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(Possibly a lot of book spam to come in the futile attempt to get my 2010 write ups out of the way.)

Skinny Dipping (2008)

Mimi Olson is forty, and she's never had a responsibility in her life, and she'd like to keep it that way. Joe Tierney is at the opposite end of the responsibility spectrum. There is a meet cute, but ultimately, this is less a romance and more fiction about Mimi coming to terms with the family retreat she's always loved, her responsibilities or lack thereof, and other stuff.

This is Brockway's second contemporary, and I'm glad she's returned to historicals. Points for Mimi's age, older women being sexually active, and the book being centered around Mimi instead of Joe. That said, it's a contemporary! Brockway I think left historicals for a while because she was writing heroines who were pushing the boundaries, and I wish she had pushed even more in her contemporaries. Alas, this one reads as fairly standard chick lit, with funny animals, an all-White cast (or nearly), and brief glimpses of the lifestyles of the rich and famous. Not terrible, but nothing memorable. Read Jennifer Crusie instead.

The Golden Season (2010)

Lady Lydia Eastlake is popular, bright, and famous for her extravagance, but her wealth is quickly running out. Captain Ned Lockton's erstwhile relatives have spent the Lockton wealth, and he's looking for a wealthy bride. Unfortunately for the both of them, they each decide to hide their financial status, and so they start courting, thinking that the other will save them from financial disaster.

The characters remind me a great deal of Brockway's The Bridal Season, which is still one of my favorites of hers. Lydia is flighty and Ned is that rarest of things: a romance hero who isn't possessive, rakish, or an asshat, but is polite and reserved and nice. Alas, they don't come to life as well as Letty and Elliot did for me, although I did like the similar relationship tension of Lydia wanting to overcome Ned's reticence and break his control. Unfortunately, the set up is such that I wanted the two to sit down and stop lying, and although I don't quite remember what happened with the secondary characters, I do remember that I didn't like it.
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Francesca Brown was half of a husband-and-wife team of spiritualists, but after Lord Greyson Sheffield exposed her as being a fraud, she retreated to a small town in Scotland to watch over young Amelie Chase. Several years later, Grey makes his way to Little Firkin with his nephew Hayden in tow. Amelie and Hayden promptly fall in love as Grey tries to reconcile the emminently practical, sarcastic, and skeptical Fanny Walcott with the fey creature he knew before.

I was so disappointed when I first heard about this book: Yes, Connie Brockway was returning to historicals (yay!), but the book was set in Scotland with magic. Never a good sign. But I found it on the library shelf and figured I could always chuck it at something if I hated it. Lucky for me, because this is incredibly charming and funny. There are no mystical Scottish powers, no macho Scottish lairds, and despite the back cover trying to bill the book as a thriller-type adventure ("unseen enemy," "danger and desire" what?), it is a romantic comedy through and through. It reminds me a great deal of Brockway's The Bridal Season, albeit with even less angst.

That said, I am bothered by the portrayal of the residents of Little Firkin; we don't see much of them, but they are largely consigned to being broad comic relief, continuing that wonderful romance tradition of only allowing upper-class characters to be fully fleshed. Of course, if you are lower class and you are the hero or the heroine, you may get good characterization, but only because you are marrying "up," and quite frequently because you have secret upper-class blood flowing through your veins. Because, you know, blood always runs true...

I'm slightly mollified because it is a comedy and because Grammy Beadle is awesome, but YMMV.

While Grey and Fanny have a little angst, most of the book is about their verbal sparring, which delights me. It is actually funny! I actually like both of the characters! I can actually see why they're attracted to each other! It is sad that this is fairly rare in romances for me. I also love the portrayal of Amelie and Hayden, both of whom are very young and very much in love. They're your more standard romance novel protagonists, and it's great how Brockway and Grey and Fanny poke fun at them, even as we get to see how Amelie will most likely grow up to be a very cool woman.

Overall, everything is so charming and funny and cute! Even the threats on Amelie's life! I'm so glad I picked this up. It completely lives up to the title.

