You Were Expecting Something Else?

At last I’ve managed to move into my new home on a semi-permanent level. I still have boxes to unpack, decorating to do, and a small mountain of books to read. Life is good.

I hope everyone had (and will still have) a wonderful holiday season. Mine was wonderful, having spent the season with my mom and step dad as well as visits from other family members. Plus I got great gifts, including a wonderful bookshelf to store all my review books and give more space to my other bookshelves.

In honor of the new year I’m going to just go ahead and spill my big news: I’M A REVIEWER! That’s right, people actually looked at this lowly little blog and decided they liked what I have to offer. My mind is still kind of blown by this but I’m thrilled all the same. I even got my first three review books in the mail yesterday. Sadly, the books I review for other sites are exclusive so what I review on here as well as what I review there will always be different.

Actually, that’s not ‘Sadly’ at all. That means more books and writing. More like… Time Consumingly.

And it will be. I’ve decided to try my hand at the elite skill on time management. My New Year’s Resolution was to write more and I intend to keep it. Too bad that means ALL types of writing and not just reviews for my blog. My hope is to squeeze in at least three posts/reviews for Preconceived Motions per month. All of this is still trial and error and if all goes well I’ll up the amount.

Cross your fingers but don’t hold your breath.

My husband is also expecting me to find a job in the near future. A PAYING job, since apparently being paid in books doesn’t count. But before that can happen he’s going to buy me an A to B car to get me by that I have to get used to. That and I need to get used to the quirks of New Jersey driving.

Right now there is snow, and a lot of it, piled up as high as walls on the roadsides and the occasional ice patch. Coupled with the fact that people in my town seem to take issue with left turns, it’s illegal to pump your own gas, and my paralyzing fear of highways I’ve got a long way to go.

I think I can handle it. I REALLY hope I can.

Is Moving Ever Easy and Convinient?

I don’t think so. I think that no matter how small the relocation it is inevitable that something has to go wrong. Thankfully my move has gone more smoothly than not, but still with a few hiccups. The big one being that I won’t have steady internet until January fifth. Yup. The day before my birthday is when I can look forward to having internet. Hopefully it will take away some of the sting of turning twenty-five.

Our house is amazing and just gorgeous and it has bookshelves that I already have packed full with my private collection. I also have an art room so if I’m feeling crafty I may upload a few personal goodies on this pretty little blog. I actually have a few rants and reviews to give but I can’t hang onto a signal long enough to post them. It vexes me so.

Probably a good thing this humble blog hasn’t reached its anticipated internet megastardom yet since long delays can really hurt popularity. I don’t think even the spam bots want to bother with this blog until I get back (Yet another plus!). But when I do return it will be with a vengeance and the unveiling of a big awesome surprise.

Stay tuned and Happy Holidays!

Sex in a Cave: I’m Not Being Metaphorical

So I finally got in enough time to finish the next book on my list. I’m sorry I’ve been so busy but when things slow down I may just have super awesome news. I’m not going to say what just yet because I don’t want to jinx it but I’m crossing my fingers. I’ve decided to tweak my review process a little bit after reading through reviews on other sites and getting feedback on my own. The Plot section of my reviews will now be significantly shorter and far more vague so I don’t give too much away. I’ll still include spoiler warnings if there is risk of it but I think the threat has been downsized with this decision. With that said here is my first review trying out the new style.

 

Title: Ravished- I’m not a fan of this title. While the word ‘Ravished’ was used and the subject discussed it wasn’t to the point of earning the title. I would’ve gone with something more clever and lighthearted like ‘Set In Stone’ which ties in with the plot much better and carries a double meaning.

Author: Amanda Quick- It’s funny because her books aren’t a quick read.

Cover: The outer cover is the same old same old. Petal pink in nauseating amounts with pretty font and an item on the cover that has nothing to do with the story. Today’s trinket is a pink and lacy handkerchief. At least the title is bigger than the author’s name for a change.

But then we get to the real treat. The inner cover is something special and exactly what I’ve been waiting for. It’s like snark central and I was absolutely giddy to go over it in detail. There’s so much to it that I have to break it down into bits. Take a gander at this work of art:

What They Got Right:

  • The background setting of a cliff side manor along the ocean is indeed a location in the story. The cliffs house deep caves and the ocean tides play a part as well.
  • The big pile of treasure was in the story. I don’t think it was described as having so much lens flare but it works.
  • The scuffle between the hero and an armed guy in the lower left corner happened… But it looks like they came out of the heroine’s ass.

What They Screwed Up:

  • I’m assuming that the woman is supposed to be the heroine but it is quite possible that I’m wrong. She has flowers woven into her hair, something that this story’s heroine would be likely not to do since she’d find it frivolous.
  • Anyone else thing she looks stoned? Her expression says to me ‘I have a case of the munchies. Anyone got a plate of brownies?’
  • I’m lead to believe that the rugged looking male is the hero but he’s missing something. Something important… What was it again? Oh yeah! The disfiguring facial scar that helps shape his character. Yeah, where is that?
  • His hair is way too pretty. Granted, it’s not the typical romance mullet but now he just looks like a Pantene Pro-V model.
  • Why is the heroine dressed in Spanish flamenco garb? This is set in historical England.
  • In the little passion scene the heroine looks like her neck is broken.
  • The hero looks like he’s gone vampire on her. That might explain the broken neck.
  • I spy a side boob.
  • And a leg jutting out from the skirt.
  • The hero is shirtless instead of wearing the unbuttoned but still tucked in top. I’d say this was a good thing except that his exposed muscles look freakish.
  • Did his hair change lengths? In the stand alone mug shot it’s a little longer and thicker than in the passion scene.
  • OH MY GOD THE MOON IS CRASHING INTO THE EARTH!!! Seriously, look at how huge the moon is!

Summary/Back Cover:

“There was no doubt about it. What Miss Harriet Pomeroy needed was a man. Someone powerful and clever who could help her rout the unscrupulous thieves who were using her beloved caves to hide their loot. But when Harriet summoned Gideon Westbrook, Viscount St. Justin, to her aid, she could not know that she was summoning the devil himself…

Dubbed the Beast of Blackthorne Hall for his scarred face and lecherous past, Gideon was strong and fierce and notoriously menacing. Yet Harriet could not find it in her heart to fear him. For in his tawny gaze she sensed a savage pain she longed to soothe… and a searing passion she yearned to answer. Now, caught up in the beast’s clutches, Harriet must find a way to win his heart- and evade the deadly trap of a scheming villain who would see them parted for all time.”

This was actually a good summary in my opinion. The prose was a bit flowery but it’s a romance novel so cheese is permissible to an extent. Still… You have no idea how hard it is not to laugh every time Harriet’s caves are discussed. I know it’s juvenile but I can’t help myself. It’s funny. She’s very passionate about her caves. *snort*

Plot: Pretty much Harriet is a fossil hunter that hangs out in the caves by her home. One day she finds that some jerks are hiding stolen goods in her caves. *snort* She doesn’t like people trespassing when she knows for a fact there are fossils to be found there. So she contacts the man in charge and he comes to find out why some nerd is bossing him around in a letter.

She barely knows a thing about him, having avoided gossip, but learns he has a shady past. She just chooses to ignore the rumors and judge for herself. He’s helping her, after all. As they deal with the issue of the caves being used to stash loot the two get closer and one incident has them getting a little TOO close.

