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review 2019-01-10 21:53
The Soldier's Scoundrel by Cat Sebastian
The Soldier's Scoundrel - Cat Sebastian

At a recent bookseller's conference I attended a session dealing with selling romance novels, a category I felt we'd been missing the mark on in my store. There was a lot of good advice - chief among them was that booksellers should actually read romance if they want to sell it. 

 

'The Soldier's Scoundrel' was difficult for me to get into. I'm willing to toss aside characters behaving anachronistically for the sake of the novel having to exist, but I could not get over the constant sexy interruptions.

 

Jack and Oliver were realistic characters with each having a supporting cast and convincing backstory, the mystery they were investigating was well plotted enough for me to be irritated every time they got over their self-loathing enough to get it on. The sex was...well described? Something about writing about romance reduces me to 6th grade book report-speak. I think it got in the way of what I was wanting from the story.

 

I'd dabbled with some romance awhile back - looking at you 'Tigers and Devils' - and, while it was a decent read and I still hypothetically plan on reading the sequel, I obviously haven't made it a priority.Perhaps the genre isn't for me, we'll see. I was given a whole reading list covering highlights of m/m in the genre, so I'll pick up something soon in another category.

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review 2018-12-31 00:26
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John le Carré
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy - John le Carré

I hadn’t read any spy genre novels before, but this one came highly recommended and seems to be a classic of the genre. We’ll call it 4 stars for “this seems like a good book, but it isn’t my genre so don’t take my star rating too seriously.”

George Smiley is an unsexy but astute official in Britain’s intelligence service who has recently been forced into retirement due to a change of directors that happened under somewhat mysterious circumstances. Not too happy with retirement (his wife has recently left him), he’s called in to investigate word of a double agent passing intelligence to the Russians. The book is a thriller in a way, with its high tension, secrets, close focus on individual scenes, and slow drip of clues as George approaches the culprit. But it’s not a modern thriller in the sense that there’s little action or physical danger to George, who slowly uncovers the truth through talking to other spies.

The book is well-written, and I didn’t find the plot as dense as some other readers did; despite my not reading it all at once, it was understandable. That said, the heavy use of 70’s Britishisms in addition to the invented spy slang (which, life imitating art, has apparently since come into actual use) makes the language opaque at times. And a lot of characters are introduced early on whose role in the plot is minimal, which makes them a bit difficult to keep track of.

But I was able to figure things out (or ignore them) without too much trouble, and this was an enjoyable read. It fits within the mold of a genre novel, but is more intelligent than you typically find in “thrillers.” And it’s a spy novel, but it doesn’t glorify spies; having read it, the author’s comment in the introduction that both the SIS and CIA “would have done much less damage to their countries, moral and financial, if they had simply been disbanded” makes perfect sense. Worth reading even if this is not your typical fare.

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review 2018-12-21 20:02
The Soldier's Secrets (The Belanger Family #2) by Naomi Rawlings
The Soldier's Secrets - Naomi Rawlings

Ms. Rawlings' The Belanger Family series is one of my favorite romances. This book takes place one year after the events of the first book. The Reign of Terror is over for the most part and the rise of Napoleon is in the early days. Brigitte is blackmailed into helping her father-in-law into spying on Jean-Paul (younger brother of the hero from the first book) in order to make JP pay for the death of Brigitte's husband. The father-in-law is a very powerful black market operator/mastermind and has spies spying on Brigitte as she is spying on JP. However, JP and Brigitte grow close, as well as JP and her kids still at home (including the heroine of the next book). It was wonderfully atmospheric and the period details were used to move the plot along. The pace kept the character motivations from being too repetitive and I really felt the romance develop nicely from the get go. And it is always a treat to read a historical romance set in someplace other than the US or England.

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review 2018-12-21 17:46
Review: "A Soldier's Wish" (The Christmas Angel, #5) by N.R. Walker
A Soldier's Wish - N.R. Walker

 

~ 4.5 stars ~

 

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review 2018-12-19 17:00
Review: "Christmas Homecoming" (The Christmas Angel, #4) by L.A. Witt
Christmas Homecoming - L.A. Witt

 

~ 4 stars ~

 

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