Tuesday, September 29, 2009

SARBC Discussion: Almost Heaven by Judith McNaught

Welcome everyone to the Shaymless Aymless Romance Book Club discussion for September 2009.

Kati of Katidom selected Almost Heaven by Judith McNaught.

The Official Blurb:

The Countess of Havenhurst possessed a rare gentleness and fierce courage to match her exquisite beauty. But her reputation is shattered when she is discovered in the arms of Ian Thornton, a notorious gambler and social outcast.

A dangerously handsome man of secret wealth and mysterious lineage, his voyage to Elizabeth's heart is fraught with intrigue, scandal, and a venomous revenge.

Destined for each other, yet wary of each other's motives, Elizabeth and Ian engage in a dance of suspicion and passion that tests the very soul of their star-crossed love. As a twisting path of secrets takes them from London's drawing rooms to the mysterious Scottish Highlands, Elizabeth must learn the truth: is Ian merely a ruthless fortune hunter at heart?

Read excerpt here.

******************** DISCUSSION AHEAD ********************

1. Was this your first McNaught novel? If so, what about it worked? What didn’t?

2. McNaught’s heroes are famously dominant and have been described as “asshats” before. What did you think of Ian Thornton? Did he work as a hero? If not, what aspect of his personality didn’t work for you?

3. Throughout the book, Elizabeth finds people underestimating her. Did you find her reaction/manipulation of that fact to be funny? Or have a negative reaction to it?

4. One of Judith McNaught’s most famous writing tropes is the B.R.G. (Big Romantic Gesture), Almost Heaven is no exception. Did you find the BRG to be romantic? Give some examples of your favorite BRGs in romance.

5. Almost Heaven has one of my favorite epilogues. Do you enjoy epilogues in romance?



Kati said...

Hi everyone! I hope some of you read and enjoyed Almost Heaven. It was like revisiting an old friend for me.

orannia said...

I'm sorry Kati and Aymless :( I did try and read Almost Heaven, but unfortunately I haven't been able to read romance novels this month :( Am in a weird place with romance novels ATM. I have previously read (and enjoyed :) it though!

The book has some great moments - I just loved Ian's first meeting with his grandfather and aunts.

WRT epilogues - I like them. I guess it's because I like to know that life is still good after then initial HEA moment.

*pondering other questions*

Lusty Reader said...

This was not my first McNaught, Gentle Rogue was, but i just adore, love, pine for, and swoon over anything Judith McNaught wrote. It's a disease I live with no matter how many old skool tropes are to be found.

I read Almost Heaven back in the 90s and re-read it maybe a year ago. I remember I loved that Elizabeth was "unlike ladies of her time" (although so many heroines were! there was an abundance of gorgeous bluestockings making love matches in the 1800s apparently) how she was all smart with her astronomy and taking over her estate in her brother's absence.

I do not recall finding Ian an asshat, but I am a VERY forgiving reader, especially since i have already admitted to being under the spell of old skool romance.

And I ABSOLUTELY remember the end of the book where Ian looks across the lawn at his wife, home, and family and declares it's "Almost Heaven"
*happy sigh*

My keeper shelf has an empty spot where Almost Heaven belongs. Thank you for reminding me of it!

Shaymless Aymless said...

1. This wasn't my McNaught novel. I believe Whitney, My Love was the first. And that worked for me so I've devoured just about everything she's written. But I haven't liked her newer stuff as much.

2. Ian was a dreamy then a jerk then dreamy again. The part where he finds out what an asshat he was is one of my favorite scenes in the book. I still don't like that he was so abrupt at cutting her off after she ran away with her brother but can understand.

3. Its funny how she uses their own perceptions against them.

4. BRG doesn't always work for me. Its sometimes feels like it a cop out. This one wasn't the worse nor the best. I think my favorite has to be in Julie James' Practice Makes Perfect was the best done in my recent memory.

5. Like Orannia, I like epilogues that show that things are still good after the story ends. The ones that lead into other stories aren't my favorite (and mostly because it increases the tbb).

Great questions Kati! And I agree old books are like old friends. They still warm you when you need it.

LR: I liked that one too. But my all time favorite has to be Once and Always.

AnimeJune said...

This was my first McNaught, and I loved it - I really liked how the Big Misunderstanding didn't take up the whole book (because the protagonists aren't, you know, MORONS) but still managed to influence their relationship and made them afraid to trust each other in case a lie came between them again (which *cough* it does - BAD Elizabeth! BAD! BAD!)

I DID find the 11th hour crisis at the end to be just a leeeeetle contrived. I mean, they did set up the brother's disappearance but things seemed to spin out of control so quickly in such a short amount of time it kind of took me by surprise.

Otherwise, though, I really enjoyed it.

novelnelle said...

Wow, loved loved loved this book. It had been a long time since I picked up a McNaught book but I'm going to make sure I move the rest of them up in my TBR pile.

1. This wasn't my first McNaught book Whitney My Love, A Kingdom of Dreams and Something Wonderful all have permanent places on my keeper shelf. Almost everything about this book worked for me. I especially enjoyed how much emotion Judith McNaught is able to convey through the books. If I could fall in love with Ian Thornton over the course of a weekend garden party then of course Elizabeth could :) Elizabeth also really worked for me I found her to be a very strong and smart heroine and I quite liked her. The only part of the book that didn't work for me was the last misunderstanding. It seemed out of character for Elizabeth to believe such horrible things about Ian when she'd always been so smart about it in the past.

2. I didn't find Ian to be an asshat at all (although I did think what he did to his Labrador Retriever was terrible). Even when he was angry and acting like an asshat I always understood why he was acting like an asshat.

3. I loved the way Elizabeth took advantage of people underestimating her. I don't know if my judgement is clouded just because I loved Elizabeth so much but to me it made it seem more accurate for the time period then the fiesty heroine who did what she wanted because she wanted to without caring what people thought.

4.I looooove the Big Mis and the BRG which is good because they generally go hand in hand. I did find the BRG in Almost Heaven romantic but then I found almost everything in this book romantic. (My favourite scene is actually the scene where Elizabeth is watching Ian play poker and terrified he's going to end up destitute. There is so much emotion communicated between those two without any type of conversation between them). The BRG that is coming to mind as one of my favourites (but I'm sure it's not the only one) is from A Kingdom of Dreams.

5. I'm not a big fan of epilogues although I find myself reading them anyways. This one was actually very sweet and enjoyable as far as epilogues go but I still don't really find they add much to the story. I prefer to come up with my own happily ever after.

Kati said...

Hi Everyone! Thank you so much for your comments! I was kind of worried when I went Old School that people wouldn't enjoy the book.

What I love about McNaught is that alot of the romance conventions that she employs are ones that she helped refine. She's just a master at it.

Thanks again for all of your insights! I'm glad the same things I like about the book are what you all enjoyed too.

Kati said...

Hi Everyone! Thank you so much for your comments! I was kind of worried when I went Old School that people wouldn't enjoy the book.

What I love about McNaught is that alot of the romance conventions that she employs are ones that she helped refine. She's just a master at it.

Thanks again for all of your insights! I'm glad the same things I like about the book are what you all enjoyed too.

Shaymless Aymless said...

AL: I agree!

Novelnelle: I would definite move her older books up on the TBR. I can't seem to get into her newer books. *sigh* I wished she kept with the more romance and less of the suspense in her newer books.

Kati: Thanks for reminding us of the oldies but goodies!

orannia said...

I second that - great choice Kati :)


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