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GUEST REVIEW: O that I were a glove upon that hand:...

Housekeeping: Based on comments, and Twitter, and everything wah, I’ve compiled the Big List of Awesome, which is – to the best of my ability – all the recommendations, suggestions and ideas that have been thrown my way. The order is largely arbitrary. I tried to prioritise things that accumulated multiple recs, or particularly strong cases, but I was also a bit self-indulgent in that, err, anything that seemed especially exciting has ended up near the top. ‘Pirates’ turned out to be a bit of a magic word but I managed to be fairly self-disciplined when it came to ‘vikings’. There seemed to be a lot more historical stuff than anything else, so I basically spread them out as best as I could. And, at this point, I pretty much lost control of everything so I just added things as I got them.

Please note, the Big List of Awesome is not set in stone. If something isn’t on it, it’s because I missed it, not because I rejected it, so just let me know. If you feel something is way too low, again, just let me know and I’ll move it – I’m tremendously suggestible. Some authors have several titles by their name. I’ll probably just end up going with whichever is easiest/cheapest to get hold of, unless anybody has a better idea. And some authors just have [something by] for when opinion was too divided for me to be able to come up with a recommended text or people were just saying READ ANYTHING IT’S ALL GREAT. Feel free to poke me if there’s something particular you think I should be reading.

Finally, I reserve the right to skip about, go off list, change the order, or follow the impulse of the moment. Also I may die of old age before I get to the bottom. Sorry about that. Here’s the list in PDF if you want to see what’s coming up.

 O that I were a glove upon that hand: Lord of Scoundrels

It’s my second article and I already have a confession to make: my dominant emotion, at least initially, when reading Lord of Scoundrels was a heady sense of relief that this thing was actively good and I hadn’t made a terrible mistake.  Don’t get me wrong, The Flame & The Flower was an interesting experience, but then so is tweezering your nasal hair.  However, Lord of Scoundrels is simply and straightforwardly delightful in pretty much every conceivable way.  I read it in one two hour sitting like Edmund Pevensie with a box of Turkish Delight and then felt weirdly like I wanted to hug someone, couldn’t cope with it and went off to make a stir fry instead.  So it was all good.

Here’s what goes down (errr… not like that): The Marquess of Dain, a very alliterative cad known thankfully not very often as The Blight and Bane of the Ballisters (both the blight and the bane, you go, err, boyfriend), has been raised in what I like to think is a fairly standard English fashion: emotionally distant father, absentee mother.  Despised by his father and packed off to Eton, he has soon amputated any redeeming or pleasant qualities from his personality and is therefore prime romantic hero material. As the book opens, he is engaged in some kind of hardcore debauch-em-up in Paris, from which the heroine, Jessica Trent, is obliged to rescue her Very Stupid brother. Jessica and Dain are instantly infatuated with each other, so much so they end up Going For It at a formal ball and are caught in what I believe they call ‘a compromising position’.  Needless to say, they end up having to get married.  They fall in love.  There are slight complications involving a Russian icon, an evil queer, and one of Dain’s illegitimate children but, basically, the good end happily and bad unhappily.

lord of scoundrels loretta chaseFor me, this was very much Jessica’s book.  She is basically the best person ever and I love her so much I can’t even.  I’m not quite sure if that’s because she is objectively fabulous or if poor Heather set the bar so low that earthworms could hurdle it, but Jessica was a complete and comprehensive reversal of all my expectations.  I don’t know enough about the genre to address this properly (and feel free to pick me up on this) but it seems to me the Heather Type heroine – childlike, stupid, waiting patiently to be sexually awakened by an utter wanker – is still very much extant.  Ana Steele is basically a Heather, right?  And, therefore, from my very limited perspective, Jessica seemed wildly, and wonderfully, subversive. And I want to marry her.

The part of me that is a curmudgeonly git did occasionally question her historical plausibility but most of me didn’t care.  I mean, what kind of soulless monster would I be if I responded to the sublime and spirited Jessica Trent with “Well, technically dear, I think you should be a bit more oppressed”?  I fell in love with her at pretty much the precise moment Dain does, which is on page 34.  They meet, by chance, at an antique shop and – being an arse – Dain tries to scandalise Jessica by showing her an obscene watch, depicting a man performing ‘a sexual service’ for a woman.  She is, of course, far too awesome to be remotely phased by this and the conversation unfolds as follows:

“You want to buy it, Miss Trent [...] I strongly doubt your elders will approve of such a purchase.  Or have English notions of propriety undergone a revolution while I’ve been away?”

“Oh, it isn’t for me,” she said.  “It’s for my grandmother.” (p.34)

Reader, I literally LOLed.

Jessica then spends the next four hundred pages continuing to be amazing beyond all reason.  She’s sexually attracted to Dain and is totally okay with it.  Although he’s the one with the sexual experience, their initial marital encounters take place at her instigation because she has a powerful and entirely healthy desire to bonk her husband. When he tries to make sex about power and control, she refuses to let him.  When he treats her badly, she shoots him.  When he tries to bully her, she laughs at him.  When Evil People show up trying to cause trouble, she completely thwarts them by being sensible. Instead of freaking out because Dain has spread a wild oat, she insists on his taking responsibility for the wellbeing of the kid.  And she’s not afraid to say ‘I love you’ first.  She is just consistently strong and decent and clever and funny and passionate and, oh my bloody god, what the hell is she doing married to an almighty bellend like Dain?

Blight, Bane and Bellend of the Ballisters.

Sigh.  But maybe I’m being too harsh on him.  To give the man his due, he is about eighty million trillion gazillion times better than Brandon.  If we have to take not raping people as an actively positive quality rather than a baseline standard of normal decency, then Dain is way up there.  He is, in fact, consistently worried about accidentally hurting Jessica or taking her without her explicit consent, which is, err, nice of him.  Of course, it’s not without problems either, since it also denies women the right to make a choice (in this case, to have sex when they want it).  But, then, he is living in 1828 and if you’re unsure if a woman wants to sleep with you, it’s probably best to err on the side of ‘probably not’ over ‘I’ll just put my dick in and see what happens.’  And, anyway, Jessica soon puts him to rights.  By ripping his shirt off. (And I’ve just noticed I’ve written an entire paragraph without mentioning how much I love Jessica… in case I’ve been too subtle on this point, I really really love Jessica).

The other thing that helped me stomach Dain being a pillock was the fact he was explicitly being a pillock, and there seemed to a strong degree of recognition, both in the text and in Dain’s messed up little noggin, that this was a bad thing.  Again, perhaps it was a misreading on my part, but I got the distinct impression that a lot of Brandon’s awfulness was meant to be sexy and secretly appealing.  So, for example, his jealous rages and controlling behaviour were a reflection of the true depth and intensity of his wuv for Heather.  Whereas, with Dain, it’s nothing but harmful.  It gets in the way of his love for Jessica to say nothing of his personal happiness, and she basically spends the whole book challenging him over it until she manages to sex-bash some sense into the stupid man.

Lord of Scoundrels 07And at least we get some explanation as to why Dain is acting like a tosser all the time.  Brandon was apparently just kind of like that.  I’m a bit dubious about the whole ‘people were mean to me so now I’m mean to them’ approach, since I don’t think you should get a free pass to dickhead, but I genuinely felt for Dain during the prologue.  And, quite frankly, it would be ragingly hypocritical of me to take a strong stance against difficult people finding love.  Dain’s backstory is a banal sort of tragedy in many ways, which I think is why it moved me.  It’s an accumulation of disregard and petty cruelty, rather than any great or terrible drama.  His father is clearly a shitty human being but he’s not Satan incarnate either.  And the things that conspire to utterly break Dain are actually far more subtle and socially driven than anything as simple as his father’s failure to love him. What Dain’s upbringing teaches him, in the worst possible way, is what it means to be a man.  And, in his world (and, let’s face it, the one we’re living in right now), men are not supposed to be emotional, neurotic, vulnerable or loving.  By nature, Dain is all of those things but he learns very quickly that they will never be valued.

No wonder he’s wrecked.

Although, I know some people who went to English public schools and I am telling you, the dude got off way lightly.  Stuff goes on in those places that practically violates the Geneva Convention.

To understand Dain, however, is not necessarily enough to like him.  I mean, after he and Jessica get caught in flagrante at the ball, he actually does that thing (look, a trope!) of immediately concluding that she’s an evil trollop trying to inveigle his ring onto her finger.  I wouldn’t mind but it’s so ludicrously implausible.  In my head, I was like “dude, you’ve met Jessica Trent, screw your inner pain, there’s no way on earth she would do something like that, will you use some of that extensive fortune to buy yourself a clue?”  Thankfully, Jessica shoots him not long after.  Possibly I was just too committed to Team Jessica to be able to endure someone treating her badly but I was never really convinced Dain was worth her trouble.   But, y’know, if he was what she wanted, then I’m glad she got him.  I’m not sure if that counts as a romantic win, but it works for me.

I also think the ball sequence highlights one of my (very minor) problems with Lord of Scoundrels.  I know it’s primarily the story of a relationship between two people, and that’s fine, but I felt the plot was a bit lacklustre across the board.  Things happen, and thankfully they were all a lot more interesting that the extensive bathing and shopping sequences of F&F (Jessica and Dain don’t go shopping once – respect) but it’s all a bit vague and unsatisfying.  There’s something going on with a Russian icon, Dain gets a psychosomatic dead arm that requires some wibbly psychological healing and a child adoption to fix, and some background characters make half-hearted attempts to stuff things up.  Although I absolutely loved all of Dain and Jessica’s interactions, their road to matrimony feels a bit forced and they waver tediously through an extensive series of slightly irritating misunderstandings (while still clearly fancying the pants off each other).  But, again, I have limited scope for comparison.

Once again, I was slightly disconcerted by Weight Determined Morality (WDM).  I know we’re in fantasy land, where the wang never runs out of juice and all women have amazing hair, but whose fantasies are really being addressed here?  Surely attractiveness – like people, in fact – covers a broad spectrum.  It’s not so much that all the heroines are thin, it’s the fact that, although not all evil people are fat, all fat people are evil.  Except Bertie Trent, I suppose, who is merely stupid.  There’s also an evil queer in Lord of Scoundrels (see panda comma sad).

sad panda is sad about Jessica Trent

His weight remains undisclosed but he smells bad.  Thankfully he’s only really in it long enough to get punched by Dain and orchestrate the final segment of the plot.   I think he’s just meant to be a guy with no redeeming features, but ‘bisexual’ does not belong on a list with immoral, cruel and smelly.  To be fair, he’s not explicitly bisexual but it is pretty clear he fancies dudes.  I think the exact phrase is ‘rutted with just about anything’ (p.42) so perhaps it’s actually lack of discrimination that is being condemned here. All the same, I feel I should point out that rutting with just about anything is a generous and public minded trait that should be admired and celebrated, perhaps with parades.

But that’s enough with the picking of the nits, for those are nits and did not, in any way, impinge upon my genuine enjoyment of the book.  On the other hand, I really can’t write about Lord of Scoundrels without mentioning two of the secondary characters.  One of the (many!) ways in which this book left F&F howling in the dust clutching its nads was the deft and effective way it made me care about pretty much all of the characters.  However, this turned out to be both and a blessing and a curse because a couple of backgroundy type people drifted into the text and completely stole it.  The first was Genevieve Trent, Jessica’s equally fantastic grandmother, and a femme fatale par excellence.  She is gorgeous, witty, dangerous and as sexy as all hell with a string of infatuated (often much younger) lovers.  She is also heartbreakingly under-used.

And then there’s this other guy, described by the (apparently!) heterosexual hero as “about as beautiful as a man could be without looking remotely like a woman” and later called the most beautiful man on three continents.  Yes, I’m shallow but he sounds awesome.  Again, he’s only in the book for about three taunting seconds, time he uses mainly to makes gnomic utterances:

“Women do not lie, my lord Dain,” came a faintly accented voice from the door.  “It merely seems so because they exist in another reality.” (p. 39)

I wasn’t quite sure how to interpret this but, having given it some thought, I now see there’s only one possible explanation: The Comte d’Esmond is an alien (possibly a psychic alien, because he says numerous odd things that eventually come true).

So I think what I’m saying here is this: I enjoyed the hell out of Lord of Scoundrels, but I would also love to read The Adventures of Genevieve Trent, Regency GILF & The Comte d’Esmond, The Hottie From Outer Space.  Maybe they could fight crime?

Everything I learned about life & love from Reading Lord of Scoundrels: I’m weirdly into Grannies, gloves are shockingly erotic, fat people are still evil, bisexuals are evil too, sometimes men just need a good shooting, Jessica Trent is the best.

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Guest Reviewer

169 Comments

  1. Teresa
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 12:12:54

    The Conte D’Esmond appears as the hero in “Captives of the Night” which is not that great a book. However, “The Last Hellion” is a terrific sequel to “Lord of Scoundrels.” Chase is a really odd author to me. She’s written some of my very favorite romances (“Lord Perfect”) and some really bad ones. I’m bored witless with her latest trilogy.

    One your list of awesome I would add some Anne Stuart & Connie Brockway. Brockway’s “Promise Me Heaven” and “Dearest Enemy” are sublime.

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  2. Kati
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 12:16:30

    *exhales cigarette smoke*

    Yup….that was good for me.

    Jessica Trent remains after 30+ years of reading romances, among my favorite romance heroines ever.

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  3. Kati
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 12:17:41

    @Teresa: Ooh! I’m a fan of All Through the Night by Brockway. The chair seduction scene remains is one of my true favorites in romance. It’s a brilliant, brilliant book!

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  4. Ros
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 12:18:31

    But, then, he is living in 1828 and if you’re unsure if a woman wants to sleep with you, it’s probably best to err on the side of ‘probably not’ over ‘I’ll just put my dick in and see what happens.’

    This works well in 2013, too.

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  5. Darlynne
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 12:18:45

    I gave up trying to select one of your comments as my favorite, so I’ll just go with this one: All the same, I feel I should point out that rutting with just about anything is a generous and public minded trait that should be admired and celebrated, perhaps with parades.

    I heart you so much. Merci mille fois.

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  6. Jordan
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 12:33:13

    YES. THIS! Jessica completely makes this book for me. She is full of every kind of awesomeness. I love it. I reread it often. The thing about Dane is that from almost the very beginning, he tries so hard. Sometimes that ends up making things worse instead of better, but he’s just so conflicted. I really love his internal dialogue, especially after he FINALLY gets it that Jessica *likes* him and isn’t just mesmerized by the sexy times.

    Also, I would be first in line to read “The Adventures of Genevieve Trent, Regency GILF & The Comte d’Esmond, The Hottie From Outer Space.”

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  7. AJH
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 12:34:42

    @Teresa:

    Good grief, next you’ll be telling me he’s not a psychic alien… *sadface*.

    I would definitely like to read more some more Chase – to be honest, I don’t think I really care if Captives of the Night isn’t great, I’d quite like to find out what’s going on with d’Esmond. I suppose I should have guessed he’d turn out to be sequel bait or something.

    Promise Me Heaven & Dearest Enemy have been listed – I’ve completely lost all capacity to organise thing so, for the moment, they’re stuck on the bottom but I’ll probably re-order when, err, when I dare :) Thank you for the recs :)

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  8. AJH
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 12:38:49

    @Kati:

    Yes, she’s wonderful. And has pretty much ruined every heroine who has come after her who isn’t markedly different. But after her forthright, no-nonsense, sex-positive awesome, my already relatively limited patience for Heathers Type Heroines has basically died completely.

    I fear this makes me the worst reader in the world. All these imaginary women failing to live up to a different imaginary women :/

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  9. AJH
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 12:39:17

    @Kati:

    Wait … what … CHAIR?

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  10. AJH
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 12:41:27

    @Ros:

    It’s a maxim I do my best to uphold.

