24 February 2016

The Duchess by Jude Deveraux

Hey everyone,

Believe it or not this is actually the first novel by Jude Deveraux I’ve ever read. Considering she is a staple of the historical romance genre I was amazed that I hadn’t picked up one of her books before buying The Duchess at my local library. Read on to see what I thought of this old-school historical romance!

The book:

Jude Deveraux captures the thrill of an American beauty's Highlands wedding, where a royal title is at stake -- and where love wins the day.

Claire Willoughby risked losing millions in her inheritance if, as decreed by her grandfather, she did not wed an "acceptable" man. Harry Montgomery, the eleventh Duke of MacArran, seemed perfect. He owned a historic castle, he looked manly in a kilt, and he was as much a titled Scotsman as Bonnie Prince Charlie himself.

Their engagement announced, Claire's future as a duchess was assured -- and she set off with her family to meet the Montgomery clan in Scotland. Bramley Castle was a damp, chill place, overfowing with eccentric relatives. But there was also Trevelyan, a secretive, brooding man who lived in Bramley's ancient halls. Whoever he was, he wasn't at all like Harry: Trevelyan was the most exasperating, arrogant, know-it-all of a man Claire had ever met. And the most fascinating...

My thoughts:

It’s been a while since I’ve read a classic of the historical romance genre, and although The Duchess was published in 1992 (so no issues of consent thankfully), it definitely had the feel and tone of a classic historical romance. This mostly came across in the problematic depictions of foreign cultures and yet I really enjoyed reading this book despite all that. I loved that knowledge and learning was such a huge part of the heroes and heroines personality. It was the bedrock for their friendship and academic study (and everything surrounding it) is an important plot point for The Duchess.

For the most part people do not like to learn. They like to know and they like to tell others what they know, but they do not like the process of learning

16 February 2016

Playing with Fire by Avery Cockburn

Hey everyone,

I’m back reviewing an M/M romance book, but to make a nice change this one is set in Scotland! In fact Playing with Fire by Avery Cockburn is the third book in her A Glasgow Lads series. I was also lucky enough to be sent this book by Avery Cockburn herself. 

The book:

Robert McKenzie has a secret. As the only straight player on an all-LGBT soccer team, he’s known to fans as “McWhatAWaste.” No one would guess Robert’s actually bisexual. At twenty-one, on the verge of a brilliant career in video game design, he’s finally ready to be his true self. The only thing keeping him in the closet is…his gay best friend?

Liam Carroll has a problem. His gorgeous best mate wants to kiss him and touch him and…everything with him. But for how long? With Robert embarking on a bright future—far from their rough-and-tumble East End streets—Liam may soon be left behind. He can’t risk falling in love with a man he can’t live without. His solution? Keep things casual, see what happens.

Aye, right. After one night together, “just mates” is no longer an option. Robert wants more than sex, but diehard cynic Liam won’t drop the barriers around his heart. As they push and pull each other, their lifelong bond—the heart of the Warriors team—is ready to rupture. With the bridge back to mere friendship well and truly burned, Robert and Liam must go forward together—or fall to pieces apart.

My thoughts:

Like the other books in the Glasgow Lads series, Playing with Fire as one core conflict that creates conflict for Robert and Liam. Whereas Playing for Keeps focused on religion and Playing to Win focused on wealth/class in her latest novel Avery Cockburn has focused on an issue close to my heart. Sexuality. More specifically bisexuality. In previous books Robert has been the token straight guy on a team of LGBT football players. Yet Robert has been hiding the fact that he isn’t quite as straight as everyone would believe. In fact he’s bisexual and has been aware of it for quite a while.

I’ll make you want me. I’ll make you beg. I’ll make you make me an exception to your rule, until the rule no longer matters.

9 February 2016

Gabriel’s Rapture by Sylvain Reynard

Hey everyone,

With only 27 books left on my to-be-read pile I finally got around to reading Gabriel's Rapture, the second book in Sylvain Reynard's hugely popular Gabriel's Inferno series. I went in with high expectation, after all I gave Garbiel's Inferno five stars when I read it, so surely I would love Gabriel's Rapture? Yet something about this book didn't work for me.

The book:
Professor Gabriel Emerson has embarked on a passionate, yet clandestine affair with his former student, Julia Mitchell.

Sequestered on a romantic holiday in Italy, he tutors her in the sensual delights of the body and the rapture of sex. But when they return, their happiness is threatened by conspiring students, academic politics, and a jealous ex-lover.

When Gabriel is confronted by the university administration, will he be forced to share Dante’s fate? Or will he fight to keep Julia, his Beatrice, forever?

My thoughts:

Now I will admit that it has been several years since I read the first book in this series so for the first few chapters I merely reacquainting myself with the characters and plot. It was my impression that this book starts almost straigtht after the other ones finishes. Gabriel and Julia are on holiday in Italy enjoying the culture, the food and the freedom that being another country gives them. If I remember correctly this trip is a celebration of their relationship as Julia and Gabriel are technically no longer professor and pupil. They are finally able to act on all the passion and desire that has been building between throughout the year. Of course with this couple nothing ever goes smoothly. Even during this time of happiness and bliss the cogs of their downfall are already being put into place back in Toronto.

I wandered in the darkness looking for something better, something real. I found you, and I'll be damned if I'm going to lose you.

2 February 2016

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Hey everyone,

The Anna and the French Kiss series by Stephanie Perkins was something I started reading thanks to the wonderful book community on Tumblr. But being a slightly disorganised and eccentric British person, I read the series backwards. Starting with Isla, followed by Lola and finally finishing with Anna, the one everyone raves about most. Although I loved Anna and the French Kiss I wouldn’t say it was my favourite of the three.

The book:

Can Anna find love in the City of Light?

Anna is happy in Atlanta. She has a loyal best friend and a crush on her coworker at the movie theater, who is just starting to return her affection. So she's less than thrilled when her father decides to send her to a boarding school in Paris for her senior year.

But despite not speaking a word of French, Anna meets some cool new people, including the handsome Étienne St. Clair, who quickly becomes her best friend. Unfortunately, he's taken —and Anna might be, too. Will a year of romantic near misses end with the French kiss she's waiting for?

My thoughts:

Anna and the French Kiss is possibly the most romantic depiction of first (and lasting) love I have ever read. And for a regular reader of romance that is a pretty big claim. Yet it is true. Anna and Étienne meet when Annas father decides it would be a good idea for her to complete her high-school education in Paris. The fact Anna doesn’t speak French and has no desire to leave her friend doesn’t matter at all. The one bright moment for Anna about moving to an American boarding school in Paris is meeting Étienne.

I mean, really. Who sends their kid to boarding school? It's so Hogwarts. Only mine doesn't have cute boy wizards or magic candy or flying lessons.