Monday, November 29, 2010

Coming the first week of December... to my TBR

First, I hope you all had an amazing Thanksgiving and spent the day with the ones you love. If you aren't here in America, I still hope you spent the day with the ones you love :)

At casa Lori, we had a girlfriend spend the day with us for the very first time. Oldest's GF is positively adorable, and she is great for him. He, in turn, spent Thanksgiving at her house on Saturday, when they had their family dinner. It's a blessing when you can not only adore who your child has chosen, but also really like her family.

I also read a ton of books - I took the entire week off from work - a first for me. It was. Fricking. Awesome. And now I want to retire. And never work again. Sigh. The Man to Die For really needs to make that rock star gig work for him instead of the teaching gig. Or, I could win the lottery. That would be great. What? You have to buy a ticket? Well, damn.

I am so excited for the first week of December. Some books are pubbing that I'm dying to read.

WANT! I haven't even thought about the rest of the month. What are you dying to read next month?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Forbidden Rose by Joanna Bourne

Title: The Forbidden Rose
Author: Joanna Bourne

Type: Historical Romance
Series: Related, a prequel to The Spymaster's Lady

Thoughts: Wow. Every one of Bourne's titles thus far have been a Wow for me. This one as much as the first. It is Bourne's voice--it is dark, yet witty, sparse, yet rich. A keeper for me.

Three things stand out for me. The first gets me every time. It is the silent observations a Bourne hero makes of the heroine. Here, Doyle's absolute first thought about Maggie was her stillness. Within minutes, it was her wit--insulting and uttered under duress--but funny nonetheless. In short, Doyle saw the power of her mind first. He saw control, cunning, instinct. Yes, her breasts were a fast second, but that did not detract from the power of these first moments. For me, it set the sexiest of stages--a hero that would dominate through expectation rather than will. Because he recognized the spine in Maggie, I knew he would not simply take her over, charming her and the reader both into following him around for the remainder of the book. Bourne accomplished this in just pages. Doyle's presence and Maggie's control.

So it is the concise, often witty, thoughts a Bourne hero shares (in italics of course) that turn me on.

The second thing that gets me is Bourne's ability to weave a million strands into one, tightly-written story. You absolutely cannot miss a minute of this book. If you do, if you skim even the shortest of paragraphs, you will miss one of these strands. Every word counts. For this, I've heard Bourne called "masterful" and "brilliant". I agree. Immerse yourself in Bourne's details and you will be rewarded with more than one emotional or brain-twisting punch by story's end. In this one, it was the fate of the littlest girl that packed the biggest punch. It left me breathless.

So rich, rich, rich. That's the second thing.

Third--despite all of these clever details, so richly layered--literally anything can happen. And does. Bourne endangers everyone, then assigns responsibilities (of the heroic kind) where you least expect them. All of Bourne's characters are smart. None are untouchable. I worried sick more than once. And this angst added to the tension already present through her voice alone. Dark, yet witty; sparse, yet rich.

I had only one regret. Besides the fact that it ended. I did not 'research' this title before picking it up. Consequently, I did not know that it serves as a prequel to The Spymaster's Lady. I recognized Doyle and Adrian both, but will admit to a bit of confusion. It was Adrian's age--I couldn't place him as a teen and it nagged at the back of my mind throughout. Now that I know, so much more of it makes sense.

Thinking back now--as I write this review--I'm remembering Doyle more clearly as well. One of the things I liked best about The Spymaster's Lady was Doyle's language. He was hilarious. And yes, that course humor was here in his own book. It was simply shadowed, ever-so-subtley, by the vulnerability that love brings.

Awww hell. I think I'm going to sign off now and go re-read The Spymaster's Lady.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Yipee skippy! Kathryn Shay's backlist now as $2.99 ebooks

Oh happy happy joy joy!!!

I just received an email direct from Kathryn Shay (to me alone, I'm sure, cuz we're likethis, ya know - haha!).

