Beach Reading Without Getting “The Look”

I want to be reading more, but it’s been a hectic summer with all the activities for the kids, DH having a much heavier than normal work schedule, and events for family and friends. Our vacation was less than spectacular, and we failed to potty train DD2 during it.

Now that summer is in its last throws and we’re gearing up for school to start, we’re taking one last long weekend. I haven’t gotten in much reading this last month with everything else going on, so I want to pack some beach reading.

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What I plan to be doing. Wishful thinking with a toddler, I know.

This means no iPad. While I do really like my iPad, it doesn’t like sand or water. And, it’s pretty tough to read in direct sunlight.

So, I have to find some actual, real paper books. I have mixed feelings on this. See, I love holding a real paper book in my hands. There’s just something about it I enjoy.

What I don’t enjoy is the traditional half-naked romance cover. On the beach. With the kids. And all the other snickers from family that come with it. Invariably, someone comments on it.

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So, even dressed, still obvious.

I don’t *hide* that I love reading romances, though most people don’t think I’m your typical romance reader. They’d be wrong, as demographically, I fit the profile perfectly.

The iPad hides this cover beautifully, and no one ever need know I’m reading either a bit of Regency, a retelling of a fairy-tale, or if I’m really lucky, a love story with dragons instead of the Economist.

I wish Amazon sold romance books with an optional hide-what-I’m-reading cover. Make it a plain and boring cover without eve a title. Or a title like Complete History of the Napoleonic War. So us Regency readers know exactly what that means, but the rest of the beach can be blissfully unaware.

I don’t know why DH can bring a book with space ships and laser battles on the front, and no one looks twice. But a half-dressed hot guy and suddenly it’s nothing but snickers.

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A book by DH’s favorite author. Less clothes than the romance novel, still gets fewer comments.

Oh well. Maybe I’ll have to borrow one of his space ship books. He’s been trying to get me to read more than the one book I did by Charles Stross anyway.

 

How about you? How do you read at the beach? Or on vacation? Do you prefer to read on an electronic device or a book? If you read romance, do you have any tricks to disguising your reading fare? Or maybe you just don’t care? Or maybe your family is less prone to teasing you?

One-Way Love Affair

I have a one-way love affair with Amazon, and this worries me a little. Okay, maybe a lot.

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It started out small back in “the old days”. Amazon sold mostly books, and when I wanted an author’s back list and couldn’t get it at Barnes and Noble, this is where I’d go.

Then, they started selling more stuff. I was skeptical at first, but the free shipping for a $25 purchase at the time really helped me get over my skepticism. I was working full time, newly married, and going to grad school at night. Time was a premium.

Best thing was Amazon’s prices at the time weren’t any higher for the things I was buying at brick and mortar stores. Sometimes, they were even a lot lower.

Another few years rolled past, and we were expecting our first child. I’d been buying a lot from Amazon at that point, but they hadn’t lured me into their Prime club yet. I actually thought it was pretty ridiculous to give $89 a year to get stuff a few days sooner.

But, they knew exactly how to get me.

They gave a free one year subscription to Prime to all new moms who enrolled in their mom’s reward club (the club has since been discontinued). Along with the Prime membership came a sizable discount on diapers and wipes, things I was about to need a lot of, and they promised to deliver in two days. I figured it was free, so I had nothing to lose.

Yeah, they had me after the first few months.

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Like there’s any better transformer to be!

More years later, and I’m still a Prime member. A paying Prime member. Not only that, but we now get monthly Amazon shipments. We tune in to their Prime streaming service, and our kids have loved several Amazon-created children’s shows. Once Netflix lost Sesame Street, we turned to Prime.

I even got my kids a Kindle and was super impressed with the yearly subscription that lets them play a slew of the most popular kids apps, and with the subscription, all the in-app purchases are included. Want another life? Click the button, no fee required.

Amazon was luring me deeper and deeper into the Amazon morass.

Then, this year at Christmas, I was shocked at the deals Amazon was running on popular kid toys. They were running 20-40% toys that my kids wanted. Even if other stores had the items on sale, most of the toys were still cheaper at Amazon.

I look at all of the plastic stuff invading my house, and a lot of it came from Amazon.

