Friday, September 7, 2012

What I've Read This Week

What I've Read This Week . . . 

Lord Borin's Secret Love by Regina Scott -- Regency Romance

Alexander Westcott, Viscount Borin is bored with his typical Corinthian lifestyle. He is tired of being a rake and can't possibly keep up with the exploits of his friend Chas Prestwick (hero of The Unflappable Miss Fairchild). Alex decides he should become a spy for the Marquis of Hastings (father of Leslie Petersborough from The Irredeemable Miss Renfield). The Marquis refuses Alex's request and sends the young man packing. When Alex notices a small boy trailing him, he decides to track the boy in hopes that the boy is connected to the French spy Lord Hastings is after. Imagine Alex's surprise when he tracks the boy to Mayfair and a spirited young lady answers his knock at the door. It doesn't take long for Alex to become intrigued with this sprite, whoever she is. Katherine Collins, spinster, is desperate. Her Uncle Collins, guardian to herself and younger siblings, is too troubled by a war wound to do anything except drink himself into a frenzy and make dire threats against anyone who speaks negatively about Wellington. Katherine's beautiful younger stepsister Constance has a fortune waiting for her if only she will wed by the time she turns 21. Constance is weeks away from her birthday and hasn't settled on anyone in particular. Katherine decides to take matters into her own hands lest Constance's odious cousin, the new Lord Templeman inherits her fortune and sends Katherine to the workhouse. Katherine decides that Lord Borin would make a good husband for her sister and results to subterfuge to learn more about it. When the handsome Viscount shows up at her door and pays her more attention that Constance, Katherine doesn't know what to do. Will that man ever offer for her sister or could he really be in love with Katherine? This story is not one of Regina Scott's best. The plot is pretty transparent. It drags in places and there's an extra added complication of a French spy running around the ton that ties into the plot. The story would have been better without the French spy plot. There's a Christian message at the end, apparently. It went over my head and I don't like being preached to. This story wasn't labeled Christian so I did not appreciate the random Bible quoting from one of the characters. Alex is self-centered and falls in love quickly and assumes that the lady returns his affections and will gladly be swept off her feet. He learns a bit along the path to happily ever after but not much and not until the very end. Katherine is also difficult to like. She's a "managing female" which I do not have a problem with. I probably would do the same thing in her position. What I dislike about her is that she refuses to see her management skills as a good thing and automatically assumes that everyone hates her because of her managing. She was a bit too insecure and self-sacrificing for me to really love her. If you've read the others in the series and want to see cameos from the other characters you know and love, then pick up this book. I prefer some of the other books in the series.

Envious Casca by Georgette Heyer -- Historical Mystery

Joseph Herriard decides to hold an old-fashioned Christmas house party - in his brother's house. Joseph has been a bit of a rolling stone and consequently has no home or family of his own, except a devoted wife. Joseph's brother Nat hates Christmas, parties, their young adult niece and nephew and the young peoples' significant others and refuses to be an amiable host. The family get on each other's nerves, constantly bickering. Nephew Stephen brings along his fluffly-headed fiance, whom Nat assumes is a gold digger. In the gold digging category is Stephen's sister Paula who wants 2 thousand pounds to produce her boyfriend's scandalous new play. Rounding out the house party are Nat's business partner Edgar Mottisfont and a distant relative, Mathilda Clare. The only one who seems to be having a good time is Joseph. Joseph's wife Maud has no interest in playing hostess; she only wants to read and discuss the book she is reading on the Empress Elisabeth of Austria. This manages to get on everyone's nerves. Tensions run high and then Nat is discovered dead in his locked room; apparently stabbed to death. Nerves unravel further as Inspector Hemingway of Scotland Yard becomes more and more determined to blame one of them for the murder. They all had a motive but what was the means? This mystery is a true crime novel unlike Miss Heyer's Regency mysteries which are light and painfully obvious. This one keeps the reader guessing as to "whodunnit." I couldn't figure it out at all but I guessed that a certain something that was missing was a clue. The mystery is compelling enough to want to solve but the story lacks everything else. Not one of the characters/suspects is remotely likeable. They are all petty and nasty to each other. Joseph is the only one who is kind and he gets on everyone's nerves by always putting his foot in, which makes the reader not like him. The non family members are mostly flat and two-dimensional.I found the story difficult to get into because of all the whiny, annoying characters. They all sound alike and it's hard to remember who is who and who was where and what happened. They do not come alive and leap off the pages as the Regency characters do. The story lacks the witty dialogue and interesting characters that Heyer developed in her Regency novels. The very best character is the butler! Fans of Downton Abbey's Carson will like this butler almost as much. Fans of Gosford Park will probably like this novel. I will stick to Miss Heyer's Regencies.

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