Anywhooooo... it seems that some of her backlist is available now for $2.99 via both smashwords and Amazon. So if you haven't read her famous firefighter trilogy, go for it. Or her O'Neil trilogy, or her amazing standalones - I highly recommend Trust in Me (It made my list of top 10 reviews.) - go out and get them for just $2.99!!!

Here's the email:

News from Kathryn Shay
Out of print books ready for e-readers

Dear Readers, (ed: I know she really just meant me - honest!)
Because I’ve been asked about the availability of my past work, I’ve finally been able to put them up on Kindle and Smashwords, Apple and a few other outlets (with new covers) as epubbed books. They are also sale priced at $2.99. Yes, you read that right!! So if you never read my well-loved firefighter trilogy, my O’Neil series or my stand-alones, just click on one of the sale links below the description and buy a copy for your e-reader.

I’ll also be putting up some new work soon: a never before published novella and an original full length book. And stay tuned—more out of print books will be coming as soon as I get those rights back.
Kathy Shay

Hidden Cove Firefighter Trilogy — Meet the brave men and women from Hidden Cove New York, who fight fires by day and live ordinary, angst filled days just like the rest of us.

After the Fire
An action filled romance begins a new trilogy that tugs at your heartstrings. Origin. pub. by Berkley Press. "A superb contemporary romance that grabs you in the prologue and won’t let go until you’ve read the final page. Bravo, Ms. Shay!" The Romance Readers Connection "Powerful and compelling, this novel reinforces Shay’s well earned reputation as a first rate storyteller." Booklist

On The Line
Fire Chief Noah Callahan and Fire Investigator Eve Woodward are facing the turmoil caused by accidents at fire scenes. Who knew they’d fall in love? Originally published by Berkley Press. "Powerhouse author Shay’s complex and unforgettable characters breathe life into this truly intense novel." Romantic Times Book Club

Nothing More To Lose
An injured firefighter from 9/11 and a disgraced cop struggle to salvage their lives with the help of the women who love them. Originally published by Berkley Press. "Shay writes an emotion-packed story with angst and some hot sex. This dramatic tale also has a nice touch of humor." RT Book Club

O’Neil Family Series — Meet Bailey O’Neil, an antigang specialist and her brothers who run an Irish pub in New York City.

Someone To Believe In - who'da thunk a senator could be so hot?
Follow New York Senator Clay Wainwright and anti-gang specialist, the Street Angel, Bailey O’Neil as they battle over how to control street gangs and unexpectedly fall in love. Originally published by Berkley Press. "Shay’s writing trademark is taking seemingly impossible relationships and developing them into classic tales of true love, which is what she does here." Fresh Fiction

Close To You
Follow brother-in-law of the vice president Aidan O’Neil and Secret Service Agent CJ Ludzecky as they travel the fine line between professional ethics and falling in love. Appearances by characters from Someone to Believe In. Originally published by Berkley Press "Kathryn Shay writes believable characters you can't help falling in love with." The Romance Reader Connection

Taking the Heat
If ever there was a mismatch, it’s staid, solid Liam O’Neil and risk-taking firefighter Sophie Tyler. When passion and eventually love consume them, there’s no denying their need to be together. Orig. pub. by Berkley Press. "Taking the Heat is an emotional roller coaster ride. Shay writes an emotion packed story that presents a realistic view of problems faced by female firefighters."

