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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.

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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.)

First Opinion: Beauty and the Beast Theme

I’m going to be honest here. I cheated a little. You see I’m supposed to be writing my account of a theme I am only vaguely familiar with (if at all). But here’s the problem: I am quite possibly a closet Beauty and the Beast theme expert. It’s true. Ever since I was a little starry-eyed girl handed that magical VHS tape that started a love that only intensified I have been absolutely enamoured by anything ‘Beauty and the Beast’.

It’s still my all time favorite movie and story. I’ve read and watched and drawn and daydreamed  many, many, many variations of what is quite possibly my favorite theme. I’ve read ‘Beastly’ by Alex Flinn (and plan on watching the movie… Even if it stars Vanessa Hudgens), watched Jean Cocteau’s black and white masterpiece, and bought and colored in every coloring book page of ‘Beauty and the Beast’ I could find.

When I was younger I aspired to grow up to be a beautiful woman who got lost in the woods, found a foreboding castle, fell in love with the monstrous master, and broke the spell to live happily ever after. When I was a teenager I would re-watch the same Disney film and cry because I wanted that kind of love desperately. When I was an adult working in child care I would pop the VHS into the old tv in the corner and watch it all day (and if there weren’t any kids to be watched I sang along).

I think my point is that I might be fairly biased.

The current list of books I have and plan to review primarily revolve around the theme of ‘Beauty and the Beast’. Some I’ve already read but plan to read again. Some I’ve never even heard of. Some… I really am quite hesitant to read out of fear my beautiful and beloved theme will be tarnished.

A lot of the books are historical (primarily Regency era) but I have a couple contemporary and Highland so there are piggyback themes to be had. Then again I don’t think any romance novel has just one specific theme, and I’m okay with that.

I adore this theme from the depths of my very soul for several reasons which I will list for you. In reality I have countless reasons but I’m going to try to keep this short enough to read in one sitting. No promises since I have a slight tendency to fangirl.

  • It takes more than one day for them to fall in love. In fact, usually at the beginning they either hate each other or the ‘Belle’ is afraid. This kind of romance takes a lot of build up and patience with a hefty helping of adversities to overcome. It makes the whole thing feel worthwhile.
  • ‘Belle’ isn’t an idiot (in most cases). Her common past-time is most often reading or some other intellectual endeavor. The girl has chutzpah to put up with a terrifying jerk as well and a stubborn streak to look past his scars to see the prince within. Plus she has enough brains to know there’s more to someone than an oiled up chest and rippling pectorals. He could look like the offspring of a bear and a bull and she’d still be able to love him if he met her on the levels that really mattered.
  • The ‘Beast’ is a complex character that evolves throughout the story. No matter how he got his scars or how bad they actually are his personality goes through an overhaul. It could be him growing out of his arrogant and brutish ways. It could be that he has to overcome the fact that he is ‘hideous’ and feels unworthy of the ‘Belle’. No matter what lead to him being the ‘Beast’ he has to go through some kind of redemption.
  • It’s a universal theme. While everyone may be familiar with ‘Beauty and the Beast’ there are myths that were around long before it was ever written that follow the same formula in one way or another. My favorites would have to be the Greek myths of Hades and Persephone as well as Eros and Psyche.

Those are pretty much the MAIN points that can find a way to fit almost every interpretation. All the others kind of bounce around between different versions. As you can probably tell I like the tale for its cerebral impact just as much as the emotional. It just makes sense, even if there is magic involved.

Overall I blame ‘Beauty and the Beast’ for being my gateway drug into a life of romantic obsession. I loved other Disney movies before and after it as well as other love stories but for me it has always been at the top. It will likely always be at the top too, though as I get further and further into the romance genre I may find something new. Who knows?

Anyway, this is my ‘Before’ opinion and I doubt it will change much when I give the ‘After’ opinion.

Also, around the tenth of November you’ll be in for a treat. Since it is my wedding anniversary I’m going to tell the story of my real life romance in a big celebratory post.

He wanted her to tell him more about the person she was beneath the mask.

Okay so it’s time to tell you a bit about myself since you are going to be hearing from me for a while. It might help you better understand my viewpoints on certain things, feel more connected to me as the writer, or just amuse you to know how very crazy I am.

