Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Tuesday Review: Lyon's Bride


[Please comment for a chance to win a new copy of Lyon’s Bride by Cathy Maxwell. Contest limited to those in the continental united states.]

Curses are in vogue this year, much like purple romance covers were last year. Last week, we interviewed Mackenzie Crowne and her GIFT OF THE REALM—a curse. There is that funny and sweet Sophia Nash book, THE ART OF DUKE HUNTING just out—a curse. And now we have Cathy Maxwell’s first book of her new series, LYON’S BRIDE—a curse. Specifically the Chattan Curse.

I myself am a fan of curses. Nothing like a nice act of revenge and bitterness to start up a good story. (I’m sure it’s my passive-aggressive nature.)

As for the Chattans, you might imagine, they’re not fans. The moment any of them fall in love, they die. Of course, considering the number of arranged and conventional marriages in the ton, these guys wouldn’t die very fast, but unfortunately, this is not the case. Even if you do marry someone you don’t love, there is every chance you eventually begin liking the person—and then end up loving them. Which is basically what happened a number of times to these Chattans.

It’s not that the original Chattan didn’t deserve this—he so totally did. He played a pretty young girl false and totally did a Willoughby. You know, led one girl on and then married a little rich girl without telling anyone? Yeah, not a fan. Not unlike Marianne, the jilted girl did not recover well and in fact, committed suicide in her grief. Her mother, understandably angry that this guy managed to break her daughter’s heart and keep her from being buried on holy ground—cursed him. And it’s been killing the Chattans ever since.

The hero, Lord Lyon, wants to marry (poor sod) because he wants children. He loves children. However, he doesn’t want to fall in his wife (understandably). So he hires a successful matchmaker, Thea Martin, to find him someone he would never, ever love. Thea would like to tell him to go to the devil. She does not believe in setting him up with a woman he would treat so horribly—and purposely picking a woman he neither loved nor respected would clearly fall in this category; however, she is skint broke and without prospects. He is willing to pay three times the normal price, a price that would go a long way to making her family (she has two young sons; she is widowed) more secure.

As you might imagine, this endeavor fails spectacularly—though we get to meet some amusing characters in the meantime—and Lord Lyon and Thea end up getting married. Mainly because it’s clear Lord Lyon doesn’t feel ambivalent about Thea and never has.

The book ends with the couple reuniting and resolving to break the curse, with the help of the younger brother who is to go north to find the Scottish witch (THE Scottish witch, even though this curse is a couple hundred years old).

Again, as I said, I love a good curse story—though Thea, practical woman she is doesn’t believe in such nonsense, so it’s an entertaining transformation when she realizes the curse is real. There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in my philosophy….

What I do hope for is a quick release of the next book because the only thing I didn’t care for is the loose end about the curse. While Maxwell did make it clear that we have no guarantee how long or short we may have with the ones we love, there was no “real resolution” for me. As much as it may be true about life expectancy, I do prefer the fantasy of a long and happy life for my romance couples. And at the end of LYON’S BRIDE, it was more a happy for now rather than a happily ever after. But hey, I have every faith that Maxwell will make that happen—we all know that life is not always neat and tidy, and every plot thread cannot be tied up neatly at the end of a book—especially when that book is the start of a series.

So how do you like curses? And if not curses, what is your favorite “fun” book trope? Kidnappings? Convenient marriages? Have you ever read a series that did not tie up all the story threads but were more “happy for now” rather than “happily ever after”? Did you mind?

26 comments:

quantum said...

No need to convert me with this one. I'm already a huge Cathy Maxwell fan and have the audio version (read by Rosalyn Landor) on order.

Not unusual to have some loose threads when starting a series I think, I will buy a 'Happy for Now' with a prospect for eternity. LOL

I like curses. Susan Caroll's St Leger books are almost the opposite of Maxwell's latest, in that the Bride Finder has to choose a bride to ensure happiness. Fits well with the paranormal and ties in with some ideas in alternative medicine. If the power of intent can heal, then it can also harm! LOL

In the first Virgin River book, Jack and Mel end up blissfully happy, but with Jack's adventurous spirit I always felt that disaster could strike at any time.

I don't have a single favourite trope. I like almost anything with a stirring plot, a challenged heroine (or hero) and a HEA, though will confess to a special liking for a heroine who battles and succeeds in a man's professional world.

Amanda Quick converted me to this theme with her challenged palaeontologist in 'Ravished', and I haven't looked back! LOL

TerriOsburn said...

The first story that comes to mind is a movie (though based on a book, I believe.) Practical Magic. A family of witches cursed with something similar to this book, except the men they love die. Though not immediately. I believe a certain beetle is the sign of imminent doom.

I like the idea of curses, provided it makes sense. Fear that you'll die or cause someone else to die can be a powerful motivator. But I didn't really buy it in the movie When In Rome. That felt more like parody on the curse trope.

Janga said...

I'm not a fan of curses as a trope, but I did enjoy Lyon's Bride. We have to wait until October 30 for The Scottish Witch. I too wish it were sooner. But that's better than a 2013 release, which is the timeline for the next of Sophia Nash's Royal Entorage books.

