Romance-cation: Some More Kleypas and Cabot

This is the last mini review I’m going to do for awhile.   As much as it pains me, I am going to start reading some YA again. Okay, it doesn’t exactly pain me, but I have been enjoying the change in reading and I am thinking about maybe widening the focus on this blog.

I know I’m going to continue reading HR at the very least I even purchased the Kindle edition of a very embarrassing book of my mother’s that I read. But that’s another reading experience for another day. Rather, this series of mini reviews is going to focus on several Kleypas standalones I read—well, two of them are parts of duologies but I didn’t realize it until after I finished—and a Patricia Cabot novel that I revisited (for those who don’t know Patricia Cabot is a pseudonym for Queen Meg Cabot).

 

 

Lord Lucas Stokehurst is captivated by the gentle grace and regal beauty of “Miss Karen Billings”, who appeared seemingly out of nowhere and now stands demurely before him. Enchanted, the gallant, haunted widower impetuously offers her a position as governess to his young daughter, taking the lady of mystery into his home.

But “Miss Billings” has another name, Anastasia, and a dark past that pursues her still. Condemned for a crime she cannot remember, she barely escaped the gallows. And now she seeks shelter in the arms of a man devastated by tragedy, a man who must now defy society and the forces of vengeance to keep his lady safe and their bold new love alive. 

Source: GoodReads 

Oh, man this one was a trip. After reading Kleypas latest books I was sort of surprised it was by her. There is so much about this book that is cliché romance. But it’s not terrible.   I mean, I didn’t hate it and I enjoyed it in that way you occasionally need a piece of 50,000 calorie cheesecake even though you know it’s not good for you.
Basically, the story is like if the Anastasia movie (not the teal because the princess and the entire royal family died and there was no magic and singing bats and Dmitri) had a baby with Jane Eyre.

Yeah, sounds ridiculous.

It totally is.

The MC I’m just warning you know is a complete Mary Sue, and the hero is one of the dullest in Kleypas repertoire even though he seems interesting—he has the one hand Hook thing going on for him. In fact, I imagined Hook from Once Upon a Time when Lucas was described so at least it was some nice mind candy.

The book was published in the mid 90’s so I’ll sort of give it a break there since flawed heroines really weren’t a big thing then. Hell, they’re not even they’re not even a big today which sort of sucks. But comparatively to Kleypas other heroines, Tasisa has little to no personality.   And even though this character finds herself in a horrible situation, I really couldn’t feel for her.

It’s odd both of these characters should have compelling back-stories, but they’re really dull as dishwater soap. The villain is mechanically evil, and when I found out that he got his own spinoff book they made my rage for St. Vincent seem miniscule. Though, to be honest, I may look at it when I have enough distance between myself in this book.

When I think of Midnight Angel I’m a little disappointed for it’s set up it is a bit of a downer, but it had some nice tropes going for it.

Overall Rating: B-

 

“I don’t care about your conscience. All I want is for you to kiss me again.”

Lady Madeline Matthews would rather shame herself than sacrifice her freedom—which is why, to avoid a marriage to an aging, lecherous lord, she seeks out the company of Logan Scott. A torrid affair with the notorious womanizer would surely condemn her in the eyes of good society.

Though a legend in the bedchamber, Logan is, in truth, an intensely private man tormented by past betrayals. Now a forward little minx is disrupting his life with her vibrant charm and unspoiled beauty, a high-spirited enchantress completely at sea in London’s sophisticated whirl. But when what begins with a kiss threatens to blossom into something more rapturous and real, will Logan and Madeline have the courage to drop the masks they hide behind in the name of love? 

Source: GoodReads

 This  book  also belongs to a duology. I actually have the first book in my cache of romance novels somewhere, but I haven’t found interest into reading it yet.

Like Midnight Angel, this one doesn’t live up to its premises. I was expecting Maddie to do something more than just standing by and playing nursemaid to seduce Logan. In all, she was a Sue who we were made to feel sorry for even though she really wasn’t that sympathetic of a character.

To be fair, Logan acted like a complete dick after finding out he knocked her up; but he was sort of used so I got why he was a little disdainful.

Still though, horrible.

I guess my problem with this one is that this was just a couple I couldn’t root for and the back story and plot just seemed a little phoned in.

Of course, the hero has a somewhat tragic back story with an interesting legacy. Of course, the heroine’s fiancé is a leach. I just—no.

It’s not what I expected with a Kleypas story.

The thing is though, it’s an average romance story. Any other author I’d be like—okay. But as far as Lisa Kleypas standards go, I’d skip this one.

Overall Rating: C+

 

 

Bestselling author Lisa Kleypas creates a beguiling story, set in a world where appearance means everything, passion simmers just below the surface, and a respectable Englishwoman is willing to risk scandal for one night of love.

