Wrong email address or username
Wrong email address or username
Incorrect verification code
back to top
Search tags: Literary-criticism-
Load new posts () and activity
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2018-12-08 04:20
Reading progress update: I've read 7%. And I can't read any more
Taming A Duke's Reckless Heart: Victorian Historical Romance - Tammy Andresen

(Prior reports linked at the end.)


I really tried.  I kept telling myself there would be a story, a romance, that I could read and review.  Somehow I would be able to set aside the problems and read the book.  But it's not going to happen.


Piper and her mother are set upon by thieves/kidnappers, but they are rescued by our caped hero, who turns out to be the Barrett Maddox, 6th Duke of Manchester.  What he's doing in Boston we don't know yet.


He rescues Piper, almost kisses her, then discovers she is with her mother.  He suggests/invites them to join him sailing to New York.


Here's where things about the writing just got really, really bad.


First, we don't know what an English Duke is doing in Boston.  Dukes have responsibilities that they can't just up and leave for extended periods of time.


Second, we learn that Piper's mother used to be "Lady Carolyn Vesser," but not how that title applied to her.  Is she an earl's daughter?  Why would she have left England and married an American in the 1830s?


Third, the original implication is that the duke is sailing on the same ship, the Maria, as Piper and her mother.  When Piper asks him where he is taking them,


“To the Maria.” He paused as his eyes drank her in again. “Although it’s an awful ship. I am travelling to New York as well, and you could both travel with me. You would, most assuredly, be safer.”

Andresen, Tammy. Taming A Duke's Reckless Heart: Taming the Duke's Heart (Taming the Heart Book 1) (p. 9). Kindle Edition.


A few pages later, however, we learn that he has led them -- distance not described -- to his own "boat."


“Lady Vesser, why don’t I send a note to the Maria that you will be travelling with us tonight? My boat is right here and I am sure you will be more comfortable.”

Andresen, Tammy. Taming A Duke's Reckless Heart: Taming the Duke's Heart (Taming the Heart Book 1) (p. 10). Kindle Edition.


Fourth, there are a couple references to Piper's cleavage.  She tries to cover it and Maddox's eyes travel to it.  I'm just not comfortable thinking that a well-bred young woman traveling from Boston to New York in 1854 would be wearing something that bares her bosom.  Even though it's May, the weather in the evening might be cool, and it almost certainly will be once they're at sea, so shouldn't she have some kind of cloak or cape or other covering?


Fifth, there is the matter of their luggage.  These two women are essentially moving to New York, so they have trunks.  TRUNKS.  Only one apiece?  Or more?  Oh, who knows?  The author isn't specific, and she just has the driver of the carriage pick up both trunks and carry them to the bottom of the gangplank to Maddox's "boat." 


Sixth, we get this nonsense about peerage titles, something that drives me up the ever-loving wall.


Piper and her mother are going to New York to visit (or live with?) Piper's cousin Sybil, who has already been referred to as "Lady Fairfield."


But now, in the company of the duke, Mrs. Baker says:


". . . Piper, I was girlhood friends with Mr. Maddox’s mother, Lady Priscilla Fairfield Maddox. Now the Duchess, of course."

Andresen, Tammy. Taming A Duke's Reckless Heart: Taming the Duke's Heart (Taming the Heart Book 1) (pp. 11-12). Kindle Edition.


I thought I had misread something, but later on that same page, Piper replies to a question about having family in England:


“Yes, of course,” she replied. “Actually my cousin, Lady Sybil Fairfield, Viscountess of Abberforth, is waiting for us in New York.”

Andresen, Tammy. Taming A Duke's Reckless Heart: Taming the Duke's Heart (Taming the Heart Book 1) (p. 12). Kindle Edition.


The same family name????  And a viscount is never "of" something.  Viscount Abberforth would be the correct form.


Okay, that's bad enough.  But how is Sybil a viscountess?  She's already been described as being in desperate need of a husband, so we know she's not married to the viscount.  If she's the daughter of the viscount Abberforth, we know he's dead because that's already been established, too.


Her cousin, Sybil, also needed to marry but had yet to choose a suitor. A sigh escaped her lips to think of her cousin. Beautiful and titled, she supposed most women would be jealous of Sybil, but Piper knew the truth. After the death of her parents, Sybil felt weighed down with responsibility. She was having difficulty running the estate.

Andresen, Tammy. Taming A Duke's Reckless Heart: Taming the Duke's Heart (Taming the Heart Book 1) (p. 2). Kindle Edition.


