Susan M. (susyclemens) - Reviews

1 to 20 of 159 - Page:
An Affair Most Wicked
An Affair Most Wicked
Author: Julianne MacLean
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 87
Review Date: 5/24/2009
Helpful Score: 1


I was a big fan of "To Marry The Duke" (the first book in the trilogy) but THIS book was a big letdown. In the first place, Clara and Seger (and how do I pronounce that name anyway?) were cardboard characters. We keep hearing how handsome Seger is -- enough already, after the tenth description of his blond hair, dimpled chin and huge hands (and guess what THAT means). I think the author had to keep going on about his good looks in order to give him SOMETHING as a character, since he has no depth whatsoever. Clara is just a nothing heroine; she's nowhere near as interesting as her sister Sophia was (and in this book, Sophia is as dully written as Clara). Even NOT comparing this book to To Marry The Duke, it's really pretty poor. The sex scenes are pretty potent I'll admit, but for me, a romance novel is more than just that -- this novel had NO plot that was worth telling, NO characters worth remembering, nor enough interest to keep me turning the pages...When Seger began to write letters to Clara, I thought, at last, a really interesting plot turn. What a different plot device - and now we'll start to learn something about Seger's past. Then, THAT plot device was blown, because all the letters contain are Seger's offering Clara discreet sexual encounters! Will ya or won't ya, basically. Then we're supposed to be moved because he makes the effort to redeem himself and pays a respectable call on Clara after writing to her with the offers for sex? The book left me feeling annoyed for wasting my time reading it.


Alena (Harlequin Historical, No 220)
Alena (Harlequin Historical, No 220)
Author: Merline Lovelace
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.3/5 Stars.
 20
Review Date: 10/5/2010


This is a romance set in Roman-occupied Britain. I have to say I was disappointed with this story. I usually love Merline Lovelace's writing, and I was intrigued by the different time period, but somehow, this story dragged. There was too much historical detail and not enough romance. (And I would never usually complain about too much historical detail. But somehow the mix didn't come off.) The hero was a just a little bit too controlling for my taste, too. It was readable, but not a keeper for me.


Alien Vengeance (Harlequin Presents, No 815)
Alien Vengeance (Harlequin Presents, No 815)
Author: Sara Craven
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 2.8/5 Stars.
 6
Review Date: 9/28/2010
Helpful Score: 1


Unpleasant 'romance' about a young woman who goes to Crete to join her brother on vacation, and gets kidnapped by a Greek billionaire. The hero is intent on revenging the unwed pregnancy of a young girl from his village -- allegedly, the father of the baby is the heroine's brother. The billionaire's oh-so-intelligent notion of revenge is not to go to the police, or even just to find the guy and beat the snot out of him - no, he decides that honor must be restored by kidnapping the virginal heroine and making her his house servant/love slave.

The heroine, whose name escapes me even though I just read the book, is just lame enough to fall in love with her kidnapper after *ONE DAY* in his company. I guess when the forced seduction, a/k/a rape, is being performed by a handsome Greek billionaire it's supposed to be OK with the reader. There's even more disturbing elements when, more than once, the hero tells the heroine that no one will believe her if she goes to the authorities, because he's so rich he can make her look like a gold digger/scorned woman.

Blah! I know I'm supposed to suspend belief when I read a Harlequin Presents but this was too much!! Would give this story zero stars if I could. Am writing this review as a warning to fans of older Harlequin Presents and/or Sara Craven to stay away from this one. I've read many other Cravens & know the author can write better than this.


The Angel Knight
The Angel Knight
Author: Susan King
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.
 24
Review Date: 6/29/2009


Good, but not great, romance novel. It's very tender & loving, with good characterizations, but I found it somewhat predictable. I'd give it 3.85 stars.


Annie's Song
Annie's Song
Author: Catherine Anderson
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.3/5 Stars.
 239
Review Date: 4/13/2010


I had never read a romance novel by Catherine Anderson before, but based on the generally good or better reviews her work appears to receive, and particularly based on the glowing reviews for ANNIE'S SONG -- I frankly expected a much better read.

I had no problem with the plot; it's not without its charms. Two people who marry "of convenience" and learn to fall in love afterward are interesting to me (and a lot of other romance readers).