    (On a more serious note, yes, you’re right, that was clumsily expressed on my part. I should have said ‘he was living in 1828, when it was even less socially acceptable for women to like sex than it is now FULL STOP And as a general rule…’)

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  11. AJH
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 12:44:35

    @Darlynne:

    Thank you so much – I’m really glad you enjoyed it :)

    It was altogether a vastly superior experience for me than the dreaded F&F – I mean not only did I get pleasure out of writing the article, and discussing the book with people as I am now, but it was lots of fun to read as well.

    Complete win ;)

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  12. Lori
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 12:45:19

    What a brilliant review: thank you.

    I seriously believe that what makes a great romance is the heroine and not the hero so Loretta Chase always delights me because her heroines are smart, funny, honest and awesome. As well as the heroes rocking the casbah too.

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  13. Anthea Lawson
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 12:46:08

    Great second review! I also really appreciate that you started with the OldSkool read, just so that you can get some perspective on how women’s sexual agency has (mostly) changed since that time in romances. But not necessarily in other genres – good point re: Ana Steele, and of course, her progenitor, Bella.

    Another vote here for Connie Brockway’s “My Dearest Enemy” – OR “As You Desire,” which has a wonderful opening that gently mocks, er, romance novels…
    Again with the historicals, but Mary Balogh’s Slightly series (I do so love the last book in that series, SlightlyDangerous).
    Contemps – do you have Nobody’s Baby but Mine by SEP? (Er, that’s Susan Elizabeth Phillips).
    Another vote for Bet Me by Jenny Crusie, which deals with the weight stereotype issues a bit better than most, as well as the heroine who doesn’t want kids.

    So fun to see you discover the awesome (and the crazy) that is the romance genre. Thanks for letting us watch! ;)

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  14. Jia
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 12:47:19

    Jessica Trent is the best. THE BEST.

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  15. Teresa
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 12:47:54

    @AJH Conte D’Esmond is pretty awesome. Just wish he got an awesomer book. Read Last Hellion tho. Grenville gives Jessica Trent a run for her money in the greatest heroine of all time category. “Lord Perfect” is a book I read over and over. Just a jewel of a novel though quieter than the other too.

    @kati Love all of Brockway. So excited she is coming out with Gile’s book soon!

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  16. Teresa
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 12:51:44

    Arghhhhh. Re-reading the comments I posted and cringing over spelling. That’s what you get trying to type on a iPhone with 45yr old eyes. We need a hero who is a great ophthalmologist.

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  17. AJH
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 12:53:35

    @Jordan:

    Weirdly, for me, it was a bit like reading Jane Eyre – a book I’ve always found utterly incomprehensible, by the way. I really do despise Rochester utterly but I admire Jane to pieces so what keeps me going is investment in Jane’s happiness (and all the crazy Victorian Jesus stuff). Dain is way less objectionable to me than Rochester, but, again, much of the impact of LoS (for me) came from desperately rooting for Jessica to get everything she wants and deserves – including Dain.

    But, you’re right, Dain is a real trier, and it’s hard not to like a trier. His utterly neurotic internal dialogue (especially his dictionary) was quite endearing . I just wish he’d been a bit more, err, externally expressive towards the end – once he got his head sorted out. I mean, I guess it wasn’t necessary because it was clear Jessica understood him completely and was in doubt of the depth and truth of his feelings – but I just wanted to make sure he understood the value of what he was getting ;)

    Regarding TAOFGTRG&TCDETHFOS (not the most catchy title, now I stop to think about it) … is there maybe some kind of petition we can get going ;)

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  18. Little Red
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 13:02:29

    Great review! I’ll buy this book for my Nook as soon as I get home since my local library doesn’t have it.

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  19. Kati
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 13:04:13

    @AJH:

    In Connie Brockway’s All Through the Night. A chair seduction scene. It’s a doozy.

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  20. Kay Webb Harrison
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 13:11:01

    Love your review. Loved LofS, but Captives of the Night is my favorite Chase book. In it, we see Francis Beaumont’s final moments. Both Esmond and Beaumont first appear in Chase’s The Lion’s Daughter; Esmond is originally from Albania. Chase’s novella “The Mad Earl’s Bride” brings back Bertie Trent and the Dains; and I think the Grandmother. Dain’s frenemy Vere is the hero of The Last Hellion; his heroine is a newspaper reporter and serial novelist. Bertie finds his own true love; and Jessica and Dain also involve themselves in the story.

    My one nit with Chase is that the action in The Last Hellion (1998) takes place chronologically before that of Captives of the Night (1994).

    Happy reading,
    Kay

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  21. Eggletina
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 13:21:56

    “Captives of the Night” is a very different kind of romance than “Lord of Scoundrels”. Much more understated, I would say, in mood and tone. Would make an interesting contrast, especially if you liked Comte d’Esmond . LoS was for me a good a page-turner but just average-to-fair as a romance. I actually like her Carsington series of books better. “Lord Perfect” is my favorite of that series.

    Love Brockway’s “All Through the Night”. Judith Ivory’s “Untie My Heart” is another with a doozy of a chair scene.

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  22. Rhian
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 13:33:41

    This is such an excellent, hilarious review. Favourite bits: “Blight, Bane and Bellend of the Ballisters”, sad panda at the evil queer (I hate that plot device too), and the possibility of the Comte being a psychic alien. Brilliant. I do hope you’ll be writing more!

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  23. Lynnd
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 13:34:11

    Great review! Thank you.

    I did take a look at your big list and look forward to your future reviews. I saw that you have “What Darkness Brings” by C.S. Harris on it – I would suggest that you start with the first one in that series, “What Angels Fear”. Each one of them is a stand alone mystery and the “romance” plot develops over the course of the series.

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  24. Karenmc
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 13:40:23

    Pretty much swimming in happy sauce after reading this review. Thank you, AJH.
    I agree with others about Brockway’s All Through the Night and Dearest Enemy. They’re both worthwhile reads. And yes, there’s a chair scene in Judith Ivory’s Untie My Heart that is QUITE memorable.

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  25. Laurla
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 13:40:54

    First time commenting, ever, on DA and it was this incredibly funny wonderful review that drove me from lurker to commenter.

    Well, that, and the fact that I can’t believe no one mentioned Janet Evanovich for the Big List of Awesome. I don’t love (or even like) everything she does, but I think AJH needs to be introduced to Ranger and, of course, Stephanie’s many car, er, mishaps? Not to mention if he’s got a thing for grannies…..

    @AJH I love what you’re doing and I hope you stick around long enough to finish your list. Of course, if you’re like the rest of us, you will NEVER EVER come to the end of your TBR because it never stops growing!

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  26. Eileen
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 14:00:20

    I’m one of the few people who didn’t like LoS. I was skimming the last third of the book just to finish it because I know it is such a favorite. This was a few years ago so maybe I should try a re-read. The only other Loretta Chase I have read was Your Scandalous Ways, and I didn’t like that one either.

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  27. AJH
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 14:03:32

    @Lori:

    My pleasure – really glad you liked it.

    That’s an interesting perspective – I hadn’t thought of it like that. I think I probably slightly more attention to the heroine than I do the hero, unless the hero keeps grabbing my attention by, err, being a bellend, but then I tend to find heroines a bit more variable (I say this based on having read 5 books…so it’s probably nonsense).

    I suppose the ideal world is both the heroine AND the hero being amazing, rather than one of them essentially acting as reward mechanism for the brilliance of the other.

    I’m really looking forward to finding a book where I like them both equally.

    I seriously believe that what makes a great romance is the heroine and not the hero so Loretta Chase always delights me because her heroines are smart, funny, honest and awesome. As well as the heroes rocking the casbah too.

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  28. Lada
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 14:10:19

    Your thoughts on this romance classic were hugely entertaining and reminder of how truly great characters stay with us. I haven’t read LoS for years but Jessica Trent remains vivid and an all time favorite heroine. I think you did well chosing as you have so far. LoS may have read a bit more dated if you had first read more recent historicals (although Jessica is still fantastic) but it was the perfect foil for F&F.

    Also, I’m voting for Bet Me (an all time favorite) and For My Lady’s Heart (which will be a revelation and unlike anything else you will read) as they are higher up in your BLoA.

    Your column has instantly become a must read and I look forward to your next adventure in romance reading!

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  29. Aisha
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 14:13:06

    Fun review again, thanks. LoS was one of the first romances I read years ago when I first started reading in the genre, because it was No.1 on AAR’s list of top 100 romances. [BEWARE: possible sacrilege ahead] I remember being quite bored in parts possibly because of the plot weaknesses you point to.

    Speaking of that list though (and DA has one as well), I’m not sure if anyone has mentioned it, but it could serve as a useful point of comparison since it is, I think, based on a more… structured :) consultation process.

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  30. AJH
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 14:14:25

    @Anthea Lawson:

    Thank you :) I honestly started OldSkool by accident rather than design – so I can’t really take any credit for it. However, you are right, it’s really given me a really helpful perspective on the genre (mainly, to be fair ‘oh thank God it’s moved on’) and, actually, as I said in my first introductory babble, the more I read, the more interested I get. The intricacies of tropes developing, intersecting, being subverted and re-imagined.

    I’ve heard really mixed things about Slightly Dangerous – about 50% of people telling me it’s amazing and delightful and I’ll love it, and about 50% decrying it as the worst thing in the world. So, naturally, I’m intrigued ;)

    I think I have ‘It Had to be You’ for SEP (weirdly she’s just above Balogh on the list o’ doom) but I can certainly take a look at Nobody’s Baby but Mine as well / instead.

    Anyway, list updated :) Thank you for the feedback :)

    And, truthfully, I’d have been doing this anyway for personal interest but it is about a million billion times more fun shared. I really love talking about this stuff with everyone, it’s just brilliant :)

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  31. AJH
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 14:14:56

    @Jia:

    Damn straight.

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  32. AJH
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 14:19:42

    @Teresa:

    Oh gosh, don’t apologise – you should see the sort of incoherent, mispelled inanities that I produce when armed only with a phone. Or, err, without one for that matter.

    I’m currently feeling – kid in a sweet shop style – that I should make sure I’ve tried one of everything before I start doubling up. But I definitely *definitely* want to read more Chase. I might treat myself when I get halfway down my list or something :)

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  33. AJH
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 14:21:40

    @Little Red:

    Oh Gawd, I always feel ludicrously anxious when people read things on my (often rather spurious) recommendations. But I think it’s a very very delightful book, and I hope you enjoy it :)

    (I have it in paperback and, ye Gods, it’s the pinkest book, no make that the pinkest thing, I own).

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  34. AJH
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 14:25:23

    @Kati:

    You mean a seduction … on a chair right? Not the seduction of a chair. Because I’ve got tell you, I don’t think I’m into that.

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  35. AJH
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 14:32:56

    @Kay Webb Harrison:

    Thank you – so glad you enjoyed. And, ah hah, everyone has been telling me Captives of the Night isn’t that great so now I shall ignore them, in order to pursue my interest in d’Esmonds :) At least, when I finally get far enough in my list that I feel it wouldn’t be silly :)

    And, wow, that’s a complicated net of connections – I might need a diagram :P

    I’m not sure how I feel about previous heroes and heroines mucking into other people’s stories. I remember there’s a brief appearance of Leonie and Avon in Devil’s Cub, which felt to me unnecessary and a bit like fan service. Though I do like Devil’s Cub on its own account.

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  36. AJH
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 14:38:13

    @Eggletina:

    I’m clearly missing something about the humble chair… how much of my life have I wasted not giving it full expression of its true erotic potential?

    I’m not sure I can honestly say I ‘liked’ d’Esmond. He was barely in LoS, and mainly he was beautiful and slightly weird. No, no, on second thoughts, I did like him. That’s, frankly, all it takes :)

    Captives of the Night seems a bit controversial actually – with people loving it, or not thinking very much of it. I have about a million things to read, all exciting, but I do have this wild urge to romp through everything Chase has ever written now…

    As I think I said in the review, I’m not sure how LoS stands for me as a romance – I was happy Jessica got Dain because she wanted him but since my reaction to Jessica was very strong and my reaction to Dain was ‘well, I guess he could be worse’ – it was hard to really invest in the romance from any perspective beyond wanting Jessica to be happy. So, in that respect, I think you could argue it was only a ‘fair’ romance. I think it could be quite a different experience if you were equally committed to both the hero and the heroine.

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  37. AJH
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 14:41:11

    @Rhian:

    I’m so very glad you enjoyed – thank you for the kind words. And, yes, I will likely not be shutting up any time soon, as long as Jane is kind enough to permit me this corner :)

    Evil queers do not thrill me either but I suspect it could have been much much worse, so it was probably slightly uncharitable of me to whinge about it :) Any excuse for a picture of a panda, though, right?

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  38. AJH
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 14:43:20

    @Lynnd:

    Very much my pleasure. Honestly, I’ve having such a blast, you wouldn’t believe. And having people to talk to about it all is just the perfect cherry on the cake :)

    Oh, yes, that looks like it was me being an idiot – I remember somebody recommending the author, so I did some googling and grabbed onto what I thought was the first book in the series but clearly isn’t. I’ll change it :)

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  39. AJH
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 14:45:32

    @Karenmc:

    You’re all making me obsessed with chairs!

    I’m really happy you liked the review. I had such a positive reaction to the book (Jessica, oh Jessica, imaginary woman of my heart…) that it was really nice to be able to spill that into text and share it.

    Brockway is now on the list – albeit at the bottom because I’m worried if I try to re-order it again, the whole thing might fall on top of me :) But I’ll get there, hopefully before old age claims me.

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  40. Fran S.
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 14:54:16

    This was great!! I just re-read this a few weeks ago and it’s nice to hear about other people’s love for Jessica. I was totally caught off guard by Captives of the Night too, as I’d only read this and parts of the Carsington series (I love Not Quite a Lady).The tone was darker and the story pacing threw me off. I’ve heard mixed things about The Last Hellion, but The Mad Earl’s Bride is so great (Kay mentioned it). It’s definitely worth a read!!

    Also: Excited to hear about your thoughts on the Dragon Kin books (G.A. Aiken). #3 is my favorite but I like them all.

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  41. knstrick
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 14:56:04

    I have not read Lord of Scoundrels, so I cannot comment nor compare your Jessica, but based on what you’ve written about her, I highly recommend Hearts Aflame by Johanna Lindsey again. I re-read it recently after suggesting it to you on your original post and still heart it, though it is pretty dated and full of the crazy. The heroine Kristen would be BFFs with Jessica and most likely fight crime. Very strong female, understands and appreciates her own sexuality, but perhaps not as sensible as Jessica. She’d be like SuperGirl to Jessica’s Oracle (if you get the DC ref).

    And for something completely different, I would also second Teresa’s Anne Stuart rec. The heroines are neurotic and the heroes are downright evil, but somehow it really works.

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  42. AJH
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 14:57:00

    @Laurla:

    Oh wow, I’m beyond honoured :) Actually I lurked for AGES before I plucked up the courage to email Jane and ask if she’d consider letting me write some stuff about my experiences with the genre. And, obviously, since I’ve only read 5 books (I mean 5 romance books, not 5 books… that would be miserable) there’s not much I can really say to the reviews I read. But when I do know the book, I’m so there. I think there’s going to be a joint Lazaraspaste / Janine review of To Have & To Hold (which I am reading *right now*) when it gets re-released in e-book in July, and I am going to be all over that!

    I’m having a wonderful time – reading all these books, and writing about them, and talking about them (and, ye gods, tweeting about the interminably) and though it’s very possible I may die of exhaustion, as long as Jane is happy for me to be here, I’m unlikely to go away :)\

    Janet Evanovich has joined The List… although I am quite apprehensive. Cars? Grannies? Oh dear. Oh dear.

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  43. Kati
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 15:02:29

    @AJH: Yes, yes. Seduction ON a chair not OF a chair.

    That’s a whole difference genre. I’m not sure you’re ready to take the training wheels off for that yet. *g*

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  44. AJH
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 15:03:40

    @Eileen:

    I don’t know, I think if you don’t like something you, err, probably don’t like it.

