it because she withheld the truth about her scheme from him. I got the feeling, though, that there was another layer to Thomas’s difficulty in trusting Em — that he had lacked friends and supporters when he was suspected of Harry’s murder, and that he had grown used to the isolation that was imposed on him, despite the underlying loneliness.
Jennie: Yes, I agree with this. I really thought Thomas and Em were well-suited in spite of the superficial differences in their backgrounds. In real life, the idea of loners finding the perfect mate who they can trust and who understands them is problematic for me. But in fiction, I find the concept very romantic.
Janine: Thomas and Em were both characters with layers of depth — they both had manipulative, tough exteriors and vulnerable, lonely interiors, so their emotional pull toward one another made complete sense to me. In so many ways, they were two of a kind. There are a lot of books where the hero is great, or the heroine is great, and sometimes even both of them are great, but the two don’t seem to fit together that well. In this book, the characters fit together like two halves of the same whole.

Jennie: Yes, exactly.

I did have some problems with the ending. Many dire hints had been dropped throughout the book as to something terrible happening to Em the night she fled her family home. The reality turns out to be rather anti-climatic, making me wonder why the plotline was built up in the first place.
Janine: That’s a good point. I mean, I could see why what happened seemed terrible to Em when it first happened, but in retrospect it was nothing compared to some of the things that happened to her later, so I do think the build up was a little out of proportion to the reality.
Jennie: I found the revelation of what really happened the day Harry died both unlikely in how it occurs (it’s convenient when a character just starts blabbing out a truth he’s hidden for decades in front of a bunch of people!) and a little too neat in other ways.
Janine: I agree about the blabbing, but the neatness didn’t bother me. I think if the identity of the murderer had been different, it would have worked even less well, but I agree that the murder plot was not as sophisticated as the relationship storyline. Still, when I read romances, I’m all about the relationships, so this was not a big minus for me.
Jennie: I think I was more disappointed when I first finished reading it because the book had been going so well for me. From the distance of a couple of days, it’s easier for me to just see the resolution to the mystery of Harry’s death as a flaw in an otherwise excellent book. I don’t read romances for the mystery, either, so I agree that it wasn’t ultimately a big deal.
Overall, I found Wicked Intentions to be by far the most emotionally involving of Joyce’s books to date, and for that reason, I am giving it an A-.
Janine: It was extremely involving to me as well. Right after I finished it, I went back and reread almost all of the Thomas and Em scenes. There’s a great moment midway through, in Em’s point of view, one of many that I loved to bits.
Thomas and Em have finished having this hot, steamy sex they both have ambivalent feelings about, and while Em is still dazed, Thomas is all business afterward — not one tender word or even a sign of feeling overwhelmed or disordered. For me, it was a terribly romantic moment, because Thomas’s very need to show nothing, not one sign of what this meant to him, made me feel that it had meant a lot more than he wanted to admit.
I love this kind of smart, subtle, layered writing. I can eat it up all day long.
Not all the reviews have been this glowing, but I hope readers take a chance on Wicked Intentions. It’s the kind of book you either love or hate, and I’d much rather read one of those than one I feel tepid about. In this case, I loved it. Since it’s a 2008 release, I went back and added it to my best books of 2008 list. I felt it deserved a place of honor there. It’s an A- for me as well.

Jennie: I also hope that readers who have been put off by negative reviews will reconsider. I can’t guarantee that they will like it as much as I did, but I think it’s the sort of book that is worth making one’s own mind up about.

This book can be purchased in mass market from Amazon or ebook format.

has been an avid if often frustrated romance reader for the past 15 years. In that time she's read a lot of good romances, a few great ones, and, unfortunately, a whole lot of dreck. Many of her favorite authors (Ivory, Kinsale, Gaffney, Williamson, Ibbotson) have moved onto other genres or produce new books only rarely, so she's had to expand her horizons a bit. Newer authors she enjoys include Julie Ann Long, Megan Hart and J.R. Ward, and she eagerly anticipates each new Sookie Stackhouse novel. Strong prose and characterization go a long way with her, though if they are combined with an unusual plot or setting, all the better. When she's not reading romance she can usually be found reading historical non-fiction.

27 Comments

  1. Jorrie Spencer
    Jan 05, 2009 @ 17:02:51

    This is the first I’ve heard of this book. I’ve read one Joyce, Voices of the Night, I think, which I did enjoy. But your review-’or rather the first third of your review since I stopped for fear of more spoilers than I wanted-’has intrigued me and I’ll have to pick it up. I think Joyce can be an interesting writer, certainly. So thanks for pointing out her book to me!