The excerpt on Brockway's website gives a very good idea of the overall tone of the book.
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(reread)

Alas, this is the last book of Connie Brockway's McClairen Isle trilogy, and Brockway has yet to convince me of her ability to write good trilogies. Her individual book plots seem good, but then the overriding trilogy plot always seems to hijack it and then the book gets all wrapped up in the trilogy plot, which interests me not at all. I read romances for the romances, damnit. Also, it is a Scottish trilogy. Nuff said.

Anyhow, I actually haven't read the first two in the trilogy. Fia Merrick is the daughter of Ronald Merrick, Earl of Carr, wickedest man alive, or something. He allegedly married Janet McClairen and killed her for McClairen's Isle, and his castle there was renamed Wanton's Blush. Not really the most subtle of villains. Her two brothers, Ash and Raine, have already been happily married off in the previous books. Anyhow, Carr has raised Fia, who is drop dead gorgeous, to marry whoever he chooses so that he can... I dunno, steal her husband's fortune or use his status, or something appropriately villainous. Obviously, everyone thinks Fia is evil as well, though she has a heart of gold well-hidden underneath.

Oh yeah, I forgot the hero. Thomas Donne is our hero, a man with a buried past and secret destiny and alternate identity (do the three always go together, do you think?). He thinks Fia is an evil whore. Fia had a brief crush on him before. Angst ensues.

I am a fan of angst. I will even read Scottish trilogies for angst, as long as the angst doesn't involve stupid, stupid misogynistic assumptions (alas, non-misogynistic angst seems to be less prevalent than one would think). I liked the beginning angst, which is why I reread this, in hopes that I had somehow been mistaken about the later deflation of the book. Unfortunately, the angst quickly dies away, there never really seems to be any real tension between Fia and Thomas after the first few encounters, because Thomas has those Sekrit Mindreading Abilities usually given to heroines (at least this time it's the guy), in which he can discern at a single glance that the seemingly wicked Fia is really just a softy at heart. Of course, since she is a heroine, as opposed to a hero, all the nasty rumors about her are completely false, whereas for a hero, they would be just true enough to give readers the Bad Boy thrill.

Blah blah denouement, stupid made-up conflict, resolution, death of Carr. Also, I think it totally doesn't work to have two brothers both be rakishly handsome and dangerous and etc., because once you get to that happy reunion scene in a trilogy, the testosterone is basically just through the roof. For some reason, it seems as though even though three brothers in a trilogy will have different traits, they must all be portrayed as brutishly male and horribly alpha when it comes to their starring book.

Sorry, I am digressing. But it's so fun to poke at romance stereotypes! This is prompting me to write a rulebook for romance heroes now.

Anyway, not throw-against-the-wall bad, but definitely nowhere close to the best Brockway can put out.
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I cannot begin to say just how much I adored Charlotte Nash.

But I am getting ahead of myself. Anyhow, this is the third in Brockway's Rose Hunter trilogy, the premise being that three Scotsmen are saved from certain death by the Nash sisters' father. Ergo they decide to swear to protect the Nash sisters. Er, yes, not necessarily the most promising of set-ups for me, especially when burly Scotsmen are involved. Le sigh. But I read anyway, because it's Brockway. Charlotte is the third Nash sister, a bit of a coquette and a bit of a flirt. Enough to be sensational but not enough to be cast out of Society. Unbeknownst to her dear sisters, she's actually helping the effort against Napoleon in providing information, thanks to her ability to move around Society. Dand Ross is another spy.

Yay spies!

Ahem. Anyhow, I am tremendously, tremendously pleased that for once, the spies actually act something like spies, as opposed to doing really stupid things just because they're in love. I mean, I get that spies are people and all, but one would figure that after being tortured and whatnot, one could really keep one's head while in love. I also adore that this is the standard plotline where the heroine spy must sleep with evil villainous man to get information, but in this case, Charlotte is a little disgusted but entirely willing to do it and convinced of the necessity, that she goes about doing it in a fairly convincing fashion, and that Dand isn't stupid and misconstrues her motives or gets stupidly jealous or whatnot. I adored the first part of the book, in which Charlotte effects her fall from Society with Dand as the lover.

