Monday, December 28, 2009

What's In ILL? A Captive Princess, A Fake Courtesan And A Creepy Dude

I don't know about you all, but a week away from Library Land and I start jonesin' for my ILL fix. So I wandered across the hall for another rousing edition of What's In ILL? These are romance novels we're either receiving from other libraries to fill our patron holds or we're sending out into the wild to other libraries. Once again, historical romance and older category romance is ruling our roost.

Promise Of The Rose by Brenda Joyce (published in 1993)

She is Mary, the beautiful daughter of the Scottish king--and an unwilling prisoner of the Norman invaders. The headstrong princess refuses to reveal her identity--even if it means sacrificing her virtue. But in the arms of a dangerous enemy she discovers a powerful passion and a powerful promise.

Brave and battle-hardened Stephen DeWarenne is prepared to defend to the death that which is his by right of conquest--including the golden-haired captive who awakens his soul's most secret yearnings. For theirs is a passion that will not be denied--a magnificent fire that burns hotter and brighter than the blazing flames of war that engulf the land.

Wendy Says: This is technically the second book in the author's DeWarenne Dynasty series which has spawned several books encompassing various time periods. Which is why, I suspect, this one was currently sitting in the ILL office. Someone is working their way through the series.

Dearly Beloved by Mary Jo Putney (published in 1990)


Diana's body melted to his touch. But suddenly she was afraid, not of this dark man with cool eyes and warm hands, but herself....

Beautiful Diana Brandelin entered into a daring masquerade when she came to London posing as a dazzling courtesan. All she knew of men was meaningless, forced marriage to a visiting lord-and gold to take the place of love. That lord was the dark and handsome Viscount Gervase St. Aubyn, whom she vowed to make pay for the past. But try as she might to be heartless in weaving a web of desire, passion tore away her defenses and her disguise...and gave Diana and Gervase an irresistible second chance at love...

Wendy Says: One of Putney's stand-alone historicals. I haven't read this one, nor do I have it in the TBR, but it does sound intriguing. I'm sure there are oodles of you out there who have read this one. Worth hunting down? A gem? Not one of Putney's best? And inquiring minds want to know - will I be subjected to the ol' Naive Virgin Playing Courtesan Claptrap if I decide to hunt this one down?

The Baby Plan by Susan Gable, Harlequin SuperRomance #1103 (published in 2002)

What he a baby. A child of his own. Jake Manning more or less raised his younger siblings; he loves kids and knows he's a natural father. However, he's had zero success as a husband. So he comes up with a baby plan, one that requires a woman but not a wife.

What she money. Security. An education. A home. Harley Emerson might be a crack mechanic, but a false conviction makes jobs hard to come by. She has no family and few friends. Jake's proposition offers her a way to get what she needs. But before she'll agree to have his baby, Harley insists on two things: a marriage of convenience and an "old-fashioned" conception.

What they love. Neither of them expected it. Neither knows what to do with it. But sometimes plans change -- for the better. Sometimes you need more than you want -- and want more than you need.
Wendy Says: Every couple of years I go through and weed my Harlequin TBR Mountain, culling out plot themes I've grown tired of and/or authors who I have discovered "don't work" for me. Being a massive HSR Ho, I had to double-check to make sure this book was not currently residing in the Bat Cave (for the record, it's not). While I appreciate the role reversal risk here, it smacks me as sort of....creepy. Go ahead, call me sexist - but a hero desperate for a baby? And while I've read about surrogate heroines before, that really isn't what is going on here. This heroine is willing to rent her uterus out, but wants a marriage of convenience and s-e-x? It just sounds....skeevy. To me anyway. But if anyone has actually read this one, and feels the back cover copy is grossly inaccurate? Hey, that's why blogs have a comment section. Like I said, I'm a major HSR Ho, so feel free to enlighten me.

So, anyone read any of these? Opinions? Keepers? Wallbangers? And any of these sound intriguing enough that you plan on tracking them down for yourself?


nath said...

I haven't read any of them... the only one which I find a bit interesting is the Harlequin, but you're right... the role reversal makes it a bit... hmmm, weird.

sula said...

the harlequin sounds uber creepy. but i feel like i may have read the putney back in the day. i wonder if my library has it. hmmm...perhaps a short jaunt down there today is required. i love lazy vacation days!

