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review 2016-01-22 04:04
Just Finished Reactions: At Your Pleasure by Meredith Duran
At Your Pleasure - Meredith Duran

This was my decision for the return flight today and I was a bit disappointed. This is my second Duran book and I absolutely loved The Duke of Shadows, so I sort of had high hopes for this one. 


Duran has a remarkable knack for setting and place. My favorite part of this book was the setting. Queen Anne has just died and the country is in turmoil with the new King shaking up the government. Then there are the Jacobites trying to get a Catholic king. It's a cool point in history to set a romance novel and one that we don't often see. 


But there was something lacking for me with the characters. I just could not connect with them, nor empathize with them, nor really care about them, which of course in a book primarily about the romance is problematic. Nora was just frustrating and Adrian so confusing. I feel like I missed part of their story with the majority of the events being told to me as they had happened in the past or off page. 


I saw a lot of telling not showing in the book. And while I liked it in the historical sense, I really disliked it in the romance sense. 

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text 2013-12-26 14:52
2013 Reading Review: Best Historical Romance
The Heiress Effect - Courtney Milan
Any Duchess Will Do - Tessa Dare
No Good Duke Goes Unpunished - Sarah MacLean
At Your Pleasure - Meredith Duran
The Perils of Pleasure - Julie Anne Long
Almost a Scandal - Elizabeth Essex

Taking a leaf from Tackling Mt. TBR's book, I'm reflecting on some of the best books I read this year. (Not all of them were new this year; some were just new-to-me.) I had a good year for reading: the bright side to being put on bed rest for the last weeks of my pregnancy meant that I had plenty of time to read back in February and March. These are the historicals I liked best this year, in no particular order:


Courtney Milan's The Heiress Effect -- I loved that the main characters were both sympathetic, moral people trying to do their best for others, even when that meant putting others' interests above their own. I also loved that they were not aristocrats, but rather of the middle class. I get tired of all the dukes and earls and countesses that populate historical romance, as if happy ever afters were the exclusive province of the aristocracy. 


Tessa Dare's Any Duchess Will Do -- This is a delightful retelling of the Pygmalian story, and I love the pragmatic way that it deals with class issues. Plus, the heroine is awesome. 


Sarah MacLean's No Good Duke Goes Unpunished -- This is a gripping, unputdownable story. I was utterly transported. 


Meredith Duran's At Your Pleasure -- I didn't write a review of this at the time, so unfortunately my memory of it isn't great, but I remember I loved it. It's set in 1715, earlier than most British historicals, and the conflict between the protagonists isn't class or social position but religion/politics. The heroine and her family are Tories loyal to the Stuart king (James of Scotland); the hero is an ex-Catholic loyal to the new Hanoverian crown. The unique setting and conflict allowed Duran to make the forbidden love and second chance romance tropes feel fresh, and I gave this book 5 stars (which I almost never do). 


Julie Anne Long's The Perils of Pleasure -- I love this book for the heroine, Madeline Greenway, who is one of my favorite historical romance characters ever. 


Elizabeth Essex's Almost a Scandal -- Others probably won't love this book as much as I did, but it hit all my sweet spots. I am a sucker for boats and nautical history, and also for a good forbidden love trope, and this book managed the cross-dressing heroine trope in a way that wasn't ridiculous. Well, not entirely ridiculous. Anyway, it worked for me. A lot. 


Postscript: As I added the book covers to this post, I was amused beyond words to find that all of these books feature jewel-toned covers of women in gowns, fully half of them green. How nicely they coordinate! This is entirely a coincidence, and not a statement on my reading tastes -- especially since I read on my kindle app and barely pay any attention to book covers. 


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review 2013-11-28 00:00
At Your Pleasure
At Your Pleasure - Meredith Duran 3.5
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review 2013-07-12 00:00
Meredith Duran's "At Your Pleasure"
At Your Pleasure - Meredith Duran

Fabulous. Terrific story, lots of interesting historical details, amazing hero and heroine.

Even though the heroine's brother starts out as an ass in this story, by the end he has realized his faults and is an interesting character in the last part of the book. Maybe he'll get his own romance ...

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review 2012-11-13 00:00
At Your Pleasure - Meredith Duran I've been accustomed to expecting a pretty good emotional wringing from Meredith Duran's work (though to be fair I've only read one of her other books, but I liked it well enough!). I expected that at some point I would need to fan myself a little, too. These are the things I want in a romance novel: the urge to sigh and the urge to cry.

Unfortunately, At Your Pleasure didn't deliver. The character development actually lost me at some point, and I was left floundering in paragraphs describing all sorts of feelings that made no sense whatsoever, and not because I am a robot. I'm not, really.

And I'm not even going to mention the plethora of consent issues. At some point all the promise of this book withered away and I just kept on going with it because I can't bear leaving books unfinished.

I was pretty close to giving this a rating of two stars, but the writing was fair, even if the character development was less so, so three it is. Meredith Duran's very well-turned prose earns that extra star.
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