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

C+ Reviews

REVIEW:  The Accidental Abduction by Darcie Wilde

REVIEW: The Accidental Abduction by Darcie Wilde

Elaina started reading romances in high school, but only started telling people she read romances within the last few years. Historicals will always remain her favorite, although she finds herself reading other genres depending on her mood. Favorite authors include Elizabeth Hoyt, Lisa Kleypas, Tessa Dare and Meredith Duran. She’s always on the hunt for innovative historical romances—especially non-Regency historicals—so drop her a line if you have a recommendation.

 

Accidental Abduction Darcie Wilde

Dear Ms. Wilde:

I must admit I wasn’t sure what to expect with your novel An Accidental Abduction. All I knew was that it was a historical by an unknown-to-me author. When I realized that this historical contains both a working class hero and heroine, I was so excited. How often do you get to read about merchant heroes? Rarely, if ever. I’m so tired of rakish dukes that anything slightly different will pique my interest.

The story begins with, well, an abduction of sorts: when Leannah Wakefield (I have a difficult time imagining Leannah a common name in the 19th century, I must admit) discovers her younger sister has eloped, she drives off in a mad dash to catch her. When Harry Rayburn sees a carriage hurtling down the street, he thinks the driver has lost control of her team and attempts to stop the carriage. What results is Harry being dragged along on Leannah’s errand, an accidental abduction of sorts.

Leannah and Harry experience instant attraction to one another as their road-trip continues. Leannah, a widow of one year, never experienced a satisfying sexual relationship with her much older husband, and she finds herself attracted to Harry from the outset. I really appreciated this frank look at the heroine’s sexual desires that often are overlooked or coated with confusion as to what those feelings entail, when there is rarely such confusion in a hero’s sexual attraction to the heroine. Leannah knows she’s attracted to Harry and imagines having sex with him—a rather subversive touch to this romance that I really liked.

Harry, for his part, has recently been turned down by the woman he thought he would marry, and when he meets Leannah, he is similarly smitten and quickly forgets his almost-fiancée’s rejection. Harry comes from merchant stock, with gobs of money but not much in the way of blue blood. He is handsome—called an Adonis more than once—but also rendered human, too, with his overlong sideburns that he doesn’t realize aren’t particularly flattering.

It is this sexual attraction coupled with Leannah’s desire to avoid another unwanted marriage on the behest of her ill father that results in Harry and Leannah marrying only days after meeting. Their first sexual encounter is electric and yet both are full of doubts as to their hasty marriage. Combined with Leannah’s secrets regarding her family history and Harry’s family’s disapproval over his union, the two struggle to find their footing in a marriage that seems to be falling apart from the outset.

The first half of this book worked well for me, and I loved how Harry and Leannah fell for each other so quickly. Once the two are married, however, the book falls into frustrating Big Misunderstanding territory, that’s mostly caused by the lack of communication between Harry and Leannah. So many of their issues could have been solved by simply asking the other about the question or issue at hand. Instead, Harry—in particular—allows himself to believe what others tell him about Leannah without confronting her.

I also couldn’t figure out what, precisely, was the Big Secret of Leannah’s that causes Harry such alarm. Although it is revealed that Leannah’s father has had some shady dealings, there is nothing that Leannah herself has done. We also have a secret of Harry’s that is mentioned a few times in the first half but never discussed again in the second, which seemed a major oversight in the development of both his character and his relationship with Leannah.

The clunky-ness of the second half didn’t stop once we reached the very random ending that seemed thrown in there because you weren’t sure how to solve the problems of the characters. Instead, Leannah suffers a brutal accident that forces Harry to stop being angry with her, and this is coupled with the offstage defeat of the villains. Once we reach the very last chapter, I was not the least bit convinced that Harry and Leannah had solved their difficulties: instead, a near-death experience just put it on hold.

