A Rogue by Any Other Name (3/5)

by Sarah McLean

When I try out a new HR author, I know it’s more often miss than hit. I’ve got my favorites but they can’t have new titles out whenever I decide to take a break from my gritty contemporaries and my PNRs, and that’s how I ended up reading A Rogue By Any Other Name by a new—to me—author. So here goes:

Penelope: 4/5 Penny’s had enough of being the proper, well-bred daughter. She needs to be loved and not traded between her father and a future husband, and, most of all, she needs an adventure. Being kidnapped by her childhood friend and claimed as his wife because of her inevitable ‘ruination’ is a good start, at least for her adventure aspirations—because he soon shatters all hopes for love and not being treated as a commodity. Penelope retains her composure throughout the book, and even though she ventures into uncharted territories, risking her reputation, she’s always frank, straight-forward, unyielding and ‘adventuresome’ (as Bourne calls her) till the end. I liked her.

Bourne (Michael): 2/5 As a Hero, he’s awful. He treats Penelope in the worst possible way, and she’s not some stranger he decided to take advantage of to win his lost land back (his Holy Grail) but a dear childhood friend who’s been nothing but kind to him. Okay, he’s bent on his revenge and reclaiming his father’s land, and the reader expects that, for the best part of the book, he’ll mistreat Penelope, reminding her that she’s nothing but “a means to an end” (that was endlessly recycled!) but it never lets up till the very end! He keeps behaving in a god-awful way, and when Penelope thinks he’s finally made a move indicating he’s come to his senses (and that’s in the final scene, mind you) it’s not even him! It’s someone else, and I’m still quite unclear as to who it was and what their motive was. Also, his internalized one-liners in italics that contradicted what he actually said were really annoying: “I don’t need her.” But I do. I found this constant ‘self-annulling’ tiresome. So no, I didn’t like Michael’s character.

Prose: 3/5 Penelope’s part in the dialogue is enjoyable. She surprises with her resolve and this shows through her words. Other than that, there was a lot of repetition that dragged the book down, the tone is not too formal (maybe too informal for a historical) and the characteristic wit found in popular titles of the genre was missing.

Heat: 4/5 The erotic scenes were detailed and nicely rendered with some originality, but they don’t work well into the plot. You’d think that after “the most incredible, mind-altering sex” (who spoke like that in 1831?) Michael would reconsider his ways but, no. After his wedding night, he left his new bride alone in a strange house.

And now, it’s time for some real nitpicking:

Penelope is plain. See how much:

“She’d become too old, too plain, too tarnished.”
“He’d likely not had a single moment of considering her as anything more than plain, proper Penelope…”
“She closed her eyes tightly, taking a deep breath, preparing for him to turn away at her plainness. Her imperfections.”
“She didn’t like the insinuation in the words. The implication that she was plain and boring…”
“She was never going to be considered beautiful. Plain, yes. Passable, even, on a good day, in a new frock.”

But tell me this: beautiful blue eyes, silken blond curls, soft pale skin, tempting pink lips… equal plain?! The girl was gorgeous! There’s absolutely no hint at ugliness based on something being wrong with her features. And when Michael is asked whether she’s “horsefaced” he doesn’t reply!! What a jerk! And these are his thoughts at the very end:

“How was it possible that he’d ever thought her plain? She was a jewel in the cold, grey mid-February sleet, all rosy cheeks and blue eyes and lovely pink lips that made him want to carry her to the nearest bed.”

What was the girl? Cursed, so that only when someone fell in love with her saw her for what she was?

I was having qualms going for the second book (One Good Earl Deserves Another) but Stacia’s review made me reconsider.

Review: Devoured by Emily Snow

Lately, I’ve been venturing off the beaten path and my comfort zone in an effort to understand new reader trends. This book has erotica elements and is all about the bad-boy rock-star hero who wants what he wants when he wants it–a very popular theme lately.

However, the fact that I downloaded and read this particular book proves that a good cover can take a book a long way. But I would have easily given it only one star if the tension of the first half hadn’t gripped me.

Apart from that, Lukas is your typical rock-star jackass with a big ‘no biggie’ attitude. There is absolutely no character development for him, and he ends up coming off as weak toward the end.

Sienna is the average doormat, but her background story justifies her attitude, plus she’s not such a pushover when it comes to Lucas, so there is some substance in this character.

The heat factor that is much praised by other reviewers follows an annoying (to me) pattern: build-up through promises, of the I wanna do this and this to you type, but falls short when the Hero actually gets a chance to live up to the readers’ pumped up  expectations. Hot, explicit foreplay, glossed-over sex: is that a trend?

The prose is weak and clunky. The dialogues are limited to expletives and rarely express true emotion, and the overall plot is really non-existent. The reason the H/h separate is pretty lame and forced. However, the ending is super sweet and compensates in some way.

(And, seriously, if someone “bobbed their head” one more time,  I would self-combust!)

Kinked (Elder Races 6) 5/5

KinkedI devoured Kinked although I never liked Aryal in the previous books, and I wasn’t sure what kind of hero could tame such a, well, harpy. Enter Quentin…

Review Breakdown

Aryal: 5/5 She’s Aryal through and through. If you’ve read previous books and hoped that she’ll somehow turn into a pushover, she doesn’t. Her character develops emotionally as she gets to meet her mate, but she’s still dominant, unyielding … a total badass! Got to hand it to her. She’s original Alpha female.

Quentin: 5/5 – You can easily fall for Quentin. He’s simply perfect. Although he starts out by showing a Dom side, being with Aryal forces him to play it down and even try out a little role reversal. Still, he has inherent class, and knows how to say the right thing in the right moment. He’s equally sexy as a bar owner and setting up camp in the wilderness, he’s got a feline’s graceful move and he purrrs! My only problem: I couldn’t picture him as a blond guy. A blond black-panther Shifter?! Not so much.

Plot: 4/5 – For the most part, it felt in the way of Aryal and Quentin’s relationship. It gets better toward the end and helps Aryal show more facets of her character.

Prose: 5/5 – I love how Thea Harrison writes. It’s never tiring, with interesting turns of phrase, a healthy sense of humor and strong dialogues.

Heat: 4/5 – The sexual tension is scorching and the H/h’s brief role reversal in the beginning makes the reader wildly anticipating when they’ll carry out their bargain properly, but the plot gets in the way and we never see that. With all the Dom talk that goes on in the first part of the book, maybe I expected more intense get-togethers (and that being not me, says a lot).

Best quote:

He told her telepathically, I want to put a collar on you.

Her answer was a telepathic snarl. Dream on, mother*****.

FINALLY! I’ve dreamed of such a comeback ever since I read 50 Shades…