Saturday, May 26, 2007

Claiming the Courtesan by Anna Campbell

Romances I like tend to fall in two categories: the gentle, healing, life-affirming sort that Mary-Jo Putney usually writes, and a rather darker and more twisted type exemplified by Anne Stuart's Black Ice. This was definitely the latter, and a good one.

Justin, the Duke of Something-or-other (why are so many romance figures Dukes?) has been left by his mistress Soraya. Soraya vanished because she's earned enough money as a courtesan to support herself and her family, and now wants to retire and live out her life as respectable Verity. Justin isn't very happy about this, and expresses his displeasure by tracking Soraya/Verity down, abducting her, and treating her abominably.

I have some difficulty explaining why I like

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Lady Silence by Blair Bancroft

This was a traditional Regency romance, a vaguely Jane Austen-influenced subgenre I've not read much in. I found it readable, but forgettable.

The Regency is a comedy of manners, but the plot of this book really felt like it wanted to be much more melodramatic- a mysterious child who didn't speak for years, a traumatized military officer readjusting to civilian life. But the tone was kept light, and it all felt wrong, awkward.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Angelica by Sharon Shinn

Another very readable Sharon Shinn- I think she's among the best writers of romantic sf that manages to scratch the itches of both genres. Only- this one felt a bit like a rerun, enjoyable but familiar. She's done the "archangel gets saddled with reluctant and unexpected angelica" before, and it was more interesting the first time around. I preferred Angel-Seeker; one woman found she preferred a human after all, and the culture clash in the other main plot played out very believably and painfully. Also - she has a way of typecasting members of her varying races that makes me uncomfortable - all Edori are feckless and pleasant, all Jansaii rather slimy, Mandavii money-grubbing. Angel-Seeker went a bit deeper into the whats and whys of culture, and showed some variation within members of the groups.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Machine's Child by Kage Baker


Good: back to the main plot, with Mendoza, Alec/Edward/Nicholas, Joseph and Buda.

Bad (semi-spoiler): well, not much of Mendoza, mentally or (at first) physically. Not much bite left to her.

Ugly: Alec/Edward/Nicholas. All at once. Sharing one body and quarreling continually. (This isn't a spoiler, it happened a book or two ago.)

At least the little weird people didn't put in an appearance. I'm really wondering how she's going to pull all this together at the end.

I'd like to spend more time with Suleyman and Latif.

What the Dead Know by Laura Lippman

A psychological mystery, and also a story about how a family falls apart.

Two sisters disappear, and, decades later, a woman shows up claiming to be one of them. The story of the disappearance, some of the family's life before, and how the parents endured, and didn't, after, is told in flashbacks.

I guessed the identity early (though not why), and so didn't care much about the maneuverings of the police officers. But the family tragedy was gripping.

Kushiel's Scion by Jacqueline Carey

A follow-up to her Kushiel's (blank) series featuring Phedre. This focuses on Phedre's foster son Imriel.

I didn't like Imriel's voice as much as Phedre's (both first person), and the book felt jerky to me. The plot didn't seem to have any shape to it. It's essentially Imriel's coming of age story, but too many of the events didn't mean enough, if that makes sense. The author nearly lost me when he moved to Rome-analog. Still, some very good passages... I'll see if the sequal redeems it.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

The Veil of Night

Historical romance. A decent read, but not as good as Music of the Night. I'd have liked to have met the main female character earlier and gotten to know her a little before she made her big choice - accepting the male character's scandalous bargain - so I could have seen that it was as out of character for her as the author said it was.