Gideon does the honorable thing and proposes even though Harriet is perfectly fine having been a booty call. Still she concedes and more shenanigans ensue. They both have to deal with the toll Gideon’s shameful past takes on them and it leads to many misunderstandings, some funny and some sad.

In the meantime they have to solve the mystery of the cave robbers, deal with gossip during their courtship, and find the time and strength to fall in love.

Believe It Or Not: No. This is just not a plausible plot in regards to the time period and events. It doesn’t make it bad, it’s just obviously fantasy. Too much happened that just had no way of playing out the way it did.

Setting: Regency England… Which I did research on! Turns out I was right and there were no cars or cell phones. The setting is right, although reality is a bit stretched. Also… Caves are not sexy.

Sensuality: The sex scenes were okay but I do have one huge gripe. The first time they do it is in a cave. They get trapped by the tide overnight in a cave and apparently urges couldn’t be repressed. It is a cave. A crab was described scuttling over Harriet’s foot earlier. It is cold and damp and they are laying on empty cloth bags on the rocky wet ground… No. Just not a believable setup for nookie. MAYBE a make out session and cuddling for warmth but not hanky panky. Meanwhile Harriet is in love WAY too fast. It’s like she blinked and suddenly she was in love. Gideon was stubborn about it and waited until the end of the book for his epiphany but it didn’t stop him from sexing her up and marrying her. You’d think those would be clues. They had sweet moments and a few realistic couple moments but overall it felt either rushed or contrived.

Hero: Gideon was okay. He came off as fairly condescending but when you take into account what he had to deal with it is understandable. I liked that since people already thought the worst of him he stopped bothering to try to prove them wrong after a while and just stopped caring. He wasn’t afraid to make trouble since it already hung around. But then at every turn he’d do something that showed he missed being in society’s good graces. It was kind of pathetic in a charming sort of way. I liked him but I didn’t love him.

Heroine: I was halfway tempted to write Harriet off as too stupid to live several times but she’d make amends for her dumbass moments. She is smart in that she collects fossils, is good with reading people, and she doesn’t buy into hype. But then she goes and acts like a friggin moron here and there. She wanders off to the caves when a sting operation is in progress and gets herself caught. She practically lets herself be kidnapped by well-meaning associates. She gets trapped in a basement room with a very bad man. I mean come on, woman! A little self-preservation would be nice. She was an okay heroine. She had pluck and brains and if it weren’t for her brain farts I’d like her much more.

Themes: Beauty and the Beast, historical, scarred hero, plain heroine, regency

Length: 385 pages. This was an okay length for an okay book. I’m not sure adding or taking away any amount would’ve changed much.

Overall: On a whole I find this book to be okay. It’s not perfect but it’s not horrible. I’d suggest reading it if you have reached a lull in books that you want to read right away. The story is cute but a bit choppy and the characters aren’t exactly stand out. It’s worth a read but probably not a re-read. Still, give it a chance on a rainy day.

Note: I’m going to keep reading and reviewing every chance I can get but things probably wont get to be steady again until next month. I know the delay sucks (it’s no picnic for me either) but I’ll get back on track ASAP. Thanks for understanding.

Images are property of Amazon.com. I take no credit for them nor for the book they are of.

And So It Begins

So it looks like things are starting to pick up speed as we get ready to move to our new house. It’s a rollercoaster of highs and lows as we are trying to get everything together. That means most of the time I’m probably going to be busy or exhausted from being so busy so it looks like I’m going to slow down on my daily updates. I’ll still be sure to add entries when I can sneak in the time as well as review the books I manage to read.

Please bear with the delays that are bound to come during this time of transition and thank you for your patience.

Best Day of My Life (So Far)

So, since today is my third wedding anniversary I think it’s fitting that I write in this blog about romance the story of my wedding day. It’s not anywhere near as sappy and perfect as the stories in books, but I wouldn’t trade a single moment (even the bad ones).

The day started out well enough. I stayed the night at my mom’s house for the sake of tradition and somehow managed to sleep. It wasn’t a deep sleep but good enough that I didn’t have bags under my eyes. I had to wake up at the ass crack of dawn in order to get everything ready since we were on a tight schedule. Like hangman’s noose level’s of tight.

We had to drive out to the next town over to get my hair done by my stylist (who is the God of great hair) and he did a magnificent job. It was beautiful the way he wove white faux flowers into my braid and set my tiara and veil. The only problem was that those levels of perfection take time and we went over ours… By a lot.

So my mom is speeding to get me to the makeup place where I had an appointment and I think cops avoided pulling her over due to the murderous look on her face. It was kind of epic. She braked so hard in front of the makeup place that her tires squealed and I smelled burning rubber.

I got rushed into the place and I think I met an angel because she worked some kind of miracle. The woman who put on my makeup was SO rushed with the appointment any yet she was able to make me look amazing (not an easy feat). Plus she was so nice and kept me from having a panic attack every thirty seconds. I’m telling you, I was made over by an angel.

Mom comes back and lays on the horn out front just as the finishing touches are applied and we are racing again because the church has a time limit for the ceremony. I’m not even in my dress. I haven’t even gotten to brush my TEETH.

We get to the Naval base (because the church is on base) only to realize that while getting clearance for all non-military guests my mom forgot to add herself to the list. We have no base stickers… This is BAD. We might have to go and apply for a temporary pass levels of bad. I MIGHT MISS MY WEDDING LEVELS OF BAD!

I think the sailor saw me losing my mind in the backseat because by some merciful act of the divine he let us through and even wished me luck. Thank you Jesus the sailor. Thank you.

We book it to the church and I’m herded into the dressing room and thanks to mom’s past of motocross and dirt road car racing we have enough time to make it… If we REALLY hurry. So I have my sister-in-law, my mom, and my maid of honor all working assembly line to get me in my gown and keep me from freaking out. All the dudes are done and ready while we are scrambling.

Still, I got my big emotional moment with my mom telling me everything I needed to hear and then some. Plus the photographer snapped some snazzy pics. Everything was coming together. I was starting to panic. The wedding party lined up and we were all buzzing with nervous energy.

The organ began to play… It had begun.

My dad (who is confined to a power wheelchair) stood at my side holding my hand and giving me more words that I needed to hear. At my back were the double doors that lead to escape. In front of me was the future (over the top of the wedding party’s heads so I couldn’t exactly see him).

We had to give my niece, Hailey, double duty as my flower girl and train holder because it was such a small gathering. Apparently she took her job very seriously because as she walked down the aisle she dropped one petal at a time until her dad politely informed her that handfuls were okay. Then, when she reached the front, she sprinted to one side of the church and ran at top speed back to me to help with my dress. I love her.

The rest of the party walking ahead of me went well aside from my sister-in-law nearly face planting. Great photos were taken and my time to shine was approaching.

As all this is going down I am having flashes of everything that can go wrong. I even remember my number one terror: That the hem of my gown would get caught under one of Dad’s wheels and I’d end up flashing everyone my chest in a church. I couldn’t seem to work up my usual enthusiastic optimism when I really REALLY needed it.

Then it was my turn. ‘Here Comes the Bride’ rang out loud and proud, echoing around me as well as in my head. I was counting my steps in my head (praying I wouldn’t trip and that my dress would be safe from dad’s wheelchair). I heard a collective gasp and I thought something bad had happened but I was too scared to look.

