Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Once Upon A Tower Is One Good Read

I don't do reviews very often, mostly because I'm not very good at them. But I don't mind making an except for one of my favorite writers, Eloisa James. Her latest release is called ONCE UPON A TOWER. Here's the blurb from her website.

A duke fell in love
Gowan Stoughton of Craigievar, Duke of Kinross, values order and self-control above all else. So when he meets a lady as serene as she is beautiful, he promptly asks for her hand in marriage.

With a lady
Edie—whose passionate temperament is the opposite of serene—had such a high fever at her own debut ball that she didn’t notice anyone, not even the notoriously elusive Duke of Kinross. When her father accepts his offer… she panics.

And when their marriage night isn’t all it could be, she pretends.

In a tower.
But Edie’s inability to hide her feelings makes pretending impossible, and when their marriage implodes, she retreats to a tower—locking Gowan out.

Now Gowan faces his greatest challenge.  Neither commands nor reason work with his spirited young bride. How can he convince her to give him the keys to the tower…

When she already has the keys to his heart?

As usual, I'm amazed by what Ms. James is able to create on the page. Her prose is always gorgeous, but taken to another level in this one. Her expertise as a Shakespearean professor is on display with a lyricism that sweeps you right into the story. Gowan and Edie are clearly defined, real characters for whom you'll cheer and cry. Theirs is a love at first sight story, placing two relative innocents and near strangers into a marriage that neither is prepared to handle. As they get to know each other, in snatches of time alone (the hero is a workaholic of sorts and almost always with one servant or another), it's lovely to watch them fall more and more in love.

But there are practicalities to marriage that these two do not navigate well. The hero has some hard lessons to learn, and he goes through hell to come out the other side. Still, I couldn't help but pull for him. The more we learn about his childhood, the more I wanted to hug him and beat his parents on his behalf. The ending is daring and a wee bit far-fetched, but this is a fairy tale after all.

Anyone looking for beautiful prose, fully-formed characters, and a love story with substance and triumph, this is the one for you. Highly, highly recommend.

What's the best book you've read lately? Are you buying into this "Historicals are dying" hoopla, or ignoring it like I am?


Janga said...

I love this book! I think it's one of EJ's best, and since I think she's tops in the field, her best is indeed extraordinary.

It wasn't much more than yesterday when "Save the contemporary" banners were waving. Now contemporaries are outselling historicals. It's a sales cycle, and the cycle will repeat itself. I hope all contemporary fans held on to their banners. I did.

I'm certainly finding no shortage of five-star historicals to read. Just to name three in addition to OUAT, I loved Any Duchess Will Do by Tessa Dare, It Happened One Midnight by Julie Anne Long, and A Woman Entangled by Cecilia Grant. Tessa's book is on shelves now, and the other two are June 25 releases. I also highly recommend the novella The Perks of Being a Beauty (June 18) by Manda Collins, a rare redeemed heroine book.

Terri Osburn said...

Why is this thing highlighted in white?! I need to fix that.

Okay, that's better. And I have no idea how I fixed it without posting this comment, but whatever.

YES! Janga, this book is so good. I think this is the first heroine where I've actually heard Eloisa come through. After knowing her all these years, I could *hear* her in Edie's POV. Does that make sense?

MsHellion said...

I cannot wait until my copy comes. I, uh, ordered my copy with Terri's book, Tessa's book, and Julie Anne Long's book (which doesn't come out until the end of June)--so the box is waiting. I can wait. It's fine. I'll just have a really good July.

I could swear I've heard her voice before in things--the first Desperate Duchesses one, about the father who embarrasses her...and I think in Josie and Annabel both.

Historicals are NOT dying, anymore than print books are dying and books themselves are dying. What a bunch of hooey. I hate fake panic attacks; it's done to make bookworms buy more books, which is what they want. Don't go fearmongering, pulishers, tell us about GREAT BOOKS--we'll buy them!

I did finish reading the Three Sisters Trilogy--and I'm not sure if I liked Ripley's or Mia's stories best. Ripley's did make me laugh more...so maybe Ripley's, but reunited lovers of Sam and Mia was SO GOOD.

Terri Osburn said...