I think part of me is very pleased with this because more often than not, romance novels defer desire by having outside forces ([livejournal.com profile] oracne has a good post on this) interfere with the couple getting together, so that they are consumed by illicit desire, blah blah blah. In spy!romances, this seems to be especially prominent. I get this, given that usually spy!romances have spies from two opposiing sides who fall in love; the irksome bit for me is that because of this, they act completely unprofessional. Also, to get them together in the end, you eventually find out that one side is wrong and the heroine is only for that side because her brother is there or she's being lied to or whatever, and really, that just seems to be a copout. So I liked that instead of having extreme forbidden sexual tension fostered by impersonal antogonism (aka Romeo and Juliet), in this book, there is the unwilling sexual tension fostered by duty and that the main barrier to feeling it is the two spies' personal sense of integrity and honor and their desire to complete the mission.

I also very much like that Brockway doesn't in any way romanticize Charlotte becoming a Fallen Woman (as they say) and that the threat is pretty awful, not just to her, but to people she cares about. I always feel that too often, heroines in Regencies are so swept away by passion and etc. and don't think about the consequences. And I like that Charlotte is doing this out of a desire to help her country and that she continues to stick with it because of that. And that when she thinks Dand betrayed her, she is bitter but accepts that these things happen for a higher cause.

I was very disappointed in the ending though. I think it was because it was the proper ending for the trilogy but not for this book; all the conflicts and delicious angst set up in the beginning of this book are eventually pushed aside and ignored so Brockway can resolve the plot of the trilogy, which is frankly very boring. Also, the eventual climactic moment is one that unravels the big mystery of the trilogy, which isn't much of a mystery at all, and it in no way is the emotional climax of the series. In fact, I think all the wonderful angst set up between Charlotte and Dand never really does get resolved. It just gets magicked away, and I am irked about this because it was wonderful.

Ah well.

(no subject)

Tue, May. 3rd, 2005 11:51 pm
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Haha, I have finally gotten my grubby hands on Connie Brockway's new book! And eeeeeeeeeeeee girlspy! Practical, level-headed girlspy of dubious morality!!

I am so easily bought off ;). But eeeeeeeee Connie Brockway is writing my buttons!

(no subject)

Thu, Apr. 21st, 2005 04:38 pm
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Noooooo!! Connie Brockway is going to stop writing historicals (interview here)?? Because people say hers are too dark and berate her for having characters like Lettie in The Bridal Season?! And apparently people are already criticizing My Surrender (I had no idea it was out! Is it? Must get!) for being too dark and depressing. Which means I, the contrary romance reader, am now anticipating it, despite being rather disappointed in the first two books of the trilogy. I am continually irked that my level of tolerance for the not fluffy is considerably higher than that of reviewers or something. *bangs head against wall*

This is why I can't find romances I want to read!

At least she seems interested in the same kinds of themes that I am interested in, and I am glad that the reason she's moving to contemporary women's fiction is because she wants more complex heroines and darker stories.

But still.
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Helena Nash wanders about at night dressed as a guy (very unconvincingly, of course, because we simply can't have homoeroticism in a romance) to help out star-crossed (aka, really dumb) lovers out of the goodness of her heart. She runs into Ramsey Munro, one of the men pledged to protect her and her sisters to repay her father. Sparks ensue, along with mistaken identities, fencing, and... actually, not that much else.

I'm trying not to be too snarky, because I should have gotten most of the rantiness out of the way now.

To be honest, I wasn't that mad at the book, per se. It was just the unfortunate conjunction of events. Connie Brockway is usually better than most romance authors at avoiding my hot button issues, but she doesn't manage to do it with the same grace in this book, or, for that matter, in the earlier book in the series, My Seduction (is it entirely pretentious of me to link to my own book posts? Or is it helpful? I can't tell, so I've felt very weird about doing it). My Pleasure isn't an awful romance by any means, but it falls short of Brockway's best, so I still feel disappointed. Plus, it has one of my nearly bullet-proof kinks (icy and controlled heroine) and still manages to not appeal.

