What I've Read This Week . . .
A departure from my usual genres, I picked up this book recommended by my friend Irish at Ticket to Anywhere.
Katarina Bishop comes from a family of con men and thieves, but she just wants to be normal. After pulling off what she thinks is her greatest con of all, a free ride to boarding school, Kat is expelled for a prank involving the headmaster's car and a fountain. Kat is furious because this con isn't one of hers! She's soon drawn back into the family business by her best friend (and crush) Hale. Kat's dad has been accused of stealing priceless paintings from an Italian mafioso who wants his paintings back OR ELSE. Kat reluctantly reenters the family business in order to save her dad and she and her friends form their own heist society to steal back the paintings and save Kat's dad. The story takes a major turn when the history of the stolen paintings is discovered and a Robin Hood type thief is out to right the wrongs of the past. Along the way, Kat has to figure out the most mysterious of mysteries - boys! I enjoyed the heist plot and couldn't put the book down. The secondary characters provide comic relief and I liked them all, even Gabrielle, who exemplifies traits I typically abhor. She's a good foil for Kat. I especially liked Hale and the romantic tension between Hale and Kat is well developed and realistic. I wasn't crazy about the introduction of the history of the paintings and the Robin Hood character. The story was fun and light and then quickly turned into a question of ethics. Even so, I really liked this book and can't wait for the next one. Dawe is an average reader. She does voices and accents but they're hard to understand. The audio version of the book doesn't add to the enjoyment of the book. This is a fun and entertaining story for anyone ages 12+.
Mandesky Square by Eva Ibbotson -- Historical Fiction/Romance
This book is rather different from her other adult romances, it's written as a first person journal by Susanna Weber who owns a dress shop in 1911 Vienna. Susanna is older (36) and she's worked hard to build up a successful clientele. She won't take help from anyone, not even the man she loves. Susanna loves her shop and can easily manage the difficult clients as well as her anarchist shop assistant, Nini. She also loves the square and all the people who live around it. Their daily lives and intertwined as they go about their business. When a young piano prodigy moves to the square, Susanna sees he is neglected and abused and makes it her duty to befriend the boy and help his career. Susanna remains cheerful and optimistic most of the time, but sometimes she can't help but fall into a depression because she has a secret sorrow and a secret heartache. Spoilers: highlight the next two lines:
She had a child out of wedlock she gave up for adoption years ago and she's the mistress of a married man.
Susanna records her daily events and secret hopes and sorrows into her journal. Then the day comes when her peaceful world is shattered and life as she knows it may change forever. She tries to remain positive and hope things will turn out all right. Help comes from an unexpected quarter and Susanna ends her year with a surprise. I wasn't crazy about this book. It's not as sad as the other adult novels but it's not as satisfying either. It's more realistic, I suppose, than the typical fairy tale plot, but I quite enjoy fairy tale romances and was disappointed in this one. I wanted to like Susanna but I felt like slapping her and telling her to grow up and move on. The secondary characters are much more appealing. They're fully fleshed people you'd expect to meet in real life and lots of fun to read about. I would recommend this book to those who like realistic stories but not to those who prefer neat and tidy happy endings.
Love's Masquerade by Cynthia Richey -- Regency Romance
Sarah Fairchild's father had the misfortune to die when a stray dueling bullet hit him, thus leaving Sarah with all of his debts. Sarah wishes to save her family home by opening a school for girls where she'll teach them all the ladylike accomplishments they need to know to find good husbands. When Sarah's godmother invites her to London, it seems like her prayers will be answered, but what her godmother wants Sarah to gain from her trip is not quite what Sarah had in mind. She's not opposed to finding a husband, but she refuses to marry without love. Without money of her own, Sarah feels she has no choice but to offer her beloved home for sale while she's in London. When a gentleman shows up on the day of her departure, she thinks he's come to view the house and dutifully shows him the finer points. When she enters the curricle, however, she finds she is mistaken. The gentleman is her godmother's son, Sarah's childhood playmate and tormentor, Edward, Duke of Pemberton. Along the way to London, Sarah and Edward are compromised and he offers marriage, however, she refuses because she doesn't trust him and he doesn't believe in her school. Though Sarah believes she doesn't love Edward, she is willing to accept his friendship but not his help. The dashing Charles offers his help and Sarah feels she must at least consider it, though Edward doesn't approve. Though her time in London doesn't go as planned, Sarah never gives up on her dreams and her convictions until she gets what she wants. This is a light, fluffy Cinderella story which had me smiling almost the whole way through. I liked that Sarah stuck to her beliefs but her anger at Edward was a little too harsh and uncalled for. I nearly fell in love with him from his introduction, so I could be biased. This is what they call a sweet Regency or clean Regency and I really enjoyed it.