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REVIEW: Breathless by Anne Stuart

Breathless by Anne StuartAn Extremely Short and Not So Sweet Review of Anne Stuart’s Breathless in Five Limericks Preceded by a Very, Very Short Synopsis

Miranda Rohan, true to her parentage, ruined herself with one bad decision. Though she’s happy in her life away from the ton she feels something lacking in her life. Lucian, Earl of ItTotallyDoesn’tMatter, is out for revenge against the Rohans. Not satisfied with the ruin of Lady Miranda, several years ago, he’s determined to cause her family more pain, even if he has to destroy her in the process. But Lady Miranda isn’t the woman he thought she was. In fact, she’s delightful. Now he has to choose between finally getting his revenge and a life he never expected he could have.

Dear Author, your history was lacking.
The plot, on occasion, was flagging.
Still, despite all the crimes,
of your the hero at times
He really was rather lip-smacking.

Miranda, mother Rohan has failed,
to teach you what she learned so well:
that a man in a mask
is just a rascally ass,
Manipulative, and vengeful as hell.

Lucian, you big giant fool,
After all that has happened to you,
You ought to you rethink
Your vindictive hijinks
And perform some grovelling moves.

For Rohans, the world ain’t so easy.
You’d think with their looks it’d be breezy.
Yet, all that they do,
Is turn gold into poo.
Its a wonder they find a main squeez-y.

In conclusion, I’d just like to state
that this book wasn’t so great.
While it seemed so to me,
You may not agree,
And thus spark some online debate.

This book is probably a B- for Anne Stuart fans and possibly a C+ for non-fans or people who have better morals than the hero.

Lazaraspaste

Lazaraspaste came to the romance genre at the belated age of twenty-six. While she prefers historicals, she's really up for anything . . . much like her view of food! Some of her favorite authors include Jo Beverley, Anne Stuart, Lisa Kleypas and Joan Smith. Once a YA librarian, she is now working towards an advanced degree in literature with the mad idea of becoming a critic and teacher. Though she loves romance, fantasy has always been her first love. She hates never-ending series and believes the ending is the most important part.

30 Comments

  1. ka
    Nov 05, 2010 @ 15:18:16

    Kudos for writing the review in limericks.
    Will we see a book of your poetry in the near future?

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  2. Laura K Curtis
    Nov 05, 2010 @ 15:22:41

    I am LMAO at this review. I’ve read a couple of reviews that made me think this might be one of those Stuart heroes who goes a bit too far for my taste, so I am on the fence about reading the book.

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  3. Danielle D
    Nov 05, 2010 @ 15:40:21

    I loved the limericks for the review.

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  4. DS
    Nov 05, 2010 @ 15:57:42

    Fun review. But you know, although I’ve read and enjoyed some of Stuart’s darkest books, this one just went too far. Read a few reviews that convinced me I am not going to buy it, not going to read it at all.

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  5. Carin
    Nov 05, 2010 @ 15:59:45

    Lucian, Earl of ItTotallyDoesn'tMatter

    That totally made my day!

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  6. DM
    Nov 05, 2010 @ 16:29:55

    I find Stuart to be a fascinating writer. Her books always feature a hero who functions as both protagonist and antagonist. While this kind of structure has a long history (all the way back to Pamela, the Sheik, etc), Stuart often employs a particular tactic that causes even her most ardent fans to find some of her books distasteful. Her hero isn’t just a bad boy or a rake who is brought up short by the heroine. In her most loved and hated books, the hero has committed or is attempting to commit an injustice directly against the heroine. As a storytelling technique, I admire it, because it forces the heroine into an active role in which she must either make a decision whether or not to forgive the hero (Rose at Midnight) or fight against his efforts to destroy her (Prince of Swords) or both (Breathless).

    But even readers who enjoy this plot and like Stuart’s books don’t universally love all her works. When you read discussions of Stuart on romance boards, readers will invariably cite the Stuart book or books that didn’t work for them. The hero who was too much or went too far, who was unforgivable or whose actions were distasteful. And knowing that, I feel like it ought to be easy to predict one’s reaction to a Stuart book based on knowing what the hero’s crime against the heroine will be.

    And it simply isn’t. The hero of To Love a Dark Lord is probably one of her least objectionable, and yet I found him to be a bit of a bore. Lucien of Breathless callously arranges for Miranda to be ruined (and some readers will interpret what happens to Miranda as rape, though she herself seems to view it with more ambivalence than that) and yet I found this to be a page turning read. And it isn’t as simple as: the badder the bad boy, the more drama and fun. Because I found the heros of Ritual Sins and Black Ice impossible to like, and they were very bad indeed (con artist cult leader and assassin).

    But I liked Breathless, and for me it was an A-. Perhaps it was the way Miranda, the heroine, was written: determined to thwart Lucien at every turn. Or perhaps it was Stuart’s storytelling choice to delay Lucien’s true capitulation until the very last page. Whatever it was, the formula worked for me, and the last line made me laugh out loud.

    I’ve decided that Stuart’s books are like chocolate chip cookies. The ingredients are the same in every recipe, but everyone likes slightly different proportions of salt, sugar, flour, butter, and chips.