    Words of wisdom from Captain Obvious…

    No, but seriously, I know it’s really difficult when everyone seems to like something and you just don’t get it (I don’t really like chocolate, unless it’s very very dark and very very bitter – that makes me practically an alien). But I think there’s a certain important liberty in saying to yourself ‘what the heck, I just don’t like this’ instead of circling it like a buzzard over and over again, trying to make yourself sneak-like it by running at it from different angles.

    I used to try and read the Lord of the Rings nearly every year – ironically reading less and less of the book with each attempt (first time, I made it all the way to the crack of doom, second time, to Shelob, third time to the council of elrond … now I can barely read the first page before giving up).

    And I am a happy, better person for it :) Albeit one who does not like, and has never read, Lord of the Rings.

    I just think when the genre is so rich and full of books you could like, there’s no point trying to make yourself like the ones you don’t. So I say you should stand proud and wave your ‘I don’t like Loretta Chase’ banner – I’m sure you’re not alone ;)

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  45. Darlynne
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 15:05:09

    @Lynnd: Agreed, C. S. Harris’ books must be read in order.

    Am I the only one *sob* who loves and recommends SEP’s Natural Born Charmer, particularly the audio edition as read by Anna Fields? Say it ain’t so.

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  46. AJH
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 15:09:31

    @Lada:

    I really can’t take any credit for choosing, well, anything. I picked up The Flower & the Flower out of curiosity because people were talking about it on Twitter, and Sarah Frantz recommended I read Lord of Scoundrels to, err, take the taste away :) I’m incredibly grateful for everyone’s suggestions and – whether I end up liking the books or not – it’s going be a fantastic journey :) Although I’ve had a range of reactions to all the texts – including dislike – I’ve read so far (all, err, 5 of them, omg) there isn’t one I wish I hadn’t read.

    I will try and nudge Cruisie and Kinsale a little higher, as quite a few people now have told me I really really must try reading them, although the list might explode if I fiddle with it too much. It feels a bit unstable even now.

    And Jessica was completely wonderful – I hope I encounter more heroines like her :) I’m really glad to hear you’re enjoying the reviews/column/article/thingy (we still have worked out what to call it). See you next Friday for Angel’s Blood :)

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  47. Laurla
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 15:11:45

    @AJH: Ohhhh….. but it’s Ranger you really need to meet….*fans overheated self* then *sighs with dreamy (steamy) look*

    Yes, he’s that good (at least IMO). If only there were Rangers in real life….

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  48. AJH
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 15:14:33

    @Aisha:

    Glad you enjoyed :) I definitely felt character was driving me through the text, rather than, well, anything else. I think if I hadn’t reacted so strongly to Jessica (*love*) I might have been more frustrated by the weaknesses I actually found quite minor.

    And, yes, I could certainly have Googled for a standard recommendation list, or used the one on DA, but it would have been WAY less fun. Also I think it’s just, um, nice if something feels personal to you, rather than off-the-peg. I think when I cross my own finish line I’ll be a bit more scientific – but also, by that stage, hopefully I’ll be in a better informed place to *gasp* make choices of my own :)

    Also this honestly the most tactful thing I think I’ve ever read: “since it is, I think, based on a more… structured :) consultation process.”

    ;)

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  49. AJH
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 15:19:32

    @Fran S.:

    Yay! I’m so glad you enjoyed :) Jessica is basically my favourite imaginary person in the universe right now – I am hopeful of encountering other heroines as amazing.

    I’m getting increasingly interested in Captives of the Night, since opinion seems so divided. But, argh, I have a list and I should stick to it, not go frolicking off wildly at the first temptation… I’ll see if I stay ahead of the game and can squeeze in a little extra-curricular romance.

    And, oh Fran, I feel terrible – I will confess I didn’t really get on with Dragon Actually. Maybe I should have started with a different book but I didn’t really warm to it. I think, perhaps, coming from a fantasy background left me in a bit of an odd position because I obviously had a different set of expectations :(

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  50. Kathy
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 15:53:21

    Excellent review, AJH! I haven’t enjoyed reviews this much since Jane used to do her famous LEGO character video reviews. Your review has me me dusting off my copy of LoS for a re-read this weekend. I’d forgotten just how wonderful Jessica is.

    BTW I had no idea what “bellend” meant until I Googled it. :-D

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  51. Aisha
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 15:55:55

    @AJH: The personal recommendations route also means that you get suggestions tailored to you, or what people here think you will like or be fantastically appalled by – I don’t think there are any books with dragons on those lists for example.
    Yeesh I don’t think I’ve ever been called tactful before. Its usually the opposite – I have been told by good friends and with all the love in the world that I lack a filter between my brain and my mouth. Thank you anyway.
    O_o LotR and the Hobbit were some of my favourite books as a teen, I probably would have read them in Elvish if I could – the Misty Mountains, they called to me :).
    Re chocolate – I can go as low as 60%, but its generally 85% for eating and 70% for baking (all fairtrade, organic, locally produced). Where is that on the alienness scale I wonder?
    Chairs!!! Hmm, I have used them for sitting on, standing upon, and sometimes falling off of. There might have been a few chair races in there as well, but that’s about it :)

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  52. janel
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 15:56:19

    @AJH:

    If you’re going read more Loretta Chase, pick Lord Perfect. I am compelled to go back and read it several times a year and laugh myself silly and tear up every time!

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  53. CD
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 16:08:57

    If it helps to tip the balance, CAPTIVES OF THE NIGHT is up there with LORD PERFECT for the title of my favourite Chase romance. LoS was great but I too never really saw Dain’s appeal so it was a bit more of a so so romance for me. He seemed a bit skeevy with all the sleeping around with prostitutes (kept thinking about STDs the whole time!) and the whole delaying consummation thing started feeling a bit artificial.

    I think the reason why CAPTIVES OF THE NIGHT is a bit controversial is because the heroine is more “difficult”. She starts off pretty cold and cynical, and more interested in art than anything else. However, I adored her and thought that she complemented Esmond really well. I also just loved Esmond of course!

    I would also second Brockway’s ALL THROUGH THE NIGHT and AS YOU DESIRE – both are classics although they are very different. If you like the more “difficult” heroines, not to mention fascinating settings, then I would also suggest you try Kinsale’s FOR MY LADY’S HEART (medieval England) and Putney’s SILK AND SECRETS (Central Asia).

    PS. There’s kind of a dragon in FOR MY LADY’S HEART… And the language – wow…

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  54. CD
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 16:44:50

    Looking at your list of “somethings”, this is what I would recommend:
    - Meljean Brook: start with THE IRON DUKE as that’s the first in the series – it’s great and it lays the groundwork. RIVETED is great but might be confusing if you’re just starting off
    - Ilona Andrews: my favourite of hers is BAYOU MOON as I love the couple. However, you could start with ON THE EDGE as well.
    - Patricia Briggs: I would suggest starting with the novella ALPHA AND OMEGA. I like her fantasy stuff as well, despite some flaws with worldbuilding and plotting
    - Jo Beverley: hmmm… I get a bit annoyed with her heroines but MY LADY NOTORIOUS is quite fun in a madcap sort of way. My favourite of the Malloren series is probably SOMETHING WICKED as it’s great to see the heroine in pursuit mode.
    - Mary Balogh: I like her old regencies the best but they’re quite difficult to get hold of now. I’d suggest MORE THAN A MISTRESS or SIMPLY UNFORGETTABLE. If you like a PRIDE AND PREJUDICE tale (but with sex ;-)), then SLIGHTLY DANGEROUS is fun as well.

    BTW, fun review! And grannies are hot – just think of Helen Mirren ;-)…

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  55. AJH
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 16:47:32

    @knstrick:

    Hearts Aflame is definitely on The List … though my head was slightly turned by people talking about Vikings ;) I’m can’t tell if Jessica really was that awesome or if she just looked basically bearable compared to Heather… oh what am I saying, she was that awesome!

    (Also there should be more excellent heroines fight crime together books – like the romance equivalent of Avengers Assemble)

    Anne Stuart is now on the list – when it comes to neuroses, I am deeply sympathetic ;)

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  56. Jules
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 16:55:25

    Loved this review!

    If we have to take not raping people as an actively positive quality rather than a baseline standard of normal decency, then Dain is way up there.

    That was the part where I think I woke the entire hotel up laughing. It’s true based on your experience thus far. Can’t wait to read more!

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  57. AJH
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 17:16:47

    @Darlynne:

    Yes, the CS Harris thing was just me being a stupid :)

    It was a minimum possible research thing – and a wonder I’m not calling myself Ford Prefect to be honest ;)

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  58. Mary
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 17:24:49

    On your list, although I love ALL Jennifer Crusie books, out of those three I have to choose Bet Me. It’s one of the only books with a BIG MISUNDERSTANDING/SECRET plotline that I like.
    Also G.A. Aiken, Ilona Andrews, Nalini Singh, Julie James…those are awesomesauce also. I hope you like them. Some of the ones on there are ehhh for me.
    As for LofS, I love that book. It’s sooo good, and yeah Jessica is awesome without running into the too perfect territory that some heroines do.

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  59. msaggie
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 17:50:08

    I really loved your review – which I think is the best review of Lord of the Scoundrels I have read yet. Let me also encourage you to read Captives of the Night, which I actually think is the best of the 4 loosely connected books Loretta Chase wrote in the 90s. I really liked Esmond – but to get the full impact of the story, if you like his character so much, you need to start with The Lion’s Daughter, when he is a very young man and the villain of the tale (he kidnaps the heroine). I think I liked The Last Hellion least of all those four books. Captives of the Night is a very different kettle of fish – it’s got an unconventional heroine, not just an unconventional hero, which I think is why it gets mixed opinions from longtime romance readers.

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  60. AJH
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 17:52:59

    @Kathy:

    Aww thank you for the kind words – also LEGO character reviews? That sounds AMAZING. Must find and enjoy :)

    I hope Jessica lives up to your memories

    Also .. err … sorry about the bellend thing. That must not have been a happy Google experience. But, on the other hand, you’ve learned a new term of abuse! :)

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  61. Jen
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 18:01:30

    Spectacular review! I can’t wait for the next one. I’m sort of newer to romance too, and I’m going to keep your list so I can work on some of these too.

    So, looking at your list here are my contributions. For the record, I don’t read a ton of historicals, mostly contemporaries. For Meljean Brook, DEFINITELY read Riveted. Hot damn, is that book good.

    For Ruthie Knox, I’d read Ride With Me, no question. Unique premise of a cross country bike ride. Not something I know anything about, but a really cool setting! One of my favorites.

    For Victoria Dahl, I’d suggest one of the Donovan family series. My own personal fav is Bad Boys Do, followed by Good Girls Don’t and Real Men Will (this one is skirting the line of lite erotica, but I thought the story was lacking). She has a real fresh contemporary voice, IMO. Her heroes and heroines can be a little screwed up, a little weird, etc. I like it, some don’t, but I’d definitely recommend her as her voice is unique.

    I’d add something by Jill Shalvis too. She’s incredibly prolific. I LOVE Simply Irresistible, part of the Wilder series.

    Actually, I’d recommend you consider reading a short series. There are so many in romance land, and understanding the phenomenon of the series is kind of integral to an intro to the genre, I think. My own fav series are the Wilder series by Shalvis and the Donovan series by Dahl, but if historical interests you more there are lots of good ones. Just don’t pick an eternal series–some of them just never end! I’m sure others have lots of great short historical series recs.

    Keep up the super entertaining reviews! :)

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  62. AJH
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 18:07:56

    @Aisha:

    Yes, exactly – I like the connectedness of sharing books, even if you don’t end wind up liking the book very much, it’s still nice to follow a link back to a person.

    I am not so good at the tact thing either so perhaps that explains it ;)

    I know not liking LoTR is … just plain rubbish of me, but I find the prose turgid and the geography excessive. It’s like the characters can’t walk two seconds down the road and see a hill without feeling the need to sing a song or tell a story about it. And I know that’s the point (myth cycle for our age and all that) but it still bores my pants off.

    On the other hand, I am PASSIONATELY in love with the epic 12 hour BBC radio drama (which keeps most of the songs but cuts out Tom) and listen to it all the time. Do you know it? Most people in the UK of a certain age have pretty much grown up with it but it seems less familiar elsewhere. And how off topic am I right now? Eep.

    Re chocolate, I’m pretty much the same – 85% plus and ideally flavoured with chilli or something like that, but I wouldn’t seek the stuff out. I feel it’s probably a personal failing ;)

    And, as for chairs, it seems we have both entirely missed their potential… (although you can’t beat a good chair race…)

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  63. AJH
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 18:08:48

    @janel:

    But … but … the most beautiful psychic alien on three continents. He calls to me!

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  64. AJH
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 18:19:55

    @CD:

    God, you’re all just … facilitators! I’m meant to be reading other things but now I am pretty desperate to read both Captives of the Night AND Lord Perfect. I haven’t really encountered any ‘difficult’ heroines yet but since it’s basically an episode of Heroes Behaving Badly over here, I think it’s their turn. Ohhhh… is Leila Beaumont in Captives of the Night, because there was this weird stuff in LoS about d’Esmond being head-over-heels in love with her (even though she’s married to the Evil Queer) and it never went anywhere. It’s all making a bit more sense now, actually, because I remember reading that and thinking “okay, that’s really interesting, but why have you dangled all this stuff under my nose and then completed ignored it.” I should have known there was some method in the madness.

    (Please tell me there is additional GILF action somewhere)

    I wasn’t particularly bothered by Dain’s debauching, mainly finding it slightly ridiculous. I think the general suspension of disbelief for historicals comes with an STI get-out clause because, let’s face it, nobody washed and everybody was probably utterly riddled, and that is neither romantic nor sexy. And since my last hero (hi Brandon) gleefully got raping about 5 seconds after meeting the heroine, I was rather on side with Dain’s marital scruples – even, as you say, they went on a bit long.

    I did a bit of random Googling and I’m pretty excited to try to some Kinsale, I have to say. Gawain and the Green Knight is one of my favourite Medieval poems (though it doesn’t exactly scream romance…except in the, ah, literal capital-R sense) so I’d be utterly fascinated to see a spin on that.

    Anyway, I shall certainly put the rest of my list and maybe try to insinuate Brockway higher up. I think someone suggested The Rake for Putney, but I seem to have no self-discipline whatsoever so who knows what may happen ;)

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  65. AJH
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 18:25:14

    @CD:

    Oops, sorry for the double reply – I should probably try to consolidate my scattergun comment technique but that would involve … y’know … organisation and I fail at that.

    Thank you for you Somethingappendectomy – that’s really helpful (*updates madly*). And I’ve actually just finished The Iron Duke which I found … damnably intriguing. I’m still not quite sure what I think, especially about the setting, but I did really like it.

    Glad you enjoyed the review – and, yes, I’ve learned a new appreciation for Grannies. Or perhaps a long-present appreciation has blossomed, I don’t know. In my head Guinevere looked like Meryl Streep, who gets more and more striking as the years pass. I think it’s the cheekbones.

    BTW, fun review! And grannies are hot – just think of Helen Mirren ;-)…

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  66. AJH
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 18:28:22

    @Jules:

    Thank you :) I’m always really happy to know I’ve disturbed entire buildings full of strangers ;)

    I’m looking forward to the day when I’ve read enough romance novels that Brandon is a teeny tiny minority rather than, err, 10%.

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  67. AJH
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 18:33:08

    @Mary:

    I think it’s probably going to be Bet Me – assuming I can get hold of it easily, which seems likely given Cruisie’s popularity. Too many people have said ‘omg you must read this’ to be ignored (not that I would ignore anyone anyway). I’m slightly dubious about conflict that arises from two people not communicating sensibly but I have faith :)

    I’ve delved into GA Aiken and Nalini Singh – Singh I *adored*, Aiken I had a mixed reaction to, but I suspects it’s a your mileage may vary thing, and I feel a bit bad about it :)

    I found Jessica very human, actually, despite her manifest awesome. I think it’s because she *tries* to the right thing, but it doesn’t always work – and that’s what makes a decent person over some kind of damp paragon of perfection. To my mind, anyway.