Turns out the gasp was when everyone saw me (That’s a good thing, right?).

Dad and I started our way down the aisle and I couldn’t help but look at everyone and feel a bit better when they were all smiling. Still, it wasn’t until I looked at the front of the church that I was able to breathe.

You hear all the stories about how when the bride and groom meet each other’s eyes as she walks to his side. Everything in the world feels right and time stands still. It’s a magical moment that can’t really be done justice in words. Those stories are true.

When I met David’s eyes it was like I had taken my first gulp of air after I’d been drowning. There was nothing else in the world as my vision tunneled around him. I could feel my lips curving up into a smile in perfect unison with his own blissful grin blossoming on his face. Everything was going to be okay. No matter what went wrong as long as that beautiful man was there at the end of the line I knew without a single doubt I could handle anything.

And so I walked down the aisle without a single incident and came to stand in front of my future husband. I couldn’t take my eyes off of him and I think I only half-heard the preacher reciting the sacred speech of marriage. It was all going great until it was time for us to read our vows.

We’d written our own to each other and after I read mine we realized that David’s vows were tucked safely on a piece of paper out in mom’s car within the depths of her monstrous purse. My stepdad, Yankee, tried to go and fetch them but we were so short on time that we had to skip over that par.

THEN my brother-in-law, Devin, who was our ring bearer and David’s best man… Pretended he’d lost our rings. I’ll admit I MAY have tried to hand my maid of honour my bouquet so I could choke the life out of him. David thought it was hilarious and he treasures the photo of my deadly expression that the photographer managed to snap.

After that it went smoothly once again until it was time to form the receiving line. I hadn’t been briefed on that wee detail (I haven’t been to a lot of weddings in my time) and David didn’t know either, so we were on the way to his car when someone caught up and told us the drill. WHOOPS.

After all the well-wishing it was time to head back to mom’s house, where she had worked her own miracles my making our party tent into a slice of heaven. She made almost every single decoration by herself and nearly everything was from the dollar store but I swear to you it looked like a professional had pulled it together. It was amazing!

So we began the festivities with me reading off all my thank you speeches that I had written while everyone anxiously waited for it to end so they could start drinking. David got the chance to read his vows (and they were beautiful) and then the party really started.

A few fun facts. We didn’t have the music I’d requested because my uncle was too sick to be able to make the CD. One of my aunts had to go out and buy the CD with our wedding song on it (‘Write You a Song’ by the Plain White Ts) and we played that sucker on Yankee’s ancient stereo that he set up in the tent. Then we just switched through radio stations for stuff to dance to and it worked.

As the night progressed we all got pretty hammered (aside from David and I since we had plans and those that were underage). This is a wedding party of mostly Irish, German, Dutch and other notorious drinkers. Things were bound to get crazy.

And did they ever.

While David and I, as well as the younger set of guests, went into mom’s living room to catch our breath there was an ‘Incident’. From what I hear one of our waiters (who is a family friend) was wasted and one of the female guests (also three sheets to the wind) jokingly requested he strip for them since I didn’t have a bachelorette party. What gentleman would decline such a sensible request, right?

Well Yankee, who is an honorable man and awesome to the extreme, wasn’t quite so encouraging. He had also imbibed a fair amount of spirits and rushed to defend my honor and my wedding by punching our Chippendale Dancer in the face. It was a bit of a drunken mess but HELLO, we’re Irish and so we got over it quick. Plus I’m totally cool because it makes for a hilarious story.

Eventually it wise time for the groom to take his bride off to consummate and my mom had set us up with a hotel room at the Hilton on the beach. There was some kind of mix up about valet parking and then another mix up to where instead of a single bed we got two beds but again I wouldn’t complain (One for fun, one for sleep).

We were exhausted but we were also stubborn as hell and so we were going to celebrate our union the traditional way! I just had to figure out the mystery of my hair and change into my wedding night outfit (black lace, woohoo!).

I swear we spent at LEAST an hour digging bobby pins and decorations out of my hair. That was seriously our foreplay because by the time my hair was free it was either do it or pass out. We did it… And afterwards were too worked up to pass out like we needed so we hopped in the shower.

I don’t know what my stylist used in my hair but I think at least one ingredient was glue. I had this helmet of weird curls that lifted up off the back of my head and I think the hotel shampoo, conditioner, and even the hot water just slid right off of my amazing helmet. Also more hidden ninja bobby pins escaped the confines of my follicle labyrinth to settle on the floor of the tub.

My mascara also seemed to contain glue since it was INVINCIBLE. I swear nothing got rid of it! I rubbed my eyes raw trying to clean them and then just gave up.

Our exhaustion finally caught up with us and we climbed into bed (me unknowingly falling asleep on a chocolate left on my pillow so when I woke up my hair was candy coated) and fell asleep in each other’s arms.

SO many things went screwy on top of all the incidents I told you. For example, our custom rings that were being shipped in from Ireland didn’t come in on time AND were too big so we had to get them adjusted. We wore dummy wedding bands just to have the symbol there and mine didn’t fit me so  had to wear a band adjuster.

And yet it was the absolute, hands down, BEST day of my life. I still look back on that day with nothing but pure joy and when I look through our wedding album I’m always moved deeply. It’s weird but I feel like all the things that went wrong just made everything feel even more right.

I want to thank EVERYONE that made that day so perfect for us again if they read this (and even if they don’t). I also want to give a little shout out to the people upstairs that gave us so many miracles in one day. I know this sounds like an awards speech but it kind of is since I got the best damn reward for all my trials and tribulations: My husband.

(Also I swear I tried to post this at 11:59 p.m. on November 10th so I could keep up my daily entry status but wouldn’t you know my net lagged. So it will SEEM like I missed a day but I totally didn’t. Ask my best friends on MSN. They are my witnesses.)

Has This Ever Happened to You?

The following is actually and old journal entry from my deviantart.com account. Yes, I mention fic work. That’s right, I like to write fanfics. My best friend Blue is actually the true fanfic genius but I help her here and there and we bounce ideas off of each other like crazy. This was my first REAL experience buying paperback romance novels off the shelf. Before I always borrowed them from friends… And shockingly after this ordeal I managed to go out and do it again (like a year later). Just so you know, it’s not any less embarrassing the second time.

So here it is, my romance novel shopping story:

So I had quite the adventure today and it only got better when I got home and told my friends about it. I love them to death but I WILL get you back for this BlueQuartzFoxy and SpammishRice girls.

It started with the fact I needed to do some romance research for fic work. Blue and I are planning a parody of Harlequin romance cheese and I got a few reviews telling me my lemon scenes needed less technical factoids and graphic description and more fluttery metaphors. I’m open to change and adaptation plus I don’t balk at a challenge so I compiled a book list of romances that appealed to my interests that I knew I could read through. Sure it was ninety-three books but I’m an avid reader and I have a membership card and coupons.

It takes a lot to embarrass me usually. I’m a very easy-going gal and I can take as well as I give with teasing. Even still I was a bit out of my league in the romance aisles surrounded by rippling pectorals on bare male chests and swooning vixens cradled in their arms. I had a bit of trouble navigating the shelving system and so I boldly went to the customer service desk for help, managing to stutter through what I was looking for and putting on a good show of false bravado even as my voice squeaked enough to burst an ear drum. The woman at the counter, an ex-hippie gen woman in her golden years it seemed, kindly escorted me back to the romance section and helped me look, chatting with me and making the experience more bearable.

