I've been bemoaning the lack of real romance with a warm love story in most recent HRs. Well, this one has it in spades and I truly enjoyed reading it. Yes, as a few reviewers before me have pointed out, Long doesn't have titles and the peerage mastered, but I can overlook the Duke of Falconbridge (our H) being called Moncrieffe throughout the book when he should be addressed as "Your Grace", "Duke" or "Falconbridge", depending on who's talking to him, and the young son of a viscount here (the character Harry) is only an "Honorable", not a "Lord". You have to overlook a lot of inaccuracies and anachronisms in most mass market paperback HRs anyway.
The reason this isn't a 5-star book for me is that the whole story takes place at a house party and nothing much happens except for the romance. (Apparently there is no pleasing me. When there's not enough romance I complain, and here I have the romance I've been wanting and still I complain.) There's also an age discrepancy of almost 20 years between H and h, something I'm not usually fond of, but it works here because the young heroine isn't annoyingly immature or naive or TSTL. And the hero is someone I could fall for, if he would ignore the reverse even larger age discrepancy between him and me. He's a wonderfully complex character.
The book starts off well and caught my interest immediately. Long's writing is very good, her ability to describe things, people and emotions is much, much better than the average HR author's, and her characters' dialogue/conversation is witty, humorous and smart and her characters come alive on the page. The love story develops gradually and that's something I appreciate. Instant sex by page 50 isn't my idea of romance. So when this H and h do become intimate, you know that it's not just a physical thing. (But, BTW, that physical thing between them is pretty smokin' hot.)
So the only reason for the 4 stars, rather than the 5 that the romance aspect deserves, is that I did become a bit bored by the breakfasts, picnics, strolls and card playing. There wasn't much else going on. However, that's certainly better than too much going on so I shouldn't be complaining.
on February 24, 2011
I finished reading What I Did For a Duke today and I loved it. From the very first chapter, I was already drawn to the main character, the Duke of Falconbridge. I think one of the things that caught my attention was his dark sense of humor, evident in the first chapter. And interestingly, even though he is a duke, Alex Moncrieffe is not very well liked by the ton, which makes one wonder why. And of course, all those rumors circulating the ton about his dark mysterious past makes him all the more interesting.
The female main character, Genevieve, is also very interesting. I was definitely entertained when she was trying to figure out how to "feign a swoon." And I enjoyed seeing the two main characters interact with each other, slowly revealing their true selves to each other. I found myself drawn to the conversations between the two main characters. The initial aloofness Genevieve displayed seemed to make the Duke even more determined to coax a reaction out from her. And they began surprising each other, becoming more interested in one another.
What I especially like in this book is the dialogue. I like how the conversations were witty and funny at times. There were moments where one of their conversations brought a smile to my face and I enjoyed the scene so much I had to reread it.
I thought this book was a very good light read. I enjoyed seeing Alex and Genevieve's relationship develop as the story continues. Their banters were entertaining to read. And of course, I liked seeing them find their happily ever after. I haven't read any of Julie Anne Long's other books, but after reading this one, I'm planning on getting my hands on another book soon.
on October 6, 2012
My review title sums up the plot essentially. The heroine is in love with another man, but he's not coming up to scratch, as they say. She and the hero concoct a plan to simulate interest in each other in order to make her real love jealous. That works, but along the way (the way being a week in duration), the heroine and hero start an illicit, sexual relationship and come to realize they "love" each other.
This was not a happy or fun read for me. The heroine is seriously in love with another man for over 90% of the book and is devastated to realize he might soon propose to another woman. As a result, she was sad for most of the book, heart-broken and pining away for someone other than the hero. If the other man had proposed at the outset, she'd have accepted happily. All this made her relationship with the actual hero seem very strange and physical only. I did not witness love, trust, respect and communication developing on both sides. The hero and heroine did have deep conversations with each other, in the afterglow of sex, but those conversations were mainly about other loves they'd had: for him, his dead wife and son, for her, the other guy she loved.
As to the hero, he was much older than the heroine, like 20 years, "old of enough to be her father" older, and the author never, ever, ever let me forget it! I felt like his age was another character in the book. It was repeatedly repeated (not a typo there) that he was almost 40 years old with gray hair at his temples and lines around his eyes. The heroine may have been 20, but she "seemed" closer to 18. Their interactions were never that of intellectual or sexual equals. The book told me she was so "clever" but I was never convinced and never could see why the hero was interested in such a young, green girl. Their sexual relationship seemed *to me* like the corrupting of an innocent, rather than the awakening of a real woman, despite unconvincing verbiage about how passionate she was and how her "body was made for this". Despite her consent, she seemed to be taken advantage of on some level, and her utter lack of concern about the ramifications of losing her virginity or possibly becoming pregnant seemed completely unrealistic, anachronistic and just plain stupid.