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  68. Teresa
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 18:35:37

    Not sure how her name hasn’t been mentioned yet, but I think one of the best writers out there right now is Julie Ann Long. Her books are funny and sexy, but also intensely romantic. The Pennyroyal Green series is fantastic. You don’t really have to read them in order. My favorite is probably “What I Did For a Duke” although “How the Marquis was Won” is also swoon worthy.

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  69. AJH
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 18:36:47

    @msaggie:

    My word, thank you – that is so very kind :) I’m really glad you enjoyed the review – I suspect it must be the benefits of enthusiasm, because it was simply lovely to be writing about a book I genuinely loved to pieces.

    Right. That’s it. My will is broken. I am going, right now, to Amazon to buy Captives of the Night. I have to read this thing. I probably don’t have time to also read the other but hopefully I can loop back to it later. It sounds like he has an intriguing character trajectory – reminds me a bit of The Black Moth / These Old Shades thing, actually, where the character-template for villain transmutes into hero material.

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  70. AJH
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 18:49:13

    @Jen:

    Thank you so much – I’m really happy you enjoyed the review. If someone had told me how insanely fun this was going to be I would have done this YEARS AGO. Although probably I would have been too young, angsty and up myself to appreciate it. And, by all means, share in the bounty of my crazy list of doom and awesome. I love it madly but it may kill me ;) Though I should probably warn you that by the final third I’d basically lost he plot and was just stuffing everything on there like when you try to tidy up by ramming everything into a cupboard and then slamming the door.

    And thank you for helping me fix some of my list blanks – it’s really helpful and means I don’t have to plunge cluelessly into the wilds of an author’s booklist.

    *runs off to update list*

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  71. AJH
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 18:52:05

    @Teresa:

    She might have been mentioned and I might have hopelessly failed to notice – a lot of romance writers seem to be called Julie ;)

    The situation has now been rectified, and she is one the list.

    Thank you :)

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  72. Eggletina
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 19:34:27

    If you are still taking recs (some of these may have been mentioned in previous threads):

    The Wind and the Sea by Marsha Canham (or any of her other Pirate Romances, but this one is my favorite)
    Anything by Carla Kelly (great wit and banter in her books; the problem would be deciding which one because they are all pretty good)
    Tears of Gold by Laurie McBain (Old Skool author if you want something to compare to Woodiwiss or Rogers)
    Tara’s Song (I’ve forgotten the author’s name — this is old and OOP, but I remember it as the first Viking Romance I ever read)
    My Love, My Enemy by Jan Cox Speas (classic old romance set during the War of 1812)

    Re Kinsale’s For My Lady’s Heart: There are two versions of this. My Kindle has the old and new versions. The old version uses more pseudo-Medieval language which I found overdone and intrusive; the new version is cleaned up with less of the over-stylized language, and I actually prefer it. I think you’ll find readers have different opinions on which version they prefer. If you read romance for the heroine, this is a good one.

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  73. janel
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 19:54:47

    @AJH:

    Right. That’s it. My will is broken. I am going, right now, to Amazon to buy Captives of the Night. I have to read this thing. I probably don’t have time to also read the other but hopefully I can loop back to it later.

    While I can’t fault you for choosing Captives of the Night, you will never meet the Dreadful DeLucys if you miss Lord Perfect… Mwahahahahahahaha!

    I just looked at your Big List of Awesome. If you’re going to read Linda Howard, I’d suggest any of her older books rather than newer. Duncan’s Bride is a particular favorite of mine along with Mackenzie’s Mountain, naturally. Sarah’s Child will tear your heart out.

    You also need Elizabeth Lowell.

    I’m really enjoying your reviews!

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  74. acole
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 20:19:48

    I am absolutely shocked that Kresley Cole isn’t on your list and that no one mentioned it. Her Immortal After Dark series is super awesome (IMO). You could jump in at Dreams of a Dark Warrior, which is about a reincarnated Beserker (and my favorite because I like the h Regin who says things like: “Lemme guess,” Regin said. “You had your introductory spiel all planned, but rational thought deserted you when you saw me stroll in braless.”–
    –”For the record,” She continued, “it’s not my fault I came in here looking like Chesty LaRue. You caught me on laundry day, so I have no undergarments on. Though I will cop to a little extra spring in my step for your benefit.” when facing possible tortured while being imprisoned. ), but you would enjoy the it way more if you started from the beginning as all the stories either happen directly before or after or even directly while the others are taking place.

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  75. ducky
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 20:54:48

    I love LOS and your review of it is fabulous.

    In case they haven’t been mentioned yet – SEP’s “Natural Born Charmer” and Edith Layton’s “The Duke’s Wager”. And I have always had a love for Jane Emerson’s “City Of Diamond” which is Sci-Fi/Fantasy novel with Regency and romantic elements taking place on a space ship.

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  76. cleo
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 21:30:35

    Great review. LoS was my first Loretta Chase and I had a similar reaction – I *loved* Jessica but didn’t think Dain really deserved her. The romance is unbalanced for my taste. For romances where both lovers help the other to become a better person, try Bet Me by Crusie and Summer to Remember by Balough.

    Speaking of Balough, someone up-thread recommended More than a Mistress, which I hated with the heat of a thousand fiery suns (or perhaps I should say it wasn’t to my taste). The first half was so good, and then the hero discovered that the heroine was lying to him (she was in disguise, hiding from an evil relative) and turned into a raging asshole. ymmv.

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  77. Bronte
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 21:53:55

    I really loved Jessica in this book, but I have to say I loved Dain as well. The scene where he is remembering pleading with the madonna in latin to bring his mother back can nearly always make me cry. I think I like him because once he realises he is being neurotic he can always reason it out. I also liked the way Chase plays with the tropes – the rake who is frightened to bed a virgin, the virgin who is very sexually aware. I don’t think I’ve read another book from that era that is its equivalent.

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  78. des livres
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 22:23:13

    Re your impulse to scare up Captives of the Night etc:
    You might care to check out the Dear Author article “The Science of the Glom” and be afraid, be very afraid…..

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  79. Pegs
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 22:26:55

    I don’t think there’s been a recommendation to add Joanna Bourne to your list. At least she’s not yet on the list. I HIGHLY recommend her. More historical, and I know your list is fairly heavy in that department already, but she’s really excellent. I’d say either the Spymaster’s Lady or Black Hawk, but they’re all really good.

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  80. Janine
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 22:29:52

    This was wonderful to read. My reaction was very much like yours. I loved Jessica and I… did not love Dain. In fact I felt the narrative was asking me to feel more sorry for Dain than I actually did. I wonder if anyone else felt this way?

    This is where I’ll reiterate my recommendation of Alison Richardson’s Countess Trilogy, because if you think Jessica is subversive, I can’t wait to see what you make of the countess.

    I’m unusual, I think, in that I much prefer Loretta Chase’s Carsington series to Lord of Scoundrels, so I’ll add to the chorus recommending Lord Perfect. That whole series is great, and the hero of Mr. Impossible is a riot. But Lord Perfect is a big favorite of mine among Chase’s books and quite romantic. It has a pair of the funniest, most interesting child characters in Olivia (a little swindler) and the starchy Peregrine.

    I disagree with CD that Leila’s character is what turns some readers off of Captives of the Night. My problem with it was that I found the whole book boring. Seriously, I struggled to finish it.

    If you ever feel like reading an early Loretta Chase in a very different vein, I recommend Knaves’ Wager. It’s a traditional (or “trad”) regency which is a subgenre you should try sometime, as well as another of my favorite books by this author.

    I’m going to comment some more on CD’s thoughts in comment #53, since it’s a good jumping off for me.

    I would also second Brockway’s ALL THROUGH THE NIGHT and AS YOU DESIRE – both are classics although they are very different.

    Of these, I prefer All Through the Night by far. I liked it (and the chair scene), while As You Desire did nothing for me, except make me wary of reading Middle Eastern settings in the hands of this author.

    If you like the more “difficult” heroines, not to mention fascinating settings, then I would also suggest you try Kinsale’s FOR MY LADY’S HEART (medieval England) and Putney’s SILK AND SECRETS (Central Asia).

    Yes to the Kinsale (and personally I like the Middle English-sprinkled version). Not keen on that Putney — another book where IMO the Middle East does not feel authentic.

    PS. There’s kind of a dragon in FOR MY LADY’S HEART… And the language — wow…

    Yes. You need to read this book.

    Looking at your list of “somethings”, this is what I would recommend:
    - Meljean Brook: start with THE IRON DUKE as that’s the first in the series – it’s great and it lays the groundwork.

    Agreed. Start with either The Iron Duke or with the novella Here There Be Monsters which comes before it.

    – Ilona Andrews: my favourite of hers is BAYOU MOON as I love the couple. However, you could start with ON THE EDGE as well.

    On the Edge is my favorite, and first in the series, for what it’s worth.

    – Patricia Briggs: I would suggest starting with the novella ALPHA AND OMEGA.

    Yes! I love this novella.

    – Mary Balogh: I like her old regencies the best but they’re quite difficult to get hold of now.

    This is not at all true! Several of her old trad regencies have been made available in electronic editions! The Temporary Wife is an excellent and popular starting place if you want to try one of her old regencies. Like CD, I like her old regencies best.

    For the Megan Hart something, I recommend Dirty.

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  81. SAO
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 23:21:26

    I found Dain to be implausible in his angst and the hand of psych 101 too heavy on the book. I was pretty disappointed with LoS, as a result. In Mr. Impossible and Lord Perfect, the characters had some stupid issues, but they were done a lot more lightly and, so, the books were a lot more fun.

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  82. willaful
    Apr 06, 2013 @ 00:55:49

    @AJH: I’m a huge Esmond fan and love Captives of the Night, so I say go for it! You will find him just as fascinating, I betcha.

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  83. Aisha
    Apr 06, 2013 @ 01:07:35

    @cleo: I agree with you about More than a Mistress. The H became a total asshat and the h wasn’t much better.
    @Janine: I would (sorry) second Janine’s rec for The Temporary Wife though. And with Ilona Andrews, I think an alternative good starting point would be the novella Silent Blade. It requires less investment time-wise at least. But, Janine, I am now wondering what Brockway does so badly with the setting – almost tempted to read it to see :)
    @AJH: I am looking forward to reading your thoughts on The Iron Duke – I adored Mina (even if she was a little too perfect :) was ambivalent about Rhys, but absolutely loved the world building, which is both complex and global in its scope (I am speaking of the series in its totality here though and not just the one book). Its not perfect, but I think it is ambitious and impressive. I think Nalini Singh is another author who manages to do this, especially in her Archangels series. For Courtney Milan, I would also suggest a novella, possibly the Governess Affair, where I think both the protagonists end up being very likable. With Laura Florand, I enjoyed the Chocolate Kiss more than the Chocolate Thief (but fair warning: if you read the former instead, don’t try the hot chocolate recipe at the end). And last, I think, although I never read it, that The Windflower is by Laura London?
    Off-topic – no, not aware of the BBC radio version of LotR (and I don’t remember a Tom?). I’ve only very recently discovered the engrossing qualities of radio dramas but have managed to abstain for the most part.

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  84. B. Sullivan
    Apr 06, 2013 @ 01:28:43

    I read LoS thanks to Dear Author – only now I can’t remember if it was actually a review or because of this kind of great commentary from other DA readers? Hmmm. Anyway because I’ve still not got into the “each romance must set up a sequence of sequels” mindset it NEVER occurred to me to wonder if there were any spinoffs of LoS – and dammit, I too wondered about the Comte d’Esmond, because the descriptions were nicely enigmatic.

    And now multiple people have both recommended that book and given it a meh (but a cordial meh, not a “oh horror, shield your eyes, DO NOT GO THERE” kinda thing). So dammit dammit dammit, I’ve already had my DA impulse buy tonight and I think I’m about to have another.

    AJH – if you get around to reading Captives of the Night promise you’ll post a follow up? Because now I also have to go read LoS again, because Jessica did indeed rock, and you’ve reminded me of multiple parts I enjoyed highly. Also laughing at the watch, and the fact that the hero is made to feel like an ass after he was ready to be smug. SO satisfying.

    ….ok, now please let Captives of the Night ebook both exist and be cheap…

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  85. MandyM
    Apr 06, 2013 @ 01:57:04

    LoS is my favourite historical romance and I smiled all the way through your review. I’m really looking forward to your next one.

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  86. Meri
    Apr 06, 2013 @ 04:34:04

    I find the Carsington books overrated (though Lord Perfect is good) but I applaud your decision to read Captives of the Night soon, Esmond is one of Chase’s best heroes if not the best. I’m lukewarm on Bet Me, which has been mentioned a lot; something about it feels calculated to me rather than organic – does that make sense?

    A couple of other notes on authors/books on the list… I think with Julia Quinn you kind of have to go with one of the Bridgerton books; The Viscount Who Loved Me might be a good choice. Cecilia Grant strikes me as kind of advanced reading, you have to understand and be familiar with certain genre conventions to really get what she’s doing. Judith McNaught: Almost Heaven is by far the best of the options listed, and stay away from Something Wonderful and especially Whitney, My Love.

    Something by Courtney Milan: I vote for The Governess Affair. Milan is an author who really excels at writing novellas, and while her full length books are quite good too, it might be interesting for you to read some shorter romances as well. With that in mind, I also think you should try to pick up some category romances from several different lines, as the list so far is very skewed toward single title books. Sarah Morgan and Sarah Mayberry are the only current category writers that I noticed, though I may have missed a couple.

    Finally, I’m kind of surprised that Outlander is not on the list. I realize it’s not really a romance novel, but it’s quite popular. I’d also add Tammara Webber; there’s a lot of New Adult being published at the moment and I think she’s probably the best in that sub-genre. Easy would be a good choice, or Good For You.

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  87. AJH
    Apr 06, 2013 @ 04:48:49

    @Eggletina:

    I suspect I will be still be taking recs, basically, forever ;) So thank you so much for these. Also: omg pirates. And omg vikings!

    I’m a bit nervous of OldSkool after F&F but, dammit, I shall venture bravely forth regardless. For science :)

    I’m not sure which version I’ll manage to get hold of – I have been digging out paper copies from various semi-dubious sources, so it may be the non-updated. I haven’t read enough romances to establish yet if I’m in it for the hero, or heroine or both. The heroes haven’t put in a particularly good showing but it feels as though I have more patience and enthusiasm for a book with a strong, interesting heroine (cf my beloved Jessica)

    Re Kinsale’s For My Lady’s Heart: There are two versions of this. My Kindle has the old and new versions. The old version uses more pseudo-Medieval language which I found overdone and intrusive; the new version is cleaned up with less of the over-stylized language, and I actually prefer it. I think you’ll find readers have different opinions on which version they prefer. If you read romance for the heroine, this is a good one.

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  88. AJH
    Apr 06, 2013 @ 04:53:42

    @janel:

    I, uhh, might have invested in Lord Perfect *as well*. Oh dear God, I’m dooooomed. Now if I could only buy a few extra hours for the day, life would be ideal.

    Many thanks for helping me sort out the gaps on my list – I’ve updated it, though at this rate it looks like I’ll be reading Loretta Chase for, well, ever…

    And I’m so glad you’re liking the reviews – frankly, I’m having a wonderful time ;)

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  89. AJH
    Apr 06, 2013 @ 04:57:35

    @acole:

    All right, well, that problem is easily fixed – Kresley Cole is now on the list!

    And that sounds hilarious … I am very sympathetic to the travails of laundry day, though I suspect I am a significantly less inspiring site ;)

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  90. AJH
    Apr 06, 2013 @ 05:01:14

    @ducky:

    Thank you so much – I loved the book so I’m glad the review did it, well, some small amount of justice :)

    I’m hearing mixed things of ‘Natural Born Charmer’ (though SEP is definitely on the list) so I’m my interest is increasingly piqued.