My problem is with the pairing of the cardboard-ish goodness of Alex and the dull-ish "fey" Annie, which simply struck no sparks with me. Alex's physical attraction to Annie happens a little too soon for my taste. Annie's parents are harsh disciplinarians one minute; too sorry over their harsh treatment of her the next - there seemed to be no stability to their characters. The parents' characters seem shallow; manipulated like puppets to serve a brief purpose.

And I have to mention the ease with which Alex finally makes love to the eight-months-pregnant Annie, the PHYSICAL ease, if you get my drift. You'd think Annie was taunt as a gazelle - no awkwardness or discomfort there. I'd thought the consummation would wait until post-birth, but Ms. Anderson surprised me, not too pleasantly... I hasten to add, I've got no problem with pregnant women having sex in or out of a romance novel, but the ultra-romantic, difficulty-free, plus multi-orgasmic scenerio, kind of made me want to laugh.

All in all - I was just not thrilled by the way this story is told, and will probably not read anything else by this author. Character development was neglible and there just wasn't anything especially fresh in her style that would persuade me to read another one of her books.


Belgrave Square: A Novel of Society
Belgrave Square: A Novel of Society
Author: Rachel Summerson
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 2.8/5 Stars.
 2
Review Date: 4/20/2011


"In the London society of 1863, the Peat family was considered wealthy, but it hadn't yet 'arrived.'" It's a year or so in the lives of three women whose pushy nouveau riche mother - and a more reluctant father - are trying to find them places in Victorian aristocratic society.

This was a fine debut historical/romantic novel from this author, who unfortunately seems to have stopped writing. I thought it was was a very good story, and was sorry to see it end, which I think is the strongest recommendation any book can have.


Belle of the Ball (Zebra Regency Romance)
Belle of the Ball (Zebra Regency Romance)
Author: Donna Simpson
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 3.3/5 Stars.
 6
Review Date: 5/10/2009
Helpful Score: 1


A good romance read, with a different type of plot (for me). A woman in her third Season, with the scent of desperation clinging to her skirts, needs to marry a wealthy man for the sake of her family. But she falls in love with a man who is penniless. He is also in love with her. She's fighting her feelings for him, treating him coldly, and thus he begins to think she's not the woman he thinks she is... Set in Regency England.


Beyond the Savage Sea
Beyond the Savage Sea
Author: Jo Ann Wendt
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
 7
Review Date: 6/9/2011


There were a number of things I liked about this romance, including the setting (Barbados, 1669), and the way the hero slowly helps the heroine overcome her past. There are some well-written subcharacters, too, which help propel the story along. Drake (the hero) is something of a jerk toward Edwinna during the last third of the story, which I have to admit was tough to read, BUT, on the other hand, Edwinna didn't fall apart, and removes herself from a painful situation quickly, showing how much she's grown & changed. And at least Drake realizes he's made a mistake. It's a good read, much less run-of-the-mill than many romances.


BIG SHOTS: EDWARDIAN SHOOTING PARTIES
BIG SHOTS: EDWARDIAN SHOOTING PARTIES
Author: JONATHON G. RUFFER
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 2.5/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 7/26/2011


I have to say I found this book disappointing. Nice things are, it's got some interesting photographs, and the writing isn't at all bad. But on the negative side, there are several tiny errors of fact (Albert Edward, the Prince of Wales was married in 1863, not 1864, for example). The book ends very abruptly, with no coverage of shooting parties post-WWI, although the author mentions they did go on in a limited way. I would have liked to know about the post-war entertaining/shooting parties; who entertained and who couldn't any more. It's not exactly a bad book but it's not a keeper, either. I'm glad I managed to request it from my library rather than purchase/use credit on obtaining it.


The Billionaire Affair (Mistress to a Millionaire) (Harlequin Presents, No 2238)
Review Date: 7/24/2009


I have to respectfully disagree with Jennifer O. This was a great Harlequin and one of the few I have on my keeper shelf. Harlequins ARE silly, but sometimes the authors can pull off a great story and this is one - I loved the old-lovers-reunited theme; the fact that neither of them could ever forget the other after their teenage romance, etc. To me, the continued 'misunderstandings' make sense because both Ben and Caroline have trust issues after their first romance was broken up. I would definitely rate this 3.5 stars.


