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review 2017-08-22 08:44
Review: Butterfly Swords by Jeannie Lin
[(Butterfly Swords)] [By (author) Jeannie Lin] published on (October, 2010) - Jeannie Lin

This is Lin's first book. If I had read this before reading the other books or novellas in the series, I would have never read another book from her. This was a rough slog reading. At the 85% mark, I basically skimmed multiple paragraphs at a time just to get to the end.

 

This is the story of An Li, only daughter to Emperor Shen. She ran from her arranged marriage prior to the wedding because she had reason to believe her husband to be killed her brother. An Li thinks she is a badass, but she comes across as a complete dumbass. She is also an impulsive, immature spoiled brat known to throw down some temper tantrums and had the worst mood swings. She is supposedly skilled with swords, but there were more times she was a loser in a fight and needing rescuing. She escaped a lot of dicey situations in the first half of the book by throwing money around; when she lost her money she was basically useless. She was also very vaguely drawn; it wasn't until the second half of the book we get a detail about her eye color.

 

The hero of this mess is Ryam (no last name, which speaks volumes about the attention to detail the book gives the character development). Ryam is a "barbarian" wandering around the wrong side of the empire and is starting to make his way back home on the western frontier just beyond the empire when he encounters An Li, dressed as a boy traveling with a group of men. Of course, Ryam senses that An Li is really a female due to her curves...sure. An Li requests Ryam's help in getting her back to Changan, capital of the empire, and to her family so she can reveal her groom's nasty dealings to the court. For no reason whatsoever, Ryam agrees to help.

 

There is a lot of walking in the woods and talk about the empire in the first half of the book. I guess this is to established the bond between An Li and Ryam, but it was so boring and repetitive. Once in Changan, a mere 3 days is used to isolate An Li from her family (that she talked about So Much during the walking in the woods) and raise some political intrigue. Ryam did his duty and he left the city after collecting his pay. This lasts for approximately 10% of the book, then An Li runs away again, this time for her family's home in Longyou. Along the way she meets Ryam again and he agrees to accompany her on her trip home. At least this time they took horses.

 

At home in Longyou, An Li and Ryam act on their pants feelings for each other and the reader gets treated to long repetitive "is this love what I am feeling" monologues. An Li's groom is not happy with her dismissal and he tracks the couple throughout the book without being actually anywhere near them. He is mentioned about 25000 times and how he is a "bad man." An Li does not get the warm welcome home she expected by her brother (who remained in the mountain home to take on a job), so she and Ryam run away, AGAIN, to Ryam's home on the frontier. It is here in Yumen Guan (Jade Gate) that groom finds bride and lots of fighting begins, along with a kidnapping. Ryam goes after An Li and her kidnappers and we get a long, boring bloody showdown between groom and hero. In the end, the groom decides to let An Li go because she is not worth all this damn trouble. Emperor Shen, who witnessed the showdown and experienced An Li's constant running away, decides she is not worth the trouble either and gives Ryam the job being occupied by the brother and the couple gets the mountain home. Ryam also gets to use Shen for a last name. Emperor Shen doesn't care, he just wants An Li out of his hair.

 

So the "bad man" groom is the hero in the next book which tells you everything. Paper tiger fed by An Li's hysterics.

 

 

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text 2017-08-21 21:13
Oh No, Another Walking Tour of China
[(Butterfly Swords)] [By (author) Jeannie Lin] published on (October, 2010) - Jeannie Lin

The book starts out with a trip from the southern province to Changan. It takes the MCs to the 50% to get to Changan. Then at 60% they are on another trip, this time to Longyou. All by foot/horse/sometimes cart. A whole lot of walking and nothing else. And I don't like either MC. I'm drinking my last bottle of hard cider (I finished off the whiskey reading the historical romances over the weekend). All I have left is a bottle of grapple and lemonade.

 

Hubby is TDY this week and has the ration card. :(

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review 2017-08-21 12:55
Review: The Bootlegger's Daughter by Lauri Robinson
The Bootlegger's Daughter (Daughters of the Roaring Twenties) - Lauri Robinson

*sigh* I should have DNF at 30%, but I already DNF'd two other books on my COYER reading list and didn't want to start a trend.

 

Norma Rose Nightingale was an unlikeable heroine - cold, unforgiving, mean. She wasn't that great of a business woman, even though the reader is told over and over again how the resort turned in massive profits due to her work. She was a caricature of the "hard dame" type of woman of the Jazz Age. Although she was smart and had opinions about Prohibition failing which turned true, she was pretty dumb when it came to people. Tyler Bradshaw wasn't much better - he had a single mission that gave him all the motivation for everything he did. Both had tragic back stories that rang false (Norma Rose doesn't want to nurse anyone if they are sick because she had to take care of her dead mother and brother during the Spanish flu outbreak; Tyler had his family massacred by the mobster he is searching for at the resort).

 

The plotline and scenes were really disjointed; the author seemed not to understand the balance of suspense and romance. Plot threads were brought up and drop with frequency. The whole point of the plot was for Tyler to bring Ray Bodine to justice....and the reader got one paragraph about how Tyler took him done after the fact. This was the major plot line, the whole reason for Tyler to be there at the resort in the first place, and it was resolved away from the resort and with no details. The ending was very abrupt and unsatisfying.

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review 2017-08-20 13:14
Review: Emma and the Outlaw (Orphan Train #2) by Linda Lael Miller
Emma And The Outlaw - Linda Lael Miller

The cover attached to this review is for the original book, published in 1991. I read the 2014 reprint.

