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…
A light and fun read, for those who don’t mind a cruder side of humor. You look at this title and this cover and think this will be one of those porny cheesy romances with not much substance or credibility. I would never have bought this if I didn’t actually accidentally read an excerpt in the back of another book a while ago. While it is still a romance, you can’t escape from that, this book is built on utterly ridiculous, sometimes entirely idiotic, humor, and this humor, even when it turns crude and sexual, is the best thing about it. It a very well-constructed story for what it is. It is full of small ridiculous details and even brief side characters have vivid memorable personalities. The hero of this book is neither the ‘viking’ from the title, as many might have thought, nor is he a very typical romance hero, which is only a plus. He has a likable personality of someone who is very tired of other people’s shit (because it tends to fall on his shoulders), but still tries to do the right thing, if not entirely successfully. The heroine is not as unusual of a character, but still isn’t dull, boring, or annoying. Their friends and family (including the children) are precious. I do feel like I enjoyed reading this.
One thing I didn’t get about the writing were the cursive opening lines for most chapters…I’m not sure what purpose they served and have a feeling the text would be better without them—less interruption of the immersion, some of the remarks felt too modern to fit in. In fact, there were times where the text seem to lose its flavor and turn too modern from time to time in other places as well, but not enough to really bother, I think.
I never expected it to be this much fun. At first, the venomous undertone of the humor in the prologue made me a little suspicious. But then I had the hardest time stopping myself from grinning while reading (in public places), mostly because of the dialogs. The dialogs are definitely my favorite part about this book. I didn’t really enjoy the topic of the main ‘drama’ as much, but regardless, this book was still a surprise and a delight.
A well-written ‘love reforms all’ story with a ‘former rake’ and a heroine who is all innocence, bravery, and stubbornness, and not a single negative element to her. This book is also self-aware of the fact that it’s very much a ‘reformed rake cliché’. There are some plot turns, but it mostly made to be sweet.