Married by Morning (Hathaways, #4): Review

Book: Married by Morning
Series: Hathaways, #4
Author: Lisa Kleypas
Reviewed by: Danielle
Rating: 5/5 stars

Lisa Kleypas is by far my favorite romance writer. She has a gift for storytelling, for sweeping her readers off their feet, and for making Regency England come alive so much so that you wish you could go back in time and experience it yourself. You want to fall in love while dancing a waltz with a man who’s wearing a cravat and pantaloons and brooding over the fact that he can’t rip off your corset then and there and “take” you. (Or maybe that last bit is just me.) With all the romance novels out there today, you would think the genre would have become stale and too predictable by now; not so with Ms. Kleypas. Her stories are fun, absorbing, and also character-driven. This last is the major reason why her books are so successful: her heroines are women you root for and admire, strong yet vulnerable, independent but passionate. But let’s be honest: it’s the heroes we truly care about, and Kleypas knows how to create the most swoon-worthy, sigh-inducing gentlemen. From the dashing Simon Hunt to the brooding cockney Derek Craven to the delectably charming Sebastian St. Vincent, Kleypas has a knack for making you fall in love all over again with each book. It’s a testament to her talent that she can create completely different but equally endearing heroes.

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A Lady by Midnight (Spindle Cove, #3): Review

Book: A Lady by Midnight
Series: Spindle Cove, #3
Author: Tessa Dare
Reviewed by: Ellyce
Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Like many romance authors before and after her, Tessa Dare’s first work isn’t exactly what you would call stellar. It follows the typical genre formula, making the characters and style lack a certain element that could distinguish them from the massive influx that came before. Nonetheless, you can tell that her work has potential, so she’s someone you keep your eye on with future releases. Predictably, her next few titles aren’t exactly outstanding, but she writes in such a charming way during some passages that you can’t help but hope she improves. In 2011, Dare released the first book in her Spindle Cove series, which revolves around several spinsters and unusual ladies residing in the titular location. Spindle Cove has proven to contain some of her strongest books yet, and it’s here that her writing has truly flourished and begun to distinguish itself from the plethora of clichéd bodice rippers that flood the shelves.

As such, I had high hopes for the third book, A Lady by Midnight. Kate and Thorne were fascinating characters in the snippets that we got of them from the second installment, A Week to be Wicked. When I say I held high hopes for this book, I mean that I was ridiculously thrilled, and I haven’t been this anxious for a publication since George R. R. Martin’s A Dance With Dragons last summer. My friend Megan and I counted down the days till the book would be released, purchased Three Weddings and a Murder for the sole purpose of the sneak peek it had of A Lady by Midnight in the back, reread book two to pass the tide until Kate and Thorne’s story was released, and engaged ourselves in long discussions about how giddy we were about their story. I always tell myself not to have high hopes for things, because often times whatever it is won’t live up to my expectations. Sometimes, my worries will have been for nothing and I’ll be so happy with whatever it is that I don’t even think about the concerns I had. As the release date inched nearer for A Lady by Midnight, I began to worry if the book could really be as good as I was hoping it’d be. That being said, I liked the book well enough, but I didn’t love it like I was thinking I would. There are several things about the story that I enjoyed, but often times, Dare fell short of delivering and the book suffered heavily as a result. Continue reading

Les Liaisons dangereuses: Review

Book: Les Liaisons dangereuses
Author: Pierre Choderlos de Laclos
Reviewed by: Ellyce
Rating: 5/5 stars