Part of it was the gender disparity. I could see Brockway trying very hard to make her book not sexist -- every time the book started approaching a throw-against-the-wall moment, Helena or Ramsey would luckily say something and just slightly diffuse the situation so it was not quite as throw-against-the-wall worthy (I need to start with spork ratings ala [livejournal.com profile] yhlee!). But even though it was somewhat tempered, I still got annoyed because obviously Brockway could see the same gender issues that I was seeing and was trying to not fall prey to them and not succeeding. I wanted to sort of shake the author or the industry or the publisher or someone to say that there is market for feminist romances! Maybe a market of just me, but still! I suppose I should have seen it coming, given that the premise of the trilogy is that there are three burly Scotsmen sworn to protect three sisters. And Shadowheart may have forever spoiled me for the whole "forced seduction is a way for women to have control over sex" -- now I expect women who want control to show it not by being "forced" by the hero into having sex, but by actually, you know, being in control. Though I am being mean now, because Helena does eventually take charge. I was, however, snorting at Ramsey's chivalry in not ravishing the heroine on the streets. Either go with the hot, out-of-control sex or go with the tender, nice sex, but don't start with hot and then move to tender! You've already taken off her top, for god's sake, too late for chivalry!

You also can tell an author is really stretching the match when the heroine's change of heart comes not from talking to the hero or seeing him do something, but from an outsider literally sitting her down and telling her, here, this is why Ramsey is a nice guy and really, he loves you very much.

I would also like to note that I totally called the villain back in book one. Not that it was very hard, but still.

(no subject)

Mon, Nov. 1st, 2004 12:37 am
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The boy was just watching "The James Bond Story" on Tivo, which had one of the Bond girls saying something about how sexism is most harmful when it is insidious, the point being that the sexism in the Bond movies was so overt that it was harmless. Err, right...

So that got me off on my now standard rant as to why there are not more cool female secret agents/spies/ninjas/actions heroes out there, and my god, I so wish that Alias had let Sydney be all dark and slightly amoral and sleep around and such like a female James Bond (but then we start getting into my multitude of issues with Alias). Then I started wishing that someone had written some sort of fanfic in which James Bond wakes up female and all sorts of cool things would happen and while it would have a good and nice point, it wouldn't be too polemic or anything to get in the way of the story. At that point I decided maybe I should go to bed, because some very strange thoughts were coming out of my head.

Read the last bit of Connie Brockway's My Pleasure. Alas, some of the book was ok, but I was just not in the right mood, or something, because I was getting very snarly with the book. At the end I sort of threw my mental hands up and out and out started ranting in my head on why in the world the guy always gets to be the super-cool fencer who was tortured in some French dungeon and slept around because *gasp* he had been hurt by love. And of course the heroine is more concerned with his sleeping around than his, oh say, sort of stalking her without her knowing it for the past few years or so. And of course if a heroine in a romance novel is ever hurt by love, she would never take it out on the opposite sex by having sex willy-nilly with everyone, because heroines hurt by love in romance novels always remain completely celibate and virginal so that the more experienced hero can warm her up to sex. And, ohhh, the heroine was feeling so bad for the poor widdle hero whose heart had been broken in the past and so slept around and felt debauched afterward.

I realized that if the situation had been so that the heroine were the promiscuous one and the hero had been the one feeling bad for her, I would have been wholeheartedly cheering for the hero and the heroine. I don't know if that is reverse-sexism or whatever you call it, but a lot of it is being completely fed up with how often the first situation happens in romance novels and how infrequently, if ever, the second ever occurs.

And I do realize that given the history of the world and such, it really isn't so historically accurate to have my nifty keen female assassins and spies and fencing masters and whatnot, but why why why can't I at least have heroes and heroines on a more equal level -- I mean, if the heroine can't be all stealthy and cool and such, maybe the hero could just be very nice and sweet and intellectual. But no, it's always the big, brawny alpha male. And the James Bond thing was saying how James Bond was the fantasy of every girl, at which point I sort of yelled at the TV. Maybe he was for me at a very tender age because I am not immune to the cuteness of Pierce Brosnan (I haven't watched many of the older ones at all), but I feel I really don't need a fantasy hero who goes and ruthlessly sleeps around with everyone and is in general pretty misogynistic, because despite what lots of fiction seems to think, I do not secretly wish to be dominated in the bedroom or anywhere else.

I feel a little better now that I have gotten this out of my system.