I was under the impression that since the book descriptions were reasonable and funny the covers wouldn’t be the typical embarrassing fantasy fodder one usually imagines when it comes to romance cover art. I was naive and young… Foolish and optimistic.

I was freaking WRONG.

The nice sales woman handed me eight books from my list. ALL of them had cheese covers. And then my rock in the stormy sea of the romance aisles left me to go help some other lost soul, leaving me abandoned and confused in no-man’s-land cradling eight books to my chest. I’m proud to say… I didn’t cry guys. I didn’t cry.

So then I had to make it from point A to point B, the registers where I could do a speedy checkout and forget this traumatic experience. It couldn’t possibly get any worse, right? I could just make a few jokes and laugh it off then flee like an escaped prisoner.

Everything was going well and my perpetual blush had died down to a reasonable pink flush as the cashier got to the last book. It was the one that had the worst cover: A Fabio-tastic Grade A piece of oiled up man meat with flowing blond hair and stubble. My hell was almost over.

And then the book wouldn’t scan.

One would think it’d take two, maybe three max to figure out the barcode was wonky so either use the inner front cover barcode or else input the numbers manually. One would think but they’d be wrong. It took SIX associates looking from the humiliating cover, to me spontaneously combusting on the other side of the counter, and back to the book before the situation was resolved.

I don’t get it. Do these people have a panic button that they press when optimal embarrassment situations appear? I’m sure there was a silent alarm and flashing red lights in the break room.

Anyway they finally remembered basic check out procedure and I fled like a bat out of hell with my husband. Oh? Did I forget to mention him? Yeah, David was there too. He abandoned me the minute we walked in the door and I had to hunt him down using my psychic wife powers.

In the car he asked me what had me so upset and I just showed him the cover of one of the books. “So? It’s hot when chicks buy that shit” he said, laughing and driving me home. He would later build me my book shelf to make me feel better, but only while doing it topless, pausing to imitate poses on the covers of my new books.

Getting home and finally able to laugh at the situation I hopped on messenger and recited my harrowing tale to my gal pals that were online at the time. I expected laughter. I did NOT expect them to look up the titles and then laugh at the covers and character names. They are good; I’ll give them that.

Overall I’m more entertained than mortified now. I also have newfound respect for my sister-in-law, Lisa, since she can pick up books with covers just as ridiculous, carry them around the store, and openly buy them without batting an eye. I almost want to go through the experience again for the rush: Like a rollercoaster without the line or amusement park fee.

But I think I might just buy all my paperback romances online from now on.

P.S.

I got them (my friends) back. While they were laughing at my misery they started reading book descriptions and reviews and got totally hooked. Welcome to my world, ladies. Don’t make the same mistakes I did. * wink *

Mary Sues and Gary Stus: That’s What Bad Fiction is Made of

From Wikipedia.org:

“A Mary Sue (sometimes just Sue), in fanfiction, is a fictional character with overly idealized and hackneyed mannerisms, lacking noteworthy flaws, and primarily functioning as a wish-fulfillment fantasy for the author or reader. Perhaps the single underlying feature of all characters described as “Mary Sues” is that they are too ostentatious for the audience’s taste, or that the author seems to favor the character too highly. The author may seem to push how exceptional and wonderful the “Mary Sue” character is on his or her audience, sometimes leading the audience to dislike or even resent the character fairly quickly; such a character could be described as an “author’s pet”.

While the label “Mary Sue” itself originates from a parody of this type of character, most characters labeled “Mary Sues” by readers are not intended by authors as such. Male Mary Sues are often dubbed “Gary Stu”, “Larry Stu”, “Marty Stu”, or similar names.

While the term is generally limited to fan-created characters, and its most common usage today occurs within the fan fiction community or in reference to fan fiction, original characters in role-playing games or literary canon are also sometimes criticized as being “Mary Sues” or “canon Sues,” if they dominate the spotlight or are too unrealistic or unlikely in other ways.”

Here’s the deal. They aren’t just in fanfiction anymore. I’ve suffered through a few books in my time with the ‘perfect’ hero or heroine. Actual published works that were approved by a staff of editors and publishers. I’m not going to rag on any particular characters since the one I have in mind has an established following that may hunt me down and beat me with Emily Bronte books and Debussy CDs then war with themselves over necrophilia versus bestiality. (That was not obvious AT ALL)

The thing is that a lot of times authors want the readers to like their characters so they try to make it impossible not to by making them over-the-top wonderful. Everyone in the story loves them and they have attributes the author thinks make for a winning character. While this tactic may work on some I happen to like a character that takes time to appreciate and has flaws to overcome.

Character development is part of the fun in stories and to give the cast unflattering quirks is a way of creating friction and conflict that generates interest. It’s sort of like with sex scenes. You don’t want to put the sex in the very first chapter (unless you have one hell of a way to keep the story interesting afterward). Instead it needs to get worked up to. Sure the time it takes may very but it’s always more rewarding to work up to the big moment rather than have it right there off the bat.

The same can be said for characters. Rather than having the perfect character from the start give them several flaws to overcome that are more interesting and troublesome than just being clumsy and a little bit oblivious. As the story progresses throw challenges at them that they have to deal with their short-comings to advance through.

For example: If you start the story with a heroine that is vain about her appearance later in the story make her have to sacrifice her looks. It could be temporary, like she has to trudge through mud to get to an item of value. It could be permanent, like she risks her life to save someone and is scarred in the process. If you go with the temporary then the flaw is dealt with. If you go with the permanent then you have a brand new flaw to work with and through. That is a lot more interesting than a heroine that can just shrug everything off or is saved from every dilemma that comes her way.

It takes more than an excellent plot, accurate and interesting setting, and beautiful writing to make a good story. It’s possible to have all those things and fall flat because your lead characters just aren’t rich enough. The cast should be more than shells the reader can put themselves into, they should become people to the reader: Friends.

This goes for villains too. Do not skimp on the bad guy (if your story has one) to focus on the good. The antagonist can be just as fantastic to experience. Give them a back story and motivation that is more meaty that the simple fact they are bad and want to do bad things.

Side character also deserve love since sometimes they can be more likeable than the stars of the story. In fact, if they are enjoyably enough you might be prompted to reuse them and make a sequel or even a series. There is so much to offer and such a variety of personalities and faults to use.

It pains me to see a plot that is oozing potential crash and burn due to the use of Mary Sues and Gary Stus. Interesting characters are an integral part of the formula to a fantastic romance. Romance already gets enough bad press with beefcake covers and recycled clichés. Don’t add a cardboard cast to the list.

Here Comes The English Woman

 

 

Yet again I warn you that in the Plot area I give spoilers. This is my second review and I hope you guys enjoy it and keep coming back for more.

 

Title: The Bride – Not a bad title. This story is essentially about a bride and she is the focal point of the plot. Not only does the bride happen to be a character but she is also the cause of many of the book’s events.

Author: Julie Garwood – I don’t really have any snark for that except Garwood makes me think of a good fishing spot in a swamp. Get it? Gar. Wood… In about half an hour that will be hilarious.

