I Loved A Rogue

I Loved a RogueEver since she and her younger sisters washed ashore after a tragic shipwreck, Eleanor Caulfield has been the perfect daughter: prim, proper, well-behaved and responsible. She’s been an ideal young lady – and she’s tired of it. With her sisters and her adopted father now married, Eleanor longs for an adventure like the ones she’s read about in books. Enter Taliesin Wolfe. Once Eleanor’s constant companion in childhood, Taliesin left home 11 years ago and never looked back. But now, a quest to uncover the truth about Eleanor’s birth parents will set both of them off on an eye-opening journey. Both Eleanor and Taliesin have secrets and uncovering them may reveal what others have known for years: they’re made for each other.

I Loved a Rogue is the final book in Katharine Ashe’s Prince Catchers trilogy, and as such, it pulls together all the threads and hints from the previous two books in revealing the truth behind the Caulfield sisters’ parentage. The tone and feel of I Love A Rogue is a bit different from the previous two novels; there is a lot more rain and wind-swept moors with gloomy manor houses. But it works wonderfully with the discovery of answers and the pay-off of Ashe’s carefully planned story. The ring with the mysterious symbol, the Gypsy woman’s prediction that one sister would marry a prince, even the presence of certain characters – all come together to form a deeply satisfying happy ending for all the sisters, but mostly for Eleanor and Taliesin.

Romance novels come in many forms, and one of my favorite themes and tropes is the idea of unrequited love realized. Eleanor and Tailesin’s relationship practically defines the phrase “romantic tension” and their delicate back-and-forth dance consumes most of the novel. It can be difficult at times to watch them come so far only to be dragged apart again (there is, after all, only so much longing and heartbreak a romance reader can stand), but I was especially impressed by Ashe’s ability to craft an engaging novel based almost entirely on misunderstandings and confusion. Such stories can sometimes feel repetitive and manipulative (especially when you just know the hero and heroine belong together). Ashe, however, has created a story with just the right pace and just the right number of reasonably plausible explanations for Eleanor and Taliesin’s separation. And, of course, that makes their inevitable reunion all the more sweeter.

Though the mystery of the Caulfield sisters’ parents felt secondary to me as a reader (I’m here for the romance, people), the conclusion to that particular plot was still quite entertaining and incredibly well researched. The complicated, interwoven relationships between many of the characters did require some flowcharts (yes, I write flowcharts for my novels sometimes. I’m a nerd like that) and the pace of the last third of the novel is almost dizzying with the number of revelations flying. But there’s also the slightest sense of magic in the way Eleanor and Taliesin came together as children and then adults, in the larger context of their parents’ stories. With the Gypsy fortune that started the series off, it’s enough to make you believe in destiny.

I had a few minor quibbles with I Loved A Rogue (I personally could have done without Robin Prince’s character and some of Eleanor and Taliesin’s arguments could have simply be solved by being honest), but overall, this book was a wonderful and satisfying conclusion to the series. And should she ever decide to, I think Katharine Ashe would have eager audiences for a prequel starring Eleanor and Tailesin’s parents. (Without giving anything away – there’s so much going on there!). I Loved A Rogue is an excellent addition to the Katharine Ashe oeuvre and a pleasure to read.

Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

[Photo Credit: Goodreads]

Book News, Feb. 21st

Greetings, bookworms. If you’re viewing this on the actual LND website, you’ll notice it looks a bit different. I decided a needed a bit of a change in my theme and cover image. I’m still tweaking some things (moving from a three-column layout to a two-column layout means there were some casualties), but I’m happier with the simplified and cleaner look. Any feedback is much appreciated! And while you’re here, check out the book news:

