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Reading List by Dabney for the last couple of weeks

The Seduction of Lady X by Julia London

I had such high hopes for this book, the last in a series of three. I liked the first book, The Year of Living Scandalously, and I loved The Revenge of Lord Eberlin. I hated this book. It was unrelentingly sad, the heroine is abused and raped by her alcoholic husband, she loves a man she just can’t have. Furthermore, the series has revolved around the fate of a set of missing rubies and the resolution of that plot is little more than a disappointing afterthought. The book, plot and tone, really did not work for me.

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Willing Victim by Cara McKenna

Janine recommended this book to me after a long Twitter discussion about the role of forced seduction in romance novels. It was interesting. I liked how regular the hero and heroine were and I enjoyed the writing. Ms. Mckenna has a great way with dialogue–the way her characters speak makes both them and the novel stand apart from run of the mill erotica. I didn’t mind the very open ending–I believed good things would happen for Laurel and Flynn, both together and apart in the future. The sex in the book was grittier and rougher than what I usually encounter, but, it fit the characters and ended up, for me, being interesting but not hot.

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The Edge of Impropriety by Pam Rosenthal

I read this book when it came out in 2008 and forgot about it. Then Jane asked for books with older protagonists and I thought of this book. The heroine is in her late 30′s; the hero, in his mid 40′s. I liked this book a lot when I read it this go round. The relationship between the two main characters has a very different feel than in most in historical romance. This is also almost the only historical romance I’ve ever read that has low-key “backdoor” sex scene. Perhaps my favorite thing about this book is how independent, in every way, the heroine is. In a genre awash with women whose lives are defined by men, it was refreshing to read about a happy, financially secure, self-directed grownup woman.

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Not Quite a Husband, Private Arrangements, His at Night, Delicious, Beguiling the Beauty by Sherry Thomas

After reading Ms. Thomas latest, Beguiling the Beauty, I was so entranced by her fabulous writing, I went back and read all her earlier novels. The experience left me more in awe of Ms. Thomas than I already was which is saying something. (She is one of my top five favorite romance novelists.) Before I reread all her books, I would have said my favorite of hers is Private Arrangements. I like the plot, the hero and heroine, and, the wonderful subplot involving the heroine’s mother and her flirtation with the Duke next door. Now, however, while I still love Private Arrangements, I’ve decided my favorite is His at Night. Ms. Thomas writes heartbreak in a completely non-sentimental way. Both Vere and Elissande are living lives of quiet desperation when they meet. Both are achingly lonely. Their love story is so well-done and the plot moves along with nary an unnecessary device. His at Night is Sherry Thomas at her best.

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Crazy on You by Rachel Gibson

I like Ms. Gibson–she’s one of those authors I almost always enjoy. Her books are comfort reads for me–easy to take, usually funny, and filled with good sex scenes. This novella, however, did little for me. The heroine and the hero were cardboard characters and their connection never came across as much more than lust. The book is set in a small town in the Texas panhandle and every stereotype I’ve ever heard about Texas is included in this tale. I felt like Ms. Gibson was trying for cute and, instead, ended up at tacky. The heroine’s voice was annoying as well. She says things like,

“No self-respecting Southern lady leaves the house without her hair in place, her makeup done, and her panties on.”

Ugh. It’s safe to say I wasn’t the least bit crazy about Crazy on You.

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The Surrender of Miss Fairbourne by Madeline Hunter

I also usually like Ms. Hunter but this book bored me to tears. The characters and the plot is so hazily presented, I kept forgetting what I’d just read. The pace of the book is glacial and the motivations of the hero and the heroine odd. The heroine of the book runs an auction house in London and there’s lots of information about how the auction houses of the 1790′s functioned. I wasn’t drawn into the story or the context–I just kept getting sleepy every time I picked up the book.

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I loved romances when, back in the mid 70's, in junior high, I read every Barbara Cartland novel I could check out from the library. Then, thanks to a savvy babysitter, I got my hands on the hot stuff. To this day I can remember how astonishingly steamy I found Rosemary Rogers' Sweet Savage Love. I abandoned romance when I went to college and didn't pick one up again until 2007 when I got my first Kindle. Since then, I’ve read countless romances; loved many, liked more, hated some. Most of what I read is historical and contemporary romance, but I’m open to almost any genre. I like my books to have sizzle, wit, and plots that make sense. I’d take sexy over sweet any day. I’m a sucker for smart heroes and smart-mouthed heroines. When not reading or writing about reading, or wishing I could rule the world, I'm meddling in the lives of my kids--I have four, ages 17 to 21--, managing my husband's practice, doing bossy volunteer work, and hanging out with Dr. Feelgood.

20 Comments

  1. Lauren
    Apr 27, 2012 @ 13:09:42

    The seduction of Lady X is one that I couldn’t bring myself to buy, even though I read the first two in the series. I didn’t particularly enjoy either one of them, although I liked the second more than the first. I found that, although the missing jewels were supposed to be a mystery, they were mentioned so rarely that I didn’t find that they were even important. I hope that I enjoy Julia London’s next book(s) far more than I did the last ones.

    I’ve also almost given up on Rachel Gibson. I thought that she wrote a fun read in Truly, Madly Yours. I went and read all her others after reading that one, and thought that they were okay, but really started to dislike her hockey books. I’ll probably buy Rescue Me, solely because I didn’t dislike Daisy’s back in Town. I find that her characters are too immature for me – the lust driven sixteen year old boy sitting in a almost forty man’s body gets tiring to read about.

