Bound by Flames
Author: Jeaniene Frost
Series: Night Prince #3
Tags: Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy, pre-paired couple, Dracula, fire powers, electric powers, Baxter
Ah, the adventures of Vlad and Leila. STILL RIDICULOUS.
This book seems to focus exclusively on the single plot line of the couple manipulating, lying, and not trusting each other. Because that's a good basis for a vampire marriage that will probably last for centuries, right?
She tries to solve the murder, and gets herself in trouble. He gets angry and takes away her power. She gets pissed and tries to solve the murder anyway, and almost gets killed.
Rinse and repeat.
Sorry, Leila, but I have to side with the Vlad on some of these situations. Leila's sense of self preservation is shaky at best. She needs to be saved from herself fo sho.
Vlad has the ability to dampen her powers by coating her with his fireproof aura (wtf that means), and he eventually puts her on superpowers time-out, where he tells her he is just going to keep coating her until she stops trying to solve the mystery.
Dick move, bro. But considering how many times she has almost died, kind of necessary.
One of the things I don't like about this series is Leila's "hated inner voice." She has a super pessimistic inner voice that tells her nasty things and blames herself unnecessarily, was even the cause behind her attempt at suicide prior to the first novel.
Suicide attempts, depression, and pessimistic thoughts aren't something to speak lightly about, and I don't like how Frost talks about them. I hate heroines with low self esteem in general. To me, they seem to reinforce low self esteem in the readers. Leila's inner voice is not handled well from a therapeutic standpoint. She should be accepting the voice, not hating it. She has the power to change and/or learn to live with the help of cognitive behavioral therapy.
GET YOURSELF SOME CBT, GIRL.
At least her depression is out there and not implicit. That and the Vlad are what carry me through the rest of the series. Otherwise I would have given it up long ago.
There's a nasty little parasite of a secondary character that clings to all three of the series so far.
Go home, Maximus, no one wants you.
Maximus has negative character. He is just a stand-in for whatever the plot demands. He literally was picked out of a crowd in the first book as a Designated Baxter. Vlad was trying to prove that he had chemistry with Leila, and he says to Leila, "go out with my guard Maximus, standing right there. I give you leave to bone him."
Those romantic words were the beginning of Maximus's story as the ill fated Other Guy.
With little to no motivation, he falls in love with Leila.
In the second book, with equally no motivation, he risks betraying and angering his boss of five centuries (Vlad) to win Leila. It doesn't go well.
In this book, with his usual lack of any motivation at all, he's banished, but still loyal to Vlad, and agrees to go undercover to usurp Vlad's enemy's plans, and looks like he has joined the enemy's cause, but ends up risking his life to be undercover.
For what? Who the fuck knows. He doesn't get to be in Vlad's army, he doesn't get Leila. He's just a poor, sad little vampire going back to his lonely hovel that smells like fish.
The suspense is heightened in this whole plot line because you don't know what Maximus will do, because he has no reasonable motivation, and therefore could do anything!
Ugh. He didn't die in this book, so he may even show up in the next one.
I wish he was dead.
Okay, I'm gonna get into the spoilers a bit more than usual, and talk about something that really bothered me.
When Leila was captured by the bad guy (being captured is her hobby), she was SKINNED ALIVE while she was being tortured. Literally, they cut off all her skin, and mailed it to Vlad. Since she's a vampire, she grew all her skin back, but I feel like that's worse. If she could regrow it quickly, her body might not go into shock, and she probably didn't pass out from the pain.
Also, the bad guy ripped off her arm, and she grew that back somehow. I can't imagine that growing back an entire limb is a painless process.
She lived through all of this, yet when Maximus (undercover, but we didn't know that) came in to rape her, she was like, "this is the worst part." Really? Rape? Not the whole flayed alive thing?
I mean, I understand the psychological repercussions of rape, but she just WATCHED ALL OF HER SKIN GET CUT FROM HER BODY. Not exactly apples to apples, but c'mon.
They said they were doing it to make Vlad go crazy, but he had already seen the tape where they skinned her. If my husband was angriest about the rape video, I would be like, "yeah, but wait, did you see the part where they cut off my skin? That didn't bother you?"
Turns out Maximus didn't actually rape her, but instead created the most awkward dry humping scene in history. And that's better... right?
The best part is when Leila is captured. For once in her short, frequently almost dead life, she listened to Vlad in his attempts to protect her. She didn't go with him to solve the mystery. She didn't use her powers. She didn't throw herself in danger. Instead, she stayed heavily guarded in the giant fortress castle thingy they call home, AND SHE WAS CAPTURED.
All I could think was, he's never going to live that down.
"Oh, you want me to be safe, do you? Remember that time 400 years ago, when I stayed home like you asked, and then got captured by your enemy and was flayed alive for days? Yeah, that didn't work out to well, did it?"
Yep. He's pretty much fucked.
Oh man, there's another in this series, but I need a break. It has been highly entertaining. The good thing is that I don't care about the characters so whenever something bad happens, I'm too affected. But, oh, all the motivation that is not happening in these stories.
Wedding of the Season
Author: Laura Lee Gurke
Series: Abandoned at the Alter #2
Tags: Historical Romance, early 1900s, Dukes!, childhood sweethearts, broken engagement, long absence, illustrator, Egypt, archeologist
What a douche.
