Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Title: The Raven Prince
Author: Elizabeth Hoyt
Published: 2006, Warner
Category: Historical Romance
Rating: 7/10

I am of about six different minds about this book. It's been getting so much hype (lots of awards too) that I think my high expectations are making me overcritical. Please note the double lips icon--yah, it's smokin'. I was surprised by the explicitness of the sex; I expect it in paranormals and a lot of contemps, but this seemed unusually risque for a mainstream historical. It's the trend in all subgenres of romance, I guess.

Young widow Anna Wren is strapped for cash, so she takes a job as secretary to Edward de Raaf, the Earl of Swartingham. The earl has trouble keeping secretaries because he has a right nasty temper, but Anna holds out better than he expects. He begins to feel attracted to her but resists because she's a respectable lady and he's engaged. But the lust becomes too much and he decides a little trip to London to scratch his itch is in order. Anna has been feeling the attraction herself and is mad that Edward is going to go off and sate his passion for her on another woman. So she decides to go to the bawdy house in disguise and meet him herself.

This book sat in my TBR for months, despite all the glowing reviews, because this situation just seemed ... tawdry to me. You may all think I am a naive little prude, but the idea of Anna disguising herself and to all intents and purposes becoming a prostitute (even if only for one man) did not spell romance to me. I thought it was going to bother me, and it did. What Anna should have done was tackle Edward before he left and seduced him straight out. She gets all righteous about the fact that men are allowed to have sex outside of marriage and no one cares, so why shouldn't she; but then she goes and does this underhanded, manipulative thing to Edward. It just pissed me off. I was partially mollified by the fact that both the characters are ashamed of the episode, and much of the later action did make me forgive Anna.

There is a lot I loved about the book. The writing is fresh and sparkly; the action scenes were really funny. The characters are not your typical romance stereotypes--she's plain and he's pox-scarred. Both the characters (not just the hero) take positive action toward the HEA, always a good thing. I also loved the raven story that was told in epigraphs at the chapter openers. I often skip over that sort of thing, but the fairy tale was really beautifully told. I didn't see exactly how it was connected to the story, but whatever.

So I enjoyed it, but it wasn't one of those books that I finish and clutch to my chest in happiness. I've been trying to figure out why and the only thing I can come up with is that I just didn't feel terribly invested in the characters.

But I will probably buy the sequel, The Leopard Prince. Maybe its h/h will get me like this set didn't. :)


nath said...

I wonder, did I miss something? I know this book has been getting glowing review as you said, Jennie; however, it did nothing for me. Sure I read the book, but I was neither wowed or had the need to re-read it again, right after the first read... One positive thing is that I gave my copy away to Kris :P

Jennie said...

Nath, I'm glad I'm not the only one. :) I did enjoy it, just not as much as everyone else seems to have. Ah well, maybe we are odd. ;)

Zeek said...

Just bought this from amazon ... felt like I wanted to try some historicals again and this one (and it's sequal) seems to popping up everywhere ... we shall see.

ag said...

I've got this one on my wishlist for a while but never got round to purchasing it. I'm also rather leery of all the hype, so am still in two minds about it. We'll see ....

Kristie (J) said...

Well- um - ah - I'm one of the ones who did clutch this one to my breast and hugged it and sqeezed it after I read it.
I have a feeling you'll like The Leopard Prince better. Her writing is excellent though doncha think? And like you, although I don't normally read the stuff at the top of each chapter of a book - I did with this one. The next one also has a fairy tale in it, but this time it's incorporated right into the story.

Jennie said...

Zeek--She is getting lots of talk, isn't she? Are you not usually a fan of historicals? I am a historical-aholic. ;)

AG--It's seems to be a very popular book, so I dunno. Maybe check out some other people's reviews--I think Rosario and Dear Author have favorable ones--and Kristie. :)

Kristie--I think I've decided that it was the temper-tantrum-throwing Edward that put me off. I just don't like that in a man. ;) I think I will get The Leopard Prince--gotta give her another chance.

Zeek said...

I used to read only historicals but they started to all feel so tired and I felt I was gonna give up on them ... But I never could quite ween myself off of them. Hence the making sure I had a couple in my latest buying excursions from Amazon!