Cover: Very simple and pretty. White with pretty gold lettering, border, and a center design of a few medieval musical instruments. I’m guessing they belong to the wedding band? That part kind of threw me… Not sure what the instruments are doing there when I don’t think an instrument was ever even mentioned. Still, no oiled up beefcake so I’m not going to snark too bad.

Summary/ Back Cover: Second verse same as the first with more text and less pictures. White background, some nice author worship, and the summary.

“By edict of the king, the mighty Scottish laird Alec Kincaid must take an English bride. His choice was Jamie, youngest daughter of Baron Jamison…a feisty, violet-eyed beauty. Alec ached to touch her, to tame her, to possess her…forever. But Jamie vowed never to surrender to this highland barbarian.

He was everything her heart warned against—an arrogant scoundrel whose rough good looks spoke of savage pleasures. And thought Kincaid’s scorching kisses fired her blood, she brazenly resisted him…until one rapturous moment quelled their clash of wills, and something far more dangerous than desire threatened to conquer her senses…”

I happen to be a huge ellipsis fan so this summary made me happy since the grammatical device was used four times. This barely even touched on the plot outside of romantic development, though, which is kind of a shame. I read this and I thought it was going to be a bunch of relationship drama and loads of unresolved sexual tension. Not quite the case. This managed to get my attention but it didn’t give the details that would properly identify the story within.

Plot: WARNING: Spoilers!

The prologue takes place at the funeral of the hero’s (Alec Kincaid) first wife, Helena. She’s being buried on unconsecrated ground due to the fact that her death has been reported a suicide. This kind of sin has brought shame onto the Kincaid name and does not make Alec look like a very nice guy.

But then the murderer of Helena, who remains anonymous, has a lovely little inner dialogue about how awesome killing is although it was a pain in the ass that Helena took a few days to kick it after breaking her spine. You’d think she’d be considerate enough to die on impact after being pushed off a cliff. Jeez… rude. Anyway the secret villain is wringing their hands in malicious glee at Alec’s manly tears and trying not to laugh or brag because you just don’t do that at funerals.

We move on to the home of Baron Jamison where three of his daughters are freaking out and driving the Baron nuts. They’ve gotten word that dear old dad owes the English king taxes and as punishment one of his little angels will have to do the unthinkable… Marry a Scotsman! (Dun dun duuuuuun)

The Scottish fellow in question is Alec, who is rumored to have killed his first wife and apparently is Scottish. I know! Awful, right? Being Scottish. Terrible. The girls are in hysterics at the prospect of becoming the bad man’s bride and daddy dearest is not helping by losing his temper. He calls in for back up.

Jamie is the baron’s youngest daughter (actually his step-daughter) and pretty much runs the house. She’s also dad’s favorite because she’s a doormat. He treats her like a personal servant without her questioning it because he took her in even after her mother died. She’s the only one with half a brain in the family and is able to calm her sisters down.

It becomes clear that Jamie is off the market because daddy accepted a dowry for her from some loser named Andrew and that the baron really needs an accountant and some self-control. Her sisters are whiny drama queens that depend on her just as much as their father, making for a backwards family dynamic.

Jamie goes to talk to the only other character in the household with any intelligence, the stable master named Beak, who thinks of her as his own daughter and doesn’t take any crap. He’s Scottish, and sees great potential in Jamie getting a chance at a life of happiness with a Highland husband. When the two lairds arrive, Alec and his good friend Daniel, he sees a golden opportunity.

Since the two warriors arrived early, Beak is able to intercept them and tell them that the baron is hiding his most worthy daughter from them. They are nearly caught by Jamie and her sister, Mary, coming into the barn but the big guys use ninja skills to hide and listen in.

The girls have a talk with Beak about a few of the things they’ve heard about Scotts and are pretty blunt and offensive in their questions and teasing. That doesn’t deter the fellows from being won over and they go to their future father-in-law and demand their brides of choice.

Alec gets Jamie and Daniel gets Mary and no one is all too thrilled about who they are marrying. Still, everyone is doing their duty to their kings and so a Vegas double wedding takes place and they set off toward Scotland the same day they are wed. The honeymoon is the trip home, I guess.

Jamie is curious about her husband and willing to do her best to be a proper wife but Alec strikes her as rough around the edges. Daniel is the nicer of the two lairds and probably regrets his bride choice since Mary seems to have only two settings: Crying and bitching.

As they reach the border a gang of English scoundrels move in to try and best the travellers and make off with their women. Alec and Daniel make their wives stay on the sidelines against a boulder while they make quick work of their opponents but a sneak attack by a hidden gang member puts the lasses in peril.

Mary handles the turn of events by using her younger sister as a meat shield from the bad men while Jamie whips out a dagger to protect them. Girl power! She has to use it, too, and ends up killing a guy by throwing her blade into the neck of one of her attackers.

Still, wily as she is she winds up in distress, held hostage by the last bastard standing. He doesn’t last long, but long enough for Alec to make it seem like he likes Jamie’s horse more than her. Not cool. She doesn’t take it too well and hangs onto her anger well after they get back into the Highlands and set up camp.

Daniel is pretty pissed at his sucky new wife for being a coward and a brat and they camp farther off for privacy. Meanwhile Alec thinks Jamie is cool beans, even if she has the unfortunate quirk of being English. They banter for a while and he gets her hot and they have sex. Kind of abrupt but okay… Moving on.

Daniel and Mary leave to go home through Daniel’s lands and Alec lets Jamie sleep off her lust hangover before they take off for Kincaid lands. Along the way they encounter some allies and Alec makes Jamie think that he doesn’t desire her by not introducing her to his friends. He has to clear it up by explaining that if he had one of his allies would probably try to take her from him. With friends like that who needs enemies, right?

Finally they get home and Jamie gets a frosty welcome from her new family because she has a bad case of being English(itis). Alec tell the kids to play nice with their new mommy but they don’t wanna. They liked their old mommy. Even though it’s been three years people are still smarting from the loss of their first Lady Kincaid.

Jamie winds up proving herself by using her medical knowledge that her mom taught her to save a wounded soldier that the clan had pretty much written off for dead. He had a broken arm and a big cut on his chest… somehow this translated to doomed. She also heals the resident priest of a bad cough and earns almost everyone’s loyalty. Helena’s family isn’t as easy of a sell but Jamie knows she’ll win them over eventually.

As she becomes acquainted with her new digs and husband an attempt on her life is made and Alec flips out because he actually likes his new toy… A lot. Which is bad because love is a distraction and crap like that. It’s funny that the two of them are growing fond of each other when it seems like every conversation they have ends with one of them getting pissed off. They still have sex, though. Yaaay sex!

Lord Kincaid puts his lady love under the watch of his most loyal clansmen (lovable rake, Gavin and stoic relative of Helena, Marcus) while he tries to solve the mystery of who is after his wife. When he goes off on his rounds for a few days Jamie manages to shake things up and starts a few wars. I’m not kidding… She manages to start wars. As in plural. Pretty much if Alec is busy she stirs up trouble and decorates.

I wont go into the details of how all this came to be because most of it is so funny you need to read it for yourself. In one of these instances she comes back home with Alec’s stepdaughter (Helena’s daughter) named Mary Kathleen and she promptly takes over being her new mom. That part of the story isn’t so much funny as it is sad but still too good to spoil.

