Audio Review: Midsummer Magic by Catherine Coulter

midsummer magicHero: Philip Hawsbury is no longer the second son. When his older brother died, he became the next Earl of Rothermere. Now his father is on his deathbed and Philip must fulfill a longstanding promise his father made to impoverished Alexander Kilbracken, the Scottish Earl of Ruthven. He must marry one of the daughters – Viola, Clare, or Frances.  He has no desire to wed anyone and would prefer to stay in London with his mistress. Now how can he proceed to do both?

Heroine: Frances does not want to be married off to Philip or really anyone sight unseen. She’s certain he’s going to be an arrogant Sassenach. She’s the apple of her father’s eye and has a premonition that her father would like to see her marry the man. Since she must be present and participate, she decides to do so in the worst way possible. While her sisters, Clare and Viola, vie for the young earl’s attention, she’s going to make herself ugly, aloof, and a shrew. Little does she know that she presents the perfect image of a wife for Philip – who wants to fulfill his father’s promise, but leave the missus behind at Desborough Hall while he pursues his London life unchecked and unencumbered.

Review: This book comes from the era of the “bodice-ripper” / “forced seduction” and has the flaws that associate with that period of romances. The hero for instance is not a worthy hero by today’s standard’s. He’s shallow and doesn’t learn to love the heroine in her disguise, but rather falls for her [beauty] when it comes off. He’s also either a product of his times or an idiot because he doesn’t think wives should be treated like mistresses and in so believing makes zero attempts to please his bride when he and she do their “duties” to conceive.  But it’s supposed to be acceptable and tolerable because both characters don’t know any better. Baloney. He also likes to pretend he’s the wounded party in all of this, which is very aggravating.

When he’s not being an irritating jerk he at least remembers the cream (which is not saying much.)

It should be noted that the heroine’s characterization starts off great – she’s feisty, stands up to her father, and tries to trick the hero with a “clever” ugly duckling disguise. But then this tom-boyish, heart of gold (she walks miles to visit her father’s tenets,) strong heroine gets replaced by someone else entirely during their “honeymoon” stage. She’s uncertain, quiet, mousey, and timid – and not just for the appearance of keeping up her disguise.

So what did work for me was the beginning and the initial set-up.

Narrator: Anne Flosnik as usual had a wonderful performance. She is one of the reasons I stuck with the story to the end.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Buy: Midsummer Magic (Magic Trilogy), Midsummer Magic (Audiobook)

Review: Knight of Love by Catherine LaRoche

knight of loveHero: The hero has a complicated name. He is Wolfram von Wolfsbach und Ravensworth, also known as Wolf, the English Earl of Ravensworth. He first meets the heroine when he’s undercover as a blacksmith in Prince Kurt’s court, where he finds her being publicly whipped for a small infraction to the amusement of the Prince. Barely able to contain himself, Wolf watches and then volunteers to carry Lenora upstairs where he gives her a large knife for protection.

Heroine: Despite appearances to the contrary, Lady Lenora Trevelyan is not a damsel in distress. She is resourceful and determined to make her escape on her own… no knight in shiny armor needed. She successfully escapes her abusive fiancé, Prince Kurt von Rotenburg-Gruselstadt and is galloping toward freedom and safety with the English/German diplomat… and gets captured by rebels just days down the road. The head of the rebel camp is none other than the blacksmith who gave her the knife.

Review: The hero is an unusual mix of beta and alpha characteristics. He’s very flowery in his language, chivalrous, and believes in love at first sight, but is also skilled at war, believes in civil rights of man (and woman,) and carefully controlling to ensure all is in his favor. For my tastes, I would have had less flowery language and more determined wooing. Wolf arranges a wedding to Lenora in order to protect her – this battlefield wedding is hardly legit as she didn’t give her consent. Still, he consummates the marriage in a forced seduction that evening. It is a heartbreaking (and erotic) experience for both of them which makes it successful. That night destroys what trust Lenora had in him. Now she’s plotting a new escape… but it’s harder to break the touch of silk than the touch of iron. There’s also an erotic scene where Lenora is in full control of Wolf and that is also successful as it is healing for both. I felt the story fell short when it changed locations from Germany to England. It was a night and day difference and the smoldering passion cooled quickly. Definitely a memorable read.

Rating: ★★★½☆

Buy: Knight of Love

Audio Review: Royal Seduction (The Royal Princes of Ruthenia, Book 1) by Jennifer Blake

Royal SeductionHero: Prince Rolfe of Ruthenia, is ruthless in his pursuit of clearing his name and tracking down the traitor who murdered his older brother. Though he’s seen his brother’s mistress across ballrooms in Europe, he’s never gotten close enough to get a real good look. When he finds Angeline Fortin at a ball in Louisiana, he mistakes her for her cousin and won’t listen to her when she says otherwise. When she is caught alone, he kidnaps her and her innocence is only proven when he claims her.

Heroine: Angeline Fortin, is a poor relation in her aunt’s home. To protect her cousin from the dashing, but dangerous prince, they engineer a trip through the woods to the convent nearby. On her return to her aunt’s she is caught. Escape proves impossible and with one quick tumble her whole world alters its course. What is in store for her now? Surely she isn’t meant to be the prince’s mistress for the rest of her life?

Review: If you’re not into bodice rippers from the eighties avoid this one, if they are your cup of tea you might give Royal Seduction a try. My greatest dislike of the book was the cousin and her storyline which leads up to her character death. The girl was apparently at turns either a sex-addicted fiend, using sex as a way to manipulate her situation, or a victim who was raped a lot. I can’t say enough how much I disliked this part of the book. What saves the book is that the cousin is not the heroine, and the real heroine and hero are very compelling. Be warned though, because the first sexual encounter between the heroine and hero is a rape, not a forced seduction. That comes later. The prince’s men tell the Angeline at every turn that her life now is to be Rolfe’s mistress, not to expect marriage. Of course she never asks Rolfe and he never says what he’s thinking either. The misconception almost separates them for good.

Narrator: Melissa Reizian Frank has a very southern voice, which totally jarred me upon first beginning the story. Nothing about the blurb indicated it took place in America. I thought it would take place in Europe and I nearly quit right then. I find it very hard to listen to southern accents, when the narrator sounds far older than the age of the heroine. It’s a personal listening preference.

Rating: ★★★½☆

Buy: Royal Seduction (The Royal Princes of Ruthenia)

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