Reading List Mini-Reviews, 2.17.12

According to GoodReads, I have read 10 books thus far this year. Considering it’s only February, I’m making good progress.

On another note, I promise I will have some non-romance-related reviews up in the future. But you have to understand, when I want a pick-me-up, romance is my go-to genre. It’s (usually) easy to read and I know exactly how it’s going to end, but the journey there is always new and different and fun. I have read terrible romance novels, yes, but I’ve read so very many wonderful ones, two of which I’ll be talking about…now!

Unclaimed by Courtney Milan
The most interesting thing about this book, hands-down, is the reversal of the typical characters that you see in historical romances. Usually, the man is an experienced rake, and the woman is a blushing virgin. Not so here.

In Unclaimed, the hero (Mark) is the virgin, and the heroine (Jessica) is a courtesan. It was really cool to read something that is so different from most historical romances, and see it executed so well. (Not that I mind the normal character stereotypes: Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase fits them to a T, and it’s one of the best romances I’ve ever read.)

Anyway, Jessica has been hired to seduce Mark and sully his saintly reputation – you see, he’s written a pamphlet about male chastity, and it’s taken England by storm and made Mark famous.

To say he’s less than thrilled about that particular development is an understatement. Mark despises his fame, and how he’s held up as an icon. He is just a man, and one of the things that attracts him to Jessica initially is that she doesn’t see him as a saint.

Though I enjoyed this book thoroughly, it was probably my least favorite of the three stories. Not because of the relationship or the characters — I really liked Jessica and Mark, and I loved reading a story where the guy was the virgin — but there were a couple of times at the end where it felt like they were having the same fight over and over. It was just one of those moments that you read it and think, “What the…I thought they resolved this already?”

But really, that was my only complaint. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the story, enough to quickly pick up book three, which is…

Unraveled by Courtney Milan
This is the last book in the Turner series, and it’s my favorite of the three. Smite, the middle brother, is a magistrate in Bristol who comes across Miranda Darling, a young woman from Temple Parish, the poor part of Bristol.

What he doesn’t know is that Miranda is under the thumb of the Patron, a shadowy figure who keeps his own brand of justice in Temple Parish. And the more Smite gets involved with Miranda, the more they both draw the eye of the Patron.

Here, we’ll just sum this up quickly:

I. LOVE. SMITE.

There you go.

What, you want more than that? Fine.

Smite is quite possibly one of my favorite romance heroes ever. All the Turners are fairly awesome. They grew up in a home with a super-religious mother who slowly went mad and abused them all in different ways, and that’s affected each of them in very different and vital ways. In many respects, Smite got the worst of it, and it’s interesting to see how that affected the man he’s made himself to be.

At first glance, it seems like he’s a hard man, and though that may be the case in some respects, it isn’t in others. His experiences on the streets of Bristol as a child made him want to be a magistrate, and his whole goal is focused on upholding the law, not just the letter of it, but the spirit of it as well. He’s got issues (naturally), and I liked that not all of them were neatly resolved by the end of the story.

Miranda is more than a match for him, a former actress and current wigmaker. She is, thankfully, not a stupid heroine. There were a few times in the book that I was worried she would make an expected choice when confronted with a difficult decision, but she surprised me by making better ones.

It seems a lot of times the third book in a trilogy is the weakest of the lot, but not so in this case. As I said before, Unraveled is my favorite of the books. It’s a great romance and does a lovely job of finishing of the Turners’ story. If you like romance, particularly historical romance, make sure to pick up this series.

The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole
I downloaded this on my Kindle back in the spring of 2011, after attending a symposium called “Literature With Bite” at the local library. One of the speakers mentioned that this book was the very first gothic book ever written, so I decided to see if I could get it on the Kindle. I did, and several months later, I finally read the damn thing.

I wasn’t expecting anything particularly spectacular, considering I’d never heard of the book before, and my expectations were solidly met.

There was a multiple-page note from the author at the beginning, proclaiming the veracity of the story. There was a host of “thees” and “thous” and “thys,” and naturally, it had a tragic ending.

The older writing and language structure made it difficult to read, and I found my eyes glazing over as some of the passages were like brick walls of text. Kindle formatting made it a little easier to read, but still, it was rough going if you’re not used to the syntax.

I can’t say that I would go out of my way to recommend it to anybody, but it was an interesting read from a historical perspective. I’m glad that gothic literature took a step up, though.

I think that about caps it for the mini-reviews, at least for a little while. And on Monday, I’ll have up my thoughts on Twilight.

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One comment on “Reading List Mini-Reviews, 2.17.12

  1. […] by Courtney Milan. It’s a short novella (99 cents on the Kindle) that kicks off a new series. I’ve talked before about how much I love her Turner series, and this novella has the same wonderful chemistry and wit that […]

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