Sometimes, years of labor and careful planning are no match for the fickle hand of coincidence. Thus, we have the year 1992 when the world was treated to two motion pictures about Christopher Columbus when the world wasnt even interested in even one. Or the Summer of 1997 when two disaster movies came out involving lava: Volcano and Dante’s Peak. Or April, 2007 when I just happen to read THREE* newly released romance novels, all with heroines nicknamed George/Georgie. Today, I will reviewing two of these books.
Lord Sin (2007) by Kalen Hughes
SIX NIGHTS OF PLEASURE . . .
Georgianna Exley’s passionate nature has always been her undoing-and for this reason the beautiful young widow allows her lovers only a single night in her bed. But Ivo Dauntry has come home to England, and for him she’ll break her most sacred rule: granting him six nights of sensual bliss, one for every year he’s given up for her . . .
SIX YEARS TO WAIT . . ..
As a gentleman born, Ivo risked his reputation and his life in a duel to defend Georgianna’s honor. Now, returned from exile, Ivo discovers that she has proved to be less than a lady . . . and soon, his daring seduction becomes a sensual contest of wills. But the long-ago duel that bound them forever has fueled the hatred of a madman determined to make Georgianna pay for her misdeeds with her life, and once again, Ivo must risk everything to save the woman he loves . . .
Grade: C+/DNF (I stopped at Page 198)
Ramblings: To me, the best thing about this book is that Hughes created a very believable Alpha Heroine. George (Georgianna) is a female Corinthian, a crack shot. When her carriage is held up by highwaymen and the villain, she gets her pistol and she routs them all by her lone self. And unlike other worldly widows in half of the historicals I read, who act like virgins as soon as the novel begins (despite whatever ho-ish repuation they have) George is quite comfortable in her sexuality and pretty much directs the sex & romance between herself and Ivo.
. . . whatever romance there is, anyway. And that’s the main problem with the book: I didnt see the romance. I didn’t see the falling-in-love. George and Ivo don’t talk much. They must communicate by mental telepathy or something. Unfortunately, I cant read Brainwavese.
I mean, in the first chapter, Ivo and George see each other for the first time in six years with a duel and a scandal connecting them and they have nothing to say to each other? Instead, they stare at each other lustfully across a crowded fighting ring. The next time they see each other, they share a smoke and more lustful glances. Then Ivo finally opens his mouth to say “Six nights.”
and George is like “Okay. Now shut up because you are ruining my silent lusting” Then more a-lustin’, a-kissin’, a-tuppin’ and still not much a-talkin’. The not-talking and just a-lustin’ kept going on and on . . . and on. At one point, George decides that she wants their six nights to be an ongoing affair and that she wants to be Ivo’s mistress. But does she never tells him this? No. Did she send off a message by brainwaves while I wasn’t looking? I dunno.
I wasn’t feeling Ivo at all. He was suppose to be strong, silent type but I found him almost disturbingly passive. When written right, a strong, silent hero stills gives off plenty of charisma and tension while standing still. I just could not get a sense of what made Ivo so interesting to George other than his good looks and their history together. And this is in spite of the fact that this book has a LOT of interior monologue and not enough doing & showing.
In terms of the writing itself, Hughes has a smooth style with a nice turn of phrase here & there reflecting a dry sense of humor. There was a retro feel to the book that reminded me of the Regencies from the 1970s I read from that period. Hughes has stated that she wanted to write like “Georgette Heyer, but HOT” and I can definitely see that. In terms of sensuality, it’s just a smidge below a Sabrina Jeffries/Nicole Jordan historical.
Note: This is the first book of a trilogy.
Her Only Desire (2007) by Gaelen Foley
Plot/Spoilers: Ian, a Marquess, is on a diplomatic mission and arrives in India where he meets Georgiana (Georgie) Knight and her two brothers (whose own books will arrive at a book store near you soon). Georgie gets into physical danger. Ian bails her out. Georgie gets into more danger. Ian bails her out but now Georgie and her bros must leave India for good. Ian proposes to Georgie in England after knowing her for the equivalent of two whole days. Just like in a Barbara Cartland novel but without the stuttering speeches about how they are reincarnated soulmates and are just spokes in the wheel of life. When a 453 page historical makes a 150 page Babs Cartland novel seem deep, this aint good. Anyway, Georgie goes back and forth on marrying Ian since she has known him for 2 days (duh!) and doesnt really know him. Also, Ian has a Deep Dark Secret involving his first wife which he doesnt want to talk about.
Rambling: If I can describe a Foley novel in one word, it would be “work.” There are writers who polish and polish their writing until the words come together so effortlessly, even though I, as the reader, know its not and then there are writers (intentionally or not) who polish and polish their novel and yet show every sweat, tears, blood and hair-pulling it took to write their opus. Foley is one of the later for me.
Anyway, I am sort of dumbfounded right now. I dont know what to say about this book. Whether she is on top of her game or not, Foley is a craftswoman and always gives me a thoughtful read so I dont understand how so many things could have gone wrong with this novel.
Where do I start? This book is 453 pages. I felt like I was reading a 600 page novel. The first 200+ pages is spent in India and this section needed to be shortened considerably because it’s mostly action and exposition and set-up for the following new trilogy. I can see that Foley, as expected, did a lot of research on India but she takes for granted that readers would know stuff like what purdah means as Georgie, the feminist, goes on and on about it. Foley also never mentions the age of either Ian or Georgie which I thought was weird. Despite all this, the India section has a rushed quality to the way it was wrapped up while leaving very little room for the development of the romance between Ian & Georgie.
This fact was brought home to me when I realized that Ian knew Georgie for all of two whole days when he first proposes marriage to her. Ian deciding that he wants to marry Georgie after stating that he doesnt want to marry again because of his terrible first marriage doesnt make sense to me.
Actually, Ian didn’t make sense to me at all. Ian, who was first introduced about four novels ago in Lady of Desire, was established as rather staid in his previous appearances. Since he is now the Hero, Foley tries to juice him up a little by revealing that Ian is dangerous with his beserker rage ala Wolverine and the possibility that he might have done a Max de Winter (see Rebecca by Du Maurier) on his first wife. Unfortunately, I didnt find this sexy, nor interesting, leaving me with a character I had a hard time trying to grasp.
Add to this, a too-action oriented story to cover the lack of chemistry and romance, some plot threads that were just dropped, a haphazard last minute wrap-up of Ian’s Deep Dark Secret, a superficial resemblence to Mary Jo Putney’s book Veils of Silk which also was set in India with a hero named Ian (this, coming after the Dancing On the Wind/Lord of Fire coincidence) and the result is one lackluster reading experience. Georgie’s brothers didn’t seem that interesting to me despite them being a Knight Male, which I presume is like a Cynster Male — the gold standard for Regency lovers not sick of series-itis. I’m gonna pass on the rest of this trilogy and hope that Foley will get back to the form of her earlier book for her next series.
Note: This is Book #1 of the Spice Trilogy but an off-shoot of Foley’s Knight Miscelleny series.
*Obviously, the third George novel this month was Hoyt’s The Leopard Prince which I won’t be reviewing but would give a B if I had done so