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Jane Lemon ""prolific reader"" (Johannesburg, SA)

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Danse Macabre: Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter 13
Danse Macabre: Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter 13
by Laurell K. Hamilton
Edition: Paperback

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Competent writing--boring story ..., 4 Aug 2007
I finally got round to reading Danse Macabre. I should have left well alone. Laurell K. Hamilton is one of very few writers who write a competent story in this much abused genre, therefore the problem is not her writing. The goal posts in terms of the Anita Blake series have shifted to such an extent that I am finally giving up on it. We are still TOLD that Anita is a "Federal Marshall, known for raising the dead and being a vampire executioner", the premise on which I started reading the series. However, the last time that Anita had been involved in crime scenes, working with the police, combating all sort of creatures that go bump in the night (with or without the police or her gun-for-hire friend) was about three to four books ago. These days we are almost exclusively being regaled with stories about ardeur affecting, or not, hierarchal vampire politics. The sex that inevitably goes with the ardeur storyline is hot and varied enough to satisfy people who read the books for this input, but the related endlessly, circling debates about vampire politics have become tedious; though not as tedious as the incessant, also circling, philosophizing about either Richard's or Anita's (buckets full of) neuroses and how those impact on their triumvirate and--of course--vampire politics. By far the worst, however, is how two to three characters at a time continually have to explain developments to Anita; explicitly, using connecting-the-dots imagery, so that she ends up coming across as very dim-witted. In addition she's usually acting up, so much so that those same characters regularly tell her, in any given situation, "we're waiting for you to tell us what reaction won't piss you off" or some such thing. Being vulnerable is one thing, a spoiled brat something else altogether. And frankly, the kind of melodrama that you do NOT look for in your series-heroine, i.e. a strong woman who had taken head-on a male dominated environment to get her very dangerous job done. Anita has always been a difficult woman, but you never used to feel to slap her silly. With these last two books you get the feeling from more or less page 60 and it firmly stays with you until the very end. I am sorry to give up on Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, but books that invoke frustration and/or boredom need to be avoided at all costs.


Through a Dark Mist
Through a Dark Mist
by Marsha Canham
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Inventive blend of historical fact and fiction, 14 July 2005
As an enthusiastic reader of Medieval to 18th century history and romance, I welcome an authoritative and imaginative blend of the two. Ms Canham does this well and I enjoy her take on the "Robin Hood" history/legend. However, her never-ending use of adjectives and metaphors in superlatives does become irritating. Instead of the reader buying into the story on an emotional level and so empathising with the main characters, it mainly obstructs the reader from 'living' the story.
The theme of this one is not new, but it is entertainingly told. Lucien, left for dead on the bloody battlefields of the Crusades, returns to England to reclaim his rightful inheritance while on a secret mission for Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine. He manages to return only after enough time has passed for him to have recovered from almost mortal wounds. Also, after he has established an alias and solid reputation as a formidable knight in the lists and on tournaments. On arrival in England he realises that his mortal enemy not only left him for dead in the carnage of the Crusades but has also usurped his identity and position. Lucien plots revenge and to this end kidnaps the usurper's intended (and heavily land endowed) bride. Through many false turns and misunderstandings Servanne (the intended bride) and Lucien manage to unmask the interloper, re-establish the good reputation of the De Gournay-name, fall in love, and retire to Touraine to live happily ever after. The story is strengthened by enlivening support characters, touches of humour and an inventive blend of historical fact and fiction. Despite irritation with the "flowery" writing style of the author, this is a pleasant read - to the extent that I will finish the "Robin Hood" trilogy.


