Posts tagged ‘Scandal’
Coming up with a long list of great reads from 2009 was easy. Narrowing it down to just a few was really, really hard.
Here is my short list for 2009:
Men of the Otherworld by Kelley Armstrong
Not only did this anthology give me new insight into one of my favorite series, it also was excellent as a stand alone novel. Clay’s and Jeremy’s stories were great peeks into characters that usually serve as foils to the women of the Otherworld.
Clay’s voice, especially was wonderful, and gave me insight into why he is the scary, sexy misfit he is in the Otherworld series.
See my post about Men of the Otherworld here.
Wicked Gentlemen by Ginn Hale
The book was a wonderful surprise. It included a highly original world, a heartbreaking protagonist, and beautiful prose.
Belimai and Captain Harper are unique characters, and I love the combination of mystery, fantasy, and romance in Wicked Gentlemen. Also, Blind Eye Books did a wonderful job with the production and artwork. I
So much was fit into the 2 novellas that make this beautiful, slim volume. Read my review here.
Angels’ Blood by Nalini Singh
This was a world and a story that stayed with me for days. The beautiful imagery and original story line made Angels’ Blood a page turner for me. The angels, vampires and hunters were fascinating.
I loved how the Archangels had such an edge of danger to them. Raphael was appropriately powerful and scary, yet I loved how as the story progresses, his feelings for Elena become clear.
This book was labeled and “urban fantasy romance”, and it’s clearly grittier than a typical paranormal romance, but still has more focus on relationships than a strict urban fantasy.
Read my comments about Angels’ Blood in my Top 5 Paranormal Romances post.
Scandal by Carolyn Jewel
This was one of those books that I wanted to tell everyone about. Prose, character development and a moving storyline completely entranced me.
I loved how Banallt has already reformed his rakish ways before the book opens. The drama centers on his efforts to convince Sophie that he has truly changed, and how she sloooowly comes to trust and believe in him—and trust in her own judgement.
This was the first book I read by Carolyn Jewel, but she has now become one of my favorite authors, both for her historicals and her paranormals.
Read my review of Scandal here.
The Dark Tide by Josh Lanyon
An amazing conclusion to one of my favorite series. I’m still thinking about this books, which I just finished reading last week. In fact, last week I did something I never do: as soon as I finished reading The Dark Tide, I turned to the first page and started reading it all over again.
I LOVE that Josh Lanyon was able to provide a compelling story arc that extended through the 5 books in the series, and wrap it up in The Dark Tide in such a satisfying way, while at the same time providing an interesting and suspenseful mystery. Adrien’s and Jake’s relationship was never smooth, but in the final book they achieve a resolution to their relationship that is oh-so-rewarding for the reader. All the things that needed to happen at the conclusion of this series, did.
Bravo, Josh Lanyon.
Now, there are too many books that deserve a mention, but didn’t make my Top 5. Some didn’t make this list because, even though I first read them in 2009, they were released more than 12 months ago. Also, there are a number of books or series I really enjoyed that were excellent, but were in the top 10 or 15. Given that I read over 225 books in 2009 (not including re-reads) it was really difficult to narrow my list down to even a top 15. In an upcoming post, I’ll visit some other great reads from 2009, as well as some reading discoveries I made this year.
What were your Top 5 for 2009?
I’m really selective about the historical romances on my keeper shelf. I don’t have much shelf space, and am pretty ruthless about giving away and selling books that are not my absolute favorites. I also read a lot of historicals from the library, since they are so readily available. Right now I’m actually tracking down some of my favorites that I definitely want on my keeper shelf. Here are a few that already have prime placement on my shelf, or are on the top of my list to track down at the used book store.
ETA: This list is in no particular order.
To Seduce a Sinner by Elizabeth Hoyt
Beautiful prose and quiet revelatory moments make this book a stand out for me.
I love Melisande’s quiet strength and determination when she proposes to Jasper in the opening scene in the book.
Jasper is a man who has lived through torture, and still suffers the emotional scars. He’s such a great combination of urbane gentleman and tortured hero.
I love that Jasper comes to love Melisande and doesn’t try to change her. He accepts her quiet, plain style as part of her. She accepts his quirks and doesn’t try to fix him.
My favorite scene(s) are where they visit each other’s empty rooms, trying to connect with the other, and reveal their true feelings (all without a word of dialogue.)
Here’s my review for To Seduce a Sinner.
Dreaming of You by Lisa Kleypas
It’s funny, cause looking back at old posts, this book didn’t make my “Best Reads” of the month, yet was a Best of the Year. Partly, that was due to the fact that during October (the month I read Dreaming of You) I had also read Devil’s Bride, Tin Star, Sugar Daddy, and Seduce Me at Sunrise — all, truly excellent reads!