    Also sci-fi/fantasy/regency sounds AMAZING! Anyway, I’m updating the list, thanks for the suggestions :)

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  91. AJH
    Apr 06, 2013 @ 05:07:11

    @cleo:

    I haven’t yet entirely managed to find a completely balanced romance – I suppose it’s just human nature to latch onto one person over another, either because of similarity or difference. Well, I guess F&F was balanced as I disliked them both equally ;) And Angel’s Blood (which I’m reviewing next) is a different kettle of fish entirely. It’s so steeped in power and power dynamics that I’m not sure ‘like’ is an applicable concept for any of the characters. :)

    I definitely found Jessica strong enough to carry the book for me, though and I believed that, for her, future happiness involved Dain.

    Balogh is proving a difficult proposition all told – nearly everything she’s written appears to have passionate proponents in either direction. Maybe she’s just one of those marmite authors. I’ll probably go for Slightly Dangerous or A Summer to Remember.

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  92. AJH
    Apr 06, 2013 @ 05:11:25

    @Bronte:

    Dain does have moments of being quite endearing but he also has moments of being a complete bellend so I kept swaying back and forth on him. I was theoretically very sympathetic to him but his actual behaviour kept harshing my identification :) On the other hand, you’re right, that’s a very affecting scene and his thought processes go a long way to making him bearable.

    And, yes – I think it must be a very subversive book all told, but I’m wary of making generalisations, of tropes when I’m new to the genre :) I did adore Jessica’s straightforward attitude to sex though – such a relief after wilting Heather.

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  93. AJH
    Apr 06, 2013 @ 05:12:17

    @des livres:

    I read it earlier this week, actually, and was like “Oh I’ll be fiiiiine, I’m sure that doesn’t apply to me.”

    Famous last words.

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  94. AJH
    Apr 06, 2013 @ 05:14:11

    @Pegs:

    SPIES? Oh yes! Thank you :)

    I’ve updated the list – also I don’t mind reading more historicals, at all – obviously I’m trying to do a broad sweep but it’s a pretty erratic sweep ;)

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  95. AJH
    Apr 06, 2013 @ 05:25:40

    @Janine:

    Thank you so much – I’m really glad you enjoyed it. Interestingly, I really was incredibly sympathetic to everything about Dain except, err, Dain. The prologue is completely heartbreaking and I totally felt for the poor guy. Also I thought it was quite an interesting engagement in, and depiction of, the tension between constructions of masculine identity and the reality of self and behaviour. I mean poor Dain is literally at war with himself (and although I found the child-psychological-repair arc a bit wibbly and unconvincing, it’s a moderately effective symbol of it) and I’m totally neurotic so I did identify with him a lot (hmmm..maybe that’s why I didn’t like him ;) ).

    Maybe its a total arse-pull but we were talking about the ways in which the novel subverts romance tropes above (rake scared to bed virgin, sexually aware virgin etc.) and I genuinely got the feeling the novel was interested in gender identity. I don’t want to get into all that mars/venus nonsense (we’re all from earth, the end) but I think you could argue that Jessica isn’t conventionally feminine – she’s incredibly level headed, rational and forthright, for example. Whereas Dain is full of passionate and emotion.

    I guess the problem, on a more narrative level, was that Jessica clearly finds a way to reconcile who she is with the way she’s supposed to be, whereas Dain dissolves into a pile of badly behaved mush, and therefore puts in a poor showing compared to Jessica. But then I guess the difference is that Jessica has clearly always had love in her life and Dain is *hand to forehead* AWONE!

    Errr, sorry, that’s epic. I think what I’m trying to say: I totally see where you’re coming from on being asked to feel more sorry for Dain than he deserves. I think there’s a lot to feel sorry *for* but I don’t think his actual behaviour merits it. Hence the disconnect.

    The Countess is definitely on my list – I’m, err, intrigued :) And thank you for all your help in managing my unmanageable list. You’re my hero, and I’ve just made about a million updates…

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  96. AJH
    Apr 06, 2013 @ 05:31:17

    @SAO:

    I didn’t find his angst implausible – truthfully, I found it all too plausible. I mean, although pretty standard (and most of us aren’t landed gentry), it’s not exactly a fun way to be raised. And, by the same token, I did find Dain’s struggles with socially conditioned constructions of masculinity (and his fears about rejection) kind of moving. I agree it was a bit heavy handed but it was the first time I’d really seen a romance engage with those sort of ideas. And, yes, I could have done without the dead arm and the child wibbling :)

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  97. AJH
    Apr 06, 2013 @ 05:31:47

    @willaful:

    *goes for it*

    ;)

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  98. AJH
    Apr 06, 2013 @ 05:37:30

    @B. Sullivan:

    I’m genuinely not sure how I feel about the, err, character equivalent of product placement. I guess it’s worked because d’Edsmond totally hooked me but then, as we know, I am very suggestible… But part of me feels a teeny tiny teeny bit resentful. Like I’ve been suckered somehow.

    Captives of the Night is a mere 1.99 of our Great British Pounds on Amazon – less than a sandwich, so I had absolutely no chance of not buying it. And I will definitely post a follow-up, as long as Jane is happy with it, scout’s honour.

    And the watch scene is officially my favourite scene ever – at least, for the moment, but since I’ve only read 5 romance novels, it may not retain its place for all that long.

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  99. AJH
    Apr 06, 2013 @ 05:38:42

    @MandyM:

    Thank you – really glad you enjoyed it. I was grinning like an idiot all the way through LoS so it seems a fair exchange :)

    Next up is Angel’s Blood which was quite a change of pace, let me tell you!

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  100. AJH
    Apr 06, 2013 @ 05:47:49

    @Meri:

    I’m edging very carefully through To Have & To Hold, like a man at the edge of a cliff but I think I might treat myself to Captives of the Night afterwards because, dammit, I’m going to need a hug.

    That’s really interesting about Bet Me – everyone else has raved (err, not to make you feel like an outcast alien, or anything). I think I know what you mean about calculated over organic (as much as I loved it, I found some of the situations and delays of LoS quite calculated, and it irritated me a little) but I’ll probably get a better sense of it when I read the book. If I feel half as strongly about Cruisie as I do about Chase, I’ll probably be diving into Faking It before you can say “I shall read only one”.

    Thank you for list aid (hmm, that sounds like a charity event). I’ve updated it. I guess I should move Cecilia Grant down the list until I’ve levelled up as a romance reader and I’ve been told to stay away from Whitney My Love on ALL costs. I was told mileage may vary on Quinn – I’m a bit of a pettifoggerist on the sly so too much anachronism might make me toes itch. But I’m definitely going to try one :)

    You’re right my list is slightly skewed, and does haven’t much category stuff on there, but perhaps I’ll build some as I go. I am nervous, deeply nervous, of new adult as I’ve read some … err … things about it but I shall not flinch, and I’ll certainly add Outlander (omg, it appears to be a million pages long).

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  101. kara-karina
    Apr 06, 2013 @ 05:48:10

    This is by far the best review on Lord of Scoundrels I’ve ever read! *I need a smoke* So so good! LOS made me a huge fan of Loretta Chase, and I still read all her new books as soon as they are out. I wold also recommend Julie Anne Long’s What I Did for A Duke, anything by Joanna Bourn and Courtney Milan. There is nothing better that reading about strong heroines defying historical restrictions and preconceptions…

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  102. Caz
    Apr 06, 2013 @ 05:49:22

    I am… in awe of your soooper-reviewer powers. Seriously. This not only made me laugh, it made me think. It’s been a while since I read the book, but you certainly make some good points about the portrayal of women/fatties/smellies/aliens, and the way Chase plays with gender stereotypes.

    Can I just second the rec for The Governess Affair someone made upthread? It’s a novella, but packs in as much, emotionally, as many full length novels do (or fail to do!) And when you’re in the mood for the regency equivalent of a screwball comedy, definitely try Wedded Bliss (one of the few historicals I’ve read to mention the wet patch!) or A Worthy Wife, both by Barbara Metzger. They’re not at all meaty, but have lots of LOLZ and given the heavyweights on your list, definitely the thing when you need some light relief :)

    Thanks again for sharing your thoughts.

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  103. Kaetrin
    Apr 06, 2013 @ 05:55:59

    Wonderful review. I don’t see the brilliant word “pillock” used nearly enough. Think we can bring it into vogue? :)

    Myself, I’m a hero-centric reader. I have to like both MCs but I’m usually far more interested in the hero. Might explain why I like m/m so much – where there are TWO heroes or books from male POV. There are exceptions of course. Or will be one day. Probably. But if I think the hero is a douche I’m not going to enjoy the book.

    Fortunately for me, I did like Dain.

    I need to study your list of awesome so I can chime in meaningfully. I have a big list of awesome too – the tbr is at present over 1000 so I feel your pain. :)

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  104. Meri
    Apr 06, 2013 @ 05:57:39

    @AJH:
    Outlander is loooong but it has time travel and a cameo appearance by the Loch Ness monster, and that’s almost as good as having a dragon, right?

    Captives of the Night isn’t the romance equivalent of a hug and is slower and darker than LoS. Maybe this would be a good time for Crusie? My favorite is actually Welcome to Temptation, I think of Faking It as the not-as-good sequel.

    As for New Adult, I agree that it can be awful, which is why I suggested Webber – wouldn’t want you to be traumatized by some of the, er, less impressive offerings within that sub-genre. Webber, OTOH, is really fantastic (see Jane’s reviews of Easy and Good For You) so you have nothing to fear!

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  105. Caro
    Apr 06, 2013 @ 09:09:00

    Another wonderful review, AJH. This is like a trip through my reading history. I ‘m enjoying it immensely.

    LoftS is one my all time favorites. Unlike F&F, I actually pull my rumpled copy out every year or so and re-read it. Not only is Jess one of the best romance heroines ever penned, IMHO, I have to admit to having a big love for Dain too. The man is so adorably clueless about what he needs, yet he is a hero. He rises to the occasion and at the end, I do believe he earns Jessica. And that’s a big feat for any hero because Jess is stellar. I can actually picture them together for the rest of their life. I can’t say that about all the romances I read.

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  106. Janine
    Apr 06, 2013 @ 10:50:36

    @Aisha: Re. Brockway’s As You Desire and setting, I don’t think most Americans would agree with me. But I spent the first eleven, almost twelve years in Israel, and when I read As You Desire, which is set in Egypt, I never felt like I had been transported there. Moreover, the Egyptian side characters felt like caricatures to me.

    With that said, I really did like All Through the Night and My Dearest Enemy a lot, even though I noticed Ameicanisms / anachronisms like “nope” in them. So it’s probably a bias on my part. I’ve never lived in Britain but I have lived in the Middle East, so I’m more aware and harder to please when it comes to depictions of the latter. AJH is from England so he may have the opposite reaction.

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  107. Janine
    Apr 06, 2013 @ 11:19:15

    @AJH:

    I think my problems with feeling I was being asked to feel sorry for Dain started with the prologue. I’m another one who felt the book was heavy-handed. Maybe it was because the prologue was in a distant omniscient voice, I’m not sure, but I felt I was being told how to feel rather than made to feel it. I don’t own a copy of the book (although I did like it) so I can’t check now and see what I think.

    That’s a good point about Jessica and Dain defying gender role conventions in some ways. It is always interesting when characters in romance do that. That was one of the reasons I recommended The Countess Trilogy too– Anna, the countess, is a something of a rake, and unapologetic about it.

    BTW, Cecilia Grant is not the author of Whitney, My Love — that’s Judith McNaught. Unless you meant something else?

    I can see Meri’s point about needing to know the tropes in order to realize how Grant subverts them, but at the same time, I would not want you to miss out on Grant’s books. So if you want to move her down, don’t move her too far down, okay?

    Like Meri, I also consider Welcome to Temptation my favorite Crusie. And I agree that WTT would make a good hug book after To Have and to Hold.

    ETA: I agree with all the recommendations for Milan’s The Governess Affair, too.

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  108. Meanne
    Apr 06, 2013 @ 15:17:29

    What a wonderful addition you are to the Dear Author crew!! This review of one of my favorite romance books was highly entertaining and insightful and I thank you very much for this. For what its worth, I’d like to add my vote for: All Through The Night, For My Lady’s Heart and A Summer To Remember. Can’t wait to read your reviews for these fabulous books. Hurry up and read faster okay???

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  109. Lynnd
    Apr 06, 2013 @ 15:31:25

    @AJH: We are here to help you with your quest in whatever way we can so that we keep getting your reviews :-). I certainly have bought the most recent book in a series more than once (rather than the first one) and then ended up wondering what the heck was going on.

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  110. Aisha
    Apr 06, 2013 @ 15:43:38

    uhm I seem to have double posted sort of…thought my original post was eaten by internet gremlins, but when I attempted to recall and repost it, I discovered it was just being moderated or something, and the attempted deletion of the second post obviously did not work. Sorry :(

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  111. Janine
    Apr 06, 2013 @ 16:07:08

    @Aisha: No worries. I got rid of your duplicate post.

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  112. Lada
    Apr 06, 2013 @ 16:26:11

    @Aisha: Laura London is the pseudonym for husband and wife writing team Sharon and Tom Curtis. I think they came out in the late 80s/early 90s and some of their titles were republished under the Curtis names.

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  113. AJH
    Apr 06, 2013 @ 16:32:54

    Oh wow, thank you – I kind of felt like I wanted to light up a cigarette too after I finished the book, I enjoyed it so much :)

    Thank you for the suggestions – I’ve just added Joanna Bourne to the list, and I needed a starting point for Julie Anne Long so that’s perfect. People have been suggesting I prioritise Courtney Milan’s novellas, but do you have a favourite?

    I feel that the historical-setting thing is sort of a tightrope. On the one hand historically accurate misery and oppression is just *pointless* but if you push it too far, then things can seem a bit implausible. I thought Jessica was just about on the edge of it – occasionally my inner pedant would be shaking his head dubiously, but I liked her too much to really care :)

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  114. AJH
    Apr 06, 2013 @ 17:53:28

    @Caz:

    You’re too kind – I think I probably have tendency to over-think things which is both a blessing and a curse when it comes to reviewing. It can get seriously annoying and sometimes friends will be like “why can’t you just enjoy the damn book/film/game like a normal person.” :)

    I’m glad the gender stereotype thing wasn’t over-reaching – somebody higher up the thread made the point that it acquires a lot of resonance through the subverting of tropes of well, which I thought was pretty cool.

    I’m certainly going to look into The Governess Affair – to be absolutely honest with you, I don’t often get on with novellas because I guess I’m greedy or something because I always tend to want more. But if it’s as good as everyone says, then maybe it’ll convert me :)

    And thank you so much for the lighter recs – I think I’m going to need them!

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  115. AJH
    Apr 06, 2013 @ 18:00:59

    @Kaetrin:

    Thank you, I’m really happy you enjoyed it. And I would be well up for forming a society for the reintegration of the word ‘pillock’ into everyday speech. As long as there are badges, of course.

    I’m too nascent a romance reader to be able to tell, but I think I’m probably heroine-centric, if I had to classify it. (I don’t know, if I want to be a see dude being an idiot, I can just look in the mirror :P). Ahem, but I think ideally the balance drives the romance (and I’m not sure if that’s necessarily a gender thing). On the other hand, I haven’t found a heroine actively objectionable yet – I mean, Heather was awful, passive aggressive and made of damp spaghetti but she didn’t, y’know, rape anybody. And not even say sorry about it.

    You have *over a thousand* books to read? Ye Gods, how come you aren’t dribblingly insane?

    (I think I’m just Dain-style neurotic but if I think too much about the sheer vastness of all the books out there in the universe and all the amazing things I probably won’t ever discover … I get a bit anxious and traumatised).

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  116. AJH
    Apr 06, 2013 @ 18:02:53

    @Meri:

    Okay, a cameo from the Loch Ness Monster might just have sold me ;)

    Re, new adult, I do actually remember seeing those reviews, actually – but sometimes things blur a little because of my lack of genre familiarity. I will definitely consider :)

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  117. AJH
    Apr 06, 2013 @ 18:07:11

    @Caro:

    I’m really happy to hear you’re enjoying the reviews – I’m certainly enjoying the journey, and it’s infinitely more fun shared.