Stand alone books

Trust in Me (I reviewed this here. It made my list of top 10 reviews.)
As kids, the stockcar racing town of Glen Oaks called them The Outlaws, but no one knew the hoodlums on the streets would grow up to be upstanding citizens. Follow three couples as they struggle to find happiness as adults. Original publisher-Berkley Press. "This powerful tale of redemption, friendship and forgiveness shows again that Shay knows how to pack an emotional wallop." Booklist

Ties That Bind - this was fabulous!
When a former client accuses lawyer Reese Bishop and his divorced wife, Judge Kate Renado of misconduct, they must clear their names together. In the process, they fall in love again. Originally published by Berkley Press. "Shay has crafted a novel with an intriguing premise and, best of all, with two protagonists who unleash tons of conflict in their wake." RT Book Reviews

Promises to Keep - I adored Joe!!
By-the-book Secret Service Agent Joe Stonehouse is paired with rebel Agent Luke Ludzecky as they go undercover in a typical high school that has the potential to erupt in deadly violence. The two women they meet cause the situation to be even more explosive. Originally published by Berkley Press. "Kathryn Shay never disappoints." Lisa Gardner, NYT bestselling author

Thoughts on reading quantity vs quality

Every month when I do my reading roundup, I get comments on the number of books I read, and at least one person comments on how they need to get moving on their TBR because they haven't read nearly that amount. I have a different take on it.

I read because it's how I relax. I'm fortunate enough to have two very self-sufficient kids who are more than old enough to take care of themselves when I want to relax for an hour with a book. Plus, they are never home in the evenings, and stay up far later than me!

I'm also a very fast reader, and always have been. A category romance usually takes me about 2 hours to read. There have been vacations where I've read 4 categories in a single day. But my husband reads about a book a month. And he's good with that.

Having said all that...

I went through a period of several years where I hardly read at all. I was too busy with my kids, too busy with my job, too busy to interact with anyone, much less have time to sit around reading when the house needed to be cleaned, the dinner needed to be cooked, the laundry needed to be done, kids needed to go to play dates or one sport or another... oh, and a marriage to keep on the front burner. Sound familiar to anyone?

At some point in the last few years, I realized that I need to take some time for myself, and that makes all the other relationships easier to manage. Of course, it didn't hurt that my boss actually wrote it into my yearly goals that I needed to work less and take more family time. Cool boss, no? But it's an indication of the kind of time I was devoting to my job and not to my family or myself.

I never, ever pay attention to the number of books other people read. As long as they feel happy and are satisfied that they get some "me" time in their busy lives, then I think whatever they read is awesome. In addition to not paying attention, I also never compared my reading quantity to anyone else's. Yes, I missed reading. A lot. But I found ways to sneak some in.

When the kids hit a grade in school where extra reading became required, we had family reading time. Everyone would grab a book and we'd all sit in the family room and read for a half hour.

When sitting in the stands waiting for a baseball, basketball, football, volleyball (fill in your sport, although they all apply to me) game to start, I snuck in a few pages.

When I got to school to pick up my kids and I had 15 minutes to wait, I read a little.

I don't think a day has gone by when my kids haven't seen me with a book in my hands. But some of those days, I was lucky to fit in a chapter in total.

But back to the comparison thing... I love books. As I know all of you do. But I also love my family. As I know you all do (ok, your own family, not mine! But why don't you love mine?!). There's a time and a place for every priority. And once I stopped to realize I needed me time, I slowly began reading more. And the more I read, the more I realized how much I had missed losing myself in a great story. I also think that while I will finish out the year with my monthly wrap-ups, I doubt I'll do it again. I'm only going to review the books I felt strongly enough about. I don't need to track my reads, I've come to realize. I just need to know that I'm reading enough to make myself feel good.

So my hope for you is this: that you are able to read enough that you feel you've satisfied your "me" time - even if it meant that the dishes went undone until morning. That you feel good about taking the time for yourself, even if it meant that your child needed to entertain themselves for a half hour. (Honestly, that's ok. They need to learn how to do that, and they need to realize that while you love them more than anything, if you're happy, they're happy, too.) That you feel like you've done enough to recharge your batteries, even if it meant instead of watching TV with your hubby one evening, you buried your nose in a book.

