Wrong email address or username
Wrong email address or username
Incorrect verification code
back to top
Search tags: Marriage-of-ConvenienceArranged-Marriage
Load new posts () and activity
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2014-05-05 13:12
Hero with Self Esteem Issues
Beauty and the Beast - Hannah Howell

This book might have the beta-est beta hero ever, notwithstanding the fact that he's a fierce medieval knight who wields a broadsword, leads a band of loyal men, and is undefeated on the battlefield: despite all that, he's got serious self-esteem issues. Thayer has lots of battle scars, plus he's a freckled ginger, all of which combine to make him--in his own mind at least--the "Beast" of this book's title. I've never encountered a romance hero so obsessed with, and so insecure about, his own appearance... and it did not go over well.


Thayer returns home from battles in France to attend the wedding of his cousin, the heir to Seitun Manor, only tor learn that his cousin is dead and according to the terms of the marriage contract, Thayer himself is now heir to the Manor and to the late cousin's bride-to-be, the prodigiously beautiful Gytha. Rather than greeting this arranged marriage with joy, Thayer gets butthurt because Gytha's beauty means he'll spend his whole life chasing lovesick swains out of his wife's bed... because all pretty girls are cheaters, of course. 


After some sexy times and near misses on the battlefield, Thayer and Gytha fall in love, but neither wants to tell the other because ... reasons. Plus, Thayer still doesn't trust Gytha's chastity, never mind that she's never given him any reason to doubt her, and his inability to believe that a beautiful woman would hitch her wagon to his star nearly unravels their marital felicity... that, and Thayer's uncle keeps trying to kill him, which also puts a damper on things.


Time passes, Gytha almost gets raped, gets kidnapped, almost gets raped again, Thayer rescues her and defeats the dastardly uncle... and then, just when you think the story is wrapping up, there's a surprise plot twist that makes it all too clear that Thayer still doesn't know what the fuck he's doing when it comes to women.


There's enough catnip in this story--arranged marriage trope (a weakness of mine), medieval setting, spunky heroine, amusing dialogue--that I stuck with it even though Thayer's awkwardness with women was not so much endearing as insulting and infuriating, but in the end, this book is simply "meh."

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2014-01-26 21:41
Everyone's a MacSomething
Saving Grace - Julie Garwood

I've never read any of Julie Garwood's books before, but I had this on my kindle from when it was on sale awhile back, and I was in the mood for a medieval, so I thought I'd give it a whirl. My impression, sadly, is kind of "Meh." On the plus side, this is character driven, fast-moving, and emotionally-satisfying. On the negative side, the heroine's a Mary Sue (she golfs! she's a crack markwoman! she heals the sick! she brokers peace with all nations!), and it's a wallpaper historical, vague on detail. There are plaids and Lairds and everyone's a MacSomething, so you know it's Scottish, but otherwise it could take place anywhere, at any time.In fact, the hero's and heroine's social mores are far too modern to make much sense in a medieval setting, but I'm not a stickler for historical accuracy. I appreciate it a lot when it's done well, but I can go along for the ride pretty happily if the story's good, even if the research leaves much to be desired. 


Johanna was the child bride of one of the evil King John's evil henchmen, Baron Raulf, who abused her in evil ways with the evil blessing of an evil priest. When Raulf dies, she determines not to marry again, but it isn't long before the evil King plans to set her up with another evil henchman. To foil that evil plot, Johanna's brother convinces her to marry the big, burly, fearsome, gruff (but secretly sweet, gentle, and loving) Laird MacBain. Johanna's nervous but knows everything will be okay when she learns MacBain's seldom-used Christian name is Gabriel, because Gabriel is the patron saint of women and children. There's a plot moppet and a pet moppet, and a secret baby (not Johanna's), and there's more intrigue between various clans and the evil King John and his evil henchmen, but mostly Gabriel just grumbles at Johanna to rest and be pretty and Johanna ignores him and learns to play golf instead. 

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2014-01-16 03:15
Wow. Just.... Wow. UPDATED
Outlander - Diana Gabaldon

On her website, Diana Gabaldon says:



The OUTLANDER series started by accident, when I decided to write a novel for practice, in order to:

  1. Learn what it took to write a novel, and
  2. To decide whether I really wanted to do that for real.


I don't know if I've ever read a sentence that made me burn quite so hot with jealousy. I've been "writing novels for practice" for some twenty years, and yet... well, I'm not Diana Gabaldon, obviously.


