Wednesday, June 2, 2010

What I've Read This Week

What I've Read This Week . . .

A Twist of Fate by Susannah Carleton -- Regency Romance 
David Winterbrook, brother of George from A Scandalous Journey, becomes lost in the middle of a snowstorm in unfamiliar territory. He stops to assist a lady whose cart is stuck in a ditch and is struck by the thunderbolt of love that is a family tradition. The lady, Madeline Graves, is a young widow who lives nearby and offers the comfort of her fire to David while he waits out the storm. The storm turns into a blizzard, leaving David stuck at Lynn's house for weeks. At first Lynn is cautious of David. All of her experiences with men have been negative thus far, especially her marriage to a bully who left her hard of hearing and lacking in desire. David is everything a gentleman should be: he's polite, kind, a good listener and he also experienced a troubled marriage. However, all of David's charms may not be enough to convince Lynn to be his wife. First, she must overcome the memories of her past in order to get what she wants most. This is an unusual plot for a Regency. It's quiet and the dramatic tension is all about Lynn's feelings and overcoming her past. Readers may be put off by the subtle sensuality in this book though. Some of it was sweet and made sense for the plot but some of it was unnecessary. My biggest complaint is that there is too much repetitive dialogue revolving around Lynn's issues. If you liked A Scandalous Journey and want to know what happens to Lord David and little Isabelle, then read this book. If you're looking for something different and haven't read A Scandalous Journey, this book provides enough information that it works as a standalone.

Mad Maria's Daughter by Patricia Rice -- Regency Romance
Daphne Templeton's mother was lovely, charming and quite mad. (Maria Templeton seems to have suffered from what we would call bipolar disorder). Several years ago, Daphne's mother drove a carriage off a cliff in a carefully planned suicide. Unfortunately, there was a witness and now the whole of the ton knows about Mad Maria. Daphne has spent the last four years in London, trying to prove she is not like her mother, being dependent on relatives who don't care for her and hoping to find a husband who will love her for herself. After an incident involving throwing a beverage over the head of her unlucky suitor, Daphne is exile from London. She heads to the country to stay with her eccentric old aunt. Along the way, her carriage is held up by a dashing highwayman who kidnaps her. Daphne loses her temper and assaults the kidnapper with her parasol and her tongue! The highwayman is intrigued by this woman who doesn't swoon or run away from him. He leaves her unharmed, taking only a few coins and a valuable ring and helping her find her way to safety. Soon Daphne hears all about the local Robin Hood highwayman and his band of brigands. She's not sure what to think of it all and is even more confused when she meets the handsome viscount Gordon Griffin, who bears a strong resemblance to her highwayman. Daphne becomes involved in a tangle of events involving her highwayman, whom she can't stop thinking about, the viscount, an army captain and a murderous villain. Throw in some family drama and you have one crazy story. My first impression of the book was not favorable, it sounded so silly and I wasn't sure what was going on, but then I got into it. There are a number of twists and turns that I didn't see coming and some I did and a couple of funny scenes too. In the end, I found myself enjoying the story more than I thought I would. Daphne is an all too human heroine. She has her faults and her vulnerabilities but her true self shines through. The gentlemen were rather stereotypical and one was over-the-top annoyingly kind. This is a very modern story with people not behaving according to the proprieties of the day but I like those kinds of stories. My biggest complaint is that there were too many points of view and I kept having to go back and figure out who was thinking. Also the book is too long. The last chapter isn't really necessary. The ending of the previous chapter was cute and made me laugh. This story involves some slightly more than subtle sensuality (make-out scene) but nothing bad and it can be ignored if you really don't like that kind of thing. This is a fun read and worth the effort to unknot the tangle of story lines.

The Genuine Article by Patricia Rice -- Regency Romance
Lady Marian and her sister Jessica are headed to London for the Season to find rich husbands or else they and their mother will lose their home. Determined to be the one to sacrifice herself on the matrimonial alter so that young Jessica will have more time to chose, Marian intends to hide her sharp tongue and independent mind under a mask of simpering femininity. Her resolve is tested during a top at an inn when a rude gentleman mistakes her for a servant and she rebounds with some harsh words of her own. In London, Marian makes a conquest of the young Lord Darley who is tired of his mother and sisters controlling him and is in search of a biddable wife. Marian likes him well enough but then Darley's misogynistic best friend comes to Town and Marian discovers that he is none other than the rude man from the inn. She must convince Richard Monatgue that she's the right woman for his best friend. He is determined to prove that she's the wrong woman and willing to use any means necessary to prove his point. Richard becomes involved in Marian's personal family problems which become his own when his roguish valet steals something of value that belongs to Marian and the quest to help Marian's family leads to a trip to a crumbling old estate, a phantom Marquess and lots of passion. This book is steamier than the other and the make out scenes can not be ignored because what follows is part of the plot. There is not relation to any of the characters or events in Mad Maria's Daughter so I am unsure as to why the publisher chose to include them both in one volume. None of the characters in The Genuine Article are likable. I agree with Marian's initial assessment of Richard and they really don't get to know each other except for making out a lot. Marian is not a very likable heroine either. I understand why she had to find a rich husband and why she felt the need to act like an idiot to do it but I don't agree with her methods. Jessica and Darley are too meek and mild to even be remotely interesting. I didn't care for this story and I'll recommend it to those who prefer the emphasis on making out than actual interesting characters and plot.

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