Anyway, now I want to read books with really kick-ass heroines. Bonuses for books that don't conform to standard gender stereotypes regarding sex and virginity and blah blah the girl must never sleep around if she's the heroine (evil girls, naturally, get to have evil villain sex) while the guy can go do whatever because he's a guy. Actually, what I really want is a romance novel in which the heroine is all tough and alpha-like and rescues the sweet but somewhat naive guy, but somehow, I'm thinking there aren't very many of those around. Also, the next book in which I encounter the good, virginal girl vs. the evil, skanky girl (remind me again why I stopped watching Alias?) I will throw against a wall.
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Sigh. Sadly, not as good as anticipated. I can't tell if I wasn't in the mood for a romance or what, but the characterization felt rushed, as did the love story. Plus, the snippets I read that tantalized me had a different sort of power dynamic than the typical romance, which was intriguing. Unfortunately, those two snippets were probably the only two points in which it was so. In other words, big burly male protects relatively helpless female, etc.

Kate Blackburn is going to Scotland to try to snag someone in marriage to help out her impoverished family. Kit MacNeill is one of a trio of Scotsman who owe a debt to her family, and he ends up protecting her. I liked certain bits of Kate, her rather pragmatic view on life, particularly when it came to snagging the guy in marriage. I liked how she wasn't being all self-sacrificial and was doing it because she was sick of being poor and worrying, not just because her sisters needed a Season or whatever. Unfortunately, the pragmatism in her head didn't so much carry through in real life. And it just felt like Connie Brockway was taking lots of shortcuts in characterization -- the first meeting between Kit and Kate three years prior is seen through the eyes of Kate's sister, which makes no sense to me. Later on, Kit and Kate discuss their impressions of each other after said meeting, and I don't see where any of it came from.

I also had no hint of sexual tension whatsoever, and then, suddenly, we find that Kit's been lusting after Kate ever since he met her three years ago. What? When? How?

Kit himself is a strange mix of burly Scot (you know it's bad when in the first chapter, he and his friends get described as wild and etc) and supposed obedience, thanks to his sworn oath to protect Kate, except the burliness comes out a lot more. He's also supposed to be all dangerous and feral, except he isn't really, outside of the standard romance beats up a few people who threaten Kate type of way.

And then there's this whole plot that is apparently the one for the trilogy, in which Kit and his friends were betrayed somehow. All of them were orphans raised in a monastery (there were four), one is killed in France. Since obviously the other two are going to be the heroes of the next two books, they are not going to be the betrayers. So I am placing a bet that the fourth one faked his own death to avoid suspicion, makes miraculous comeback, etc. etc. I feel like if there is a plot in which only five people can be the betrayer, one should not make three of them the heroes of the trilogy and one of them dead and thus "obviously" out of the picture. Takes away any sort of suspense.

ETA:
[livejournal.com profile] coffeeandink's review
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I could immediately tell the Regency period story was Connie Brockway's.

The other three are kind of meh, and I am sad, but my dislike of Christina Dodd continues to be justified. Mostly I just got this because I was at the airport, realized I only had half of The King of Elfland's Daughter and Crusie category to finish, and that would be maybe four hundred pages total. Definitely not enough for my flight. And this one looked like a surer bet than getting JoAnn Ross or etc.

The book's four short stories framed around the famous Masterson bed, and it begins with Brockway's story set in the medieval period. It's ok, but it doesn't quite hit my buttons, and it suffers from, well, being a short story. I don't know. I've never quite found a good romance short that really worked for me, I think because the characterization and the tension and the love really needs some sort of length to get established for me. Also, there's the problem with medieval dialogue... while I like reading about the period, the whole knights and Saracen prisons thing can get kind of old. But! The knight is a Nice Guy despite Saracen prison, which is more than can be said about most heroes, and I like Nice Guys. They are sorely lacking in most romances. So while it wasn't a stunning short, it was happy and warm and kind of funny. However, points off for the mention of "male nipples."

The next one, set during the Elizabethan period, not so good. It had one of those heroines I really dislike, and while I didn't quite dislike Helwin the way I dislike most of her type (maybe because of length again), I was really not incredibly enthusiastic reading about how she wins over Rion Masterson's household and cooks for them and cleans and makes life wonderful and a domestic paradise! *rolls eyes* I generally do not like wide-eyed innocent heroines who create warmth and happiness wherever they go out of their sheer existence.

