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REVIEW: Not Quite a Husband by Sherry Thomas

Dear Ms. Thomas:

book review Thank you for sending me a copy of your third book. Not Quite a Husband treats the reader to the same rich and evocative prose that filled the pages of your previous two works. In mentioning new historical authors to be excited about, your name should always mentioned.

Bryony Asquith, the granddaughter of an Earl, was an extraordinary woman who fell in love with an extraordinary man, Quentin Leonidas Marsden, the youngest son of the Earl of Wyden. He was a brilliant mathematical mind who was published and presented at the mathematical society; and she was a surgeon, one of few women practicing medicine, particular one of the few women born of her lineage who actually worked.

While the lede of this review might be their accomplishments, the existence of the accomplisments tell more about the characters than the accomplishments themselves. Bryony chose to be a surgeon not so much because she loved saving people but because it was nearly a necessity for her. Bryony had grown up alone without companionship and in order to survive she withdrew well within herself, drawing a cloak of self sufficiency so tight around her that not even Leo could tear it down.

Leo’s facility with math extended beyond schooling into every aspect of his life. It all came very easy for him. He was an Adonis, witty and beautiful, feted and admired. He published journaled accounts of his travels, read papers at the mathematical society, and generally held the world in the palm of his hand.

Yet one evening, he kissed Bryony in the library of his brother’s home. This kiss and the following flirtation gave Bryony the courage to propose to Leo and Leo, who had been in love with Bryony since forever readily accepted:

And he had taken an unbelievable amount of ribbing for it when he’d announced their engagement to his brothers. Matthew had cabled from Paris and Charlie all the way from Gilgit to say the same thing: Lord Almighty, she was Mary and you were Baby Jesus.

Yet on the eve of their marriage, Leo realized that something was wrong. When he made love to Bryony she resisted all pleasure. She lay there with her hands fisted by her side, refusing even the most tender of kisses. It continued in this vein until Bryony asked for an annulment after a year of misery. She had once dreamed of growing old together:

She had a sudden vision of herself as a wizened old physician, her hands too arthritic to wield a scalpel, her eyes too rheumy to diagnose anything except measles and chicken pox. The wizened old physician would very much like to drink tea next to her wizened old professor, chuckle over the passionate follies of their distant youth, and then go for a walk along the river Cam, holding his paper-dry, liver-spotted hand.

The story actually begins with Leo tracking Bryony down in India to inform her that her father is ill and she is turn return to London forthwith. Bryony doesn’t believe the warnings given that her sister Callista was prone to sending all kinds of telegrams to both Bryony and Leo in hopes of reuniting them. Something changes her mind and Bryony and Leo begin the journey from Rumbur Valley in the Northwest Frontier of India to Nowshera, Imran. The journey is long, arduous and frought with danger and for the first time, Bryony and Leo reveal themselves to each other in ways that were never explored in all their time during childhood, courtship, and marriage.

I’m fascinated with all marriage in trouble stories. They address what happens after the happily ever after. If the courtship books give hope of the finding the perfect mate; then marriage in trouble books give hope that the happiness is truly forever, even in the face of some of the most difficult circumstances.

The reason for their unhappy marriage is not revealed for some time so I’ll not spoil it here, but suffice it to say that the source of the marital strife was real. But the resolution of the marital separation seemed too convenient for me.

When Bryony and Leo first reconvene, their physical relationship almost immediately restarts which seemed odd given that Bryony had barred Leo from her bedroom after their first year of marriage and they had been separated for three years. Another thing that was problematic for me was that it appears that Bryony and Leo’s revelations that nothing in their past should or could keep them apart were induced by traumatic events. In other words, would they have been able to overcome their doubts in each other had it not been for the fact that one or the other could have truly been lost instead of just separated?

I believed in the two as a couple, felt their chemistry, and appreciated the richness of the setting; but I thought the way in which the two resolved their differences seemed to without understandable motivation. I kept asking myself why Bryony, after all this time, would suddenly throw herself at Leo. Why she was ready, emotionally, to put herself in his hands? I didn’t see the process of recovery myself. Was it just by stint of the long separation? Maybe that she was tired of being alone?