She was unmarried, untouched and almost thirty, but novelist Amanda Briars wasn’t about to greet her next birthday without making love to a man. When he appeared at her door, she believed he was her gift to herself, hired for one night of passion. Unforgettably handsome, irresistibly virile, he tempted her in ways she never thought possible, but something stopped him from completely fulfilling her dream.

Jack Devlin’s determination to possess Amanda became greater when she discovered his true identity. But gently bred Amanda craved respectability more than she admitted, while Jack, the cast-off son of a nobleman and London’s most notorious businessman, refused to live by society’s rules. Yet when fate conspired for them to marry, their worlds collided with a passionate force neither had expected. . . but both soon craved.

Source: GoodReads

I actually liked Suddenly You even though it was a little cliché.

Amanda is your typical beautiful spinster who is, of course, ravished after meeting the right guy.

Her relationship with Jack starts out pretty intensely since she thinks he’s a male hooker (and of course he’s not he’s really a rich publisher). To be honest, a part of me sort of thinks that this one could’ve been more interesting if Jack really was a gigolo. I mean a Pretty Woman tale with a gender bending angle could be interesting.

But those sorts of things never happen in romance-land. I’m okay though, mainly because I liked the chemistry these two characters had.  It was delightful, and because of the earlier Pretty Woman innuendos, I kept thinking of Julia Roberts and Richard Gere in the leading roles.

Jack’s backstory was a little on the cliché side as well. Often when there’s these dark hero backstories—especially with Kleypas. The facts of what happened are merely thrown out for the reader and are more biographical, than anything else. Yes, I heard about the terrible things that happened to Jack but I didn’t feel them and feel the angst like I would’ve say in a Judith McNaught novel.

It didn’t make the book that weak though, again I enjoyed it. There were parts of it that were a bit of a downer though. Something happens in the last twenty pages of the book that I really felt was unnecessary, especially since it didn’t really add much to the plot. If you were going to use such a plot device have it effect your characters more. At least that’s what I think, some people might be glad that Kleypas didn’t dwell on it that much.

In all, Suddenly You is a fun romp but it does not hit the same caliber as the Wallflower or Hathway series.

Overall Rating: A solid B.

A stormy heart

Adventurous, outspoken, Payton Dixon has two passionate dreams…a clipper ship of her own and the love of Captain Connor Drake. But both seem impossibly out of reach, since her beloved captain is about to marry another, and worse, he’s been given her ship as a wedding present from her traitorous father.

A thwarted love

Out to prove she has right on her side, Payton manages to unleash a scandal and ignite all sorts of trouble. As for Drake, he can’t decide whether to throttle the girl he’s grown up with, or make love to the beautiful woman she has become.

An Improper Proposal 

Source: GoodReads

 

I read this one about ten years ago, give or take a few years. I liked it okay then, and thought it would be a fun to revisit.

I was wrong. If there is anything “good” about this book it is how much Cabot has grown as a writer since it’s publication.   If you read a lot of Meg Cabot books—which is who Patricia Cabot is—you’ll know that she’s prone to using certain tropes (feisty unconventional heroines, long descriptions about how tight the hero’s breeches (or jeans in a contemporary) are, hints of feminism, that sort of stuff). The thing is her use of tropes has improved as her writing improved.

To be honest, upon reread I sort of hated Payton. She seemed she was twelve rather than nineteen and after reading a plethora of other historical romances I know that if she acted the way she did in any other book she’d be walloped and then some.

It just seemed so weird to me that conventions of the period weren’t followed here. Yes, I get that Payton grew up around men, but there was such a disregard to what the woman’s role in society was back then that I just kept shaking my head and wanting to tell her to just shut up.

The hero appears to be a drip for the better part of 200 pages of the 300 some odd pages, since Cabot makes it appear that he’s a total drip before pulling a twist that Conner is really noble. Any other book there would be a more desirable suitor that would’ve kicked Conner’s ass. Instead, we just had to watch Payton be poorly treated by him and then have it scrubbed for nobility purposes.

And don’t even get me started on Connor’s fiancée or whatever she was to him. That whole plotline fell flat and I didn’t get why Payton even decided to help her out in the end when she treated her as if she was some sort of hussy or the better part of the book.

In addition to character issues, the book is just oddly paced. It drags really for the first half and then things just randomly happen. There’s a lot of stuff that works, but at the same time there’s a lot of stuff that doesn’t.

I think if you’re truly a Cabot fan you might want to check this out, but it’s going to be a little bit of a disappointment. It’s nowhere near her best and while there are some things that are interesting about it, her writing has since been polished and refined to where this book comes off looking very poor.

Overall Rating: A C.

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