Sunday, June 26, 2011

What I've Read This Week

What I've Read This Week . . .

The Irresistible Earl by Regina Scott -- Inspirational Regency Romance

Mercedee Price thinks she's doing a good deed by rescuing a young lady from drowning in Scarborough Bay, but soon wishes she hadn't been the one to help. First, the young lady refers to Mercedee as her "savior," the whole town takes up the nickname and Mercedee is uncomfortable with the title. Next, Lady Phoebe introduces Mercedee to her brother, the formidable and handsome Chase Dearborn, the Earl of Allyndale. The Earl promised to challenge Mercedee's foppish stepbrother Algernon to a duel when they next meet and Mercedee and her family have been hiding from the Earl in the very last place they expected him to be. When the Earl wants to pursue an acquaintance with the woman who saved his sister's life, Mercedee is torn between loyalty to her brother and her growing friendship with the Irresistible Earl. Chase has spent most of his life as the head of the family. He is naturally protective of his innocent little sister. She's little more than a child and Chase feels it's his duty to protect her. He also tries to keep himself clear of any fortune hunting ladies. He's unsure what Mercedee's game is but he's determined to find out. The more he spends time with her, the more he comes to appreciate her intelligence, beauty and selfless nature. However, both Mercedee and Chase have secrets that could be obstacles to true happiness. The plot is somewhat similar to Pride and Prejudice but different enough to be original. Regina Scott's strength lies in the building of the relationship between the main characters. Her characters take the time to become friends. Her other strength is her wonderful descriptions of the setting. I could easily picture Scarborough (though growing up spending summers on Cape Cod made that easy) and the descriptions of the clothes worn are fully detailed and wonderful. On the downside, I found Mercedee mostly irritating. She's far too selfless to really seem real. She gets more appealing as the story goes along but she still doesn't seem realistic.  Chase bears a strong resemblance to a certain hero with a little sister we all know and love. Since some of the book is from his point-of-view, we get his side of the story with his motivations which is a big plus. He has reasons for acting the way he does and his reasons are understandable and realistic, which I like. The romance blooms slowly - almost too slowly - and I didn't get a feeling of much chemistry between the romantic pairings. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this book though, unless you are more interested in burning passion than a realistic story. Even if you're not into Inspirational or Christian fiction (which I am not), this book is still enjoyable. The characters look to the Lord for guidance and there's a lesson at the end that's a little corny but it's not too heavy handed. I look forward to Regina's next novel starring Chase's best friend, Sir Trevor, who is rather appealing!  

A Little Folly by Jude Morgan -- Regency Fiction

Valentine and Louisa Carnell have lived under the iron thumb of their father their whole lives. Now he is dead and they decide it's time to start living their lives. Their first big act of "defiance" is to open the doors of their home to a party. Louisa dreads the idea of entertaining because it means she must invite the autocratic Pearce Lynley, the man her father wished her to marry. Louisa has no desire to marry Mr. Lynley but isn't quite sure how to stand up to him and tell him so. When their long-estranged cousins Tom and Sophie Spedding arrive with their friend Lady Harriet Eversholt, the lively cousins help Valentine and Louisa to find their way. The Carnells join their cousins and Lady Harriet in London for the peace celebrations where Valentine becomes infatuated with Lady Harriet, who happens to be married and slightly scandalous. Louisa worries about Valentine but knows she can count on her old friend and neighbor Mr. Tresilian for help. Louisa makes some new acquaintances and learns to spread her wings a little though some shadow of doubt and fear still remains. She enjoys the company of Mr. Lynley's brother, a wounded soldier. When Valentine finds himself in over his head, Louisa is determined to be the steadfast sister to the end, even if it means giving up her hopes and dreams for the future. Jude Morgan has really mastered style that can be described as a blend of Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer, only the humor is far more subtle and dry as opposed to laugh-out-loud funny. Some of the characters and plot incidents come directly from Jane Austen but that isn't a bad thing. The first few chapters are really slow and much of the story is told rather than experienced, so I felt a bit of detachment from the story.  The characters do not leap off the page and come to life the way that Austen and Heyer's characters do. This also kept me from being engaged in the story and really caring about the characters. I was kept guessing as to who the love interest would be. I knew who I preferred but worried that Louisa would make what I considered to be a wrong choice. SPOILER AHEAD: (highlight the next line) I liked him. He reminded me of Mr. Knightly from Emma.  The last quarter of the book is the most interesting and I had a hard time putting the book down. I recommend this book to fans of Morgan's other books, especially An Accomplished Woman and also those who love Jane Austen's Emma.

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