Friday, February 13, 2009

Thunder and Roses by Mary Jo Putney **

OK - I could consider this a 2.5, maybe even almost a 3 star read. But here's why I'm rating it 2 - it's on the AAR Top 100 of 2007, so I was expecting something good or at least better.

I can't compare it at all to how I feel about Lisa Kleypas' books - I mean, she's on the AAR list too, and I don't like her style, and I think I gave her books 3 stars (maybe 2). But this book - omigawd - the purple prose, the absolutes and melodrama from page 1 - omigawd!

It also wasn't a DNF like Stephanie Laurens' 2 books I (didn't) read. I felt obliged to keep going on this one, sort of like looking at a wreck, because I couldn't stop. To be honest, about 20 pages or so in, I actually thought it might end up being funny - you know, like all the exaggerations and such were going to be mocked later on.

But no.

The storyline rang familiar, although it was published in the early 90s so it's possible the one I'm thinking of with the half Rom/half aristocrat was written later. (also a series, cannot recall the author/title of that one though) Oh wait, I recognized a lot of the plot lines from (probably later) books.

Plain, prim, prudish spinster and Methodist minister's daughter Clare meets lusty half Gypsy Demon Earl Nicholas - he's widowed, and it's rumored he killed the first wife and slept with his grandfather's young wife, which killed his grandfather. Yeah, really.

There's a series (Fallen Angels) of which this is the first, but we meet the other fellows, one of whom owns the nearby mine. It's set in Wales, and the mine is a hazardous dangerous mess, in which young children toil and die. Ok, I am not mocking how horrible life was for poor people in Wales in the early 19th century, but my gawd the descriptions practically begged me to weep, wail and keen while reading. Oh, the misery! So Clare goes to Nicholas to ask his help. "Yes," he says, "if you will live with me as a Counterfeit Mistress for 3 months, which will ruin your reputation." He figures she'll run screaming and leave him alone.

Oh, no, the brave, fearless Clare takes the dare - her reputation can survive!!

So he spends a lot of time seducing her, and she resisting - but not wanting to resist. In fact, in one amorous embrace on the pool table, she ALMOST loses her virginity!! But does not, on a technicality only, because he didn't go all the way in..... Yeah there was bare skin to bare skin and some penetration and blood. I'd say her reputation was ruined!! But that's just me.

I think The Perils of Pauline was less melodramatic. Blah blah blah, we have dangerous mine with explosions, issues with parents, mysterious happenings, murderous former friends and inability to truly love. And Clare was a sanctimonious thing too, enough that I wondered if it qualified as Inspirational Romance. After all, once she decides she's actually in love with Nicholas, she has a religious conversion from non-believer to Seeing The Light and can pray again.

There are a couple of action scenes (the fire, the fight at the OK Corral... no, that's not it) with the whip that had me just shaking my head and thinking, oh no he did not.

I think this story could be considered Old Style writing, and I will try again with this author (there are 3 more on the AAR Top 100!!), but man-o-man this writing style is not my cup o'tea. 2 stars. Serial Challenge and AAR Top 100 Quest and no notable pets.

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