Thursday, July 18, 2013

Julia's Romance Roundup - Thus far 2013

As you all are probably aware, I am an avid reader of romance. I usually get into a nice groove and read a ton in a row. Sometimes I feel like I inundate you guys with romance reviews, so occasionally I try to review a ton of them at one time in mini-paragraph format. So as I sit and sway to the seventies-esque sounds of "Get Lucky", I will regale you with my woes and wins. Let's start with the woes and work up to the wins.

Secret Fire by Johanna Lindsey 
Published: 1987 by Avon
Rating: 1 start

I went on a little back-track into back lists of some of my favorite authors when I first started reading romance. Some turned out good, one turned out awful. That was this book. I finished it, but only because I wanted to see how she would try to redeem characters I thought irredeemable. It was a like a wreck that you know you shouldn't slow down for, but end up slowing down to look anyway.

My review on GR captures my full, just finished feminist rage, and the first sentence sums it up pretty well. "This book is the most frustrating, rapetastic, victim blaming schlock I have had the pleasure of reading" 

Let's move on to something marginally better, shall we? Earlier this year I had a SWATH of 2-star romance reads. They were all best classified as "meh". Here is one.  

Jake by R.C. Ryan
Published: February 2013 by Forever 
Series: Wyoming Sky #3
Rating: 2 stars

Mostly I read historical romance, and most of that set in England, but I have always had a soft spot for westerns. This was my first contemporary western, and it was just okay for me. It was pretty predictable and continued for about 100 pages after the climax, but that may have been due to it being the last in a series and having a lot of story to wrap up. Since I didn't read the others, I was just bored. Saying that makes me a bit unsure if I could recommend this (also due to my inexperience in this particular genre), but it was something I did finish because the plot was a little bit entertaining in a secret mystery sort of way. In a completely unrelated note, I have a question for anyone in other parts of the English speaking world (aka not Ohio): Are jeans really called denims? 

The others of my two star reads were honestly so 'meh' for me I was reading the summary trying to remember what they were about, and if I have to do that I might as well move on to the more awesome three and four star reads!* 

Assassin's Gambit by Amy Raby
Published: April 2013 by Signet
Series: Hearts and Thrones #1
Rating: 3 Stars

Assassin's Gambit was a pleasant surprise. I stumbled on a review somewhere that didn't really like it. I find two and three star reviews on Goodreads the most useful because when people give me a critical analysis of what didn't work for them, I can decide if it would work for me. Well, I saw it at the library and decided to give it a go. And honestly, this book was a sweet Fantasy-spy romantic suspense type of book. I really enjoyed it and devoured it! I look forward to the next in the series. A few things about the heroine bothered me a bit and the romance sometimes took a backseat to the overall plot, but it was entertaining. And the way that sex plays into the society of this world, or at least into this spy organization amused the hell out of me.

The Pirate Next Door by Jennifer Ashley
Published: 2012 by Ms. Ashley, originally out in 2003
Series: Regency Pirates #1
Rating: 3 stars

Remember how I mentioned a soft spot of cowboys? Well I have a soft spot for pirates, too. This was a delight to read. A mysterious neighbor moves into a townhouse in London and the widow next door hears some shit going down. She rushes over to help and finds out he is a pirate and is sucked into his crazy world. 

The characters are dynamic and the story engrossing. I'd recommend this one as well :) Who doesn't dream of the moment when a reformed pirate moves in next door? Disney, if you are listening sign me up for that Pirates of the Caribbean reboot!

Defiant by Pamela Clare
Published: July 2012 by Berkley Sensation
Series: MacKinnon's Rangers #3
Rating: 4 stars

Oh, this book. I read it as part of the Smart Bitches, Trashy Books RITA Reader Challenge. This challenge tries to get reviews from the readers to cover every book nominated for a RITA (romantic times version of the Oscar I guess). I looked through the historical romance category and chose this for the fact that it was NOT set in England, but in America during the French and Indian War (which to my embarrassment I had to wrack my brain to remember who came out on top in that war (the English/colonies)). Anyway, I wrote a nice big full length review over there if you are interested in checking it out. But I will also quote the final paragraph. 
Overall, Defiant is historically (as far as I can tell) accurate, well written, gripping, and page turning in the beginning. It slows down in the latter half, but I was still crazy enough involved with it to put off my day and keep reading. Despite some flaws, I highly enjoyed Defiant. It was a refreshing look into a different part of history with an engaging plot and interesting characters. I would recommend it for someone looking for something new in the historical genre."

Any Duchess Will Do by Tessa Dare
Published: May 2013 by Avon
Series: Spindle Cove #4
Rating: 4 Stars

This was another book that I read without reading the other books in the series, and it didn't matter at all (I love that). This book was hilariously, bark laughter funny. It reminded me of the earlier Bridgerton books by Julia Quinn, which says a lot about it's lightness content -- great book if you like Bridgerton!

The poignant parts are poignant, the funny parts are funny, and the sexytimes are hot. What more can you ask for? I would highly recommend this to the lovers of the historical romance genre. It is worth your time even if you have not read the first three, and it wont ruin the first three for you either (I hate it when that happens!)

*A Note about my star ratings in this post. I am going by the way I rank on Goodreads, not so much what it says in our sidebar. Most of the books I read and rate are three stars. To me that means they were good, enjoyable in the moment but not super memorable or amazing. Four stars are a big deal because the resonated in some way. Five stars for me are like life changed moments of amazing. Out of the 500ish ratings I have, only about five are 5 stars. When I write full reviews here, I usually round up a bit to match more of what we have in the side bar. So if these seem strict that is why :)

1 comment:

  1. I used to be a prolific romance reader. I devoured 'lust books' or 'bodice rippers'--as they were known, back in the day. Or, as my husband described them, "A Rake and his Hoe." He was not known for his romantic inclinations. I've always had a hatred for four plot conventions: pirates, time travelers, ghosts and billionaires. If the book contains any of those combinations, I avoid 'em like the plague. That said, I have been meaning to get around to writing a parody romance about a time-travelling ghost pirate who is searching for his millions buried with him when he was betrayed by his crew. I'm just searching for a good title before getting started. I wonder if 'Booty Beyond the Grave' has been taken?


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