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

Book Reviews

REVIEW:  Beguiled ( Enlightenment – book 2) by Joanna Chambers

REVIEW: Beguiled ( Enlightenment – book 2) by Joanna Chambers

Beguiled72sm

A fleeting pleasure is the sweetest seduction…

Enlightenment, Book 2

David Lauriston couldn’t be less interested in King George IV’s first visit to Edinburgh. But with Faculty of Advocates members required to put on a minimal show of patriotism, David makes an appointment with his tailor for a new set of clothes—only to run into a man he hasn’t seen for two long years.

Lord Murdo Balfour.

Much has changed since their bitter parting, except their stormy attraction. And when Murdo suggests they enjoy each other’s company during his stay, David finds himself agreeing. After all, it’s only a temporary tryst.

Amidst the pomp and ceremony of the King’s visit, Murdo’s seduction is more powerful than David ever imagined possible. But when other figures from David’s past show up, he is drawn into a chain of events beyond his control. Where his determination to help a friend will break his body, threaten his career, and put at risk the fragile tenderness he’s found in Murdo’s arms.

Warning: Contains a lowborn Scottish lawyer with no love for the aristocracy, but more than enough passion for this highborn lord. Political intrigue, kilts, explicit m/m trysts, and men who epitomize “knight in shining armor”.

Dear Joanna Chambers,

We reviewed the first book in this trilogy here. As you can see, the first book set a pretty high bar for me, and for the most part I think the second part of the story was just as good. This *is* the second part of the story – it absolutely cannot read be as a stand-alone, because you will miss out on the plot and character development that happened in the first book, and I do not recommend that.

As the blurb states, the book takes place during the first visit of George IV to Edinburgh. I had not known before that such a historical event took place, but I was pleased that amongst my total ignorance I spotted a *very* familiar figure: Sir Walter Scott, whose books I devoured as a child and young teenager. I do not have a good knowledge of Scotland’s history, but even without having such knowledge it was easy to figure out when I was reading his books that Scott’s portrayal of Scotland was a much idealized one. I still adored his books, though, so I can understand why so many citizens of Edinburgh got swept in his enthusiasm, if what he wrote was at least a partial reflection of his real life charisma.

I was pleased to see that in “Beguiled”, the story continued to pay attention to the social issues of the time, and the feelings of those who were not happy with the current political and economic situation were somewhat shown. I always feel that it is a delicate balance for a romance writer to strike when she tackles difficult political/economical/social issues, because she still needs to tell a love story amongst everything else that is happening. I think so far in this series this writer has achieved a very nice balance in this book.

The social issues and problems which were present in book one have not gone away by the time this one begins, and of course they could not have – only two years have passed. I really enjoyed that David tried to change certain aspects of the system from within by working with the rule of law, but when push came to shove he would not hesitate to get personally involved to help a friend he cared about and push the boundaries a bit.

I also liked that only two years had passed since the men parted the ways in book one. I can easily believe that in two years they were not able to forget each other – the more time had passed the harder it would have been for me to suspend disbelief. I liked the changes in David, in this book; especially that he no longer viewed himself as somebody who would go to hell for his attraction to men. I mean, it makes all kind of sense to me in a historical that the men would berate themselves especially if they grew up in the Christian religion, but since there were men and women who managed to live their lives under the radar, I have to believe that these people eventually realized that no matter what the religious zealots say there is nothing wrong with them feeling attracted to people of the same gender. That is why David’s slow change was believable to me and made sense.

I thought that the romance between David and Murdo definitely advanced in this book – I mean, neither of them are thinking about their relationship as “together forever” yet (I say yet, because I certainly hope it will happen at the end of book three, not because I know that it will), but Murdo admits to himself and to David that to him this thing between them is something more than casual, and I got the impression that even at the end of book one David already had a strong feelings for Murdo.

I did wonder, though, whether Murdo had changed. I mean it was clear to me that he always had strong feelings for David whether he himself realized it or not: his actions spoke louder than words. But Murdo had never been depicted as thinking that he should go to hell for being attracted to men, so I thought his character’s evolution would be him realizing that he wants to spend his whole life with David, not just part of his life and I have not seen that happening yet. On the other hand, there is still book three to come.

I do think that I know Murdo better after this book, despite the fact that he is not a POV character, but overall I am still not sure whether I have a good grasp on his character, or on his world views. Here is one of the “political” conversations between him and David, for example. I mean, David’s views are no surprise for me, considering that he so vehemently defended the weavers in book one and his further interactions with Euan in the first book and this book, but is this how Murdo truly feels or was he just arguing for the sake of arguing? If these are his true feelings – he is a member of a privileged class after all – I know there is still time for him to change and I *know* from his actions that he is a good man. All I am trying to say that his character overall still feels a bit like unknown in my mind.

“Well – this is the Scotland I inhabit now, I suppose.” David gestured around them, at the elegant New Town with its clean lines and gas lamps and private gardens. “Rational. Modern. Just think – who lives in these houses?”
“I do, for one,” Murdo said, his white teeth gleaming as he flashed a grin at David.
“True, but most of them are occupied by merchants, lawyers, bankers. Professional men. Sir Walter might like to promote the fantasy of noble highland chiefs, but these are men of the new Scotland. And they don’t look to aristocrats to guide them. They’re more interested in what Adam Smith and David Hume have to say.”
Murdo snorted. “It sounds to me like you’re swapping one kind of privilege for another. Does it really matter whether our kingmakers are aristocrats or bankers?”
“Ah, but this is only the beginning.” David retorted. “One day we will have universal suffrage. And then how things will change!”
Murdo merely shrugged. “We’ll see. I have always found that men are defined more by their desire to do each other down rather than to lift each other up, but time will tell.”
“You are a pessimist,” David accused, smiling. “I think we are better than that.”
“I’m not so sure,” Murdo replied. “And I’m not sure the general population wants the changes you think they do.”

