Books I read this week 4/1/2017

Hero in the Highlands

Author: Suzanne Enoch

Series: No Ordinary Hero #1

Tags: Highlanders! Dukes! Estate manager, ex-military, obscure entailment, Curse!

Format: paper book!

Rating: Yay!

 

I liked it, but I didn't like it as much as I just love Highlander romances in general, and Suzanne Enoch in general. Wasn't my favorite of hers, but Highlanders! Castles and lairds! Getting shit done!

The hero, Gabriel Forrester, is an officer in the Royal Army, and goes down in history as one of the few ex military dudes that does NOT have PTSD. He loves his job. Stupid pesky obscure relative dropping off and leaving him a dukedom! 

He has to win over the townsfolk of his estate in the Highlands. I love stories that have to do with taking over a bad estate and making it right. Or winning the respect of the townsfolk. The estate is managed by saucy Highland lass and she's also one of my favorites: the Managing Female. 

All these favorite things together in one, and I still didn't feel particularly attached to the book or the characters. I thought Forrester was a little confusing. He went from hardened soldier to Lothario in two seconds flat. But whatevs, fun and games!

 

I think it's mostly that I have liked Enoch's other stories better. Some Like it Scot is my favorite. Bearrrrr! Love that dude.

Perhaps the second of the series will be better. It boasts of a Highlander rebel abducting a proper English miss. OoOoOo!


 

What Was That One: Impotence Edition

My mom, my sister Katy and I all read romance novels, and sometimes we play the game What Was That One where we throw out vague plot lines of romance novels and see if we can puzzle out which book, series, or author they came from. It's always a fun time because nothing highlights the silliness of romance novels like reducing them to a few plot points. 

This weekend Katy and I were talking about convoluted plot lines, and it devolved (or evolved?) into a game of What Was That One: Impotence Edition.

 

Me: WTF this plot line. I can't keep the characters straight from like six books ago. Too complicated plot lines are the worst.

Katy: Oh yeah. There's one I read that the oldest sister of the family marries a guy who has an illegimate son who turns out to be the son of the duke's abused wife that he ran off with after jilting the duke's sister but it was really the son of the duke's half brother because the duke was impotent.

Me: WTF

Katy: ... Or the one where everyone thinks the main character is a beautiful gold digging whore because she was poor and she married a very rich old guy but it turned out in the end she was a virgin because the old guy was gay and he and his partner needed a beard.

The Secret Affair, Mary Balough

Me: I've read that one! Omg I'm going to make a reading list called Virgin Widows.

Me: Did you ever read the one where he's impotent because of a war hip injury and he can't thrust?

Katy: I think so! Didn't he have vertigo and so he got a wooden rocking horse to help?

Me: LOL oh yeah! What was that one?

The Duke Next Door, Celeste Bradley

Me: BTW found another Virgin Widow.

And Then Comes Marriage, Celeste Bradley

Me: Did you read the one where the problem was he was too big and so she went to a prostitute and got graduating dildos?

Katy: No!

Me: Man, what was that one?

Me: I think he was a spy.

Me: and Prinny shows up.

Katy: oh Prinny.

Surrender to a Wicked Spy, Celeste Bradley


 

Seven Minutes in Heaven

Author: Eloisa James

Series: Desperate Duchesses by the Numbers #3, Desperate Duchesses #9

Tags: Dukes, bastards, surprise guardianship of children, woman business owner, governesses, rat, Shakespeare

Format: audiobook

Rating: yuck.

 

The amount of backstory in this book is out of control. This was the book that inspired my conversation with my sister. I thought I would be okay since I have read a few of the Desperate Duchess series, and it's a part of a spin off anyway, so it should be okay standing alone, right?

WRONG.

Oh my God, will everyone from a million books ago get out of this book? This spin off is the second generation of the Desperate Duchesses series, so of course all these older, happily married couples traipse in and out so much that I need a laugh track that only does "AWWWW!"

The main character, Reeve, a bastard, has the most convoluted backstory ever. He is the bastard son of a duchess... brought up by his father...who is a duke...and may or may not have married her... but she ran away...with a seventeen year old duke...and they joined a travelling theater band... and had two children... who are not bastards... so the boy is the next duke... and then the parents died in a carriage accident... or something... idk the mom's insane... so now he's taking care of his half sister and brother... but the grandmother of .........SOMEONE....... keeps coming around to threaten to keep the children. Also he almost married someone else in the troupe, but didn't because he was in prison for...reasons.

WHAT. THE. FUCK.

 

I guess I'm supposed to know all this shit from the first book of the Desperate Duchesses series. But let me tell you, it's not even worth it because Reeve is DICK.

