Monday, June 13, 2016

Wicked Intentions by Elizabeth Hoyt

Wicked Intentions by Elizabeth Hoyt
Published by Grand Central Publishing; 1 edition (July 17, 2010)
Genre: Romance, Historical, BDSM
Length: 401 pages
My Rating:★★★☆☆

Wicked Intentions is the fourth romance novel I've read. All of the ones I've read have been part of a series. Wicked Intentions is the first book in the Maiden Lane series and it does suffer from first-book-in-a-series-itis almost all of the characters who are the hero in other books are introduced in this one. That showed by how much the author talked about Temperance’s two other brothers, Concord and Asa, and how much time they were given in the story even though their presence had no bearing on the plot at all, and the same thing goes for her sister Silence who has her own subplot which is actually just the prequel to her own book.
Outside of all the extra stuff that was shoved into the plot of this book, the plot itself was pretty good. Lord Caire is searching for a murderer in St. Giles where Temperance and her brother Winter run an orphange. Lord Caire enlists Temperance for her help in navigating St. Giles and in return he will help her find a patron for the orphanage since the previous patron had passed away. Lord Caire has a reputation for strange sexual proclivities that have given him quite a reputation. Temperance is a widow who thinks of herself as evil for having any kind of sexual appetite. And that's where this book lost steam for me. Lord Caire is this character that's been built up as some kind of sociopathic sexual deviant who just likes to toy with women without any regard for their hearts. We know that because it's stated by every character the talks to Temperance about Lord Caire and it's kind of played out by the way he talks to her in the first few scenes but not really. The reasoning given for why he's this way is also not fully realized. He makes some vague remarks about having a too stern father who let his younger sister die due to a recurring illness when she was five and also to a strict dance teacher but somehow those two vague memories morphed into him not being able to experience touch without it causing him pain. I don't fully buy that especially for the time period. Surely, he wasn't the only one who had a detached father and strict tutors that was kind of par for the course with 18th century nobility. Temperance reasoning for her “sexual deviancy” (ie wanting to have sex with her husband more that once a day) is even weaker. There's the vaguest mentions that her husband thought sex should be for child producing purposes only and she wanted to have sex just because she liked it, but nothing is played out. I have no idea if her husband ever said anything negative to her about her sexual appetite. So when they both come to accept who they are and why they are the way they are it kind of falls flat because you don't really know what they were all upset about in the first place. I wanted to like this story more. It had a lot of good things in it. The scenes between Temperance and Lord Caire were fun to read and they had a good back and forth, but I felt like the story overall was unfocused it was trying to set up to much and too many characters that it couldn't give the attention the main plot and characters deserved.  

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi, a review

The Star-Touched Queen

The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi
Published by St. Martin's Griffin, April 26, 2016
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Fantasy
Length: 353 pages
My Rating: ★★★★★

Fate and fortune. Power and passion. What does it take to be the queen of a kingdom when you’re only seventeen?
Maya is cursed. With a horoscope that promises a marriage of death and destruction, she has earned only the scorn and fear of her father’s kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her whole world is torn apart when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. Soon Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Neither roles are what she expected: As Akaran’s queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar’s wife, she finds something else entirely: Compassion. Protection. Desire…
But Akaran has its own secrets—thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Soon, Maya suspects her life is in danger. Yet who, besides her husband, can she trust? With the fate of the human and Otherworldly realms hanging in the balance, Maya must unravel an ancient mystery that spans reincarnated lives to save those she loves the most…including herself.

I was really surprised that I ended up liking this book as much as I did. Literally, every aspect of this book I loved. Let me break it down:
The world: First off, the author was really enjoying building this world. It's clear in the way she deliciously details every setting (especially glass garden,gooorrrgeous) without taking away from the pacing of the book.
The characters: I was really impressed with how realistic the author made every character, even the secondary characters like Gauri and Skanda, who had a total of two scenes, realistic with their depth.
The relationships: Mainly, between Maya and Amar. I've read so many fated loves where the hero is actually a jerk from beginning to end and the story is really about the heroine learning the live with and forgive his short comings because of the weak excuse of fate. (Helen of Troy comes to mind. Guh.) That was not the case between these two. Their relationship was flawed but not in any unforgivable sense. And as far as Maya goes as a main character, she's perfect. Likable, stubborn, strong but not without self-doubt- her growth as a person in the story was really enjoyable and organic to read.
The only thing that took away from the story for me was that it was so steeply based in Indian folklore, which was great except as a total layman to that subject I felt like I lost part of the reveal towards the end. I ended looking up some terms and names used in the book but not defined in the glossary in the back. They definitely helped me grasp the gravity of certain things better. And maybe things were defined in the context of the story and I just missed them. I will admit near the climax I was reading pretty quickly and somehow missed a couple of crucial scenes that I had to go back and read the next day. That's definitely a bad habit of mine when I'm super invested in characters, I just need to know what happens RIGHT NOW!
The Star-Touched Queen was so enjoyable; a story that you can get lost in and one whose imagery that's so strong and unique I feel like I be thinking about it still months from now. I'd love to see Gauri's story and adventures sometime in the future. She seemed like such a strong character whose life will take her in down just as adventurous a path as Maya's.