Tuesday, August 29

The Books

I brought 9 books with me on vacation, but only finished 6. Mini-reviews...

Jo Goodman's One Forbidden Evening is a good book. Unlike most romance readers, I'm not a huge fan of Ms. Goodman's, though I've been reading her off and on for years and years. I usually find her stories a tad too long, this one falls into the too long category, the mystery seemed somewhat superfluous. What does work impressively is 1. the dialogue--quick, snappy and smart, and 2. the secondary characters are outstanding, I particularly liked the Earl's mother, brother and best friend.

Cybelline Caldwell is a widow in need of a night out and finds one night of passion with the Earl of Ferrin, a "notorious rake", what follows is an interesting and unusual courtship. A nice solid read.

Hmmm, what to say about Joy Nash's The Grail King? I liked it, it's not perfect and one must suspend belief while reading, but it's a fun and entertaining book.

It's a Celt/Roman relationship which reminds me tremendously of the Saxon/Norman books of the 80's and 90's. These books automatically have a built in conflict. Owein (The Celt) has had a difficult life, in fact he is a Druid and has the "Sight", and has been fighting the Romans for most of his life, has been a slave and has escaped and now hides in the marshes, living a solitary life. Clara (The Roman) is searching for the Druid that can help her find a magical grail that has been stolen from her family. She is trying to save her dying father and believes if he drinks from the grail his life will be saved. There are several secondary characters that are known to each character, but upon finding one another, they don't realize how intertwined their lives are already.

I read this book in 2 sittings, which was pretty good considering it didn't seem like I had a free minute while we were away. I had issues with the dialogue, it sounded like a cross between a contemporary and a Scottish historical, but since I'm not really sure what the dialogue from AD130 should sound like I just ignored this and enjoyed the book.

The Cad by Edith Layton turned out to be a re-read. It's part of a series that I read back in the late 90's. I'm not really going to say much about the story except that it's probably better than okay, but I wasn't into the "poor me, I'm a damaged heroine" story line, she wears her facial scar like a chip on her shoulder, which is probably understandable given how she is treated by most of the secondary characters in the book. I liked this book the first time I read it, this time it didn't work a well.

OMG, how does Carla Kelly pack so much into 215 pages? One Good Turn is probably one of the BEST Regency period romances I have ever read. The characters are wonderful. I love how she brings us into Nez's (Benedict Nesbitt, seventh Duke of Knaresborough, the hero) head, we know his thoughts throughout the book. The character development is incredible, Liria, the heroine is shrouded in mystery, Sophia and Juan are children that act like children. Liria's mystery slowly unfolds and in the process, we learn details of the Penninsular War, painful details that left me crying and heartbroken for what Liria and so many other women and children went through. This book is incredible.

Joan Wolf's His Lordship's Desire pales in comparison to OGT. I'm at a loss when it comes to Joan Wolf's writing. It has become overly simplistic, to the point it's just plain boring, it's hard to believe this is the same woman who wrote her Dark Ages series.

The hero of this one has just returned from the Penninsular, he has nightmares yet these are somewhat glossed over. He thinks he's coming home to the woman he loves and plans to marry, but she's still really angry that he left her in the first place to go off and play soldier. This animosity continues until page 356, yes that's right, 356 pages of arguing and unhappy relationships, she even engages herself to someone else, this book is a mess. And to be honest the secondary relationship between Sally and the "Duke" would have been much more interesting and satisfying.

Ah, Lynn Michaels' Marriage by Design was a much needed break from historicals. This is a fun read, with likeable characters and good dialogue. It's a romance with a Chick Lit feel.

Mia Savard is a top designer at her father's bridal design business. The book opens with Mia fighting with her father to move her to a different design department, she wants out of wedding gowns. Then all hell breaks out, her one of a kind design for the governor's daughter has been stolen and shows up in a bridal magazine for a different design company. Yikes, her hot-head father fires everyone and in the process hires Joe Kerr to investigate, what the heck happened. Of course, Dad hires everyone back, even the villain. It's obvious from the beginning of the book who the villain is, so much so that I started to question myself--could it be this obvious. But, none of this matters, it's simply a fun and entertaining read, and definitely worth bringing to the beach.