I also felt that Bryony did not truly accept responsibility for her own actions. She admitted that she married Leo, in part, to show everyone else how loveable she truly was. His insecurity was fed, in part, by the feeling that he was sometimes more of a show horse and less of a loved one. In truth, Bryony was not pure of intention although that in no way excuses Leo’s actions. However, I felt like there should have been some acknowledgment on Bryony’s part of her own culpability.

Those concerns aside, I still loved the writing. There are so many quotable phrases but one of my favorite was this:

He wanted it, how he’d wanted it, that newlywed idyll they never had, that halcyon of mad corporeal infatuation. If he had it, a year, a month, or even a solid week of it, he could change her, repair the misalignment of their temperaments, and remold their marriage into something lovely and worthwhile.

Instead she banished him altogether. They grew further and further apart. And their marriage dissolved like a pearl in vinegar.

I loved how the prologue and the epilogue were written in the same sort of detached omniscient point of view and acted as true bookends for the story of Bryony and Leo. I also appreciated that you gave us some time enjoying Bryony and Leo in love together, rebinding themselves to each other. Few authors give us the big, dramatic payoff like you. B-

Best regards

Jane

This book can be purchased in mass market from an independent bookstore or ebook format from the Sony Store and other etailers.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

50 Comments

  1. Laura Vivanco
    May 21, 2009 @ 04:20:54

    that halcyon of mad corporeal infatuation

    Is there a word missing here? Halcyon is usually an adjective, meaning “idyllically happy and peaceful.”

  2. Danielle D
    May 21, 2009 @ 05:15:42

    Happy to read your review and the grade — I won a copy of this book and I can’t wait to read it now.

  3. Courtney Milan
    May 21, 2009 @ 06:05:43

    @Laura Vivanco: I thought so too when I first read this, but I went and looked it up in the complete OED, and this is fascinating. Halcyon started its life in language as a noun–it’s a mythical kingfisher-like bird said to calm the seas around the winter solstice.

    Used figuratively as noun:

    fig. a1649 DRUMMOND OF HAWTHORNDEN Poems Wks. (1711) 39/1 Makes Scotland’s name to fly On halcyon’s wings..Beyond the ocean to Columbus shores. 1880 GOLDW. SMITH in Atlantic Monthly No. 268. 200 The halcyons of literature, art, and science were floating on the calm and sunlit sea.

    Later in the entry we see it as an adjective: 2. Calm, quiet, peaceful, undisturbed. (Usually qualifying days.)

    The latter is what we see predominantly today but Sherry’s usage is entirely proper.

  4. SarahT
    May 21, 2009 @ 06:22:45

    I gave NQAH a C+.

    As I’ve come to expect with Sherry Thomas, it’s a beautifully written book. However, the story includes something which is a hot-button issue for me in a romance. It might not be an issue for other readers.

    Despite my feelings about NQAH, I look forward to reading Sherry’s future books. She’s a talented author and definitely one to watch.

  5. Laura Vivanco
    May 21, 2009 @ 06:22:55

    Courtney, I did see that meaning too, in another of the other definitions I looked at, but then the phrase would mean “that newlywed idyll they never had, that calming kingfisher of mad corporeal infatuation.”

    I initially discounted that possibility because I found it difficult to understand why a calming kingfisher would embody mad infatuation but I suppose it could be read as meaning that the idyll/honeymoon would serve to calm the physical infatuation?

  6. Cathy
    May 21, 2009 @ 07:06:25

    I gave NQAH a B+. Overall, I really enjoyed the story. I hadn’t considered Bryony not owning up to her own role in the failure of the marriage, which is a good point. My one issue had to do with the… nighttime relations between Bryony and Leo (I’m trying to avoid spoilers). I’m kind of on the fence with how I feel about those actions.

  7. GrowlyCub
    May 21, 2009 @ 07:28:26

    I’m curious why the choice of the word ‘halcyon’ got such attention.

    Is it because you all know the author is not a native speaker? ‘Cause I could come up with a gazillion super questionable word choices by native speakers/authors in the thousands of romance novels I’ve read. Matter of fact I mentioned on a thread recently how Robin Schone seems to be picking words out of a dictionary because they sound high-brow, but is using them incorrectly every single time.

    Really disconcerting that!