I'm happy to be in such great company! I always hear Eloisa's writing voice, that's a given. But this felt more like her. Like the her I've been fortunate enough to spend time with. Maybe it's just me.

Marnee Bailey said...

Honestly, I don't think historicals are dying. I just think they need a little makeover. Or to tweak their style. There's a lot of the same out there right now.

I am going to try the books that Janga suggests. Especially Tessa's book and Manda's book. :)

Terri Osburn said...

I love Janga's banners comment. LOL! So true! And it's not the industry saying they're dying, it's a small group of bloggers/reviewers from what I've seen. But to be fair, I haven't followed the kerfuffle very closely.

There is much of the same, Marn, but that's always been the case. Way back, I read the Malorys (Lindsey), the Bedwyns (Balogh), and the Mallorens (Beverly) about the same time. There was the Cynsters (Lauren) as well, though I didn't read those.

I honestly thing the similarity that needs to change is what is outside the book. It's the darn covers. Stop putting up heroines losing their dresses! (That isn't even historically accurate. LOL!)

P. Kirby said...

Wasn't there a huge hue and cry a while back about how "Contemporaries are dying; save the contemporaries"? You'd think, judging from the whinging, that publishing was going to have to drag Jerry Lewis out of his crypt to do a telethon to save the poor, widdle, sub-genre.

I'm not a big fan of historicals, but I think rumors of their demise are greatly overblown.

My favorite books this year (that I've read, not by release date) have been Jellicoe Road (YA) by Melina Marchetta, Days of Blood and Starlight (YA) by Laini Taylor, and Scrap Metal (Romance, M/M) by Harper Fox.

Terri Osburn said...

There sure was, Pat. I was happy to see that hoopla because it somehow worked and I'm riding the wave of it.

But no genre is dying. Well, Chick Lit did kind of die. But it'll be back, I'm sure. The big thing in Contemporary is small town right now, but that will eventually shift too. I figure I'll just keep doing what I'm doing and hope for the best.

Your short list right there is further proof that YA is the genre with serious quality these days. The variety alone is enough to draw a reader. Kiddo loves Sarah Dessen, Alyson Noel, and Cassandra Clare. All very different styles and voices.

Maureen said...

If historicals are dying, it's one of those long, drawn out, exquisite deaths that mean nothing. Sorta like Dr. Who.

What am I reading? Well, Twyla Tharp's The Creative Habit. She's a good writer.

Oh, fiction? I think the new Longmire is out, I need to go pick that up!

P. Kirby said...

Heh. Longmire. Recently, I put my name in for film extra work and noticed that one of the ongoing projects was something called...Longmire. I was like, "Where have I heard that? Oh, yeah, Maureen reads those books."


Terri Osburn said...

Are you going to be an extra on the show?! I don't read the books, but I love the show.

Maureen said...

Oooo! Do it, Pat! Yeah, love the books, enjoy the series!

P. Kirby said...

I sent in a headshot and contact info for Longmire last week. Also got my name in with a couple of other casting companies which got me three calls for two separate movies recently. Unfortunately, I had scheduling conflicts.

The recent casting call for Longmire cited August filming times, but I know they've been doing some work in the Pecos and Jemez areas. (Which are currently ravaged by huge wildfires; must be interesting.)

Doing the extra thing is a bucket list item.

JulieJustJulie said...

A well written book is a well-written book , Doesn't matter to me what genre it stems from. I just want Good writing, well-rounded fleshed out characters, and a plot line that is both entertaining and unexpected. Not asking for much right? LOL
And no, I don't think that Historicals are dead.

Bridget C said...

I don't think Chick Lit died, Terri! Maybe it's not in really good health, but a lot of comic contemporary books out there have a first person POV and talk in that modern voice which I associate with Chick Lit. Ok, a lot of free books for the Kindle, too, which might not be a good sign, but a lot of good ones.

As for Once Upon a Tower, I loved it too. It's unusual for a romance to concentrate on the period after mariage. The hero and heroine are young and have a lot to learn. There were a few comic moments which actually made me laugh out loud.

Terri Osburn said...

Good point, Bridget. But you won't find those stories called chick lit anymore. It'll come back around, I'm sure. No worries.