Monday, September 20, 2010

Romance Reading Wrap-Up

Brief reviews of the romance novels I've read in the past month:

Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a RakeA well-written Regency romance. Inspired by her much younger sister's engagement, eccentric spinster Callie Hartwell vows to start living her life and begins by kissing the man she's secretly loved for years, notorious rake Gabriel St. John, the Marquess of Ralston. But that's just the first item on her list. Intrigued by Callie's unconventional ways and needing someone to sponsor his sister for her debut into society, Gabriel strikes a bargain with Callie: in exchange for her help with his sister, he'll help her cross off the items on her list, and of course he ends up falling for her in the process. I'm always on the lookout for well-written romances and I enjoyed this one, but not enough to gush over it. However I do think Sarah MacLean will have a successful career and I will read future novels from her. My Rating:  3.5 Stars.

My Lord JackFree download from NetGalley. I commend the author on giving her hero, Jack Campbell, an unconventional occupation, that of a hangman, and making it work. The story begins with a tragic incident from Jack's childhood that shapes the rest of his life and when he meets our heroine, Claudia, he is a somber man, living a lonely life under self-imposed celibacy. Then hot-blooded and sexy thief Claudia comes along and awakens his passions, though Claudia has some serious secrets and she may soon find herself on the wrong side of Jack's profession. I liked this story but I was jarred by the occurrence of way too many similarities to Diana Gabaldon's Outlander. Not plotwise, of course, but in other ways the influence was obvious, from the characters' names (Jack & Claudia/Jamie & Claire) to lines that read straight out of scenes from Outlander. I had a hard time getting past that and overall found the story to be a little too sweet and tame. My Rating:  3 Stars

Dance upon the Air (Three Sisters Island Trilogy)One thing I've learned about Nora Roberts is that you can't go wrong with one of her books. Sure some are better than others, but all of them are good. Her Three Sisters trilogy came highly recommended to me. This story revolves around Nell  Channing, who has started a new life for herself after escaping an abusive marriage. She ends up on the charming New England island of Three Sisters where she meets two women with whom she shares an instant and strange connection and she comes to learn that she, along with the other two, is part of an ancient prophecy and that her arrival on the island was anything but a coincidence. She also meets hunky sheriff Zack Todd and forms an instant connection with him, too. (Yum!) But Nell's newfound happiness is jeopardized when her past catches up with her and it will take the combined efforts of the Three Sisters (and Zack) to protect her. I enjoyed this first book of the series, but not enough to read the rest. I loved the setting, as always I think it's one of Nora Roberts' best talents: she has the ability to completely immerse and transport the reader into her novels' settings. But I wasn't drawn enough to the two other sisters to feel like I have to read their stories. My Rating:  3 Stars.

One Wore BlueThe best one of the bunch! This novel of the Civil War is the first in a trilogy about the Camerons, a wealthy Virginia plantation family who find their loyalties divided when the Civil War breaks out. Most of this novel is told from the point of view of Kiernan Mackay, the spirited and beautiful neighbor of the Camerons who has loved the oldest Cameron brother, Jesse, for most of her life. Time and circumstances finally collaborate to get this couple together, but their bliss is short-lived when their beloved Virginia secedes from the Union and the lovers find themselves on opposite sides of the divide and neither is willing to compromise on their convictions. Jesse, an army surgeon, rides off to the North, leaving Kiernan behind in the little town of Harper's Ferry, which is about to find itself in the middle of a tug-of-war between the Union and the Confederacy. But war has a way of tearing people apart and throwing them back together in dramatic fashion, and as the bloody conflict rages on, Kiernan and Jesse begin to question their ideals, their loyalities, and their feelings for each other. This novel borderlines on being a bodice-ripper and it is a bit on the melodramatic side, but it's delicious and well-researched and I couldn't put it down. I've already put the next book in the trilogy on my wishlist. My Rating:  4 Stars.

On a side note, another reason I enjoyed this novel so much is that I've visited Harper's Ferry in my travels and really liked the little town and I thought the author did a great job of recreating it in her novel. If you're interested, check out the post I wrote on Harper's Ferry as part of my Time Travelers feature.

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