ShallowreaderBingo! May Edition!

It’s already the end of May and woot woot! A Willful Woman has won this month’s ShallowreaderBingo! Not only did she win Bingo early in May but she tells me she has scored a book for every single square! So excitement!!!

Seinfeld celebration - all four main characters are running and dancing on the spot with their arms up high.

As for me… *sigh* my own reading has slowed down due to having to do not-so-shallowreading (see my new page on this here blog). Stay tuned for the June Bingo sheet which will be much easier than May’s doozy! Link me to your own Bingo scorecards or tweet to me!

So my squares: Continue reading

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Blogging in haste

For the first time in nearly a month, I am between tasks so I thought I would take a super quick moment to write a blog post. Earlier this year I accidentally agreed to take on more teaching and staff training than I should have. The past semester has resulted in my own studies being left far behind (I was already behind the point that I wanted to be) and my own reading for pleasure is barely happening. But, as experience has shown me, if I don’t read for pleasure, I lose my drive for both working and studying so I juggle my time around and between late nights and commuting to work I have managed to read a couple of novels and a handful of picture books.

Screen Shot 2015-05-04 at 11.56.55 pmSarah MacLean’s No Good Duke Goes Unpunished

“He is the Killer Duke, accused of murdering Mara Lowe on the eve of her wedding. With no memory of that fateful night, Temple has reigned over the darkest of London’s corners for twelve years, wealthy and powerful, but beyond redemption. Until one night, Mara resurfaces, offering the one thing he’s dreamed of . . . absolution.”

I liked the premise of this book. The prologue is quite thrilling, starting out joyfully and then having Temple wake up covered in what he thought was Mara’s blood with a household of people staring at him. This feeling occasionally returns throughout the book but, though the plot was mostly sound, the writing style drove me batty. It constantly used the 3 repeats device eg “She felt it. She knew it. She mourned it” (made up example: not in the book). I actually like this device when it is used sparingly but unfortunately it wasn’t. Continue reading

Heartbreaker: A TBR Challenge Review

As part of SuperWendy’s TBR Reading Challenge I picked up this Charlotte Lamb novel that has been waiting on my shelf for several months. I am totally obsessed with Ms Lamb and she has once again delivered a strikingly dark story. Here is my (rambly) review:

Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 11.18.44 pm Heartbreaker

by Charlotte Lamb

published by Mills & Boon, 1981.

The back story is that Caroline had escaped her cruel and violent husband Peter. He was an alcoholic that used to beat her up but Caroline and his mother, Helen who lived with them, would make excuses for his behaviour and would cover up Caroline’s injuries so to protect him. But when Peter started hitting their daughter, Caroline leaves Yorkshire for the anonymity of London. Three years later, Caroline finds out that Peter has died and her former mother-in-law wants to see her granddaughter again. Caroline and Helen have a deep love and respect for each other. It is Helen’s nephew (and the hero of this story), Nick that finds Caroline and coerces her to return to the Yorkshire village. Nick is a menacing and mean. For a hero, I found him too rough and a tad violent in his first scene with Caroline. Though he does not hurt her, he certainly does his best to intimidate Caroline. He is convinced that his cousin’s alcoholism and subsequent death was due to his wife having left him.

All human beings are a tangled web of contradictions and confusions

Continue reading

Charlotte Lamb retro comfort read

I am home sick with laryngitis and a chest infection AND a sick, feverish son. For the first few days I attended my own pity party and what is better than a comfort read at a pity party? A Charlotte Lamb angsty romance!

 

Charlotte Lamb The Girl from NowhereThe Girl From Nowhere

c 1981

Suki Black is a successful singer who exudes sensuality on the stage. However off the stage she is sheltered by her manager and his wife, Buddy and Rosie who are more like parents than managers. As the story develops, you discover that Suki was abandoned as a baby and was brought up in a refuge/home/school. Having moved out at 16, she was discovered singing in a bar by Buddy and Rosie at 17 and had been living with them for the past 5 years – working her hard but treating her well and lovingly.

Enter the hero after a kickass performance that opens the book. Joel Harlow is a  smouldering, dictating asshat of a hero who keeps turning up like a bad penny harassing Suki. At no time did I feel any warmth toward industrial magnate, Joel (whose description reminded me of Jamie Arrogance Packer). Continue reading

Temptation

*SPOILER ALERT WARNING*

Every now and then, I read a category romance that blows me away. Charlotte Lamb’s Temptation has done that for me. This book is written in two distinct sections. The first is set in the calm, sheltered beauty of the Yorkshire Dales and the second is set primarily in busy, civilized London.

Linden had only been seventeen when Joss crashed into her life. Naively, she offered him her friendship and trust. In return, he had aroused emotions in her she was too young to handle, wrenching her from childhood to womanhood in a few startling days.

When he left her, Linden realized that she been ruthlessly used. Her love for Joss had been almost worshipful. His love had been a savage devouring–taking and never giving. His love had destroyed her-just as she would now destroy him!

