Friday, November 23, 2012

What I've Read This Week

What I've Read This Week . . .

The Rake's Redemption by Regina Scott -- Regency Inspirational Romance

Lady Imogene Devary wonders who the handsome stranger is who continues to call on her father, the Marquess of Widmere, and is constantly turned away. Who is he? Why won't her father see him? A fateful meeting at a ball introduces Lady Imogene to Vaughn Everard. Vaughn is intrigued by the bold young lady who skillfully ensures that every girl has a partner. He is surprised to discover that she is the daughter of his sworn enemy and thinks he can use her to get information about his uncle's last duel. Imogene is worried about her father's increasing distance and vows to help Vaughn get answers to his questions. She sees through his exterior mask to see the man within. She believes he is the one sent by God to marry her and rescue her family. She's not entirely convinced, however, because Vaughn has a reputation as a flirt. Vaughn soon discovers that the clues he has uncovered lead to an uncomfortable truth that could hurt the woman he's grown to care for. He had sworn vengeance but now he's uncertain. Imogene believes in him and that makes Vaughn want to believe in himself. Meanwhile, Samantha, Lady Everard is busy trying to navigate the social waters of her first season. Then there's the matter of Vaughn, so like her dear Papa and so dear to her heart. Will he ever come to love her? There's another gentleman who seems interested but Adele and Lady Claire don't seem to like him. How can she know if he's sincere? This book concludes the thrilling mystery of the Everard Legacy. I think it's the best in the bunch. Even though I figured out the villain right in the very first book, I liked how the clues sometimes didn't add up and sometimes they did. It made me want to skip ahead to find out. I love love loved the romance! I was in love with Vaughn before I read this book and now I love him even more. I was worried that the redemption theme would change him too dramatically, but it didn't. The inspirational message is more subtle than the previous books. I think the message about Faith is a bit forced into the story. He believes in her and she believes in him so he believes in himself which leads to finding Faith. If you cut out the Faith, the message is very similar to the one in The Unflappable Miss Fairchild and other stories featuring rakish heroes. As I mentioned before, I'm madly in love with Vaughn. He's hot-headed at times, flirty and a bit ridiculous but he's also loyal, caring, loving and kind. Imogene is my favorite of Regina Scott's Love Inspired heroines so far. She's intelligent, determined and a bit stubborn but also dreamy, loving and loyal. The only thing I didn't like about her is that she thinks God has a plan for her. I liked the brief cameos by the other Everards and learning what happens to them. As usual, Regina's love for the time period and extensive research pays off. The period details are lovely and the language and setting seem accurate. She doesn't try to copy Jane Austen or Georgette Heyer and she knows how to make her characters speak realistically and act realistically (mostly - Lady Widmere allows Imogene to be alone with Vaughn). I highly recommend this book to those who love a good rake story. You don't have to read the previous two, but it works better if you do. I think even those who have different beliefs will love this one too. A five star read!

Mr. Churchill's Secretary (Maggie Hope Mystery 1) by Susan Ella MacNeal -- Historical Mystery

Maggie Hope has a degree in mathematics from Wellesley College where her aunt teaches and still she's only qualified as a typist. Maggie is furious with the mysoginistic attitudes at No. 10 but it's war time and everyone must do their bit. Maggie accepts a job as Winston Churchill's secretary, the previous one having recently been murdered. After very long and weary days at work, Maggie enjoys socializing with her house mates and their male friends. There's David who is a fun-loving pal and rated very very safe in taxis, probably queer; the handsome, fliratious Simon (Not Safe in Taxis), and the silent, stiff John who works at No. 10 (Maggie and John got off on the wrong foot ages ago). Maggie's work keeps her busy but not too busy to finally visit her parents' graves for the first time. She was raised in America and always had an excuse not to go but now there's a strong possibility London will be bombed and Maggie has an overwhelming urge to see the graves just once. A simple, innocent trip to the cemetery leads Maggie on a search for answers she never though she'd be asking. Her search leads to extreme danger she never expected. Maggie finds herself longing for the comfort of numbers and she struggles to deal with surprising and difficult news about the people in her life. Her talents could go a long way towards helping the British war effort, if only she were allowed to help. Meanwhile, a group of IRA sleeper agents are planning the downfall of Britain by forming an alliance with the Facists. Beautiful Claire hides a secret identity but knows the duplicity is all for a good cause. She's seen terrible things in her short life. She's also in love with Michael Murphy, a dangerous man who seeks revenge on the British. Together with Malcolm Pierce and other loyal Hitler supporters, they will bring about the destruction of British rule for good. This is a different sort of mystery than your typical "whodunnit." It's more of a thriller than a mystery. The story is told from the points of view of several characters so the reader knows who and what and why before the other characters but not the outcome. As a result of this type of story telling, I found that the plot moved very slowly for the first 2/3 of the book. There was a little mystery about Maggie but the main mystery didn't pick up until 2/3 of the way into the book and then it turns into a heart-pounding thriller. There are a lot of twists and turns along the way and a bunch of red herrings thrown into the plot to confuse the characters - and the reader. There's just too much going on in this story to keep track of. It's also very unrealistic that ALL of that would be going on at the same time surrounding one character. Some of the events truly border on  fantasy. I had a hard time getting to know the main characters or even liking them. Maggie loves numbers and I loathe and despise math and numbers and don't understand people who like them. I really couldn't like Maggie at all because she's so analytical and enjoys mathematical puzzles. (My worst nightmare). Her friends are largely stereotypes. My favorites are Chuck and Sarah, the two who have slightly more depth to their characters. Winston Churchill appears prominently in this book and when he's on page, his speeches are quoted at length. Too many of his speeches are used and too many words are his actual words. They don't really do anything to advance the plot. There's also a bit of a romance in the story. It's pretty obvious especially since some situations closely mirror Pride and Prejudice. I liked the romance and wish the mystery had been the more internal one and the romance more in the forefront. I also wish Maggie and her Aunt Edith actually talked about their issues instead of the reader reading letters that Maggie never seemed to get. The best part of the book is the period details. If you're not familiar with the clothing styles and designers of the day, like me, you'll have a hard time picturing that aspect but the rest of the details of war time London are amazing. I could easily imagine myself in 1939 London.  I wouldn't recommend this to those who are used to cozy mysteries. I would only recommend this book to those who like crime thrillers and hard boiled mysteries. I wasn't a huge fan of this novel and probably won't be reading the sequel.

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