All About Passion by Stephanie Laurens (2001)
I had a very weird reading week. First of all, I read Pamela Clare's Surrender, one of the most beloved books of romance, and I found myself laughing (that would be laughing at it, not with it)..."Oh Annie! Oh Iain!" Oh, Jesus H. Canola! Then I tried Wild Card by Lora Leigh (as in "lay"?) which is another top recommendation. "I'm going to eat you like candy, baby." Hee hee hee...you have got to be kidding me! I realized while reading this book that one of my top pet peeves with romance novels is the over-use of "baby" as a term of endearment. Seriously, whenever I hear the term "baby" it makes me think of a greasy dude in polyester with lots of gold chains, a cheesy mustache and a bowl haircut..."Oh yeah, I'm gonna eat you like candy, baby." Sigh. I would laugh my ass off (thereby killing the amorous mood) if my man ever said that to me.
Which brings me to All About Passion, a favorite re-read. There were a minimum of exclamation points. And Gyles never refers to Francesca as "baby." Excellent! I think this book beautifully showcases Stephanie Laurens' talent as a writer. Gyles is a fascinating alpha-male, Cynster-like hero, determined to marry for convenience, not for love. Francesca is one of Lauren's best heroines ever...fire-y and intense, smart and clever, stunningly beautiful, incredibly passionate...she is Gyle's match in every way. One of the greatest scenes EVER in a romance novel is the beginning of their wedding ceremony, when Gyles looks down the aisle to see his supposed wimpy little bride, sees the woman he thinks he is about to marry sitting in a pew, and then realizes he has made an unbelievable mistake and is actually marrying the sexy "gypsy" he intended to take as a mistress. Crimeny, this scene rocks it, baby. (Oops, I just used the term baby, please forgive!). Laurens does a great job weaving the emotional journey between these two characters, a nice little mystery, her usual breath-taking glimpse into the world of Regency England, and very lusty love scenes between the h/h. Watching Gyles fall under Francesca's spell is wonderful. All About Passion is a classic Laurens' novel, and one of my favorite re-reads from the Cynster series. Grade: A
It's Penelope, Baby!