jayes_musings: (historical -- rome domina)
[personal profile] jayes_musings
Well, I'm not having too much time to sit back and enjoy a book as I would like, but I'm still ploughing through the Cynster series as Manda has them as pups in our storylines.

Back here I reviewed the fourth book in the series, and I've now read the fifth and am reading the sixth. And I have to admit that I am struggling to stay engaged with them, and each time I pick up the book I'm reminded of why I dislike romances and the regency period.

A Secret Love by Stephanie Laurens.

The fifth book in the Cynster series followes Gabriel Cynster as he's engaged by a mysterious Countess to save her family's fortune. It turns out that the mystery woman is, in fact, an old childhood friend with whom he's destined to fall in love! (Surprise, I know). Then the romance proceeds in a predictable fashion during the London Season while they solve the mystery of who is behind trying to defraud the social elite out of money with bad investments.

All About Love by Stephanie Laurens.

I haven't finished this book yet, but I figured I might as well review it anyway. Lucifer, Gabriel's brother escapes London and being trapped in marriage to visit his friend in Devon. When he arrives, he finds his friend murdered. With the help of the magistrate's daughter, Phyllida, he is determined to uncover the murderer. Again, within a few short days, a man determined not to fall to the same fate as his brother and cousins is vowing to marry the spunky, take charge Phyllida.

Ok, those are the plots, now to my opinion.

1). As you might have noticed, I never included the love interest in Gabriel's book because, frankly, I can't remember her name (and I only remembered the other one as I'm ready it). This is the impact that these women have on me. They are basically all same (except, perhaps one), all well-bred ladies, who are in charge of their households, invariably in danger of being left on the shelf, and have the habit of not paying a blind bit of attention to anyone else.

2) The Cynsters. I have to say that Manda has given these cousins a far greater range of personality that I can tell one from the other that, simply, does not exist in the books. With slight variations in hair and eye colour, they are all the same. Now, I can understand that they might all have the same moral standards, but with each book I read, it's really like I'm reading the same one, and then little more than a cardboard cutout who is just there to be strong, sexy, and handsome (standard romance fare, I know). But after Manda's writing them, I was expecting more...but aside from them wondering if they're falling in love, there is no insight into their individual character, no real backstory, and this is when they are the pov character.

3) And this part disturbs me the most. As those who have read my stuff, know that I don't shrink from dark and violent themes. But in reading these, I get the distinct icky feeling that they are at best dub-con, even creeping into non-con. Sure, the women end up loving being sexed up, and the men are wonderful lovers...but...but...the men are on them and the woman is not given a chance to give consent or not. Again, perhaps standard Romance stuff, but given the period and the fact that these are well-bred, even noble, ladies, they just give up their 'precious innocence' too easily.

One of my favourite Regency adaptations is "Clarissa". She is, of course, seduced by the rake, Robert Lovelace and even her family believing that she is no longer marriagable turn her out. This is before Lovelace rapes her...just the appearance that she's been less than honourable endangers her chances of a good marriage.

Now, I'm sure secret trysts and the like existed back then, but with such frequency and in such good families?

And now the good points:

1) I like the mysteries. In fact, it's that part that's keeping me reading because if it was just the romance, I probably would have given up. That part is entertaining, and I always do want to know if I'm right about whodunnit.

2) The one woman love interest that I did like, despite again dub-con issues although this time in reverse, was Catriona in "Scandal's Bride", the third book. She was genuinely powerful in her own right and Scandal...unlike his kin, was looking to settle down.
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February 2015


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