The Confidential Life of Eugenia Cooper by Kathleen Y'Barbo
May's Review: One of the great things about romance novels is how simple the premise is. In this case, Eugenia is a beautiful, highly-educated, upper-class woman from New York who is yearning for a Wild West adventure. Seeking to spread her wings, she "borrows" an identity and heads out to Colorado where she poses as a governess to a young girl who continually acts out in order to get her father's attention because he is too busy running his silver mines. Somehow, the pseudo-governess and the silver baron are forced to marry one another to avoid a public scandal but before they can reconcile their feelings for one another, Eugenia's wayward fiance from New York has tracked her down and coerces her to go home.
For me, this book falls into the "Meh" category. One on the one hand, I found the main characters to be entertaining, especially Eugenia whose enthusiasm for adventure is contagious. What I found annoying about the book, however, is how contrived some of the scenes were. For example, I literally cringed during the whole "we have to get married because the town passed a "good morality" clause" bit. The citizens came off as being purely tyrannical and very un-Christian, which I don't think that was the author's intent.
Another annoying aspect of the book was its pacing. Somehow I have trouble believing that Daniel traveled from Colorado to England and then to New York in less than a week. Hey, that type of travel itinerary maybe more common today but not in the 1880s! Not to mention, the author brings up the meeting with Daniel's estranged father and how Daniel dreads presenting his daughter to him. Yet, the meeting is barely acknowledged and mentioned only in passing towards the end as if the author ran out of steam and wanted to tie up all of the loose ends.
I know plenty of people would probably enjoy this book due in large part because of its spunky heroine and the fast-paced romance with no explicit sex scenes. Personally, I would recommend Deanne Gist's Bride in the Bargain as the better of the Inspirational-Historical books (click here to read my earlier book) for someone to read. But then again, don't just take my word for it. Let me know what you think.
The Disengagement Ring by Clodagh Murphy
Linda's Review: Murphy’s “The Disengagement Ring” is actually her first novel, which I sought out after finishing “Girl in a Spin”. This one is set in Ireland and the heroine is Kate, a chef who does freelance cooking and has just returned from a catering to an African safari. She is the ugly duckling little sister of a large family so engrossed in her sister’s wedding that most of them don’t notice she’s become a swan – she’s hardly aware of it herself.
Kate does, however, have a boyfriend, her first, Brian (aka “The Treehugger”), universally despised by her family. The “ring” in the title is not the kind one puts on a finger, but rather is the plot hatched by her family to break Kate and Brian’s engagement.
A key, though initially reluctant, part of the scheme is family friend Will, manager of the Walking Wounded, a successful rock band. Will, of course, has been Kate’s secret crush since girlhood, especially since she lost her virginity to him after a Trinity Ball; Will, alas, has no memory of the that alcohol-assisted event.
As with Murphy’s other book there is no surprise ending, but getting to it is worth the time. Again, there’s a great cast of secondary characters: the band members, Will’s skinny, bitchy, celeb-wannabe girlfriend and all of Kate’s family. Even Dev, from the second book (Girl in a Spin), is referenced a few times here.
Having enjoyed The Disengagement Ring and Girl in a Spin (click on this link to read my earlier review), I hope Clodaugh Murphy has another romance in the works. I’ll be the first to check it out.
Happy Valentine's Day! Celebrate by checking out Library Journal (LJ)'s Best Romance books of 2010:
The Forbidden Rose by Joanna Bourne
LJ's Verdict: From a burned-out chateau in the French countryside to the treacherous, violent streets of revolutionary Paris, this superbly plotted adventure pairs up an English spy and a French aristocrat.
The Golden Season by Connie Brockway
LJ's Verdict: A peerless lady of the ton learns she is almost penniless and surreptitiously sets out to find a wealthy suitor during her last "Golden Season." This delightfully witty, deliciously sensual romance is peppered with humor and enhanced by memorable characters.
Barely a Lady by Eileen Dreyer
LJ's Verdict: A woman whose life was devastated five years earlier by deceit, betrayal, and divorce has her peace shattered once more when her ex-husband is found at Waterloo, wounded, suspected of treason, suffering from selective amnesia, and convinced that they are still happily married. An emotionally compelling, flawlessly crafted gem.
Lessons in French by Laura Kinsale
LJ's Verdict: An aristocratic, bull-breeding heroine and a charming French émigré hero reclaim their love in this funny, whimsical, clever, and thoroughly rewarding sensual romance that is Kinsale's first appearance in the market in several years.
The Battle Sylph by L. J. McDonald
LJ's Verdict: This stunningly creative and riveting debut novel of a young woman who escaped sacrificial murder to become the adored queen of her remarkable battle sylph is a mental and emotional delight for both fantasy and romance readers.
The CBC News Network is airing what looks like a great documentary on TV tonight. Guilty Pleasures is a light-hearted look at the world of romance novels and the impact they have on an amazing cast of characters who read them, write them, and work for them. Click on this link to watch the promo. Please check TV listings for actual channel listings and times.
The Iron Duke by Meljean Brook
May's Review: I have this book down on my to-read list for quite sometime now but as soon as I read that Publishers Weekly named it one of the best romance books of 2010, I knew I wanted to read it now.
The story is somewhat simple. With the help of the "Iron Duke", England has finally beaten back its Mongol overlords who have ruled the island for the past 200 years. However, England is still not safe from its many enemies including those who resent Rhys Trahaearn, the iron-boned pirate-turned-military-hero-turned-aristocrat. A body is dumped onto the duke's estate from an aircraft and the officials send in Detective Mina Wentworth to investigate the murder. But Mina has her own set of problems. Because she is half-Mongol, she does not have an easy time being accepted by the English populace and often has to walk around with her own personal bodyguard. Racing across zombie-infested lands and kraken-filled oceans, both RHY and Mina will have to learn how to put aside their differences to solve the case.
This book does work as a really intriguing steampunk tale combining science fiction elements with an alternative universe. I found mystery of the tale to be so-so mainly because it was overshadowed by the many explicit sex scenes. When I say explicit, I do mean explicit. In fact, I had to re-read certain passages because I think the hero's actions in a few of the sex scenes could be somewhat misconstrued as non-consensual. Anyway, the action sequences move fairly quickly with enough suspense to keep the reader riveted to the mystery at hand. This is a dark political tale with tons of grit. A good read for those liking their heroes extremely macho and their heroines to be the self-sufficient and resourceful type.