Well, that's it, my beach reading. My husband brought Stephen King's Salem's Lot and reread it for the Nth time, so when he finished it I picked it up. I read SL 25 years ago and it scared the life out of me, slept with the light on for a month after reading it. I thought it deserved a reread.

Have a good one and happy reading.


Jane said...

I loved Jo Goodman's book a little more than you. I thought the middle sagged but overall, I loved the dialogue, loved the two main characters, loved the secondary characters. The ending was a bit cartoonish. Did you buy into the "fake" rake thing? I thought it was plausible.

I am aghast at Joan Wolf's writing too. I think that her muse or her will to write died when they stopped her Medeival series. What a tragedy. The entire story is a cobbling together of her past books, recycling names, plots, whole characters and not in a good way. I read the same exact subplot in another Wolf book (the best friend capturing the Duke). It makes me cry. Her regency romances were awesome. Have you read any of those? I loved London Season and the one with Valentine.

jmc said...

I'm a Carla Kelly fan girl. I try not to be, but just can't help it. She did an excellent job of redeeming Nez, who was the anti-hero of Libby's London Merchant. And Liria broke my heart. ::sighs impatiently:: I want to know when Kelly's Beau Crusoe will be released, if ever.

Tara Marie said...

Jane, I did buy the "fake" rake thing. In fact, I thought it rather clever, geek in rake clothing--loved it. If she had cut out the mystery, the book would have worked more for me. SPOILER.....And I knew long before it came out the poor dead husband was homosexual and I didn't think the villain really needed to be his ex-lover.

I think you're probably right Joan Wolf has lost her muse, and it's rather sad. It's like she's writing as a job rather than a love of the work. This may be my last Wolf, yet I picked up one of her medieval mysteries while on vacation.

jmc, Carla Kelly, my new favorite writer, One Good Turn was her only book at the UBS, I had a feeling he was the anti-hero in Libby... I loved his internal voice, incredibly well done.

I'm almost afraid to search out her backlist, it's going to cost a fortune--LOL.

Kristie (J) said...

I think like Jane that I liked (loved) One Forbidden Evening more than you did :) I also like the nerd in rake's clothing aspect to it. I haven't read the Grail King one yet although I have it. And I really must read Carla Kelly!!!

Devonna said...

I put Jo Goodman's book on my wishlist last night. I'm hoping to read it soon. It seems like everyone's been reading it.

I'll probably be checking into the others cause I just don't have enough to read already :-)

Tara Marie said...

Kristie, the fake rake thing was a nice change of pace from most Regency period books that have "Rakes" that aren't without explanations. Carla Kelly is truly worth trying.

Devonna, all it takes is one person to rave about a book, it sends all of us scurring in search of the new best--LOL.

Megan Frampton said...


I've got all of Kelly's backlist except for Daughter of Fortune (which my library has!), and I am glad to lend them all to you if you want.

I am so thrilled you like her. She is a rare talent.

I loved Joan Wolf's first-person Regencies, haven't liked anything for awhile.

Tara Marie said...

Megan, that is so nice of you. Let me double check at my UBS and if they don't have any more, I'll take you up on your offer. THANK YOU SO MUCH.

And, I agree, Joan Wolf's 1st person books are great, in fact I might still have a few on my keeper shelf.

ReneeW said...

I used to read and enjoy Joan Wolf's regencies but gave her up years ago when she went to full length.

Re: One Good Turn... I TOLD ya! Read it last summer and wow it packs a punch. Wonderful book. Yes, her back list if VHTF and will cost you a fortune but SO worth it. Have you read Libby's London Merchant? Also excellent along with Mrs. Drew Plays Her Hand which is my favorite.

So glad you liked Marriage By Design. Sounds like fun. Adding to the TBB.

Nicole said...

I have One Good Turn (found it at a bargain bookstore at an outlet mall) and also A Wedding Journey. Guess I should finally read them one of these days! Guess I've just really been waiting to find Libby's London Merchant before starting OGT.