    I absolutely agree with you that I can see them working them out in a long-termy sort of way – but mainly because Jessica would NEVER let anything go wrong, ever. She would just fix it with her awesome.

    I wasn’t personally that impressed by Dain by the end but I can also see why you might do. Now I think about it, I suppose he was sort on a steep learning curve and we left him only partway along it. Of them both, he had the most changing to do – and that’s quite a big ask :)

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  118. AJH
    Apr 06, 2013 @ 18:21:10

    @Janine

    One of the things that drove me a little bit up the wall with LoS actually was Jessica using ‘jackass’ all the time. Although I’m pretty sure this has 17th century provenance as a term for a male donkey, it is not commonly used as an insult. It’s just had a really American ring to it.

    So I do get a bit twitchy about language use and certain anachronisms but I’m trying not to be because, in general, picking at stuff harms nobody’s pleasure but your own :) And, besides, it’s a really annoying trait.

    Re the prologue – I actually really like that. I found that cruel, brittle, distanced voice really effective somehow. I agree it was very explicative but I thought it represented Dain’s father’s worldview very well. It’s so cold, rigid and everything is stated rather than communicated. It’s possibly quite heavy handed but I thought that was deliberate as well. It really does read like a hand pressing down on top of you.

    I really really do need to read this trilogy – female rakes are, err, something of a personal weakness.

    Sorry for the Grant/McNaught confusion. Don’t worry, it was on the page, rather than in my head, it was late and I was probably being incoherent. I have been warned away from Whitney My Love (McNaught NOT Grant) and I am quite happy to heed the warnings :)

    I’m quite intrigued by Grant now, though – but I suppose I’d be missing out on the good stuff if I didn’t have a clue what she was subverting.

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  119. AJH
    Apr 06, 2013 @ 18:24:35

    @Meanne:

    Thank you – I’m really honoured and happy to be here, and I’m so grateful Jane has been kind enough to publish my musings :)

    I was, in fact, blessed with one superpower, and it’s being able to read pretty quickly – so that should not be a problem ;) Also I’m enjoying myself so much that the issue is STOPPING reading :P

    Thank you for the suggestions, by the way, it looks like I shall have to – God help me – re-order the list!

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  120. AJH
    Apr 06, 2013 @ 18:26:12

    @Lynnd:

    Heh, that slightly anal ‘must start at the very beginning or else’ urge was why I ended up going for The Iron Duke over Riveted, despite the slightly dickish hero. I like to hope I would have noticed, as I sat there opening book 2736525 in a series, but … better to have the advance of warning of error :)

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  121. acole
    Apr 06, 2013 @ 20:35:06

    I am going to attempt to make this comment a little more coherent than the last, my brain tends to move faster than my fingers and the next thing I know I’m leaving out important things like nouns and verbs. Anyway………….

    Unfortunately, there have been so many other comments before this that I am unsure who I am responding to. Completely lost track.

    I agree with the recommendation to start with a Bridgerton books from Julia Quinn. The series is so popular she just came out with an entire book of 2nd epilogues. I would have to recommend The Viscount Who Loved Me. It’s where we really get to see all the siblings together.

    I’m not sure where the conversation around Whitney My Love started, but I agree you may want to avoid it. It has Flame and the Flower tendencies. However, I wouldn’t ignore Judith McNaught all together. She’s one of those authors who writes heroes that people either love or love to hate, as well as some of the angstiest angst that ever angsted.

    Finally, I am actually not sure if it’s been mentioned but through the discussion of tropes and the standard features of romance and all that I was wondering if anyone had recommended The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie by Jennifer Ashley? Ian has a lot of the same characteristics of other historical heroes (moody, quiet, angry, etc) but for completely different reasons than most.

    It’s pretty amazing, the response these reviews are getting, and I look forward to reading the next as well as everyone’s reactions.

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  122. Aisha
    Apr 06, 2013 @ 23:09:29

    @Janine: thanks :), and thank you to both you and @Lada: for the explanation and clarification. All those pseudonyms can be pretty confusing :)

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  123. AJH
    Apr 07, 2013 @ 05:19:06

    @acole:

    I agree – I am utterly bowled over by the response and I completely love it. It’s just amazing to have the opportunity to talk about the books like this :)

    Whitney My Love (I just accidentally mistyped that Whiny my Love – is that apposite?) aside, I think a few people suggested I try either Kingdom of Dreams or Almost Heaven. I was thinking of checking out the former as most of my historicals seem to be set between about 1800-1828, so it’ll be nice to get go back a few centuries.

    The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie is an entirely new name to me, but it sounds pretty intriguing – consider it listed :)

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  124. AJH
    Apr 07, 2013 @ 05:26:34

    @Aisha:

    Completely off topic and I don’t know if you’ll even see this: but the BBC audio LoTR. If you like radio dramatisations (and I do because I’m an old fogey) and you like LoTR, then you HAVE to get hold of this. We had it on cassette – I believe it came on 22. But you can download it from, say, Audible, or similar type operations. I think it aired originally in the early 80s so it’s a bit creaky and all the fight scenes are depicted by people shouting and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop hitting pans with spatula but it’s still … frankly … the best thing in the world.

    Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the movies because I’m shallow enough to love a good spectacle but there’s also lots about them that irritates me, chief amongst them Jackson’s commitment to taking every metaphor literally. So the Mouth of Sauron is literally this creepy guy with a huge, blood-filled mouth. Right, yes, so if this guy came to your village and was all like ‘you should surrender and the Dark Lord will look after you’ you would immediately think ‘yes, this man is trustworthy and makes a good point.’

    So the BBC version has a lot more subtlety to it and a lot more depth – Frodo actually has a personality, for example, as opposed to Big Wounded Eyes so that as the ring grinds him down you genuinely feel a sense of loss. And their Sauramon has the most enticing voice imaginable – you can see why you’d trust him. Hell, I’d be on his side.

    The other really lovely thing about is that it’s stuffed to the gills with the an incredibly fine assortment of English actors (if you’re into that sort of thing): Ian Holm is Frodo, a very very young Bill Nighy is Sam, and there’s also Michael Hordern and John Le Mesurier in there to name but a few.

    All right. Sorry, for the off-topic. I’ll shut up now!

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  125. msaggie
    Apr 07, 2013 @ 06:19:01

    @AJH: I am joining you in going off-topic. I loved the BBC Radio 3 serialisation of The Lord of the Rings – and it was aired in the late 80s. And yes, Ian Holm was a wonderful Frodo. I remember vividly all the songs (which were sung) and to me it made it all more authentic! And as a kid, I remember finally understanding the entirety of the plot by reading the book along with the radio serialisation. I suppose nowadays, with the movies all out (don’t get me started about The Hobbit needing three whole movies to tell that tale), the gist of the plot isn’t so difficult to grasp. However, the book is wonderful as there is so much more lyricism, wit and wisdom, which gets a bit lost in the translation to the big screen (it becomes too much of the fantasy action movies). The audio version retains quite a bit of the original text, in my fond memory.

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  126. AJH
    Apr 07, 2013 @ 09:41:15

    @msaggie:

    Let us have an off-topic party. Although, as I shamefully confessed above, I’m not a LoTR fan, because I have failed heavily every single time I’ve read the book, I like the *idea* of them so very much, that I am genuinely grateful that adaptions exist so I can, at least, engage a little bit with the texts, and understand the fondness and appreciation other people have for them. I think, as you say, the movies are enjoyable but they are very epic fantasy about it – and the wavering language (from Tolkeinesque to modern) really irritates me when I’m watching. Like, there’s the bit where Theoden is burying his kid and he does The Wanderer speech (where has the horse gone etc.) and then whinges: “no parent should have to bury their child.” And it’s just ick. I mean, sheesh, dude, you’re an Anglo Saxon. Sound like it :) I think tonally the radio series does much better. And your memories have not deceived you, it integrates the original text with new dialogue considerably more successfully.

    I haven’t actually seen The Hobbit – life is too short to sit through a 3 hour movie for 4 chapters of a book.

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  127. JaneL
    Apr 07, 2013 @ 10:09:32

    @AJH:

    I haven’t actually seen The Hobbit – life is too short to sit through a 3 hour movie for 4 chapters of a book.

    Oh, there’s a reason to sit through that 3 hours. The same reason there is to watch the very good North & South and the execrable Robin Hood.

    Two words: Richard Armitage

    http://smartbitchestrashybooks.com/blog/north-and-south-by-elizabeth-gaskell

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  128. CD
    Apr 07, 2013 @ 18:31:09

    @Janine:

    I agree with KNAVES WAGER is great – a sort of Dangerous Liaisons type story but with a happy ending. However, THE DEVIL’S DELILAH is my favourite Chase trad regency – it’s so much fun and, like Delilah, I have soft spot for hapless bookworms who are nonetheless extremely intelligent, gallant and hopelessly in love – ah Jack, you can read me anyday…

    I completely and utterly agree that Brockway’s AS YOU DESIRE and, to a lesser extent, Putney’s SILK AND SECRETS do not portray the Middle East at all accurately – huge shades of Said’s orientalism going on there to say the least without going into the stereotyping going on. However, as a Brit, I’m used to most romance novels (with some notable exceptions) taking place in some strange “Romanceland” so that didn’t bother me that much. AS YOU DESIRE is a madcap “The Mummy” type adventure so it added to it that the Egypt is portrayed is more in line with a Disney theme park version – it was too much fun for me to worry about historical inaccuracies.

    As for Putney’s SILK AND SHADOWS, aside from UNCOMMON VOWS, she’s not exactly known for historical verisimilitude – it’s written in a style of a Boys’ Own Adventure, which it essentially is. However, I really loved both characters so much – Ross is one of my top five heroes and I basically want to be Juliet when I grow up. It was great to read about characters who acknowledge their mistakes and take the consequences for them which seems unusual in this genre. And Juliet was just bloody amazing – I don’t care if it would have been historically inaccurate for her to be able to pass as a native Touareg (especially as they live in West Africa which is practically the other side of the world from Central Asia) and be so deadly at knife fights ;-). Go Girl!!

    As for the setting, it was interesting enough that it got me reading a lot of non-fiction accounts of the Great Game, which definitely stood me in great stead when I was working in Pakistan. And I owe it all to Putney!

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  129. CD
    Apr 07, 2013 @ 18:35:40

    @Aisha:

    You’re right – I’d completely forgotten how annoying the hero was in the second half of MORE THAN A MISTRESS. I think I just blocked that bit out of my mind… TEMPORARY WIFE is good but I would recommend either DANCING WITH CLARA or THE NOTRIOUS RAKE of Balogh’s trad regencies. What is interesting about both of them is that they show how undesirable being a “rake” actually is – despite the false glamour around the figure in most romances. My opinion is that the vast majority of “rakes” in romances are not really rakes at all… The hero in CLARA is basically portrayed as being addicted to this lifestyle that’s destroying him – refreshingly, his growing love for Clara is not enough to get him out by itself – it just increases his guilt and self-loathing: it’s more about finding his own inner strength which was a lot more interesting to read about than how he had been magically by the power of her hooha…

    On THE IRON DUKE, I completely agree with you – Mina and the worldbuilding was fantastic but Rhys less so. However, the heroes since have been amazing so it’s worth gritting your teeth over Rhys’s more “dickish” moments…

    With Nalini Singh, I didn’t really like her Archangel series – I prefer her Psy-Changeling series despite being rather disappointed in the last few books – there are still the ultra-possessive males which I dislike personally as a trope, but the heroines tend to be better matched in my opinion. Not to mention being a lot less (IMO) gratuitously violent. My favourite is MINE TO POSSESS – again mostly because I loved loved LOVED Tallie. However, you would have to read at least the first book SLAVE TO SENSATION to get the world.

    London’s THE WINDFLOWER is a wonderful book with great characters, except for the hero and heroine. Actually scrap that, I liked them individually as characters even though they’re a bit dull, but never felt they should have ended up together – come on, Merry and Cat would have been a so much better pairing ;-)… However, it’s old school in the best sense of the word with pirates and adventure on the high seas so ignoring the central romance is pretty easy.

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  130. CD
    Apr 07, 2013 @ 18:53:40

    @AJH:

    Let me join the off-topic party!!

    I LOVED the radio version of LoTR – it felt a lot truer to the tone of the books than the films – a lot more thoughtful and, well, “English”. None of this American over-emoting business ;-)… They did have a lot more time (not to mention the use of your imagination rather than special effects) to really flesh out the storylines, the feel and history of the different lands and people, not to mention the characters themselves.

    I loved the films as well, but it felt a bit dumbed down to be honest, which I suppose they had to be. But what I actually loved about Tolkien’s books was all the stories behind the stories – the feeling of the weight of history and legend behind the tale. I’m one of the few people who prefers THE SILMARILLION to LoTR… My first love was fantasy and there’s a reason why Tolkien has never been equaled when it comes to worldbuilding…

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  131. CD
    Apr 07, 2013 @ 19:35:16

    @AJH:

    “Ohhhh… is Leila Beaumont in Captives of the Night, because there was this weird stuff in LoS about d’Esmond being head-over-heels in love with her (even though she’s married to the Evil Queer) and it never went anywhere. ”

    To answer your question – yes, the heroine is Leila Beaumont. So, to be honest, she has reason enough to be “difficult”… CofN overlaps with LoS in terms of its timeline so that’s why you get the references you do. Esmond is tricky bastard who is very aware of, and ruthlessly uses, his own attractiveness to get what he wants – and it’s great to see Leila turn the tables and use her own artist-derived ability to read people on him. They are such a great match – one of those books I read with a kind of breathless delight.

    If you do try FOR MY LADY’S HEART, then go for the one with more old English. Only the hero and heroine actually really use it in speech, and you catch on with the language in a few pages. It really helps to completely immerse you into the world, not to mention the fact that it’s gorgeous.

    THE RAKE is good – again, it’s a bit more of a subversion of the usual “rake” stereotypes with the rake in question being an alcoholic. There’s a bit too much of the 12 steps to recovery business which was rather too anachronistic for me at times, but the characters were adults, and acted like it, and it also was a bit of an insight into everyday regency country life. However, my favourite Putney is SILK AND SHADOWS as I loved the Boys Own adventure setting and the hero and heroine. SHATTERED RAINBOWS is also very good so you wouldn’t go too wrong with any of them.

    Looking forward to hearing what you have to say about TO HAVE AND TO HOLD. It’s an amazing book and a fascinating character study. You do have to read TO LOVE AND TO CHERISH, though as that is just as good ;-). Oh Christy…

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  132. carmen webster buxton
    Apr 07, 2013 @ 21:37:31

    What a relief! I was afraid you could only be so gloriously entertaining when the book was terrible, but you have set my mind at ease.

    Please, read more books, and write more reviews!

    Pretty please?

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  133. AJH
    Apr 08, 2013 @ 03:49:51

    @JaneL:

    Good point, well made.

    I will confess not to having really ‘got’ the Richard Armitage thing (I mean, I wouldn’t say no, obvs) but it seems being randomly tied to trees brings out the best in the fellow…

    And I did catch North and South a few years back, which I really enjoyed until they started snogging on a train and then I got all ARGH HISTORY NO about it.

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  134. AJH
    Apr 08, 2013 @ 04:00:58

    @CD:

    I just to say I’m really loving watching watching you all discuss this so passionately – err, not in a creepy Mr B. way. It’s just interesting :)

    And, yes, you’re right about the radio series – it’s less immediately dramatic (no visuals, duh) but feels a lot deeper to me. Again, you’re talking to a philistine here because I haven’t actually read the books. I love fantasy but, for me, worldbuilding has to run secondary to character. I’m not a Victorian, I have other forms of entertainment, I don’t necessarily need to *live* in a book. In fact, I’d rather not. I admire … artifice, strangely. Like the constructedness of literary artefacts. And the problem with LoTR for me (and, actually, these days GoT) is they don’t really feel like books – just interminable chronicles of an imaginary place. But then you like The Silmarillion so you’re a lost cause ;) Seriously though, I do completely see where you’re coming from about the mythic resonance of Tolkein’s world building – but I guess I’m a just shallow git :)

    I am really looking forward to CoTN. I just limped over the final pages of To Have & To Hold Last night, though, and I’m now feeling too battered to read anything. But did you just say the hot vicar has his own book? I was totally head-turned for the 30 seconds he’s on page. Who can resist a man of the cloth?

