Saturday, November 10, 2012

What I've Read This Week

What I've Read Lately . . .

Dear Readers, my apologies for the lack of reviews recently. I have been too busy to share my thoughts with you. Please accept these multiple reviews a little late than never!

An Acceptable Arrangement by Jeanne Savery -- Regency Romance

Lord John wants to find a bride but not one of the giggling misses his overbearing mother keeps throwing at him; so he enlists the help of his trusty butler, Tuttles. Miss Phillida Morgan, spinster, has come to London to to stay with her great-aunt. Educated and at the advanced age of 24, Phillida expects to be a companion but her lively aunt has other ideas. Lady Brookhaven wants to launch Phillida on Society and find her a husband. Phillida decides to take matters into her own hands and find herself a husband so that her mother can safely remarry without worrying about Phillida. Phillida enlists the aid of her abigail, Flint. What the upstairs folks don't know is that servants get together to gossip about their employers! Flint and Tuttles reach the agreement that Phillida and Lord John are perfect for each other, but how to make them see that without the opposite effect? When Phillida and Lord John actually meet, the best laid plans seem to go awry. Will the course of true love ever run smooth? This book could have been a real gem in the hands of a master like Georgette Heyer or even a comic genius like Barbara Metzger. Instead, most of the plot is slow, boring and repetitive. It takes an unexpected twist towards the end that livens things up a bit. The characters were really interesting and could have been wonderful and memorable if they had been fleshed out a bit more. I love bluestockings like Phillida but all she does is mope and whine about how Lord John couldn't possibly love her. Lord John appears to suffer from PTSD and survivor's guilt but that's hardly dealt with in the story. The servants are amusing and provide some chuckling and a subplot of their own. This book was not the lighthearted, funny romp I expected it to be and I had a hard time finishing it. It's not among the top tier of Regencies.

For Myself Alone by Shannon Winslow -- Austenesque Regency Romance

Miss Josephine Walker does not expect to marry. She is content to stay at home in the country writing children's stories and confiding in her diary. There are no worthy gentlemen in her corner of the country and she doesn't have much to tempt them with. That all changes when she unexpectedly inherits a fortune from her late uncle. Then Josephine becomes the most sought after girl in the county, a fact which she can not stand. Her parents, older brothers and true friends, Agnes and Agnes's intended husband Arthur, stand by her and support her wishes to be loved for herself alone. An opportunity for love comes on a visit to Bath where Jo meets the handsome, charming Richard Pierce. Jo is deliriously happy, but when situations change, she has the opportunity to find out exactly who loves her for herself alone. This novel is supposed to be a "what if" Jane Austen had lived to complete another novel but is not based on any of the major 6 plots in the Austen canon, however, I did not find this one to be at all in the style of Jane Austen. For one thing, it was too slow. The plot took forever to develop so that the ending was very rushed. The action of the story was largely summarized and lacked Jane Austen's witty dialogue. The ending is largely predictable for readers of the genre, but there are a few twists and red herrings which I greatly appreciated. The characters are dull and unmemorable. The relationships develop randomly without good reason. I could not understand why someone with such a big heart like Josephine would be friends with someone so shallow as Agnes. The only character I liked was Arthur and I felt very sorry for him. I was hoping for light, bright and sparking but this book was too slow to fit the bill. Readers who enjoy clean, Austenesque fiction written in a somewhat period style might enjoy this one. For me, the book was entirely unmemorable and I have forgotten most of it already. Later on I shall give it another try and see if I like it better but my first impression was not entirely enthusiastic. 


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