The last one finishes up the framing story (a tour guide regaling stories about the bed) with the tour guide's love story, which is frankly, pretty dumb. I feel like I am not really spoiling anything when it turns out her love interest is *gasp* a Masterson (who woulda thunk). Plus, a really weird sideplot on stolen antiques from the Masterson Manor. And the guy falls in love with her and proposes marriage after a night of sex or something. Of course, he highly regrets that he has deflowered possibly the only twenty-three year old virgin in England (here I roll my eyes again -- is virginity that big of a deal these days?) and is a gentleman and offers to marry her. Excuse me? This is supposed to be the present day, yes? I mean, I'm sure people do this, but... uhh... yeah. Plus, the sex scene is really bad. And then they get married! What? I know Crusie characters get married after a week or so in general, but you know, I at least have had two hundred some pages of time to spend with them, as opposed to under a hundred. And then they have sex without protection and it's a giggly funny thing because when a Masterson sleeps with his twu wuv in that bed they inevitably conceieve a son nine months later.

Sorry. But it's supposed to be a contemporary! I read contemporaries so I don't have to deal with this stuff!

Highlight of the book was, as previously mentioned, Brockway's short set in the Regency. I think a lot of this was because we were walking in on a couple with significant backstory (as opposed to the tour guide's "significant backstory" of one night of sex), and hey, angst! I love angst. And it had the hero completely, head over heels in love with the heroine but afraid to let her know (otherwise known as the Rhett Butler syndrome), which is also my kink. Plus, chaining to the bed. Um. Okay, too revealing of my kinks ;). But the characters talked, and there was actual tension! Most romance shorts that I read tend not to have tension because it takes so long to develop and resolve. It worked here because the beginning of the story sounded a lot like an excerpt from a longer novel or something, which I appreciated. Unfortunately, it's all a Big Misunderstanding, and a particularly stupid one to boot, so the resolution left me with a rather sour taste in my mouth. Too bad it wasn't a real excerpt with loads of angst ala All Through the Night.

I have also read about ninety pages of Connie Brockway's new book My Seduction, and am dying to read it now. The hero looks like a genuinely nice and noble guy, plus, there's a completely guh exceprt at the end of this book in which he pledges obedience to the heroine. I like it when heroes are actually protective or something to the heroine instead of hauling her off her feet, or god forbid, spanking her, and otherwise manhandling her. That is not a hero to me.
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Actually, The Bridal Season comes first, but I read them in reverse order.

Bridal Favors: loved. It's a giantly fun Victorian romp with spies and a wedding and a spinster. And yet, it is in no way as stupid as it sounds. It could just be me, but the ugly spinster plot usually annoys the hell out of me. Evelyn Whyte is the aforementioned spinster -- she's actually not that old, but she's been told she's ugly and has been determined to absolutely ignore that and be as indispensable to her family as possible. And while some of the "oh he could never be attracted to me" thing got a little old, it was nowhere near as annoying as it usually is. Plus, Evelyn is smart and doesn't angst about it. And bonus points to Brockway for not having the stunning transformation effected after the heroine loses her glasses, which is of course the point the hero finally notices her. Instead, we've got Justin the spy, who does a bit of a Scarlet Pimpernel thing and acts about as silly and as foppish as possible. I adored Justin -- it's so nice to have a hero who isn't broody or macho at all. Justin falls for Evelyn (or Evie, to him) pretty quickly and in general has a great time talking to Evelyn and teasing her.

This is even more extraordinary when we find out that Justin had to give up his military career to be a spy and that his grandfather thinks he's the scummiest thing to walk the earth because of this. And yet, no angst! He's very blase about it and doesn't really care what his grandfather thinks because his parents were supportive anyway. Added to this, he loves Evelyn and thinks she's gorgeous without the entire glasses-makeover bit. So finally, a book in which the heroine isn't prettied up at the end and doesn't turn out to be drop dead gorgeous under the ugly dresses and the glasses. Plus, the book was just giantly fun to read, and I found myself laughing out loud for the sheer fun of it.

