Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Romance Reviews

We have this thing. It's called a blog. I tend to ignore it. I'm going to try to work on that. And as part of working on that I am going to start reviewing the books I read. So this might turn into all romance reviews for a while, but I'm sure we will throw some other stuff in along the way.

For today, I am going to do quick reviews of the last few books I've read.

Lady Rogue by Suzanne Enoch
Kit is a 19 year old English girl who has been masquerading as a French boy since she was 6 in order to help her father with his smuggling; she is usually a spy for him.
Alex is the Earl of Everton, who ends up taking in Kit to pay back a debt his father owed to Kit's father. Kit is supposed to spy on Alex and his friends to determine who is blocking their smuggling operation.

I have read a lot of romance novels and I have to say that Kit is different from every other romance heroine that I've ever come across. Alex is standard alpha-male romance hero, but Kit holds her own and in a lot of cases bests him. She does what she thinks is necessary and does not rely on anyone else. Alex figures out right away that Kit is a girl, but he allows her to continue pretending to be his male cousin. I really enjoyed seeing Kit be genuine friends with Alex's friends. What I liked most was that for the majority of the book I really didn't care too much about the romantic part of their relationship. I cared more about who was involved in stopping the smuggling and if Kit and Alex were ever going to tell each other the truth. Usually, I get annoyed when characters don't tell each other stuff that would make the entire book easier, but in this case I liked that they both kept everything secret. It really worked for the story. I also really enjoyed the epic action sequences and the side characters.

A Dangerous Beauty by Sophia Nash
Rosamunde made a bad decision, ran off to marry a guy who ended up being terrible, became a pariah, and then became a widow.
Luc is the Lord of Fire and Ice (due to his fire in bed and his coldness in the morning).
Luc's father is the one who made Rosamunde an outcast; his grandmother invites her to join her widow's club.

I really enjoyed reading A Dangerous Beauty, but even right after I finished I could not remember how it ended. Even now I'm kinda like...and then some stuff happened and they said I love you. Which isn't the best reaction to have to a book. I found Rosamunde a bit too accepting of her fate. I wanted her to be a fighter, which she had some flashes of. I really enjoyed Luc, though he also seemed to be not quite as strong a character as I would have liked. I really liked Luc's grandmother and I want to read the other books in the series (this is the first of the Widow's Club series). I enjoyed the writing, if not the characters as much.

Suddenly You by Lisa Kleypas
Amanda ordered herself a male prostitute as a 30th birthday present to herself since she didn't want to end up a spinster without having made love to a man.
Jack, a bookseller and publishers, was sent to her house by the slightly interfering brothel owner, without either of them knowing of the "mix-up" at first.

I have read Suddenly You before. I found it as an ebook through the library so reread it just for fun. And it was still fun the second time through. I really love Amanda. She is not the average romance heroine, nor is she the average spinster. She is a well published author and really has no desire to marry. Jack is a bastard son of a nobleman and has worked extremely hard to become the book mogel that he is. He has had a hard life and therefore doesn't really operate within societal bounds. They both have a lot of serious trust issues to work through and really take a long time to get it together. I enjoy most of Kleypas's characters, but I think Amanda is really fun and smart, though she does make a few questionable choices. Jack is mysterious and takes a long time to get it together. Overall, a very fun read. Twice!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Goodreads Review: "Good Groom Hunting" by Shana Galen

Good Groom Hunting (Misadventures in Matrimony, #2)Good Groom Hunting by Shana Galen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"Good Groom Hunting" follows the fiery Josie Hale, a young woman who has sworn not to get married and to become a pirate. Her grandfather was a pirate, after all! Josie owns half of her grandfather's treasure map but, unfortunately, the other half is owned by Stephen Doubleday, Earl of Westman, whose family is sworn enemies of the Hales.

So, of course, as they work together to find the treasure - Josie so that she can be rich and independent and not married, Stephen because his family is destitute - they become irresistibly attracted to each other and have quite a bit of naughty, out-of-wedlock sex. Josie is thoroughly ruined and doesn't care, Stephen feels bad about it, they get into scrapes because other people want the treasure too. There is a lot of romance in this book, but there is also a lot of solid adventure.

I liked Josie throughout the book. I appreciate a woman who wants to be independent. (view spoiler)[Even though she ended up marrying Stephen at the end of the book, I like that she resisted it, and I liked that she made the decision because she loved him and not because she didn't want to be ruined. (hide spoiler)] I also like that Josie is a woman who is in touch with her sexuality, and genuinely desires to have sex with Stephen without feeling all embarrassed about it. A lot of times, especially in historical romance, the women are shocked that they actually like sex, but Josie has a healthy curiosity about it.