Although it seems there are a great number of classics filling our shelves today, few works of literature have managed to truly endure throughout the years and remain such fascinating subjects to each new generation. In that regard, Pierre Choderlos de Laclos’ defining work is an unparalleled tale that depicts a cunning game of love, betrayal, sex, revenge, and cruelty. Les Liaisons dangereuses has remained a subject of fascination for legions of readers since its release in 1782 and remains so today. Indeed, upon its initial publication, it caused a stir in France, shocking and exciting its readership. Laclos was condemned for his work even as it flew off of the shelves and into the hands of thrilled readers. When it was eventually banned, this did not stop illegal circulation (some complete with lewd illustrations) from being read in droves among intrigued audiences. Today, there have been numerous adaptations among a variety of mediums, including film, opera, theatre, radio, and ballet. It arouses fervid discussion and debate regarding how it should be interpreted and its possible themes (such as the feminist deconstruction of the Marquise de Mereteuil). Some believe that Laclos meant his novel to be a moral lesson to warn his readers; the consequences of such licentious behavior depicted by his characters should be interpreted as having dire consequences. Others dismiss this explanation, as both the heroes and the villains in this novel are of aristocratic standing. Regardless of its original intent or numerous interpretations, Les Liaisons dangereuses remains a necessary component of classic literature.

The story is told through a series of correspondence among two bored aristocrats and the pawns in their game in eighteenth century France. The Marquise de Mereteuil is still smarting from the fact that one of her lovers, the Comte de Gercourt, left her for another woman. Gercourt has now set his eyes on the convent-educated Cécile Volanges, whose virginity he prizes, as his bride. Mereteuil asks her ex-lover, the Vicomte de Valmont, to do her the favor of seducing Cécile, which would turn Gercourt into a laughingstock once he discovered that his bride had already been deflowered. Valmont initially refuses, as he sees the task of seducing a young chit fresh from the schoolroom to be simple and requiring no effort at all. Instead, he has set his sights on seducing a visitor of his aunt’s: the married Présidente de Tourvel. Tourvel is a paragon of virtue famed for her devotion to God and her marriage. Valmont believes that his success in this endeavor will be the crème de la crème of his career as a rogue and thus solidify his skills in seduction as unparalleled. An amused Mereteuil tells Valmont that if he is able to succeed in seducing Tourvel and provides written proof, she will reward him by once more taking him as her lover. So begins a game between the two that doesn’t exactly turn out the way that they expect. Continue reading

Tempted Tigress (Tigress Series, #6): Review


Book: Tempted Tigress
Series: The Tigress, #6
Author: Jade Lee
Reviewed by: Megan
Rating: 5/5 stars

Despite my claims that my preferred reading material of choice is historical romance novels, there has been a vast shortage of that in my reviews. But no more! The dry spell has ended. Come, and be the lucky few to bear witness to this momentous occasion.

So when someone says ‘historical romance’ there’s probably one of two images running through your mind. Perhaps you’re imagining a plaid kilt fluttering in the high breeze upon the grassy plains of the Highlands and big burly arms wrapped around a wee little lass. Or perhaps you’re imagining covert kisses and corsets coming underdone in an English tea garden. Historical romance novels generally have a very limited range of where and when they can take place—usually somewhere in the U.K. between 1780 to 1850—but Jade Lee and her novel Tempted Tigress, sixth in her Tigress series, takes us far away from the familiar shores of England. Instead, she transports us to China, circa the late 1800s during the height of British colonialism, and not only presents an enthralling romance but also a stark portrayal of Colonial China.

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Scandalous Desires (Maiden Lane, #3): Review

Book: Scandalous Desires
Series:
Maiden Lane, #3
Author: Elizabeth Hoyt
Reviewed by: Ellyce
Rating: 5/5 stars

I’ll admit that despite rave reviews from my friends, Elizabeth Hoyt’s books have been a bit hard for me to get into. There’s no doubt that she writes well, but many of her romances feel extremely rushed. This leads to the characters only being really attracted to one another due to physical attributes or how great of a kisser or lover they are, and the emotional side of the story doesn’t really come into play until it’s too late (or at all, sometimes). Going into the third book of her Maiden Lane series, I had my doubts as to whether it could hold up to all of the praise it’s gotten.

Of all her work, Scandalous Desires is the one that shines brightest and delivers more than expected. The characters are incredibly fleshed out and don’t fall into the genre tropes that you might expect of them, and there’s a deep emotional attachment and growth between them that is truly the heart of the story. Continue reading