Whatever it is, it's not about how many. It's about why you read, what you read, and making yourself happy.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

October roundup

October was one of those months where I didn't think I read a whole lot, but it turned out to be 25, bringing the year's total to 239. There were some very good reads this month; lots of 4.5 and a couple 5 star reads.

On a side note, does anyone else find it supremely annoying that you can't export a single bookshelf from Goodreads? You have to export your entire booklist. And sorting sucks, because they lump all your shelves for one title into a single cell. Anyway, just throwing that up the flagpole to see if anyone salutes.

It was an e-book bonanza for me this month -  I read 18 out of 25 books electronically. I keep thinking I want a new ebook reader. I still have an eBookwise, and adore the backlight, which is what stopped me from buying anything for a very long time, but it really is obsolete now. And I adore the versatility that reading on my phone gives me. I can read any format and I always have it wherever I am. Although I'm thinking that for vacations, a dedicated reader might still be nice, though.

One other thought, and that is on hero names. I had 2 reads this month where the hero's name threw me, simply because it didn't sound hero-like, or it was unusual. Yes, I admit it's totally shallow, but it bothers me. Anyone else?

Hey - it's election day! Make sure you get out and vote today.

So... Here's what I read last month:

Shaken by Dee Tenorio
. Goodreads rating: 5 stars.
Emotional. Deep. Heartbreaking. Raw. Uplifting. Shaken runs the gamut in an incredibly short format. Tenorio brings every parent's and spouse's worst fear to life and shows that it can be all right in the end. She writes with such depth of emotion it's impossible not to get caught up in it.

Zeke (Devils on Horseback, #3) by Beth Williamson. Goodreads rating: 5 stars.
This is a reread for me. The thing that struck me this time is that it's got to be incredibly difficult to make a slobbering drunk a hero and make him sympathetic, and still incredibly masculine. But Williamson manages it with Zeke. There's really not much else I can add to my original review. This series is must-read. You can read the original review I wrote here.

Just My Type (Bradfords #3) by Erin Nicholas. Goodreads rating: 3 stars.
I liked this entry in the Bradford siblings series, although I found it a bit more disjointed than the others. I thought Mac just needed to grow up and then admit that Sara had already grown up. For her part, Sara was the spoiled baby, and it took her a while to lose some of that and with that came maturity. If you like the series, go ahead. If it's your first book by Nicholas, start with #1 in the series.

Fair Game by Josh Lanyon. Goodreads rating: 4.5 stars.
As always, a wonderfully compelling read from Lanyon. Terrific characters and intensely intimate (as opposed to explicit).

Love Is Blind by Lynsay Sands. Goodreads rating: 4.5 stars.
Sweet, wonderful romance. It's not often that I adore both the hero and the heroine. They were sweet, adorable together and complemented each other perfectly.

A Season of Seduction (Tristan Family, #3) by Jennifer Haymore. Goodreads rating: 4.5 stars.
I loved Rebecca and Jack's story. Flat out loved it. I loved that she tried to empower herself by having an affair and that both their desires to keep their feelings in check backfired on them. Haymore has a wonderful voice.

Simply Irresistible (A Lucky Harbor Novel, #1) by Jill Shalvis. Goodreads rating: 4.5 stars.
Loved it. It was funny, touching, sweet, and hot all at the same time. As only Shalvis can do.

Lady Renegade by Carol Finch. Goodreads rating: 4 stars.
I really liked the byplay between Gideon and his brothers and sister-in-law. Also liked the banter between Gideon and Lori. But I didn't care for the way that Gideon was so mean to Lori for 1/2 the book. Although it *was* realistic in context. I guessed what really happened very early on in the book, but it was less about the mystery of whodunnit and more about the relationship growing between Lori & Gideon. I did think she was awfully sexually bold for an unmarried woman in her time. But there was enough that I really enjoyed to recommend it to western lovers.

