Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Review: Suddenly You by Lisa Kleypas

Backlog review. Originally read/reviewed July 2011.

Title: Suddenly You
Author: Lisa Kleypas
Published: 2001 (Avon)
Rating: 3 stars
Summary: She was unmarried, untouched and almost thirty, but novelist Amanda Briars wasn't about to greet her next birthday without making love to a man. When he appeared at her door, she believed he was her gift to herself, hired for one night of passion. Unforgettably handsome, irresistibly virile, he tempted her in ways she never thought possible, but something stopped him from completely fulfilling her dream.
Jack Devlin's determination to possess Amanda became greater when she discovered his true identity. But gently bred Amanda craved respectability more than she admitted, while Jack, the cast-off son of a nobleman and London's most notorious businessman, refused to live by society's rules. Yet when fate conspired for them to marry, their worlds collided with a passionate force neither had expected. . . but both soon craved.
My Review:
 **This review includes spoilers.**

I have very mixed feelings about this book.  It started out intriguingly, with the heroine hiring a male prostitute for her thirtieth birthday because she wanted to lose her virginity.  That pretty much set the tone for the entire novel: unique, as well as sensual.

I loved the main characters, as well as the most prevalent supporting character.  They were all intriguing, and none of them felt cookie-cutter.  I particularly enjoyed how different this novel was.  It didn't shy away from things romances, particularly historicals, rarely include: miscarriage, an age difference where the woman was older (heroine was 30, hero only 25), a heroine that wasn't only ~unconventional~ (as are 50+% of historical heroines) but actually a pragmatic feminist of sorts while still believable of the time period.  Throughout the book, I laughed several times, and I even cried once.

It was very spicy, even for Kleypas, which is definitely saying something.  It's the only historical I've read with anal penetration (only a finger, but still) that wasn't billed as erotic romance.  It even included some very light BDSM if you squint a little, which is rare. These things aren't necessarily my taste, but I can applaud Kleypas for pushing the boundaries of the genre.

On the other hand, there was plenty I disliked.  It had several instances of dub-con, and once that very much bordered on non-con, which is the fastest way to lose me.  The hero was entirely too inclined to ~kiss the heroine into submission~, which should not occur in a novel published in 2001.  It also felt very formulaic when that happened, and I thought that these, as well as a few other instances, showcased the fact that the hero was not very well developed.

I honestly thought this was one of her earlier efforts, and knowing it wasn't makes it feel as if there was not much effort behind it.  The writing was sloppy and overly-flowery ("The realization had not come over her with the immediacy of a summer thunderstorm, but with the slow persistence of April rain."  I mean, really?), and the pacing was unnecessarily slow at times.  I put it down for several weeks without a thought at one point because nothing of interest was happening.  And as sexy as the book was (I would estimate 10 described encounters with several more fade-to-blacks), it seemed like a couple of the sex scenes were unneeded, and were just there to up the word count.

I felt that, with more effort by Kleypas and some better editing, this novel could have been fantastic, even mind-blowing.  But alas, counting all the bad in with the good, it came out only mediocre.

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