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  2. Janine
    Jan 05, 2009 @ 17:40:15

    Jorrie, I hope you enjoy Wicked Intentions. I agree that Joyce can be an interesting writer, and to me, this is her most interesting book. The plot is not like any other plot I’ve come across in the genre. It is dark and edgy, though. Probably not for everyone, but then lighthearted books aren’t for everyone either. I don’t think there’s any book that is.

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  3. Kaetrin
    Jan 05, 2009 @ 18:15:45

    Sounds like a good read – thanks for the review. I’ve not read any of hers before so I think I will give this one a go.

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  4. Jill Sorenson
    Jan 05, 2009 @ 18:28:33

    I love dark and edgy, but the only book I’ve read by Joyce is Shadows of the Night. It was a miss for me. I disliked the hero’s initial indifference to the heroine. He didn’t even really SEE her until the slapping incident. And they were married! Maybe because he seemed so devoid of a personality, I just couldn’t, um, arc with him.

    I’m a sucker for instant attraction, some kind of emotional connection, anything.

    I’d like to give this author another try, however. Does anyone know what I’m talking about with Shadows? How does this book compare?

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  5. Dana
    Jan 05, 2009 @ 18:45:09

    I very much enjoyed the conversational style of this review. I have not read any of Joyce’s work, but will have to add it to my ‘read’ list.

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  6. Janine
    Jan 05, 2009 @ 18:53:42

    Katerin, I hope you like it.

    Jill, yes, I’ve read Shadows of the Night (Jennie did too so maybe she will also chime in on comparing them). I gave Shadows a B, I think. I know what you mean but I didn’t mind the hero’s initial coldness and indifference to the heroine in that book — I thought it was a refreshing beginning.

    I did enjoy Shadows of the Night, but not as much as Wicked Intentions. I thought the beginning of Shadows of the Night was very promising, but then it became focused on the mystery which was not as interesting as the hero and heroine’s relationship.

    As for how the two books compare, they are pretty different. Joyce doesn’t write the same book over and over again (something I appreciate) and this isn’t a retread of Shadows of the Night.

    I totally get what you mean about Colin in Shadows of the Night being initially devoid of a personality (though I found that aspect of him interesting). That is not at all the case with Thomas in Wicked Intentions. Thomas has a personality though it’s a somewhat hardened and bitter one. But since Em was somewhat hardened and bitter too, their pairing worked for me.

    There was a lot more instant attraction in this book than in Shadows of the Night, though the relationship is at first very adversarial. If you’re looking for tenderness and sweetness, this probably isn’t the book for you. But if you don’t mind sparks flying as two people try to manipulate and use each other and find themselves becoming obsessed with one another instead, and if you aren’t looking for lovey-dovey, I think it could work for you.

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  7. Janine
    Jan 05, 2009 @ 18:59:33

    I very much enjoyed the conversational style of this review.

    Thanks for the feedback, Dana. I really enjoy doing the conversational reviews — Jennie’s comments always spark interesting thoughts for me, and it’s also a nice break from the letter-to-the-author format. We’ve done a few reviews in this style here at DA, and I recently went back and tagged them, so if you’d like to find them, I think most of them can be located at this link:

    http://dearauthor.com/wordpress/tag/conversational-review/

    I have not read any of Joyce's work, but will have to add it to my ‘read' list.

    Hope you enjoy it!

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  8. Jorrie Spencer
    Jan 05, 2009 @ 19:09:01

    I can certainly enjoy dark and edgy. I guess every reader has the line where it’s too edgy and detracts rather than adds to the romance. But I’m intrigued by this one.

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  9. Jill Sorenson
    Jan 05, 2009 @ 19:18:32

    Well, Anne Stuart’s Black Ice is one of my favorite books, so I wouldn’t say I required hearts and flowers in the first chapter. Stuart does a great job with cold heroes, making them sympathetic despite their ruthlessness.

    Maybe I needed a reason for Colin’s lack of emotion? I remember thinking he was born, rather than made, that way.

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  10. Janine
    Jan 05, 2009 @ 20:17:23

    Jorrie, from what I can tell, the book did cross that line for some readers, but for me it was the right degree of edginess. I hope it will be for you as well.