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  7. Genevieve Churchill
    Nov 05, 2010 @ 18:17:40

    I really liked this book–and the other two in the series. I kind of like the evil heroes, as long as they make it up in other ways (I’m a sucker for wit and wounded psyches). I’ve listened to Ms. Stuart talk about how she’d never want to be with a guy like that in real life, it’s just a fantasy… and I’m the same. Perhaps it’s just a kink, and I’m bent that way.

    I’d also rate Breathless an A-. Her prose is so strong, the weaknesses in plotting don’t bother me at all. She really knows what she’s doing. I get lost in her sentences until the last one.

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  8. Julie M.
    Nov 05, 2010 @ 19:01:31

    Great review and interesting comments. I read the other two in this series and the delightful prequel ebook (it was free when I grabbed it) but I still haven’t decided on this one yet.

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  9. Jennifer M
    Nov 05, 2010 @ 20:09:32

    I had such a negative reaction to the first book in this trilogy (when you’re actively rooting against the “hero” it’s hard to buy into a HEA) that I didn’t bother picking this one up. I thought the in first book it was rape when the “hero” (/sarcasm) locked the heroine in a room until she gave up and slept with him. It turned my stomach. Since everyone’s talking about how rapey this one is, I’m taking a pass.
    Ms. Stuart is undoubtedly a good writer, but definitely not for me. I can’t get past the rape apology message.

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  10. Tee
    Nov 05, 2010 @ 20:53:26

    Stuart put enough humor in the story, along with a good amount of backbone in the heroine, that I thought this made for a pretty decent read. She’s stretching those parameters for heroes, though; and I’m sure she’s not done yet. We’ll be seeing more and more daring ones as more books are written. Without the subtle humor, this one would not have flown for me.

    The first two in this series were DNFs for me. I also did not like her recent hit men series. I can only take her heroes this way if she allows her heroines to keep their wits about them and stay toe to toe with the hero. Otherwise, the stories just don’t work for me.

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  11. Teresa
    Nov 05, 2010 @ 22:02:23

    I enjoyed the first 2 books in the series but not this one. The hero in the novel does intentionally harm the heroine but that was not my main objection. I didn’t feel that there was any redemption in the hero and when the heroine learned what happened, it was almost no big deal. I felt that it deserved more emotional resonance than what was written.

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  12. Maili
    Nov 05, 2010 @ 23:09:59

    Love the review! In spite of that, I’m still on the fence about getting this new historical series.

    @Tee:

    I can only take her heroes this way if she allows her heroines to keep their wits about them and stay toe to toe with the hero. Otherwise, the stories just don't work for me.

    This is the case for me as well. I bought all five Ice books from Fictionwise in one go last year. I struggled through the first book because the heroine was rather weak. It would be fine if the hero wasn’t so dodgy.

    I noticed the weak heroine became the norm with Anne Stuart’s books since, I think, Into the Fire and stopped buying AS’s books. When I found out about the Ice series last year (I had been away for about four years), I bought the lot because I thought if the hero was that unusual then the heroine would be as well, but I was wrong. I still haven’t read the rest of the Ice series.

    Anne Stuart’s heroines from older books aren’t the “ass-kicking” type (well, except for the Maggie Bennett trilogy and maybe the Catspaw series), but at least they have the wits and the brains to deal with anti-heroes.

    The fact her heroes are generally anti-heroes is the reason why I loved her books, but gah, her heroines these days are so bloody weak.

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  13. Bronte
    Nov 06, 2010 @ 00:01:11

    I didn’t mind this book. I enjoyed the second book in this series the most though. I think Anne Stuart is not for everyone. You know her heroes are always going to be a little on the dodgy/ambiguous side. How many authors in mainstream romance can get away with writing a hero that has sex with other men, not because he’s gay but because he’s getting the job done, and actually get the reader to like the hero?

    I read so many paranormal romances where the heroines are the dodgy ones, its actually refreshing to read a good old fashioned bad boy reformed by love. Do I want to read it all the time? No. But I think that Anne Stuart writes this particular trope better than anyone.

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  14. Daz
    Nov 06, 2010 @ 01:12:09

    I just love the review done in limerick form.

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  15. cead
    Nov 06, 2010 @ 06:45:42

    @Bronte:

    How many authors in mainstream romance can get away with writing a hero that has sex with other men, not because he's gay but because he's getting the job done, and actually get the reader to like the hero?

    Which one was that??

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  16. Grace
    Nov 06, 2010 @ 07:48:54

    Loved Ruthless. Hated Reckless. Have Breathless on my TBR stack.

    Stuart is on my automatic buy list, and I’ve liked all her books until Reckless. I’m hoping Breathless is better.

    Loved the limerick.

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  17. Bronte
    Nov 06, 2010 @ 08:08:33

    @cead: That was Cold as Ice

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  18. DS
    Nov 06, 2010 @ 08:42:08

    @Maili:

    Might be spoilers

    Thinking again about what I’ve read, the heroine may also be part of the problem. Apparently she is persuaded to not fight her sexual assault by the paid thug and then later comes to question whether she was actually raped because she didn’t fight enough. There is something very distasteful about that scenario.

