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Barely a Lady (The Drake's Rakes series Book 1) Kindle Edition
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
"Vivid descriptions, inventive plotting, beautifully delineated characters, and stunning emotional depth ensure the success of Dreyer's historical romance debut."―Library Journal (starred review)
"Fast plotting, thorough research, and a swaggering-cop style elevate this sixth novel from Dreyer..."―Publishers Weekly, starred review on With a Vengeance
"[N]onstop action and a tough babe with a heart. Top-drawer."
―Kirkus Reviews, starred review
"Gripping, disturbing, and ultimately tragic...Incredibly powerful."―Romantic Times BOOKreviews Magazine, Top Pick
"With its exquisitely crafted characters and delectably sharp prose, this is a romance to treasure."―Booklist on Some Men's Dreams
"Kathleen Korbel skillfully sets a love story amid a fight to save a world. The sparks between Orla and Liam are perfect."
―4 1/2 Stars, Romantic Times BOOKreviews Magazine on Deadly Redemption
"With a poetic sense of grace, deftly defined characters, and her usual wicked sense of wit, RITA Award winner Korbel fashions a lusciously sensual and thoroughly romantic love story... Dangerous Temptations is bewitching, beguiling, and brilliant."―Booklist --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
- File Size : 1472 KB
- Publication Date : June 16, 2010
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Publisher : Forever (June 16, 2010)
- ASIN : B003JTHXYK
- Print Length : 422 pages
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Enhanced Typesetting : Enabled
- Language: : English
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Best Sellers Rank: #248,850 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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The male lead (sorry, but he is no hero), believes lies and innuendo from his family and shames, abandons, and divorces his wife. Five years later she finds him on the battlefield and rescues him, torn between the love she once held for him and the pain and desolation she has endured for five years. He ends up with amnesia, thinking they are still married, but snatches of memory make him lust for another woman, calling out her name (Mimi) and regretting also lusting after his "wife." Fearing a brain fever or setback, those caring for the male lead don't tell him anything; he needs to remember on his own.
The female lead (again, not a heroine) falls in with the above plan and feels pulled by her enduring love and loathing for her former husband. She can't tell him why she is so sad, why there is a distance between them, why she's dressed like a drudge. The male lead feels badly, acknowledging and fearing what he has done to hurt her, but he just loves her so much. As his memory returns in fleeting bits and pieces, however, he gets more irritated with his "wife" as he falls back into his five-year-old feelings.
The author's voice is clear, concise, and informative. She has a fabulous writing style and her narrative flows with very few "slow" or wordy parts. Some of the characters are really intriguing and even hilarious. There is witty reparte and some terrific dialogue between secondary characters.
Oh boy, here's where it gets dicey. I'm not going to reveal complete details but I will allude, broadly, to my specific complaints. Skip to the asterisks below if you're nervous. As the hero recovers his memories we are told he remembers trying to right a wrong, he remembers guilt over his past behaviors, he feels heartsick - several times - for his treatment of the female lead and that he's responsible for her current unhappiness and ill feelings. When the truth finally comes out, guess what?! The male lead goes back five years and hates/distrusts/abuses his wife. Really?! What about those memories of trying to right wrongs? Apparently his amnesia transferred to block out any culpability our lead had begun to feel.
When all the plot lines finally hit the fan and the male lead is finally ashamed, the female lead - spoiler alert again - forgives him immediately. Two paragraphs earlier he's fondly reminiscing about his busty Mimi until her duplicity is revealed. Oh, okay, never mind about Mimi. I'd like my wife back, please. And when he remembers - spoiler alert again - that he was working a a crown spy, the storyline goes off on a "crime against England" tangant. Way did the male lead feel he had hurt his wife? Why did he keep feeling regret and ashamed for possibly hurting her? He felt these things while an amnesiac; he regains his memory, mostly, and those feelings are gone. The female lead actually feels bad that the male lead was so duped, causing him to be forced into mistreating her. He would never have done that had he known the truth, she believes. You did tell him the truth, sister - immediately and unceasingly.
