Ramble on Current Read

Friday, December 28, 2007

I’m reading Laura Lee Guhrke’s most recent release, The Wicked Ways Of A Duke, and loving it so far. I think she’s turning into an auto-buy for me. She writes wonderfully well—it’s almost like watching an A&E special.

Love her characterization, pacing, and the way she enters a scene. I’ll have to analyze her craft a bit more later, but for now I’m allowing myself to just be immersed in the magic of the storytelling.

Do I love every book of hers I read? Nope. The Marriage Bed didn’t work for me, not because of the he hero was a jerk (seems to be the general consensus), but I found I couldn’t get an emotional toehold with the heroine. She was cold and angry and while I understood why she was that way, she just never did warm up for me. Also, I’m not sure I bought that there was actual a romance in that book. Stuff happened, even romantic stuff, but the romance never lifted off the ground for me. ::shrug::

Anywho, the thing that seems to be turning some folks off this book, and some of her past books, is the hero. He’s done the unforgivable (fill in the blank/action) in the past, or during the unfolding of the book and they can’t see past that.

Me, I like the rakes that are true rakes (sans the communicable diseases). They ring true as long as the author shows the complexity/layers to the character. The “Why” behind the rakish behavior. If it's as simple as being a product of his time, show that to me. And show me that the (romanticized) alternative exists also.

I think it's the relentless, navel-grazing, PC, oh-no-not-in-my-romance! neutering sanitization of character and plots that does disservice to the genre, wherein we end up with stories that have all the depth of a coffee spill, peopled by caricatures and held together by gratuitous, overly detailed and emotionally bereft sex scenes.

I know there are many readers who don’t agree with my take on LLG, they already see her repeating herself/motifs/characters, but I think she takes chances with her stories and h/H and I can't help but love and respect that. That’s possibly why there always seems to be chatter about her stories/writing. IMO, boring writers/stories rarely get talked about. For me I’d say she has a flavor of Judith Ivory in her voice, and whiff of Anne Stuart in her *darkish* heroes.

But back to the 'real rakes', I think the main problem with having them as a hero occurs in making it "believable" that the he has had a change of heart, fallen head over heels in love with the heroine (and not just lust) and has truly done, or is in the process of doing, 180 degree turn around regarding his behavior and habits. If this process, his metamorphosis from heel to hero, is given short-shift by the author, it's no no wonder that readers cynically observe he'll be back to his old ways before long. Cynicism is kryptonite to romance. That's what willing suspension of disbelief is all about.

As for the hero of TWWOAD, he is without a doubt, a cad. Unvarnished, unrepentant. But never a cartoon (so far). He’s interesting. He has depth. I’m looking forward to seeing his growth/redemption as well as the development of the romance. The heroine’s heartbreak is inevitable, but how does she handle it? How will she bounce back? I can’t wait to see how it pans out. All of this in a book with a fleshed out feeling to the era is making for a very enjoyable read.

I’m less than a hundred pages into The Wicked Ways Of A Duke, so might very well change my mind about the book as the story progresses, but so far I’ve had my nose buried in this one every chance I get. This is what I want in a book-- that it grabs hold of me and doesn’t let go till the last page, and even then that the characters/story stays with me for days/weeks. It's rare that I experience this anymore.


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vanessa jaye said...

I'm about 100 pages from the end. Still loving it. I can sort of see that after 300 pages of having the hero deceiving the heroine, that 100 pages seems paltry to have him grovel. On the other hand, Act 3 is usually very short compared to Acts 1 &2. I'm still recommending this.

vanessa jaye said...

Finished this last night. The resolution wasn't as satisfactory as it could have been. It was too easy, one grand gesture and a confession and the heroine takes the hero back. Still, it didn't ruin the book for me, I loved the rest, the hero and the heroine had depth, and LLG writing was lovely as usual.

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