So Jamie has caused enough trouble that the Scottish king Edgar has to step in because he’s a hands on kind of ruler. Lady Kincaid is understandably a nervous wreck at the idea of a royal visit, convinced she’s screwed. More hilarity ensues and she winds up having a nervous breakdown on one of the guests that arrive, spilling her guts on how bad she’s screwed up. Turns out the guest is the king himself and he thinks Jamie is just precious.

She’s forgiven for being a spazz and all seems well. Then on a visit to Helena’s grave she and Gavin are struck down by Helena’s killer but luckily saved. The murderer is unearthed as… I’m so not going to tell because it threw me for a complete loop. I refuse to spoil it because it is just too rich. Just know the murderer is dealt with.

THEN Jamie nearly starts another war when her old pal Andrew comes to collect the bride he paid for. She tries to head him off herself but Alec catches up and they go to deal with it together… Plus every warrior or every clan in Scotland, give or take a few.

Andrew, who brought a small army of his own, is abandoned by his men and gets precious gems pelted at him to compensate for the dowry he paid for Jamie. And the day is saved! Apparently on  top of involuntarily starting wars Jamie also managed to unite the clans of Scotland and earn the love of her husband (whom she loves in return).

I know I left a lot out but HOLY CRAP there is a boatload of story to tell and I had to go with the basic of the basic. Trust me, there is tons more to all this and it’s a billion times more interesting: I just tried to keep it short.

Believe It Or Not: Jamie and Alec were believable characters and their romance was pretty genuine. They were attracted to each other but not in love until they had to do the work. The unification of Scotland by one woman is a bit more difficult to swallow… Especially since she was English.

Setting: The Highlands and England… Again I’m not too well-read on this time frame to know the ins and out of daily life and fashion etc. No cell phones or cars yet again so I buy it.

Sensuality: I was a bit disappointed by the sex because it was so abrupt. The first sex scene came early (haha) in the story and the rest of it was punctuated by love scenes. None of them were exceptionally hot but whatever. I didn’t pick up the book to read about getting it on (mostly). The real spark came from the banter between Alec and Jamie. They were both armed with sharp-tongues and clever wit.

Hero: Alec was cool. He treated Jamie well and had a good heart and a bad temper. I liked that he promised Jamie he’d never hurt her and stuck to it. Still, for a badass he let her get away with a LOT of crap. He didn’t like it but he dealt with it all the same while trying to appear in charge. He felt sort of bland to me which is sad because I really wanted to like him more.

Heroine: Jamie is a trip. I loved her because she was just so funny. She was innocent and tried so hard to make everyone happy while still sticking up for herself. She was intent on solving every problem by herself and just wound up taking the world on her shoulders until Alec interfered. Plus she was a total spitfire. I wasn’t too fond of how she skirted the line to being a Mary Sue with her abilities to hunt, ride bareback, speak Gaelic, heal, and win people over in less than a day but I was able to forgive her for it because she still managed to have faults.

Themes: Historical, Beauty and the Beast, Highlands

Length: 358 pages. A good length and I’m still kind of surprised that all that story fit into so few pages.

Overall: Overall I found this enjoyable. I liked the humor and the characters. The mystery of who killed Helena could’ve been played up a bit more but I was completely surprised by who the killer was. The romance was a bit fast but also realistic and there were so many things to keep me entertained. I am willing to recommend this book to anyone interested.

(The image used is from amazon.com. I take no credit for the book or the image, just the review. )

The Middle-Aged Thousandaire and His Innocent Child Bride

So today’s entry might seem a bit like a rant because it sort of is. I am not a huge fan of certain types of historical accuracy in my romantic fiction. I’m already expected to forget that in historical times people were unclean, unshaven, and unruly. People dropped like flies from disease and poor medical knowledge and equipment. Toilets varied from nice little pits dug in the ground to outhouses before indoor plumbing came about. I mean it was some seriously gross stuff that was common for the times.

And yet our hero and heroine have perfect teeth, unblemished skin (unless you count scars from their tortured pasts), minimal body hair, and smell like roses and sandalwood. They bathe on a regular basis (which defies the norm but they are special) and don’t need to wear powdered pest-infested wigs because their hair is all there and magically clean. And I don’t mind it in the least because I honestly do not want to read about a love story between two disease-ridden, gap-toothed, hairy and sweaty people. Sure it’s not accurate, but it is fiction and it’s more enjoyable to read.

Then some of the same people that skimp on those grizzly details go and have to throw in some ‘accuracy’ by marrying some poor teenage girl to a middle-aged man and call it true love. Yes, back in the day it was common but that doesn’t mean it was right and the matches weren’t made for love so much as money and blood lines. The life span back in the day was fairly short and so people made lots of babies from an early age.

Actually the girls made babies from an early age. Guys got to dick around and grow up while their lady loves got a lesson in the way the world works practically overnight (The wedding night, to be specific). There was no dating or even really a choice in the matter. Decisions were made for you until you were old enough or respected enough to start making decisions for the people next in line.

This ‘accuracy’ is therefore kind of a load of crap since somehow the frightened teenage heroine manages to fall in love with a dude old enough to be her dad (and likely related to him!). She is prepped and ready to be lady of the house and the dutiful wife and mother, with just a pinch of rebellion and spunk.

That doesn’t seem very accurate to me. Teenagers are hormonal little drama queens that take EVERYTHING personally and do not like to be told what to do. Trust me on this, I used to be one. Teenage girls are especially trouble and unless they are abused into submission you can damn sure bet they will make hell. Even if it might cause scandal and be considered unladylike. It was no different in the past.

Temperamental little girls still growing into themselves made the same kind of hell for their parents they do now. They would try to escape their weddings, sleep with stable boys, throw epic tantrums… Some went so far as self harm. And while not all of them did thanks to social conditioning you know they wanted to just like the fact they were not happy.

To try to glamorize that kind of convention and call it ‘historically accurate’ is a big lie. It’s not romantic to hitch up a girl who doesn’t know who she is to a guy that got to sew his wild oats, even if girls back then did mature faster. Not cool, not fair, not romantic.

When I was in high school I dated a guy in his twenties and I thought it was the coolest damn thing. He bought me stuff and paid attention to me and made me feel special. But I was a teenager and I was therefore guaranteed to be stupid. I took my appreciation of the things he gave me and interpreted it as love for him. He wasn’t a horrible guy but he wasn’t happy with me and he didn’t always treat me right and I returned the favor because I was a dumb little girl who didn’t have it figured out yet (It didn’t work out between us).

That’s how I see any sort of ‘happy’ historical marriage between a grown man and a teen girl. He spoils her rotten to shut her up and keep her happy while he goes and does his manly business and she gets saddled down with kids. Sure there are exceptions to the rule but I’m fairly certain that what I described is the more accurate standard.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a big problem with an age gap between hero and heroine in general. My parents are twelve years apart and I can respect that. It’s just when a man hooks up with a girl who isn’t even a woman yet… It’s disturbing! Like some kind of freaky legalized and socially acceptable pedophilia. Ew.

If you are going to be accurate then either go all the way or not at all. Don’t half-ass and pretty up something that was unjust simply because it used to be normal. It used to be normal to steal innocent people away from Africa and force them into labor too. Did that make it right? Does anybody have the audacity to make it sound pleasant? I hope not.

If anything, as an author, if you want to sprinkle some believability in your historical novel just be vague about ages. Simply call a heroine ‘young’ instead of specifying her age. That leaves it up to the reader to establish an age. If they like accurate age depictions then they will assume between fifteen and seventeen. If they don’t then they can safely assume older teens or early twenties. Everybody is happy!

