If I knew this story involved ‘Russians’ I don’t think I would ever have picken it up. Because people trying to write from a point of view of real cultures that they don’t belong to and not doing a good job out of it a big pet peeve of mine. Yes, the author tried to do her research. She even used some words right. But, imho, if you’re writing about a culture you don’t belong to, the least you could do is try not sounding like you’re an absolute authority on the subject. The whole ‘all Russians are like this’, ‘this is definitely unacceptable for Russians, and when the character shows her temper ‘it must be Slavic blood’ moments and phrasing made me see red in places. It’s was just not done smartly. And no, references to Russian culture did not read authentic in this book. At most, it sounded like a mix of weird stereotypes and things one could’ve picked up about the Russian society in 90s, not Imperial Russia. Also, words that don’t exist in Russian language. (And then I started wondering, what if the parts/books about England and English are equally inauthentic and just didn’t bother me because I never studied the period/culture closely to notice the wrong details?…And it kind of spoiled the whole book for me.) The character of Lucas is interesting, though he jumps from being strong, smart, and reasonable, to fits of rage and lust, to indifference and mild scumbaggery. Anastasia, equally jumpy from one personality to other, but hardly any different from any other English heroine. If she was supposed to be? Then the weird supernatural elements. And those, mixed with sex and the whole attempt to base the book on a foreign culture, made the whole book feel like a mess. Yet, I do suspect, that for those who know nothing of either cultures and don’t care about how they are written, this could be an enjoyable read.
Sometimes I sigh and feel very silly for still reading these books…especially when I need to pretend not to think about details like ‘a girl catching a big hawk on her arm without a glove and not only being able to hold him up, but also having not a single scratch’, use of word ‘beige’ in 11th century, and various other small plot holes and skips. But then I reach little parts that make me smile like an idiot, and I decide that I can still close my eyes on the glaring writing problems for silly comfort books about knights and stubborn women who try to conquer each other and make the other see reason. My favourite part of this book is the very last page, and because of that last page I kind of forgave and forgot everything else.
Confusing writing. Annoying characters. Triggery content. Story elements that make very little sense. Featuring a woman who was raped and betrayed by everyone, than married and misunderstood by her new husband about her past in various ways for the duration of the whole book; super convenient magic dress; weird healing coma and weird woman who instructed the husband to rub medicine onto the whole body of an unconscious above-mentioned woman 3 times a day practically forcing him to rape her again; proud whores and assholes. On top of it all, disturbingly weak writing (the first battle left me grimacing at the ways details were presented and skipping through the text to get it over with) with So. Much. Head-hopping. Sometimes it felt like POV would change before 1 sentence even ended. How is this okay (enough to be published)?
I’ve expected from the very beginning to have to treat this book as ‘something push through in order to continue reading the rest of the series.’ That would be because, unfortunately, I haven’t liked Prisca since book 1. She is a spoiled brat. There is a difference between having an opinion and believing your opinion to be above everyone else’s. She sticks her nose in everyone’s business, thinks she has a right to manipulate everyone’s lives, and doesn’t care to listen to anyone but herself. The whole situation where she ‘loved’ him, but chose to believe the worst about him and leave him a note cursing him to hell, when she actually made a promise to elope…doesn’t do anything to improve my opinion of her either. She doesn’t listen and think, she stops her foot and screams that everything must be as she wants it. A very annoying lead female character. In fact, it’s like she was on purpose written in a way to annoy readers to hell.
Then the “love rival”‘s behaviour didn’t help this book’s impression either… I really don’t enjoy reading books where all you want to do is smack a character on the head hard and long enough until you can shake some brains into there.
The only thing I actually really liked about this book is that the characters of the previous books, all family members, were present and active participants of the story.
Ah, at last, a novel of the series I enjoyed almost as much as The Duke and I. While the developments were very easy to guess after the first three novels in the series, they were still very much fun to read. And, well, it’s a book about two writers falling in love.
Quite possibly one of the most romantic romance stories I’ve read. The main characters are very well-written and engaging. Their interactions have a lot of depth and are truly fascinating to observe. There is something very appealing to me in both of their personalities, some sort ‘rightness’ they both carry and moral rules they both follow. How she says without thinking ‘You’re my husband, if I escape you’ll have to come with me’ and how he ‘rolls with the punches’ and accepts responsibilities for people without thought. They are two very similar people, who have some very similar qualities and dreams, but they are also so similar in their stubbornness that, even though they have the exactly same goal in mind, they simply can’t believe that his/her own way to achieve it is not the only possibly correct one. The way they can’t seem to communicate is very aggravating, but the way they actually feel for each other somehow does make up for it. (Admittedly, I would be tempted to side with Royce more than Nicholaa, because he chooses absolute honesty and logic where she chooses manipulation and pretending instead of working issues through, but they’re definitely worth each other.)
The only real problems I have with this book is the annoying ‘head-hopping’ writing style and the unresolved family issues.
The good: the ridiculous humor, the tone, the dialogues, the adventure, and the characters (Colin with his impostor syndrome, tendency to punish himself, and love to spin fantastic tales; Min with her determination, attentiveness to weirdest things, and freedom) . The bad: the cover (oh, Avon, please do stop spoiling your books with tasteless covers), the slight overload of the ‘head in the sand’ behavior, where people keep doing things without letting themselves acknowledge what are they doing and why. This book might also take a ‘lighter’ approach to its setting then some others, but I wouldn’t say that it suffers for it, only perhaps requires a less pedantic mind to really enjoy.
I have three issues here, and the first one is mostly my own fault: when I read the description I have imagined something different, and then I felt disappointed, which lowered my impression of the whole book. …Which would be why I usually avoid reading descriptions and reviews that include summaries of the book.