The Bridal Season: loved it even more! Because while I adored Justin, I adore Elliot even more -- nice, quiet, reserved hero. I like nice heroes. And Letty is an ex-confidence game runner! Seems like this is the thing suddenly going through all the romances I'm reading right now. Read the review at All About Romance, and they didn't like it quite as much, I think because they thought Elliot was boring. The premise sounded much worse -- Letty is running from Nick Sparkles, a con man she used to work with, and by chance happens upon a train ticket that belonged to an eloping wedding planner. She takes advantage and decides to be the planner for a day or two and then high tail it, but of course, emotional bonds ensue, she has to help out the family, and Elliot, the local magistrate, starts intriguing her.

And Elliot, the thoroughly respected, well loved guy in the town, gets to loosen up a bit. I don't know. I think I'm making it sound utterly stupid. But there's just something about the shyness and the seriousness of him that gets to me. Plus, I really like Letty as a heroine, who is not the sweetly innocent, absolutely darling girl that most heroines are. She is sweet in her own way, and innocent in her own way, and charming in her own way, but she doesn't grate on my nerves like most saintly heroines (or "spirited" ones). I am also a complete sucker for books when the hero falls in love with the heroine first and she turns out to be the skittish one. And by this I mean emotional commitment, as opposed to the I lust for you and will knock you down with my powerful kisses but will not love you because all women are money-grubbing sluts syndrome.

ETA: I also appreciate how there's a trial at the end in which Elliot does not try his best to get Letty off. Probably still some miscarriage of justice here, but not like the "trial" at the end of Oklahoma, which still annoys me.

I suspect the next post is going to be on romance kinks, which will probably be just too much information for everyone involved ;).

ETA:
[livejournal.com profile] coffeeandink's review of The Bridal Season
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Have been going on a romance reading streak lately. I suspect it's because they're sort of comfort books and because I miss the boy. Also I sort of rediscovered The Romance Reader and had fun going through essays, and went rampaging through [livejournal.com profile] melymbrosia's romance conversion kit.

Read another Connie Brockway because I was quite impressed with All Through the Night. I like My Dearest Enemy. It was enjoyable, though not as hard hitting as All Through the Night. And while I enjoyed having the hero and the heroine meet, I almost wish that there had been a sort of supplementary book that the author refers to, The Unabridged Love Letters of Avery Thorne and Lillian Bede. The letters, particularly Lily's rather acid ones, had me laughing in delight. And I think the rest of the romance never quite lived up to them, with Lily being too attracted to Avery to make as many of her stinging remarks, all couched in that very polite yet scathing tone of voice. I also just liked the idea of Avery reading them aloud to his friends over fires in various remote parts of the world.

Then went on to Judith Ivory's Sleeping Beauty. I will admit, although everyone and their mother seems to think Judith Ivory is absolutely wonderful, I've never quite been able to get into her books. I recognize that they do interesting things to romance tropes and that she doesn't fall back on the often used means of expressing that the hero and the heroine are in love, but they've just never quite resonated with me. For Beast and Black Silk, the writing managed to put me off just enough so that I admired the books but didn't really like them. Black Silk more so than Beast, because I can never refuse a fairy tale retelling, much less a retelling of Beauty and the Beast. I very much liked Louise in Beast and I loved the first half of the book, but got rather sick of waiting around for the Big Misunderstanding to be cleared up. The Indiscretion and The Proposal I don't even really recall much. But Sleeping Beauty had the older heroine who was rather jaded and closed off to love, with the understanding that the hero will of course be the one to touch her hardened heart, which is one of my hot button setups. And for once the book lived up to it. Loved the small references to Sleeping Beauty and enjoyed the rather odd setting for a romance novel -- Victorian England, Cambridge, the dentist's office. And I loved Coco and James. I also liked how the ending wasn't perfectly happy with everything resolved, just enough of a few bitter notes to make it believable.

