A Willful Woman…

Thoughts about books from a romance addict.

TBR Challenge: Stealing Heaven by Madeline Hunter

on September 16, 2015

The theme: a historical romance. Ha! 90% of my print tbr is historical.

Why this one: Writing about Hunter’s Medieval romances reminded me that this is the only one of her books I’ve never read. Or at least, finished; I’ve started and skimmed it so often, I almost felt like I had read it before. Although I still felt some resistance, it did finally take this time.

Hunter’s Medieval couples are often involved in power struggles, and this may be the longest, toughest battle of them all. Marcus and Nesta are both very intelligent schemers fighting for very high stakes — patriotism/their people — and they spend most of the book at odds, even as they fall in love. Nesta tries hard not to have a physical relationship with him, telling him: “our lack of choices makes this embrace a mockery. A prelude to each of us betraying the other.” But though they do indeed betray each other constantly, they can’t betray their true feelings.

I think as an early romance reader, I found it hard to accept Nesta, who is something of a femme fatale. And truthfully, it’s still not a type I’m all that fond of in romance. But I did grow to appreciate her cleverness, and feel sympathy for the torn loyalties that drive her. Marcus is also not my favorite hero, though it’s harder to put my finger on why. I think perhaps both are written at a bit of a remove… even while in their thoughts, we don’t know everything they’re planning, so we don’t see their best facets until the book is almost over. The focus is largely on their physical attraction for a long time, and I think that’s the heart of my issue: the story goes to a sexy place very early on. Although Hunter is an excellent writer of what AAR calls “luscious” love stories, I tend to enjoy them less when they focus very quickly, very strongly on sex.

But Hunter’s writing is always elegant and if you enjoy this sort of forbidden love — Joanna Bourne’s The Black Hawk is a good comparison — it’s certainly worth a read. One of the more interesting aspects of it for me was as an example of  “reader consent.” In the course of the book, Marcus does something quite shocking to Nesta: it’s not rape or any form of overt violence, but it is a pretty sick-making form of coercion. But I went from being completely disgusted to reluctantly convinced to accept, if not approve of, his action. Pretty impressive, considering I wasn’t totally attached to the characters to begin with.


7 responses to “TBR Challenge: Stealing Heaven by Madeline Hunter

  1. Kaetrin says:

    I have this one and I know I’ve read it but I can’t remember much about it now. What page is the sick-making form of coercion on? I’ll have to look it up to refresh my memory!

  2. Kathy Brantley says:

    I’ve got this one as well as The Protector and Lord of a Thousand Nights on order. I’m in the mood for medieval. 🙂 Thanks, Willaful.

  3. Kathy Brantley says:

    ETA Wait a minute. “Mood for medieval” sounds a little like I’m packing a mace and a battle-axe. 😉

  4. elisabethjlane says:

    I’ve been pondering which Hunter Medieval to read and this sounds right up my alley. I caught her session at RWA and I loved what she had to say so I’ll be jumping on this one. Probably the next time I make it out to my local UBS. Thanks!

Comments welcome! But FYI, WordPress has extremely good spam filters.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Something More

my extensive reading

Blue Castle Considerations

thoughtations, contemplations, fulminations & other random things from books...

...Burns Through Her Bookshelf

Voracious reader, book lover, spastic blogger, audiologist. These things are some of me, but not the sum of me.

Queer Romance Month

because love is not a subgenre

Cate Marsden.

Love and Zombies. And books. And infrequent updates.

Book Thingo

Reading (mostly) romance books down under


...barely skimming the surface

Olivia Dade

Sex. Banter. Nerdery. Love.

Flight into Fantasy

Romance, speculative fiction, and YA book reviews, book chatter, and random silliness

Her Hands, My Hands

The vagaries of my mind, the products of my hands. Not always safe for work.


64 books. 1 Champion. Get your game on.

Stop the STGRB Bullies

Your hypocrisy is showing

Blue Moon

Audiobook reviews and book reviews. Occasional opining.

Miss Bates Reads Romance

Miss Bates is Austen's loquacious spinster in Emma. No doubt Miss Bates read romances ... here's what she would've thought of them.

%d bloggers like this: