Friday, November 13, 2020

Lord Lucifer by Jade Lee: review

4/5 stars on Goodreads

Lord Lucifer by Jade Lee

Lord Lucifer is the first book in a new Regency romance trilogy by Jade Lee, Lords of the Masquerade, and I received a review copy from the NetGalley.

Regency romances tend to repeat a certain formula of an innocent maiden paired with a more experienced man. The pair then waltzes through the society season from balls to opera performances that offer private moments for them to fall in love and have hot sex in a side. Some authors are better at making it feel fresh; some less so.

Jade Lee has taken a different approach in her romance. Diana has been married off at sixteen to a much older man to save family finances. Lucas had offered to save her, but his attempts to raise money with gambling had landed him in such hot waters that he had seen it best to enlist and leave the country. Twelve years later they meet again. A fairly average approach so far. But there’s a twist: Diana’s ailing husband is still alive. She’s not a merry widow with whom the hero connects for a second chance. And she’s not a damsel in distress, no matter what Lucas tries to tell herthough there is a villain out to get her.

Most of the book takes place in a sick room and in private parlours instead of balls and other glittering events. Diana is a dutiful wife who has carved a life for herself in her husband’s hostile household. Her husband needs to die, of course, for the young couple to have their happily ever after, and much is made of his death and the causes of it. Lucas is a soldier who sets his duty before anything, and so probably for the first time in a romance history, the hero refuses sex with the heroine unless she agrees to marry him. It works too.

For all that this is a romance, it’s a fairly gloomy book. There’s sickness and death. There’s a murderous villain making everyone’s life worse. There’s a lot of resentment between children and parents. All sorts of issues that have to be dealt with, and while they add depth to the characters, they dominate over the romance. There are a couple of fairly bland sex scenes that fail to engage my emotions, and although I liked Diana and Lucas both, I wasn’t terribly invested in their HEA. She could’ve retained her hard-earned independence for all I cared and kept him in a side. But she caves in the end.

The other two gentlemen of the trilogy are introduced in this book too. A lot is made of itand then they are completely forgotten for the rest of the book. So, as a lure for the reader to continue with these characters, it comes somewhat short. But if I come across them, I may give them a look.

Peace Talks by Jim Butcher

4/5 stars on Goodreads

I’ve also read Peace Talks by Jim Butcher, the long-awaited fifteenth Dresden Files book. It’s one of my all-time favourite series, but it fell a bit short. Harry was still familiar, but the way he interacted with his friends and family felt slightly off. I remember wishing in earlier books that he would be more connected with emotions, but now I sort of found him creepy at times. Especially with how he became aroused by every which woman that he came across, except the one he professed to be in love with. So the author needs to work on the delivery there.

Most of the book was spent with waffling about, likely so that the reader could connect with the characters again. I was still a bit lost for the great part of it, as it had been so many years since I read this series last. And then the plot picks up at the very end, only to continue in the next book. But I’ll read it too, of course.

House of Many Ways by Diana Wynne Jones

4/5 stars on Goodreads

House of Many Ways by Diana Wynne Jones is the last book in the trilogy that starts with Howl’s Moving Castle. It’s a charming book of Charmain Baker, a young woman who would much rather read books than do anything useful. And then she’s given a task to look after her great-uncle’s house while he’s gone.

The uncle is a wizard and his house is a mysterious place where rooms appear where ever, but only if you know how to get there. One is even located in the past. The place is messy and Charmain isn’t terribly practical, but luckily for her, her uncle’s apprentice Peter shows up to help her. Not that either of them is terribly pleased by their circumstances. There’s a plot about the king’s missing gold and a villainous heir to the kingdom. Howl and Sophie show up too to help with that, and it’s nice to connect with them again. In the end Charmain discovers that she’s more capable than she thought she was and that she’s able to do magic. All in all, a nice story about growing up and finding one’s true self.


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