If her father the viscount died without a male heir, the title would have gone to another male such as a nephew.  In the absence of a direct male heir, the title would have gone in abeyance or reverted to the crown.  The idea of Sybil, a young woman in America, being given a title in her own right is utterly implausible. 


And what is this business of running an estate?  In New York?  Rural New York, perhaps, but the implication is New York City, since Piper is counting on Sybil's ability to introduce her to New York society.


Furthermore, while Mrs. Baker may have given up her own title when she married an American, she would not not NOT have referred to His Grace the Duke of Manchester as "Mr. Maddox." Never, never, never.  If there is an explanation for this, it needs to come at the spot the event happens, not more pages into the book.


Once again, the point is to make the pages disappear so the reader is lost in the story, not wondering why there are all these unexplained anomalies.


Eighth -- the overall effect.


The pacing is completely off.  The opening scene does nothing to set the plot in motion; all it really does is raise questions.  When Piper and her mother go to the docks to board their ship, there's still not enough explanation.  And there's no description at all!  I don't know what Piper looks like.  I don't know what kind of night it is.  Warm?  Breezy?  How does the air smell in the harbor area?  We get some of Piper's reactions to being touched by the duke, but it's kind of silly description.  Her heart is pounding.  Something happens to her nerves.  It's beyond clichéd.


This is one of those books that might have a decent romance plot buried in the garbage, but it desperately needs competent editing.  It needs to be fleshed out with good description, reasonable background development, and for the love of Queen Victoria, some historical research!


DNF, because I refuse to waste any more time on this piece of crap.












Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
text 2018-12-07 05:17
Reading progress update: I've read 5%.
Taming A Duke's Reckless Heart: Victorian Historical Romance - Tammy Andresen

His dark hair was neatly tied back despite the struggle.

Andresen, Tammy. Taming A Duke's Reckless Heart: Taming the Duke's Heart (Taming the Heart Book 1) (p. 7). Kindle Edition.




“Where are you going in this section of town at this time of night?” his rough voice grated out.

Andresen, Tammy. Taming A Duke's Reckless Heart: Taming the Duke's Heart (Taming the Heart Book 1) (p. 7). Kindle Edition.




He quirked a small smile and Piper actually gasped.

Andresen, Tammy. Taming A Duke's Reckless Heart: Taming the Duke's Heart (Taming the Heart Book 1) (p. 7). Kindle Edition.




Yes.  One page. 


And I didn't even copy all the times and places their eyes -- hers as well as his -- went wandering off by themselves.



But it has 88 reviews on Amazon, and 83% of them are four and five stars.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
text 2018-12-07 01:00
Reading progress update: I've read 4%. I'm not sure I can continue
Taming A Duke's Reckless Heart: Victorian Historical Romance - Tammy Andresen

It has 88 reviews on Amazon, with a 4.3 star average.  A single one-star rating.  I didn't look at Goodreads.


Nearly every paragraph has me rolling my eyes. That's not the way to enjoy reading a book.


The ship Piper and her mother are to take from Boston to New York is berthed in a "questionable" neighborhood.  Hello?  Most docks in most harbors are not  located in fashionable areas.  This is just stupid writing.


Mr. Abbott doesn't accompany them - pretty suspicious in itself - when these two ladies are to board the vessel sailing at night.  Are they traveling through the city at night alone?  Ew, the guy is slime, but Piper and her mother should have known not to go along with this.  It's stupid.  Characters should not be stupid.


The carriage in which they are riding is set upon by ruffians.  In the middle of the city?  IN the harbor area?  Shouldn't there be some kind of law enforcement?  Even if the driver is in cahoots with the robbers, this is awfully brazen.


But never fear!  Along comes the caped rider on the great big horse, pulls two pistols from his felt and dispatches all the miscreants.


Oh, give me a fucking break!


It's not that this sort of drama isn't ever seen in historical romance.  It is, and frequently.  Sometimes it's done well.  This is not one of those times.


There's no set-up for this kind of cartoon rescue.  Piper's situation isn't developed sufficiently for her being in this kind of risk.  We still don't even know what she looks like!  The only information about her is that she's nineteen years old and apparently drop dead gorgeous because all the men are drooling after her.


Who is this Mr. Abbott?  Why is he so skeevy as to let the women ride out alone?  Supposedly he has "business" to take care of.  At night?  How are the ladies to get their luggage on the ship by themselves?


The lack of introductory action is bad enough, but what makes it worse is that the author could have used that exposition to give better background. 