I do my Christmas shopping early, so the two day shipping was nice but not necessary. Then Amazon started running specials where if you were willing to wait five days to get your packages, they’d give you $2 or more towards a digital purchase. Hello more Kindle books!

Now I’ve been reading about the struggles of so many bricks and mortar stores to stay open.

I squirmed a little.

That’s somewhat my fault, right? I would way rather pop onto Amazon and have something magically appear at my door two days (sometimes in less than twenty-four hours) later than actually drive to the store, wade through the merchandise, hopefully find what I want, then wait in line to pay for it. About the only thing we get at the store anymore is toilet paper and paper towels because Amazon can’t touch Target’s pricing.

Yet.

My first thought was that Amazon was servicing a time-strapped American population. Sure, a lot their products don’t go on sale like they do at Target, Aldi’s, or wherever you shop, but I don’t usually bother with sales. Sounds stupid, I know, but if I need paper towels, I’m not driving 20 minutes out of my way to get them a dollar cheaper. My lack of frugality on this drives my poor mother insane, but I’m willing to pay $1 to keep 40 minutes of my time.

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Or a good idea to drive two towns over to buy it.

 

I am careful on Amazon lately as there have been instances where Amazon (no, not a third party seller, but Amazon), is quite a bit more expensive than other stores. Last year, when DD1 wanted a pony castle for her birthday, Amazon was $20 more expensive than Target or Toys R Us. Yeah, $20. They came in line a few weeks later, but I’d already bought it from Target by then.

Once you start talking third party sellers, all bets are off. Might as well be eBay.

So, I always check an Amazon purchase with other stores’ online offerings.

But what happens if those stores go out of business? Does that mean Amazon can get away with charging me $20 more than I would’ve paid at Target or Toys R Us?

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I don’t know.

But it worries me.

I’d love to say anti-trust laws would come into play to prevent a monopoly like that, but I have no faith or trust in our government to enforce such rulings. Especially not recently.

Will this concern change my behavior? Yes. I have been regularly checking Target.com for things and ordering if I can wait the few extra days for them to arrive. I love Amazon, but I’m not sure I’m ready to pay the price of assimilation just yet.

 

How about you? Have you been lured into the Amazon morass? Are you a Prime member? Are you worried about them becoming a monopoly and crushing their competition to the point they can charge us whatever they wish?

And Another…

Order from Scholastic Book Club.

Yes, my daughter came home the other day with yet another Scholastic Book Order. These things seem to be quite prolific.

If you’re not familiar with them, this is a pamphlet of books your child gets through school. You can then order your kids books, sometimes at a discount, and the school gets some free books in return.

It’s a win all around. Or, it’s supposed to be.

My house is filled with books. Book shelves are overflowing. Book bins are so stuffed, they are too heavy for DD1 to slide back into place.

Mountains of books.

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Looks about like my daughter’s room. Or my living room some days.

 

So, I inwardly groan when she brings home another book order with half the books circled. Okay, maybe not half, but darn near.

Does she really need more books? Shouldn’t all the ones we have at home be okay?

I mentioned my daughter wanting so many books during water cooler talk at work, and the other parents told me to be happy.

One mom had to force her kid to sit down and read for half an hour a night. Her son hated reading, and it was a battle that she dreaded. He’d actually take most punishments over being forced to read, but she didn’t want him to see reading as a bad thing to be endured, either.

Another mom told me to encourage DD1’s of reading any way I could. It would help her in everything. Her daughter had struggled with reading, and despite tutors and extra help at school, it had taken her to eighth grade to read at grade level.

I felt a little sheepish.

Of course my daughter reading is an excellent thing. I do promote it. And they’re right. I should rejoice when the book order comes home and she’s so excited to read she wants “them all”. The fact that my pre-kindergartner is reading Fancy Nancy by herself is a source of pride. I even let her stay up a little later on nights we open up a new books so she can pour through what we read together and learn the new words in it.

It was a reminder to count my blessings. Sometimes, the glass is half full. And yes, I am going to let her have the books she wants. Most of them, anyway.

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How about you? Did your kids love the Scholastic Book Club? How did you feel when the order form came home? Did your kids love to read? Hate to read?

Pleasure Reading

I read for pleasure. There, I’ve said it. I’ve admitted it.

