Tuesday, February 26, 2013

What I've Read This Week

What I've Read This Week free e-book edition . . . 

Susanna and the Spy by Anna Elliott -- Traditional Regency Romance

Miss Susanna Ward was left penniless when her father died. She has been making her own way in the world as a governess. Unfortunately she was forced out of her last for pushing an overly amorous gentleman into a fountain. On her way to London to seek a new position, she's recognized in the coach by an employee of her estranged family. He reveals that her grandfather recently died under mysterious circumstances and urges her to investigate. Being curious, Susanna puts up for a night at the local inn where a young man enters her room at night bleeding from his shoulder. She conspires to hide him from the Revenue men who believe he's a notorious smuggler and murderer and then he disappears into the night. Thus begins Susanna's incredible adventure. When she is reunited with the family she never knew, she uncovers dark secrets and motivations for murder. She also learns of a local smuggling ring led by the mysterious Captain Clark. Could there be some connection? Susanna is determined to solve the mysteries. This story is a good, clean, fun romp. There are a few historical inaccuracies such as Susanna staying at an inn all by herself, riding a horse astride with no mention of hiking up her skirts indecently, etc. However, if you can suspend your disbelief and lose yourself in the story, you will enjoy it. I got sucked into the mystery and couldn't put it down even though halfway through I figured out who the villain was. Susanna should have known because the villain tipped his/her hand. The ending is wrapped up a bit too quickly and neatly. It's very unlikely as well. Spoiler: highlight to read A true aristocratic villain would either commit suicide first or be declared mad, not taken away to be hanged. I love Susanna. She's very modern so she's not a simpering miss. She's forthright, adventurous, daring, brave and reckless. Some of her actions are really stupid but she has a high level of self-confidence. I also loved the hero. I can't say too much without spoiling the story, though I am sure clever readers will figure it out. There's good chemistry between the pair, even though it's quiet. This is a romance a la Georgette Heyer's mystery/traditional Regency books so don't expect lots of passion or moonlight kisses. The ending leaves room for a sequel, which I can't wait to read. The author doesn't attempt to mimic Jane Austen or Georgette Heyer, or even use period correct language, so this book is excellent for beginners and YA readers. I would recommend it to historical mystery fans ages 12+. There's nothing at all that would be uncomfortable for younger readers, just a bit of violence. 

Lucky in Love by Cari Hislop -- Regency Romance (free e-book)

This novel can be downloaded from the author's website or from Smashwoods. 
The hero, twenty-seven year old Edmund, Earl of Warenne, is lucky at everything he does. He's very thorough too. He loves to count things and make sure the numbers work out to his satisfaction. (He seems to have OCD or autism) The only thing he's never been lucky at is love, but that is became he's never tried. His latest mistress having left him for being too thorough a lover, he decides it's time to take a wife and make heirs. When his friend Doodles bets that no man can court and win the hand of his old maid cousin, Edmund decides to take a chance. At worst he'll end up with an ugly countess, at best he'll find true love. When Miss Priscilla Stanley meets the earl, she wants to run far far away. This latest piece of bad luck, in a never ending string of bad luck, couldn't have come at a worse time. Priscilla is a poor relation dependent upon uncaring relatives and lecherous men. Her aunt is pressuring her to marry now, even though the Earl of Warenne is thoroughly disgusting. He's crude and rude and yet, kind and caring. He dares Priscilla to make a wish on a penny and toss it into a wishing well. Priscilla doubts her dreams will ever come true, but Edmund is certain they will because he's fallen for the spinster. Alas, the course of true love ne'er did run true and Edmund may not be so lucky this time. This story is absolutely dreadful. At first it reads like a parody of a romance novel with a few amusing moments. Then the author resorts to crude sophomoric humor.. There's no relationship between the hero and heroine. Their attraction is based solely on physical attraction and there are a lot of sentences describing just how they feel when they touch, especially Edmund. The secondary characters are mostly so over-the-top stereotypical. New characters are introduced halfway through and another set of characters at the very end, which is very confusing. The villain is the one character who has any sort of depth and he's despicable. I wouldn't recommend this novel to anyone, even though it is free. 

Lady Ambleforth's Afternoon Adventure by Ann Lethbridge, Barbara Monajem, Annie Burrows, Elaine Golden, Julia Justiss and Louise Allen --Regency Romance novella

This book can be downloaded for free from Smashwords.
Lady Araminta Ambleforth is a very young, very rich widow. Her husband was always determined to protect her and Araminta felt smothered. Now she has decided to exercise her independence at last. Alas, her phaeton breaks and she decides to walk home. First one handsome gentleman comes along offering his escort, and then another, and soon Araminta has more suitors than she knows what to do with. All of them are pleasing to look at (except the vicar) and make Araminta's blood stir, however unwanted are their attentions. What happens next is a great surprise so I will not spoil it. This story seems to have been written round-robin style with one author leaving off and another beginning without any real plan. As such, it reads as a parody. So many zany things happen that the plot is quite unbelievable. The final reveal had me vastly confused. I'm not certain it was even possible. Araminta is a feather wit and every one of her internal monologues is about how handsome the gentlemen are and her physical feelings for them. I really couldn't like this story at all and wouldn't recommend it. Note to self: stay away from free Regency stories.

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