 

Emma Chalmers is a seven year old girl who, along with her two sisters Caroline and Lucy, are sent on the orphan train by their biological mother at the request of the mother's newest lover. Caroline is adopted first, leaving Emma and Lucy to continue on the train west. Emma is adopted by a woman who is hoping to get a free domestic servant for her household and possible sexual servant for her husband. Lucy continues on the train west. Emma is rescued at the train station by Chloe, a brother. and saloon owner who wanted a daughter and paid off the vile woman. Emma ends up in a nice home and has a good upbringing.

 

Chloe decides to open up a public lending library so Emma has a job after coming home from normal school (teachers' college). Even though Emma loves and defends Chloe, Emma also wants respectability. She feels her life is stained twice over with a biological mother who was weak for men and brandy and being the daughter of the local madam. Hence her courtship with Fulton Whitney, the banker; yet he leaves her cold. Emma hasn't given up on the dream of re-connecting with her sisters.

 

One day, a drunk decides to celebrate his birthday by bringing a stick of dynamite into another saloon and an explosion leaves many saloon patrons injured. One of those patrons is Steven Fairfax, a former Confederate soldier and an outlaw wanted in his home state of Louisiana. Chloe takes Steven into her home so that he can heal; Emma does nurse him back to health in between shifts at the library. There is a lot of lust from Steven's side already. A few days of nursing and they are having make out sessions. Steven decides to stay in Whitneyville and court Emma, Fulton be damned. Emma decides to play Steven against Fulton so she can be rid of both of them, but ends up falling for Steven.

 

Once the sex starts between Steven and Emma it doesn't stop. EVERY CHAPTER after Steven takes Emma's v-card in a field of daisies has at least one sex scene. Steven really likes Emma's breasts;  so much nipple sucking and licking. Seriously after a while, the sex scenes were just repetitive nonsense.

 

Macon, Steven's half-brother and technically the real villain (although Fulton gives that role a real shot), is searching for Steven so he can bring Steven back to New Orleans to stand trial for the murder of Dirk (Macon's bastard son) and Mary McCall (Dirk's lover who wanted Steven....it's complicated). Macon uses Emma to get to Steven; they travel back to New Orleans, more family secrets are discovered, Macon repeatedly promises that he will rape Emma over and over again after Steven is hanged for his crimes, Macon actually attempts to rape Emma while the rest of the family is at Steven's trial, Lucy (Macon's wife) mental illness....Old skool romance crazy sauce is HIGH in this book. Being a romance, the true killer is found, Steven is cleared of all charges, Emma has a baby, finds one of her sisters, and Macon takes off for Europe.

 

Daisy, the African-American cook and house cleaner that works in Chloe's household is the only POC character that is treated with respect. The Fairfax plantation owners treat it's household help as if blacks were still slaves. Emma is the only one to show any respect for the workers. A few black characters are physically described by their hair and size/whiteness of their teeth. The black servants of other households in New Orleans were also given a crappy hand; the one black servant to the McCall family goes home to her husband who is the epitome of black angry man and abuser. And then there is this gem, courtesy of Lucy Fairfax:

 

"Please tell Miss McCall that Mrs. Macon Fairfax and Mrs. Steven Fairfax have come to pay a visit," Lucy said in a business-like tone that belied her odd ways. "And kindly don't leave us standing out here in the midday sun while you dillydally."

The woman hurried away, and Lucy turned to Emma and confided "You must be firm with people of color. After being told what to do for so long, they can't always be trusted to reason for themselves." (pg. 305)

 

It was at that moment that the book became intimately acquainted with the wall opposite my reading chair. Reminder: this book was published in 1991.....not 1891. Memo to publishers/authors: before reprinting old romances, revise/update/edit the fuck out some shit that you got away with earlier, for modern readers are going to red flag that shit. Between the racism and the constant verbal rape threats/real sexual assaults by Macon and Fulton on Emma, I started to become sick and couldn't wait for the book to end (I was curious about the killer's identity).

 

Maybe it's just bad timing reading this book after the IRL events of the last couple of weeks, but the bitterness held by the Southern characters over the Civil War was the last thing that I needed. Not a book I can recommend.

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review 2017-08-14 13:32
Review: A Promise by Daylight by Alison DeLaine
A Promise by Daylight (Hqn) - Alison DeLaine

DNF at 35%

 

Reasons:

1. The heroine is doing a half-ass job of disguising herself as a man. No voice alteration, no alterations in movement, just clothes and a prosthetic penis that is way too big for her body or to be believable. The hero knew from the jump she wasn't a man because of the bulge.

 

2. The hero is a creep; he went into a secret room so he could watch the heroine take a bath in her dressing room.

 

3. Hero is Over The Top Rake - everything is sex with him and its at the point I think he has a sex addiction.

 

4. Heroine is hoping that indulging in his sex addiction, the hero would be heading back to Greece (his original destination, before the accident in Paris); the reason she took the job was that this was her free trip to Greece, where she could go to surgeon's school. Since the duke decided to return to England instead, she is hoping that a parade of women would improve his mood enough to head back to Greece so he can indulge more kinky stuff. Hero really likes his orgies. Heroine does not care about hero's health, she just wants a free ride and wages to pay for school.

 

5. Hero's man servants are pissed that the hero hasn't been up to his usual orgies and they haven't gotten any of his sloppy seconds or willing traveling maids of hero's visitors. The man servants (Harris and Sacks) are just gross, especially in their conversations with the heroine (who they think is a like-minded male).

 

6. All the female characters in this book are only mentioned in their purpose of satisfying the hero. There is the stereotype of Parisian and Spanish women being slutty and objectifying on a absurd level. The only woman character to come out as anything but a fuck toy is (OF COURSE) the English heroine.

 

7. It is set in Georgian England, but you wouldn't know that because there are NO period details whatsoever. I guess that would take away from the SEX! SEX! SEX! details.

 

Give this a hard pass.

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