And the reference to a "British accent" was a knockdown of two points.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
text 2018-12-06 19:30
Reading progress update: I've read 2%.
Taming A Duke's Reckless Heart: Victorian Historical Romance - Tammy Andresen

So I pick up the Kindle to start reading more and the first thing I read is this:


Piper’s opinion of Mr. Abbott did not improve as their carriage headed to the docks. First, this ship was in a rather questionable area of the city. Second, he had last-minute business and had left the two women to find their own way. He said he would join them on the boat.

Andresen, Tammy. Taming A Duke's Reckless Heart: Taming the Duke's Heart (Taming the Heart Book 1) (p. 4). Kindle Edition.



Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
text 2018-12-06 17:56
Reading progress update: I've read 2%. Not a DNF yet, but gettin' close.
Taming A Duke's Reckless Heart: Victorian Historical Romance - Tammy Andresen

I switched reading devices, and the little Kindle only shows percentage read.  So that's why the change.


At the 2% mark, I've read approximately the first chapter or section or whatever, and I think I've pinpointed the main problem, along with a lot of smaller ones.


This project would never have survived any critique group of which I was ever a member.  It's that bad.


The main problem is . . . nothing happens. 


As Shelly Lowenkopf wrote in "Creating a Rejection-Resistant Novel,"  the author has about three pages in which to engage the reader's interest.  Something has to happen, something that threatens the main character or otherwise prompts them to take action.


Start with important action.  Involve someone of consequence in an event of consequence or with a threat of significant impact.  A major complaint among editors . . . : Nothing happens.  Make sure something happens in your opening, even if it is only an artful promise that something momentous is building and will explode soon.


Piper is sitting on the couch at the Senator's house.  She's surrounded by admiring men.  It's supposed to be a party, but there's no party atmosphere.  We don't know why she's at the Senator's house.  We don't know why she's just sitting there with all these men.  She's bored and not doing anything, but she's also desperate.  She is aware she's beautiful, that she is able to snare any man she wants.  But she wants a challenge.


What kind of challenge?  A man she wants but who doesn't want her?  A man she has to expend some effort to win?  Then she's not really desperate, is she.


She pauses in her boredom and desperation to think about her cousin, Sybil, Lady Fairchild, who is beautiful and also desperate.  If there is any conversation going on around Piper while she muses about her desperate, beloved cousin, the reader isn't made aware of it.  Finally, Piper gets bored enough to leave, reminding all her suitors (the word is used far too often) that she is leaving for New York the next day.  That's when we learn her mother is there, too.


Piper and her mother go to Piper's room.  Still no explanation for why she is at the Senator's home.  Now we get the information that Piper and her mother are sailing to New York the following evening, taking a "later tide" because it's cheaper.  Piper's wardrobe is slightly out of date, which may cause problems when she tries to get into New York society.  She hopes her orphaned -- but titled?? -- cousin will facilitate her entry into the world of potential husbands.


From this first little bit, the reader gets a hint that Piper is in some financial difficulty, but that rather than select a wealthy husband from all the men paying court to her, she chooses to spend time and money going to New York.  Her problem, therefore, is at least partly of her own making.  There are solutions to her plight available, but she's not taking them.


As a reader, we have less sympathy for someone like Piper, with her beautiful trill of a laugh and her habit of snaring men and then discarding them, than we would for a character who finds herself or himself in economic straits due to circumstances beyond their control.


That's the major structural problem.  Nothing happens, and as a result I just don't care about Piper.  Even at the end of the scene, where she muses about finding a man who will take care of both her and her mother, I just plain don't care.  There are probably two or three or more men amongst the gathering in the Senator's parlor who could do that, but that's not enough for Piper.  She's definitely not desperate enough.


The writing is adequate, but not good.  Maybe a C-minus?  D-plus?  As mentioned above, the word "suitor" is used far too often, to the point that every time I read it, I heard bells.  I don't want to hear bells!  I want to hear voices and the swish of elegant gowns and the crackle of fire and the snort of horses and the rattle of carriage wheels on cobblestones.  There was very little -- indeed, if any -- description in this opening.  Not of the setting, not of the characters.  Telling the reader it's 1854 Boston isn't enough, not by a long shot.


In fact, most of the narrative is far too much telling and almost no showing.  Where there could have been dialogue, there was the author telling the reader what Piper was thinking.  This improved slightly when Piper and her mother discussed the voyage to New York, but by then it was too little, too late, and not particularly well done.


As written above, this project would not have made it through a first reading at any of the critique groups I've been in over the past 40 years or so.  Nothing happens, there's no description, the main character isn't likable.  But readers today don't seem to care.


I still care.

More posts
Your Dashboard view:
Need help?