Tuesday, February 2, 2010
Review: Sold and Seduced (by Michelle Styles)
by Michelle Styles (website and blog)
Historical Fiction (US release: Harlequin, February 2010)
Synopsis: In just seven days, she will beg for his kiss!
Lydia Veratia made one mistake – and now her freedom is forfeit to the man who all Rome knows as the Sea Wolf. Sold into marriage, the one thing over which she still has control is her own desire. So when FabiusAro offers her a wager – if she doesn’t plead for his kisses in the next seven days, then she will have her independence – Lydia thinks it will be easily won.
But Aro is a dangerously attractive man. And Lydia is finding his lips more and more tempting…
You can read an excerpt here.
(Synopsis and excerpt link taken from author's blog.)
On a scale of Vanilla to Dark Chocolate, this would probably be of the Milk Chocolate variety. Very sensual with a couple of hot love scenes. But nothing too racy. If you're looking for lots of heat without a lot of explicit language, stop right here... you've found it.
Eye-Roll Factor: 9/10
I only rolled my eyes one time in this book. Not a lot of romance cliches (whether you like them or not... I happen to roll my eyes at them, thus the category). The hero and heroine seem like real people to me, and not like characters created to elicit an emotional reaction. Quite enjoyable, really.
The Cosmo Factor: 21/25
The heroine: Had an abundance of qualities that would have been considered (in ancient times--which, btw, is the historical context) masculine. Things like a good business head, a lack of histrionics, a desire to be useful, a protective heart. This made me like her a lot. So, the age-old question... would I raise a Cosmo with her (or, in her case, a glass of Falerian wine)? Yeah, I think I would. She could sit at my table any day. I might get a little bored with her constant refusal to really listen to other people and take into consideration the actions of others before she acts... but that's part of what makes her a compelling read. She does things her own way. I like that.
The Dining Room to Bedroom Factor: 23/25
The hero: While the lower heat level makes the bedroom factor less in-your-face, I was the most impressed with Aro's devotion to his heroine. His dining room behavior (as a companion) definitely seems to trump his bedroom behavior (as a lover), but not because he's a bad lover... the opposite! The man just seems like a pleasure to be around. He is genuinely affected by his heroine, and driven not just to protect her and make love to her, but to be in her presence and to speak with her and listen to her. I would call him (as I read once) a Gamma Hero. All the best things about the Alpha hero, and the best things about the Beta hero. Definitely not a weak-willed guy, but also not above stopping and listening to the love of his life. I like that. A lot.
The Braveheart Factor: 12/10
As far as historical accuracy, I have to say... wow! I have always been attracted to stories that take place in the classical period. And they are hard to find. The history was SO good. And so well-researched. And the dialogue was so accurate (read: not distracting). Ah. It was just a pleasure to read. She ended the book with a list of resources she used, just in case I wanted to read the books she read. (11/10 for that). PLUS... she managed to make a very specific, very detailed explanation of an accurate Roman marriage ceremony into a riveting (trust me, not boring, this one) and forward-moving story for two chapters. (12/10) for that. I've never given anyone more than 10/10 in this category. But I was just so impressed with this... I couldn't help myself. If you don't stop me now, I might go even higher...
The Nostalgia Re-Read Factor: 10/10
Oh, I'm definitely gonna read this again. No question about it. So glad I got this for Kindle, because this is the kind of book that I will be able to pull out when I've read everything else on my Kindle and want something to re-read for old time's sake. If I'd bought the hard-back, it would go on my bookshelf.
The Skim Factor: 10/10
I skimmed a little bit, I'll admit. But I'm not going to rate the book lower, because the reason I skimmed was *good writing*! I got so caught up in the fight at the end (no spoilers, don't worry...), I had to skim just to find out what happened. And I have to say, I was surprised by the end of the book (the twist). That hasn't happened in a long time. Definitely worth reading.
The Little People Factor: 8/10
I wasn't particularly attached to any of the minor characters. But Styles did a great job of fleshing out the villain and really making me hate him. (And be afraid for the hero and heroine because of him.) I think that's important in a historical romance. I have to believe that he would really kill them. And I believed it this time! Excellent villain work, I thought. But, at the same time, I didn't care about any of the other minor characters. And that's always a flag for me, I guess.
Overall Evaluation: 93/100
This book started off very slow. In fact, I think if I'd have just picked it up off the shelves, I probably would have put it down. And *shame on me*!! Because it was a good book, well-worth-reading. It just proves to me how much I've come to rely on the first couple of pages to be a good judge of a book. Well, in this case, stick through the first few pages, and you will be in for a treat that just keeps getting better and better the more you read. I would recommend this generally to anyone interested in historical romance, and specifically (and enthusiastically) recommend it to anyone who loves classical history in their historical romance. And I may even recommend it to my friends who like historical fiction (not romance) just for the historicity. Excellent work, here.