In the Shadow of Midnight
In the Shadow of Midnight
by Marsha Canham
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars This "Robin Hood" version middling to enjoyable., 14 July 2005
As previously said, I am a fan of historical romance, partly because I am interested in Medieval to 18th century history. Therefore I am partial to writers who make the effort to blend (correct) historical facts with their fiction. And the better they manage to weave the history of the time into the novel the more I enjoy it, especially if the historical facts are intrinsically part of but do not dominate the story. Ms Canham manages to do all this and it is the main reason why I persevere in reading her "Robin Hood"-trilogy. One has to continually wade through a flurry of words to reach the point of a paragraph, section or chapter which is tiring. And in spite of a host of adjectives and metaphors, all in superlatives, the writer does not manage to draw the reader into the atmosphere of a scene the way Mary Balogh seems to so effortlessly do. Neither does she manage to depict the intensity of feeling - craving for each other that Madeline Hunter manages to put across in her main characters. Despite these debilitating factors, that entirely has to do with my personal preferences in the "voice of a writer"; I find the books a pleasurable read for the first mentioned reasons.
In this particular one Eduard is the archetypal "knight in shining armour" with a strong sense of honour and loyalty as well as a drive to proof himself worthy of his father's belief in him. He carries the emotional baggage of being an illegitimate son that may never, because of being a 'bastard', be able to marry a woman of good rank. With less than a handful of trustworthy men, and one woman, he takes on a dangerous and mostly impossible mission to save Princess Eleanor of Brittany from the clutches of her uncle who desperately wants to keep her from claiming her right to the English throne and in so doing unseat him. The one woman in the group is Ariel, niece to the Marshall of England and eager to marry a man of equal or better rank than her uncle whom she admires very much. Against many odds Eduard and his little group manage to save the princess from her prison and establish her in a life of her choice. It is also against the selfsame and additional personal odds that Eduard and Ariel finally fall in love to eventually set up a happy home near Blois. Though, I could not help but feel sorry for Eduard to have to put up with the annoying chit for the rest of his life. Even allowing for the sheltered life Ariel led under the protection of a powerful uncle and coddling brother, she is immature and spoilt, selfish to the extent that she is completely oblivious to the feelings and needs of other people. Whereas with Servanne (in Through a Dark Mist) I could appreciate her youth and naivety and also see the humour in some of the misunderstandings, because of this, between her and Lucien, in this case the envelope was pushed too far. Once again my perception according to my likes and dislikes, and there is enough of the plot and supporting characters to allow for a middling to enjoyable read.


The Seducer, the (Get Connected Romances)
The Seducer, the (Get Connected Romances)
by Madeline Hunter
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: £4.83

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A layered plot and deep passions, 8 Jun 2005
A layered plot that engrosses the reader from beginning to end - Diane knows Daniel as her aloof and distanced guardian. Daniel does his duty to Diane with a view to using her to right the wrongs done to his family. She plays a star role in the dark plot that he is hatching. This is until she comes to live in his house. Their infinite attraction to each other brooks no denial and once passion breaches the boundaries carefully set to keep love at bay, both of them have to re-evaluate. Daniel is a forceful character with dark depths that only Diane can reach. Diane, though young, has vitality and sensuous passion that finds the 'legendary seducer' irresistible. Together they battle to anchor their all consuming love, while fighting to stay alive when Daniel's dark plot threatens to overwhelm them. A rich and unforgettable novel. Madeline Hunter is truly an author worth reading!


The Saint, the (Get Connected Romances)
The Saint, the (Get Connected Romances)
by Madeline Hunter
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: £6.13

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Strongly paced with steaming intensity, 8 Jun 2005
Madeline Hunter is a bright star in the historical romance heaven. She is a superb writer with a clear understanding of the strength of understating emotions to put across the force in them. The cold aristocratic façade of Vergil hides many layers and passions. He made duty the altar at which he serves to protect his family. He firmly draws his ward Bianca into this circle of protection, so be it if it does not suit her purpose. Bianca's free and passionate spirit breaks open the locks to the various layers of Vergil. Through the maze of threats against the Duclairc family, as well as Bianca's firm purpose in life of establishing herself in an operatic career, they find a deep an everlasting love. The tale is tensely and colourfully woven and keeps the reader absorbed. However, Bianca's continuing vacillation in the choice between her love for Vergil and pursuing the dream of an operatic career eventually smacks of self-indulgence to the detriment of Vergil. Self-indulgence not so much in the difficulty of the choice, but in her obliviousness to the impossibility of Vergil's situation. It falls solely to him to find a solution to the impasse. Accordingly Bianca's seemingly perpetual vacillation is perceived as a brittle note echoing through what should have been a satisfying end to the novel. Having said that, it is still a thoroughly gripping read.


Lord of Sin (Seducer)
Lord of Sin (Seducer)
by Madeline Hunter
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: £4.80

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Tame despite a smart pace and barrels of fun, 8 Jun 2005
This is much lighter fare than this reader is used to from Madeline Hunter. The novel is smartly paced, brimful of fun and laughter and once again well-researched. However, one misses the intensity and heart of other novels. Ewan, the darkly handsome prince of pleasure, tackles a brand new responsibility. Bride, passionately beautiful and dead set against being a 'responsibility that needs to be tackled' refuses Ewan's assistance in settling her and her sisters. Circumstances force her to review her stand and Ewan snaps up 'the invitation' to spin a leisurely and passionate seduction. Bride, however, has a lot of pressing issues on her mind, the least of them the 'prince of pleasure'. Ewan and Bride are compelled to work together on an assignment, even if the assignment is precisely what is keeping them apart. And so, hampered by trial and error they eventually manage to find the love that their torrid love affair promised. In comparison with other novels of Madeline Hunter, the reader found this story tame. Ewan lacks the forceful presence of "the hero of an historical romance". For example, he does not have the brooding intensity of an Adrian (main protagonist of THE CHARMER) or the dark mystery of a John (main protagonist of THE SEDUCER). It is only much later in the novel that the reader is convinced that there IS more to Ewan than the 'lord of sin'-appellation. Bride comes across as brittle and self-absorbed and does not seem to have the compassion and vulnerability inherent in the strength and passion of "the heroine of an historical romance" - unless it impacts directly on her sisters. However, this is to the mind of this reader. If one does manage to buy into the characters, the novel should be highly enjoyable. As is, the novel is still much better than many others published in this genre.