Strange thing is, I don’t know why I need to admit it. Yet, I regularly feel like I do. For some reason, I must justify choosing books that promulgate fun over enlightenment. I’m not alone in this, either. Especially fellow romance readers. We love our books, but there’s a sort of secret shame to it.

I don’t know why.

When was the last time a group of people felt guilty going to see Transformers? Disappointed, maybe, but guilty? Seriously, two hours of explosions and special effects didn’t leave them any smarter. Yet, that’s totally okay, and no one who saw the movie feels the need to explain why. They went for fun. Some eye candy, and on to the next thing.

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So why do so many people that read feel the need to justify pleasure reading?

Perhaps this goes back to high school English class when so many of our teachers literally killed really great books. I remember reading The Scarlet Letter for enjoyment two years before we read it in English class. It wasn’t something I would’ve actively sought out again given how heart-wrenching it was, but I had enjoyed it. It made me think, and it made me cry.

Then my English teacher got a hold of it. Suddenly, the rust on the wrought iron fence was imbued with all sorts of symbolism. I went from liking the book to being ecstatic for the day we were done with it. On my second read through with my English class, I didn’t care about any of the characters or their struggles. It was read, regurgitate, repeat.

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That same class, the teacher was chastising some of the lower performers in the class and asking them what it would take to get them engaged. I remember the ring-leader of this group asked why couldn’t we read something like The Stand. My ears perked up. If ever there was a book laden with symbolism, a true epic struggle between good and evil…

But that wasn’t in the curriculum. The teacher never approved it, and we plodded on through Shakespeare and whatever else was “required” reading.

Makes me wonder if this is where so many people had their love of books squashed. While there’s a lot in Shakespeare, Golding, and Hawthorne, there’s also a lot in Tolkien, King, and maybe even Patterson. Given the current popularity of the latter authors, it truly surprises me that they don’t get more time in a classroom. These books are all written for a modern audience (okay, maybe no Tolkien, but I bet his work would still spark interest).

If something is interesting, there’s a higher probability you’ll learn something and keep that learning with you beyond the test. Interest is powerful, and for some reason, we horribly underestimate and discredit it.

Perhaps too many people had English teachers that didn’t engage them and began to associate reading with my second trip through The Scarlet Letter. Reading was a chore, a task to do so a paper could be written before we scampered off to do what we wanted to do, like watch a movie.

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If that’s how reading is perceived, I can understand why people don’t get pleasure reading. Why it seems odd that we’d open up a romance novel and snuggle onto the sofa to have a lovely afternoon read.

This comes back to a different question though: should every book we read have the same depth my English teacher assigned to The Scarlet Letter?

I’m going to say “no”. There’s no reason why everything we do must be learning endeavor. Maybe it’s just me. I strongly dislike most literary books. Give me a romance, epic fantasy, or space opera. Give me characters I can cheer for and an ending that leaves me satisfied. Basically, give me a good movie or mini-series between the pages of a book.

 

What do you think? Do you pleasure read? Why or why not? Do you hold movies and TV shows to the same standards as books? Maybe you had a really awesome English teacher that gave you a totally different experience?

 

 

Four Things You Can Learn from Romance Novels Even If You Hate Them

Sadly, I’ve seen  a lot of people say they hate romance novels since joining social media. Some even proclaiming romance has no place in movies or television. When pressed for the reason why, it tends to come back to “I never get the guy/girl, so I don’t want to see someone who’s got everything get him/her.”

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A part of me says welcome to Hollywood. I can’t think of the last movie I saw where the heroine wasn’t amazingly beautiful, thin, and with perfect hair.

This is why I love romance novels. There the heroines come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. The heroes, too. Depending one what you read, cowboys, bikers, and billionaires are all there. So are teachers, dragons, and knights. seriously, whatever you particular interest is, there is someone out there writing it. But, you have to look.

Here’s something I’m not sure the people saying they hate romance because it doesn’t work for them realize. Their very words are a red flag for anyone they may be interested in having a relationship with. Why? Because this hints at the fact they think they’re owed a relationship, owed love, and probably owed sex. These might not be their real thoughts, but in a world where one out of five women are victims of sexually assault, I’d wary.