    Anyway, just wondered…

  8. Laura Vivanco
    May 21, 2009 @ 07:34:31

    Growly, I mentioned it not because of the author being a non-native speaker of English but because the quotation was introduced as being an example of the kind of “quotable phrase” that Jane loves in Thomas’s writing.

  9. Ara
    May 21, 2009 @ 07:56:55

    Really enjoyed NQAH. One of the few romance books I have read lately that held my attention from start to finish. Like Jane I really enjoyed the style of the prologue and epilogue.

    The heroine reminded me of Submit from Black Silk. I love how the heroes saw something in them both that was apparent to no one else.

  10. votermom
    May 21, 2009 @ 08:25:31

    You know, I like Sherry Thomas’ writing but I’ve decided that the estranged lovers plot is not my cup of tea. I don’t like bitter recriminations, what-ifs, etc — kind of harshes my reading mellow. I think I will wait until she writes a different plot.

  11. Jessica
    May 21, 2009 @ 09:05:52

    Matter of fact I mentioned on a thread recently how Robin Schone seems to be picking words out of a dictionary because they sound high-brow,

    Much better to use a Word of the Day calendar for this. Today it’s “bellicose”.

    I read this review with one eye open and I am pledging not to return until I have read the book.

  12. Jill Sorenson
    May 21, 2009 @ 09:24:06

    I can’t wait to read this. I love her use of “halcyon.” It doesn’t seem off to me at all. Putting words together in an unexpectedly beautiful arrangement is Sherry’s trademark.

  13. jmc
    May 21, 2009 @ 09:55:42

    Although the use of “halcyon” seems off to me, that is not the part of that quote that grabs my attention. Instead “he could change her” does, and not in a good way, since heroes/heroines who want to change or fix each other are a pet peeve of mine.

    Am putting this book on my library list.

  14. Kathryn Smith
    May 21, 2009 @ 10:28:34

    I love estranged marriage plots, in fact I’m writing one right now myself. I loved Sherry’s first two books to the point of wildly envying her talent, and can’t wait to read this one. I’m very curious to discover these plot points you all are being very good not to give away! NQAH is my reward for finishing my page count this week.

  15. Randi
    May 21, 2009 @ 11:38:50

    I am planning a more thorough response tonight (when I am NOT working), but wanted to say that this is one of the best books I have ever read. I was on the edge of tears throughout the entire story (which is a big deal, as I rarely cry and almost never from a book). The only thing that kept me going was knowing there was an HEA. God, Leo just nearly broke my heart every time his POV showed up. When I finished, I was totally satisfied, in every way. I even smiled at the book when I was done. A big ‘ole shit eating grin. ;)

  16. Janine
    May 21, 2009 @ 12:17:20

    I am planning a more thorough response tonight (when I am NOT working), but wanted to say that this is one of the best books I have ever read. I was on the edge of tears throughout the entire story (which is a big deal, as I rarely cry and almost never from a book). The only thing that kept me going was knowing there was an HEA. God, Leo just nearly broke my heart every time his POV showed up. When I finished, I was totally satisfied, in every way. I even smiled at the book when I was done. A big ‘ole shit eating grin. ;)

    I’m always confused about whether to post my opinion since I’m Sherry’s friend and critique partner, but I loved the book as well. The Swat Valley section was so incredibly romantic. I was on the verge of crying for much of the book, too, and you know if you’re brushing away tears when you’re supposed to be critiquing, the author is doing something right.

  17. Scarlett
    May 21, 2009 @ 12:34:23

    Is her name really “Byrony”? I hope it’s supposed to be “Bryony” and that’s just a repeated typo.

    I had a very mixed reaction to PA and it sounds like I will probably end up with a similar reaction to this book — but I do like Thomas’s writing and plan to order it soon.

  18. Janine
    May 21, 2009 @ 12:42:36

    Scarlett, it is Bryony, not Byrony. Have you read Delicious? As much as I loved the other two, Delicious is my favorite.

  19. Mina
    May 21, 2009 @ 12:44:13

    Though this is not one of my favorite books by Sherry Thomas, I found it quite beautiful. She grips me with her character’s feelings and flaws everytime.

  20. Julie M
    May 21, 2009 @ 14:19:50

    I loved it. Read it in one sitting. Told my family at dinner that I would be unavailable for the rest of the evening so they sat around making fun of me, “I suppose if we tell Mom ‘Sam needs to go to the hospital immediately!’ she’ll just say ‘Sorry I’m reading my book.'”