I thought it was especially refreshing that while neither David nor Murdo forget about how society treats the men who are attracted to other men, that they could be in danger if they ever publicly demonstrate their affection, that they do not forget that there were some people (or a lot of people) who were even more vulnerable than they were in many ways. As I am sure you can guess those people are women and I cannot tell you how pleased I was that a certain plotline revolved around that issue. I wish I could talk more about this plotline, but the blurb is silent on that matter and since I am trying hard to avoid spoilers whenever I can in my reviews, I should be silent too. I want to say that this plotline made me extremely happy, made me love David even more than I already loved his character and leave at that.

I loved the men together and certainly keep hoping that they would find the way to be together permanently in book three and I keep my fingers crossed for happy ending for Euan, because I really liked him.

Grade B.

 

AmazonBNSonyKoboAREBook DepositoryGoogle

REVIEW:  Torn From You by Nashoda Rose

REVIEW: Torn From You by Nashoda Rose

Torn from You (Tear Asunder #1) by Nashoda Rose

Dear Nashoda Rose:

This book was recommended to me by someone in my twitter stream. It’s a weird disjointed story. The prologue introduces the main protagonists as Emily and Logan. Emily is a young woman with body issues from her evil mother but she’s captured the attention of Logan, an illegal fighter and a budding musician. The book reads like a potpourri of trendy cliches – fighter, musician, dark angst, bad boy, mob, etc. etc.

And then names are ridonkulous. Sculpt. Ream. Kite. Deck. Crisis. CRISIS, you guys.  Then there’s “Slexing” which is supposedly sleep after sex. If that is a play on words like sexting it misses the point. Sexting is texting sexy words. Slexing should be sex while sleeping. But hey, with names like Crisis, should I really expect the made up words to make sense. No.

In the PROLOGUE, Logan begs Emily to come on tour with him even though she wants to attend college and then he takes her virginity. The next 100 pages or so is Emily kidnapped by a sex trafficking group that includes Logan. She’s tortured, beaten, digitally penetrated but still thinks Logan is the hottest thing this side of the sun so she can’t help but fall into bed with him repeatedly. I can tell by the obvious hints in the book (Logan’s clenched jaw and fists flying into the wall) that he does not want to humiliate Emily and treat her like an animal, he only does so because he is forced.

The second half of the book takes place two years later as Logan returns and pursues Emily relentlessly. And then everyone gives her shit for not taking Logan back because he walked back into hell for her. I think this conversation pretty much sets the stage for it.

“Jesus,” he growled. “Not once did I take you without your consent. And you know it.”

“That’s because if I didn’t, the consequences were worse.” Okay, I was lying, because I was mad and hurt and yes, I was a little scared too. I had no clue why Sculpt was here, and the thought of going back … no, I’d never go back.

His voice was quiet, “I never beat you, Emily. I tried to protect you.”

“Is that how you live with yourself? No, you just took away my choices. You watched while other people beat me. You bled my self-esteem. Damn it, you tore my fucking heart out.”

“I got you out when I could.”

“Yeah, in pieces.”

“You bled my self-esteem” is indicative of the writing along with ““Go repair from this place, Emily.”  I get what the intentions are of the sentence but I have to mentally rewrite them just as I had to fill in a lot of the character development and justification.

The real problem with this book is that I’m supposed to go places with the author but there is no real preparation. Emily’s narrative slips in and out of being a captive. One minute she’s just totally lost in desire for him and the next she’s thinking “I needed to make certain I wasn’t sold.” It’s like sex scenes were written independent of the narrative. Within any given scene, the reader jumps forward and backward in time without any warning.

The last 60% of the story is Logan pursuing Emily and bascially telling her she had no right to be mad at him because he was really just doing the very best that he could in a bad situation. So she got knocked around a little and was water boarded. He didn’t let anyone rape her other than that one time she was forced to suck someone’s fingers or the time that another person digitally penetrated her. And every time he took her she wanted it. And he didn’t want to do these things to her so she should just suck it up and forgive him.

As Tori from SmexyBook said, the first part is written for shock value and the second part is an emo fest. It’s as if the author tried to fit a longer trilogy into one book in order to avoid the dreaded cliffhanger. But I spent most of the book confused about the motivations and the poorly thought out plot didn’t help.

There’s no authenticity in the book, not in the sex trafficking ring, not in Emily’s escape, not in the “rock star” bit. And I just kind of laughed to myself when Logan is transformed into this signing, guitar playing rock God from his illegal fighting, sex trafficking self.  (We don’t know how involved he was in the sex trafficking only that he doesn’t like it and whatever he did was to save Emily). Weirdly in the last 80% there are a few scenes from Logan’s point of view even though the rest of the story is told in first person from Emily’s POV. That felt like very lazy storytelling. The suspense plot kicks in much later and much like the preceding pages, it’s kind far fetched. I guess on the plus side there’s a lot of story in one book even if  a lot of it is eye rolling.

According to Goodreads, this book is full of the feels. I’m just dead inside. D

Best regards,

Jane

AmazonBNSonyKoboAREBook DepositoryGoogle