My favorite trope is reunited lovers, but in the hands of the right writer I can love almost any trope--even those I don't usually care for.

MsHellion said...

Q, I love Susan Carroll's Bride Finder series. Wonderful, wonderful books! She's also a very wonderful presenter. When I belonged to my local chapter (RWA) in St. Louis (2 hour drive incidentally if you call that local)--and she gave a presentation about emotion/pacing/tension. Wondeful, wonderful, wonderful. She also shared a handout that was a plotting grid that I've always liked.

The woman in the man's world--and kicking butt--that is a fun and popular theme! It's really good when it's handled well. :)

MsHellion said...

Man, oh, man, I loved Practical Magic. *makes note to go home and watch it after work* I love how different the sisters are...

When in Rome wasn't meant to be...meaningful. *LOL* I always thought Practical Magic had more emotion and meaning, whereas WIR was a straight up romantic comedy, and you know how RC is treated--like the Three Stooges fair of writing.

MsHellion said...

Janga, I'm with you. Very glad I don't have to wait until next year to find out the resolution to this story. *LOL* But that is a little disheartening to find out about Nash's series. We have to wait that long??? Yeesh.

I love reunited lovers. I loved the already established emotion between the couple to add to the story...it's conflict and emotional bonds together. :)

JulieJustJulie said...

So how do I like curses?

I like them aimed in the direction of someone else!

Maureen said...

Terri beat me to the punch with Practical Magic...the movie and the book! Beauty and the Beast was such a great curse story...

P. Kirby said...

I like the friends to lovers trope. Maybe because that was an element of husband critter and I's courtship.

Curses?...huh...probably because I haven't read that many romance novels, but I can't recall a story using that plot.

Jane Myers Perrine said...

I haven't read many books with REAL curses, but have liked them--and always love anything by Cathy Maxwell. I, too, like to see everything wrapped up at the end but I'm willing to see how Cathy handles it.

TerriOsburn said...

Mo - I'd forgotten about the curse in Beauty and the Beast. In that case, there's a curse in most of those Princess stories. The Frog Prince, Sleeping Beauty, The Little Mermaid. Or is that more a spell?

Even Shrek!

Pat - I don't think it has to be a Romance. Though I'm thinking of some classics from the 90s. I think by Elizabeth Lowell. Now I have to go look them up. And hope I can find them!

TerriOsburn said...

Heya, Jane! Welcome to the ship. Cathy is pretty dependable that way. I'll get to see her this weekend. She's one cool lady.

Kind of daring to leave a Romance ending hanging like that. And I like that the title is a bit different. Harkens back to the older Historicals, but at least it doesn't blend in with the buzz word titles we see so much of these days.

MsHellion said...

JulieJulieJulie, of course a Byzantine like yourself would love a good curse. :)

MsHellion said...

Mo, I adore Beauty and the Beast. :) I sobbed in the theater when I first watched that movie. I'm surprised my brother agreed to take me to any other movies.

MsHellion said...

Pat, friend-to-lover connections make the best lasting relationships! :) I have gotten more and more fond of friend to lovers tropes over the years...since I stopped thinking rebellious young women running off with the baddest guy they can find to be the stuff of lasting love. I mean, I still love a bad boy...but I think you should be friends first. :)

MsHellion said...

Jane, a new person! *waves* Hello! Welcome aboard! I agree: Cathy Maxwell does write great books and I'm sure she'll handle it adeptly. :)

MsHellion said...

Terri, I kinda thought of the frog prince as a sort of curse...I mean, a curse IS a spell in some sense, right? And the others you mentioned...

And I agree--it is nice to get a book title without the typical buzzwords. *LOL*

Maureen said...

So right! Shriek is a great curse movie. I twisted the idea of a curse around with my UF, The Changed World. One person's curse is another person's genetic quirk...

Maureen said...

Ah, Shrek. Shriek is probably another movie. ;-)

Sabrina Shields (Scapegoat) said...

I LOVE a good curse - probably why I'm addicted to the show Once Upon A Time. Every single fairy tale is based on some sort of curse and the whole show is wrapped in an even bigger one.

Ah Cathy - one of my recently discovered new loves. I cannot wait to read this one.

As for my favorite trope - I really love the enemies to lovers and sibling's best friend but hated each other as kids ones. Love those.

JulieJustJulie said...

Is there A Good curse? Really now I'm wondering ... Unless you're talking about stuff like "OMG your just like your father". kind of you-are-cursed. Or worse ...
'OMG you Are just like your Mutherrrrr."

Maureen said...

And, of course, my character of Captain Silvestri was cursed with good luck...that was a fun one to twist!

TerriOsburn said...

That he was! I've been wracking my brain all day thinking, "I know I read a curse book in the last year. What was that?" LOL! That's it!

Maureen said...

Hee! I didn't even remember...

*shakes head

I so need a rum runner from that hotel in Columbus. They were so good there...

MsHellion said...

Sabrina, I love ONCE UPON A TIME--and I love how complicated everything is! I love watching it to see how it will unravel next!

MsHellion said...

I felt ashamed I forgot about Silvestri's curse until Mo admitted she forgot too. *LOL*