The main characters were childhood sweethearts, and had an understanding that they would get married forever. Then he just up and leaves to pursue his dream of finding King Tut's tomb, and she doesn't want to go with him.
He blames her smothering father for holding her back. Is it that bad, though, that she wanted to stay home to take care of her father, who she loved, rather than gallivant around Egypt?
The father character was absent by the time the story takes place, and you don't really get an idea of who he was. The hero hates him; the heroine adores him.
I eventually started adding in my own character development, thinking of Mr. Woodhouse in Emma. There was a great exploration of the ties you have to your family, your responsibilities. Emma had to jump considerable mental hurtles to not be resentful towards her doting, but restrictive father.
Here, not so much exploration. Just excuse.
The hero shows up after six years and doesn't want anything to do with her -- wait, now she wants to tease her -- wait, now he wants to marry her but not give up his own plans -- wait, now he's giving up everything to marry her, including his plans that kept them separate for six years and the three months he visited England.
He is a duke, by the way, and has blown through all his money in the attempt to find King Tut's tomb.
They bicker till the end, and the resolution happens when the heroine looks at a damn street. "It's straight and narrow JUST LIKE MY LIFE" *MIND BLOWN*. Was she high when she had this epiphany?
I hate it when the characters have differing life dreams, and then they both try to give up their life dreams for the other person. That's fodder for resentment down the line. Oh yeah, it's a great gesture, when you are slo mo running across a field of grass to get to each other, but eight years later, when you have lived every day together, would you say the same thing?
She's the one that relents, by the way. To be fair, her life in England was way boring, so Egypt sounds like a much better option. But still.
The Art of Sinning
Author: Sabrina Jeffries
Series: Sinful Suitors #1
Tags: Historical Romance, Regency, artist, American, Tall Meg, Brothel, bargain
Format: Paper book!
This was the book that I got from my second month of Book of the Month packages. I had put it in the hideous Beauty and the Beast book cover, and when I picked it up to read it, I decided to keep the cover on. Because it is hilarious. And so useful! It took me a while to get used to having a bookmark attached to the book.
Apparently the only other Sabrina Jeffries novel I've read is Only a Duke Will Do. I read it as an audiobook CD from the library, and oh man. It was so funny. The narrator's accent was high Queen's English to the point where it sounded it like a caricature, and I spent most of my time trying to replicate it. Ohwenly a Deuwwke Will Dewww.
Plotline of Only a Duke Will Do: He's back from India. He has a monkey. His father abused him. He cannot love. Monkey ruins a party by jumping into a woman's wig.
Even though this is the first novel, Jeffries weaves in characters from previous novels so much that I had to double check that it was in fact the first book. The plotline of this one is a continuation from something that happened in The Duke's Men series.
There were no monkeys.
The main character Jeremy has a lot of ennui for an artist in that period. They were still in the classical studies portrait phase, if I recall, and yet Jeremy is making a large statement painting called "Art Sacrificed to Commerce." What is he, a socialist? Sounds a lot like an end-of-semester piece for a 1995 college student in Painting 101.
He also "cannot love" because of a past trauma. Let's work it out through talking about our feelings!
I was meh the whole time. I'm actually more interested in the heroine's brother, who is a Stick-in-the-Mud and makes automatons. His book is the next one in the series. Maybe I'll read that.
Scandal of the Year
Author: Laura Lee Gurhke
Series: Abandoned at the Altar #2
Tags: Historical Romance, 1900s, dukes, divorce, domestic abuse, free-spirit, Stick-in-the-Mud, date rapey, frigid
Whew, that took a lot to get through. Probably the last Guhrke I will read.
I really wanted to like the characters. The hero is a always proper upstanding guy type, the woman is a witty free-spirit. But, ugh, all the rest of the story just brought down the vibe.
Bummer #1 is the never mentioned domestic abuse the heroine has to suffer through while she attempts to get out of her marriage. It's actually worse that you never really find out the details of the abuse she was subject to.
Bummer #2 is the stodgy British attitude towards domestic abuse. All her friends and family just shift awkwardly in that oh-so-British-Period-Drama way around her, pretending they didn't know that something is really wrong with her relationship.
Of course they fucking know.
Bummer #3 is that she uses the hero to get out of her divorce in a kinda date rapey situation. She plies him with alcohol and seduces him, and when he stops it, she just drugs him and puts him in her bed so it looks like they had sex.
The fact that he is not very mad about it does not make the situation less icky.
Bummer #4 is that it is in the 1900s! There's something so depressingly Real World about the 1900s. It's too close to present day. I've read and taken classes on too many authors from around that time period: Woolf, Joyce, E. M. Forster, Henry James, Edith Wharton, Fitzgerald, etc. Their modern realism depressed vibe is leaking into this book, and I can't help but remember all the characters I hate from similar books.
For some reason, Fitzgerald comes most to mind. And I'm all out of fucks for Fitzgerald.
Shut up, Gatsby! We all know about the damn green light.
She also has a whole frigid thing going on because of her past abuse. Have you ever noticed that men "cannot love" and women are "frigid"?