Since I am applying to be a book review at All About Romance, I thought I would share the two reviews I wrote today. As I was titling this post, it hit be that both books have “dark” in their name. Odd coincidence.
Lord of Darkness
I am not a big reader of historical romance at all, let alone those that are considered “regency” era. I tend to find all the talk of lords, ladies, duchesses, viscounts, and what have you a bit dry and tedious to read. Elizabeth Hoyt, however, does historical romance extremely well.
As soon as you start reading Lord of Darkness, the characters pop off the page, especially the secondary characters. The story begins with Godric St. John standing at gunpoint, with his estranged wife holding the gun. Godric has been moonlighting as the “Ghost of St. Giles”, a masked crusader who has set out to protect the innocent, even at the risk to his own life. Margaret, who was married to Godric two years prior and hasn’t seen him since, doesn’t recognize her husband, but believes that the “Ghost” is to blame for the murder of her first love. Her plan to avenge her deceased lover, and conceive a much-wanted child with her husband, has brought her back to the city and smack into Godric.
Even if you don’t love Godric and Megs, as Margaret is called, the setting and secondary characters will keep you reading. It’s rare for me that a regency romance is actually funny, but Lord of Darkness has some very amusing points. Specifically regarding the pregnant pug dog, named Her Majesty, who only wants to eat sautéed liver.
The internal forces keeping Godric and Megs apart are understandable, as they have both suffered great loss in the way of former loves. You never feel as though the entire plot hinges on unsaid things and misunderstandings, like many romances. The relationship that develops between the hero and heroine is believable and happens at an excellent pace. You can really feel their growing affection toward each other and their struggles.
This is a steamier book, as romances go, and, personally, that was one of my favorite parts about the story. One of the crucial changes in Megs and Godric’s relationship comes from their sexual encounters. She tells him she wants to have a baby, he reluctantly coalesces, but Megs gets more than she bargains for from their couplings. It actually made the intimacy very touching, and not just naughty.
Although this book is number five in the Maiden Lane series, it does not seem to be necessary to have read the previous books. I had not read them and was perfectly comfortable following the plot. The only place there might be some confusion is from many of the background characters that make appearances in the book. A lot of names and relationships are thrown around, presumably characters from the four prior novels, and though that gets confusing, it does not hamper the enjoyment of the book at all. Conversely, fans of the series will most like find Lord of Darkness to be an excellent addition to Hoyt’s Maiden Lane collection.
What Happens After Dark
Erotic romance with sadomasochism seem to be all the rage now, but Jasmine Haynes has been writing them since long before any others got to be popular. In What Happens After Dark, Haynes follows up with another book in the DeKnight series that is both erotic and conflicting. Haynes is not afraid to lay it all out there both sexually and with real-life issues. In the first DeKnight book, we saw a couple dealing with the death of their son. In this addition, we meet a couple struggling to build a relationship in spite of repressed sorrow.
Bree Mason is a troubled woman who seeks out dominating men in order to cope with her past trauma. When one of her Doms gets out of control, she is rescued by Luke Raven. While Luke is sexually adventurous, he has a hard time keeping up with Bree’s more, for lack of a better word, violent appetites. What he really wants is to get to know Bree better, to have a real relationship without the trappings of their dominate and submissive relationship, as it currently stands. However, she is reluctant to enter into anything beyond the purely sexual realm where she feels most comfortable.
Besides the frequent, and gratuitous, sex scenes, we see Bree struggling with her ailing father and her mother, who has spent her life serving him. From the stifling environment at her parent’s home, and Bree’s reluctance to return there, we begin to see that something has gone terribly wrong in her childhood and to understand why Bree has acted out.
Although I understood how Bree’s past had driven her to a life of vulgar name calling, rough treatment, and sex clubs for gratification, that didn’t make it any easier to read. I couldn’t get on board with Luke practically beating her because she kept driving him to it through anger or jealousy.
The writing itself is well done, and I am a fan of Haynes work, however the darker themes of this book really stick with you after you set it down. The memories of her father seem at odds with all the sexual content. I have no issue with erotica, but reading steamy scenes back to back with the heroine’s childhood abuse was disturbing.
Overall, the book left a bad taste in my mouth. It seemed to me that Bree, and her mother, were in desperate need of some therapy, not just a good boyfriend. Luke seems to be a great guy but he does give in to her more kinky desires, and then scolds himself after. While I applaud Haynes for bravely tackling such serious subjects in her erotica, it just made for an awkward book that I wouldn’t recommend unless you can stomach the idea of a woman working out sexual abuse through her boyfriend.