Impulsive by HelenKay Dimon. Goodreads rating: 4 stars.
Another terrific read from Dimon. Another hero with hidden depths, a heroine who does a lot of growing up, and some understated silliness/humor. Dimon has hit just the right balance of all these things to make me happy. The last couple of books have had some darker elements to them. This one, not so much. I wouldn’t call it fluffy by any means, but it’s certainly a little more light-hearted than the last couple of books. Complete with her signature wit and terrific characters, it was a great read for me.

Sunrise Over Texas by M. Fredrick. Goodreads rating: 4 stars.
A really good western historical about the harsh realities of living on the frontier in the early 1800s and overcoming them. Although I wanted to smack the hero for a minute at the end, I understood where he was coming from.

Playing For Keeps by Shiloh Walker. Goodreads rating: 4.5 stars.
It's obvious that this book has huge personal meaning for Walker, and the part from the pregnancy on rings so true, it hurts to read. It's a very emotional book, and Walker shows her H/H on their way to happiness, and then snatches it out from beneath them. The 2nd half of the book is their journey to coming back together. As always, powerful and poignant.

A Hellion in Her Bed (Hellions of Halstead Hall, #2) by Sabrina Jeffries. Goodreads rating: 4 stars.
Another good entry in this series. Although thinking back on it, I don't remember feeling a huge powerful connection between the hero and heroine as I have in some other books, this still worked well for me. And truly, I don't recall ever not liking a Jeffries book.

Rakes & Radishes by Susanna Ives. Goodreads rating: 3 stars.
I found the heroine to be too selfish for my taste, but the hero went on a terrific journey of self-discovery.

Don't Cry by Beverly Barton. Goodreads rating: 4 stars.
I really liked this one. A TBI agent with an unruly teenage daughter meets a therapist who's up to her neck in a murder investigation. Nobody was perfect, but they all worked at improving their relationships. Heroine might have been a bit judgemental at first, but came around. The mystery was creepy enough to hold my interest.

Talking With The Dead by Shiloh Walker. Goodreads rating: 4 stars.
Shiloh Walker never shies away from the dark and this novel is no exception. Heavy on the ghosts, but it worked. A horrid childhood for two brothers plays out here, along with a small town sheriff thrown in. As always, Walker shines with the heavy emotions. There were a few holes, but Walker always manages to make it work for me anyway.

The Clayborne Brides: One Pink Rose, One White Rose, One Red Rose by Julie Garwood. Goodreads rating: 3.5 stars.
Definitely not my favorite Garwood. This is 3 stories about a trio of brothers, all intertwined with an overarching storyline. It was ok, but not totally compelling. I think that she does medievals so much better than Western historicals.

A Rogue's Pleasure by Hope Tarr. Goodreads rating: 3 stars.
A bit predictable, but enjoyable nonetheless. Plucky heroine, rakish hero and adventure.

Going Down (Holding out for a Hero, #1) by Shelli Stevens. Goodreads rating: 3.5 stars.
I liked the hero, his family, and the small town feel of the book. I had a moment's pause early on where it felt as though Tyson was using his position as sheriff to impose sex on Ellie, but I didn't see it again and that particular scene didn't play out that way either. My biggest complaint with the book was that they became engaged after about 2 weeks. It was awfully fast. But I did feel the connection, and felt Ellie begin to create relationships around town, so I let it all go for the most part. Tyson was really engaging, and Ellie was justified in her secrecy, given the short time frame of the book. I think much of my problem is with the short format. I don't read a lot of novellas, mostly because I want the long drawn out build up to a relationship. But boy howdy, am I looking forward to Tyson's brothers' stories. Even if they're also novellas.

Relentless (Heat) (Temptation, 841) by Leslie Kelly. Goodreads rating: 4 stars.
An older Temptation from Kelly. The heroine hears that her fiance only wants her for the money and prestige, and meets the hero immediately thereafter, not knowing that he was there when she made her discovery. Liked the premise, mostly because he felt bad about keeping things from her (it wasn't the "for your own good" thing that I hate so much), and liked both the hero and heroine. And boy, do I miss the Temptation line.