Think about that for one moment. One out of five. Think of five women you know, and statistically, one of them has been hurt this way. I have no idea what a comparable situation is for a man, so I won’t try. But yeah, it’s a lotta women’s worst nightmare. I often wonder how many men walk to their car after dark with their keys between their fingers “just in case”.

The reasons are not part of this post, but it does give an insight into the world we live in today. But, it’s not the world women want. Hence, romance novels. It’s an escape. An idealization. A way to explore love and sexuality in a non-threatening way. A way for the reader to know things are going to turn out okay in the end for the heroine, even if they don’t always in real life.

Believe it or not, there’s a lot of things that can be learned from romance novels. Here are a few.

1.Get past the Trappings – this is probably harder for men who are more visually stimulated than women. Yes, the guys in the stories are usually attractive. Just like the women in the movies and on TV. But the women aren’t always, or at least not in the current accepted fashion. Either way, most romance novels don’t dwell on it. Sometimes, neither the hero or heroine is attractive in the traditional way. In one of my favorite contemporary romance novels, the hero was a somewhat dorky Princeton professor.

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2. Common Interests – Most of the characters in a story have some sort of common interest that brings them together. Horses. International spy rings. Vampire hunters. Customizing motorcycles. Pick your reason. In most novels, they don’t sort of bump into each other at a nightclub and just hit it off. This is playing to fantasy, and there are as many kinds of heroes and their interests as can be imagined. Some of the people I’ve heard complain about romance novels make me wonder if trolling in their interest. Probably not the best interest if you want to meet a significant other, but I bet there’s a romance novel out there somewhere with that in it. In the story about the Princeton professor, the thing the hero and heroine shared was a love of books. In a romance novel. Go figure.

3. Listening – It’s such a  tired cliché that men don’t listen, but it’s become cliché for a reason. In romance novels, the hero listens to the heroine. Learns she’s scared of vampires because they ate her little brother or whatever. This can have a huge impact in the story when later he later understands why she’s frozen with fear when the normally heroic vampire hunter sees a vampire about to gobble a child. If he hadn’t listened? No chance to understand. Same thing in the real world. My husband listened to me and knows I’m terrified of spiders because a brown recluse bit my sister and it necrotized the skin on her leg. (I won’t post a picture here, but here’s a link to what it looks like). So killing spiders without question and without making me feel bad has helped our relationship. In the book I referenced above, the professor listened and understood the heroine’s issues with her controlling mother. This helped bring them together.

4. If you listen in the living room, you’re more likely to listen in the bedroom – There’s a lot of research out there that says women are just as sexual as men when the woman thinks she’s also going to get an orgasm. I have yet to read a romance novel where the woman wasn’t brought to orgasm. The path to her fulfilled desire may seem unrealistic to me, but it’s always the end result. In some novels, there will even be scenes where the hero holds off on his own pleasure to make sure she gets hers. In the real world, I know women do it for men. So, I’m not surprised in a romance novel, roles change. Shouldn’t be too surprising that women want pleasure, too.

 

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Are all romance novels good? That’s like asking are all action movies good. Are all science fiction books good. Are all TV shows good. Different people like different things, and some clearly just suck. Mystery Science 3000 made a show out of how bad some movies can be.

Also, romance novels change along with society. What sold to repressed women in the 1950s is not what sold in the 1980s or what sells now. More recent ones show more current fantasies. And as with everything, quality varies dramatically from author to author. Sometimes book to book.

But the good is out there.

 

What do you think? Think you can learn something from romance novels or am I full of bunk? Me being wrong is always an option. Is there something I’m missing? Something you’d add?

The "i" Generation

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I wish the above weren’t so true. Although, she is figuring out a fork. Just not as fast as she did my iPad.

There is a ridiculous amount of guidance out there on how much “screen” time you should allow your children to have.  For the longest time, children under two weren’t supposed to get any. Even if they had older siblings.

We tried to follow this with our first child, and I swear she could smell the iPad. She could find it tucked away in the back corner of a dark room, and she hated dark rooms. She would find it and come toddling out with it triumphantly clutched in her tiny fingers.

Our saving grace was that she loved being showered with attention more. Loved being read to, “helping”, anything that put her front and center of our world. So, we could get the iPad away from her without a complete meltdown.

