Saturday, June 11, 2011

What I've Read This Week

What I've Read This Week . ..

The Spirited Miss Caroline by Kathleen Beck -- Regency Romance
Miss Caroline Garvey is 21 and unmarried and she intends to stay that way. Two years ago she had a whirlwind romance with her former childhood tormentor, Lord Barnabas Cole. The relationship ended with her sending him a scathing letter accusing him of trifling with her affections. She hasn't seen him since nor does she want to. She wants to live at her beloved Monksend Manor forever. However, her home is entailed upon the next male heir, in this case, her cousin Charles, a dandy who prefers the London life to country living. When Caroline learns that cousin Charles has intentions of marrying an American heiress, Miss Faith Morgan and is bringing his bride-to-be, her two sisters Miss Hope and Miss Charity and his future mother-in-law to the manor, Caro thinks the visit will be brief. However, Charles has lost all his money to none other than Barnabas and needs to live at the manor. What's worse, is his vulgar mother-in-law, a former fishmonger's daughter, who has her sights set on an entree into the ton and using Monksend Manor to do it. Then she discovers Barnabas has come along too, determined to renew the relationship with Caroline on his terms. Caroline feels forced to take action. Enlisting the aid of her factotum, Royal, she plans a haunting to scare her unwanted guests away forever. When Barnabas learns of Caroline's deceit, he's determined to humble her and bring her back into his arms. Caroline labels Barnabas "Lord Puppet Master" which is a fitting epithet for him. I did not like him at all. I thought he was a colossal jerk to Caroline and didn't like his manipulating. Caroline has the potential to be an unsympathetic character. She's proud and stubborn and rewrites history to make herself look good. I liked her though and felt sorry for her. The secondary characters are stereotypical. They make Americans and lower class people look stupid and conniving. Miss Hope is a Scarlett O'Hara character. Some parts of the book were amusing but mostly I just couldn't stand all the manipulating and lying. It lacked the charm of a Georgette Heyer or even some of the better writers of mass market paperback Regencies. 

The Seventh Sister by Paula Tanner Girard -- Regency Romance
This is a sequel to The Sister Season which I have not read.

Captain Bixworth Hawksby, on leave in London, is on Cloud 9 because the beautiful actress Miss Divine has just consented to allow him to be her latest protector. Lady Margaret is the seventh daughter of the late Earl of Chantry and his third wife. She, along with her older sisters, have joined their half-brother in London for the Season. Maggie hates London and the social whirl. She would much rather be at home at their estate near the Scottish boarder hunting bugs. Maggie is an etymologist, an interest which does not endear her to London Society. When Maggie's brother Daniel and his wife, Maggie's half-sister Frankie, are called away on business, Daniel decides Maggie needs a chaperon to take her around to the functions she wishes to attend. Hawksby, daydreaming of the lovely charms of Miss Divine, literally runs into his old superior officer Daniel Durham, Earl of Chantry. Daniel decides Hawksby is just the chaperone for Maggie. Hawksby is dismayed. Last Season she led him on a hunt through the bushes for a bug and his regimentals were ruined beyond repair. When Daniel reminds Hawksby of a personal debt, Hawksby has no choice but to agree. Maggie thinks Hawksby is too sober and decides to lead him a merry dance across England. This Season Maggie doesn't lead him on a chase through the mud and bushes but she does lead him on a chase through London museums and lecture halls. He's never been so bored in his life nor more captivated by Maggie's womanly figure.  Hawksby has his job cut out for him chaperoning Maggie and trying to keep Miss Divine out of the arms of a rival.  That's pretty much the whole plot. There's not much chemistry between Hawksby and Maggie. She's little more than a child and he is consumed with thoughts about his mistress for nearly the whole book. I found Maggie interesting because of her intellectual pursuits and though I hate bugs, I can see myself dragging someone through the museums of London. Hawksby is a very bland character. He has little personality until 3/4 of the way through the book. We know little about him until that point. I'm not quite sure if it's totally proper for a house full of young ladies to be left alone and for a stranger to chaperone a young girl. The premise of the book sounded funny but really wasn't. You don't have to read The Sister Season to read this book but the characters refer to events that occurred in that book and I had a hard time figuring out the family relationships which are likely explained in the first. I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone except those who are interested in etymology.

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