  • While the verdict may still be out on the wisdom of publishing Harper Lee’s second novel, her publisher Harper Collins is moving ahead. (Side note: What are the odds Lee’s publisher would share her name?) The cover image (or, at least the UK placement holder cover image) of Go Set A Watchman was recently released. As Book Riot correctly points out, it does have the similar look and feel to J.K. Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy. Since the cover art and image is not yet finalized, it’s likely to change, but it does suggest Harper Collins is going for a more minimalist approach. Thoughts?
  • Harper Lee isn’t the only longtime author making a comeback. Apparently, a long-lost Dr. Seuss book was recently discovered and Random House Children’s Books will publish it later this year. The book features a brother-sister sibling set looking for a pet (the book is helpfully titled What Pet Should I Get?) and was likely written some time between 1958 and 1962. The manuscript was discovered by Dr. Seuss’ widow while she sorted through old papers. Other materials discovered will serve as the foundation for two more picture books.
  • And since people are apparently finding lost things… Book Riot has a hilarious post about 11 other literary items to find now that we’re on a roll with these sorts of discoveries. Among their suggestions? A grocery list from John Green (since that thing would sell like hot cakes), a confession from John Grisham for his crimes against the middle grade genre (I seriously laughed aloud at that one), and the little known “lost” essay from Lois Lowry titled Bitch, Please, I Invented Dystopia because, basically, she did.
  • Why try getting a bunch of authors together in one physical place when a cyberspace will do? The Twitter Fiction Festival is attracting some great literary names, including Margaret Atwood, Chuck Wendig and Lemony Snicket. The Festival, which will be held this year on May 11-15, celebrates “the art of storytelling” on Twitter and it’s quite impressive how much the virtual event has grown in the last few years. Many published authors participate by releasing snippets of stories in 140 characters and the anyone in the general public can join in. For more information, visit the Twitter Fiction Festival website.
  • You know what they say: don’t judge a book by its cover. Because now that cover might be able to judge you. A Dutch artist has invented a book cover designed to detect how a reader might be judging it based on a scan of the reader’s face. Based on that judgement, the book either remain locked to a reader, or unlock so said reader can actually read. Putting aside the truly creepy notion of sentient books that can tell what we’re thinking or feeling, the idea is interesting, though potentially problematic. For example, overly excited expressions will be interpreted as judgement (and thus keep the book locked) when, in fact, the reader might legitimately be interested – i.e., excited – to read that book.
  • Book Riot has been on a roll lately (see above) with excellent post after excellent post, and I want to highlight a couple of my favorites. First up, Derek Attig offers suggestions for feminist genre fictionbooks that celebrate and promote women and women’s stories without being too “literary” or tragic. (His words, not mine.) He’s got some excellent suggestions, including Tamora Pierce’s books, Octavia Butler and others. Then, Jessica Pryde provides the 10 Essential Reads for Romance Newbies, which wins my favor not only for including Sarah MacLean (always, always read Sarah MacLean), but for offering a broad and diverse range of sub-genres and themes (contemporary, historical, paranormal, steampunk, etc). Keep up the good work, Book Rioters!

As always, happy reading.

Book News, Feb. 7th

Happy February, bookworms, and a happy earlier Valentine’s Day. I don’t know about you, but I personally find the gift of a book sexy as hell. Nothing says “I love you” like a gift card for Kindle books (hint, hint, HINT!). Of course, I wouldn’t turn down chocolate either. (Never turn down chocolate!). But books will keep you warm and entertained during this seemingly never-ending winter. A shout-out to my New England readers – stay sane during all the snow! (As for me, I don’t miss shoveling. Not one little bit. Three cheers for a snow-less Ireland!) Whether you’re battling Mother Nature or making google-ly eyes at some cutie, try checking out the book news too:

  • Forget the Oscars and the Golden Globes (but not really): the real winners are the finalists of the 2014 National Book Critics Circle Awards. Winners will be announced next month. For the first time ever, one book was nominated in two categories: Claudia Rankine’s Citizen: An American Lyric is a contender for both the Poetry Award and the Criticism Awards. ($10 to the first person who’s actually read it.) Meanwhile, Toni Morrison will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award at the ceremony.
  • Despite all the snow….everywhere basically, the American Library Association still managed to announce the winners of its 2015 Youth Media Awards, better known as the Newbery Medal, the Caldecott Medal and the Printz Award (among many, many others). The ALA Awards represent the biggest honors for children’s and young adult literature. Kwame Alexander won the Newbery Medal for The Crossover, a novel in verse, Jacqueline Woodson’s Brown Girl Dreaming was named a Newbery Honor book, and Jandy Nelson’s I’ll Give You the Sun took home the Printz. A full list of all the winners is available from the ALA.
  • Probably the biggest bookish news this week was met with mixed reactions. Harper Collins announced this week that a second novel from Harper Lee would be published later this year. Lee, who famously avoided the spotlight, is best known as the author of To Kill a Mockingbird (IMHO one of the best books ever written). Lee’s new book, Go Set a Watchman, was originally written first and focuses on an adult Scout coming back to her hometown. The announcement was not without controversy. Lee has apparently been in ill health for years and her sister Alice, a lawyer who fought to protect Lee’s interests, only passed away at the age of 103 three months ago. The timing of the announcement seems suspect, as does the admission from Lee’s current lawyer that she doesn’t always understand the contracts she signs. Though Lee reportedly issued a statement indicating she’s “happy as hell” about the new book, questions still linger.
  • Instead of letting them eat cake, let’s have them publish books. Digital book publisher Readership, which recently launched last month, allows writers to upload excerpts of their work to the company’s website. Readers can then vote to decide which books get published. The catch, of course, is that “yes” votes are asked to support the publication by making a donation and the book will only get published if it receives enough donations to cover the cost. I’m all for democracy and giving people the power, but I’m not entirely sure if this is the way to do it. I mean, is there any functional difference between Readership and a Kickstarter campaign?
  • And now the fun stuff:
    • A new trailer for The DUFF has been released. The movie, based on Kody Keplinger’s debut novel, releases in US theaters later this month.
    • In Jennifer Lopez’s latest movie, she’s given a “first edition” of The Illiad. While Homer spins in his grave (he’s been dead for awhile, after all), I’ll just be over here, hitting my head against the wall.
    • And once again, J.K. Rowling continues to prove her awesomeness. She surprised fans on Twitter earlier this week by answering their Harry Potter-centric questions. Even Matthew Lewis (aka Neville the badass) chimed in at the end.

As always, happy reading.

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