I know, kids cry, etc. But when you work, you’d like your few hours with your child to be as nice as you can get them without a tug-of-war over an electronic device every day.

At a neighborhood block party, I asked some of the other moms how they kept their little ones away from their TV and iPad. They offered me a cocktail, told me to sit down, and then explained that they didn’t. If the pediatrician asked them about it, they’d lie.

Wait, what?

Most had older children, and they said it just wasn’t possible or reasonable. They then informed me our school district gives kids an iPad starting in kindergarten to do all of their homework, reading assignments, etc.

Still, I tried to keep her away from TV and the iPad for a while longer, but the realities of making dinner, doing laundry, and washing the dishes won out, and we allowed her to have Sesame Street.

That mostly made her happy, and she would drop TV like a rock the moment we could again give her our undivided attention.

DD2 is an entirely different child. She likes attention, but on her terms. She laughs, gives hugs, and even pets you to soothe herself, but she wants “alone” time. We were terrified at first that this was a sign of autism, but our pediatrician reassured us. DD2 was normal. DD1 was exceptionally high maintenance.

However, this means that if DD2 gets a hold of an iPad, there is no getting it back without screaming. It’s like stealing her favorite toy. Which, in a way, it is.

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So, we compromised, as parents so often do. She’s at a formal daycare all day, so she gets no screen time during the day. We figured a little at night while we’re making dinner won’t hurt anything. And if I’m truly honest, I’m concerned not introducing kids to technology early enough puts them at a disadvantage to their peers.

We took our old iPad and removed almost everything from it except some games specifically designed for her age group that her therapist recommended. These were games she was only allowed to play while she stood on uneven surfaces, for example.

She loves them, and they do seem to be teaching her things.

We still have story time and snuggle time. Playing with Fisher Price Octonauts time, Duplo time, and Magna Tiles (Magna Tiles are amazingly fun, even if you’re a grown-up). To that, we have added TV time and iPad time.

Everything in moderation.

How about you? Did your kids know how to work an iPad before a fork? Did you allow them to have any TV?  Could you lure them away from an iPad with books?

Common Writing Advice That Doesn't Really Work

Some of the most common advice I’ve heard to a new writer is read more to write better. I’ve heard this a lot lately, and those touting the advice quote none other than J.K. Rowling and Stephen King. So it has to be good advice, right?

I can’t decide if the people telling this to authors are:

  • Telling us what we want to hear. Most writers love to read.
  • Using it as an attempt to sell us more books.
  • Genuinely misunderstand how humans learn.

This is pretty dense, but it’ll tell you that to learn, you need to engage the brain. If you tell the brain what it already knows, learning doesn’t occur.

Think about your morning commute. Ever arrive at work uncertain how, exactly, you got there? Happens to me more than I want to admit.

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Just reading is similar to this. You read the book. You finish the book. You either like it or don’t, and then move on to the next book. Kind of like your morning commute.

What’s missing from the advice of “read more” is the critical element of analyzing what you’re reading. Even if you’re not in a formal book club, you can still ask questions of yourself:

  • Why did you like the book?
  • What didn’t you like about it? Why?
  • Would you read it again? Why or why not?

 

After you have the answers to these questions, dig deeper.

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If you loved the hero, why did you love him? If he was too stupid to live, why did you feel that way? Did you want him to succeed in the end? Why or why not?

How do authors engage your senses to make you feel like you’re riding along with the characters? How do they connect you so you care what happens?

I normally love to read romance novels, and I write them, but lately, I’ve had a bad run of them. Characters I hate, situations I find contrived at best, love stories that are a study in lust. But, they have taught me a lot. And not just because I’ve read them.

I may not even finish a book, but I can learn a lot if I take the time to figure out why I didn’t finish. Were the characters not compelling? Was the situation so contrived that my eyes got stuck when I rolled them?

I want the happily-ever-after ending, but I want the characters to earn it. I’ve learned this about myself, and I try hard to put it into my writing. I also want the love story to be believable. I need the characters to earn that, too.

But learning how to do this takes more than reading. It takes the time, patience, and brain engagement to really analyze what I’m reading. I can learn a lot from the bad as well as the good, but I still have to take the time to think.

