Monday, May 20, 2013

What I've Read Recently

What I've Read Recently . . .

Midnight Waltz by Barbara Hazard -- Regency Romance

Miss Constance Ames has come to stay in London with her aunt, Lady Moreston and stepcousins, the mysterious Lord Moreston and the temperamental Louisa. Louisa's temper tantrums and outrageous behavior are quite shocking to Constance who is used to a quiet life in the country with her uncle. It's a wonder Louisa is accepted anywhere. While visiting a new friend, Lady Beech, Constance meets Mr. Hugh Carlyle, one of Society's most notorious eccentrics. He seems to enjoy the company of the forthright Constance, but can she really trust him? Someone has been sending threatening notes to first Constance and then to Louisa. Constance can hardly believe it could be the handsome, charming rogue she has come to care for, but when evidence seems to point his way, she has to confront her fears and risk breaking her heart. This story is rather long in places but the mystery kept me guessing. I thought I had it all figured out but there were some twists that I didn't see that complicated matters. Someone could probably easily figure out who but the rest is a bit difficult. The story is a little dark for a Regency romance. It seems to be modeled on Georgette Heyer's Cousin Kate in places. The characters are a bit difficult to like. Constance is practical and kind but she's somewhat naive which makes the story a  bit frustrating. The rest of the characters are unlikeable, even the hero. I liked Carlyle well enough until the big misunderstanding. That went way above and beyond what I would be willing to tolerate and I lost any sort of positive feelings for him and then proceeded to loathe his high-handed, egotistical personality. I wouldn't recommend this novel to those who like the comedy of manners stories or even traditional Regencies. This one is for those who enjoy more Gothic stories and don't mind heroes who change personalities in the middle of the book. 

Henrietta Sees it Through: More News from the Home Frony 1942-1945-- Joyce Dennys -- Historical Fiction

Henrietta continues her newsworthy letters to her old friend as World War II encroaches upon her little Devonshire village. She still longs to help the war effort, but she's needed to support Charles who is busier than ever. There's danger all around: German planes are flying overhead, bombs are dropping nearby and food rationing is beginning to take it's toll on Henrietta and her friends. This story is more somber than the first volume. The war is more of a reality so Henrietta's news is less breezy. As in the first volume, Henrietta's letters are accompanies by charming sketches. I liked the comic relief parts the best, especially the dog show. I also liked being able to compare British and American war time experiences and attitudes. The illustrations really add to the humor of the story. I would have combined both volumes into one omnibus edition since they're so short. Despite the darker tone, it's still a fun, light read.

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