Book Review: North of Need

Book: North of Need

Author: Laura Kaye

Status: Did Not Finish (DNF)

NorthofNeed

I normally wouldn’t post this, but as Ms. Kaye is already a NYT bestselling author, I’m not really hurting her any by not liking a book. I found the book from a very popular romance blog, and they liked it, so it could just be me that didn’t care for it.

I was looking for a nice Christmas romance to distract me from a rough patch at work. I so wanted to love this book as the premise sounded cool. I got to the 40% mark on my Kindle and decided I was done.

The premise is cool, but the author didn’t do it justice.

I figured it would be worth discussing what made me stop reading. Perhaps it won’t bother you, and you’ll love the book.

There were really three things that made me stop:

1.  Unrealistic Characters – The characters, frankly, were unrealistic. The heroine was a widow, and her grief was real and raw. I bought that. At no point did I really buy her connection to the hero. This is a romance novel, and that’s a must for me.

I gotta tell you, the heroine got over her fear and terror of a strange man far too quickly.  The author needed to work for this and didn’t. Seriously, if I give a stranger sanctuary in my house from a snow storm, then find him sleeping on my bedroom floor, holding my hand when I wake up, my response is not going to be to find it comforting.

The hero was already in love with the heroine before they met. Sure, the author has reasons for this, but I’d way have rather he fell in love with her on his own. Especially as I found those reasons a little creepy.

 

2. Where’s the Plot? – At the 40% point, there is absolutely no reason for the characters not to be together. The author has already given away all of the cool mystery surrounding the plot. Which was cool, but the execution of explaining it to us the reader was awful. Rather than dumping it on our laps through exposition, this could’ve been unfolded slowly through the story, used to add tension and drama as the characters come together.

Instead, we’re literally told why the hero loves her and why he agreed to this “mission”. We know the heroine lusts for the hero. Only thing keeping them apart is maybe her grief for her lost husband, but as we get direct permission from the great beyond by the 40% mark that the dead husband is okay with it, things seem resolved to me.

 

3. Weak Writing – After unbelievable characters and a missing plot, the prose itself follows suit. We have abrupt transitions, no real scene setting, and no real pacing. Not surprising, I suppose, as there isn’t much of plot.

 

All in, the only thing that might recommend this book is if you are actually a widow or widower. Perhaps then things will mean more to you. While the story is definitely a tear-jerker around the heroine being widowed and all she’s going through, I just can’t get through the rest of it to finish. As far as I’m concerned, we already have a happily-ever-after at the 40% mark, and that saves me from having to read the rest of it.

Book Review: A Gentleman's Honor

Rating: 4/5

Title: A Gentleman’s Honor

Author: Stephanie Laurens

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When you pick up a Stephanie Laurens book, you are not reading it for plot. I knew this when I selected the book, so I wasn’t disappointed when the plot was weak and threadbare. The basic plot is a lovely “widow” is being blackmailed into marrying a scoundrel. After he blackmails her, he is murdered in the gardens by someone else. She, however, finds the body just before the hero arrives. The hero is put in charge of finding the murderer as he has connections in Whitehall. All the more important when its discovered that the blackmailer was involved in treasonous activities during the Napoleonic War.

This might sound like a rich plot, but the search for the traitor is really just an excuse to keep the hero and heroine together and for the hero to have the opportunity to seduce the heroine.

The actual plot is the seduction of the heroine and all of the steamy scenes and romantic encounters between the widow and the hero. Lots of steamy scenes and romantic encounters.

This is not the kind of book you can’t put down and stay up reading until 3 am to see what happens. That’s okay. It’s like a bubble bath. You thoroughly enjoy it because it is pleasurable and luxurious.

 

Pros

  1. Steamy scenes are some of the best I have ever read.
  2. Sensuous. You feel the silk slide over your skin, the scent of cologne, the grandeur of the mansions. This book really appeals to your senses. All of them. And transports you there.
  3. The lust is there, but there is also a genuine compassion that builds between the characters.
  4. Strong Alpha male if that’s your thing.
  5. Did I mention the steamy scenes?

 

Cons

  1. The plot is contrived at best. I have never moved in the upper circles of society, but the Haute Ton is depicted a lot like the popularity contests in high school. No idea if its accurate or not, but I found it silly. Much of the plot revolves around the heroine maintaining her respectable appearance in society so her ravishing sister can make a good match. She has to “deal” with the rumors and gossip saying she commit the murder. *Eye Roll* Somehow society can believe that a tiny woman who was seen talking to the dead man at a social event was capable of killing him with a single dagger blow. I was baffled that Bow Street thought it possible, but then, my modern mind is used to forensics. You know, means, motive and all that. No one knew he was blackmailing her, so no one would be aware she has a motive. And not only did she not have the height or strength to kill him, but she’s implicated because she talked to him. At a social gathering. But no one else was implicated who talked to him. Remember, the only one who saw her near the body was the hero who isn’t telling anyone.
  2. The characters are perfect. And because of that, they’re flat. No foibles, no flaws, nothing to let you identify with them.

 

All in, this would blow the star rating out of the water if there was a plot. There isn’t, not really, but that’s not what I was reading this for.