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  135. AJH
    Apr 08, 2013 @ 04:07:00

    @carmen webster buxton:

    Thank you :) I’m really glad to hear that. I mean, it’s easy to score cheap lulz points when you’re ripping into something or being cruel about someone but it’s good to learn that praise and pleasure can, potentially, be just as engaging.

    Although, I’m currently writing about To Have & To Hold and, I have to warn you, jokes are pretty thin on the ground… it’s far too intense and complicated to bring out much funny.

    But Angel’s Blood is coming up next, which I hope can live up :)

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  136. CD
    Apr 08, 2013 @ 05:14:44

    @AJH:

    Yep – hot vicar does have his own book. He’s just so lovely and tries ever so hard to do the right thing – completely understand Anne’s obsession with getting him out of that frock ;-)… More seriously, if more men of the cloth were as compassionate as Christy, the CoE wouldn’t have the image problem it has at the moment. However, as you’re in Christy head a lot of the time and have a front row seat to his inner struggles, he thankfully comes across as painfully human rather than a candidate for sainthood. Due to her history and background, Anne is the more cynical and damaged one in the relationship, which is an interesting reversal.

    TO HAVE AND TO HOLD is a fantastic book, but it’s not exactly comfortable reading – I read it once, thought it was brilliant, and haven’t touched it since. TO LOVE AND TO CHERISH has its dark moments but the characters are nowhere near as damaged as in THATH, and through Christy’s job especially, you get a great insight into charming Victorian village life.

    As for LotR – what can I say? I’m a geek for things like that but then I did grow up reading fantasy before it became fashionable to do so… I do go for character as well as worldbuilding – one of the reasons why I read fantasy rather than science fiction – but with Tolkien, I think he was going for the mythic rather than realistic which he could get away with because of the strength of his worldbuilding. I actually think that Martin gives fantastic character but he just takes so bloody long to write his books that I’ve forgotten everything that happened by the time he releases his next book. Not to mention his habit of killing off beloved characters…

    And a shallow git? I just confessed to having fantasies of ripping the frock off of a hot vicar ;-)…

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  137. CD
    Apr 08, 2013 @ 05:21:21

    @JaneL:

    Thank you so much!! [sigh] Oh Richard…

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  138. JaneL
    Apr 08, 2013 @ 07:32:37

    @CD:

    CD, oh, you’re welcome! Believe me, the pleasure was all mine! :)

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  139. Aisha
    Apr 08, 2013 @ 08:00:01

    @CD: I liked The Notorious Rake too and I think, yes, Dancing With Clara was good for the reasons you mention, but her (Clara’s) story made me a little uncomfortable. I don’t want to be spoilery, but seriously, what? Was she in that wheelchair because she lacked motivation to do otherwise? Of course, I may be misremembering here…

    With Brook’s Iron Seas series, I never really connected with either Archimedes or Yasmeen from Heart of Steel. I didn’t dislike them but there wasn’t any real empathy either, not sure why… Riveted, however, was great :)

    I too prefer Singh’s Psy-Changling (favourites are Branded by Fire – Mercy and Riley, and the latest, Tangle of Need, which I enjoyed more on the second than the first reading) to the Archangels series, but I think that more planning maybe went into the world-building of the latter series, while it started of a little ad hoc in the Psy-Changling world.

    and @JaneL: and other Armitage fans, if you haven’t seen it, I think this is cool :) – and there’s Dawn French as well!!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k_nnl6PXMr4

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  140. Janine
    Apr 08, 2013 @ 09:07:09

    @CD:

    I agree with KNAVES WAGER is great – a sort of Dangerous Liaisons type story but with a happy ending. However, THE DEVIL’S DELILAH is my favourite Chase trad regency – it’s so much fun and, like Delilah, I have soft spot for hapless bookworms who are nonetheless extremely intelligent, gallant and hopelessly in love – ah Jack, you can read me anyday…

    I haven’t read The Devil’s Delilah yet, so that is good to know!

    I completely and utterly agree that Brockway’s AS YOU DESIRE and, to a lesser extent, Putney’s SILK AND SECRETS do not portray the Middle East at all accurately – huge shades of Said’s orientalism going on there to say the least without going into the stereotyping going on. However, as a Brit, I’m used to most romance novels (with some notable exceptions) taking place in some strange “Romanceland” so that didn’t bother me that much. AS YOU DESIRE is a madcap “The Mummy” type adventure so it added to it that the Egypt is portrayed is more in line with a Disney theme park version – it was too much fun for me to worry about historical inaccuracies.

    That theme park version of Egypt drove me up a wall. But I should add that the romance didn’t do much for me in As You Desire, and to a lesser extent, in Silk and Secrets also. But I haven’t reread either in years. Who knows, maybe I’d feel differently today.

    As for Putney’s SILK AND SHADOWS,

    I think you mean Silk and Secrets, don’t you? Silk and Shadows is the one with Peregrine and Sarah…

    aside from UNCOMMON VOWS, she’s not exactly known for historical verisimilitude

    Yes, true. But interesting you should mention Uncommon Vows, because that was my favorite Putney for years and years. I haven’t reread it lately, though, so I don’t know how I would feel about it today – my recent reread of Thunder and Roses was a huge disappointment. I was also very fond of Shattered Rainbows, but again, I need to reread it.

    TEMPORARY WIFE is good but I would recommend either DANCING WITH CLARA or THE NOTRIOUS RAKE of Balogh’s trad regencies.

    I love Dancing with Clara but it hasn’t been reprinted or digitized yet. Nor has The Notorious Rake, which I feel more ambivalent about (though I think I’m one of the few who don’t adore it.) The latter will come out in June though, in a 2-in-1 edition with The Counterfeit Betrothal, which I have not read.

    On the Nalini Singh debate, before reading Archangel’s Blade I would have said I agree with you and Aisha that the Psy/Changeling series is better but now I like the two series equally. AJH has already read Angels’ Blood.

    With the Psy/Changeling series, my favorites are Caressed by Ice and Branded by Fire. I generally recommend starting with Caressed by Ice though, since it’s earlier in the series and that makes it easier to follow the overarching plot that stretches through the series.

    As for The Windflower, I couldn’t finish it, but I completely agree a Merry/Cat pairing would have been an improvement.

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  141. Janine
    Apr 08, 2013 @ 09:13:29

    @CD: If AJH is going to read To Love and to Cherish, then he may as well read Forever and Ever too (after TLATC) and get the full arc of William Holyoake’s secondary storyline. Though these book are being reissued in e in June, and Lazaraspaste and I were planning to review them.

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  142. Aisha
    Apr 08, 2013 @ 09:47:48

    @AJH: You, CD and msaggie are pretty convincing, but honestly, I am afraid to revisit LotR. Aside from all the criticisms raised here of Peter Jackson’s adaptation of the trilogy, what troubled me was that it seemed to make very apparent what may have been underlying racism in Tolkien’s work. I’m not sure if this was an acccurate representation or even a valid interpretation, but I am very afraid of being disillusioned.

    [ETA] Sorry, forgot to add, I think Courtney Milan’s The Governess Affair is free at the moment at all major retailers :)

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  143. Meri
    Apr 08, 2013 @ 10:53:06

    @CD:

    I completely and utterly agree that Brockway’s AS YOU DESIRE and, to a lesser extent, Putney’s SILK AND SECRETS do not portray the Middle East at all accurately – huge shades of Said’s orientalism going on there to say the least without going into the stereotyping going on… AS YOU DESIRE is a madcap “The Mummy” type adventure so it added to it that the Egypt is portrayed is more in line with a Disney theme park version – it was too much fun for me to worry about historical inaccuracies.

    That was my take on it, too – I thought of it as a highly fictional and entertaining version of Egypt, and I don’t think Brockway was aiming at something truly realistic. Mr. Impossible, OTOH, was to me sort of like an unsuccessful variation of The Mummy, lacking both the charm and the entertainment value.

    On THE IRON DUKE, I completely agree with you – Mina and the worldbuilding was fantastic but Rhys less so. However, the heroes since have been amazing so it’s worth gritting your teeth over Rhys’s more “dickish” moments…

    I liked it as alternate history; I think I’d have liked it more if it were either alt history/steampunk or alt history/romance. As it was, there was too much going on for me and yes, Rhys was rather dickish.

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  144. Estara Swanberg
    Apr 08, 2013 @ 11:17:01

    @B. Sullivan: It’s not as cheap as some other author’s backlist, being rereleased by the author’s agent, but it’s available – and interestingly enough (I think), because the first backlist ebook by Chase had a rather ugly cover, Ilona Andrews did the cover design for Captives of the Night (you may know that she’s been doing the design and manipulating of her non-agented ebook novellas), I thought it’s very well done (it’s the one with her back to the reader in this post).

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  145. Little Red
    Apr 08, 2013 @ 11:55:08

    @JaneL: Thanks, JaneL. That RA video is a great way to start the work week. And yes, that kiss on the station platform was completely anachronistic but it’s one of the great screen kisses that I’m willing to forgive it. Also, RA’s performance as Thorin Oakenshield is spectacular and worth seeing.

    Finished reading “Lord of Scoundrels” last night and I loved it! Jessica is totally awesome and I want to be her when I grow up. I actually ended up liking Dain quite a bit since he seemed to have a certain amount of self-awareness.

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  146. JaneL
    Apr 08, 2013 @ 11:56:55

    @Little Red:

    Happy to have helped your work week start off right! :)

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  147. AJH
    Apr 08, 2013 @ 12:38:44

    @Aisha:

    Well, yeah, there’s definitely underlying racism there. And his slightly obnoxious attitude to lost pre-industrial is … well … obnoxious. Problematic texts are what they are, and obviously wading through -isms is never fun, and can be personally really miserable-making, but that’s not to completely discount the value of a text (not saying it makes the problematic stuff less problematic though).

    Again, I am not paid by the BBC but you might really enjoy the radio series. It’s less flawed than the films, I’d say, truer to the tone, and has probably more songs than racism.

    Now lemme go hunt Ms Milan.

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  148. AJH
    Apr 08, 2013 @ 12:42:43

    @href=”http://dearauthor.com/book-reviews/review-lord-of-scoundrels-by-loretta-chase/comment-page-2/#comment-535875″>Janine:

    Maybe I’ll come back to them when I finish my list, by which time it will be the year 2089 and not so close to your forthcoming reviews ;) Besides, I’m really looking forward to reading them. Although … by the same token … it would be wildly lovely to be in the position of reading a review having read the book. So maybe I could read them and simply not write about them til 2089 ;)

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  149. CD
    Apr 08, 2013 @ 17:46:37

    @Aisha:

    On CLARA, I don’t want to go too far into spoilers but I thought the reason behind Clara’s situation made a great deal of sense, particularly given her history and the medical knowledge at the time. I always have a good cry at a particular point in the book so really love it.

    With Singh’s Psy-Changeling series, my favourite by far is MINE TO POSSESS which I reread at every opportunity. After that, it’s probably CARESSED BY ICE and SLAVE TO SENSATION. The more recent ones have been a bit “meh” to be honest – I think I was getting burnt out by the whole emotionalism/dominance/possessive alpha male stuff, and gave up after trying and failing to get Hawke’s appeal in KISS OF SNOW [Mercy was right - he IS an arsehole...]. However, maybe I should give TANGLE OF NEED a try.

    And I love me some VICAR OF DIBLEY!

    @Janine:

    Read THE DEVIL’S DELILAH – you’re in for a treat. But hey, if you didn’t like AS YOU DESIRE or SILK AND SECRETS (got it right that time) first time round then you probably wouldn’t now. There are too many books out there to reread ones that didn’t work for you in the past. To be honest, it’s been some time since I read either so I might have the same reaction to them as you had to THUNDER AND ROSES. It’s scary to think that I’ve been reading romances so long that the ones I’ve loved in the past have had time to become dated… God, that makes me feel old.

    And totally agree that AJH probably has to read FOREVER AND EVER as well! And I’m very VERY much looking forward to your review. And to the books finally coming out on ebook, along with Balogh’s NOTORIOUS RAKE.

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  150. CD
    Apr 08, 2013 @ 18:39:08

    @AJH:

    Well, although we love your reviews, it’s far more important just read the damn buggers… And then come back and have heated arguments with us over CAPTIVES OF THE NIGHT vs LORD OF SCOUNDRELS, TO HAVE AND TO HOLD vs TO LOVE AND TO CHERISH, whether Laura Kinsale should have released the manuscript FOR MY LADY’S HEART where all of the dialogue has been written in Middle English, and the reasons for the incredible hotness of m/m romances. Ahem.

    On LORD OF THE RINGS, I suppose it’s open to interpretation but I don’t remember there being any underlying racism in the books: yes, the orcs/goblins etc are races that are inherently evil but I don’t think any parallels to our world is meant – I see it as more of a literary construct myself. The main “Big Bad” is Sauron who is actually the same race as Gandalf/Sarumann, so it’s not as if he’s saying one race is bad and the other is good. However, as he was primarily interested in English/Scandinavian mythology, as well as being a man of his time, his books are unavoidably Euro-centric. One of the criticism of contemporary fantasy used to be the huge reliance on Tolkien as THE template which has meant far FAR too many mediocre fantasies set in vaguely Western medieval worlds. There’s a definite anti-modernism/industrialisation agenda but then he is of a generation who fought in the first world war – you can see this distrust of “progress” with a lot of the writers and poets of that period.

    It’s been many many years since I read the books so I could be mistaken on how problematic they were on race. However, I do think there were quite a few issues with the films – probably because they had to “sex up” the battle scenes and inadvisably drew on existing cultures to make the bad guys more colourful. But the great thing about the radio series is that you could visualise the bad guys as green Martians with 4 arms if you wish ;-)…

    [shiver] I was just thinking about certain parts of the radio series that were done SO well – the Mines of Moria ["Drums. Drums in the deep. They are coming..."], anything involving the Nazgul, the Paths of the Dead, the swamps filled with the faces of long dead warriors… It’s been years since I listened to the series and it’s still so clear – up there with THE HITCH-HIKERS’ GUIDE TO THE GALAXY for best radio series ever. I even loved the music!

    Remember: not all those who wander are lost…

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  151. Susan
    Apr 08, 2013 @ 22:14:03

    Even tho I didn’t love LOS (gasp) quite as much as you and some of the other posters, I thoroughly enjoyed your review and all these comments. I’m looking forward to many more reviews to come and reliving some good, and not so good, books thru your eyes.

    If nothing else, these discussions just show how much people’s tastes differ. Many years ago, I went on a Linda Howard glom, but even at the time I remember mentally rewriting the endings to have the heroine *not* end up with the hero, at least not without a great deal more groveling to compensate for their bad behavior. Even Dane Hollister in Dream Man (a favorite of a lot of readers) really needed to be smacked upside the head. Several times. And Sarah’s Child (recommended by someone upthread)? I totally wanted Sarah to divorce Rome and raise her child on her own. I’ll be interested in your take on one of her books–if you get that far on your list.

    You have so many good books on your list that I hesitate to recommend more. But. . . here goes: Lisa Kleypas’s Hathaway series (which kinda follows on the Wallflower series but can be read alone). My favorite book is actually the last one, Love in the Afternoon. It has a quirky, kleptomaniac heroine and some seriously funny dialog, but also deals very realistically with the effects of the Crimean War.

    For Pam Rosenthal, consider Almost a Gentleman.