    Jill, Black Ice is one of my favorites too. I love that book. Re. Shadows of the Night, I did find it unusual that Colin was born that way and there was no reason for it in his past. In Thomas’s case, I think his past does play a role in forming his character, and his personality is pretty different from Colin’s as well.

    I would love to hear what you and Jorrie (and Katerin and Dana too) think of Wicked Intentions if you read it.

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  11. Jennie
    Jan 05, 2009 @ 20:30:26

    Jill, FWIW, Shadows of the Night was my least favorite Joyce book – in fact, I just went back to my book log, and I’d commented that I should probably just stop reading Joyce! I’m glad I didn’t, because I really did think Wicked Intentions was very good, way better than Shadows of the Night. Though my problem with SotN was more that I felt that the h/h were simply collections of traits rather than fleshed-out characters, and that the second half shifted into what to me was an exceedingly dumb mystery. The characters in WI have much more depth, and so I was better able to relate to them in spite of their flaws.

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  12. Lizzy
    Jan 06, 2009 @ 08:14:31

    I’ve totally been in the mood for something like this, and hadn’t heard about this book either. So I’m excited; I’m going to pick it up.

    Also, I’m digging these conversational reviews.

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  13. Jill Sorenson
    Jan 06, 2009 @ 10:43:58

    The characters in WI have much more depth, and so I was better able to relate to them in spite of their flaws

    Good to know. I think I’ll pick this one up and try Joyce again. Thanks for the detailed responses.

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  14. Janine
    Jan 06, 2009 @ 12:05:11

    Hope you enjoy it, Lizzy and Jill!

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  15. Natalie
    Jan 06, 2009 @ 16:02:54

    I’ll be the dissenting voice here as I’m more in agreement with a negative review on AAR. The story itself was interesting but I felt that I didn’t get to know much about the characters, especially Thomas. We’re told he’s a manipulator and interested in politics but little of it is shown. His treatmen of Em during their first sexual encounter was really cruel, especially since he already knew she wasn’t as sexually experienced as she claimed to be. Yes, he liked to be in control, but he wasn’t completely debauched (such as Sebastian in the beginning of To Have and to Hold). And he didn’t feel much guilt over it nor did the heroine took him to task. This book could have benefited from more pages because everything happened so quickly I didn’t feel that they knew each other enough to get married.

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  16. Janine
    Jan 06, 2009 @ 19:00:19

    Natalie,

    I guess Thomas’s actions could be seen as cruel, but Em invited what happened, and she was using Thomas’s mother. I saw Thomas more as lashing out at her from justifiable anger, and from desire which she had deliberately incited, then as deliberately cruel. While it’s true that he knew intellectually that she was not as experienced as she claimed, I think he was trying to get her to admit it, and to come clean about who and what she was, partly out of a need to defend his family from her.

    I really don’t get the comparisons to Sebastian in To Have and to Hold, because Sebastian was a lot more far gone than Thomas, and beginning to cultivate a streak of sadism, as well as using Rachel in a kind of experiment. I love Sebastian (he is hands down my favorite romance hero ever), and I don’t think Thomas was redeemed to the same degree, but I also didn’t see Thomas as requiring nearly the same degree of redemption. Rachel had never wronged Sebastian, but Em had tried to make Thomas’s mother fear and mistrust him, so the situation is very different in my eyes.

    I disagree that Thomas didn’t feel much guilt. I think he felt guilt, which he tried, not always successfully, to repress. For example, there’s this POV thought of Thomas’s on p.97:

    Something, though, had broken through the gentle, sheltered life in which Esmeralda had certainly been raised. And if someone else had broken it, Thomas must have ground its shards to dust…

    He cut off that thought.

    As for Esmeralda not taking him to task, I think she didn’t because she knew she deliberately incited his anger and desire and had ulterior motives for doing so.

    I do agree that things happen quickly in this book, but I’m not sure I would want it to be longer.

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  17. Jennie
    Jan 06, 2009 @ 19:43:39

    My feelings are in line with Janine’s; I agree that Thomas was cruel but I never felt that Em was a victim, really, both because of her obvious strength and because of her own misdeeds. I have a lot higher tolerance for bad behavior on a hero or heroine’s part if it is matched by his or her counterpart’s behavior.

    I don’t think I would have minded the book being longer, but I didn’t really have the feeling that the h/h didn’t know each other at the end. But when a book is working for me, I tend to believe the HEA anyway, and not really question how short a time or under what circumstances the h/h have known each other.