Started watching La Femme Nikita yesterday (netflix is wonderful). I've put off Stargate for a bit, feeling a little burnt out from watching two seasons in a very short period of time. So now I'm overdosing on yet another show! I love TV on DVD. Anyway, I've only seen three episodes so far, but I rather like it, and I am rather disappointed that news seems to be that S2 is not going to be put out. I feel it's got the cool bits of Alias without falling into the bits of Alias that I disliked. Although I will admit that LFN so far does not have Jack and Sloane, who are really really strong votes for Alias. LFN is kind of clunky, tries a little too hard and leaves too many seams exposed, but I like Nikita and Michael is really enough to eat with a spoon. I like Nikita because she's so often the opposite of Sydney. She doesn't have much of a personal life so far, so I don't have to watch her commiserate over her friends' lives when I really just want to see cool gadgets. Nikita's also not as open and vulnerable as Sydney, which strangely makes me like her more. And Michael is really interesting. Well, not really so far, but he's an archetype I like with a French accent and a killer coat. Plus, UST up the wazoo. I think I never quite liked Alias because the leads, Sydney and Vaughn, were too intrinsically good (I say this only having seen half a season). I get hints of danger in Vaughn, of what he might be capable of, but he's really very uncomplicated when compared to Jack (who is awesome). I love Jack because he can be given a gun and told to shoot Sydney, and I can actually think, you know, he might really do it. Whereas I know that Sydney and Vaughn will be good people. I find this odd because I'm a stickler for disliking gratuitous violence and for liking good people, but I find it more interesting when my heroes and heroines aren't shiningly good. I like watching people who may not be perfectly kind and lovely (which is why most standard romance heroines piss me off, with their campaigns for the poor orphans, etc. etc.) and Michael very much fits this. I like having the slickness of a spy show, with the intrigue and the distrust and the aura of fear. Sigh. I miss X-Files.

Notes

Fri, Aug. 29th, 2003 09:08 pm
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First day of the job was interesting. I was a little bored. Well, not quite bored, but also not quite sure what to do with myself. It's very difference from ibanking and school where there are define deadlines. Instead, there are the shelves that are mine, and I just kind of watch over them. And they are a mess! No organization at all =(. So either I do itsy bitsy things, or else I rehaul the entire thing! I shall commence upon rehauling tomorrow. And it's just an interesting feeling, that no one is really watching me all the time. It's nice. It's much better than having people breathing down my neck to get things done ASAP and not having time to teach me. I also find it ironic that part of my section is business books! I keep looking at them and giggilng to myself. I've also got the section on linguistics and languages and writing because I can do the Chinese and Japanese. Even ran into a Japanese lady in the aisles and got to practice for a little ^_^. And wow, there are lots of books in there!

Reading the thread on Buffy's Slayer duties (thanks to [livejournal.com profile] knullabulla for the heads up), and wow. Weird. Strangely, part of what I find offensive is the idea that Buffy at 15 couldn't possibly be making her own choices and have the judgment to evaluate things, oh no, she must be brainwashed. While I realize I was not the paragon of adulthood at 15, there were some things I was very set on, like humanities, not being an engineer or anything practical, on my books, on sci-fi/fantasy. And those are pretty minor things compared to Slaying, but I've very rarely if ever turned from them. And I think if someone who is fifteen can do that and fight with her parents and pretty much everyone who thought humanities were stupid to keep taking English and to do fuzzy things, someone like Buffy, who is definitely not short on willpower, can probably figure out that really, having a fun time at the mall is no real compensation for being able to prevent people from being killed. Not even the majority of people, yes, but she knew that every time she went out there to correct something, that would be one more potential death erased. Plus, Buffy fought the Council tooth and nail and never went with their code of sacrificing the individual for the goal after Angel.

Another note: read Connie Brockway's All Through the Night yesterday, having bought it after browsing through [livejournal.com profile] melymbrosia's book recs. And guh. That book is to blame for my getting five hours of sleep last night. It doesn't feel like a stereotypical romance at all; instead there's this almost dreamy, drowsy sense. Everything is quiet, muted, unlike the sometimes too cute or too dramatic romances, except there's this harsh current of strong emotion running underneath the entire thing. I loved how Brockway showed how tortured and angsty the hero and heroine were not by having the hero be an arrogant jerk or having the heroine be frozen off by sex, but by showing how delicate they had to be in their interactions and how everything spilled out when they hurt. This is what I like about good romance, that in the end, it isn't the plot, because the plot of this one was rather weak. But at the best of times, romances can work as a great character study -- I guess almost the opposite of books like Angels and Demons, huh.

Plus, the chair scenes? GUH.

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