At Every Turn by Anne Mateer

At Every Turn by Anne Mateer

  • Title: At Every Turn
  • Author: Anne Mateer
  • Series: N/A
  • Genre(s): Historical, Inspirational
  • Publisher: Bethany House, September 2012
  • Source: ARC provided by publisher ($9.99 ebook)
  • Length: 320 pages
  • Trope(s): Perky Plucky Heroine, Painfully Earnest Cluelessness, Love Triangle, Mid-Level Misunderstandings
  • Quick blurb: Spoiled young woman must find a way to raise money she impulsively pledged for a church mission project.
  • Quick review: Another one for the “disappointed” list….
  • Grade: C-

I fought a ridiculous desire to throw myself into his arms. Instead, I pulled back my shoulders and lifted my chin. “Show me the way.” And he did just that.

This could have been so good — SO GOOD — but the lack of subtlety and tension early in the story, and the lifeless writing, left me dwelling on my annoyances with the heroine.

I knew Alyce would undergo some much-needed Life Lessons, but her initial poor-little-rich-girl cluelessness, reinforced by the first-person POV, came *thatclose* to being TSTL and a DNF. It isn’t until well into the second half that we finally get a brief glimpse of the passion for car racing that turns her into the heroine I was expecting.

And while I knew from other reviews that this title is much preachier (is that a word?) than what I’m usually comfortable with, I was not prepared for the UNBEARABLY cloying and cringe-worthy way the Africa mission plot point was presented. Historically accurate, yes, but most definitely not in a good way, and it’s a huge risk to take in drawing in modern readers.

Lady Louisa’s Christmas Knight by Grace Burrowes

It’s only an hour or two into Twelfth Night in my part of the world, so a Christmas book is still timely. Right? Right.

I sure as hell hope so, because I still have my Christmas tree up (true story).

  • Lady Louisa's Christmas Knight by Grace BurrowesTitle: Lady Louisa’s Christmas Knight
  • Authors: Grace Burrowes
  • Series: Windhams, Book 6
  • Genre(s): Historical
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca, October 2012
  • Source: NetGalley ($6.39 ebook)
  • Length: 384 pages
  • Trope(s): Secrets & Scandals, War Wounds, Repressed Smart Girl, Manly Men to the Rescue, Plot Moppets, Drunken Duels, Title PØrn, Shark Jumping, Misuse of Historical Personages
  • Quick blurb: Long-suppressed secrets threaten marriage of duke’s daughter and gentleman farmer.
  • Quick review: Everything important happens off-page, leaving plenty of space for annoyances and WTFery.
  • Grade: D

He wasn’t unaffected either. There was…tumescence.

I really need to remember to take a break from historicals after reading Miranda Neville and Courtney Milan, or while anticipating a catch-up on Sherry Thomas, because everything else just seems so…so…*sigh*

Burrowes’ debut The Heir was another one of my “gateway” romances, mostly because of a certain handjob scene early in the book. But she’s never been on my auto-buy list, for reasons I really couldn’t explain. Until now.

I admire her use of language — some of her sentences are marvelous. But in between, there’s weak characterization, a lot of repetitive and Romance-O-Matic plotwork and occasionally some very ill-advised WTFery. Or, to put it bluntly, her storytelling skills leave me cold.

Continue reading

One-Quote Review: The Lady Most Willing by Julia Quinn, Eloisa James and Connie Brockway

The Lady Most Willing...A Novel in Three Parts

  • Title: The Lady Most Willing…: A Novel in Three Parts
  • Authors: Julia Quinn, Eloisa James and Connie Brockway
  • Series: Lady Most, Book 2
  • Genre(s): Historical
  • Publisher: Avon, December 2012
  • Source: Edelweiss ($5.69 ebook)
  • Length: 385 pages
  • Trope(s): Insta-Love, Amusing Abuction, Impoverished Rake, Stuffy Duke/Earl (one of each), Red-Headed Smart-Mouthed Scottish Lasses, Surprise Virgin, Loud Laird
  • Quick blurb: Drunken laird and his kilted kin kidnap fair maidens as potential brides for his nephews, and accidentally abduct a duke at the same time.
  • Quick review: Banal and predictable.
  • Grade: D+

Hell was obviously freezing, decrepit and located in the Scottish Highlands.

I loved 2010’s The Lady Most Likely — the balance of stories was great, with one insta-love, one childhood-friends-to-lovers, and one sibling’s-best-friend-from-afar. And more importantly, each couple and their courtship was unique and memorable.

The Lady Most Willing, however…. Blech. Blah. Boring. Four — count ‘em FOUR (4) — insta-love quickies with only the barest hint of characterization. The only exception was foul temptress Marilla the Maneater and her Cleavage of Doom, who was so ridiculously vamped up it was almost embarrassing to read.

I considered going with a C- grade, but these are authors who have given us much, much better in the past.

My 2012 Whatever Lists

I decided not to do a full-on Best of the Year list because there’s a bunch of 2012 stuff I haven’t read yet (sorry, Sherry Thomas, I have my entire New Year’s Day reserved for you) and I know many of those would be candidates.

So this is a Big Fat Disclaimer that these are books I read and reviewed in my inaugural nine months of blogging, but not necessarily published in 2012.

Continue reading