Mastered by Love by Stephanie Laurens
Nooooooooooo! Why, Stephanie, why?????
OK, to say that I am massively disappointed by this book would be an understatement. I have enjoyed the Bastion Club series quite a bit, although the last one (The Edge of Desire) was not my favorite, and some of them have felt repetitive, not unlike the Cynster series. However, Dalziel, the head of the spy organization in this series, was a really cool character. Dark, mysterious, brilliant, loyal. I was super excited for this final installment of the series. Finally, Laurens has a character she can really sink her writing chops into. Develop a cool story line with intrigue and danger. Create an amazing heroine who can match Dalziel with her intensity and cleverness. Did Laurens do these things?? Noooooooooooo!
Here are the reasons this book is in dire wall banger territory....
First of all, I realize that Laurens is recycling the same story and the same alpha male characters over and over again, but this time it has gone too far for me. A Fine Passion dealt with the exact same theme....father dying, coming home to take over the family estate, heroine already there running the show, etc. etc. I mean, come on!!!! With Dalziel's history, could Laurens not come up with something a little more interesting or original for a story? Jesus H. Canola. Also, right from the onset of this book, Dalziel comes off as a jerk. He wants to bed Minerva (whose name sounds like a shrivelled up ninety year old grandmother!) to "slake his terrible temper"????? What the....? He basically is a horny, self-absorbed ass. This is the incredible character who has saved countless lives, sacrificed so much for his men and country? I am so not buying this.
Also, reading Laurens' sex scenes is like chewing on a hunk of cardboard. Tasteless and boring. I just skip over them, frankly. They are all exactly the same, nothing original or sexy whatsoever. If the sex scenes in a romance novel are not sexy, this is basically the kiss o' death for the book. There is absolutely no spark, no chemistry here at all. It's pathetic. Dalziel is supposed to be so masterful, brooding, dark....should be easy to project these qualities into a sex scene, but it is not happening.
The worst disappointment is the story line. And it had so much potential. Laurens could have developed a dark and dangerous plot for this amazing character, but instead she plucked one of the most boring plots known to mankind. His dad died and he has to take over the dukedom. Some days he checks out bridges that need to be repaired. Some days, cottages that need to be repaired. Oh My God! This is the master spy leader!!!!!! And Minerva is no better. A competent chatelaine??? Great, wake me when it's over.....
And the unknown traitor!!! We have been waiting to discover his identity for so long....and he turns out to be a cuckoo cousin of Dalziel who is completely psychotic and babbling. What a bunch of horse shite. There is no way that this babbling buffoon would have been brilliant enough to avoid discovery during the war. And the worse part? Does Dalziel get to save the day? Nooooo.....Minvera, chatelaine extraordinaire, whips a knife out (which she just happens to have strapped to her thigh during her wedding day!!!!) and takes him out while Dalziel stands there. Crimeny. I am close to freaking speechless, and as you know, that is a rare occurrence in Penelope land.
I am most flabbergasted that many people think this book is good. I seriously cannot fathom it. I am usually pretty forgiving with my reviews and grades (grade inflation is alive and well at Penelope's!), but this one is too disappointing for me. Stephanie Laurens had the potential for something very cool here, and she totally blew it. Since my worst grade is a C, that's what it's getting. I will no longer shell out the big bucks for her hardcovers, and I'm hoping that her new series (The Black Cobra Quartet) will pump a little bit of life back into her books. But I'm not holding my breath. I am keeping Stephanie on my favorite author list since I still adore her older books, both the Cynster series and the original Bastion Club series. Oh please, please Stephanie....I hope you recapture the old magic again! Sigh.
A Very Sad Penelope