Sunday, July 11, 2010

What I Read This Weekend

What I Read This Weekend . . .

A Splendid Indescretion by Elizabeth Mansfield -- Regency Romance
Ada Surringham is a dreamer with her head in the clouds. Her abstraction often results in exasperation on the part of her uncle/guardian when he can't find what he's looking for or falls on something Ada has dropped. When Ada's aunt and smug cousin Cornelia come to gloat that Ada's godmother has written to invite one of the girls to London and surely it must be Cornelia, Ada's uncle realizes that a Season in London would be beneficial for shy Ada. After quarreling with his sister, her orders Ada off to London to beat Cornelia. Meanwhile, Ivor Griffith, Viscount Mullineaux is on his way to his late grandfather's estate in Wales to catalog the library when he is accosted by his former lover who demands he run away to France with her. Though he denies the lady, her husband chases after Griff attempting to force a duel which leads Griff running for his life into a private parlour of a coaching inn where he meets Ada, who is forced to spend the night due to a coaching accident. As the irate husband approaches, Griff passionately kisses Ada as if his life depends on it (and it does). Ada has never experienced kisses like this before and enjoys the searing passion. The incident blows over and Ada believes she'll never see the gentleman again, but they encounter one another later that evening in an unexpected way which leaves them both dreaming of the other. When Ada arrives at her godmother's, her original plans go awry and a case of mistaken identity leads her in a new direction. Her godmother happens to be Lady Mullineaux, the mother of the mysterious gentleman who kissed her in the inn. Though Ada can not get the man out of her head, she is convinced she would never make a suitable wife for anyone. She is determined to show everyone that she is not so shatterbrained as she seems, only she is but everyone finds her charming anyway. I also think Ada is very charming and I can relate to being absentminded, however, I do not like Griff. He is too overbearing and hot tempered for a sweet girl like Ada. Their romance was entirely unbelievable. There wasn't much development in their story or character development for Griff and therefore, the story fails, in my opinion and I just couldn't like it. I also felt the language was too modern to really feel like a period piece. The screwball comedy scene towards the end saved the book from being truly dreadful. This is is a short, quick read for those who like lighthearted comedies.

A Grand Passion by Elizabeth Mansfield -- Regency Romance
Tess Bronlow has reached the grand old age of 23 without ever having experienced a Grand Passion, so she decides to accept the proposal of her best friend, Jeremy Beringer. Ever the romantic, Jeremy brings Tess flowers every day, even in winter and so on the day before his wedding, he traveled to find greenhouse flowers just for Tess. On her wedding day, Tess learns that Jeremy was killed in a coaching accident caused by a Corinthian who insisted on driving the coach through the snow along icy roads. Tess is devastated and vows revenge on the man who caused the accident. She travels to London to visit her newly married cousin Julia and makes certain that she is introduced to Matthew Lotherwood, the Marquis of Bradboune, the man whom she believes killed Jeremy. Tess plans to make Matt fall madly in love with her and then teach him what loss really means. Her plot doesn't go quite as planned when she finds herself in the throes of a Grand Passion! Still, Tess is bent on revenge and is even willing to risk breaking her heart again just to avenge Jeremy's death. There is a major major problem with this plot and that is a case of mistaken identity which should never have happened given the use of titles and names in Regency England. If you accept the mistake and go on with the story, it's not terrible but not great either. Mansfield's other major problem in this novel is character development. The reader never gets too deep inside Matt's head and the story is told mainly from Tess's point of view. Matt's actions and reactions happen very abruptly without real development. He's bewitched by Tess'a alter ego, Sidoney, but I'm not clear why he loves her. Matt is so kind and sweet and he matures throughout the novel, even though his maturity is rather sudden. Tess is incredibly unlikable. She's so twisted to desire revenge and doesn't let go even though it's obvious that Matt isn't the monster she thinks he is. The ending was strange and I don't agree with the way Tess handles the consequences of her bahvior. She comes across as rather cowardly and Matt has every right to be angry. Despite the problems and lack of comedic moments, I felt this was a better story than the previous one but not one to reread or keep.

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