Friday, March 22, 2013

What I've Read This Week

What I've Read This Week . . 

Hattie Ever After by Kirby Larson -- Young Adult Historical Fiction

Hattie Inez Brooks has failed to make good on her homestead claim. Now she's working at a boarding house to pay her uncle's debt. She's doing exactly what she left home to avoid doing but somehow she enjoys it more knowing she tried. She's not sure what she's going to do next. Her old pal Charlie wants her to join him in Seattle and in matrimony. Hattie's not sure she's ready for that yet though she misses him and her friends the Muellers, who are also in Seattle. A traveling vaudeville troop gives Hattie the opportunity she needs to leave Montana. When Hattie and the troop arrive in San Francisco, Hattie is amazed and overwhelmed. She has decided that her calling is to be a reporter and where better to find good news stories than in San Francisco? She decides to start by solving the mystery of her uncle's past. She begins by befriending Chester's old girlfriend, Ruby Danvers. She also meets the dashing reporter, Ned, who has his own plans for Hattie. Hattie is determined never to lose sight of her goal and never to give up on her dreams. Her quest takes her places she's never dreamed and just when she is on the verge of achieving her dreams, something happens to make her question everything she thought she believed and wanted. The period details of this novel are amazing! Shout-out to my fellow research nerd Kibry Larson who spent hours combing through old newspapers to create Hattie's world. I really admired Hattie's pluck in the first book and here she has the same enthusiastic determination. She's a great character, but she's a bit naive. Certain characters' motivations were transparent to me but not Hattie and I hate being one step ahead of the character. I'm not the target age for this novel though so perhaps it's not so obvious for younger people. The plot didn't quite thrill me as much. I couldn't put it down until the mystery was solved even though I guessed something was up with a certain person. I would have liked the plot better without the big mystery. The mystery leads to the heavy-handed moral, which I didn't like. I was a bit surprised at Hattie's decision at the end and it's not the same one I would have had her make. I don't think fans of Hattie Big Sky will be disappointed in this book, though. For all those who wondered "what happens next" this book is for you. 

A Season for the Heart by Elizabeth Chater-- Regency Romance

Miss Melpomene Rand is a virtual unpaid servant in her family's home. Her aunt and cousins never miss a chance to abuse her. Pommy, given a classical education by her grandfather, retreats into fantasy to escape the boredom of her terrible life. She envisions herself as a Blighted Heroine whom everyone will regret abusing in the end. When she discovers a plot to hold up her family's carriage on the way to London, she sees her chance to be real life heroine. Fleeing the local inn's public room for help, she literally runs into Derek Masterson, the Earl of Austell who possesses a literary and romantic mind as well. Upon hearing Pommy's tale, he's determined to help. The Earl's interest in Pommy leads him to hire her as a companion for his grieving sister-in-law. He hopes Pommy's lively nature will encourage the beautiful widow out into Society again. Along the way to London, they rescue a damsel in distress with possible disastrous consequences. Pommy hatches plan after plan to rescue her beloved benefactor from an unwanted marriage. Together with the Earl's heir, Gareth, she comes up with a perfect plan. However, Lady Masterston has her own schemes at hand, as does Derek; plans which include making Pommy a permanent fixture in his life. This is a cute romance, along the lines of a Georgette Heyer plot. I loved Pommy from the outset. Fans of Anne of Green Gables will instantly find a kindred spirit in Pommy and her vivid imagination. Derek's lively mind makes a nice change for a hero. He isn't brooding, just bored, and he isn't a dandy, Corinthian or Nonesuch. He's just a gentleman. At times though, he acts a little too forceful for my liking. The secondary characters are not as well drawn. They provide a few chuckles but nothing more. The plot doesn't quite reach the level of Georgette Heyer or Barbara Metzger. It starts off well enough but then the author relies on too many familiar tropes to make it truly outrageous. The story is largely built on misunderstandings, which I hate. It's my pet peeve that characters don't just talk to each other. The ending is a tiny bit rushed. I would have preferred a more drawn out romantic scene out of one of Pommy's novels, but it's sweet. This book is totally clean- not even any kisses and definitely nothing that would put Georgette Heyer to the blush. I'm not sure Jane Austen would have found it witty enough for her tastes and Miss Heyer may have rankled at the copying of her genre, but fans of both those ladies will enjoy this one for sure.

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