Stephen is a bit annoying at the beginning of the book - he's quite pompous and acts like a jerk to Josie - but I really soften on him as things go on, especially after it's revealed that (view spoiler)[he ruined a girl who later killed herself and he feels incredibly guilty about it. (hide spoiler)] However, I was a bit turned off at the end when (view spoiler)[he is described as wanting to "claim" Josie. Of course, if she didn't want to be claimed, she would have told him to go to hell, but it still didn't quite sound right to me. (hide spoiler)]

Overall, "Good Groom Hunting" was a good book that I'm glad I bought for 25 cents at the library. It's the second book in a series, but I didn't feel like I was really missing much (although Josie's cousin and her husband were obviously the people the first book was about). It was a good standalone book with a great amount of action and excitement and, of course, pirates! That, alone, made it worth the time!

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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Midweek Mancandy: Travis Fimmel

Kel is off being a professional this week, so it comes down to me, Jen, to give you your taste of Mancandy this fine midweek evening!

Therefore, I'm going to take this opportunity to introduce you all to someone who has recently come to my attention on a show that Kel doesn't watch.

I give you ... Travis Fimmel!

Fimmel, an Australian actor and former Calvin Klein underwear model, is currently playing Ragnar Lodbrok on History's "Vikings."

Fimmel is great on "Vikings." Ragnar is a great warrior who raids and pillages, but there is a softness, too, especially in his interactions with his wife and children. Fimmel plays both sides of Ragnar well, and always with a huge heap of charisma and a sparkle in his eye. But just when you forget that he's a legendary Viking raider, he kills someone. He's gorgeous and dangerous.

Fimmel looked decent in his underwear modeling days (I took a look for research only, of course) but I much prefer his dirtier "Vikings" persona. It's the same kind of appeal as Norman Reedus on "The Walking Dead," when you're kind of like, "Hmm, he is dirty. But hot. Dirty-hot!" Holy crap! I just realized - he's like the Norse version of Daryl Dixon! 

Incidentally, if you haven't seen "Vikings" yet, you really ought to keep an eye out for the reruns. It's a compelling, exciting show. And it got picked up for a second season! Check it out, and be sure to give an extra salute to Midweek Mancandy himself, Travis Fimmel!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Jen's Goodreads review: "The Host"

The Host (The Host, #1)The Host by Stephenie Meyer
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I read "The Host" because I was going to see the movie. There were some things I liked about it, but overall it was kind of a lame book.

The book follows Wanderer, a parasitic "soul" attached to the host body of Melanie Stryder. Usually, the hosts just disappear, but Melanie's consciousness is still there, and it affects Wanderer. Soon, Wanderer is off to find the two most important people in Mel's life - her boyfriend, Jared, and her brother, Jamie.

The whole premise of the book is a pretty decent sci-fi concept, even though it's pretty derivative. I enjoyed the idea of it. The problem is that Stephanie Meyer never does anything terribly interesting with it. (view spoiler)[Of course, Jared is upset that Wanderer, well, wanders into their midst wearing Mel's body. Of course Jamie, being young, is accepting. Of course the sexy, caring Ian falls in love with Wanderer. (OK, I actually kind of liked Ian despite myself.) (hide spoiler)]

My biggest issue, and it's really the same issue I had with the "Twilight" series, is that Mel & Wanderer are really only defined by what other people think and feel about them. They're very, very generic characters that are inexplicably loved by dull, generically good-looking men. There's no oomph to any of the main characters, and all of the character is left to the secondary characters, like Mel's crazy uncle.

I am also not really a fan of the ending of the book. (view spoiler)[I know that it's basically a romance novel and it should end happy, but everything is tied up way too well, in a tidy bow. It's the same problem as "Twilight" - everybody gets a happily ever after, even though it doesn't necessarily make sense to make it that way. As much as I liked Wanderer and that I'm glad for Ian to have his lady (alien) love, I was a little disappointed that she came back and got to live a perfect life. I mean, it's a little creepy that she just wears someone else's skin. A good sci-fi would have had Mel unable to come back, or Wanderer die, or Ian decide that Wanderer will share his brain or something. (hide spoiler)]

The final problem is that "The Host" is way too long and poorly written. It needed some major editing. I was actually impressed with the movie, dull as it was, because the writer edited it almost exactly as I would have edited it, combining scenes, leaving out characters and just generally trimming the excess.

Overall, "The Host" wasn't great, but I'm sure the "Twilight" set will like it - it's more of the same. If you liked "Twilight," check this one out. If not, don't. It's as simple as that.

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Thursday, April 4, 2013

Midweek Mancandy: Richard Madden

In honor of the season 3 premiere of "Game of Thrones," we decided that this week, we wanted to honor somebody who helped steam up the land of Westeros. But who? There are so many hot guys on that show!

Finally, we settled on Richard Madden, who plays Robb Stark.

Poor Robb often gets overshadowed, at least in the minds and hearts of fangirls, by his hot bastard half-brother, Jon Snow (played by Kit Harington). While we do appreciate Harington, and it's likely that he could get the mancandy treatment at some other time, we think that Madden is more of a rugged, manly hottie who doesn't tend toward the pretty-boy hotness that Harington has. Also, he is Scottish, and he has fantastic hair and big, beautiful, soulful eyes.

Plus, he is dating Jenna-Louise Coleman, who is playing Clara Oswald, the new companion on "Doctor Who," which is, as Kel put it, "10 shades of nerd-fabulous."