Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Retro Review: Only in Your Arms

This review of Only In Your Arms by Tracy Cozzens was originally published by The Romance Reader in 2000.  Back then I rated in 5-Hearts (A grade) with an "R" sensuality content rating (oh boy, times have changed - take that R rating with a grain of salt me thinks).


In 1601 London, Marcus Sinclair is just another actor working with William Shakespeare when a friend asks him for a very big favor. Lord Richard Langsforth is determined to marry Lady Judith Ashton, but despite his attempts at wooing her, Lady Judith is betrothed to the despicable Viscount Mowbray, a man who has been through four wives already. So Richard asks Marcus to rescue Lady Judith and return her to the Langsforth estate so they can marry.

However, there are a few flaws in the plan. For one thing, Marcus finds himself entranced with Judith and must fight his growing attraction. After all, he’s a lowly actor, she’s the only daughter of a baron, not to mention that his best friend wants to marry her!

On top of all this, Lady Judith is reluctant to disobey her father. While the thought of marrying the Viscount turns her stomach, she was raised to honor her father. She certainly can’t just run off and marry an Earl’s son that she vaguely remembers. But Marcus’ pleas for her safety, and his haunting gray eyes, help Judith realize that maybe true love isn’t just for fairy tales.

And that’s just the first seven chapters. What happens in the remaining sixteen? Will Marcus convince Judith to leave her father and her doomed betrothal? Will she marry Lord Richard? Will Marcus and Judith find happiness with each other in a society ruled by class, nobility and rank?

Only in Your Arms is emotionally draining and satisfying all at once. There’s something for every reader within its pages, whether it be plot, character development or atmosphere, this story has it in spades.

Tracy Cozzens should be commended for her wonderful character development and plot pacing. All of the main characters are wonderfully complex, with good and bad qualities. One minute I was disgusted by their behavior, the next I was cheering them on. Because of this, they felt distinctly real to me, and I became invested in their struggles.

And what struggles they have! The action in this story is never ending. Whether it be wrestling with their emotions, or running towards freedom, there is no down time. The main characters must face one challenge after another.

But what ultimately sealed this book in 5 Heart glory was Audrey, Judith’s outspoken and fearless maid. Her story alone could easily have found its way into another novel, but by weaving her tale in with Marcus and Judith, Cozzens gives readers two great romances for the price of one.
Only in Your Arms has everything a great Shakespearean romance should -- tragedy, comedy, star-crossed lovers, betrayal, conspiracies, and Elizabethan intrigue. Cozzens is definitely a rising star to watch.


Wendy Looks Back: Yet another book I have no recall on, but obviously back in 2000 (and this was early days in my stint with TRR...) I really loved this book.  What I do I recall?  This won the RWA Golden Heart in 1998 for Best Unpublished Long Historical manuscript and after reading this book I decided that being assigned by my editor to review Golden Heart winners was not a bad thing.  By and large?  Even if the book isn't my personal cup o' tea - a Golden Heart winner is sure to at least be a competently written book.

Cozzens wrote several more books for Kensington but seems to have vanished off the Internet map.  Where oh where are you Ms. Cozzens?  Also, this book is out of print and is not available for purchase as an ebook.  If you'd like to read other reviews before going used bookstore hunting (you know, like in the olden days...) - All About Romance gave this one a B+ and Mrs. Giggles gave it high marks, albeit with some quibbles.


azteclady said...

I hate it when competent authors go missing in action--and often wonder if they were damned by the curse of the midlist.

I would love to read this just to see whether I agree with your take or not...but I am trying to actually read the eleventymillion books I already own, so...

Elizabeth Harmon said...

Sold! Love across class lines w/a low born hero is one of my favorite historical tropes, and the fact he's an actor in Shakespeare's troupe made it reader catnip. Found a copy for .75 cents on Amazon (3.99 shipping). Perfect for September's Kicking It Old Skool TBR theme.

Wendy said...

AL: She wrote a few more books for Kensington (which I didn't read...) but the review grades she garnered from AAR (at least) were mostly middling and then? Poof! Like you I think she was a victim of the Midlist Curse.

Elizabeth: You'll have to let me know what you think! I really did enjoy this one tremendously when I read it (yikes!) 16 years ago - but it's been a while LOL.