    For me is was the type of book that I didn’t want to end. I love Leo and I like to read about seemingly cold-hearted heroines. I don’t much like the long separation theme in a book so while I like Private Arrangements I wished it hadn’t been so long before they got back together. I haven’t read Delicious but I plan to. But for me this one worked.

  21. Randi
    May 21, 2009 @ 14:39:07

    I wasn’t hot on Delicious. It was a beautifully written book but I’m not a foodie. I think, were I a more food oriented person, Delicious would have struck a better chord for me. Also, I was really really interested in the courtship between Will and Lilly. I wasn’t so interested in Sommerset and Vera; I really wish Will and Lilly had been the main protaganists.

    I don't much like the long separation theme in a book

    Oh, I love seperation stories. They are probably my number one favorite trope. My number two would be the friends to lovers.

  22. Randi
    May 21, 2009 @ 14:44:04

    I love Leo and I like to read about seemingly cold-hearted heroines

    Julie: exactly! I really got the impression that Thomas did a little gender role mixaroo here. Normally it’s the heroine that is all warm and cuddly and the hero who is all stony and “unforgiving” (hahhaha, love that term). But in NQAH, the hero is the warm one, while the heroine is unapproachable. It’s so rare to see a hero like that.

  23. Randi
    May 21, 2009 @ 14:58:24

    BTW: Does anyone know what a “combination” is, as it relates to Bryony’s clothing? It kept popping up in the book and I have NO IDEA what it is….

    kthxbi.

  24. Laura Vivanco
    May 21, 2009 @ 15:06:12

    Randi, I know it was an item of underwear. There’s a page here about Victorian underwear and if you scroll down a bit you’ll find a paragraph about combinations and a drawing of one.

  25. Janine
    May 21, 2009 @ 16:19:49

    It was a beautifully written book but I'm not a foodie. I think, were I a more food oriented person, Delicious would have struck a better chord for me.

    LOL, I am a total foodie and it the food descriptions (including the near-magical effects the food had on its diners) were a big part of what I loved about that book.

  26. GrowlyCub
    May 21, 2009 @ 16:22:18

    I’ve now started ‘Delicious’ four times and I always stall out during the food descriptions which are incredibly boring to me. Guess I’m not a foodie. :) I’ve made it further into the story each time, but then comes another long description of food and smell and taste and I go, oh, just get ON with it and pick up something else.

    I’m really looking forward to this one, though, no food! :)

  27. Jayne
    May 21, 2009 @ 16:59:36

    The heroine reminded me of Submit from Black Silk.

    I loathe Submit and hate Black Silk. Plus the heroine’s name is just striking me wrong. Seems too modern even if it isn’t. Maybe I’ll eventually try this one but not anytime soon.

  28. Stephanie
    May 21, 2009 @ 17:31:08

    I think I’ll probably enjoy this one, based on the snippets I’ve seen here and the excerpt at the back of Delicious. In any case, the lit geek in me was intrigued by one of the author’s interviews in which she said that NQaH is her re-imagining of The Painted Veil.

  29. LauraB
    May 21, 2009 @ 17:38:16

    I inhaled this book in one evening. I echo Jane in that some of the reconcilliation (esp. the physical aspects) were too convenient. Had we a bit more of insight into Bryony’s motives during moments in the book, I might have been a little less confused. The realization she makes about her own mistakes worked for me.

    Like Janine, there were parts of the book where I found my eyes filling up with tears. I don’t normally cry at books, so take this as you will.

  30. Janine
    May 21, 2009 @ 18:08:03

    I loathe Submit and hate Black Silk.

    I love love love Black Silk but I didn’t find the books at all similar. For one thing, NQAH is much faster paced. For another it is a road romance/adventure story.

    Maybe I'll eventually try this one but not anytime soon.

    No pressure re. reading it. I’m laughing about how wrong I am again because I thought for sure the setting (what is now Pakistan, then called British India) would have you at hello.