Lynn Spencer said...

Dearly Beloved is one of those "love it or hate it" books. This is the Putney book that gets debated online periodically b/c the hero rapes the rather young heroine at the beginning.

Leslie said...

The Putney sounds vaguely familiar but can't say for certain if I read it or one with a similar plot. If I didn't have such a huge tbr pile I might track it down but nope - must resist!

The Harlequin - I'm curious as to how they met and why Jake picked Harley(what a name for a mechanic!)

Anonymous said...

Some buy the plot line in the Putney, some don't. IMHO, she rarely disappoints completely.

Wendy said...

Nath & Sula: I feel like a hypocrite since I normally love it when authors take risks, and throw in a bit of role reversal. But that Harlequin description gave me pause!

Lynn: A-Ha! Maybe that's why it was nagging at the back of my brain.

Leslie: If the couple in the Harlequin were friends prior to entering the arrangement I think it would probably work better for me. Of course you can't really tell that from the plot description alone.

Anon: I think we all have at least one author like that. The author who might not "wow" you every single time, but has yet to deliver a story you out-right dislike.

JenB said...

None of them really jumped out at me except the Harlequin.

It sort of reminds me of the Stud by Barbara Delinsky, which is -- ironically, if you know how much I dislike conception stories -- one of my absolute favorite category romances.

Hmmm...might see if this one's on PBS just for curiosity's sake.

Katie Mack said...

I haven't read any, but I'm thinking of tracking down the Harlequin. One, I'm a complete sucker for role-reversal plots, and two, I don't find anything creepy about the setup. Maybe it's because I have several male family members and two male friends who desperately wanted kids. I don't think any of them would have gone to this extent, but they each ended up making significant compromises so they could be fathers. (And they are all now absolutely devoted fathers, including being the primary caregivers.)

Senetra said...

There's no "Naive Virgin Playing Courtesan Claptrap" in the Putney. It's a revenge tale that begins with drugs, drink, rape, and unwanted marriages. Like Lynn said, it's a love it or hate it. I need to re-read it to see if it's still a keeper.

I read the Harlequin, but don't remember much about it, except I think Harley wanted the baby to be born in wedlock because of her past.

Wendy said...

JenB: I can roll with conception stories - but it really boils down to how they're set up.

Katie: I think the reason I found the description creepy is that there is really no mention of a "prior" relationship between the hero and heroine. If it had mentioned they were "friends" or at least knew each other prior to entering the arrangement, I think I'd probably be running to the nearest UBS to track this one down.

Senetra: Damnit. Now I'm back to intrigued. The rape issue gives me pause though......

Leslie said...

After reading some of the reviews on Amazon for The Baby Plan I've added to my UBS list. It actually sounds pretty good after getting more info.

And in case anyone was wondering - there are 17 copies available on PBS. :)

JamiSings said...

Wendy, did you read the editorial from the Amazon link for Dearly Beloved?

Editorial Reviews
From Publishers Weekly
Putney ( The Diabolical Baron ) sugarcoats the unsavory premise of this story about two people who, thrown together by an accident of fate, heal each other from the wounds of childhood. In 1799 Scotland, Gervase Brandelin, the victim of a sexually abusive mother, is livid when forced to wed Mary Hamilton, a deranged clergyman's innocent daughter whom he has unwittingly compromised, and promptly rapes her following the ceremony. After years of separation, they meet again, but Gervase does not recognize his wife. Instead, he knows her as Diana Lindsay, whom he believes to be an accomplished courtesan and whom he woos to become his mistress. Through the tender courtship and through Gervase's kindness to the epileptic son conceived in the brutality of their wedding night, the pair experiences unsullied love for the first time and discovers the joys of family. Gervase's involvement in the super-secret espionage service working to undermine Napoleon adds spice and atmosphere.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

So he's the victim of molestation - by his mom, apparently. Isn't it usually the step-mom in these kinds of books? Or lately I've noticed a trend to have the hero have been raped by one or many men as a young boy. Which, frankly, I'm getting sick and tired of. I'd like to see a role reversal there. Let the hero have had a normal, happy childhood, and the heroine have to be taught that sex doesn't have to be painful/humiliating and that she can trust a man to touch her.