This book blew me away. (W is for Wind in Sock Poppet's A to Z Reading Challenge). I'm an Outlander Noob, and I admit I approached this first book with skeptical trepidation, for three reasons: 1) People love this series, and too many times I have been lured in by hype only to be underwhelmed by my reading experience; 2) I knew these books involve time travel, and prior to this I'd never met a time travel book I actually enjoyed; and 3) these books are huge, and there are so many of them, and so I knew that even if I like the series, I'd be making an enormous reading time commitment (to say nothing of the expense!). Needless to say, I approached with caution. 


Well, now I'm throwing caution to the wind. Outlander is awesome... but phew, how exhausting! (And not just because I've stayed up way too late reading for five nights running, either.) At the end of the book, Claire mentions that Job is Jamie's favorite book of the Bible. No wonder! In the course of their travels in less than a year, Claire and Jamie endure calamities and tribulations that rival even Job's epic suffering, and as a reader, I was often white-knuckled and tense with vicarious trauma.


Now I'm in a terrible bind: I really, really want to know what happens next, but there are seven more books, all equally enormous, to say nothing of the spinoffs, and I'm just not sure that helping myself to such a giant helping of vicarious reading trauma would be wise. Those lucky readers who came earlier to the Outlander party have had twenty-three years to spread out the emotional torment, Outlander having first been published in 1991 (about the time I first sat down to try to "write a novel for practice" -- Curse you, Diana Gabaldon!), and so you had to take it in small doses. Here's me, with the whole massive, sleep-depriving, ulcer-inducing, blood-pressure-elevating series at my finger tips with a few clicks of my mouse, and like an addict, I'm not sure I have the will power to resist a lethal hit. 


UPDATE: I do have a couple of quibbles, though. I didn't include them earlier, because I don't think they impact my overall rating of the book, but now that I've stewed on things a bit I feel like I have to mention these points, because they really did bother me. A lot. 


First: Shortly after their marriage, Jamie takes a strap to Claire because she disobeyed an order. He explains that he has to beat her in order to restore her standing in the Clan (because her disobedience was so public), and while it's true that the other men stop shunning her after her punishment has been served, and while I understand that it's probably a very historically accurate scene (wives having roughly the same legal standing as children in that era, and thus in need of their husband's discipline), I was troubled by the plot's implications that the beating brought Jamie and Claire closer. The resolution of conflict in a relationship brings people closer; not violence. Historically accurate or not, Diana Gabaldon is writing for a modern audience, and I can't help but filter what I read through my own (strongly anti-domestic-violence) lens. I also know that 1991 (when Outlander was first published) was very much on the cusp of the rapetastic bodice-ripper "Old Skool" of the romance genre just beginning to give way to the trend of kinder, gentler heroes and smarter, more independent and self-actualized heroines. In 1991, alph-hole heroes who beat on and raped their lovers were a venerable tradition in romance, and I wonder if Outlander were written today, instead of twenty years ago, if Gabaldon and her editors might not have had second thoughts about the necessity of that scene. 


Next: There is another scene, not too long after, where Jamie tells Claire he wants sex and it doesn't matter whether or not she consents; he wants her, and he will have her, and her opinion on the matter is neither invited nor welcome. (Luckily, she's on board, but it's clear that it wouldn't have mattered if she hadn't been.) That is one of the most fully described sex scenes in the book (usually the sexy times, though numerous, are recounted in glancing detail), and I didn't find it appealing at all. 


Finally: Why must the bad guys always be gay?! Actually, I think this is another hold-over from the conventions of Old Skool romance. From the 1970s through the early 1990s, almost without exception, if a character in romantic fiction was revealed to be gay or bisexual, you could take it to the bank that they'd turn out to be a villain in the end. As a bisexual woman in a committed lesbian relationship, I'm so, so glad that this trope is far less common now.


All three of these "quibbles" -- physical abuse, sexual non consent, and homophobia -- are the sort of major pet peeves that usually make me rage quit a book, and the fact that I was willing to tolerate them here (though they made my eyelids twitch) and still enjoy the book as much as I did says a lot. 


More posts
Your Dashboard view:
Need help?