Birdsong:  A Novel of Love and War
Birdsong: A Novel of Love and War
Author: Sebastian Faulks
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.
 76
Review Date: 2/4/2010


I have to agree with reviewers who struggled with this book or found it disappointing. I too, thought the romance between Stephen & Isabelle was not too believable. I liked that Stephen's granddaughter was searching to know more about him, and the scene with Stephen's former comrade from the trenches, the old man in the rest home, is very moving. The WWI scenes are excellent and the soldiers and the situation that Faulks creates are very "real". Therefore, I found the novel somewhat uneven - half great; half not very good. Maybe if he'd jettisoned the romantic affair, it would actually have been a better novel (for me).


Bitter Harvest
Bitter Harvest
Author: Roxanne Dent
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 1/28/2012


Strongly written historical (with some romance elements) set in South Africa of the early 1800's, outlining the conflicts between the Afrikaners (Dutch-descent settlers), the English, and the "Kaffirs" (derogatory term for African natives). A fast moving story involving several families, with detailed and absorbing characters. I was very pleasantly surprised by the depth and historical detail in this novel.


Bittersweet Revenge
Bittersweet Revenge
Author: Gail Whitiker
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 2.5/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 6/29/2010


This is a good example of a typical older Regency Romance: a misunderstanding or "resistance to the truth" (either a character is resisting his/her true feelings, or there's some outside circumstance that keeps them from admitting their true feelings) that lasts for a bit more than 2/3 of the story. These characters are well written, the plot is OK, but I'm not a big fan of these kinds of novels. They pass the time, but don't linger in the memory.


The Black Knight
The Black Knight
Author: Connie Mason
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 82
Review Date: 2/20/2009
Helpful Score: 4


This book had a great premise (the bastard son with a grievance, who thinks he was betrayed by the heroine many years ago). But, the writing is blunt and undeveloped, and the characters are shallow stereotypes who always think with their you-know-what's instead of their brains. It's a real shame that this story and the characters weren't taken through a few more drafts. It could have been so much better!

I admit I couldn't finish it, but I read more than half (forcing myself to do that) so I believe this review to be accurate.


The Blind-Date Proposal (City Brides, Bk 2) (Harlequin Romance, No 3761)
Review Date: 9/9/2011
Helpful Score: 1


This book has been on my personal keeper list for years. The story is very warm & charming, a real winner which would make a marvelous movie (wish Hollywood would consider this!). Reading it is like watching a really good romantic movie, in fact. I love that the heroine is less than perfect, and that the hero is somewhat prim and cold at first and takes time to warm up to her. Although BLIND DATE PROPOSAL is part of a trilogy you need not read the other two (in fact, I think they are subpar to this story), it stands alone. I don't think Jessica Hart's writing gets much better than this one.


The Bolter
The Bolter
Author: Frances Osborne
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3/5 Stars.
 6
Review Date: 5/24/2011


I didn't expect to like this book, because I understood it was written by a family member. Therefore I more or less expected it to be too mushy, or possibly defensive. Boy, was I wrong - it's not only well-written, but the author sympathetically brought her great-grandmother back to life, yet maintained throughout a historian's distance and control. Every aspect of the fascinating life of THE BOLTER is explored - her character, her travels, her tastes, her many marriages. Anglophiles and lovers of "scandale" will really enjoy this biography.


Born to Rule : Five Reigning Consorts, Granddaughters of Queen Victoria
Review Date: 8/7/2009
Helpful Score: 3


I wouldn't call this book a "historical tour de force" by any means. It's somewhat shallow and has numerous little errors of fact. Frankly, you could get more detail about the lives of Marie of Rumania, Maud of Norway, Sophie of Greece, Alexandra of Russia, etc. by reading Theo Aronson's GRANDMAMA OF EUROPE: THE CROWNED DESCENDANTS OF QUEEN VICTORIA. Mr. Aronson's book covers the same women covered in Ms. Gelardi's book and you might have to go to more trouble to find a copy it, but I promise you he is the better writer and it is more solidly & expertly researched than Born to Rule.