Name: Kourtney (I prefer to go by Sunny)

Age: 24

Gender: Female

Location: Virginia, but I’m moving to New Jersey this month.

Family: Husband (David), dog (Freya), cat (Verdandi), turtles (Nyordjr, Forseti, Hordurna)

Interests: Reading (I’ll read just about anything), writing, art, video games (RPGs especially), shopping (mainly for books and video games), trying new foods and restaurants, making amazon.com wish lists, firearms, listening to music, watching tv and movies (I’m especially fond of Japanese anime, sitcoms, and romantic comedies), going to museums and historical sites, mythology (all cultures), psychology… Mostly artistic and creative ventures.

Quirks: I have Attention Deficit Disorder so I can be a bit impulsive, disjointed, excitable and I sometimes lack in an appropriate filter which leads to me sticking my foot in my mouth… A lot. I like to think that I’m funny and so I make jokes a lot for many reasons and at the expense of many things (mostly myself). I also ramble on things if I’m stuck on a particular thought.

Themes I Enjoy: Beauty and the Beast, Historical, Workplace, Series, Paranormal, Humor*

Themes I Dislike: Bodice-rippers, Rape, Infidelity, Cougars, Plus sized, Children and Pregnancy*

Heroes I Enjoy: Bad boys and villains are my absolute favorites. I especially like villains that are mentally unstable. Seeing them reformed or at least tolerated is always a treat to me and there’s something about a guy that is morally depraved that just appeals to me. I want to get into his mind and see what made him the way he is.

Heroes I Dislike: Goodie-two-shoes. I’m talking about the guys who are just too sweet and perfect. The guy that is a children’s doctor who volunteers at the homeless shelter on weekends and breeds puppies that he trains as service dogs. Now if he had a crime syndicate on the side I’d be inclined to like him more.

Genres I Enjoy: Romance, fantasy, sci-fi (more post-apocalyptic and dystopian future rather than alien planets), comedy, mystery, horror (zombies are my current fave)

Genres I Dislike: I’m not a big non-fiction fan. There are some I will read but they have to be really involving or I get bored quickly.

Future Aspirations: I hope to become a published author someday soon of whatever it is that I manage to churn out. I also plan on becoming a mom at some point as well as finding a paying job in the place we move. Winning the lottery would also be quite nice.

Education: I’m a high school graduate with some college, though I do plan on going back and getting a degree. I also hope to take some character building classes like a cooking class, a kickboxing class, a dancing class… Just things to help me find my niche.

Weaknesses: Math, being rushed to do something, easily distracted.

So that’s just a very basic outline about me. I know I didn’t give much but I really couldn’t come up with a lot that was interesting or informative. If you can think of anything you’d want me to add or any questions you might have feel free to comment.

* = I will discuss why I like or dislike these particular things in greater detail in future entries.

Also! I’m thinking that instead of cheesy lines you may or may not find in generic romance novels I’ll start titling my entries using the Random Romance Novel Title Generator. We’ll see how that works and what you guys prefer.

She tried to plan everything but he had a way of ruining plans.

So to start out I think I’m going to come up with a template for book reviews. I just finished a good book so happily I can get this going very soon. Before anything I just want to have the skeleton mapped out as well as an explanation of how I judge each area of the book.

Title: I’m going to judge just how relevant this is to the plot, cover art, and how well it flows.

Author: Not really going to judge the author though I may snark a little at the chosen pen name.

Cover: This depends on how clichéd the cover is.

Summary: I’m going to comment on how much detail the back cover gives away, how well it is written, and points of interest.

Plot: I’ll break down the book into my own summary of the events within. This will contain spoilers but I’ll try to give fair warning every time.

Believe It Or Not: Basically if any of this is plausible or just whimsical.

Setting: Where the book takes place and if it helps or hurts ‘the mood’.

Sensuality: How hot, kinky, or embarrassing the sex is. Oh and the relationship itself when the couple isn’t boinking.

Hero: I’ll describe the main male character of the story and how I perceived him.

Heroine: I’ll describe the leading lady the way I come to understand her.