    I was trying to decide if I would find the idea so distasteful if the book wasn’t a romance and I think that is part of the issue with me. I’ve read picaresque historical fiction that deals with much worse things happening to the characters but I’m not supposed to believe a happy ending arose from the events. Edward, Edward by Lolah Burford comes to mind.

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  19. Renda
    Nov 06, 2010 @ 08:51:16

    Loved the limerick.
    Never read Stuart.
    After reading these comments, I probably won’t.
    I like HEAs without a lot of angst.

    ReplyReply

  20. cead
    Nov 06, 2010 @ 09:09:27

    @Bronte: Intriguing different!

    I haven’t read any Anne Stuart books yet, but there are a few of them in my TBR pile. Maybe I’ll add that one.

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  21. cead
    Nov 06, 2010 @ 09:10:56

    @cead: That should read “intriguing/different”. Sorry about that *sigh*.

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  22. Statch
    Nov 06, 2010 @ 13:56:20

    I’m a diehard Anne Stuart fan, and have collected many of her books. I’ve enjoyed the recent series, including Breathless, and I liked the ‘Ice’ series, particularly Fire and Ice.

    Yet I’m normally very sensitive to the issue of stepping over that ‘is it rape?’ line with other authors. I think one of the reasons this doesn’t bother me with Stuart is the feeling that I’m in the hands of a master who is deliberately stretching boundaries. With other writers, I often feel they’re only looking for shock value. So I trust her enough to keep reading despite discomfort with the hero’s actions and character.

    It’s like watching her walk a tightrope, wondering if she can actually make it to the end successfully. She hasn’t let me down yet, though Into the Fire came awfully close.

    Many authors who use the ‘reformed bad boy’ plot cheat by making the hero seem bad at the beginning, but then part way through you find out that he secretly supports whole orphanages and rescues puppies in his apare time. Stuart doesn’t cheat.

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  23. TKF
    Nov 06, 2010 @ 16:45:29

    Have never tried her. The “rapey” reputation has always kept me away. I think I’ll download the free chapters of Black Ice and the free short that starts out the Rohan series and see what I think (is it just me, or is Rohan just way too Lord of the Rings?).

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  24. Joy
    Nov 06, 2010 @ 21:59:08

    There’s a very thin line between dark hero and villain, and I can’t really tell whether Stuart crosses it or just dances on top of it in this book.

    But I loved the heroine. I love that she can look as this evil hero and thwart him so wonderfully and even humorously.

    So I’m fairly ambivalent about this book. I may have to read it again to be sure how ambivalent I am.

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  25. Top Romantic Movies
    Nov 07, 2010 @ 01:06:40

    I have to say that this is the first blog that I have ever seen where the review is written as a limerick! (And I read a lot of blogs!) Great limerick, as for the book, not sure I can say the same thing. Thanks for the review!

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  26. Kimberly Van Meter
    Nov 08, 2010 @ 12:26:51

    I just finished BREATHLESS and I thought it was a strong B because I loved the writing and the storyline but the ending felt rushed and certain plot points were completely glossed over. I would’ve liked a few more chapters towards the end. I love bad boy heroes who are borderline awful in the beginning. It makes their transformation that much more delicious. Also, the rape thing didn’t bother me because when I read historical stories I try to remember that situations were handled differently back then and sometimes women were placed in situations that a modern woman would never find herself. It’s part of the reading experience. One of my favorite comfort reads is an older historical romance where the hero does, indeed, rape the heroine but it’s still a great story. I would never be okay with that in real life but I don’t read for realism. I read for entertainment. I’m interested to read some more of Anne Stuart’s work. This was a first for me.

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  27. Aldona
    Nov 08, 2010 @ 12:43:26

    SPOILER ALERT: I disliked this book for many reasons, starting with the heroine being able to shrug off the kidnapping and rape that the hero arranged as a form of revenge for the death of a sister who is barely mentioned throughout the book.

    I like strong, dark alpha male heros. I mean, who doesn’t love a bad boy?

    And the heroine’s, “oh well, I’ve lost my virtue, que sera sera, time to move on” attitude smacked of insincerity and shallow character development.

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  28. Anne Stuart
    Nov 24, 2010 @ 09:40:42

    There once was a writer named Anne
    Who tried to please all of her fans
    She failed once or twice
    With her fondness for vice
    And she’ll probably do it again.

    Bad boys are an often-used trope
    Better than heroes who mope
    If they oft go too far
    Then it’s clear that they are
    For some beyond saving or hope.

    But writers will write what they must
    And hope that the readers will trust
    That sometimes it works
    Or the heroes are jerks
    But best to ignore all the fuss.

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  29. Darla
    Nov 29, 2010 @ 11:07:16

    @Anne Stuart: Loved it Anne

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  30. lazaraspaste
    Dec 02, 2010 @ 16:41:42

    My apologies to @AnneStuart for taking ever so long in replying to her wonderful poem.

    I think all exchanges of ideas should been done in limerick form or, at least, couplets.

    ReplyReply

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