Book: Moonlight Masquerade

"Moonlight Masquerade"

After being abruptly jilted, Sophie Kincaid flees to the place her friend Kim Aldredge calls heaven on earth. But Sophie’s first taste of Edilean is far from heavenly: after her car breaks down on a country road, she is nearly run over by a speeding sports car. A small act of revenge brings satisfaction, and word quickly spreads that a gorgeous newcomer gave the driver, the notoriously bitter Dr. Reede Aldredge, a dressing down! But it isn’t the first time the fiery artist has gone too far for payback; a secret possession she carries with her could shatter her ex-boyfriend’s future. Reede Aldredge has secrets, too, including a desire to get closer to the beauty who is turning his dark world upside down. Under the night skies, their masquerade is magic–but will it turn to dust by the light of day?

Magic definitely turned to dust with this latest romance novel by Jude Deveraux.

Now, I think it’s no secret that I’ve been following Jude Deveraux’s romance novels. Heck, she’s the only romance author I’ve been reading so far for this blog. Save for Kristin Hannah that one time. So it saddens me to say that I am extremely disappointed with Moonlight Masquerade.

Oh, it starts out good enough. Jude Deveraux is still a great writer for easy-reading. But it’s the plotting and the pacing that’s gotten sloppy.

Romance novels usually end one way: with a happy ending. Sometimes, they’re open-ended enough that a second or third book might be in order. With this trilogy, Jude Deveraux gives enough of an ending for the first two books that you don’t long for more. Unfortunately, she has overdone it a little for this last book.

In Moonlight Masquerade, we get one fully-formed heroine in Sophie. Reede is a little too cut-out for my taste, but he has more character in him than Travis from Stranger in the Moonlight, definitely. Unfortunately, those are the only two good things I can say about this book.

Let’s list down the bad:

Number one: we have meddlesome characters who push the story forward because the story doesn’t want to move on its own. That, I feel, is lazy writing. Especially for someone like Jude Deveraux who I don’t remember having to resort to such tricks before.

Number two: the love story doesn’t sweep you off your feet. Jecca and Tristan, from the first book, had the love that defied what was expected. Kim and Travis, from the second book, had the love that was deep-rooted. In Moonlight Masquerade, Sophie and Reede had a love that made them miserable. How are you supposed to feel romantic after that?

Number three–which, I think now, should have come after number one–we have way too many characters to care about. There’s Carter, the ex-boyfriend, there’s the robbers, and then a guy named Henry who appears out of nowhere. I mean, come on. Are they really that important to the story? Well, Carter, maybe. But the others?

Number four: too many subplots. Isn’t this a romance novel about the love story of Sophie and Reede? Then why do they disappear at times? Why do we have to find out what’s happening to them through the eyes of other people who are better off in the background? And what the heck was up with Sophie starting a sandwich shop?! Really? What did that add to the story? Aside from the excuse it gives Sophie to stay in Edilean for a few weeks more? It reeks of deus ex machina.

And number five: a forced happy ending. There’s nothing less romantic than compromise. It’s a reality of life, yes, but isn’t that what we’re supposed to escape when we dive into books like this? We don’t want reality! We want true love! We want passion! We want to see two characters so in love that they would do anything in their power to be with each other! Compromise can work–but did we really need to see how miserable they were with their compromise?

And the novel had the gall to cite The Gift of the Magis! That short story worked because the sacrifice the two characters made didn’t make them miserable. It made them better people, and made them appreciate each other more. If that was the intent for Sophie and Reede, it did not translate.

I could probably go on and on about what I didn’t like about this book. But I’ll stop there. Instead, let’s see if other people felt the same way as I did–or if they saw something in it that I didn’t:
Oh Damn Books
Wakena Runen’s World
Fresh Fiction

Book: The Scent of Jasmine

"The Scent of Jasmine" by Jude DeverauxWould you risk your life–on the love of a lifetime?

Charleston, 1799: A daughter of Southern gentility and a gifted painter, Catherine Edilean Harcourt has no lack of suitors at home in Virginia, waiting to fulfill her dream of marriage and family. But Cay’s adventurous spirit, fostered by growing up with her three brothers, is piqued while visiting her godfather in South Carolina. Bedridden with a broken leg, he asks Cay to fill in for him on an urgent task: on her way to a fancy dress ball, she must deliver a packed horse to an old friend’s son–who also happens to be an escaped convict charged with murdering his wife! Cay agrees to the plan, which doesn’t go at all as planned . . . whereupon she finds herself fleeing Alexander McDowell’s captors, riding blind into the night with the fugitive Scotsman. Though she should fear him, Cay finds herself overwhelmingly attracted to Alex, and drawn into his tale of misguided justice and his innocence as they seek refuge in the steamy Florida everglades. Will trusting him be the worst mistake of her life? Or will falling in love be the salvation both of them have been looking for?

The last time I read a Jude Deveraux novel, I was looking to cleanse my book-reading palate. My other reason, I was trying to study romance. This time, there’s no palate to cleanse as I haven’t been reading a lot–but I am still trying to study romance. And I picked Jude Deveraux once more because I find it easy to read her book. It took me around six hours to finish this one.

The Scent of Jasmine is the fourth book off her Edilean series, and it is this book that makes Miss Deveraux’s formula for a successful series most apparent.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that almost all of Miss Deveraux’s books have something to do with a feisty heroine, a wronged hero, and a comic relief here and there. Usually, the setting has a lot of people you would grow to love as well, people you would want to read about next. But that’s where The Scent of Jasmine changed courses.

The book centers on the two main leads. And while you do get introduced to other characters, they play very minimal roles. This time, Miss Deveraux doesn’t support her leads with quirky and lovable characters you’ll grow to love as well. The author just gave the basics for a love story to work: a man and a woman. Sure the feisty heroine and the wronged hero archetypes are in full force, but Miss Deveraux still manages to weave her magic and make this story seem something you’ve only now encountered.

So no, when I wrote that this book made the author’s formula very apparent, it wasn’t because The Scent of Jasmine was very formulaic–though, aren’t all romance novels that? What I meant was that the book takes off in a refreshing way that makes you see how standard her previous books were. The book still has the author’s voice, but she’s also breaking her mold at the same time.

And because of this, I want to read whatever Miss Deveraux writes next–even if it’s just to see how she tops this one.