Absolute Pleasure
Absolute Pleasure
by Cheryl Holt
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: £3.91

3.0 out of 5 stars Slow seduction and sizzling eroticism, 5 Jun 2005
I started reading Cheryl Holt because I enjoy historical romances and more grit than an apple-blossoms-on-a-sun-drenched-day type of story. Cheryl Holt provides that; her stories are even paced, well told and the love scenes positively steam. However, the more I read her novels the more I realise that her main plotlines are increasingly similar to the point of tediousness - a pity. Gabriel is a rogue preying on the need for love and rich purses of ladies to keep him in the style that he is accustomed to. He pursues Elizabeth, a diversion from the usual fare, relentlessly to entangle her in a torrid affair. Elizabeth's joy in the union, her sparkle and vitality compels him to abandon himself to the love that she offers. When Elizabeth is threatened with dire consequences as a result of their affair he goes to unaccounted lengths to protect her. Although deliciously erotic, emphasis is also placed on the tenderness that the two main characters have for one another. This novel includes character development that makes for a gentler story than usually can be expected of Ms Holt.


Love Lessons
Love Lessons
by Cheryl Holt
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Loose ends stumps a potential satisfactory read, 5 Jun 2005
Cheryl Holt constructs a compelling read with vibrant characters. This novel promised much and did deliver to a large extent. However, there are glaring gaps that reduces enjoyment of the story. James is complex and darkly grappling with major issues in life. The novel allows too little follow-through to allow character development and resolution of some of the issues. A clear example is the complicated relationship with his father. Much is made of the tangles of the relationship and how acutely it impacts on his life, but the issue remains a loose end. Abigail is a determined and courageous woman daring to go where she has never been before, when she arranges 'Love Lessons' with James. The erotic dalliance soon takes on overtures of lasting love. This is more or less it. Abigail, of noble birth, then changes overnight from a contained woman impressed enough with her status in life to 'cut' James, not of noble birth, in public (in the parlance of the time) to a vamp that overthrows this so-called status to make a public statement of their affair. Difficult to suspend disbelief to that extent, especially as there was little enough indication that her love is strong enough to support such exposing action. In addition she does not seem to feel it necessary to apologise for her earlier insensitive behaviour. A blunt ending to what should have been a satisfying read.


Further Than Passion
Further Than Passion
by Cheryl Holt
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A novel apart in depth and compassion, 5 Jun 2005
Cheryl Holt spins her now known tale of an experienced man luring an innocent into exploring sensual pleasures, an exploration that ensnares them in a scorching affair. The tale is still lushly and erotically told. In this novel Marcus, jaded and bored with life, happens upon Kate, mired in despair but an innocent nonetheless. Their scorching affair provides escapism for both and the sensual play soon evolves to love. Life eventually intrudes on their interlude and Marcus reacts typically spoilt and with the ignorance that Ms Holt sometimes sketches her male characters of noble birth. Kate bares the brunt of the disastrous consequences of their dalliance. Marcus eventually sees the light, repents his earlier callous behaviour and expresses his regret in both word and action to Kate before they find that love does indeed conquer all. The sincere expression of regret for callous behaviour and a heartfelt wish to right the situation is a first in a Holt-novel as far as this reader is concerned. Usually it is glossed over or assumed to have been addressed. This alone sets this novel apart in a positive sense from other Holt-novels


By Possession
By Possession
by Madeline Hunter
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: £4.84

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Poignant conclusion to an impossible love, 5 Jun 2005
Madeline Hunter's understanding of the human heart crafts a powerful love story. Addis returns badly scarred, physically and emotionally, from the Crusades to reclaim his title and lands. He compels Moira, a serf-born woman bonded to his lands, to assist him in re-establishing himself. Fully understanding that he has a duty to his name and heritage to find a strong political alliance through marriage, they embark on a torrid and deeply binding love affair. The characters are forcefully and compellingly drawn, both with a strength of character and purpose that engrosses the reader. Heartache and despair are balanced with gentle humour and steamy love scenes that delights, especially as Addis and Moira do find that love conquers all. Once again it needs be said that other authors have attempted the difficult theme of love across class distinction and arranged marriages or -alliances in historical romances, but not necessarily with the passion and compassion of this one, i.e. to the mind of this reader at least.


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