I don’t have any problem with individuals that don’t agree with me on this opinion. You are entitled to what you think just like I am and that is awesome. I personally feel that those more unsettling details should be left to non-fiction. I want my romance to be pretty and pleasant. It doesn’t have to be accurate to be enjoyable as long as the right effort is put into the right parts like character development and plot.

It’s Kind of Like ‘My Fair Lady’, Except the Lady is a Man.

The following is my first review for Preconceived Motions. Please note that in the Plot section I am going to outline the story and it will include spoilers. Also noteworthy is that I will not mention every event that took place (You’ll have to read the book yourself for that treat) so if you read through and notice things missing that is why. I hope that you’ll bear with me as I continue feeling my way around and feedback and suggestions are highly appreciated. Thank you!

 

Title: The Proposition – Well there is a proposition involved and it is kind of a driving force to the plot… But I really would’ve gone with “My Fair Laddie”.

Author: Judith Ivory – Ivory, like the priceless material that makes up an elephant’s tusks. Hmm.

Cover: The MAIN cover is kind of boring. Huge and pretty lettering for the title and author on a lace-covered pink background with a big red rose. Red roses were never really even mentioned in the story. Then there’s this cute little peek-a-boo cut out to the inside cover which is a note on a golden serving tray that says ‘Will You?’ with that rose next to it and an excerpt from the book about kissing. Okay, that scene never happened either, unless I had pages ripped out of my copy. What the heck? I mean yes it’s very pretty but it’s also misleading. And the note kind of bugs me. “Will You?”… Will I what? Will I marry you? Go dancing? Join you on a cow tipping-adventure? The quote is about kissing so are you sending me a gilded invitation to make out some more? Because I think I’m okay with that.

Summary/ Back Cover: Big loving praise for Judith Ivory at the top and an announcement for a two dollar rebate! I got this for two dollars at a used book shop. If I send the rebate in will I get my two dollars back? Free books are AWESOME.

“No man, gentleman or otherwise, has ever looked at Lady Edwina Bollash the way the brash, handsome man standing before her is doing now. Edwina has accepted the challenge to transform incorrigible Mick Tremore into a gentleman in just six weeks. And although the linguist is sure she can rise to the task, she isn’t at all certain she won’t swoon under his frankly sensuous gaze before her job is done.

Mick has lived outside of London society long enough to know that appearances can be deceiving. Edwina might look all buttoned up- the perfect English lady- but there is unleashed passion existing just below her placid facade (not to mention a great pair of legs!). And as she prepares him to take his place in society, Mick prepares Edwina to take her place in his heart… and in his bed.”

Anyway the summary is actually pretty good. It covered some of the main points, has a cute inside joke, and left some things to be a mystery. One issue though: Does the guy’s part always have to mention some part of “In his bed” every summary? It’s like when I was in high school and for a week it was suddenly hilarious to say “In bed” after everything. We get it, he want’s to do her. This is a romance novel, after all. No need to state the obvious so obviously (In bed).

Plot: (WARNING: Contains spoilers!)

So pretty much Mick Tremore is just doing his job as the go-to ratcatcher in London, currently working his magic in a dress shop while the ladies in the shop all freak out. He’s laying on his stomach on the floor looking for his quarry when he catches a glimpse of a pair of legs that will haunt him for a while, but he doesn’t see the face. He does his sacred duty and the patrons are ever-so-thankful, especially the young seamstress’ assistant.

In fact she’s so thankful she decides to take him into the back room and ‘fix his shirt’. Actually she kind of ruins his shirt, ripping buttons off in her quest to reward his heroism. Actually that’s kind of smart in my opinion. I mean if she messes it up that means she has to fix it, which means Mick has to stick around. I wonder if she’s done this kind of thing before…

Anyway they get caught in a compromising position and Mick has to run from the angry dress shop mob intent on preserving the young lady’s reputation. Um… She was attacking HIM… But I digress. He winds up in a tea shop where he and his pursuers make a huge mess and cause all kinds of trouble.

There might be less trouble if anyone could understand a word poor Mick was saying but his Cornish accent is so thick that the only person who could translate would have to be a cunning linguist. Enter Edwina Bollash!

Intrigued by the sounds erupting from Mick’s mouth she intervenes and saves the day with the help of twin gentleman who were amused by the whole display. Jeremy and Emile Lamont are slightly suspicious men with packed wallets  who gamble for fun. Seeing a bit of sport in Mick they offer a proposition!

Ewina has six weeks to make Mick a gentleman. At the end of that time Mick will go to a ball hosted by Edwina’s cousin that took the family birthright when her father died and kind of treated her like crap. She gets a happy “In your face!” moment if she succeeds in Mick fooling all the guests of the ball into thinking he’s a viscount. Plus the lessons are paid for by the Lamonts. Mick, meanwhile, gets… Are you ready for this? A paid makeover, free gentleman lessons, and a whopping one hundred and twenty English pounds if he can pull it off.

So the bet is on and Mick gets to move into Edwina’s lovely home (that has electricity and hot water, score!). Nobody really cares because Edwina doesn’t really have any marriage prospects. Poor Edwina is twenty-nine and still a virgin because apparently she is too plain in the face for a gentleman to love. Mick, however, thinks she’s one hot momma and finds her prominent nose and flat chest quirky and endearing. What a guy.

The two have several speech lessons and Mick struggles as he feels he is losing track of himself. He’s from a huge family (fourteen siblings, holy crap!) that he has to take care of since his mother died and there’s no father to speak of. It’s why he moved to London and took up the ratcatching trade. That and he loves animals! (Except rats. He kind of bashes their skulls in. What a guy!) He even has two faithful friends he keeps by his side: An elderly ferret named Frankie and a mutt terrier named Magic.

Still, he takes to mimicking accents well and catches on quick, having an irrepressible love for learning new words. In the meantime he and Edwina bond, learning more and more about each other each lesson and growing closer and closer. They even share a kiss in the middle of the night that Edwina tries to forget ever happened.

It’s sweet to read the conversations they have and their reactions to one another. Edwina had a pretty bad childhood that Mick can’t wrap his head around and he hates seeing the toll it’s taken on her soul. Her mother walked out on her and her neglectful father when she was a child and her governess was an abusive woman. Edwina blames herself for not being good enough to earn the love of her family.

One fine lesson Mick is being especially difficult and Edwina is having SERIOUS issues with his moustache. Mick is still miffed about losing himself and Edwina decides to play hard ball to get him to cooperate. Knowing he has a leg fetish she offers a trade: He can see her legs if he shaves off the flavor saver.

She doesn’t dream that Mick will take her up on it but he does and he makes her stand on the table for five minutes with her skirts bunched up at her waist while he stares in appreciation. SURPRISE! Edwina’s legs are the legs that he was ogling in the dress shop at the start of the story. When time is up they go to his bedroom and he shaves his stache and makes her finish her promise of five more minutes of leg and one touch.

Except he kind of gets carried away and dry humps her and feels her up. Most women would enjoy this but Edwina is completely new to this kind of thing and understandably upset. Mick feels like crap for going too far but thankfully they wind up powering through it and getting back to business. Still, the heavy sexual tension remains and it’s kind of driving Mick nuts (blue balls hurt, I’m told).