  31. Jennie
    May 21, 2009 @ 19:00:26

    I loved Not Quite a Husband. Possibly more than Thomas’ first two books. I’m not sure yet. I’m going to do a review and maybe then I’ll figure it out. It was a little different to me because it had a slightly less realistic and more melodramatic feel than either Private Arrangements or Delicious. I’m a fan of both realism and (well-done) melodrama, so it’s mostly a matter of appreciating different things about NQaH than liking it more or less than the other two books. Though I don’t want to make it sound like Thomas’ voice was appreciably different; it was very much recognizable as one of her books.

    My one issue had to do with the… nighttime relations between Bryony and Leo (I'm trying to avoid spoilers). I'm kind of on the fence with how I feel about those actions.

    Yes, I am too. Though not so much from a moral standpoint; I just wonder if all that activity occuring the way it did was a bit over-the-top and unrealistic. It’s not really a criticism on my part but it was stuff like that that made the book feel slightly “old-school” melodramatic to me.

  32. Julie M
    May 21, 2009 @ 21:13:23

    re: the night time activity and whether it could happen that way I remember watching Oprah (I think it was Oprah, it was back in the day when my boys were little) and the woman had two children that were conceived while she was sleeping. Her husband wanted to tie her to him, he was a tad insecure (understatement eh?), and he settled on impregnating her without her cooperation or agreement. Needless to say she was unhappy when he finally fessed up. (No kidding!) So I guess it’s possible if you are a very heavy sleeper….

  33. Julie M
    May 21, 2009 @ 21:29:30

    Randi: Isn’t it great that there are so many tropes? Some for you – long separation and some for me though nothing comes to mind at the moment, and some we both like – friends to lovers.

    re: the combination, yeah that was a new one for me. I assumed it was underware but I didn’t take the time to look it up.

    grammar alert that first sentence of mine doesn’t look right…. well I’m not a writer… and I don’t play one on t.v. either!

  34. Maili
    May 22, 2009 @ 02:38:33

    @Jayne

    Plus the heroine's name is just striking me wrong. Seems too modern even if it isn't. Maybe I'll eventually try this one but not anytime soon.

    It’s not modern, but it doesn’t fit in with the period and her station either because of its cultural associations. This is, I admit, the reason why I’m on a fence about getting it.

    (Names do affect my reading decisions because I have to live with them while reading the story. When I read a historical, name choices alone often destroyed the suspension of belief. There were indeed unusual names in the real-life nobility, but I find that romance authors tend to opt for (not sure how else to put it) “barbaric” names, e.g. native Welsh, Scottish and Irish names or modern/faux-native names. It’s all about ‘ring true to the ear’, I suppose. :D But I digress.)

  35. Stephanie
    May 22, 2009 @ 08:03:03

    “Bryony” is anachronistic? I’m a bit surprised; I thought naming girls after flowers and other plants was a long-established tradition in England. Think of all those Daisys, Roses, Lilys, and Violets who populate historical romance.

  36. Randi
    May 22, 2009 @ 08:05:33

    Laura Vivanco: AH HA! Wow, I knew women wore a lot of clothing, but damn…that is a lot of underwear! hahahah. That site is pretty cool-thanks for posting it.

    @Julie M:

    Isn't it great that there are so many tropes? Some for you – long separation and some for me though nothing comes to mind at the moment, and some we both like – friends to lovers.

    Yes! This, to me, is the birlliance of romance-that it can cover so much ground and that there is something to please everyone. It really is a fertile genre.

    So I guess it's possible if you are a very heavy sleeper….

    Possible spolier-ish comment ahead…….

    It’s possible even if you aren’t. I remember waking up to sex several times with my first lover, and the sex was pretty far along (ha!). I’ll have to re-read the book again (oh, such a shame), but I didn’t get the impression that Bryony slept through Leo’s midnight visits, while they were married. I got the impression she woke up during sex.

    (something happened with the blockquote: the places where it looks like I’m quoting, are my words. The black text that does NOT look quoted, is a quote. Is this a sign I should just take the rest of the day off?

  37. Maili
    May 22, 2009 @ 10:35:33

    @Stephanie

    “Bryony” is anachronistic? I'm a bit surprised; I thought naming girls after flowers and other plants was a long-established tradition in England. Think of all those Daisys, Roses, Lilys, and Violets who populate historical romance.

    Naming after flowers and other plants was a long-established tradition, and still is. Byrony, however, isn’t usually listed among those you listed and the others in England.