Lastly, the evil cousin Gervaise. No spoiler here - we know from the beginning this guy's a jerk and playing everybody for the fool. He's in everyone's ear constantly but only the female lead knows his true vile nature. The entirety of the other characters are shocked by his depravity when it's finally proven. There are a few characters that voice regrets over not believing the female lead, but even then everyone remarked on his smooth manners making him so believable. Even when he told his outlandish stories? Yep, even then. The only liar in the book was the - wait for it - female lead, a vicar's daughter, for crying out loud. The only character ever required to prove anything is the female lead. Every other character can make a declaration and it's completely accepted. Ironically, the servants are all on the female lead's side; maybe as a statement about class structure of the time period.
*** Spoiler-free zone now. I can recommend this book for its writing style and action flow, but I also recommend antacids for the stomach-churning words and situations the female lead endures (up through the final chapter, no less!), and rose-colored glasses so you can see how the male lead could be so gullible. I would also read this in a cool place because your blood will likely boil over the unfolding dramas and scenarios. Brace yourself.
OK, there are lot of low ratings on this book because the author gleefully stomps all over some established romance conventions, and she does it well. She also produces some tried and true tropes...some successfully, some not so well done.
Our hero has some over-the-top asinine moments that literally endanger the heroine. He has amnesia. He believes the worst of his heroine, on the word of those who wish her anything but well. He has a less than endearing habit of blurting out the name of his mistress, without really comprehending that he's done so. And yet he's human. He eventually accepts and owns his shortcomings.
The heroine is endearing and admirable, but frustrating. Yes, she loves the guy, even after he did her so very wrong. But when you look at where they started, she was about 17 or 18, he wasn't much older. Its all very Romeo and Juliet, but they live. Which is nice. Its nice that they survived to actually grow up. The characters did evolve with time, and were strongly affected by what they experienced.
This book opens on the eve of Waterloo, and Dreyer's vivid painting of the aftermath of that battle is worth the price of the book. The secondary characters are strong and endearing. To me, the villains are the weakest link of the story. There are more than one and none really take off and fly. There's a lot going on here, some plot threads just whimper and trail away. Others remain strong and relevant. I loved that the heroine was able to fight for herself and that the hero was given some really good moments.
This book is well worth reading, just don't expect it always to be easy. Not many authors could have pulled it off.
Jack an earl married Olivia, the vicar's daughter. His cousin Gervaise told lies causing Jack and others to think Olivia had a gambling problem and had sex with other men while married to Jack. Jack believed Gervaise, divorced her, and left England for five years. His family and her family also believed the lies and disowned her, refusing to help. She was pregnant. The book begins five years later during the Waterloo battle in Belgium. Olivia is nursing wounded British soldiers. She discovers Jack, unconscious, in the battlefield, wearing a French uniform. She removes the French uniform and replaces it with a British one. She takes him to safety and tends to his wounds. He has amnesia. He can't remember anything of the past five years other than knowing Olivia is his wife. The doctor tells Olivia and others they must not tell Jack anything about his past because it will either give him brain fever or kill him.
I bought this because it won a Reviewer's Award for 2010 from RT Book Reviews magazine. I am sad to say that we have very different tastes. I was bored for the first 328 pages. Olivia must pretend to be Jack's wife so he won't be stressed. He hurt her, she doesn't want to be around him, but she is forced to pretend. We are mired in her ponderings and her approach/avoidance feelings. Add to this that he mentions another woman's name, Mimi, while dreaming and again during a moment of passion with Olivia. This adds to Olivia's hurt. He can't remember anything about Mimi, but he thinks he loved her. Finally at page 328 Olivia tells him the truth of what happened five years ago. He believes her. I kept thinking why didn't she tell him the truth back then? I suppose the author wants us to think that Jack has matured and is more open to thinking now (instead of impulsive reactions).
Finally the last 60 pages felt more like a story, but they too were lacking. Olivia and Jack share some truths and start to reconnect, but there is not much of a developing relationship. Jack is still missing memory, so there is mystery about why two bad guys want to harm him. At the end of the book, someone else explains what was going on. I would have preferred Jack remembering this and talking about it. It would have been better to "show" some of his actions during his time with the French. It would have been better to "show" thoughts, motivations, and actions of the bad guys and Mimi. None of these things were fleshed out and developed. They are just briefly summarized at the very end of the book, resulting in a tidy wrap up.