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  18. cawm
    Jan 06, 2009 @ 19:58:59

    I’m with those who disliked the book. I enjoyed all of Joyce’s earlier books, except for Shadows of the Night, and I was really looking forward to this one, but I was more than disappointed. I thought Thomas was a completely evil character, with absolutely no redeeming qualities, and Em was a perfect example of a TSTL romance heroine. Why didn’t she simply explain to Thomas the reasons for her Esmeralda disguise? Not early in their relationship, but later.
    I love dark stories, including many of Anne Stuart’s, but Thomas wasn’t dark, he was loathsome.

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  19. Janine
    Jan 06, 2009 @ 21:07:47

    I’m sorry that you didn’t like the book, Cawm. It may not work for everyone, but it worked for me, and that’s really all I can go on in reviewing. For me, it is actually Joyce’s best book.

    Perhaps if he’d been matched with a different heroine, I might not have liked Thomas so much, but as it was I liked him quite a bit. I saw him as ruthless and shut down, but I never felt he was evil.

    I also never saw Em as TSTL. She had lied to Thomas so much about so many things, and he was not a trusting person to begin with, so I don’t think he would have believed her about her reasons for her disguise, without proof. Especially since the truth would have sounded like an outlandish story.

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  20. Jennie
    Jan 07, 2009 @ 00:54:49

    It’s interesting to hear that some people were so bothered by Thomas – it makes me wonder why I wasn’t. As I said before, I think it partly had to do with feeling that there wasn’t as much of a power (or at least “bad behavior”) imbalance between the h/h. Like Janine, I also did see Thomas as having remorse for his actions. Both Thomas and Em did bad things, but they were both cognizant of the wrongness of their actions and both seemed regretful.

    I agree also about not seeing Em as TSTL. I had some minor reservations about her plan, but I understood her habit of secrecy and her unwillingness to trust Thomas.

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  21. Natalie
    Jan 07, 2009 @ 13:07:18

    I guess Thomas's actions could be seen as cruel, but Em invited what happened, and she was using Thomas's mother.

    In my book, that’ no excuse for abusive behavior. Not only did he do it once, he kidnapped her, tied her up, slapped her and forced her to have sex with again. If he was so smart and cold-blooded, he should have kept himself in check or found out a better way to interrogate her, with all his power. To compare it with Joyce’s previous work, the hero in the Music of the Night treated the heroine much better even though he thought her to be a prostitute and his worst enemy’s lover.

    I really don't get the comparisons to Sebastian in To Have and to Hold, because Sebastian was a lot more far gone than Thomas, and beginning to cultivate a streak of sadism, as well as using Rachel in a kind of experiment.

    Ironically, Sebastian treated Rachel better than supposedly less spoiled Thomas and eventually completely reformed. Thomas feels a small twinge of guilt but doesn’t change at all. Even during their last scene, his proposal was like a command: “Marry me, or else!”. And what kind of a strong heroine she is if she doesn’t mind this at all? Even if she did provoke him, she should have addressed his aggressive behavior. The more I think about it, the creepier this whole situatin is.

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  22. Janine
    Jan 07, 2009 @ 15:21:45

    In my book, that' no excuse for abusive behavior. Not only did he do it once, he kidnapped her, tied her up, slapped her and forced her to have sex with again.

    Whoa!!! When did he ever force her to have sex with him? I don’t remember once that that happened. He slapped her and tied her up only after she brained him and came close to killing him. I do agree about the kidnapping, but that’s about all I can agree on, and even that I understood.

    Re. the sex, Em even says:

    “Last night was my idea. No amount of revision can change that. Even though you took advantage of the range and limits of my experience, I invited. I initiated. You cannot change that.”

    If he was so smart and cold-blooded

    I never said or ever thought he was cold-blooded. There is a big difference between being manipulative, and being cold-blooded. Thomas was buffetted by very strong emotions, IMO.

    To compare it with Joyce's previous work, the hero in the Music of the Night treated the heroine much better even though he thought her to be a prostitute and his worst enemy's lover.

    They are very different characters so I don’t see the comparison. Though the hero of Music of the Night felt more sketchy to me. His daughter seemed more like a plot device than like a full fledged character, and though she motivated his revenge scheme, he rarely thought about her or felt for her.

    Thomas’s relationship with his mother was more prominent in this book, so in some ways, even though his treatment of Em was in some ways worse than Sebastian’s treatment of Sarah, I had equal sympathy for him. Esp. since Em really was using his mother, and Sarah had never harmed Sebastian’s daughter.