    I’m checking out Sherry Thomas’ book list. I cannot remember reading anything of hers. Hopefully I’ve found a new author!

  2. becca
    Apr 27, 2012 @ 13:20:54

    Sherry Thomas sounds right up my alley, and the price ($3.99 for kindle) is also right in my sweet spot for trying new authors. thanks for the recommendation!

  3. Danielle D
    Apr 27, 2012 @ 13:25:33

    I was soooooooooo disappointed in The Seduction of Lady X but I wanted to slapped the heroine’s sister a couple of times. I thought she was nothing buy a spoiled brat.

  4. Dabney
    Apr 27, 2012 @ 13:34:32

    @becca: @Lauren: It’s possible I’m a Sherry Thomas fanatic–I so love her books.

  5. Sarah
    Apr 27, 2012 @ 13:45:31

    I’m really disappointed to hear that about Rachel Gibson’s novella as I have been eagerly looking forward to it. But then, I guess I’m not totally surprised. I had the chance to read Rescue Me already and while it was pleasant enough, it just didn’t have that spark that I associate with my favorite Gibson titles (See Jane Score, Tangled Up in You).

  6. Sarah
    Apr 27, 2012 @ 13:50:05

    In the Julia London book, I actually wanted the final story to be about Lord Eberlin’s sister because I found her to be an intriguing character.

    (meant to include that in my original comment, sorry!)

  7. willaful
    Apr 27, 2012 @ 14:02:59

    I felt the same way about WV and most of McKenna’s books – more interesting than hot. Fortunately, interesting works for me.

  8. Faye
    Apr 27, 2012 @ 14:07:00

    Add me to the Sherry Thomas fanclub. She’s my absolute favorite romance author- the tension and emotion in her books do it for me every time. I can’t wait to read her newest.

    I actually liked The Surrender of Miss Fairbourne, despite its flaws. Maybe a C, but an enjoyable C.

  9. Julie L.
    Apr 27, 2012 @ 15:17:44

    Sherry Thomas is one of my absolute favorites – you make me want to go back and re-read all of her books too! I’m in awe of her writing. I can’t wait for this Tuesday!

  10. Jane
    Apr 27, 2012 @ 15:21:27

    @Sarah – I actually liked the Gibson novella. It’s short and the romance is truncated but the heroine was different and fun.

  11. Amber
    Apr 27, 2012 @ 15:39:03

    Heh, I added the Julia London book to my tbr based on this. The description “achingly sad” will do that, I’m not sure why. I think it’s a history of reading literary. These days I stick to romance for the HEA Guaranteed, but I appreciate sadness on the way :)

  12. Evelyn Archer
    Apr 27, 2012 @ 19:16:35

    I guess one woman’s trash really is another woman’s treasure because I really enjoyed Julia London’s The Seduction of Lady X. I found the novel pleasingly out of the ordinary and the sad situation of the main characters made their happily ever after very satisfying.

  13. Susan
    Apr 27, 2012 @ 23:22:34

    You’ve already read Beguiling the Beauty?!? So jealous. I can’t wait until May 1–I’ll be up all night. NQAH and HAT are two of my all-time favorite romances.

    Some of the other books on your list are still on my TBR list, but I’ll go into them forewarned. Thanx.

  14. Loosheesh
    Apr 28, 2012 @ 08:22:52

    Sherry Thomas: yes, definitely, and of course! I read Not Quite a Husband and was never the same – love this book! I’ve been meaning to try the rest but I just can’t read her in snatches of time, here and there; I need a large block of free time where I can really savor the experience ;–)

  15. Dabney
    Apr 28, 2012 @ 08:29:59

    @Susan: Yes, we reviewers are a lucky bunch!

  16. Loosheesh
    Apr 28, 2012 @ 09:08:12

    @Dabney: But you get to read some crappy stuff so we don’t have to so it’s all good ;-)

  17. Nikki H
    Apr 28, 2012 @ 16:19:25

    I read Sherry Thomas’s Private Arrangements and Not Quite a Husband and didn’t care for them, so haven’t read anything else by her. However, because I seem to like other books you have reviewed favorably, I just purchased His at Night for my Kindle and hope I like it as much as you did. Thanks for the recs.

  18. Dabney
    Apr 28, 2012 @ 18:01:05

    @Nikki H: Hmmmm… Well, I took two readings to warm to NQaH, but I loved PA from the beginning. I hope you like HaN. Let me know. I think her way with words is extraordinary.
    @Loosheesh: It’s true, I routinely suffer bad prose.@Loosheesh: If you loved NQaH, I’d suggest her newest. It’s equally rife with “how to f**k up a perfectly good relationship” in ways that are genuinely moving.@Susan: I really liked it. It’s not perfect but, because it’s Sherry Thomas, it’s damn near great. Plus, the two relationships it introduces that will be explored in the next two books in the series are so compelling–I can’t think of books I’m waiting for with more eagerness.

  19. kara-karina
    Apr 29, 2012 @ 12:49:35

    Awww, His at Night is my favorite book by Sherry Thomas as well ;) Can’t wait to read her new one :)

  20. Allison
    Apr 30, 2012 @ 18:38:33

    Thank you for mentioning His at Night! I’ve been trying to remember what book it was so I could re-read it AGAIN. It is such a fantastic book.

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