The twins come by and deliver money to Edwina, further coming across as having another motive to their game. They are pretty rude when they treat Mick like a freak show attraction and it turns out the money they handed over was counterfeit. Mick had experience in the counterfeiting business helping out a friend so he knows a fake when he sees it. Edwina refuses to buy it, even though she is unsettled by the matter.

The deadline comes closer and closer and our heroes realize they really don’t want to part after all is said and done but neither is willing to take the big step in admitting it. Instead Mick takes Edwina out to paint the town red and they go to The Bull and Tun, a dance hall and bar that Mick loves. Edwina had previously given him dance lessons and he realized she loves dancing. A sweet date if you ask me.

Edwina goes through a pleasant character evolution as she lets her hair down and gets a bit hammered. It’s enjoyable watching her let go of all of her insecurities and enjoy herself. Her prim shell is left behind as she makes some friends and dances the night away, flashing her legs and getting the male appreciation she’d been denied. Especially from Mick.

Mick had implored that if she wanted to be kissed she had to tell him but Edwina isn’t the type of girl to ask for such scandalous things, unless she’s been drinking. She manages to get the message across, however, and Mick happily escorts her into the alley behind the bar and has a grind session with her. I’m going to be very blunt here: He fingers her in an alley behind a bar. He’s able to stop himself from taking her right then and there when he remembers Edwina is a lady and a virgin: She deserves the best and he feels he isn’t capable of giving it.

Going back inside Edwina is hit on by a gentleman that was slumming it and he seems pretty sold on Mick’s girl. This does not go over well with our brave hero and after trying to be nice he goes caveman, decks the dude, and takes his lady back home. You’d think he’d drag her by the hair to his lair at this point but he’s still sulking that he’s not good enough and he leaves Edwina on the stairs to slink into his room alone.

‘Gypsy Edwina’ as her new personality has been dubbed, is having none of this. She wants and she’s going to get. She marches into Mick’s room and is finally able to articulate what she desires… In the crudest way imaginable. It’s actually hilarious how she bosses him into getting naked so she can get a good look and he gives her his own lesson in dialogue.

They make love that night and continues lessons again in the morning. Then they make love some more. And some more. Then again. And then some. These two are going at it so bad that the butler goes to stay with his sister and the cook takes the week off. Can you really blame them?

The dreaded deadline comes and it’s time to step up. Finally the true plot of the Lamont twins is unearthed! Apparently Edwina’s jerkhole cousin’s grandson was stolen out from under his nose and he’s put up a HUGE reward for finding him. The twins think to pass Mick off as the genuine article… Except it’s looking like Mick IS the genuine article (I think you see where this is going. I know I did).

They go to the ball at Edwina’s family home in Castle Uelle (pronounced ‘Yule’) and Mick charms everyone. Everyone buys that he is the Viscount Michael of Bartonreed (a name he got off the back of a spoon). Everyone except crotchety cousin old fart who knows those pesky kids on his lawn just want his money. Mick isn’t too fond of being used either and he boots the twins and confuses everyone when he inadvertently calls the mean old man “Poppy”. He really just wanted to explain he was the victim just as much but his slip of the tongue pisses off old man Xavier so bad that he has a fit and orders them gone.

As all this has been unravelling Edwina also managed to let Mick’s ferret (who looks to be on her last legs) loose in the palace and they leave feeling used and brokenhearted. Mick plans on getting a job as a butler since he can’t possibly give Edwina the life she deserves and she can’t come up with anything fitting. All hope seems lost.

BUT THEN

The next day cousin Xavier’s young wife calls for Edwina and Mick to come visit. It turns out Xavier has had a heart attack and somehow experienced a moment of clarity where he realized that Mick is indeed his long lost grandson (that means Mick and Edwina are second cousins once removed, just fyi). He’s even found Mick’s ferret! Yaaaaaay!

Mick is acknowledged as Xavier’s heir and Xavier kind of makes amends with Edwina by admitting that his young wife never loved him (I don’t know. Just go with it, I guess). That same day the old man and Mick’s ferret pass away at the same time, making room for one hell of a happily ever after (deus ex machina, anyone?).

Edwina and Mick get married and move into castle Uelle while Mick lets his family move into the rest of his properties. Edwina is pregnant and she gets Mick a puppy that is Magic’s son (since Mick sold all his ratcatching stuff before the ball to buy Edwina a gown… AWWWWW). And they lived happily ever after.

Believe It Or Not: The relationship dynamic is plausible and the characters feel real but the plot feels like it was pulled from several popular stories.

Setting: Regency London. I’m not familiar enough with the timeline to know if this was historically accurate or not so I’m probably going to have to do some homework. Nobody was talking on cell phones and there weren’t any cars. I buy it.

Sensuality: I’ve never though moustaches were sexy but the first kissing scene was only made hotter by the upper lip caterpillar. The kissing scenes varied between dreamy and steamy. The scene that really threw me for a loop was Edwina showing off her legs. It seems like such a weird thing to be captivated by but as I was reading it I got chills. The sexual and empowering thrill Edwina got from being admired by Mick was contagious and after he shaved off his moustache and resumed his appraisal? Hot. Very, very hot. The love scene that actually got described was sweet and funny as well as sensual. The rest of the love scenes were kind of skimped on in favor of further plot but I didn’t mind. I’d say overall it was pretty spicy.

Hero: Mick is just a doll. I adore him. He’s hilarious and charming, like a big sexy puppy (That came out wrong). He’s so endearing with his cheeky attitude, earnest eager-to-please ways, and his honesty. He tries so hard to do right and make Edwina happy while struggling to grasp who he is. Normally I can’t stand nice guys but Mick in an exception I’m willing to make. Did I mention he’s a laugh riot? Because he is. The guy was put off by taking a hot bath because he thought it was the same as boiling vegetables. I’m halfway convinced he was concerned that his hostess was a cannibal. See? He’s adorable!

Heroine: Edwina is a bit tougher to grasp, especially at the beginning. She’s very proper and cool about everything, which is a cover for the fact that she’s neurotic. Sometimes she’s sweet and sometimes she’s bitchy and it’s this wishy-washy attitude that gave me a task in liking her. Eventually she won me over (Specifically at the Bull and Tun) when she began to be open and honest. She grew into herself as a character and became a fitting match for Mick.

Themes: Beauty and the Beast, Regency, Prim Heroine, Beta Hero, Historical, Victorian… I honestly need to find or make a list of common themes before I can do this correctly. I’ll get right on that when I can but the ones I have listed are the obvious. (I also used the tags on amazon.com)

Length: 355 pages. I think this was the perfect length for the story.

Overall: Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this book. As I said before, the plot feels like a mix of several popular stories. Mainly ‘Beauty and the Beast’, ‘My Fair Lady’, and ‘Anastasia’ came to mind as I read through. I halfway expected one speech exercise to be “The rain in Spain…” but it didn’t happen. That’s not to say it didn’t feel original. Mick especially happened to be a twist on what one expects of a romance hero. It was a funny and charming story that I recommend with gusto.

So there you have it: My very first review on this blog. I hope you found it enjoyable and possibly even consider picking up this novel for a look if you haven’t read it. Let me know what you think!

(The cover image is from amazon.com. I take no credit for the image or the book and cover itself. Please don’t sue me, I’m poor.)

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