Loving Ranger (Men of S.W.A.T., #4) by J.C. Wilder. Goodreads rating: 3.5 stars.
JC Wilder's books are a little like candy for me. I always love them. I liked the idea of this story, but there were definite flaws in the execution. But like candy, I really didn't care. It was just fun to read. And the fun factor outweighs all the problems. Sissy's accent irritated me. I wondered how Jace explained his absence to his undercover boss. I wanted more on the outcome. The mean-ass FBI agents and cops seemed over the top. But still, it was fun to read and I ate it up. And like I felt after Cowboy's story, once again I'm looking forward to the next one.

Setting Him Free by Alexandra Marell. Goodreads rating: 3.5 stars.
This was a reread from ages ago. After being the only two survivors of a plane crash and spending a day together surviving, the hero and heroine decide to meet up at a later date to see if their relationship still feels right. Hero had some issues to work out, and I appreciated that they didn't become engaged after a day. I also liked the heroine.

Passion to Die For (Silhouette Romantic Suspense #1579) by Marilyn Pappano. Goodreads rating: 3 stars.
I had a really tough time with a hero named Tommy. Shallow? Yes. But there it is. I liked the premise, liked the background stories. I even understood why Ellie acted the way she did. But I had a hard time with how quickly her revelations made her feel worthy of love. I also had a hard time with who the villain was. It just seemed so unlikely and they were so devoid o feeling. It didn't quite sit right. Having said all that, what an interesting premise. And I do like Pappano's voice a lot as well.

The Wicked House of Rohan by Anne Stuart. Goodreads rating: 3 stars.
I liked the hero, but the heroine went from accepting her fate out of desperation to loving every second of it just like that, and that really irritated me. Many Stuart heroines teeter on the TSTL edge, and while she didn't necessarily do anything to endanger herself (other than offer herself up), I found her too-trusting nature to be pretty TSTL.

Overnight by E.C. Sheedy. Goodreads rating: 3.5 stars.
My heart broke for both Deanne and Julius (and really, his name threw me - who names a kid Julius these days?). They both had a hard time growing up, and their shared history made their connection that much stronger. I really liked how Deanne was honest with Julius about her connection to his family before they had sex, and that he didn't hold her responsible. I liked that Deanne made him look at himself and acknowledge his fear of getting close again. Which made her transformation to her "new self" that much stronger.

What I didn't care for so much was the side story with Kurt. Whether it's because I have high school boys myself or just that I didn't care for their total villainous characters with no redeeming qualities (although some of them did second guess what they were doing) I'm not sure. Maybe I just don't want to acknowledge that boys can be that cruel at that age even though I know it to be the truth, and a rather likely truth at that. I think what blew the scenario for me was their willingness to use guns. That seemed the piece that blew it over the top for me. Plus, it did seem a bit of a contrived plot to make the hero realize how much he loved the heroine.

Overall, I enjoyed the story very much, and thought the dialogue between Julius and Deanne was what pulled the story together for me.

Once a Ranger by Carrie Weaver. Goodreads rating: 2 stars.
A disappointing read from my favorite line, HSR. I found Kat to be wishy washy, the villain to be stereotypical, and the ending to be too quick.

Don't Cry by Beverly Barton

Nowhere To Run
The crime scenes are horrifying: the victims arranged with deliberate care, posed to appear alive despite their agonized last moments and the shocking nature of their deaths.

No Place To Hide
Chattanooga grief counselor Audrey Sherrod moonlights for the local police. It-s clear to her, and to Special Agent J.D. Cass, that the murders are the work of a deranged serial killer. At first, the only link is the victims- similar physical appearance. But then another connection emerges, tying them to a long-ago series of horrifying crimes Audrey hoped would never resurface - crimes that hit all too close to home.

