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February 14, 2011

Reading Update: I'm Busy

Diwata Barbara Jane Reyes
Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake Sarah Maclean
Ten Ways to Be Adored When Landing a Lord Sarah Maclean
Faking It Jennifer Crusie
Welcome to Temptation Jennifer Crusie
Chinatown Beat Henry Chang

I'm not too busy to read, just too busy to write much about it.

Diwata I'm reviewing in the next issue of Hyphen, so keep an eye out for it there or on the website. I'm also reviewing Henry Chang's third novel in his Jack Yu series, so I'm reading the first two as well, Chinatown Beat being the first. I'll have more to say latah.

The Sarah Macleans and Jennifer Crusies were recommended by Gwenda Bond in a post about romance books. Jennifer Crusie? RAWK! Faking It is an awrsome romance between a con artist and an art forger, who have really REALLY bad sex the first few times they get together -- you know, kinda like real life? -- but persist because they really REALLY like each other. The prose is witty and energetic and the author actually knows something about art and how artists work, which is unusual in literature in general, and especially so in genre. I liked Welcome to Temptation too, but not as much.

Sarah Maclean? Meh, not so much. These two are Regencies, which is fine, of course, but any Regency romance writer is going up against Austen and Heyer, and those are hard acts to follow. Throwing in a bow and scrape here and "an air of decided fashion" there isn't gonna do it. Especially if, as Maclean does, you have your characters having sex every time they're alone in a room together. Not in a Regency romance, my dear. I did enjoy the premise of Nine Rules, which is that the beauty-challenged spinster protag begins to realize that nothing is ever going to happen to her, so she writes out a list of all the things she would like to do if she weren't afraid, and then goes and does them. Her passion and energy attract the notice, then love, of London's most notorious rake, and her longtime crush. So that one worked out.

But then the (sort of) sequel to Nine Rules, Ten Ways to Be Adored, was a complete wash out. First of all, the premise wasn't nearly so lighthearted as Nine Rules'. The protag is the daughter of an aristocratic gambling addict who has lost all his money and portable property (the estate is entailed.) He abandoned his family, and her mother died, so she has been in charge of the crumbling estate since she was 17. (Her father also tried to gamble her away several times.) She turned the estate into a refuge for abused women of all classes, but now that her father has died and her 10-year-old brother is the Earl, things have come to a head. They need money and a Duke's sister has just shown up at their door, pregnant.

All of this is a great premise, but it starts to fall to shit immediately when it becomes clear that the author doesn't believe her protagonist can succeed without being protected and guided by a man. So much for feminism! I'm not going to get into detail on this one, because it's not worth my time, but I was outright offended by the book and would have thrown it across the room if it hadn't been in my Kindle. What was she thinking?

Okay, back to my busy life.

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