Friday, December 28, 2012

What I've Read Recently ... Modern Edition

What I've Read Recently ... Modern Edition . . .

Perfect Timing by Jill Mansell -- Women's Fiction

Poppy Dunbar is having a great time at her "hen do" when she tumbles down the stairs and into the arms of a handsome stranger. She feels an instant connection with this man, Tom, but her wedding is tomorrow! What would her fiance say if she jilted him for a stranger? After agonizing all night line, Poppy decides she can not meet Tom but she can not go through with her wedding. She realizes that Rob is all wrong for her and she would be stifled married to him. When her father kicks her out, she heads off to London to begin a new life. She takes a room in a house owned by Caspar French, a notorious playboy artist and a job with Jake, an antiques dealer. Poppy hits it off with Caspar right away and Jake hasn't fired her no matter how many mistakes she's made, but house mate Claudia can't stand Poppy. Claudia Slade-Wlech is 22 and has a great job and a nice room in a fabulous house. What more could anyone want? Claudia is desperately unhappy. She's in competition with her glamorous parents: her father is an actor and her mother is a beautiful, wealthy, man-hunter. Claudia has a desperate crush on Caspar but he doesn't seem to notice her. Will she ever find love? Poppy's friend Dina (and almost sister-in-law) comes up to spend a weekend of fun with Poppy, leaving behind her dull husband, new baby and controlling mother-in-law. She reveals something about Poppy's past that sets Poppy on a search for something she always knew was missing. She still hasn't given up hope of seeing Tom again, but she's sworn off  men... for now. This story is very long and a bit complicated with several plots going on at the same time. The plots alternative points-of-view between each character and it's difficult to tell who the narrator is because of very abrupt transitions. The multiple plots slow the story down and make it far too long. The mystery elements of the plot were the only thing that kept me reading and even then I stopped reading and skipped ahead to the end. The plot I liked best was about Poppy's family secret. The characters were vibrant and unique. I liked them a lot despite the fact that they smoke and drank too much. Those characters are the only ones I actually liked, apart from Jake. Jake is sweet and shy and nerdy which makes an appealing character. He's a foil to Caspar who is a stereotypical womanizer. I hated Claudia. She is whiny and self-centered and really snobby. She spends the entire book complaining, whining and criticizing. Dina is the worst character. Of course she is a new mom and dying to get away but she goes very overboard and willing to do anything to find something more glamorous. She does eventually grow, which I appreciated. Even Poppy is not appealing. I liked her at first more or less but she never really develops or changes in any way until the very end. I didn't agree with a big decision she made towards the end. I did agree with Caspar's assessment of the situation and was waiting for Poppy to realize he was right. I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a witty, romantic comedy.

Marrying Up: A Right Royal Romantic Comedy by Wendy Holden -- Women's Fiction

Polly is an archeologist specializing in Roman loos. Her job isn't glamorous but she loves her work and enjoys inspiring a group of local children who are working with her on a dig at Oakeshott, an estate near her parents' home. Then a dog comes and ruins her dig. The dog's caretaker is a handsome, dark-haired young man whom Polly can't seem to stop snapping at. She regrets her words for the man was kind, but Polly is wary where men are concerned because she was burned in the past. She agrees to have a drink with him and a drink turns into another date and then finally the beginnings of love. Then Max suddenly has to rush off home to a family emergency. He said he'd be back quickly, but he's gone for a long time. Did he desert Polly the way her old boyfriend did? Should she try to find out what happened to him? Allison Donald is a scheming social climber who thought she could sleep her way to the top; she even changed her name to Alexa MacDonald. Then her plan backfired and now she's left with nothing, not even a university education. She's back home in her parents' modest home hating every minute, dreaming of the fame and fortune she should have. In London she meets Florrie, a wealthy socialite who takes Alexa up as a companion. Florrie's mother, however, knows a social climber and is determined to stop Alexa. Alexa has a great ally in Barney, a fellow social climber. Can they claw their way to the top? Meanwhile, the the mountain kingdom of Sedona, the King has decided he needs a royal wedding to publicize the country and bring in revenue. As the King is happily married, he decides his heir, Maxim, should stop fooling around studying to be a vet in England, and come home and get married. Maxim is furious with his father. He doesn't want to be pushed into getting married. He'd much rather follow his heart. His younger brother is too busy partying to be sympathetic. Is there any happy solution for any of them? This story is similar to a fairy tale or Regency romance. There are plenty of aristocrats living the high life sprinkled throughout the story and some regular people who have vastly different agendas. The difference is that this is a modern setting and I feel it doesn't work as well. It's easy to romanticize and admire a past time period, especially when authors leave out the poor, but in a contemporary setting it's not easy to admire the aristocrats who spend their lives partying hard. This is where the story fell short for me. I really liked Polly and I was fascinated by her career and wanted to know more about her dig site and what she found. I loved her romance but felt it developed too fast and then was dropped and picked up too late. I couldn't stand Alexa. Her social climbing antics and lack of moral compass are very distasteful to me. Too much of the book was devoted to her plot. I loved Max and feel there wasn't enough of him in the beginning to really develop a relationship with Molly. The kingdom of Sedona is interesting but it's hard to believe that in this day and age, a monarch would be so hard and uncaring of his son's wishes. The best part of the novel are the gossip magazine pages. The names of the people are very witty. If you are addicted to E! you will probably enjoy this novel. If you like modern fairy tales, you will probably like this story.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Leave comments and or suggestions for QNPoohBear, the modern bluestocking.