I would have liked seeing how Gervaise was so all knowing that he could set up the scene with Tristan in 1810. If Jack killed Tristan and had to leave the country, why is he now allowed back? I would have liked seeing what Mimi did to get into the jail at the end. I wanted to see more about the list.
Most of the sex scenes were remembering a sex scene, dreaming of sex, or starting a sex scene but stopping or being interrupted. The scenes were more about physical reactions than emotional desire. They could have used more sensuality.
Story length: 392 pages. Swearing language: mild, including religious swear words. Sexual language: moderate. Number of sex scenes: 6. Estimated number of sex scene pages: 20. Setting: 1815 Belgium and England. Copyright: 2010. Genre: regency romance.
I've reviewed the following Eileen Dreyer books.
2 ½ stars. A Man To Die For. Copyrt 1991
1 star. The Unfortunate Miss Fortunes. Copyrt 2007 (co-authored with Jennifer Crusie and Anne Stuart)
Top reviews from other countries
When Jack Wyndham, Earl of Gracechurch, wakes he's delighted to find his wife by his side. After their argument he's missed her terribly - except Olivia is strangely cold - but then in his mind it's still 1810, and nothing terrible has happened. Except he has memories he doesn't understand, and knows he is in danger, even if he can't remember why. There are people looking for him, but all he wants is to love his wife. Except the secrets in her eyes might turn out to be the most dangerous truths of all.
Eileen Dreyer opens her DRAKE'S RAKES series, and historical romance career in excellent style (she's beter known as award winning Silhouette author Kathleen Korbel). Starting in Belgium at the infamous Duchess of Richmond's ball, the action runs through Waterloo and the days that follow, tending the wounded and recovering the dead, before finally returning to London.
Olivia is an exceptional heroine, who has been forced to make some painful choices in order to survive. Her reactions to Jack, despite everything, prevent her from ever appearing too hard or unsympathetic. Then there are Grace, Lady Kate and Lady Bea to support her - three very different women with powerful stories to tell.
Into this comes Jack, a curious hero, wounded yet handsome, tender yet confused, and made hard by things he cannot remember. I'll admit I raced through this, dying to see how things would work out. How could Jack earn Livvi's forgiveness? Did he even deserve a chance? I almost didn't care about the traitor plot.
A complicated tale of love, lies, traitors, revenge and redemption, Dreyer handles all of this and more with a skilful touch. Nothing feels rushed or forced (though there are a few things that seem to get forgotten - like the flask. What did Gervaise mean about the flask?), the characters are beautifully crafted and the setting excellently researched. This book needs to be read more than once, and I think the next time I read this I'll enjoy it even more.
Dreyer is an exciting addition to the genre, I cannot wait to see what she does with a marriage of convenience plot. Grace's tale - Never a Gentleman - is up next.
But I was delighted with a wonderful read, well reasearched and brilliant characters.
Some of the secondary characters including Bea were excellent. I highly reccomend this
and look forward to the follow up.
Dreyer has a talent to ratchet up the romantic tension between two characters until it seems either the reader's brain or the book is going to explode. Olivia is a strong heroine who yields to circumstances and her noble principles. It does not escape me that there would be no story if she had decided to leave Jack rot as her revenge for all the trouble she had to go through. But she is unable to leave a helpless man behind, no matter who he is. This is the trait that comes back to haunt her when she is forced in close proximity to Jack, forced to pretend they are still married. Jack's amnesia also works as more than a plot device, because the writer makes us understand that it gives Olivia a glimpse of what her life would have been if Jack had not lost faith in her. That is not shoved at us or pointed out in the narration, but skillfully implied in the way Olivia mires herself into loving him again. Of course, we root first and foremost for Olivia, but Jack is a sympathetic hero too, as he struggles to understand the changes around him with resolve and the willingness to question his own past behaviour.
I think the emotional conflict gets so intense that at times it made me forget about the mystery plot. At times it feels a bit disjointed, even a bit obscure, as though Olivia and Jack exist in a bubble that the rest of the world affects but not as much as the issues they must solve with one another. I actually enjoyed that a lot, because it makes for a juicy romance. Also, readers should note that the mystery plot is actually not entirely resolved in this book, but rather is meant to span the length of the series.
I would recommend this book even to those who aren't fans of romance. I think Dreyer has the writing skill to convince non-believers.