Nicole Reads A Lot

so many books, so little time

David: Lord of Honor by Grace Burrowes

Title:
David: Lord of Honor
Author:Grace Burrowes
PublisherSourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date:March 4, 2014
Publisher's DescriptionDavid Worthington, Viscount Fairly, has inherited a brothel he does not want, but hesitates to sell for fear his employees will not be treated well by the establishment’s next owner. He hits upon the idea of hiring Letty Banks, a courtesan currently without protector, to serve as madam, but soon finds himself attracted to her on more than just a physical level.

When serious harm befalls Letty as a function of her role at David’s brothel, he realizes he cannot continue to exploit a woman he cares for. He arranges a way for Letty to return to obscure respectability, and prepares to walk out of her life, only to find he cannot leave her undefended against the trouble bearing down from her past.
My rating:***

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I enjoy Grace Burrowes’ writing, and I’ve read most of the previous books in this series, so I was excited to read David. I don’t understand why exactly, but this book left me a bit cold; somehow even the greatest emotional upheavals in this novel didn’t move me the way I felt they ought to have done.

I didn’t get the sense that I understood Letty very well. I think that although the clues about her past are spread throughout the book and are there for anyone to see, the behind the curtain revelation happened too late. Also, wanting to believe the best of others is one thing, but it felt that a good deal of willful ignorance (not to mention a baffling refusal to converse) was necessary for the situation that Letty found herself in to have come about. Some of the conversations that did take place rang false, as people without reason to do so left out extremely relevant information. It felt as though too much manipulation had to take place for events to unfold as they did.

If you’ve read the previous books in this series, I can see how you would want to know what happens here, but I can’t imagine that reading this book would convince too many of the uninitiated to check out past titles.

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The King of Threadneedle Street by Moriah Densley

Title:
The King of Threadneedle Street
Author:Moriah Densley
PublisheresKape Press
Publication Date:December 2013
Publisher's DescriptionHe owns three shipping companies, a diamond mine, and his own castle.
He knows Portuguese, Hindi, Mandarin and Morse code.
His assets net thirteen million.

Everyone thinks Andrew Tilmore, Lord Preston, the financial prodigy dubbed “The King of Threadneedle Street,” has it all, but he wants the one prize money can’t buy: his childhood sweetheart.

Alysia Villier can’t say if it’s worse having Andrew’s father in control of her inheritance or Andrew in control of her heart. He’s ruined her for any other man, but she simply can’t give in to him. She knows he’s destined for great things — marrying a courtesan’s daughter would jeopardize everything he stands for.

Keeping Alysia out of trouble and away from eager suitors becomes a cross-continental quest for Andrew, and he won’t be stopped by his old-fashioned family or the disapproval of the ton. After all, he’s a man with the power to play newspapers and investors like pawns, tumble world markets and incite riots… but can he win the biggest gamble of his life?
My rating:**.5

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This book is as dramatic as a SoapNet (RIP SoapNet) marathon, and contains about as much logic. I didn’t mind it while I was reading it, but when I thought about it afterwards, I realized that a solid 85% of it was unbelievably illogical. Why would a man raise his mistress’s child alongside his own children? Having done this, why would he then object to his teenage son falling in love with the mistress’s beautiful daughter? Having seen this happen, why would he try to use the concepts of familial obedience and honor to dissuade his son from marrying his love? Wouldn’t having one’s mistress openly reside WITH ONE’S FAMILY already tarnished the family’s name for at least a generation? And what is up with Andrew’s mother? How can a woman who at the beginning of this novel is portrayed as being incapable of performing the most routine hostessing duties manage to so capably vex his supposedly brilliant son with her marriage-minded scheming? And why would a paragon of tonnish virtue would repeatedly try to sic a fortune-hunting ho-bag on her own son? And what kind of stock exchange/black wizardry is responsible for the money-related goings-on in this novel? He’s rich? He’s poor! He’s richer!!!! Or something.

The bottom line here is that nothing that takes place within this novel makes any sense if thought about for more than two seconds. Characters change on a dime, as is needed to further whatever scene is currently taking place. This book is utterly ridiculous, but as it only cost $.99, I’m not too bothered by this. Here’s what would have happened if this book made sense:

Andrew: I love you. You love me. Our three-year age difference becomes increasingly less creepy the closer you get to twenty. Let’s get married.

Alysia: Your parents won’t approve. I’m the illegitimate daughter of your father’s mistress.

Andrew: I don’t care my parents. Frankly, they’re irredeemably awful. Let’s go to Gretna Green, get married, come back to England, live our lives, and dare them to shun us in front of society. I’m like Donald Trump with better hair and and a soul and you’re like Frieda Kahlo with less self-confidence and no unibrow.

Alysia: I don’t get any of those references, but since you often speak in code, I’m not going to worry too much about it. Yes, I’ll marry you.

Boom goes the dynamite! The end.

Of course, this would have changed this story from a novel into the treatment for an entirely different novel, but hey, I’d read that book, too.

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All About Seduction by Katy Madison

Title:
All About Seduction
Author:Katy Madison
Publication Date:November 1, 2011
Publisher's DescriptionCaroline Broadhurst is about to take a lover -- at her husband's command. For fifteen years, Caroline has done everything her much older husband has desired -- except provide an heir. Now he has given her an ultimatum: seduce a suitable gentleman and bear a son. Caroline would never think of bowing to such a shameful order, but then she meets Jack Applegate.