Themes: I’ll include the recurring themes that are common to many other romance novels.

Length: How many pages this book has and if it is enough, too little, or too many.

Overall: This is where I lay down my final opinion of what I just read and if I think the book is worth reading or throwing against a wall.

So far that’s the first draft of the template I’ll be using for reviews. I’ll try to include cover art of the novel if I can (as soon as I learn how to do that). Keep in mind there will be more to this blog than just book reviews and I’m going to try to cover every base of the genre: Even the ones that I REALLY don’t want to.

I’m not really sure how I’m going to go about the order or themes just yet. I just bought a ton of historical so you can bet that’s where I’m starting off. I’ll try to fairly balance the scale by reading at least one ‘bad’ book that has the theme. I’ll judge how bad it is by amazon.com reviews and suggestions from readers. Another thing is I will try to read at least one series with the theme I’m covering so I’ll give one big cluster review of each book.

I’ll also try to give an overview of what I expect and think of each theme before I start reading as well as a review of the theme after I’m finished. Then again this is all subject to change as I figure this all out.  If all this attempted organization falls flat on me I may just wing it. Who knows? I’m spontaneous like that.

Tomorrow look forward to posts about my humble self so you can learn a little about the mind behind this madness. Meanwhile I’m going to try doing some fun art spoofing cheesy covers. Hopefully it will be a weekly treat and I promise I’ll try to do something better than stick figures.

Also, I noticed I say ‘try to’ a lot. That’s because I really am trying. Soon enough I should be trying less and doing more so bear with me!

And so she took a deep breath and displayed a winning smile…

Hello readers!

Welcome to Preconceived Motions. This blog is going to be mainly about romance novels and all that it may entail from the perspective of someone fairly new to the genre (and admittedly a bit intimidated and incredulous). I plan to have various types of commentary from book reviews, common phrases and their meanings, personal observations and experiences, and other (hopefully) interesting entries as I immerse myself in the world of romance.

I’m hoping to grow as a writer (and hopefully find a semi-decent paying job as one) while enjoying my fairly obsessive love of books. There’s also the fact that I am trying to find structure, balance, and distraction as my life becomes uprooted in a move from the place I’ve called home since birth. And maybe I’m in search of myself and my purpose, pursuing a way to contribute to the world in some small way.

I picked romance novels as my genre because it’s such a mixed bag. People unfamiliar with romance (like I used to be and still sort of am) might think they have it figured out: Brooding caveman hero is charmed by sexy virgin heroine as they have loads of monkey sex described with cringe-worthy phrases like “Heaving bosom” or “Turgid manhood”. Add in unrealistic orgasms and cheesy declarations of undying love and you’ve got yourself a bestseller, right?

Not quite. You’d be surprised (like I was) to learn just how much more there is to the whole thing. There are different themes, character types, settings… An entire underground community of hardcore readers who aren’t ashamed to go into a bookstore, grab the book with the most embarrassing beefcake cover, march up to the register, and buy that sucker with hard-earned cash without batting an eyelash. And that community is more than just bored housewives and middle-aged divorcees.

Consider this blog as a sort of investigative dive into what romance novels are all about. An educational unveiling of a poorly represented genre. A tribute to the souls that hunt down books with dogged enthusiasm and aren’t ashamed to be moved by them.

I plan to be humorous as well as honest in my posts but it is hardly my intention to be offensive. While I might question some of what I may encounter I do not plan on ruthlessly bashing. I want to be open and friendly as I discover the good and bad of something new. I keep crude language at a minimum but since I am discussing a genre that contains copious amounts of copulating the subject matter will be discussed.

I’m entirely new to blogging and fairly new to romance novels so you can expect a few hiccups along the way as I feel everything out. I’m also likely to be a bit sporadic in my posts for a while since I’m getting ready to move but once things get settled I’m hoping to get a steady schedule going. My grammar is not perfect but I attempt to be literate.

For now I’m still in the process of setting up and figuring things out but friendly advice and suggestions are always welcome. I hope that readers will enjoy or at least be intrigued by what I have to say as I embark on this perilous journey into the widely unknown (to me). Wish me luck and thanks for reading!