    As for LOTR, I was all over those books in, like, the 7th grade. I still have the BBC series on cassette tape somewhere. I have the vinyl LP of JRR himself reading/singing. I saw the Ralph Bakshi version of LOTR in the theater when it was first released. 100% nerd. Then and now. But that was a long time ago, and I can understand why someone picking them up more recently might not find them as accessible and engaging as I did back when.

    And, finally, thank you for introducing me to bellend. I’m wondering how I can work that into a conversation. :-)

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  152. B. Sullivan
    Apr 09, 2013 @ 02:03:30

    @@AJH:

    Yes, the American Amazon version of Captives of the Night had me say “hell with it” and buy – but now I have to reread LoS because I now need to revisit this after this whole post/thread. I am now completely sure that it was a huge commentfest like this that last caused me to buy a whole bunch of books. This is the fully dangerous beast that is DA at its most seductive – to those of us who have a weakness for a good recommendation (commenters here are SO good at it) and then (if I’m lucky) a cheap ebook. In fact I’m bookmarking this because I know for a fact if I look up more of these recommendations now, and the price is low, I am doomed. (I’m trying to ration myself. Usually doesn’t work. Janine and Meri alone have me looking at multiple purchases! :) )

    “I’m genuinely not sure how I feel about the, err, character equivalent of product placement. I guess it’s worked because d’Edsmond totally hooked me but then, as we know, I am very suggestible… But part of me feels a teeny tiny teeny bit resentful. Like I’ve been suckered somehow.”

    I feel like that about almost anything that screams sequel. In fact I don’t think I’ve read any books that sort of leave you hanging and force you to buy the next (I call this my Han Solo In Carbonite problem, because that was a damn long wait for the next film) – only after a series is over will I buy in. OR unless the author makes the installments in that series well rounded enough so that you can buy something from the middle and it doesn’t feel like every character is as you said, product placement.

    Also randomly, I love it when people pick up on historical inaccuracies and anachronisms – in both reviewers and comments. If the romance is well written that never bothers me in my enjoyment (sometimes a good laugh at “a clock in the forest” somewhere makes for more fun) and the history geek in me often immediately googles, digs up a history book or two to read more about the subject. (Bonus points when reviews/comments toss out history book references.) For me the further reading/thinking is all part of the fun.

    Also this is like the 3rd recommendation in a year for the BBC audio LoTR. So another to add on the list…

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  153. B. Sullivan
    Apr 09, 2013 @ 02:18:05

    @CD:

    Ok must must must walk away from thread, you said the words “bookworms hopelessly in love” and the ebook was $3 and my brain said “oh we must! click the box” – and I really can’t confess how many unread ebooks I have already and damn, you people are so dangerous. (Weak I tell you, I am weak!)

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  154. etv13
    Apr 09, 2013 @ 03:22:30

    Modern British people are often not careful enough when they call certain usages “Americanisms,” especially when referring back to the 19th century. The OED gives as its second definition for “jackass” “Applied opprobriously to a stupid or foolish person, a dolt, a blockhead,” “Scott, 1823, Peverill ‘I … began … to think I had borne myself something like a jackass in the matter.” 19th-century (and earlier) British English is full of what 21st-century British people think are Americanisms, like “Fall” for “Autumn.” American English is often more conservative than British English, and you can’t assume that the present is a reliable guide to the past.

    That said, I really enjoyed your review. You just touched on one of my pet peeves, that’s all.

    Oh, and Lord Perfect? Not nearly as good as Mr. Impossible.

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  155. AJH
    Apr 09, 2013 @ 03:58:49

    @CD:

    I’m getting there, believe me ;) But occasionally I have to eat, sleep, work and write things which sadly gets in the way of my romance-devouring schedule.

    I think, if you’ll forgive me, I should probably not weigh in on the subject of potential racism in LoTR. For starters, I’ve only read 80% of the books and, secondly, I’m a white dude so it’d be obnoxious :) As you’ve said though, a lot of fantasy carries this semi-unconscious white euro-centric bias and I think it’s probably a lot easier to not care about this if you’re … well … someone like me, it doesn’t personally affect. And obviously Tolkein was a man of his time and his place, so he’s going to reflect that, but ultimately reading is a personal business.

    I mean I know it’s a fantasy trope but all the lesser races are dark-skinned and the elves are super-super white. Also the anti-modernism / industrialism thing you articulate is bound up with lashings of classism – there’s lots of heroes and kings and landed gentry, and posh hobbits versus non-posh hobbits, and non-posh hobbits basically follow the posh hobbits around carrying their stuff, displaying stalwart English loyalty and saying ‘oh Mr Frodo’ AS IS THE NATURAL ORDER of things ;) And I know Sam is, in his way heroic, but he’s heroic within the very defined sphere of helping his social superiors. Sorry if I sound a bit peeved about this, and actually it doesn’t *really* bother me, but I come from a long line of Gamgee-equivalents. And you can carry your own damn stuff.

    (It’s why I like North and South, actually – although Margaret spends the first half of the book basically convinced Thornton is an orc, she eventually recognises he’s a human being and it’s nice to see a portrayal of a working class northern man in which he is intelligent, powerful and capable and does NOT carry people’s stuff around and tug his forelock).

    Equally, I seem to recall LoTR was not so big on women. From what I can discern from his lectures and lectures, I’m not sure Tolkein ever met one ;) He seems genuinely shocked that some are in the audience during The Monsters & The Critics.

    Anyway, the reason I’m so careful about this stuff is that … well … as I keep saying, reading is a personal business and mileage may vary. Things that seem minor or untroublesome or easily dismissed to one person may be enormous potholes of doom and distress to someone else :) So I just try to be careful :)

    And, yes, I see what you mean about the sexed-up battlescenes. ZOMBIES and PIRATES and ELEPHANTS. And … black people, OH NO! ;) But actually I’m shallow enough to kind have enjoyed elves versus zombies, even if it was slightly ridiculous and about 8 million miles away from the book (I’m totally susceptible to spectacle, years ago I took my goddaughter to see The Lion King on the stage and she was like elephants whatevs and I was like OMFG IT’S AMAZING)

    And you’re making me want to listen to the whole thing again :) Though I will confess to taking a childish delight in the line: Aieee, a Balrog has come. My mind goes .. elsewhere.

    And don’t get me started on Hitchhiker’s! EEE!

    (sorry that was epic and WAY WAY off topic)

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  156. AJH
    Apr 09, 2013 @ 04:22:54

    @etv13:

    My apologies, I didn’t mean to sound smug and overly British-protective :) Language-wanking is a particularly grim habit.

    What I was trying (and clearly failing!) to express was that to me it felt very jarring.

    I know the second meaning of the word (for a foolish person) was extant and used in Britain, but from both contemporary usage and, I freely admit, entirely anecdotal engagement in texts from the period, it doesn’t seem to be as common over here as it is in America. I can think of only a scant handful of occasions I’ve seen it used – but then I haven’t read literally everything written in the 19th century so my sample size is both limited and biased ;) Equally by the time you get to turn of the century texts (later, I know) ‘jackass’ is pretty firmly established as the thing the American tycoon says while chewing on his cigar and trying to sell you an automobile or marry your daughter ;)

    But you’re right, the present is not a good guide to the past and the differences between British and American English were, and are, complicated. And I’m not a linguist and I should keep my mouth shut :) I’m really sorry to have clumsily triggered a peeve.

    On a happier note, I think one of the interesting (difficult?) things about language (again, not a linguist so this observation is probably the linguistic equivalent of ‘hey, that Shakespeare guy isn’t bad, huh?’) is the way commonality essentially defines understanding. As you say, ‘fall’ is not exclusively American (I think it was pretty common around the Elizabethan period, again, from anecdotal remembrance, I could look it in the OED myself but that would involve opening a new tab) but since, for most people, it’s automatically an OI AMERICAN trigger word … it essentially *is* one.

    And I am, once again, way way way off topic.

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  157. AJH
    Apr 09, 2013 @ 04:37:42

    @Susan:

    Didn’t love LoS, hmm? MY GOD, WHAT IS THIS HERESY :) Actually, I think responses to books derive more from the context in which we read them than it’s possible to entirely articulate or understand – and I do sometimes wonder how I’d have felt about LoS if I’d read it … y’know … 10 or 20 books down the line. Frankly, after F&F I was so relieved to find something that was so genuinely engaging that I might have over-embraced its good qualities and dismissed its less successful elements. I think Dain is a difficult bunny, the dodgy psychology is, well, dodgy and the plot is … pretty silly.

    Again, I’ve only read 5 books but I’m not sure I’d entirely count a romance successful if I had to re-write the ending in my head ;) She’s somewhere in the middle, so I guess we’ll see how I go! Also, I think you under-estimate my tenacity – I’m getting through that list, believe me ;) Well, obviously I’ll stop if it ever stops being fun but I, err, can’t see that happening any time soon.

    I was reading a really damning review of Kleypas the other day actually (it was linked from Twitter) so I guess that just underscores your point about differing tastes. It wasn’t one of those ones though – something about winter … the (devil??) in winter? I’ll add Love in the Afternoon to the liiiiist, along with Almost A Gentleman Thank you :)

    (omg, I just googled Almost a Gentleman – cross-dressing, heroine that is going straight to the top!)

    And, wow, that is an impressive commitment to LoTR. I have a deep respect for nerdery and salute you :) We had those cassettes as well, though they have long succumbed to the ravages of time. I still remember they were in this black box with gold writing and … I think … an embossing of the misty mountains running along the spines? Now I have it digitally which is, frankly, easier to store :) I think the radio series remains sublimely listenable-to (I may also be biased) but … yeah … I think you have to read the books at the right time for them to become part of your heart.

    I’m really glad you’re enjoying the reviews. And have fun with bellend…

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  158. AJH
    Apr 09, 2013 @ 04:50:33

    @B. Sullivan:

    Yes, I may have to re-mortgage my house or sell my god-daughter or something to fund my newly acquired romance habit… I’d forgotten how completely compulsive shared enthusiasm can be. It makes me want to run out and read EVERYTHING. At once. Now. This instant.

    I’m also a complete sucker for a passionate recommendation ;)

    Re: Product Placement or the HSIC Problem ;)

    I think I’m the same. One of the things that deeply frustrates me about Game of Thrones (I’ve actually stopped reading it now, I can’t be arsed, I’ve lost the will to continue) is who it’s basically just ONE million billion page novel inadequately hacked into pieces and sold very very very slowly. I know that was plan all along, basically, but if I read a book I want to feel like I’m getting something out of it, not necessarily a beginning, middle and end, but something that isn’t just a piece of a larger thing that only has any value AS part of the larger thing. But I guess when you’re writing book 7 of a 12 book series, like Singh or Brook (I KNOW NAMES, LOOK HE’S LEARNING) it’s a whole different ball game anyway.

    Heh, just a random aside on historical depth, I just finished To Have & To Hold (reaction: OW) and there’s a tiny scene where Rachel goes to read in the library because she can’t sleep. It’s just one sentence but Gaffney takes the trouble to mention that Rachel places her candle in the alcove above the window seat – and, honestly, I wouldn’t have even thought about how Rachel was going to read in the library in the dark in the 19th century, but I was so happy for that little detail. I was like Oh, Ms Gaffney, you are WAY ahead of me. And knew I was in the hands of a master :)

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  159. Sunita
    Apr 09, 2013 @ 06:24:37

    @etv13: *waves happily* I decided to try Google ngram, one of my favorite ways to waste time these days, and it shows the use of “jackass” in British English increasing over the 1800s. Obviously this could be usage that refers to the animal, but you can search Google books by time periods as well, and the metaphorical usage shows up in Cobbett’s Register in 1822 and then in Punch in 1842. So yeah, not peculiarly American, especially for the period in which LoS is set.

    I agree that Mr. Impossible is superior to Lord Perfect, but I am also one of the staunch minority who prefers Miss Wonderful to both. But then I also think Jessica and Dain deserve each other and am very glad I never have to read LoS again, so take that for what it’s worth. ;)

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  160. AJH
    Apr 09, 2013 @ 08:02:04

    @Sunita:

    Well there’s me told :) I stand thoroughly corrected. The only example I could remember was in Dickens somewhere. I tried Googling too but my fu was weak.

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  161. Sunita
    Apr 09, 2013 @ 09:02:34

    @AJH: My Digital Humanities colleagues introduced me to the wonders of ngram a couple of years ago and I’ve been entranced ever since.

    I’ve purged as much of LoS from my brain as possible, but I remember thinking when I read it that it felt quite American in its general tone and affect. Maybe that’s why you cued off the word, i.e., not so much because of the word itself but because of a more general impression.

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  162. Janine
    Apr 09, 2013 @ 09:15:59

    @AJH: Can you email me: janineballard at gmail dot com? I’m cool with you reviewing them but there’s one or two details we need to figure out.

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  163. AJH
    Apr 09, 2013 @ 09:29:48

    @Sunita:

    Ahem, I’ve just spent the last … uh … Far Too Long playing with it. It’s ridiculously fun. And probably, cough, a valuable tool for scholarship and research. But also ridiculously fun.

    I’m sorry you had to purge LoS. Sounds painful. It’s possible when I’ve read more I’ll look back and be ‘oh no, how could you have thought so much of it’ but even if the things I found less convincing about it become more irritating with hindsight, I utterly enjoying reading it – so I shall stand by my squee :) I’d be curious to know why you hated it but that might require essay writing and foaming so I completely understand if you have neither the time/inclination/energy/interest.

    As for my (unfounded) jackass irritation, that’s generous of you :) I’m generally trying not to read with an amateur pedant hat on because authenticity is a wildly difficult concept at the best of times and I’m not sure if it’s even relevant, since it seems like re-creating the period is important to some texts, but just having a vague sense of it, alongside modern manners and fabulous frocks is enough for others. Again, I’m flying in the wind a bit here, I haven’t read enough of the genre to really draw meaningful conclusions, I just enjoy a little bit of wild speculation with my afternoon tea.

    Also I’m not a historian so most of my sense of what feels ‘wrong’ is purely personal. I mean, I might notice if Miss Applespriggin went into the yellow drawing room and turned on the light switch but that’s about as deep as it goes :)

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  164. AJH
    Apr 09, 2013 @ 09:30:38

    @Janine:

    Incoming :)

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  165. etv13
    Apr 09, 2013 @ 11:21:15

    @AJH: You were actually a lot less smug and self-satisfied than several people I have come across in the past, it’s just, well, they’ve made me kind of hypersensitive on the topic, I guess.

    @Sunita: *waves back* Miss Wonderful, really? I remember liking it just fine, but I’ve never felt any desire to re-read it. My top three Chases are Mr. Impossible, The Last Hellion (which I like for its screwball comedy battle-of-the-sexes feel) and Not Quite a Lady, which I know is Not Quite the Popular Choice, but I can’t help loving a book with the line “Laundries are dens of iniquity.” Okay, the whole laundry scene is just a delight.

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  166. NBLibGirl
    Apr 10, 2013 @ 09:47:45

    @Darlynne:
    Yes, yes, yes . . . the audio version of Natural Born Charmer is brillant! One of my favorite audio books of all time. Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum is another one that must be listened to – especially when Loralei King is the reader – as is Crusie/Mayer’s Agnes and the Hitman.

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  167. GUEST REVIEW: I’m Lovin Angels Instead – Angel’s Blood by Nalini Singh
    Apr 12, 2013 @ 12:02:43

    [...] [...]

  168. Jennifer
    Apr 17, 2013 @ 10:32:57

    To Tremendously Suggestible,

    Silver Angel – Johanna Lindsey
    Out of the hundreds of historical romance novels read this is in my top 3.
    I believe it’s out of print so you’ll have to find/order it online somewhere but well worth the effort.
    I’d never in my life wanted to be a concubine so badly…

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  169. REVIEW: The Mad Earl’s Bride by Loretta Chase
    Jun 14, 2013 @ 08:02:05

    [...] Bride has the tone of my favorites of your books: witty, smart, and sweetly sexy. It even has Bertie Trent in it–as well as, briefly, Dain. I enjoyed it [...]

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