Friday, January 22, 2010

Upcoming Book Alert

Ravishing in Red by Madeline Hunter

I don’t get a lot of ARC’s – and I’m fine with that. By buying the vast majority of my books I feel like I’m helping out authors. But I do get a few and maybe because I get so few that the ones I do get are standouts. This one was one of the rare ARC’s and once again, I was most impressed.

As a long time reader, I’ve been reading Madeline Hunter since her first medieval, By Possession, came out. I loved those medievals of hers. And then she switched to writing historicals in a much later time setting and I’ll be honest and say it got my medieval reader nose out of joint because of it. There are fewer medieval written so what became a standout author in one genre, became just one of so many others in another genre. At the same time I did understand why she switched time periods. Her original books just didn’t sell as well and while in theory we readers would rather authors stay in the genre we want them to, in reality they are out to make a living and I don’t blame them for writing in a genre that sells more books therefore making them more money.

But even though my nose was out of joint, I’ve still continued to buy her books, but many of them are languishing in the TBR pile. But in the interest of full disclosure, I was sent and ARC of Ravishing in Red. It took me a while to get to reading it and when I did start reading, I realized what I was missing with my own personal sulk. I was cutting off my own nose to spite my face. She writes darn good stories. I knew that with her medievals and she wrote one of my all time heroes in The Romantic.

Lord Sebastian Summerhays is a second son. He assumes many of the duties of his older brother Morgan after Morgan was confined to a wheelchair during the final days of the war with the French. While a former rake, Sebastian in now slightly reformed and is working towards finding out who was responsible for a shipment of bad gunpowder sent to the front, resulting in the death of many a British soldier. Most of the blame has rested on the shoulders of one Horatio Kelmsley and the resulting scandal caused him to commit suicide. But his daughter Audianna is convinced of his innocence and travels to a country inn to meet up with someone claiming to have information. Sebastian is also at the inn for the same reason and after a brief flurry of mistaken identity, they realize who the other person really is. Audrianna is the daughter of the man Sebastian blames and Sebastian is the man who Audrianna hold largely responsible for the death of her father.

Of course things happen and it gets out that the two of them spent time alone together and in order to save her reputation and his own, Sebastian offers up marriage. Although quite and unhappily attracted to him, due to the circumstances, Audrianna refuses his suit.

And the rest of the story follows after that.

What impresses me about this story is the intelligence and grown up way both Sebastian and Audrianna act. There are no histrionics from Audrianna. She intelligently ways her options and makes good and reasonable choices based on those options. She is an easy heroine to admire and route for.

Sebastian is also a fine hero. While he had a history of excess with women, he put that aside when he took on the role of responsibility. He has a good relationship with his brother Morgan, though somewhat complicated and he stands up quite fine to his overbearing mother. Time and time again, a different author could have taken a path that would have been annoying for the reader, but Ms. Hunter doesn’t. Her characters are intelligent and she keeps them that way. When Sebastian sees Audrianna in deep conversation with another man, he feels jealousy and later, when he asks who he was; Audrianna is honest with him and tells him the man in question was her former fiancé who called off the wedding due to her father’s shame. When asked if she still loves this former flame, Audrianna is honest and forthright and says no, if she had she wouldn’t have married Sebastian. It’s more than refreshing to see the lead characters talk things out, being honest with each other in the process.

As you just read, Audrianna does give in and marry Sebastian and then the author does something else well. She allows them time to learn to love each other as they get to know each other in this unexpected marriage. While the attraction between them is very strong, the love takes a bit longer to develop. And this is the way it should be methinks.

This is the first book in a new series and already I’m anticipating the next one – and the one after that. I’ll also be tracking down the previous ones in the TBR pile and reading them – my snit being over and done with.

Grade: 4.75 out of 5


MrsMixx said...

ohhhh i've never read any book from Madeline Hunter (must change that must change that) I loved this review. Do you know when this book is coming out? (did i miss it? lol) This is going on my TBR-list right now.
And on a totally silly note, i love the name Sebastian for a hero! (while i really don't like it in real life in French ughhhh)

Jill D. said...

Oh yeah, I love Hunter! I too started out with her medievals, but I just went with the flow and read her regency books as well. I tell you her Rothwell series is really good. Well, I just love her writing so I might be slightly biased. I just bought this book and it should be coming any day now in the mail. I can't wait!

orannia said...