Burning Love
Burning Love
Author: Nan Ryan
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.
 15
Review Date: 8/4/2010
Helpful Score: 2


An Arab chieftain, Sharif Aziz Hamad, kidnaps American heiress Temple DuPlessis Longworth, because her family makes the munitions that are being sold to the Turks, the enemies of Sharif and his people. Also, Sharif has another reason to hate the DuPlessis-Longworth family: it turns out that his parents, English geologists traveling in Arabia, were killed in a raid where the Turkish raiders used DuPlessis bullets.

This being a romance novel, when Sharif, aka Christian Telford, spends a prolonged period of time with Temple, his hatred of her family (which is not a strongly developed plot point in the story, in any case) rapidly decreases as his physical attraction to Temple increases.

This book is flawed by the shallowness of Sharif/Christian, and Temple. Temple, frankly, is a real dope. The author actually has her make an escape attempt with nothing more than a water bottle, some dried fruit, and wearing a white silk evening dress. OK, so the white silk dress is all that's available for her to wear (since her mouthing off to Sharif about escaping forced him to remove her practical clothing) - but, come on, even the stupidest woman would realize that in this situation, you can't travel on a horse over miles & miles of desert, in a white silk evening dress and with one water bottle!!

I guess I should have given up on this book when Temple's second escape attempt lands her directly in the hands of Sharif's enemies, but I was sort of hoping against hope that she'd be made to suffer a little for her stupidity. However, Sharif rescues her in time.

Attempting to make Temple a "spirited, independent" kind of heroine, most of Ms. Ryan's writing falls flat. Temple is a Barbie doll heroine who does the stupidest things, all in the name of being "clever", "bold" or whatever adjectives Ms. Ryan is using at the moment to describe her.

Sharif and Temple think about and speak to each other in, well, such corny ways: Sharif - "Never forget it is I who holds your fate in my hands." "I am the only force. I am the one who gives the orders, not you." "You cannot win against me. You will not go until I set you free." Temple - "She simply had to escape him. Tonight!" And so on.

There's lots of detailed sex, which could be a good point or a bad point depending on how you like that in romance novels. For me it was a bad point because this started to read like a soft porn novel instead of a good romantic "conflict" spiced by occasional romantic scenes.

I liked Nan Ryan's YOU BELONG TO MY HEART very much, so reading BURNING LOVE was a letdown.


Captive Mistress
Captive Mistress
Author: Deborah LeVarre
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 2.9/5 Stars.
 5
Review Date: 5/25/2008
Helpful Score: 1


I see that other people who have posted reviews of this novel really liked it. I'm afraid I had the exact opposite experience! The hero, Michael, for no discernable reason other than he's been let down by love before, behaves like a caveman toward the heroine, Christina aka "Christy". Yet they each have this unacknowledged attraction to each other (at least, unacknowledged verbally, they act on it physically), which is supposed to pass as love.

The hero actually rapes the heroine, IMO, in the book's one and only so-called "love" scene, but because of the heroine's attraction to him, it's supposed to pass as a love scene, although words like "pain" and "tearing" are used, and she gets no pleasure from the act although she does end up pregnant from it...Yeech.

It's also actually a very boring read, because the all the characters seem to think with what's between their legs, instead of with their brains.

All I could think by the time I finished this book was, thank God, this style of romance novel went out with the '80's. I definitely prefer romance novels that have some depth and heart to them, and are not as shallow as this story is.


Catalina's Caress
Catalina's Caress
Author: Sylvie F. Sommerfield
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 3.3/5 Stars.
 10
Review Date: 10/18/2011


This book was tedious! It's top heavy with detail upon detail and frankly, too many characters - the plot is weighed down by them. Unfortunately, the heroine Catalina is as shallow as a lake in the Sahara. She has no reason for being, except to be beautiful-looking; she has no personality. I think that annoyed me most of all. Nothing kills a book like a blah heroine. The plot COULD have been good - I love a revenge plot that turns into a love story - but the main characters, Marc and Catalina are so wooden, and they behave so predictably, that their love doesn't resonate. The love scenes aren't sensual. Marc's revenge and the reasons behind it, are resolved too tidily for belief. All in all, I regret wasting my time with this book.


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