However, I also think it’s due to the fact that Derek Craven, DoY‘s hero, is the kind of character that really stayed with (and apparently, grew on) a me. His tough guy exterior belied an intense romantic, who loved the bookish Sara utterly and passionately.
My favorite scene, wasn’t a scene, exactly. It’s how Derek finds a pair of Sara’s spectacles, and carries them in his pocket. It reveals so much about his need for connection with her, his yearning. Oh man, I love it!
Here’s what I had to say in my Best of the Year post.
Scandal by Carolyn Jewel
I really like it when a hero and heroine have lived a little prior to a book’s opening. This is truly the case with Scandal, where Sophie and Banalit have both personal history, and history with each other.
This book develops such a sense of restrained passion that just seethes under the surface. It creates a tension that at any moment may erupt. And boy, when Sophie and Banalit finally do come together it is explosive.
But I get ahead of myself.
Sophie is a heroine who has been buffeted about by events in her life, and does what she can to mitigate the historically helpless position impoverished women were in during this time period. However, as I’m sure was often the case, even her somewhat successful attempts aren’t always enough, and it’s this vulnerability that indelibly marks her character. It also impacts her behavior toward Banalit, making for some screaming plot tension.
Banalit begins the story in love with Sophie, so unlike most romance heroes, his journey is not one of falling in love with the heroine, but one of accepting her journey to receiving his love.
Beautiful, beautiful book.
Here’s my review for Scandal.
The Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas
Lisa Kleypas writes the best heroes, and St Vincent is one of her best (next to Derek Craven, of course!)
Now, while the main action between St Vincent and Evie takes place in TDiW, so much of their history and character is set up in the previous Wallflowers books (Secrets of a Summer Night and It Happened One Autumn) that the story starts with a bang when Evie proposes to St Vincent. (Hmm . . . I just realized 2 of the books on my list start with a marriage proposal from the woman. I guess I like the set up!)
I also really like Evie. While she is shy and has been dominated in the past by her abusive relatives, she really takes control of her life when she shows up on St Vincent’s doorstep. She also doesn’t let St Vincent’s sophistication and self-confidence cow her. When she sets ground rules to their marriage, it’s St Vincent who has to grow and adapt.
St Vincent is the best example of the “reformed rake” hero-type that I can think of. He really starts with a big hole to dig himself out of, in terms of gaining the reader’s (and Evie’s) trust and liking by the time TDiW starts. And, he does redeem himself, making himself one of my favorite heroes in historical romance.
Here’s a review of The Devil in Winter in my November’s Best Reads post. (Scroll down.)
Lord of Soundrels by Loretta Chase
I love how Loretta Chase will take romance reader expectations, and totally stand them on their head. It’s this “unexpectedness” in her writing that makes Lord of Scoundrels really stand out for me.
For example, Dain is that alpha hero who is autocratic and demanding. He assumes (and demands) that things go his way. Yet, Jessica doesn’t let it intimidate her. She simply smiles and coos at him, giving him lots of sympathy for his being so “high-strung.” The part that just makes me want to laugh out loud is that after Dain’s initial surprise at her reaction to him, he accepts — and comes to enjoy — this attention from her.
The other thing I love about LoS is Jessica’s determination that Dain accept responsibility for his illegitimate son, and then sets out to make it happen. She doesn’t waste time in the usual angsting and drama of betrayal over something that happened will before they met. She rolls up her sleeves and takes control of the situation.
You know, I don’t think I have a favorite scene, so much as the fact that this books overall intelligence, in the characters and in its overall writing make it a special read.
Here’s my review for Lord of Scoundrels.
Devil’s Bride (The Cynster series, book 1) by Stephanie Laurens
It’s definitely the hero and heroine that make this book one of my favorites. Honoria is no shrinking miss. She is confident, opinionated, and not shy about letting her opinion be known. When she encounters Devil, she is nonplussed by this commanding man who takes charge and refusal to be intimidated by Honoria’s bossy ways.
Devil is the oldest of the Cynster cousins, and very much the leader of a group of alpha men.
I love how the family dynamics are so interwoven into this romance and into Devil’s personality. Also, I love a mystery to go along with my romance, and Devil’s Bride has both.
This is such a wonderful book, and I just wish the entire series was more consistently a good as this first installment.
Here’s a review of Devil’s Bride in my October’s Best Reads post.
It was really fun to look back on my favorites are remember why I love them so much. It definitely makes me want to go back and reread them.
