An engaging story lovely written. I've come to love most of the author's books because of the care that it's placed on everything. The setting, the characters, the atmosphere, they're all perfectly done.
Also the fact that they mostly have a story besides _eventually _ disrobing... helps.
This story has all the things that I like:
_No insta love;
_No insta attraction;
_No pointless drama;
Instead there's friendship and companionship from the part of a big crazy family.
From my experience, I found that a little far fetched, lol, everyone getting along brilliantly; but it was nice to read...okay, a little less sweetness would have been preferred, :D but that's just me being emotionally stunted.
I loved the way the romance developed... calmly (most of the time). Alexander never once behaved like a neanderthal towards Wren, and that was vastly appreciated.
I am done with brutes and alpha jerks.
For me the only thing that kept this from being a perfect read was the last pages. I think that cutting a few pages and taking it easy on the sweetness might have helped.
But I really liked it and I do see myself re-reading it! ;)
I finally hit my DNF point about 60% through when I realised that I was never going to reconcile myself to the fact that the hero, an English duke raised in England, was secretly a king fu master. My level of BUT WHY!? was too high for anything but the most riveting of adventures to keep me going, and nothing else in this book was that. (But why is: when he was studying at... Harrow or somewhere... he met a Chinese martial arts master by chance and he taught him the secrets of kung fu. The book answered none of the questions I had about that, most of which revolved around why it was a plot point at all).
The rest of the hero's (non kung fu related) persona revolved around being very rich, very fashionable and very bored. I feel like the author maybe watched the Anthony Andrews version of The Scarlet Pimpernel one too many times (not that there's anything wrong with that!)
Meanwhile the heroine was raised in one of those Quaker Anarchist orphanages that don't teach you about the class system, so she hits finding out that she's the legitimate daughter of an Earl with zero knowledge of anything, and proceeds to insist on being simple and true to herself and as good as anyone and hiring all her friends as maids. ("A Quaker Anarchist is guided through London society by a Kung Fu master," quoth a friend, "that sounds pretty good, actually." YOU WOULD THINK SO! Alas, the author doesn't lean into it.)
One would think that the 1810s would be a perfect time to declare war on ruffles, given the neoclassical turn in women's fashion around then, but the author disagrees, and claims that All The Other Girls dressed in an overly fussy manner (I was pretty confused about the period generally. Queen Charlotte is on the throne, and they're at war in France, but it's all ruffled dresses and dancing the waltz. WHEN IS THIS SET!?).
I may be obsessing over details? It may be because I don't care about the plot? Since there's literally no conflict and next to no romantic tension between the main characters? This underlined by all scenes being told and retold two or three times. In any case, enough is enough.
WHY WAS HE A KUNG FU MASTER? WHY!?
A very quick read. Cut out headache-inducing bickering and meaningless dialog and the story shrinks from 224 pages to about 124. Cut out rivers of blood and gun-waving, and you get it down to about 70 in no time. Then tune out the descriptions of posh surroundings and you are looking at mere 60. Pull out and burn the bush that the author beats around instead of moving the story forward and you can get maybe 40 pages of the actualstory.
I am not going to review that story, just want to mention that yet another creature went through pain and suffering and was almost destroyed emotionally and physically so we could read about Arman and his guns.
at the very least it's tilted on it's axis by a few degrees...
I'd been happily waiting for this one...I mean seriously new Mary Calmes men to love...what's not to be happy about, right?
Interestingly enough overall this one was standard Calmes fare and I should have loved it but truly I didn't...it was ok but that connection that I usually feel and just the overall fun of reading a new Mary Calmes book wasn't there. Try as I might I never quite felt the connection between Kade and Joe and honestly neither of these men struck me as being overly dynamic or alpha...for me there just wasn't a Sam Kage or an Ian Doyle, no Trevan Bean, Ceaton Mercer or Darius Hawhtorne...dammit!!!! Where was my ober alpha male!!! Because I'm telling you neither Kade or Joe filled that role for me.
Along with the lack of connection between the MCs that happened for me there were parts of the storyline that just weren't working for me. The biggest thing being Joe's reasons for leaving his family...it just wasn't convincing for me which created a bit of a domino effect in regard to why Joe and Kade were such good friends. Along with this was the fact that Kade knew that his so called friend and mentor Vaughn who was also a precinct captain did shady things and yet he idolized him anyway? Sorry, I don't get that much less that fact that he basically made a conscious decision to ignore this. Somehow no matter how hard I tried 2 + 2 was just not adding up to 4...maybe more like 3.5.
While Kade and Joe weren't a strong connection for me there were some characters that really appealed to me and quite frankly had me wanting more. First off there was Joe's younger brother Sayre and Declan, the young man that Kade and Joe rescue back at the beginning of the book I was really intrigued by both of these men and if anyone could give them each or maybe both? a story worth reading it's Ms Calmes.
And in true Mary Calmes fashion I could not totally resist her writing prowess because irregardless of how I felt about the overall story, she drew me in with her mom's...there was Joe's mom...I adored her...ok, I can totally relate to her. She had a very dry sense of humor and used it frequently to deal with situations...
"You could maybe tell other people what is going on in your head now and then."
"But I'm telling you now."
"But did you tell him?"
"Shouldn't he know after this many years?"
"I can't be married to a stupid man, dear. What would people say?"
"You don't give a good god--"
"That was sarcasm, sweetheart. Do they not have that in Chicago?"
and then there was just the fact that Joe and his mom have had some conversations that were reminiscent of ones that my own son has had with me...
"Mom, you can't collect people. I've told you that."
"And why not? You obviously do."
It's that mom instinct...you see someone who needs to be loved and sheltered from the world and it's just instinct to want to do what the world has failed to do for that person so far. This is one of my favorite things about Mary Calmes books not only are the characters bigger than life but there's often at least one or more character who brings things like 'mom love' to the story in such an overwhelmingly big way. Nothing gives me a wary fuzzy like that moment in a Mary Calmes book when a character...in this case Joe's mom sweeps in takes one look at another character...and in this case it was Kade and Declan and just instinctively knows that they need 'mom love' and in this book there was two of them there was Joe's mom and Donatella Gallo who was his family's housekeeper and cook.
'Kairos' wasn't as much of a connect for me as some of Ms Calmes other standalone stories like 'Acrobat', 'Any Closer', 'What Can Be' or 'Where You Lead' but as a confirmed Mary Calmes addict I wouldn't have missed this one if for no other reason than 'awesome moms'.
A copy of 'Kairos' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.