Overall, I really did enjoy your writing style and I’ll be on the lookout for more of your work. I wanted to like The Accidental Abduction more than I did, but it had some lovely moments to it despite the disintegrating second half.

Grade: C+

Elaina

AmazonBNKoboAREBook DepositoryGoogle

REVIEW:  Deacon by Kristen Ashley

REVIEW: Deacon by Kristen Ashley

Deacon Kristen Ashley

Dear Ms. Ashley:

This is the fourth in the Unfinished Hero series. I’ve read Knight, Raid, tried Creed and abandoned it, and now Deacon. This is a relationship book more than anything. There aren’t a lot of hijinks and there isn’t an overriding suspense story.

Because it’s told almost entirely from the heroine’s point of view, it’s more about what will Cassie endure to have the love of her life. After years of saving, Cassie buys a Colorado property consisting of eleven rundown cabins. She moves with her boyfriend Grant and begins to renovate the cabins. Grant turns out to be a lazy asshole and her only returning customer is “John Priest”, a big guy who has danger written all over him. He pays in cash and his ID is no doubt fake.

But John turns out to be more steady than Grant and soon Grant is kicked to the curb as Cassie builds up her business. In the beginning, it’s amusing to see Cassie proudly inform the returning Priest that the rates to her cabins have gone up. With each infrequent stay, Cassie becomes more attached to the enigmatic Priest. During one visit, she takes a piece of pie to his door and is turned down, abruptly.

Yet there would be no book if Priest does not succumb. He does so but he’s not willing to give Cassie anything but his real name, Deacon, and only his first name at that. She teasingly calls him Deacon Deacon.

Part of the conceit of this book is that the reader assumes the hero is a good guy. Through Cassie’s friend Milagro we question Cassie’s seemingly unquestioning acceptance of a man who only spends a few weeks with her, never divulges any details of his past, but promises that his future is in her eyes. The reader is treated to Deacon doing good guy things such as standing up for drugged teens, being patient with children, and helping Cassie around the property. But Cassie knows only a few things about Deacon before she invites him to her bed. That he pays in cash, that his SUV is dirty, and that he looks hot and dangerous.

That’s kind of TSTL behavior.

What he does is a mystery, even at the end of the book. I have only the vaguest of vague memories as to what Deacon does for a living. I know that Knight was a pimp and that Raid was some kind of bounty hunter of sorts. Deacon’s refusal to talk about his “work” and how it was going to be hard to extricate himself from the dark life he hid from Cassie hinted at something far darker. However, this build up was met with a rather unspectacular denouement making me wonder if Deacon’s refusal to leave his job had more to do with his own uncertain emotional state than any outside pressure.

Deacon was a mystery to me!

Parts of the story unravel at the end. There’s a dark emotional moment between the two and I’m still befuddled as to why Deacon responded in the fashion that he did other than the book needed an emotional dark moment. His past was horrific and yes, I can see how experiencing that would result in strong aversion to certain things but his emotional motivations didn’t match the actions or at least, I didn’t understand.

I enjoyed the relationship part of the story as Cassie and Deacon fought and reconciled over things like money, expectations of the other in terms of contact (i.e., their first fight was over Deacon not calling Cassie back and Deacon upset that Cassie hadn’t continued to call him), children, and so forth.

In most parts of the relationship, the important parts, Cassie and Deacon were a good fit. He never interfered with her running of the cabins as her first boyfriend did. He offered advice if she asked for it. The power dynamic in their relationship was very even.

It’s a comforting read and while the pace is a bit slow, I was entertained. I wish the ending had less of a crazy factor and was more in concert with the tone of the rest of the book. I don’t really know how to grade the book. I think if not for the ending, I would have given it a B- but as I reflected on the ending when writing the review, I was really disturbed by how much Deacon was unknown to me and frankly Cassie, even until the end. I’m sure Cassie would say that she knew everything she needed to about him but I guess I needed more. C+

Best regards,

Jane

 

AmazonBNKoboAREBook DepositoryGoogle