 

How about you? Do you find reading improves your writing? Do you stop and think about why you love or hate a book? What makes you love a story? Hate it?

Ever Just Stop?

Have you ever been reading a book, watching a movie, or checking out the latest TV craze on Netflix and you just turn it off and walk away?

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I have to confess, I just did this to a book recently. After a long spell of reading Regency Romance novels, I just couldn’t take another tired trope. There’s nothing wrong with the book per se, it’s just me.

The hero is a classist jerk who hates the poor. Until, of course, he meets the heroine. Lust has him changing his mind. No idea how he could actually fall in love with her in a day. But their “love” is thwarted by the gang she ran with before it was discovered she’s got an “in” with this earl. *eye roll*

I have no idea why this gang would risk an earl’s wrath over an expendable member, especially as it’s been established the gang leader has beaten members to death and has no use for females anyway.

But, whatever. The gang leader and some of his ruffians break into a duke’s ball, threaten the heroine, and smack her around to the point she has obvious bruises. *eye roll* No one notices? In the duke’s estate, in a posh part of London crawling with guests and footmen? Really?

If he’s this “sneaky,” why not rob the duke’s place rather than try to make her help him go after the earl?

The hero agrees to help her pull off some convoluted plot to take out said gang leader rather than just:

  1. Hire someone to do it. Or
  2. Retire out to his massive country estate that no poor Londoner, gang leader or not, could ever hope to reach. Much less reach without everyone in the tri-county area knowing about it.

I put the book down two weeks ago and still haven’t picked it back up. Maybe I will and skim my way to the end. Maybe I won’t.

This is new ground for me as usually I finish books no matter how horrible they are.

Funny thing on this is that there isn’t anything really wrong with the book. It’s your typical Regency fare. No better, no worse than most.

TV shows are a different thing. I’ve stopped watching almost every show I’ve ever followed before the show was done. But then American studios are known for making shows long after they should’ve ended them.

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I write Romance, but perhaps I need to change genres and read something else for a while. I like fantasy when I can find it with engaging female characters. Same with Space Opera. It’s just hard because I have so few authors I trust. You know, authors that are going to give me the happy ending I want.

And I don’t like scary stories.

I may be weird, but when it comes to violence I prefer PG over the standard R fare. When it comes to consensual steamy scenes, I’m a whole lot less reserved.  I wish I could take more scary things, but I can’t. And that’s unlikely to change.

 

How about you? Ever just walk away from a book, movie, or show? Why or why not?

Book Review: Loving a Lost Lord

Loving a Lost Lord
Rating:4.5/5
Author: Mary Jo Putney

I picked this book up on a sale whim and didn’t expect much. I was very pleasantly surprised.

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While the ending was almost too good to be true, many of the characters saccharine sweet, and the huge number of unnecessary characters clearly setting up a cast for future books, it was still satisfying.

Mariah, the heroine, has lived a checkered life on the fringe of society. She is beautiful, kind, and loves her father dearly. He’s the only family she has, and when he wins a manor gambling, they are both very happy to finally have a home.

Then tragedy strikes, and she believes her father is dead. How this comes to be is believable, and the eventual truth well explained.

The hero has been in an “accident” and washes up on her shore with amnesia. She worries about lying, but he’s the answer to getting rid of an unpleasant suitor who wants her for the manor house she inherited. So, she lies and tells the man that washed ashore that they’re married.

The hero protects his “wife” and gets rid of the suitor. He finds himself drawn to Mariah and thinks himself very lucky indeed that he married her even if he can’t remember her.

We get snippets of Adam’s past (the hero), through dreams, letting us learn a bit more about him as his memories return. We see him struggle with his dual heritage (English and Hindu – though I thought Hindu was a religion ) through these dreams.

We also see their attraction grow as they “relearn” each other. There is the instant attraction, but it’s better developed than the love-at-first-sight trope.

She tells Adam the truth right before his friends show up looking for him. He doesn’t trust her any more, though he still longs for her, and he does want her to come to London with him.

In London, more is revealed, as well as Adam’s accident was no accident.

There are more attempts on his life that bring them closer. They find the murderer, her father, and so much more. A saccharine, unbelievable ending. But it was properly set-up for.