No Time To Cry
Each grisly new discovery proves the past has not been forgotten, and the worst is yet to come. Audrey went looking for the truth and she's about to find it-and it will be more twisted and more terrifying than she ever imagined.

I really liked this one. I thought the relationship between JD and his daughter was realistic and great. I liked that Audrey wasn't perfect - she judged JD and found him wanting, but I could see that it was a defense mechanism against her attraction. Even though it did come off as a bit judgmental. The relationships between Audrey and the men in her family was riveting to me. I thought Barton did a great job of showing how tragedy has long-term effects on a family.

The mystery was creepy enough to hold my interest. And although I guessed the whodunnit fairly early, it still worked for me.

Just a couple quibbles. I wasn't happy with the outcome for Audrey's brother. Although I understood why she wrote it the way she did, I didn't like the way it played out. And am I the only person who thinks that Barton is a closet Wayne's World fan? The two cop brothers-in-law, Wayne and Garth? I kept hearing "party on" in my head the whole time, LOL.

Anyway, a very solid entry from Barton. And I read she's writing another story for Audrey and JD. Hmmmm. Will be on the lookout for that one.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Rakes and Radishes by Susanna Ives

When Henrietta Watson learns that the man she loves plans to marry London's most beautiful and fashionable debutante, she plots to win him back. She'll give him some competition by transforming her boring bumpkin neighbor, the Earl of Kesseley, into a rakish gothic hero worthy of this Season's Diamond.

After years of unrequited love for Henrietta, Kesseley is resigned to go along with her plan and woo himself a willing bride. But once in London, everything changes. Kesseley-long more concerned with his land than his title-discovers that he's interested in sowing wild oats as well as radishes. And Henrietta realizes that gothic heroes don't make ideal husbands. Despite an explosive kiss that opens her eyes to the love that's been in front of her all along, Henrietta must face the possibility that Kesseley is no longer looking to marry at all

This book felt like two distinct books. In the first part, Henrietta comes across to me as particularly whiny and selfish. Everything is all about her, and she gives little thought to how her actions or words affect her closest friend, Thomas. Thomas has been in love with Henrietta forever, and while I admired his thoughtful nature, he was a bit of a wuss where she was concerned, frequently declaring his love when he was rebuffed at every turn. I wanted to see him tell her to get lost, and go find himself someone else to love.

The second half occurs when Thomas realizes she's never going to be his, and he becomes like his father, being a rake and sleeping around. Which opened another can of worms for me, since he was in love with Henrietta, and slept with anything that moved. Henrietta still comes across as immature and a bit selfish for the rest of the book.

Thomas' mother, at first despises Henrietta because she's broken Thomas' heart one too many times, but halfway into their London stay, all of a sudden they are best friends. That seemed an abrupt change that I didn't understand.

Once Thomas and Henrietta do get together, the purple prose he spouted was a bit on the nauseating side.
"Nothing's amusing, my beautiful, dearest wife whom I desire more than life."

"Come here, my lover who can see the light in the darkness", Kesseley whispered, laying his wife's head on his heart. "Let me feel you."

Also, the editor should have caught the whole "laying his wife's head on his heart" bit. I pictured him tarking her beheaded head and laying it down. Just me? Dunno. The crazy thing is that the writing wasn't like this during the rest of the book. It's almost as if two different people wrote this book.

What Ives did do very well was to contrast the country life with the depravity of London. She doesn't shy away from showing the lifestyle and the more Thomas immerses himself in it, the more his disgust with himself grows until he comes full circle and realizes that's not the life he wants.

Overall, there was a lot going on here, between Henrietta's unrequited love for her cousin, her father's colleague's unrequited love for Henrietta, Thomas' unrequited love for her and then her love for him while he turns her away. I think it tried to do too much, and while I enjoyed the writing for the most part (purple prose aside), my dislike for the heroine's selfishness and utter self-absorption kept me from fully enjoying this book.
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