    I didn’t say it was anachronistic. It was indeed popular among the Scottish English and Welsh middle classes at one time, but–like I said earlier–because of its association with Scotland and Wales, it wasn’t a desirable name for certain classes of the usual English society. Historically, snobbery and cultural bias did (and still does) extend to names.

    Having that said and on a different note, England, Scotland (especially!) and Wales can be very conservative with first names, which is why they tend to be creative with nicknames that will last the rest of nickname owners’ lives. It’s still a British tradition going strong. :P

  38. Julie M
    May 22, 2009 @ 11:12:45

    Whoops yes – my responses have been somewhat spoilerish – sorry!

    randi: I agree with you, I understood that Bryony didn’t sleep thru the nighttime activity, I just meant to point out that if someone can sleep throught someone trying (and succeeding) in impregnating them then what Sherry Thomas wrote was possible.

    But this brings up a point for me. I wasn’t sure how I felt about that at the time I read it (re: the nighttime activity), but I guess I would say (using a now out of date phrase) I was “in the zone” while reading NQAH. Because it was one of my favorite tropes “the seemingly cold-hearted heroine” I don’t think I let anthing pull me out of my enjoyment. A simple case of what I liked let me gloss over what I wasn’t sure I liked. But I have a very high tolerance for a lot of things others don’t like in reading, e.g., anachronism, wallpaper history/setting, character development inconsistency, perhaps I’m not the most discriminating reader….

    Shameless flattering – I have to say I adore this site and SBTB, I’ve been reading romance for 30 years (how’d I get so old?) and I’ve found so many wonderful authors through these two sites. Hearts and Kisses to you all cuz I have to get my daily “dear author” and SBTB fixes and all who comment are what makes these sites so addictive and valuable. Thanks from someone who use to lurk but increasingly is coming out of lurk.

  39. Janine
    May 22, 2009 @ 12:22:41

    Randi — I have no idea the blockquote thing was happening, but I deleted and then added back the blockquotes in WordPress, and that seems to have fixed the problem.

    Julie M — :: blushing:: Thanks for those lovely words about DA. I’m sure all us Ja(y)nes appreciate hearing them.

  40. Moth
    May 23, 2009 @ 15:22:37

    I always have such high expectations for Sherry Thomas’ books. I’ve read all three so far, and while I can agree they are all beautifully written I just can’t ever seem to connect with them. I think her characters are just too cold, too stubborn in holding onto the past. And it always seems like they waste YEARS apart instead of talking their problems out. Lack of simple communication is one of my hot button issues for romance novels.

    I had high hopes for this book but it was slow and a little boring, the action in the Swat Valley felt out of place to me and for all the bullets whizzing by it was oddly unexciting. I don’t think I’ll be reading her next book when it comes out.

  41. Anita Chax
    May 23, 2009 @ 22:28:39

    I’ve read all three books as well. I simply adore her writing, her language, her ability to evoke mood and atmosphere. In fact her writing is so good it somehow nearly masks her major weakness — plotting. In particular, transitions. All three began well, but somehow the transition from state a (we can’t work it out) to state b (love conquers all) didn’t quite pan out for me. Nevertheless, I feel the same excitement as I did when I discovered SEP and Kresley Cole, and I’m sure it’s only a matter of time when Thomas will begin to deliver perfect books. Looking forward to her next one.

  42. ami
    May 23, 2009 @ 23:13:55

    Oops, spoiled myself by reading comments. Oh well, I have it in hand right now anyway. Basically came in the thread to sorta ask a question. I have border bucks that are expiring at the end of the month, and I have no idea what to get after this. Any recommendations that are similar to Sherry Thomas books and come out before the end of May? It can be any category, but I prefer romance or fantasy/paranormal (or any combination)

    I really dislike werewolves stories though and I would like to start at book one or a part in the series in which it is standalone.

    Or could someone just recommend me a realllly great book? I have some ideas, but for some reason nothing grabs out to me and say READ this like the Sherry Thomas descriptions do.

  43. MYJ
    May 23, 2009 @ 23:55:45

    I just finished NQAH and just loved it. I found it very romantic and would give it an A-. Looking forward to the next one already. I’m extremelly glad for the new crop of historical writers like Sherry.

