Saturday, May 29, 2010

What I Read This Weekend

What I Read This Weekend . . .

The Marriage Campaign by Susannah Carleton -- Regency Romance
This book takes place simultan
eously with A Scandalous Journey and contains many of the same passages and spoilers for the plot of the previous book. It is second in a series of 6. Robert Symington, the new Marquess of Elston, friend to Lord Weymouth and Beth Castleton, is dealing with the loss of his father and all that it entails. Robert also has another problem to deal with: a codicil in his father's will which states he must marry a woman of his father's choosing within a year or face unknown consequences. Elston feels that it's important to marry for love, but he is willing to get to know the ladies on his father's list. As he sets out for London, he decides to pay calls on the families of the ladies he doesn't know well. He hopes to become reacquainted with a childhood friend, Karla Lane. Instead of Karla, he's forced to be entertained by her scheming stepmother and silly step-sister. He learns from a neighbor that Karla hasn't been seen in the village for a long time and her friends are worried about her. Elston decides to discover what happened to Karla. During a moonlight smoke, Elston meets Catherine Lundquist, a relative of the first Vicountess who works as an unpaid governess for the younger children. She reveals that Karla's situation is not much different from her own. Elston impresses upon the Vicountess the social consequences of favoring a younger daughter over the elder and forces her to allow Karla a Season. In London, Robert and Karla meet and become friends with a number of musically talented ladies who help Karla face Society though her stepmother insists on belittling Karla. Robert finds himself drawn to Karla but also to Christina and becomes determined to help the young ladies secure their rightful places in Society. Karla worships Elston and worries that he will learn that Catherine is really Karla and fears her deception will ruin their friendship. She also hopes that he will come to her rescue and help her find happiness in a home of her own. The plot of this novel is rather long and drawn out because it also contains bits of the plot for A Scandalous Journey. It also contains too many examples of Rob saving Karla from her wicked stepmother. I didn't like Karla very much, though I felt sorry for her, and I kept hoping she'd stand up for herself and not sit around and wait for Elston to come rescue her. This book introduces the other ladies in "the Six" as Elston searches for a bride and Beth Castleton comes to London. I didn't like this book as much as A Scandalous Journey but it wasn't bad. I really like Elston and wish he had chosen a more interesting bride, especially one who shared his passion for music. If you don't like independent heroines, then this is a nice, sweet romance.

Kiss of the Highwayman by Jenna Mindel -- Regency Romance
This is a sequel to Miranda's Mistake (not yet read) and a prequel to Miss Whitlow's Turn (reviewed previously)

Brian Warren is now Lord Cherrington, the Earl of Cherring after the death of his brother at the hands of highwaymen. Brian is determined to avenge his brother's death even if it means becoming one of the highwaymen himself. Artemis Rothwell, a hoydenish young miss of nineteen, is looking forward to her first Season under the guidance of her stepmother's friend Miranda. She vows to change her behavior and act more feminine, but that vow is tested when she and her mother are stopped by highwaymen on the way to London. Though they have not brought any valuables with them, the highwaymen steal the Rothwell family wedding ring and frighten Artemis's stepmother, so Artemis tries to step in and point a pistol at the villain who is harassing her mother. The plan backfires when the Leader undermines Artie's confidence and a tall, blue-eyed highwayman gently disarms her and leaves her with a kiss. Artie can not think of anything except reclaiming the ring, except for when she's thinking about the highwayman's kiss! Back in London, Brian disguises himself as the foppish Cherry, a fashionable fribble in order to hide his true identity from the highwaymen he is trying to catch. He thinks often of Artemis and the kiss they shared and as soon as she arrives in London, he begins to pay court to her. Artie thinks Cherry is ridiculous but as she comes to know him, she discovers that she has a lot to to learn from him. Finally, there comes a time when Brian must decide whether to sacrifice his relationship with Artie for the sake of catching the highwaymen. It will take all of Artie's confidence and unwomanly skills to catch the villain and earn permission to marry the man she loves. The final confrontation moves pretty quickly, but it is very predictable and nothing really came as a surprise. Artie is a great character. She is full of spunk and stubbornness, but aware of her shortcomings and willing to change. I would like to have Artie as a friend in any century. Brian is a hard character to describe. He is in character for most of the novel and continually leers at Artie. He comes across as kind of gross and annoying though it's hard to tell how much is his real personality and how much is character. We don't really know that much about him, which bothers me. I don't think I like Artie and Brian together, though it would take a very open-minded man to put up with Artie. If I were Artie, Brian would have had a lot of explaining and re-courting to do if he wanted my heart. Despite being silly and predictable, this novel wasn't as bad as I expected it to be and I would recommend it to those who are not too picky.

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