I would say this leans more inspirational, sans the religion, than pure romance. The romance between the character is sweet and the steamy scenes tame.

All in, the set-up for future events is sprinkled throughout the story, so no unpleasant or Author-God surprises. Adam is an interesting character with his dual heritage, although little is really delved into. Might be for the same reason the author equated Hindu to English rather than Christian.

Mariah is rather bland and quite perfect. But I have come to expect that from Romance heroines.

 

 

Book Review: The Rogue Not Taken

Rating: 2/5

Title: The Rogue Not Taken (Scandal & Scoundrel, Book 1)

Author: Sarah Maclean

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Plot Synopsis

The story is basically the Kardashians or whatever celebrity scandal is currently the rage, but set in the Regency Era.

The heroine is the youngest of 7 sisters, all whose names begin with S. Their father is “new” money, and he won the title of earl off the Prince Regent in a card game. “Society” looks down on them, but there’s the money involved, and, of course, the fun of the gossip papers that the seven sisters love to be in. Well, all of the sisters except the heroine.

I wanted to like the story. But, I strongly dislike celebrity anything. The only celebrity news I follow is whatever headlines catch my attention at the check out lane in the grocery store. Most of which make me roll my eyes.

 

Characters

I did like the heroine.

The youngest of the sisters, she is the least scandalous. Although she does push her eldest sister’s husband, a duke no less, into a pond for fornicating at a party with a woman that wasn’t her sister. Oh, and her sister is pregnant with the duke’s child that he openly denies is his. He’s a real treasure.

Of course her pushing him into the pond causes outrage, not at him being caught with his trousers down. I was not even remotely sold on every member of the aristocracy pulling their investments out of her father’s hands because of it. This totally felt Author-God to me to force the plot.

Why? Well, they needed coal during this time, and it was very profitable. I can’t see too many people risking fortunes because a duke got embarrassed doing something he was allowed to do only if he didn’t get caught…

I also liked that the heroine was bold and tried to take care of herself. Not sure anyone would mistake her for a boy, even in livery, but I let it slide and enjoyed it for the silly it was.

The hero was … Well, he was not a gentleman. He wasn’t even an alpha hero that sort of gets away with being a bit over bearing. He’s actually full on rude to her, insulting, and arrogant in all the wrong ways.

He’s taken serious liberties with the heroine, and then when he gets caught taking her virginity, well, clearly she was out to get him the whole time! Really?!? I have no idea what the heroine saw in him.

I grew weary pretty quickly of his brooding over the milkmaid, too. Not sure how the circumstances around this belonged on anyone’s shoulders but his.

 

Hero’s father – I wanted to like him, but I didn’t believe he’d allow a misunderstanding between him and his son to continue for 15 years.

 

Plot

After dunking her brother-in-law, the heroine wants to make an escape from the party, but can’t. When the hero won’t help her, she bribes his stable boy for his livery and thinks they are going back to London. It’s only when they’re out in the country that she realizes they went the wrong way. The hero is actually going to his country home because he believes his father is on his deathbed.

Sarcasm ensues when he realizes one of the Scandalous S sisters has stowed away with him, and when he again refuses to help her, she takes matters into her own hands and manages to get fare for the stagecoach.

Like I said, totally not a gentleman. He even leaves her to sleep with the male servants…

Of course the stagecoach is robbed, she’s shot, and the hero gets there just in time to save her.

A bit of falling in love happens as he sees to her recovery. Not entirely sure what she sees in him as he continues to be rather insulting.

More hi-jinks, and when she’s at her lowest point, the hero decides to take her home with him as his fiancee to help his father into the grave. After all, she is a Scandalous S sister. And clearly she has no feelings to worry about being hurt as he so callously uses her to get back at his father, especially when he knows how lost and adrift she is. He’s a gem.

When he gets home, however, he learns his father is hale and whole and nowhere near death. Father and son have some unresolved issues which get resolved amidst more misunderstandings with the heroine.

This is a romance novel, so it all gets resolved and you get your happy ever after ending.

All in all, I wish the heroine would’ve kicked the hero to curb and found someone that knew how to treat another human being. You might like it better if you like celebrity gossip. Maybe not, especially if you want the hero to treat the heroine with a modicum of respect.