Dueling Review, Recommended Read

Dueling Review: Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase (1995)

This month, as part of talking about morality chain romances, we all read Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase. It comes up frequently as a “canon” romance, but none of us had read it before. Spoiler alert: we all really liked it.

Scoundrels, Book #3

Let’s start by each giving our metrics for the book:

Holly

Heat Factor: Purple prose alert!

Character Chemistry: Sarcasm abounds. Also, she tells him that he’s sensitive and he’s baffled but she’s not wrong. 

Plot: Jessica must rescue her brother from the clutches of the Marquess of Dain. He compromises her. She shoots him. They get married. 

Overall: ZOMG. The plot gets a little saggy towards the end, but I still had a blast.

Erin

Heat Factor: Kissing in the RAIN! 💕 But yeah, standard histrom fare albeit on the steamy side

Character Chemistry: She’s competent AF and he’s a man baby, and they’re both super besotted, so it’s pretty excellent, in fact

Plot: antagonists → spouses → exasperated (Jessica)/emotionally constipated (Dain) → lovers

Overall: Bottom line, this is simply a very fun read

Ingrid

Heat Factor: Oh, my.

Character Chemistry: Had Dain been with any other woman, I would have hated it…but since he was with Jess…swoon.

Plot: Dain is fully committed to a life of debauchery when he meets Jessica, who is a spinster and really doesn’t have any time for his nonsense unless he’s got her pressed up against a wall. Once he ruins her and refuses to do the right thing, she shoots him, they negotiate, and they’re pretty much in a bout of emotional fencing until the book ends.

Overall: Obsessed.

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Review

Review: Winter’s Heat by Denise Domning (1994)

The Graistan Chronicles, Book #1

Heat Factor: Sex happens early, but not often.

Character Chemistry: They are the worst communicators. Also he doesn’t respect her. 

Plot: Rowena is married off to Rannulf, and decides to make the best of it. Plus there’s a lot of drama with her inheritance and the Evil Other Woman. 

Overall: This was an interesting read when approached as an artifact of romance written in the 1990s, but it didn’t make my heart go pitter-pat.

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Let's Talk Tropes

Let’s Talk Tropes: Marriage In Trouble

“Why can’t they just freaking talk to each other?! They’re married FFS!”

Is my typical struggle with the Marriage In Trouble trope. 

While this trope seems to be really popular for (particularly married) women my age or a bit older, I personally am on record discussing how second chance romance is not my jam, and I would argue that Marriage In Trouble is a subsection of the second chance trope. Mixed in with a little seducing my spouse, perhaps? It doesn’t really matter. The point is, as with any other second chance romance, I struggle with the Marriage In Trouble because I struggle with the basic problem. Which is to say, I either think the protagonists are having the most absurd fight ever or that they shouldn’t be together at all and what are they even doing?

Isn’t the person* you marry supposed to be the person that you can talk to?

But I keep trying to understand feelings (it’s not an easy thing, so props to those of you who are good at it), and after reading a few marriage in trouble books recently, I realized that, even though one might already have made oneself really vulnerable to and opened up to one’s spouse during the initial courtship period, there are still things that might arise that are just really hard to talk about.** 

Because what if this person that you really really trust not to let you down…lets you down?

Or, I guess conversely, what if you don’t want to raise an issue because you don’t want to admit you’re struggling and let your partner down?

The idea that people can be messy for their whole lives and make some mistakes and still have love and support is a good thing to think about. We can talk plenty about how marriage is long and has ups and downs, but so much of genre romance is centered on the romantic ideal of finding the perfect partner and riding off into the romantic sunset of a happily ever after filled with the life we’ve always dreamed of (plus orgasms) that we often brush off the continuing emotional work that goes into maintaining a relationship. 

So, um. I guess I’m sorry I ever doubted those writers of the Marriage In Trouble. You do good work. Carry on. 


*I’m using singular for clarity and because most polyamorous romances I’ve read don’t get to the point of marriage, but really the argument would be the same for all spouses/life-partners in any kind of relationship.

**I’ll be honest, I was specifically thinking about asking a partner to get some kind of kinky, but I guess there can be other pressure points, too. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Review

Review: Shame by Ainsley Booth (2021)

Secrets and Lies, Book #2

Heat Factor: It’s a slow burn, but then there’s some dirty talkin’ daddy kink funtimes

Character Chemistry: Angst level 1000

Plot: Marriage in trouble after cheating

Overall: I wanted this to be the cheating romance we never get, and I think it largely succeeded

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Recommended Read, Review

Review: Lick by Kylie Scott (2013)

Stage Dive, Book #1

Heat Factor: The title refers to music, not a bedroom activity, but the bedroom activity is sexy

Character Chemistry: Great

Plot: 21-year-old celebrating her birthday in Vegas wakes up married to a rock star

Overall: This book is exceptional

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