I read widely from many genres. Perhaps this blog will feature fewer ratings and reviews, but I certainly intend to write about my reading life - it's the subject I most find myself wanting to talk about.
Yes, I'm reviewing a romance that's more than a dozen years old. Why? Because I just read it for the first time, it moved me and inspired me to write, and it deserves it.
Stephanie Laurens' "The Lady Chosen" is a fairly unusual animal: A mass-market romance about two grown-ups. Quite often, the hero in a historical romance is characterized as an "alpha," which usually translates as a petulant, childish, horny bully. The woman, often barely of age, is characterized as "brazen" or "bold," because she childishly breaks societal rules by running headlong into shocking situations.
Tristan and Leonora in this novel are an alpha and a brazen woman, but not in the way I described above. They make their choices in an adult manner and carry out their actions in a measured, discreet way. They also analyze and express their emotions in an adult way. His surety and loving, confident sense of responsibility, and her gradual overcoming of prejudice and doubt seem quite authentic and not particularly contrived or forced. It's refreshing.
Every romance novel has a "macguffin," a problem that constitutes the "plot," which in every romance novel constitutes throwing the male and female heroes together and tearing them apart until they make it to happily ever after. In "The Lady Chosen," the macguffin is almost believable and not so preposterous as to be distracting.
So good for you, Stephanie Laurens. I don't quite think this will go down as one of my favorites of all time, but I appreciate how adult it was, how un-silly and touching. This is the first of a series of eight (and many times better than its prequel; see paragraph 2 of this review for a character profile of the male and female heroes in "Captain Jack's Woman"). I don't know if Laurens can sustain the level of maturity for eight books, but reading them all will certainly be worth it as payback for the quality of this one.