A heorine in which intelligence is not an oxymoron? Ohhhh! Sorry, that sounded snippy and it wasn't meant that way.

Question: do Audrianna and Sebastian marry? Because I thought I read early in the review (after they meet at the inn) that Audrianna refuses his suit.

Phyl said...

I've been looking forward to this. I've already purchased it on Fictionwise and can't wait to download it at midnight Monday night. Meanwhile, I totally agree with you about the hero of The Romantic. One of the best ever.

Anonymous said...

Sigh, I hear you on the Medievals. Many of her other books are terrific, but there are so few really good medieval writers and she was tops. But am buying this one as soon as my bookstore will order it for me. -- willaful

Kristie (J) said...

Pattepoilue: The official release date for this one is Jan. 26 so *g* nope - you didn't miss anything. To me, she is one of the upper echelon of romance writers. While not every book of her has worked for me - the ones that have worked Very Well. What I enjoy about her books is the intelligence of the characters. They act and react how we readers hope that they will with nary a TSTL moment.

Jill: I have about 3 or 4 of her books in the TBR pile and now, after reading this one, I'm going to have to fix that!!

Orannia: *laughing* I know what you mean. Historicals seem to have their share of almost annoying innocent young misses don't they? And yes - they do marry but reluctantly for Audrianna. She does refuse him for a while but eventually agrees for the sake of her mother and younger sister as the scandal also affects them.

Phyl: Wasn't Julian heartbreaking??? He was my favourite hero in the AAR poll in '04. I'm looking forward to seeing if other readers enjoy this one as much as I did.

Willaful: Yup - medievals *sigh* I prefer them more than historicals so it is tough to lose a great author in the genre even though she does write good historicals too. But alas, I don't think they sell as well. It's the same thing for me with Westerns. There have been a number of excellent Western authors who've moved away from that genre too :-(

MrsMixx said...

ahhh great, thank you Kristie! I love books with complex and intelligent characters...this one sounds really amazing. =)

sula said...

Thanks for the heads up, kristie! I adore her medievals and am still sulky that she abandoned that time period. sigh. But she's still a darn good writer and I've enjoyed most of the regency-era books of hers that I've read.

Marg said...

I actually have only read Madeline Hunter's books which are set later - haven't read any of her medievals at all. I am looking forward to reading this one immmensely!

Kristie (J) said...

Pattepoilue: She's not unlike Jo Goodman, though her writing isn't quite a dense. But they both write intelligent characters and there's no worries about TSTL-ness in her heroines.

Sula: :) - glad I'm not the only one who is a bit sulky. And I enjoyed many of her historicals too - but gosh darn it - a medieval once in a while would be a nice bone for us medieval readers.

Marg: If you ever read medievals, she is at the top of the list for that genre.

Janet Webb said...

She was just interviewed over at Borders Book Chat -- great interview: she answers a ton of reader questions and there's a chance to get Book 2 in this series. I went into a major post-medieval pout too but this one (THANKS KristieJ) does sound good. Plus I just bought "Pieces of Sky" ... I am putty in your hands!

Karenmc said...

I so agree about Julian in The Romantic, and I'm ready for a really good book by Hunter (the last of the Rothwell books didn't quite work for me, although the first and third were tremendous). When she is on, she is ON.

I also first read and loved the medievals, but I went with the newer time period when she moved, and it brought me into a whole world of great authors.

Kristie (J) said...

Karenmc: You have to love when a new world or genre of books opens up don't you??? It's like finding yourself in a Candy shop you've never seen before. And I agree - not all her books have worked for me - but when they do - they REALLY do.

Janet: *laughing* I don't even have Pieces of Sky yet!!! It's sitting in my shopping cart waiting for a couple of books that will be published soon. See - Chapters - damn their eyes - now charges for an online order if you pre-order. And if you buy a certain dollar amount you get free shipping. So I'm just waiting for a short while - then Pieces of Sky will be mine!!
And thanks for the heads up on the interview - I'll head over and check it out.

Brie said...

I love Hunter's work! So glad to finally find a meaningful review of this book. I've banned myself from book buying until I make a dent in my TBR, but this book has been calling out to me. After reading your review, I'm convinced that it will be worth the purchase.

nath said...

This does sound good :D Great review, Kristie!