The second one is that this book is like an overstylized romance on steroids. Everything feels just too exaggerated, tuned to max level of whatever they are: the overly damaged hero, who of course is the richest man in England; the overly saintly innocent heroine, who of course doesn’t want to be innocent anymore; the overly cowardly almost-fiancée with more mommy issues than brains; the overly despicable and malicious former lover/female villain; the overly helpful side characters; the overly dramatic unnecessary drama, followed by numerous overly cheesy declarations, and so on. Everything is just so THICK. Then there’s the problem of drama for the sake of drama, villainy for the sake of villainy, stubbornness of the sake of the stubbornness, and the fact that 90% of the plot simply rests on the issues of people not pulling their heads out of their asses and nothing more. It doesn’t really feel logical or organic. And the third one is the constant head-hopping.
One thought: “Omg, please please please don’t be some kind of Cinderella retelling…” was pounding in my head while I was trying to read through the prologue… and then of course it goes and does just that. Which will make this review even more subjective and negative than usual. I never liked Cinderella, and that is mostly because the character/idea of disgustingly malicious and abusive ‘evil stepmother’ sends me into fits of rage and disgust the second I see it, and the fact that everyone runs in circles of angst because everyone keeps lying to each other. After I finished the prologue I knew that the only way I will be able to read this book is by sometimes skipping through whole pages, because the moment the ‘stepmother’ appeared on the page I would want to commit murder in some violent way and I don’t enjoy the feeling. And I don’t read books to experience it.
Angst is definitely not what I look for in this series. While I’m sure some readers loooved the drama (the evilness, the worrying about how the main characters will escape their increasingly angsty circumstances, eagerly waiting for the truth to finally come out), I personally hate hate hate it. And I hate plots that are built on angst that is built on lies on top of lies on top of lies. Plots like this are not enjoyable to read at all, and I had to read this book very selectively to get through it while hoping that maybe at least the next one could be more like the first one. Benedict is the only good thing about this book, and it made him a character to ‘feel sorry for’ in double: first because his characters in general invites some feeling sorry for (almost of maternal variety), and then because it’s unfortunate that he is the one who ended up with a book with a plot like this. The main character Sophie just might be the most irritating female main character in the series so far (and books by Julia Quinn I’ve read in general). She was determined to make her own life and everything around her more complicated at every step. Then there’s the fact that it didn’t really feel as romantic and all that he made his advances before he knew the truth. Or decided that he didn’t care. There were a few good and fun moments in this book, but there’s also way too much cheesy angst, too much of too cheesy romance lines, and too much of irritating mess in general. Not a book to relax with and enjoy peacefully at all.
I have a lot of mixed feeling about this one. I feel it’s about 3.5 stars, and am still not sure if I rounded the correct way. While I don’t believe this book is one of the author’s earliest, judging by the publication date, it certainly reads like one. Both plot and writing-wise. On one hand, it certainly had its perfect moments (like the brilliant first chapter), and on the other hand the whole main ‘drama’ of the story (the one with obsessing about people not saying the words) and the whole conclusion were utterly and toothachingly cliched and cheesy. In fact, there were uncharacteristically (at least I’d like to think so) many cliched and cheesy moments in this, compared to other books. Then there is the fact that the main female friendship was of a rather insincere nature that shouldn’t be normalized, and the problem that the issue of the ‘friendship’ being half-sided was never recognized or addressed. As well as the fact that there was a number of side characters who were left too glaringly underdeveloped and faceless, which I also felt was uncharacteristic for the author. And there is also the fact that POV floated all over the place. In all, this book just reads very much like ‘one of very first books’, where there are some good ideas but execution lacks style and sophistication that develops with experience.
Perhaps a level lower on the fun and giggles meter than the first book, but still delightful. Even brilliant in some places, like the roles bees played. I love the fact that behind all the humor and romance these books pick up on some very real and serious issues that occur in human psyche and do a pretty good job of showing what goes on in people’s heads.
Julia Quinn is really a master of dialogues and character interaction. So much that I can hardly comment on any other aspects of the story, because there’s this one thing that I already like the most. And I envy the talent.
A romance so thick and corny it will be perfect for those who people who want to bury themselves in it like in a bathtub of honey and not think much.
I only read 2 other books by Catherine Anderson, and while it is enough to realize that her romances tend to be extra-archetypal in their structure and content (predictable story arch, strongly female perspective, unbelievably perfect males, damaged girls who carry some deep emotional trauma but are also of course very pretty and domestic (usually great cooks), etc.), this one just had a bit too much of ‘over the top’ element. Ace, while carrying the ‘dangerous bad boy in black’ image visually, is practically a psychiatrist in one moment, saint in another, and notices and thinks all the right things all the time–the picture of ‘ideal man’ from female perspective drawn thick and unapologetic. And it goes on like that: the hero is too perfect, the heroine is too much of a ‘tortured innocence’, her brother is too unbearable (every time he opens his moth you’ll want to vomit, but apparently he needs to be understood and forgiven), her father is too horrific, the romance and setting is too idealistic, the mess in the end is too dramatic… The story and world setting ‘outside’ the relationship of the two also seemed thinner than in other books. There’s certainly a time and place for books like this, when your mind might need something entirely unrealistic, some great evil that hurt women to be banished by a ‘bad boy price charming’ who is also drawn entirely whom a female perspective and will make everything right… But I have to say there’s such thing as laying it on too thick. I’m also kind of glad that I read ‘Summer Breeze’ before this, because I’m not sure I would’ve picked up these series if I judged them by this book…