 

Reeve pursues the owner of a governess agency, Eugenia, who is the daughter of a marquis or whatever. She is from a book that I have read that I did like: Duchess by Night. (It has a crossdressing plot! Love those.) He assumes she's lowborn and was a governess before.

He kidnaps her for the duel purpose of 1) getting his unruly siblings in check and 2) bedding her. And when both of his goals succeed, he flips out "WTF is my mistress doing schooling my children?!?"

Dude. You signed her up for that. Those were literally both of your goals.

 

The fact that Reeve did not figure out Eugenia is high born until the ending was contrived to the point of being ridiculous. Why was it hidden? Because it was their only conflict, of course. Surprise! She's a duchess, you can marry her.

Then he does one of those grand gestures. UGGHHGHGH. His grand gesture was telling the House of Lords, as a complete non sequitur, that he's going to keep proposing to her until she accepts. How charming. I'm glad he interrupted his siblings' custody hearing to do that.

 

The most frustrating thing, though, doesn't have anything to with the main characters. It's because I have burning fiery hatred for one character that keeps. Fucking. Showing. Up in every one of the Desperate Duchesses series, and, apparently, beyond.

You know when an author has a hardon for a character? James has a hardon for her character the Duke of Villiars and I have just about done had it with that bitch.

 

Being the star character, the Wonder Boy, usually makes it less likely that I will like them. They are always these alpha males that are saved for the last book of the series, so they spend the books leading up to it moping, lurking, getting into people's shit, and generally trying to be emo and mysterious while doing nothing the whole damn time. 

Which isn't so bad in itself, but you get the impression that you are supposed to have a hardon for them too. "Look!" the author seems to say, "You have seen him in multiple books! He's alpha! He's mysterious! Women want him! Men want to be him! Don't you want to know what happens to him?"

No, not really.

 

The Duke of Villiars is even worse than the normal Wonder Boy. He's urbane. UGH. Yuck. I am not interested in his dramatic dressing and perfectly executed bow. He's sardonic. Nothing matters to him. He has a billion bastard children. Why is this okay, again? And worst of all, he has a flirtation with a woman married to his best friend.

Arrgh! That plot line spanned the first couple books of Desperate Duchesses and it made me so fucking mad whenever I ran across it. How am I supposed to like a character that does that? Really? And not only like him, but allow him to be the Wonder Boy throughout the series? The husband is a sympathetic character, the wife is supposed to be a sympathetic character (even though she sucks too), and they have Patching Up Our Marriage plot line that I haven't read because I HATE those.

Why would you start a series with that sort of flirtation, only for them to move on? 

 

ARRGH. I need to step away from Eloisa James. Her stories are not that enjoyable, and she can't fucking put down the Duke of Villiars. It's a shame, because she's prolific, and I have liked a few of her books before. Just not the latest ones. Or any of the books that ever mention the Duke of Villiars.


 

Twice Tempted

Author: Jeaniene Frost

Series: Night Prince #2

Tags: Paranormal romance, vampires, Dracula, telepathy, electric powers, fire powers, pre-paired couple, vampire marriage

Format: audiobook

Rating: Yay!

 

This book is so silly! It was very enjoyable.

Remember how I bet $10 that she would call Vlad her boyfriend? Well pay up, me, because I was right. The beginning starts with her fighting for underwear drawer space. Not only that, they get married!

 

Let's just do a general overview of this absurdity:

  • They are together for 6 weeks when the book opens.
  • Their issues apparently are (in this order) 1) he won't put a toilet in his bathroom for her and 2) he "can't love"
  • He brings all his buddies together to give a surprise gift to Leila.
  • Surprise! It's a ring, but it's not the ring she expects. He just offers her dumb eternal life instead of an engagement ring.
  • She leaves, cuz what's the point of talking to someone about why they offered eternal life as a vampire buddy?
  • Someone tries to kill her blah blah almost death.
  • She thinks that Vlad is behind the murder attempt (you know, that guy she supposedly loves), and almost has sex with his right hand man.
  • Only when evidence points to Vlad not being the attempted murderer, she believes him. 
  • She doesn't come back to him. He saves her from another close call, she wakes up in his house...and stays.
  • He comes out with a real ring. (And more importantly, a toilet.) All problems solved!
  • They get married that day. I guess it doesn't really matter that two seconds ago she thought he was behind her near death experiences.
  • Turns out vampires don't believe in vampire-human unions, so it was basically a farce until she becomes a vampire.
  • Despite the fact that she just married a vampire, she STILL hasn't decided if she wanted to become one until a near death experience (again) forces Vlad's hand.
  • The rest of the book is them not trusting each other, and lying to each other by turns until they find the real killer.