    Ironically, Sebastian treated Rachel better than supposedly less spoiled Thomas and eventually completely reformed.

    Sebastian in Gaffney’s To Have and to Hold did reform more but he did some horrible things to Rachel in the beginning. I do think he was torn between wanting to save Rachel and wanting to destroy her, and half the time the things he did made her stronger, but Rachel clearly did not want to have sex with him the first time (in the library sex scene)

    With Em, it seems murkier to me — she set out to incite a sexual response in Thomas, even though she wasn’t completely prepared for the consequences. Whereas Rachel was grinding her head and trying to disappear, something Sebastian, in his thoughts, considered worse than screaming, Em was saying things to encourage Thomas on and feeling desire. I’m not saying Thomas did nothing wrong, but I also can’t see his sins as being anywhere near on the same scale as Sebastian’s, which is why I didn’t feel he required the same degree of redemption.

    Thomas feels a small twinge of guilt but doesn't change at all.

    I disagree with this; I do feel he changed, though the change was more subtle than Sebastian’s change in To Have and to Hold. For example, in the garden scene during the party, when Em says she wanted to distract him, and he says “Is that all you ever wanted of me?” that seems very much like Thomas being vulnerable and opening up to me. Not to the same degree someone else would open up, but for a man as closed off as Thomas, it’s a very risky step. Also, later when she leaves the party, there’s this:

    “Go now,” he urged. “I’ve called your cab to the door. Leave the ball while it is still at its height and the men are hungry for you. They will soon turn their attention and competitions elsewhere, and all will be mended.”

    She gripped his arm in confusion. “Why are you helping me?”

    I don’t think this is something the Thomas in the beginning of the book would have ever done.

    Even during their last scene, his proposal was like a command: “Marry me, or else!”. And what kind of a strong heroine she is if she doesn't mind this at all?

    I guess it depends on how you read it. It seemed more like a plea than a command to me. He also tells her “I was dying without you,” and that admission was good enough for me. I feel that Thomas is not someone who will often wear his vulnerability on his sleeve, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t there, or that Em can’t see it.

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  23. joanne
    Jan 07, 2009 @ 20:06:53

    I just finished this book this afternoon. I waited to read your conversational review and can appreciate the nuances that you both picked up that I didn’t.

    I didn’t “get” the cold attitude Thomas displayed. I didn’t hate it, it didn’t jar me out of the story, I just didn’t understand why he was holding back, so thanks for identifying the reasons.

    The one thing I always feel after I’ve read one of Lydia Joyce’s books is contented with the time I’ve spent. And satisfied. Not that I always love her books or her characters, but that she has taken me down a different street or path to meet the really complicated people we seldom meet in romances.

    It never entered my mind that Thomas was abusive, I thought it was a level playing field for the h/h right from the first page.

    He slapped her and tied her up only after she brained him and came close to killing him.

    Yup. Maybe I’m not sensitive enough but I thought that was an excellent example of equals under the covers.

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  24. Janine
    Jan 08, 2009 @ 09:26:48

    Not that I always love her books or her characters, but that she has taken me down a different street or path

    I usually feel the same way.

    Glad you enjoyed the book and the review, Joanne!

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  25. Seneca
    Jan 10, 2009 @ 15:27:16

    I love the review style. That’s how we do it on our Breezing Through blog. Instead of singular reviews, we just email back and forth about the book, and then post our emails. It’s always a lot of fun.

    I’m a Fan of Lydia Joyce. Her books are always more than pretty fluff. I love historicals, but I’ll admit that I sometimes get sick of the sweetness of them. Every book by this author that I read leaves me feeling good about having read it. She has a superb creative mind–her books never leave me feeling like I have read this same story 10 times before, which is so common with many historicals.

    I’m excited to read this one.

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  26. Janine
    Jan 12, 2009 @ 15:14:07

    Thanks, Seneca. I love doing this style of review too, although it requires two of us to read the same book at more or less the same time.

    I hope you enjoy the book!

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  27. Pam
    Nov 09, 2010 @ 20:32:18

    I know that this comment is on an old post, so I am not sure if it will get looked at, but I just read Proof by Seduction by Courtney Milan based on your review of her second book, Trial by Desire. This sounds bizarely similar, right down the name assumed by the supposed psychic, Esmerelda. It sounds good, but I don’t think that I would read something that sounds so much like that book.

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