Friday, May 4, 2012

The Leopard Prince by Elizabeth Hoyt

After finishing The Raven Prince the other day I decided to continue my reread with the second book on the series, The Leopard Prince.  I remember really enjoying the story of Harry and George's romance. Again, Ms. Hoyt crafted a book that not only stands up to a second reading, but enchanted me all over again.

Title: The Leopard Prince
Author: Elizabeth Hoyt
Genre: Historical Romance
Format: mass market paperback
Series: The Prince Series

Wealthy Lady Georgina Maitland doesn't want a husband, though she could use a good steward to run her estates. One look at Harry Pye, and Georgina knows she's not just dealing with a servant, but a man.
Harry has known many aristocrats—including one particular nobleman who is his sworn enemy. But Harry has never met a beautiful lady so independent, uninhibited, and eager to be in his arms.
Still, it's impossible to conduct a discreet liaison when poisoned sheep, murdered villagers, and an enraged magistrate have the county in an uproar. The locals blame Harry for everything. Soon it's all Georgina can do to keep her head above water and Harry's out of the noose...without missing another night of love. 

From page one the attraction and tension between Harry and Georgina is intense.  Intense is a great word to describe this book.  The romance is intense.  The sexual tension is intense.  The intrigues and evil doings by the less than sane characters is very intense.

George grew up sheltered. There is much of the world of which she is not aware.  Simple things like how to lay a fire or how to slice bread.  Larger issues of country living such as the impact the death of livestock would have on the farmers and their families. She is not unintelligent, simply uninformed. She talks to Harry, learns from him.  She also teases and deliberately pokes at his outward calm. 

What sets George apart from the average HR heroine is the circumstances of her life.  She is a 28 year old woman who has never been married. She quite nearly fears marriage due to the nature of the relationship between her parents. Not abusive, but in no way loving. Their cold marriage gave Georgina no reason to seek out such an arrangement for herself. Financially, she has no need to.  A beloved aunt passed away leaving George a rather fantastic manor and grounds. She is a female land owner with no need for a husband to provide for her future.

Harry Pye is a rough man. Strong, solitary, salt of the earth.  He has no aspirations for a higher status in society. He wants to be left alone to care for the lands of which he is the steward. He is powerfully attracted to Georgina, but knows that their differing backgrounds and standing in society would impede any sort of relationship. He feels that all he could be is a stud to service his noble lady. Harry's belief, however, is no match for the strength of the attraction between them.

Together the two begin to investigate the suspicious deaths of the local sheep.  Neighbors begin to accuse Harry and danger begins to haunts the two lovers. Not only is their growing relationship battling class divisions, but the threat of danger hovering over Harry.

I loved this book. Despite Georgina's clueless moments, a few that teetered perilously close to being TSTL, I enjoyed her as a character.  I think it was her willingness to admit when she was uninformed. The sexual tension between the characters was explosive. Relationships between the primary and secondary characters were well written.  The suspense plot was dramatic, but not overly done.  It helped to move the story forward and provided plausible reasons for the lady of the manor to spend extensive time with her land steward.

I am so glad that I own a paper copy of this book.  It means I can pick it up again and again in the future. This just may become my go-to reread when I am jonesing for a great historical romance.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

WWR Wednesday: Little Alys!

I am so happy to welcome my friend Little Alys to WWR today to share about her preferences as a reader. I so love hearing what you all think and look for in a book. Big hugs and a happy hello to Alys! (please pardon the wacky formatting. I tried to fix it and ended up breaking the coding.)

What does this woman read? 
This woman is a die-hard romance fan. I love it in everything and it is usually a must have, but as long as it's printed and interesting, I will read. :D Granted, it has somehow became a fact that I MUST read or my brain will wither away faster than a frail flower in the desert heat. Really. My brain starts shutting down and the life seeps out of me like some jelly donut, so very often (to stay alive) I read whatever I can. Which means, I often go to several news outlet sights, scroll through as many blogs as I can, as well as visit a few science specific sites daily. Then again, even in those places I tend to pick topics I'm interested in, unless I’ve run out of stuff to read…then I venture forth ^_^.

At my highest point when my life ran like a clock with new batteries, I read at least a book a day (new or re-reading). On a pinch, I've been known to read textbooks and at my weakest point, the dictionary. Sadly, my spelling is still horrific as ever. Go figure. Lol.

Sadly life has a way of growing it's own way.

Lately, I use the internet as my reading source most of the time, but still manage to read a few books a month...mostly romance. Heh. Throw any books/stories at me and if I find it interesting, I will pick it up. Fairytales, folklores and mythology/legends, history, bios, sci-fi, fantasy, children’s books (of all ages), YA, mystery...anything. I do have exceptions, but that depends on the content. I'm so picky for such a story-addict.

What turns you on as a reader? 
Ah, a lot of stuff, but needs to be in combination. Lol. I'm so picky. >_< Basically, for a story to really work for me, several different aspects need to factor in. 1) Characters (I have a strong love of underdogs, wallflowers, betas), 2) the story itself, 3) humor! (it's a few rare and awesome books where I find myself laughing out loud while flipping through the pages and scaring people around me) and 4) being able to gleam something from the take something away when I have that last happy yet wistful longing sigh when I close the book. Lol.

1) A character does not need superpowers (although cool) for me to want to read the book. It has to be the personalities, the hidden depths, or their course of actions. Sounds simple enough, yet so very hard to write well. I like reading the unsung hero, or those average simple people that truly rise to the occasion with nothing more than their wits, intellect or even pure luck. Lol.

2) The story itself needs to be believible in its own world. Does not matter to me the genre or the age audience, a good book is a good book.

3) I think humor is the hardest part for any writer, since we all find different things to be funny. So in this case, I just hope for no angst (please see below). Still, to be able to laugh while reading a good book = awesome. I'd like the characters to be able to laugh throughout the book and I would like to be able to laugh with them. If that makes any sort of sense. And to bring it all together...

4) I prefer to have stories where I can learn something new, or see things in a different perspective. Whether it is political, historical, fantasy/sci-fi, or modern day… I want to learn something from these stories. It might be some historical fact, or personal growth, or as obscure as the name of a place that no longer exists, I love to learn from these stories. Every often, when I read a book and I come across something I do not know, I like to go look it up and expand upon it. To see characters, (the wallflowers, the nerd, the average character) be able to explore, laugh at the face of adversity and still pull through...well, there must be definitely something I can take away. Even if it ends up just me laughing in happiness at a wonderful story. 

Ok, onto the angst part I mentioned earlier... I do not like too much angst, repetition, and violence. Yes, I know these three factors are more a part of everyday life, but I do not like reading about them. I especially hate violence against women, children, or animals. This was the reason I stopped reading most mystery and crime novels (which I used to devour). Plus, the romance was always very lacking in there. Lol.

Whatever the story, I want a HEA, or even happily right now. I like knowing that the protagonist can grow and laugh at hardship and find her (and/or his) HEA. Heck, even though some of my most favorite books have bittersweet ending, the stories still contained various forms of love/romance that has managed to stay true and poignant I hold it close to my heart. So I’ve come to realize that whether there is any romance in the story was a good indicator of the story. :D

So, conclusion…romance story is the common thread. They tend to be the only books where I find strong characters willing to learn and adapt as well as rise to any challenge thrown at them. So off to read more romance! :D

*Little Alys, thank you so much for joining me here on WWR!  It was such a pleasure to have you on board for the day  :)