Stolen Moments is a fantastically good book. It also, oddly, the first book I've read of Maren Smith's where I kind of wished there was less spanking in it.
Not because the spanking in this book isn't amazing. It is. The hero, Draven Gray, is a satisfying hunk of brawn, intelligence and emotional wherewithal all wrapped up in a butcher's apron. Flora O'Bannon is a twenty-first century girl in a nineteenth century spot of bother and often in need of a bit of discipline.
The thing is though, a lot of people in the world think that a book's hero shouldn't keep putting a grown woman over his knee and spanking her bare bottom. Those people are wrong of course but there you are. Maren Smith's book is so exquisitely written, so atmospheric and so compelling that, quite frankly, it deserves to be in every bookshop everywhere. It seems almost a shame to limit its readership to our little niche corner of unashamed spankos.
|Pictured: Unashamed spankos|
This is in no way a complaint, you understand. You know me, I'm all about the spankings. I also love time travel, historical romance and late nineteenth century London in particular so this book pushed all my buttons, ("Pushed my buttons" sounds so much like a sexual euphemism there that I am just going to leave it and pretend that I meant to do it.)
The sense of time and place is so brilliantly evoked that you can almost smell it. The dark dingy streets of Whitechapel serve as the backdrop to Flora's extraordinary adventure as she's whisked from present day New Orleans to London in 1888 and straight into the path of Jack the Ripper.
The violence depicted in the early part of the book is visceral and bloody. Smith spares us none of the grisly details of the Ripper's appalling crimes. Which makes it truly gut-wrenching when Flora's own life is in danger because we know what the man is capable of.
Contrasting with the horror, is the natural, supportive and loving relationship between Draven and Flora. A relationship that starts, as so many great storybook romances do, with the hero rescuing a damsel in distress. In fact, Flora is not so much distressed as completely unconscious and when her consciousness does come back, her memory doesn't come back with it.
Everything about this book is great. The dialogue is a joy to read. Making the hero a butcher by profession was a stroke of genius. I've been vegetarian for the last thirty years but now I'm wondering why all romantic heroes aren't butchers? Not only can he see off bad guys with a vast selection of knives and the knowledge of how to use them, but he'll then take you home and cook you a hot meal. What's not to love about that?
|"Lay one hand on her and I will personally send you straight to the devil's front gate. |
We have a long-standing relationship, he and I. You can give him my regards."
At one point in the story, Draven wonders if Flora is "simply a woman in the wrong place at the wrong time". Flora may be a woman out of her own time but, it turns out, she is in exactly the place and time where she needs to be.
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