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As the book blurb indicates Linden falls in love with a much older man, Joss. The book begins in a dreamlike idyll in the Yorkshire Dales. The protagonist Linden has led a sheltered life with her emotionally distant father, and in a Catholic convent in Italy for her schooling. She is a few weeks from turning 18 when the male protagonist, Joss, tumbles into her life. He is 39 but very little is revealed about him in the first half of the book. There is a strong relationship building between these two and all the while the reader is reminded that Linden is still young. You see the struggle that Joss has keeping away from Linden. In the same scene that he calls her a child, he is also kissing her. Afters sleeping with her he leaves her for he is married. Circumstances bring Joss and Linden to having sex and it is after this that he leaves and the reader (and Linden) find out that Joss is married. Devastated Linden becomes near suicidal, her actions harming her father physically. After a long recuperation she heads to London to study and she meets a lovely young man. She has a slow courtship with him and heads to his home to discover that he is the son of Joss. At this time she avows her revenge to hurt him (Joss) and break him the same way he hurt her years earlier (oh! Yes! It is a revenge book). Continue reading

Doing justice to Desire

The other week I guest posted a Five Word Review on Charlotte Lamb’s Desire. The review reads “Drunk Fuck Pregnancy Equals Luurve”. I stand by this review. It relays the exact premise of the book. But what it doesn’t relay is the love I have for this book.

The heroine, Natasha, gets drunk after breaking up with her fiance. She goes out with friends and becomes uninhibited after drinking champagne and takes off with a hottie called Lee Farrell with whom she has a one-night stand. When she wakes up the next morning she is mortified and he drives her home upset that it was the alcohol and not her desire for him. She falls pregnant and doesn’t keep the baby secret. Inevitably they marry for convenience but are stand offish and suspect of each other until the grand grovel and love reveal at the end. It is a fab read that very much reflects the mores of the early eighties.

I have reread Desire at least once a year for the past 25 years and I still love it. Published in 1981, the year that Charles and Diana married (why is this relevant), the protaganists have a 16 year age gap (Charles and Diana had a 13 year gap so it is relevant to set it in context) which I find irksome when the heroine is 17 but seeing that 20 is my tipping point into acceptability these two characters are fine by my measure as she is 21 to his 37.

The standout for me is that Natasha has been brought up conservatively and to believe that love is soft and gentle. After breaking up with her fiance “Natasha had always played the submissive, female role…” it is through alcohol that she feel uninhibited. She feels desire and she matches Lee’s desire as an equal.

She had been conditioned to see herself in that yielding female role, to accept the qualities which society expected in a woman, to be soft and gentle and pliant, to submit and give what was demanded. She had not been taught to demand in her turn, to be strong and self-sufficient, to claim her right as a woman, to match the male on her own terms

It is paragraphs like these that I feel are lacking from many romances today. As a 12 year old the sex flew over my head. However the concept of not being subservient, not being shy and reticent, stating my terms and refusing to compromise those values is what stays with me. It is finding a partner who matches you, not a partner who subsumes you that clicked in my reading.

They start conditioning you when you [are] in your cradle

                                                                                        Natasha

My belief is that many romances (particularly from the 70s and 80s) may write what at face value is an unbalanced relationship but it is the reading between the lines that I am interested in. The relationship may fade but the knowledge that with this man, Lee Farrell, Natasha feels strong and self-sufficient yet with others she was submissive. Natasha recognises society’s expectations of her and chooses to not adhere to them but it takes courage to do so.

The book is pretty much angsty from beginning to end. Angsty in that good, melodramatic way with fainting, fisticuffs, jealous fits over beaux and belles, alphabrute chest beating and other ridiculous misunderstandings that drive the story.

You have some crazy notion that love and sex are separate issues

                                                                                                           Lee

This book is about sexual love. Not a love of companionship which no doubt will eventuate in years to come but a love of physical desires firing the soul and Charlotte Lamb’s aim is to allow Natasha to not feel shame and guilt for her sexuality. The book also gives a passing nod to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice for that is really what drives their inability to communicate. Natasha is prejudiced against Lee believing in his public image rather than the man she was attracted to. Lee’s pride takes a battering every time Natasha claims she loved Mike, her ex-fiance, and she was ashamed of her actions with Lee and, as is expected in a Mills and Boon, these issues are resolved at the end of the book in their declaration of love for each other. But not before Lamb uses Natasha as a vehicle to remind the reader

Men have organised the world for their own convenience for years. They made the laws, moral and otherwise, and it was men who sold women the idea that sexual desire is okay for a man but shameful for a woman

I believe that Lamb uses romance to subliminally embed ideas of feminism in her reader’s mind (remember its 1981 publication date). But even more importantly, she uses Lee to remind the reader it is love in its many variations that drives us

Love is what we want it to be, what we need. It doesn’t have any rules. There’s no such thing as law or morals where love is concerned. It’s just a question of feeling, of real emotion, of caring for one person rather than another, of needing one person rather than another.