Wednesday, June 8, 2011

What I've Read Lately

What I've Read Lately . . .

Robin by Frances Hodgson Burnett -- Historical Romance

This romantic drama by the author of A Little Princess and The Secret Garden takes place during WWI in a rapidly changing England where all the charm and beauty of the world seems to be disappearing. Lost in their own bubble of love, Robin and Donal Muir are elated to find each other again after being parted after their first meeting as children about 15 years earlier. Robin is the lonely only child of an uncaring mother, who upon the death of her husband, accepted financial support from the elderly Head of the House of Coombe. Assuming that Robin's mother is the mistress of the Marquis, other mothers did not allow their children to play with Robin. A chance meeting with a strange boy in the garden while her nanny wasn't paying attention introduced Robin to her one true love. Donal loved Robin instantly and wanted to protect her. He promised to return the next day but his mother cruelly whisked him away. Robin and Donal meet again at a house party given by Robin's employer, the Dowager Duchess of Darte. Donal is instantly smitten with Robin and she never stopped worshiping him. The two find ways to be together and romance blooms as if the pair were lost in a bubble of love. The world is at war however, and the love bubble bursts cruelly when Donal marches off to war and is missing, presumed dead. Robin's world is shattered and she feels as if life can not go on. It must though, for the sake of her unborn child. Robin discovers a beautiful, sacred thing that helps her get through long and dark nights. This book explores the powers of mysticism. Apparently this is a sequel to a book called The Head of the House of Coombe. One does not have to read the first to follow the plot of this book. I really wanted to like this novel because I love her children's books, but I just couldn't like it. It was very slow in the beginning and hard to get in to. I couldn't stand Robin who is far too selfless and innocent for me to relate to or like. I prefer heroines with some backbone. Donal is also quite silly and not a very strong hero. I have a hard time believing the mystic elements. The combination of innocent, doe-eyed heroine plus mysticism was just too much for me. If you like Eva Ibbotson's adult romance novels then you will probably like this one.

Snowflake Kittens by Carola Dunn, Mona Gedney, Valerie King -- Regency Romance novellas 

In "A Kiss and a Kitten" by Carola Dunn, Miss Mariana Duckworth is enjoying her new home in the country, despite the fact that the locals don't seem very friendly. She loves working in her garden. Her little Golden Retriever provides company and that's all she needs to get by. When Damian Perricourt returns from the wars after the death of his brother, he spies Mariana working in her garden and wonders who the improper female is. Though he finds her attractive, he's convinced she must be hiding something, or why else live alone? He convinces his mother to befriend her and Mariana becomes friendly with Mrs. Perricourt and her two young grandchildren who live with her. Damian, however, remains aloof, until a near-tragedy involving his niece's kitten helps break the ice. This is not Carola Dunn's best story. Her hero and heroine are boring. The romance happens too quickly and unrealistically. Damian acts like a royal jerk for most of the story that when he finally unbends it doesn't seem realistic. This story could have benefited from a few more chapters.

"A Feline Affair" by Mona Gedney is the second novella. Graham Livingstone is on his way to his brother's country home where Robert has lived like a hermit these last two years. Robert had his heart broken when his fiance Marian Piercey jilted him. He believes her to be a jaded fortune hunter. Graham thinks otherwise, which is why he's on his way to visit his brother even though it will put him in close proximity to a Miss Alyce Brightman, a lady who schemes to marry him. Graham hasn't counted on his brother's heart being minded by moldy old Roman ruins just when Graham is about to reunite Robert and Marian! Marian and her mother arrive for a visit and Robert wants nothing to do with them. Meanwhile, Graham has troubles of his own. A raggedy ginger cat has made herself at home on his bed and she insists on bringing him presents of jewels that do not belong to him! Marian pitches in to help solve the mystery and unknowingly, Ginger brings Marian and Graham closer than they had ever dreamed. This is another rushed romance which could benefit from more chapters. I liked the mystery but not the romance. Marian seems nice though we never really get to know her. Graham is a bit boring. He cares more for his clothes and his bachelor status than anything else, including Ginger, at least at first. He does grow throughout the story but it just doesn't seem very much like something that could actually happen.

In "Much Ado About Kittens" Lord Cherriton and Grace Haverstock are competing to see who can marry first. Whoever does will gain full guardianship of their orphaned nieces. The only problem is that Cherriton's fiance Lady Hilary Beaford won't set a date! Grace's fiance, Mr. Mollant, also continually puts off the wedding. Cherriton wonders whether he'll ever be married and gain custody of his beloved nieces. Cherriton takes Lady Hilary to his Aunt and Uncle Plymtree's home where Elizabeth and Emma reside with their Aunt Grace. The girls are to perform a series of plays with their kittens. The subjects of the plays hit a little too close to home for Cherriton and Grace. Once they were passionately in love but Grace blamed Cherriton for the accident that robbed them of their siblings and the previous Lord Cherriton. Lady Hilary and Mr. Mollant don't seem to care for cats or for children. The girls know that their guardians are making the wrong choices but can they, and their adorable kittens, convince the adults of their mistakes? This story sweet and heartwarming. Though it was extremely predictable, the plot seemed realistic. I liked Grace and Cherriton and they had good chemistry. I also adored Aunt and Uncle Plymtree. The children and their cats were a little too cutesy for my taste but not terribly so. I liked this novella the best of the three.

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