Harlequin Presents #12: Dragon Bay by Violet Winspear
Best line: “‘You like a child yo’self,’ Da had muttered, and as she went out of the room the points of her Creole turban had seemed like the devil’s horns.”
Notes of interest: Marital rape. The bedroom door is ever so slowly creeping open.
Well… I couldn’t read this one; I happened to skim to that line above and it did me in. Racism and dialect are two things I really don’t need in my HPs. Add suspense for a third thing. This did have a strong resemblance to The Book in terms of plot and atmosphere, though, which makes me think the author might be Winspear. On the other hand, I’ve also read a Mather that seemed very similar. So I guess I’ll just keep plugging.
#10 Waves of Fire by Anne Hampson
I will likely enjoy this project a lot more when it stops being the same three authors over and over again…
Best line: “What sort of man was this whom she had married? Dark and sinister, a foreigner in whose blood ran the pagan traits of his idol-worshipping forbears, he would crush and subjugate her until she had no will of her own, no personality, no life other than that of a slave, a possession to be used, indifferently laid aside, and used again as this man’s passions and desires dictated.”
Notes of interest: And…. we has sex! Bedroom door painted shut, blink and you’ll miss it, forced seduction aka “tender lovemaking.” Guess which one of these fashions went out of date first. And I think we’ve had the heroine have some kind of accident that renders her unconscious in every book so far.
As you can see from the quote above, this was an uncomfortable read. Shani is thinking stuff like that all the time. Her husband is actually a decent guy by HP standards — we can overlook a little blackmail and forced consummation, right? Because he loves her! — but that doesn’t make the book feel any less racist. I skim-finished, so I suppose it’s possible that Shani wakes up and thinks, holy shit, I can’t believe all those stereotypes I was thinking about Greeks…. but I’m skeptical.
There’s a lot of travelogue, which is a little more narratively interesting than usual because it’s about Cos and the characters are into it because they’re both in the medical field. Then it veers into the adventures of the locals, while Shani and Andreas do pretty much nothing. There’s quite a lot of doing nothing in the book overall, and I’d had enough.
Dear Stranger by Anne Hampson
Well, it has to be said. That is one butt-ugly cover.
Best line: “Before her dreamy gaze rose the vision of a slim young giant, sinewed and dark, with classical Greek features etched in stone, with remarkable dull-green eys and a widow’s peak cutting a wedge into his low and noble brow.”
Notes of interest: Three out of three books so far in which the hero is a widowed father and the heroine fixes everything wrong in the lonely child’s life. I think we’re still sex free.
I DNF’d this one. The situation was exceptionally icky — the heroine was the hero’s adoptive sister and grew up with him — and it was dull as ditchwater on top of it. If you’re going to be gross, at least be interesting.
Oh. My. God. I thought the last Anne Mather book I tried was icky… now I’m reading Devil in Velvet in which the heroine is attracted to her former lover’s 16 year old son. Or rather, I was reading it.
A few months ago, I cleaned out almost all the Mather on my TBR. Time to finish the job, I think.
I fear my relationship with Balogh’s books has hit a new low — my first DNF.
I actually thought at first that I might enjoy this: it’s a Cinderella story, but the apparently mousy Cinderella has an edge to her. (She secretly draws pointed caricatures of everyone who mistreats her.) But then, oh God, people started talking to each other, and when people talk to each other in a Balogh book these days, I think I might as well throw away my Ambien prescription. They keep trying to be witty or profound or humane and they just bore me so much my ears bleed.
And Vincent, the blind hero… woof. I think Balogh is genuinely trying to write a depiction of a disabled character that is accurate and suitable to the time period, yet not offensive to modern readers, but if anything, she tried too hard. He feels right to me, inasmuch as I know anything about being blind, but the attitudes of all the other characters to him continually strike false notes.
I can’t imagine anything remotely interesting happening to this couple. They’re going to charmingly banter their way into the sunset surrounded by the other charmingly bantering characters of this series, and I not only feel no need to witness it, but don’t think I can even stand it. I made it to the 40% mark, which is probably closer to 50%, taking into account promos at the end. Enough.