Monday, March 30, 2015

The Making of A Gentlemen by Shana Galen

Series: The Sons of The Revolution (#2)
Genre: Historical
Release Date: October 1, 2010
Pages : 384
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca

I know you should never judge a book by its cover, but while browsing Scribd I clicked on the thumbnail of  The Making of a Gentleman because of the romantic colors and pretty font border.  The Goodreads synopsis toted it as the story of a governess who is hired to help a man clean up and get ready to participate in high society. I thought it would be a cute and witty reverse My Fair Lady type thing.

Well, I was wrong

Let's back up a little. The set up of for Galen's The Sons of The Revolutions series is that 12 years ago during the French revolution (read: not American Revolution, which is what I thought ) three aristocratic brothers are separated when their home is torched during an uprising.

Now they are all being bought back together and finding love.

This is the second book and focuses on the middle brother Armand Valère. Now the reason Armand is in need of a governess to prepare him for society, is because when his family home was torched, he ended up being captured, locked away and tortured in prison as a child. After more than a decade of solitary confinement he is finally rescued; he can't talk and is pained by human touch. Holy Nightmare Fuel, Galen.

Cue Felicity Bennett. Hired by Armand's bother to prepare him for society, Armand instantly connects to Felicity through her music. It's great seeing them interact, there is a bit of humor drawn from having a stubborn adult student like Armand, going up against a teacher he is attracted to.

Armand was a really interesting character. Now that he has come home to a loving and supporting family, he has to reconcile with all "The Rules" that don't make sense to him while having to talk and find words again.  

In the background there is a plotline about how Armand ended up imprisoned and how individuals from his past are coming back to hurt his family. This plot line is mixed with an evil fiance plot line that got a little out of hand with shenanigans that didn't do it for me.

I haven't said much about the heroine Felicity Bennett because there isn't much to say. She was an okay character but not overly memorable. I just didn't walk away with anything about her sticking out.

I've been buffeting romance and often find myself getting bored with the Alpha-Playboy trope. I think what I liked about this book was how Armand was more of a low key Alpha character. Yes, his is strong and overprotective, not wanting to lose his new family and freedom, however, he also has strong vulnerabilities like talking and socializing.

There is a slightly clumsy *wink wink nudge nudge*  at what to expect in the third book, so I may check that one out (Because. . . pirates) and then swing back around to read the first one.

A great cast of characters with an unlikely hero.I like what Galen does characters, but the plot sort of tripped over itself at the end. Either way, I'm going to be checking Galen out her backlist.


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Surrender Trilogy by Maya Banks

  • Genre: Erotic Romance
  • Series: The Surrender Trilogy 1-3
  • Publisher: Berkley Trade (Penguin)

So, I seriously debated reviewing these books, not sure I'm ready to admit I read these ? But, whatever. I don't think I can read romance without reading its steamier side and if  I'm hitting the big 50 (Shades of Gray, that is) I want to have some background and context for erotic romance. I chose The Surrender Trilogy because Maya Banks is a long standing author  in the modern romance era and she mentioned on an episode of the Dear Bitches, Smart Authors podcast these books are less nonstop sex and more about relationship building.

I think I may have stumbled upon this romance "crack" I keep hearing about, because I could not stop  reading these.

The books in this series are about  Dominant / submissive relationships*.The series main characters are three close friends with each woman getting their own book. We start with widowed Joss , move to  her sister-in-law Kylie and then finally their friend Chessy.

February 4th  2014
The first book really did not work for me. On the 5th anniversary of her husband's death, Joss decides it's time to say goodbye and seek out the  Dominant/ submissive relationship she's secretly always wanted, but her husband could never give her because of his abusive childhood. To her surprise, she finds her dream relationship in her husband's best friend Dash.

I liked the angle of Joss being a woman in control of her own sexuality, but  these two were kind of dull and there really wasn't much conflict. I feel like I never get a clear picture of what this Dom/sub relationship means. He is supposed to be Dominant, but he still only does what she says. It also felt like Banks was defending BDSM to the reader instead of showing. The only real conflict between the characters  is caused by a dream...which was kind of dumb. - 


May 6th 2014
After not liking Letting Go, I only got Giving In because the sample in the back intrigued me. This one is about Kylie who is Joss' sister-in-law and comes from the same abusive past as Joss' dead husband.  This has made her "prickly and bitchy" as her friends say but Jensen, the new man in her office sees potential in her both romantically and professionally. I liked this one more, because there was more conflict. Jensen is a Dominant too but he has to give up that side of him for Kylie to feel safe. We also learn he has his own traumatic past, so they have to work together to figure out how to have a relationship. Although once again this dream thing comes up as the climax again and it's even worse in this one than the first one. - 

August 5th 2014
Now, I read this last one because there is a hint of something going on with Kylie and Joss' friend Chessy in the background of the other two books and I wanted to see how that was going to be resolved. This book was by far better than the others because the issues going on between Chessy and her husband Tate had higher stakes because they are considering ending a marriage.I felt like this book has the most struggle and conflict. Also, Chessy and Tate are more ingrained in the Dominant/ submissive lifestyle so we see more about what these relationships entail. - 


In Conclusion....

There were a  couple of things in this book I had to get past , the writing in these books left a lot to be desired. A lot of the time characters would use the same phrasing like how I'm pretty sure every character tells Chessy that Tate would "move heaven and Earth" for her. They all say it just like that and it feels really unnatural

This was all my first introduction to the CARETAKER ALPHA MALE and omg, these guys are all extreme alphas. If you so much as trip in a restaurant parking lot they will drive you to their mansions, give you their beds and make breakfast in the morning. This I'm learning is a common trope in romance so if you like the rich, successful guys who take care of their ladies this book has all kinds. It does leave me wondering how in NA this trope got turned into the jerk alpha with a heart of gold.

Overall I’d skip the first two, but without those you don't get the building tension of the third books. So I'd recommend the last two

I noticed that the owner of the BDSM club "The House" showed up a lot and it looks like he is the main character of the Rush series....which I have no desire to read, but for people who like those characters they show up.

*This capital D dominant and lowercase submissive is the style the book uses so when in Rome....

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Frigid by J Lynn

  • Release Date: July 15th 2013
  • Pages: 252 
  • Genre: Contemporary / New Adult
  • Series: Standalone
  • Publisher: Spencer Hill Press

I'm kind of a hater sometimes.

And oh boy, have I hated a little on this book. I remember when I first saw this cover reveal I showed it to Jess and said..."but, isn't he cold ???" Also the name Kyler just sounded like a really young name. Like the name of a child and not a grown man. But I really like Jennifer Armentrout's work with bloggers and when Frigid was on sale for .99 cents I went for it.

Frigid is a friends to lover romance, about what happens when college senior Sydney Bell finds herself stuck in a cabin during a snowstorm with Kyler Quinn, her super hot manwhore best friend she's had a crush on forever. There is also a suspense plot that comes up, but I won't get to into that because it comes in much later in the book and is spoiler territory.

Sydney is an uptight bookish girl who doesn't drink, doesn't party and is afraid she might be too frigid for anyone to love. It doesn't help that she is constantly around Kyler who beds nearly every hot girl he meets. Jennifer Armentrout is writing as J. Lynn, so this romance gets fairly spicy.

Kyler fits into this NA trope that is whatever the male version of Hooker with a Heart of Gold is. He's the guy who sleeps with all the drunk girls and doesn't believe in relationships until he finally sees the protagonist and then he understands how to respect women. I kind of hate this trope, it shows up a lot in NA and  has a lot of slut-shamy implications with it.

That said, this book has a certain amount of charm to it. Armentrout has this stream of conscious dialogue that makes her books easy to read and dip in and out of.

Overall Frigid was a fun read and I feel like I'm really turning a corner in New Adult. There was always this talk of NA being YA's sexier cousin but this NA in particular felt more like a cousin to romance than YA and I think it will appeal well to romance readers.

 Bonus: It's a complete standalone !

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Audiobook Review : A Lady By Midnight by Tessa Dare

"I suggest a dramatic announcement at midnight. . . .Make them all tingle with anticipation.”

  • Genre: Historical Romance
  • Publisher: Avon
  • Release Date : 
  • Length : 10 hours 41 minutes (374 pages)
  • Narrator : Carolyn Morris
 I'm super picky about my audiobook narrators and while scouring my library's Overdrive I had a hard time finding regency romances with a voice that sounded like the age of the heroine. Carolyn Morris' performance stuck out to me because she sounded like Joanna Fraggot from Downton Abbey.

A Lady By Midnight features a hero and heroine who couldn't be more different despite having similar backgrounds. Corporal Thorne and Kate Taylor both grew up as orphans with no ties to family, but they've each different approaches to adult life. 

Even though Kate was abandoned as a child, she still takes life at its best,  she is nice and kind to everyone and teaches piano to  unconventional young ladies in the small town of Spindle Cove. I thought she was sweet in a way that didn't make her too perfect or Mary Sue-ish.

Thorne on the other hand has become hardened over the years. He is a corporal in the Spindle Cove militia and doesn't see himself as a good or worthy person. He has his eyes set on leaving London and starting a life alone in the American wilderness.

When a quirky family rolls into town looking for Kate, she finds our her past might hold more for her than she thought. Thorne knows more about Kate and her past than he is letting on and offers to pose as her fiancee to learn more about this family's intentions.

There are lot of obstacles between Kate and Throne. He wants to leave England she wants to stay.  and it' s fun to read Kate's constant  light heartiness and optimism go up against Thorne's coldness.

This book has a lot of the cheesy tropes including; fake proposals, family secrets, a duel and a sword fight (which I think even the characters didn't take seriously)  and they worked surprisingly well ! The book seemed to not take itself to seriously.

Part of what worked for me was the setting.  A Lady By Midnight takes place in Spindle Cove a seaside quaint town for unconventional women who don't fit society's standard. The town goes through a gender shift when a militia is stationed there.  It's such a charming setting. I've read  bits of various Regency romances and I never realized how much I enjoyed the ones that stray away from London and society life. It's was like a reading a small town romance.

One thing that surprised me, and I haven't read a lot of  historical so maybe this isn't as rare, was the way Dare worked in an lesbian character, (Harriet) Harry. who is very much accepted by her family. We  hear about how  she had to go through her season and do what was expected even though she was interested in someone else. She has a relationship with her former governess and I wanted to learn more about how the handling of the relationships would have been in her day to day life.

I sensed there were some in-jokes to the previous two books in the series. Plus a couple from the first books get an extended cameo that I thought was cute, so I may read their story. 

The story was so enjoyable but towards the end I wasn't fully feeling the ultimate choice the characters made. The epilogue had it's moments but it was way to sugary-sweet. Despite that I still really recommend this romance because of all the conflict, wittiness and fun.

A funny and cute romance, I know I will go back and read the other books just to get a little more of Spindle Cove.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Lucky is Reading Giveaway Hop (U.S Only)

So, I'm a newbie to romance but I'm lucky to have read a few great romances to get me into the genre. Two of the first authors I ever read were  Julie James and Stacey Shannon. For this giveaway I'm giving away a paperback copy of each of their first books plus a signed copy of It Had To Be You by Jill Shalvis  . Enter below and then keep hopping to the next giveaway. Happy Reading!

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