It seemed that almost everyone except the heroine's parents were far younger than the hero, and he always struck me as an old uncle toying with teenagers. His worldiness against their inexperience and naivete was off-putting and creepy. They were far too easy to trick and manipulate primarily due to their age.
Also, because of how the hero's age was presented, I felt that he and the heroine would have about 5 good years together and that he'd been dead within 10 years. No kidding. His dotage seemed imminent, and there was just no way that this couple could have a robust and long term happily ever after. The book even referenced how he needed longer recovery time for sex and had trouble holding a particular position. I don't know why the author beat me over the head with this dude's age as a negative. It was so unnecessary.
Beyond this, it was never clear to me where the heroine's family got so much wealth. They were untitled, but were they in trade? How did they hobnob with such high nobility as dukes? There were some other issues has well, but this review is long enough. I did finish this book, but would have been upset if I'd paid full price for it.
on February 15, 2012
I had high hopes for this book because it had so many great reviews, but unfortunately I really ended up hating it. Firstly, as some others mentioned, it was very slow in many places...way too much card playing and going for walks,(although I did laugh out loud at the goose scene). This alone would not make me dislike the book however, what I really didn't enjoy was the story itself and the main characters. Now I fully admit that this might just be due to my own personal preference in regards to what kind of hero/heroine I prefer in these kind of historical romances, but that's why I'm writing this, in case anyone might share my preferences and know to steer clear.
First a bit of setting up:
So Genevieve is your typical young, beautiful, innocent, virgin from a wealthy family...all good there. But the author immediately threw me off by making her madly in love with someone who we know is not the hero. The man she loves is not someone she barely knows, or has only met at a few dances or something, but rather a childhood friend that she has been wildly in love with for years! And this man is not flawed to the point that we know she would be better off with someone else, but rather he's funny, charming, intelligent, and shares her interests and passion for art. They seem like they'd make a wonderful couple actually, and Genevieve truly believes that he returns her feelings. So when he tells her that he is planning to ask their other mutual best friend to marry him instead, naturally she is completely shocked and heartbroken. Like, spends days crying over the lost love of her life, will never love again heartbroken. Plus this all happens during a house party where this man she loves (I think his name was Harry), their friend he intends to propose to, and many other guests are staying in her family's house for a few weeks, so she has to see them together everyday and pretend that she is happy for him. So at the start of the book not only is she already in love but also in extreme pain, and so at this point I'm wondering how the author can possibly turn this into a romantic setting.
In comes the Duke who also decides to stay with her family for the duration of the party, with the intention of seducing Genevieve and then leaving her as a form of revenge to her brother. She pretty quickly figures out his plan though, and basically says hell no to that. But he has figured out from observing her that she heartbroken over Harry, so instead he tells her that he will pretend to be courting her to make Harry jealous so she can thereby win him back, while still making the brother squirm too. She agrees to this.
And this finally gets us to the stuff I really didn't like. Firstly, the duke is old enough to be her father. I tried to forget this while reading but it's pointed out many times throughout the book. In fact the Duke had a son who, if he had survived would have been Genevieve's age. And because of his age he has some stamina issues. While I know this sort of thing happened all the time back then, it's just not what I prefer to be in my fiction.
So during a conversation while the pretend courting is going on, the old Duke basically tells her that he has had lots of experience with whores, and makes a few other inappropriate comments. Instead of being put off by this, Genevieve is only amused and interested. Huh?
And THEN after a few more inappropriate conversations in which the old Duke basically tries to convince her to have sex with him, not because they have any feelings for each other but rather just for the pleasure of it, she agrees to do just that. That's right...our innocent virginal heroine, without much internal conflict or wrestling with scruples, begins to invite the old Duke into her bed every night to have casual sex, all the while still actively plotting and scheming during the day to win back the love of her life Harry. Um, WHAT!?! Pretty slutty there Genevieve.
There's more about this book that I didn't like, but I'll stop here because this review is already so long and I think you get the idea. I apologize if I offended anyone who likes this book, like I said it's just my personal preference and I just hope to help any of those who might share it! :)
on February 22, 2011
I'm pretty hard to please when it comes to reading for pleasure. Julie Anne Long did not disappoint in this. This will go down as one of the best romances I ever read. It's not even on my keeper-shelf yet because I haven't stopped reading it long enough to put it there. :)
This romance between Alex and Genevieve is truly not to be missed by historical romance lovers -- and really anyone who reads romance. I found it hysterically funny in parts, moving and poignant in others, and witty and dry--much like Alex himself--in others.