As for the "I want you to be my baby's momma" thing - I do see the creepiness of it. I think though it's because we've been taught by the media to automatically not trust any man who really wants a kid because "He's obviously a pedophile looking for a live-in victim." Let's face it, every tv show, movie, book anymore has the guy chasing a woman to either get her pregnant or because she has kids, then he starts drugging his new wife and raping the kids. So now we instinctively say "icky" when a guy "really wants to be a father."

Jill Sorenson said...

I've read the Joyce. Used to love the DeWarenne series, The Masquerade especially. Sadly, we had to break up when a smoldering hero smoldered too much. This one features a real alph-hole, IIRC.

Haven't read the HQ, but my favorite Temptation re-read is Scandalous by Lori Foster. Same premise, man wants baby. I think it's more odd/implausible than creepy. But she made it work! Holy hotness, yes she did.

Lyndee said...

Jami - if you want a man with a good childhood and a woman who has to be taught that sex isn't a bad thing, I have one like that, although it's an inspirational (and I don't know how you feel about those - and this one does have parts that get a little "annoyingly Christian" although I really liked the story...but if you want more info, let me know.

FD said...

I've actually read the harlequin (picked it up from the library) and I did not find it as odd as the blurb makes out. I went into it sorta expecting the hero to be a down-with-womens (only good for making babies) type, but that wasn't the case at all.

The hero himself was an interesting if bland portrait of a decent guy for whom things just haven't quite worked out. The way he ends up offering the sorta-surrogacy (it's his idea) is a blend of slightly misplaced white knightism, two fingers to fate and a one-step-after-another-how-did-we-end-up-here kinda thing.

Harley was far more vivid. She's a complex character; well intentioned, with bad self esteem and a tendency to make somewhat skewed judgements because of that. She's scrappy, spiky, defensively cranky and at times downright rude. No sweet hard done by saint in other words - I can't bear martyrs. However, she has good reasons to be the way she is. Her background, and her journey towards overcoming that is really the major focus of the story, not the faux-surrogacy.

The book reminded me somewhat of a Karen Templeton, (compliment in my book, she's one of the few kid oriented harlequin authors that I will regularly read) so ymmv, but I will probably read other books by this author.

Wendy said...

Jami: I know I've read books like that - but damn if I can recall any titles right now. I think I'm still suffering from Vacation Brain.

Jill: The Masquerade is getting reprinted soon. Wait a minute...have to look it February.

Leslie & FD: You guys are killing me here. Now I'm thinking I need to read it now. The Templeton comparison hooked me. I've adored many of Karen Templeton's books.

JamiSings said...

Wendy (& Lyndee) - Sarah over at SBTB gave me a line on a series by Patricia Briggs that sounds like what I need. But thanks anyway. I'm just so tired of the SOS in my romance novels. While I know certain themes go in cycles, there's only so many times you can read about heroes who were raped by men when they were boys, single mothers of autistic children, and the same old stereotypes about the token homosexual characters before you're ready to scream.

Oh, but the whole discussion here and with Sarah reminded me of a book I read years ago I can't remember the title of and since SBTB already did my HABO with the Gene Kelly Lovin' Vampire maybe someone here remembers it.

It was set in the Victorian period. Heroine was the only woman to survive an attack by a serial rapist/murderer - got away with a nasty scar on her face. Hero was a widower who's wife was killed by the same man. (Which is why he gets involved with heroine, to find his wife's killer.) Turns out in the end dead wife was a slut who was actually sleeping with the serial rapist/killer, who was also best friend of the hero. I remember there was a scene that if not actual sex was "almost-sex" (I think hero and heroine don't really do it until married) on top of hero's desk.

Had to be published before 1995 since I read it in high school. It stuck with me because it was the first time I read about a heroine with scars and who had been sexually assaulted by someone other then the hero.

Gail Dayton said...

The Super is the first published book by Gable, and I believe was a Rita finalist for Best First Book. (I know Gable has been a finalist--more than once, I think--and I think the 1st time was for this book. But I'm relying on a very iffy memory.)

Anyway, I read it back when it first came out (only partly because Susan is a friend), and it really is a very good book. The back cover copy doesn't quite fit...