Synopsis: Do I even need one? I'm just going to steal it from goodreads because they know how to make things sound exciting.
WHEN A MASKED MAN . . .My first DNF since starting the blog. Why? Because the book was pretty long and about halfway through I didn't even really care anymore if the hero and heroine got together anymore. I don't read a lot of romances, but when I do, I expect it to focus heavily on romance. This one was focused way too much on this whole murder mystery plot that I personally didn't care about. As nice as it is to see romances start out slowly, the character development wasn't really there for the amount I've read.
Twenty years ago Maximus Batten witnessed the brutal murders of his parents. Now the autocratic Duke of Wakefield, he spends his days ruling Parliament. But by night, disguised as the Ghost of St. Giles, he prowls the grim alleys of St. Giles, ever on the hunt for the murderer. One night he finds a fiery woman who meets him toe-to-toe—and won't back down . . .
MEETS HIS MATCH . . .
Artemis Greaves toils as a lady's companion, but hiding beneath the plain brown serge of her dress is the heart of a huntress. When the Ghost of St. Giles rescues her from footpads, she recognizes a kindred spirit-and is intrigued. She's even more intrigued when she realizes who exactly the notorious Ghost is by day . . .
DESIRE IGNITES A DANGEROUS PASSION
Artemis makes a bold move: she demands that Maximus use his influence to free her imprisoned brother-or she will expose him as the Ghost. But blackmailing a powerful duke isn't without risks. Now that she has the tiger by the tail, can she withstand his ire-or the temptation of his embrace?
As to the ending, I would say it's predictable, but obviously since I didn't finish it, I wouldn't know. But given all the heavy handed clues, I think it's not that difficult to figure out what's going to happen. Here are some pros that I found, and then the cons that followed.
What I liked: A capable heroine with a tragic back story.
What I didn't like: That the heroine constantly whines about how she'll never be able to live a normal life because her family's reputation is destroyed and now no one will ever marry her because she also has no money. Yes, yes, we got it the first few times. You're doomed to a relatively comfortable life as your cousin's lady companion. Because you know, I think we'd rather all starve on the streets in rags and have our freedom than attend balls and have daily meals in return for hanging out with some bimbo all day. Oh, did I mention that it's such a travesty that she only has ONE evening gown? Let's keep drawing attention to her sparse wardrobe!
What I liked: Dark broody heroes with athletic prowess.
What I didn't like: Dark broody heroes who get really creepy on the heroine. Like please sir, I don't want to know that you want to put her foot in your mouth. I just really don't. I did not sign up for you to get all pervy on her every time she flashed an ankle (he doesn't actually get gropey-rapey pervy, but he gets all sexually frustrated and is practically inwardly moaning about it). I know that was totally scandalous back in the day, but do show some self control. Why does every guy in a romance feel the need to mention how many times and how often that he just wants to take the woman and ravish her on the spot? It gets old and makes me cringe. We don't need to an update that you still find her attractive every few pages. (The heroine too. It's like if the author doesn't mention how hot they are all the time, we'll somehow forget and lose interest. Newsflash, readers just assume the hero and heroine are hot until otherwise stated because, dun dun dun, the genre is Romance and look at the cover... come on.)
I kind of also take this for granted by now so I didn't think to mention it until I saw the other reviews, but yeah, the hero is kind of a douche sometimes. And I know it's kind of the norm for the males to be overly sexed, but personally don't need him repeating it all the time.
What I liked: Intelligence > Beauty and Money moral that they push in the story.
What I didn't like: How they make the cousin the epitome of beauty and money but without brains and then proceeded to make her a metaphorical punching bag throughout the story on why she sucks and the heroine is awesome. There were so many unnecessary scenes that highlighted the cousin's faults that I had to roll my eyes a bit. We get it. The cousin is a shallow ditz who "means well... sort of", but she was nothing more than a dramatic device to make the heroine look so much more superior in comparison. It was annoying. At one point how the heroine describes her sounded a lot like bullying--only not to her face because that would be rude you know... instead let's just talk about how awful she is passive aggressively and end all the trash talk with "she means well...I think" so we can still look like decent human beings.
There is this one scene where the cousin is singing badly off key and then failing at archery, which added nothing to the story except that she sucks and the heroine is so much better in comparison because omg she shot three arrows in row and it hit the target and her cousin... well at least she didn't kill anyone right? Sorry, but in something like a romance novel characters should just be awesome as is, not out of relativity.
What I liked: The heroine's devotion to her brother.
What I didn't like: As I said before, there was too much focus on this murder/mystery plot. Though that scene where the brother is taunting those rapists was pretty golden.
What I liked: The writing was pretty good.
What I didn't like: All the similes. Yes, a few are nice to elaborate on meaning, but after awhile, they were just useless deadweights. I get that it's supposed to make everything sound more rosy and poetic, but actually... it just made it sound overly sentimental. What I want is a story, not whatever... this is. To use a simile, it's like walking into a rose garden, only the smell of roses is so overpowering that you're nearly knocked unconscious.
All in all, I think the novel is trying a little too hard not to seem too much like a typical Mary Sue romance that it failed for me (weird I know). I didn't relate to the heroine, and I didn't care if she ended up with the hero. In a romance novel, I'd say those two are pretty much the basic requirements for a good romance.
Are my standards too high? Maybe, because other people seem to really like this one. I have nothing against the Romance genre, other than the market is so oversaturated with these half-assed ones. They just figure out the formula and then they run with it (I'm also looking at you Romance editors who are looking to make some fast cash).