You can read the blurb yourself so I won't bore you with a recap of the book, all I can say is go out and GET THIS BOOK TODAY! My copy, I guarantee you, will be dog-earred and worn by the end of the year.
on February 24, 2011
Love, love loved it. I would go so far as to say it's Julie Anne Long's best novel! (Although Runaway Duke will always be a sentimental favorite) One reviewer thought it was a shortcoming that the plot centered around a single house party. I, however, thought it was very satisfying, allowing the author to focus on character development and amazing dialogue. So many romances tend to sacrifice the story for the sake of a plot line that is often hackneyed. The plot of this book is not action-based. It is emotion-based, with the denouement being the heroine's recognition of her own heart. This book gets right down to business, delivering some very steamy bedroom scenes, which is a must for me. And Moncrieffe has to be one of the most awesome heroes I've ever come across in the romance genre. He breaks my heart.
on October 2, 2011
I've been reading romance novels less and less lately, but every once in a while a Historical romance wouldn't hurt. I had high expectations regarding this book based on the reviews given for its credit. I'm definitely in the minority here but I was disappointed. The writing in general was good, it was a quick and easy book to read. I finished it in less than 48 hours. The characters are likable but we don't get a full insight into them. I always felt there was something missing, as if each character was holding a part of him/her self back yes even the Hero/Heroine who take up much of the story. The plot though was the biggest disappointment for me. I wanted to feel the Romance. I wanted the author to make me believe that the two main characters belong to each other. If I'm allowed to be frank, I never bought them to be in love. Yes, they were having conversations and the like, yes there was an underlying sense of humor and some respect going on between them. But, they never got chance to develop that respect into attraction and finally love. I always felt they were friends outside the bedroom that is. Yes, the sex scenes were hot but I wanted more than just two people meeting and then eventually doing it. What a shame! Since the characters had potential.
Eventually not a horrid read, but not the best Romance novel I've encountered mindless to say I don't think I'll be picking this book up again.
on February 24, 2011
I like Julie Anne Long's style of writing and her books have been an auto buy for me since I read "To catch a thief" when it first came out. I feel that her writing has only become better with time. I am not writing a synopsis of the story here as it is there in Amazon excerpt already & I don't want to give spoilers. The hero Duke of Faconbridge, Alex, is 20 yrs older than the heroine Genevieve. I normally am not fond of the big age gap, but the heroine is mature enough, so they made such a great pair. Their characters truly fit the phrase "made for each other" even though it wasn't obvious in the beginning of the story. The romance also developed slowly but steadily in the book (though it was only a matter of days time-wise) and it was not all about sexual attraction either. Although it is a very sensual romance with lots of sizzle :-)
There were so many laugh out loud moments in the story. I haven't laughed so much reading a HR in so long. It wasn't slap-stick comedy or forced humor either. The storyline also surprised me a couple of times by veering away from how the plot would commonly be developed. I enjoyed hearing about the characters, heroine's other family members, from the previous stories, but they didn't take over this story as this was all about Alex & Genevieve. The story takes place almost entirely in Sussex at or near heroine's home, over a period of days. There is no London ball rooms/Almack etc and not too many titles characters etc, all of which I am fine with.
It is true that the author did get titles and forms of address mixed up in a way that was very obvious, but the great story more than made up for it. I do hope that a good author like her would correct such silly mistakes in her future works. Over all this story was a great read & I would definitely be reading the rest of the books in the series. I would save 5 star rating for the books I love the most, the ones I re-read all the time. This books comes close to it at 4 stars.
on October 4, 2012
Every time I read the reviews that emphasized the age difference between h/h, I put off reading this book. What an error in judgment that was. Actually, the age difference is one of the reasons this book is so very delicious. The fact that the hero is mature, urbane, distinguished, elegant and sophisticated makes witnessing him falling in love - totally against his every expectation - utterly fascinating. And, the heroine is perfectly crafted so as to be fully his match. Young, yes, but old for her years. Wise in dealing with him, wiser than she even knows.
The dialogue was simply outstanding. I love it when the heroine replies in a totally unexpected manner - and it's exactly what you wish you would have said in like circumstances. In this book, the conversations are so well done, witty and clever that there is never a temptation to skip a word. This book did not need a lot of action, and the setting of a house party was a wonderful showcase to the introduction, friendship and eventual romance that took center stage.
This was my first Julie Ann Long book and I loved every second I spent in this book. In point of fact, in the middle of the book I ordered the other books in this series. If they're even half as good a read, I'll be satisfied. This was an incredibly delightful romance between two fascinating characters. I'd give this my highest recommendation!
on February 24, 2011
I just loved this book. The hero was to die for and I could not stop reading this. I didn't want this story to end, what a fabulous romance. It's true that the author had the nobility and titles mixed up a little but honestly, I was so immersed in this that I did not notice this until I read some of the reviews here. I read all the Pennyroyal books and this one goes on a keeper shelf right next to Miles Redmond/Cynthias story ("Like no other Lover") which was compelling too. The lovestory, hero and heroine were just what I call a perfect romance and the reason I read historical romances. Can't wait for her next book.