Jack has longed for the beautiful, untouchable Caroline for years, but the chasm between them was too wide to ever dream of crossing. Now, fate and passion have thrown them together, but the potential scandal threatens to smother their love. And when a violent secret comes to light, only a terrible sacrifice will prevent the flame of their affection from being snuffed out forever. . .
My rating:**.5

The premise of this book was pretty interesting to me. It is set in a time where birthright was everything and obtaining heirs was one of the primary motivations for marriage. It’s almost unimaginable that any wealthy man in this society would intentionally scheme to have his wife become pregnant by another man (although I’ve since read another book that takes place in this time period and has much the same motivation behind the meeting of the protagonists – review forthcoming). As in many romance novels that begin with a married heroine or hero (although it’s usually the heroine), Caroline’s first husband was not good to her. He didn’t treat her well, and belittled all that she’d done to help him in his business.

Enter Jack, the factory worker/engineer who’d noticed Caroline from afar and had been content limit their contact to longing looks, until fate (and an accident) threw them together. Jack was almost too good to be true. His home life had reached Dickensian levels of awfulness, but he persevered out of love for his hundreds of siblings. Good old Jack. At the novel’s opening, Jack had decided that he’d sacrificed enough for his family and was ready to start doing things in service of his own ambition when TRAGEDY! STRUCK! I have so say that Jack and Caroline’s unrelenting goodness began to grate on me early in the book, and that their affair was so innocuous when compared to all the evils perpetrated in this book that it barely made a blip on my Sinometer.

This book was interesting enough when I read it, but even a couple of weeks later, I’m having trouble grasping at details that should be obvious. There’s just not a lot to hold on to when it comes to this book. You know that Caroline’s husband is going to die, just not how, and that Jack will persevere, just now how. Honestly, the journey wasn’t captivating enough for the details to remain with me.

If you’re looking for a quick historical that will pluck your class-warfare-loving heartstrings, this will do until you find something better, but I wouldn’t expect too much from this book.

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The Amorous Education of Celia Seaton by Miranda Neville

Title:
The Amorous Education of Celia Seaton
Author:Miranda Neville
Publication Date:July 2011
Publisher's DescriptionLesson One: Never disrobe in front of a gentleman...unless his request comes at gunpoint.

Lesson Two: If, when lost on the moors, you encounter Tarquin Compton, the leader of London society who ruined your marriage prospects, deny any previous acquaintance.

Lesson Three: If presented with an opportunity to get back at Mr. Compton, the bigger the lie, the better. A faux engagement should do nicely.

Lesson Four. Not all knowledge is found between the covers of a book. But an improper one may further your education in ways you never guessed.

And while an erotic novel may be entertaining, the real thing is even better.
My rating:***.5

I enjoyed this book. This was amnesia done right (unlike Before I Go to Sleep, where, ugh). I liked Celia as a character, even though she obviously had problems with impluse control. Her curiosity about Tarquin’s book seemed normal, especially in a genre where most female characters never seem to know or want to know anything about sexuality before they meet their one true love. Blurgh.

I liked how Tarquin didn’t end up being nicer in general after his amnesia, so much as more thoughtful and observant. It showed that he’d just faced an experience that required him to pay a greater amount of attention to his surroundings. I absolutely didn’t fault him for being angry with Celia over her deception, especially because he was already so emotionally invested in her (dare I say in love??), and it wasn’t just a matter of his pride being hurt.

I especially liked the way the mystery in this book was resolved. Celia’s resourcefullness in an awful situation was proof the her spunk/moxie/etc throughout the book wasn’t only surface-deep. The revelations about her father did sit well alongside Celia’s memories of him throughout the book, which I thought was a nice touch. There’s nothing more obnoxious than a left-field revelation that dear old Papa was not the saint his child/ren thought him to be.

This ended up being quite an entertaining and amusing book.

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Unclaimed by Courtney Milan

Title:
Unclaimed
Author:Courtney Milan
Publication Date:August 27, 2011
Publisher's DescriptionHer only hope for survival…

Handsome, wealthy and respected, Sir Mark Turner is the most sought-after bachelor in all of London—and he’s known far and wide for his irreproachable character. But behind his virtuous reputation lies a passionate nature he keeps carefully in check...until he meets the beautiful Jessica Farleigh, the woman he’s waited for all his life.

Is to ruin the man she loves…

But Jessica is a courtesan, not the genteel lady Sir Mark believes. Desperate to be free of a life she despises, she seizes her chance when Mark’s enemies make her an offer she can’t refuse: seduce Mark and tarnish his good name, and a princely sum will be hers. Yet as she comes to know the man she’s sworn to destroy, Jessica will be forced to choose between the future she needs…and the love she knows is impossible.
My rating:****
I really liked this book. It had a lot to say about living up, or down, to others’ expectations, and how easy it is for others’ perceptions of us to color our own feelings of worthiness. I also liked the lesson about how something written with one intent could easily be perverted into something else entirely. Most of all, I enjoyed how Mark wasn’t perfect. I shudder to think of how saintly and sanctimonious he might have been in the hands of a lesser author, but Courtney Milan was ably up to the challenge of making him relatable to mere mortals such as myself.  Jessica, too, resonated with me. When faced with making a very real choice between her conscience and her next meal, and without any idea of how she’d fare if she failed at her task, she managed to come up with a solution that satisfied both her concerns. This is the second Courtney Milan book that I’ve read and enjoyed this year (after Unlocked), and I eagerly look forward to her next offering.
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