 

This couple! Despite the fact that one of them has telepathy, and, later, the other one can read emotions, they neither of them try to communicate or figure out what their own intentions. 

What's this girl doing, dragging her feet trying to decide whether or not she wants to become a vampire? How do you think this is gonna go, honey?

I can see one of them saying "We don't communicate. We connive."

They both spend so much time lying to each other and going behind each other's back. 

 

Vlad: Don't try to find the killer.

Leila: Okay. *Goes off to try to find the killer.*

...Is the conversation they have at least five times a day.

 

This girl has an expiration date anyway. She's almost dead at least three times in this book alone, and real dead when he turns her into a vampire. The electric powers she has almost kill her multiple times, and yet she still uses them. And that's not including that someone booby-trapped her memory power, and everyone and his dog is out to kill her.

 

This book is unintentionally funny so often, I'm finding the parts that are supposed to be funny actually funny. 

Turns out Vlad the Impaler has "an impaling habit." That's just what you do when you need to torture someone when you have the moniker Impaler, I guess. First thing.

When Leila's dad is finds out that she's marrying Vlad, he's furious (surprise!). She says to herself, "should have taken down the impaled corpses from the front yard..."

When Leila first enters the dungeon after becoming a vampire, she comments on the smell and Vlad says, "Oh, did the guard not spray Febreze in the dungeon again? Of course, it smells bad, Leila. It's a dungeon."

 

Yep. Dracula just said Febreze.

 

I'm so glad Dracula watched Full House reruns at some point, because how else could he come up with quips like this?

 

Vlad: 1482.

Leila: What? I don't..

Vlad: 1482. It's the year I was born. You will notice that it was not, in fact, yesterday.

 

My favorite part is when he says something like, you don't love me because you could never accept me for all the evil badass things I've ever done.

I'm sorry, did you just challenge a romance novel heroine to find sympathy in an otherwise irredeemable character?

She's like, CHALLENGE ACCEPTED, and then almost kills herself experiencing 600 years of torture memories imbued in the dungeon cells.

 

Don't you notice something a little strange here? Not just her rampant codependency, but dungeons? Torturing? Killing? Lying? Dracula is kind of a lot evil, right? Does she not notice that? Does she not think herself evil? Does she has a concept of right and wrong? She seems to have some moral compass, since she is always bargaining for less torturing of her few favorite buds, but that's about it.

It happens a lot in romance novels where some badass dude is loved by the girl despite his often evil tendencies. But where's the line? Just because the woman is not herself enacting all this killing and stealing or whatever, she's still around it, allowing it, accessory to it.

 

There comes a time in every woman's life where she needs to ask herself:

"Does my evil boyfriend make me inactively evil?"

 

I'm sure this is a universal dilemma.


 

Brazen Angel

Author: Elizabeth Boyle

Series: Brazen #1

Tags: Historical Romance, Regency, Spies, France, Secret Identity, Arranged Marriage

Format: ebook

Rating: yay!

 

Willya look at those arms. I don't care what excuse the author gives, ain't nobody in Regency England built like that. 

Oh yeah, cuz he boxes at Gentleman Jack's twice a week. Sure. 

To be honest, I usually skip over the description that makes whatever lord sound like a Abercrombie & Fitch model. I know they skinny white bitches. I'm cool with it.

 

This book starts off with the heroine in disguise, coming onto a guy so that she can drug him and rob him. My first reaction was, oh, this is going to be one of those things, is it? Women using their sexuality to pretend that they are good at spying, when they actually kind of suck?

But no! She's actually kind of good at it!

Turns out she's better than her opposite. Giles, the hero, is an agent of the crown, and trying to catch her. She outwits him basically the entire book. She has not one, but three disguises, and also four different personality backstories for her four different aunts.

Hey, look at you with your badass self!

Giles falls in love with her without every seeing her face or knowing her true identity.

Good thing she is secretly the woman he's engaged to, because otherwise that ending would be real awkward.

 

It was fun, engaging, but it didn't quite grab me. I enjoyed Boyle's Rhymes With Love series. It is charming in its utter frivolity. Just lighthearted fluff. I was hoping this Brazen series would be similar, but I guess not. This is Boyle's much earlier work (1997) so maybe that's why I wasn't particularly taken with the characters.

This book made me kind of wishing it was a Madeline Hunter. She's just got so much meat to her stories. This books reminded me of Hunter's The Counterfeit Mistress, but it just didn't grab me the same way.

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