I told myself that this would be a “top 5” but I just couldn’t leave any of these out as my absolute favorites. Of course, these aren’t the only ones on my keeper shelf, just the ones at the top of the list.
What are your top 5 (or 6)?
Scandal by Carolyn Jewel
Sometimes, I have my reading short list planned out: what I’m currently reading (usually 2 or 3 books/audiobooks) and what’s next on deck. Right now, it’s Raven’s Shadow and Queer Wolf for my current reads, with Mr Cavendish, I Presume by Julia Quinn (my TBR Challenge book) and Years by LaVyrle Spencer up next.
Then, yesterday (Tuedsay,) I received a package in the mail from Lea, who had noticed I’d been wanting to read Scandal. She popped it in the mail, and, when I opened the envelope last night, the beautiful cover struck me. “Just a few pages,” I thought . . .
Here is the book description:
The earl of Banallt is no stranger to scandal. But when he meets Sophie Evans, the young wife of a fellow libertine, even he is shocked by his reaction. This unconventional and intelligent woman proves to be far more than an amusing distraction — she threatens to drive him to distraction. Unlike the women who usually fall at Banallt’s feet, and into his bed, Sophie refuses to be seduced. And soon Banallt desires her more than ever — and for more than an illicit affair.
Years later, the widowed Sophie is free, and Banallt is determined to win the woman he still loves. Unfortunately, she doesn’t believe his declaration of love and chivalrous offer of marriage — her heart has already been broken by her scoundrel of a husband. And yet, Sophie is tempted to indulge in the torrid affair she’s always fantasized about. Caught between her logical mind and her long-denied desire, Sophie must thwart Banallt’s seduction — or risk being consumed by the one man she should avoid at all costs . . .
I first saw Scandal over at Katiebabs’ Babbling about Books and More, back in November, long before it was released. After reading her post, it went up on my upcoming books list. Since then, I’ve read a number of reviews (mostly raves.) What I found interesting, was adjectives like “quiet,” “reflective,” “seething with emotion” (click to see Kati’s review-ish post) to describe the mood of the book. These words were very apt.
The book takes place over almost 4 years, jumping fluidly back and forth between when Sophie and Banallt first meet — she is married to the dissolute Tommy, he is Tommy’s compatriot in whoring, drinking — and the present action — they are both widowed, she is penniless, living with her very protective brother, and he is recently returned from an extended continental trip, forever changed by their last meetings three years earlier.
My only complaint about the book (and it’s a nit-picky one, but I’ve got to voice it anyway) is that we never find out anything about Banallt’s first marriage — other than that he loved her and was unfaithful to her— or even how he was widowed. (Or did I miss that?) It wasn’t necessary for character development, but might have given some insight into his character, and I found it a little distracting when his widowed status was mentioned that the late countess was a complete cypher. However, this one small issue did not detract seriously from my enjoyment of the book.
Most of the book’s action is of an interior sort. From the beginning of the book, Banallt knows he wants to win Sophie. Sophie, utterly shattered by her disastrous marriage to Tommy, has built walls around herself as impregnable as the castle she dreamt of as a child. She knows Banallt has feelings for her, but she can neither trust him to remain faithful, nor trust her own ability to allow herself to be loved again.
Carolyn Jewel’s beautiful prose called sharply to mind Elizabeth Hoyt’s To Seduce a Sinner. (My review of it here.)Like TSaS, Scandal was able to capture an incredible amount of emotion in the simplest of scenes, like when Banallt sees Sophie for the first time in 3 years:
Awesome quote #1:
Anxiety pressed in on Banallt, which annoyed him to no end. What he wanted from this moment was proof she hadn’t taken possession of his heart. That his memories of her, of the two of them, were distorted by past circumstance. They had met during a turbulent time in his life during which he had perhaps not always behaved as a gentleman ought. They had parted on a day that had forever scarred him. He wanted to see her as plain and uninteresting. He wanted to think that, after all, he’d been mistaken about her eyes. He wanted his fascination with her to have vanished.
None of that had happened.
Banallt still thought he’d do anything to take her to bed.
Sophie lifted a hand to shade her eyes. “Hullo . . .”
So much is left unsaid between Banallt and Sophie, but it is always clear that that does not mean it is unfelt. Some reviews have complained that Sophie takes too long to come around and trust Banallt, and that Banallt doesn’t try hard enough to convince her he’s changed from his rakish ways. However, I don’t agree. While I might have felt frustrated that she didn’t believe him sooner, it was in keeping with her character and experiences. And, for Banallt’s part, he know that if tries harder or is more confrontational with her, she would only think it was more lies.