  44. Janine
    May 24, 2009 @ 22:22:57

    Ami,

    Re. May historicals. I haven’t read them so I don’t know if they are anything like Sherry Thomas’s books, but I’m interested in trying A Talent for Sin by Lavinia Kent and A Hint of Wicked by Jennifer Haymore, both of which come out on May 26.

    I previously recommended The Reluctant Heiress by Eva Ibbotson which comes out May 28, according to Amazon, but which I spotted at Barnes and Noble today. It’s a reprint of an older book titled Magic Flutes. Ibbotson’s books leave the bedroom door closed but her writing is lovely and her characters endearing.

    Hope this helps — I don’t know if any of these are what you’re looking for but they might be worth looking into, anyway.

  45. REVIEW: Not Quite a Husband by Sherry Thomas | Dear Author: Romance Novel Reviews, Industry News, and Commentary
    May 26, 2009 @ 11:00:25

    […] which actually begins after Leo and Bryony have been married (and estranged) for several years in her review. So as not to duplicate Jane’s efforts, I thought I would focus on what worked for me and […]

  46. Review: Not Quite a Husband, by Sherry Thomas |
    Jun 05, 2009 @ 09:12:25

    […] Dear Author, Jane, B- […]

  47. GrowlyCub
    Jun 07, 2009 @ 22:09:00

    I finally found a copy of this today and interrupted my 400 mile drive home from the Lori Foster Get Together a couple of times to read and just finished it now!

    I really liked the beginning, but it seemed that when the ‘action’ started the book kind of came to a standstill and the emotional impact went completely away.

    From the acknowledgments it seems that major parts of this book were rewritten and I admit to being extremely curious which parts are ‘original’ and which are changed due to editorial comments. I have hypotheses… too bad that there is no way to verify if any of them rise to the level of theories! :)

    I’ve read all the comments with interest on this review and on Jennie’s. I was struck by the comments about unrealistic 80s romance with reference to the nighttime activities before their annulment. I didn’t find those at all unrealistic or over the top. I guess it’s all in what one has experienced personally.

    I definitely thought that the book was too short and I remember thinking several times that I really would have liked more of internal POV of either or both characters at certain plot points.

    As for the war time nookie, it’s amazing what determined humans can accomplish, grin, but personally I felt it would have made for much more interesting reading to see them stay safely in the dak bungalow for a week or so instead of being trapped in the fort. Especially, because Bryony wanted to get away from Leo so badly.

    One last general comment, I’m getting really tired and annoyed at the ever shorter books with ever larger margins and print. Do the publishers really think we don’t notice those kinds of shenanigans?

    With this book I’m thinking the issue was probably even more prominent due to the rewrite and deadline. I’d really love to get some insider comments on what’s really going on behind the scenes re word count, etc.

  48. Janine
    Jun 07, 2009 @ 22:20:57

    I really liked the beginning, but it seemed that when the ‘action' started the book kind of came to a standstill and the emotional impact went completely away.

    That is interesting, because I know a reader who felt exactly the opposite — that the emotional impact didn’t start until the battle section. Personally I felt the entire book was emotional, but the battle section resonated with me the most.

    Re. the wordcount, my impression from something Sherry has said is that she likes to tell her stories in as few words as possible.

  49. April
    Jun 21, 2009 @ 19:48:32

    I just read this book today, and loved every moment of it, although I agree with Jane that the Bryony’s change of passion seemed out of place. I am willing to accept that it came about due to years apart.

    In any case, Sherry Thomas sets a new standard for historical romance writers today. Within pages, I feel her characters’ deeply emotional pain and passion that it astounds me and leaves me feeling disappointed when I try to read other romances, by authors that I’ve always liked quite well. I don’t know how she does it, but Thomas has a way of creating a longing that I haven’t encountered in other writers.

    I believe Meredith Duran and Laura Kinsale are also able to capture these feelings futility and soul deep longing.

  50. RITA Open Thread | Dear Author: Romance Novel Reviews, Industry News, and Commentary
    Mar 26, 2010 @ 14:51:45

    […] loved Wicked All Day and enjoyed Not Quite a Husband (we did two reviews, here and here).  Make Me Yours (reviews here and here) is a great book particularly given the length (it’s […]

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