Reading Wednesday

Wed, Aug. 28th, 2013 01:31 pm
oyceter: Stack of books with text "mmm... books!" (mmm books)
Woe, it's been a while since I've had a Reading Wednesday post.

What I've read: I thought I had already made a post about reading Meljean Brook's Guardian Demon, but apparently not! Anyway, I'm hoping to write this one up in more detail. Like many of the other books in the Guardian series, I don't completely buy the romance and the plot doesn't always make sense, but somehow the books are greater than the sum of their parts. Possibly it's Brook's clear affection for worldbuilding along with romance. And of course, after I finished, I went on to reread bits and pieces of various other Guardian books.

I did not read for another week or so after that, but then I got the Kobo Aura HD, and I have now resumed reading 7 Seeds (currently in the middle of volume 14? 13?). It continues to be awesome, and I am especially glad to see certain characters reappearing.

I also caught up on the latest Skip Beat chapters! I think I am withholding judgement until I see what happens next. Also, the translation for some of them is terrible.

And I skimmed The Mammoth Book of Hot Romance, most of which I cannot remember, save the Victoria Janssen short story that I liked a lot. POC hero AND heroine! And a relatively unused romance time period (for the genre, not for the author) with a lot of period detail.

What I'm reading now: Finally found my places again in Spillover and Feed after uploading them to the new ereader, but I haven't made much progress in either. Also in the middle of a 7 Seeds volume. Also I am a few pages into Samit Basu's Gameworld trilogy book 1, but I don't count that as officially reading it yet.

Random book-shaped space: I miss reading manga! Being able to do it on the ereader is awesome, and the new one's larger screen makes them so much more legible. Anyway, I got Silver Spoon and Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou to read, but I feel like I'm completely behind on stuff, especially shoujo manga. Any good new shoujo series around?

... also, I should grab whatever Yuki Kaori is working on now.
oyceter: Stack of books with text "mmm... books!" (mmm books)
Disclaimer: Victoria is a friend of mine, though I haven't read much of her writing before this.

The Duchess Camille married her husband in hopes that he would take care of her (Ruritanian) duchy. Alas for her, he turns out to be unfit on many levels and abuses her to boot. Finally, when she realizes she's going to be killed to make way for a younger wife, she decides to flee to find her first love and seek his help, taking her maid Sylvie, her groom Henri, and her eunuch servants.

This is an erotic romance novel (explanation), so there's too much sex for me—I found myself getting bored in several of the first few chapters. On the other hand, I very much like what Janssen does with several romance tropes, and I suspect she would not have had the space to play with those tropes in a more traditional romance. Camille is nearly twenty years older than Henri and much older and wiser when it comes to power. I love that Henri is the ingenue whose youthful, naive, and emotional ways earn him a place in Camille's rather icy heart, and although Camille doesn't quite fit my icy powerful woman kink, I like that she is very cognizant of the effects of power, and her reining in of her own emotions rang true to me. As such, I found the last sex scene between Camille and Henri the most powerful, even though it's the most "standard" in terms of raunchiness.

Also, Sylvie is made of awesome.

What I didn't like was how the duke was portrayed as evil because he beat his wife and had much debauched sex; it felt like a narrative shortcut, and as such, I didn't believe in the threat to Camille's life and health as much as I could have. That said, the debauched sex stereotype was poked at in ways because of all the different types of sexuality in the book (which I highly approve of).

In conclusion: still not a fan of erotic romance in general, although I like Janssen's characters and what she does with romance tropes a great deal. It would be interesting to read a straight romance from her if the publishers would let her keep the more risky elements of her writing intact, particularly her takes on power and on how power influences relationship dynamics.

- [ profile] rachelmanija's review


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