She needed to change deep within herself, before she could open up her heart to him. Over time, she slowly thaws, and begins to see him in a new light. Even, at one point, literally seeing him as a stranger across a crowded room:
Awesome quote #2:
His looks forbade despite his smile. She’d never but once before seen a face so dangerously handsome. The darkness in his expression drew her in. What lay behind that unknowable face? Something about that smile said, Beware, I’ll break your heart. She was dying to know the color of his eyes.
— and then the puzzle was completed. Her world shifted under her feet; her stomach dropped a mile.
Not a stranger at all. Banallt.
The time in which she did not know him lasted hardly a breath, perhaps two, but so many details lived there. Claret coat, tan pantaloons, top boots, white shirt. From here, she could not see his waistcoat to judge wheter he had come tonight as a dandy or a Corinthian.
Of course it was him. How could she not have recognized him? Her knees went weak, because she had never until this very moment understood how his beauty spoke to her.
Mere looks become revelations in Scandal.
One of my favorite scenes in a book is in Jane Austen’s Persuasion. Captain Wentworth reenters a room filled with visitors, and hands Anne Eliot a letter he has written. He asks her to read it, and leaves. That’s it. But, there is so much restrained emotion in that scene, the reader knows (even before Anne does) that her life will never be the same.
Again and again I was reminded of the same kind of pent up emotion that Persuasion and To Seduce a Sinner had, buried under social conventions and manners. And yet, when Sophie and Banallt do come together, it’s a conflagration. The love scenes were scorching and full of physical as well as emotional heat.
Scandal was a wonderfully satisfying read on all levels.
I’ll definitely be hunting down Carolyn Jewel’s backlist.
- Carolyn Jewel’s site
- Excerpt from Scandal.
Don’t forget to enter the Passing It On Giveaway. Go here to enter! Enter the drawing by midnight, March 14, 2009.
Wow, February is a really big book release month.
There’s something for everybody: romance, urban fantasy, parnormal romance, m/m, and romantic suspense. There are actually so many this month, I’m keeping my comments to a minimum (for once!)
Here are the ones I’m really looking forward to:
February 1, 2009: Too Good to be True by Kristan Higgins
I read Kristan Higgins’ Just One of the Guys, last year, and immediately got a hold of the rest of her backlist. Her contemporary romances are sweet, funny, and have a great cast of characters. I’ve been excitedly waiting for this, her next book.
Here is a book description from the author’s site:
|February 1, 2009: Pride (The Shifters series, book 3) by Rachel Vincent
I’ve really enjoyed this series, and I’m looking forward to seeing how this story arc is resolved. While probably not necessary to read these in order, I’d recommend it. The nice thing about this series is that the next book in the series, Prey, will be out in July!
Here is a book description from the author’s site:
ETA: Rachel Vincent has a contest going on at her blog! Enter before February 4, 2009 to win signed copies of ALL THREE Shifters novels.
February 3, 2009: Scandal by Carolyn Jewel
I saw this book over at KatieBab’s Babbling About Books, and More! and immediately added it to my booklist. (I’ve since reserved a library copy!)
Here is the description from the author’s site:
February 3, 2009: Bone Crossed (Mercy Thompson series, book 4) by Patricia Briggs
Among the large number of eagerly anticipated books, this is one I’m looking forward to most.
Here is the description from the author’s site:
February 3, 2009: Ravenous (The Dark Forgotten series, book 1) by Sharon Ashwood
I’ve heard so much buzz around the blogs on this one. I’ve become pickier about the new UF series I start, but this one stands out. I’ve already got it on request from the library.
Here is a book description from the author’s site:
|February 3, 2009: Undone (Outcast Season: Book 1 of 4) by Rachel Caine
This new series is set in the same world as Rachel Caine’s Weather Warden’s series.
Here is a book description from the publisher:
February 3, 2009: Kiss of Fate (A Dragonfire Novel, book 3) by Deborah Cooke.
February 3, 2009: Mortal Sins (World of the Lupi, book 5) by Eileen Wilks.
February 6, 2009: Mexican Heat (Crimes and Cocktails series, book 1) by Josh Lanyon and Laura Baumbach (M/M)
February 24, 2009: White Witch, Black Curse (The Hollows series, book 7) by Kim Harrison
February 24, 2009: Kitty Raises Hell (Kitty Norville series, book 6) by Carrie Vaughn
February 24, 2009: Made to be Broken (Nadia Stafford series, book 2) by Kelley Armstrong.
Well, lot’s of great stuff this month! For information on other future releases, check out the Upcoming Releases.
Are there any books coming out that I missed that you’re looking forward to?