Wednesday, May 1, 2013

What I've Read This Week

What I've Read This Week . . .

Size 12 and Ready to Rock by Meg Cabot-- Mystery/Women's Fiction

Heather Wells is feeling great. She's back down to a size 12, secretly engaged to Cooper Cartwright and she's been taking classes towards her B.A. Then she discovers that a film crew is illegally filming her ex Jordan and his new wife Tania for a new reality series. They've chosen the penthouse apartment at Fisher Hall because the paparazzi are after Tania following the accidental shooting of her bodyguard.  Then Tania moves her new teen rock camp from the Catskills to Fisher Hall. Can Heather and co. deal with a residence hall full of teenage divas and their stage mothers? Cooper gets assigned to Tania as her new bodyguard and he feels she knows more than she's letting on about the so-called "accidental" shooting and encourages Heather to get Tania to talk to her. Heather provides a comforting presence so Tania latches on to Heather.  What Tania confides shocks everyone. Can Fisher Hall finally escape their reputation as Death Dorm? Heather also has a secret she's keeping from Cooper that may affect their future plans. 
 This story is far darker and more mature than any of the others in the series. Instead of stumbling onto a crime scene in her dorm, Heather actively gets involved with permission and discovers horrific secrets. The mystery involves adults and teens. The revelations are surprising and sad. Heather's secret is also a mature secret and not her usual fluff brain silliness. There's less emphasis on her size in this book as well. I couldn't put the book down until the end. I wasn't entirely surprised by the ending but it was thrilling anyway. I especially liked the new, mature Heather. I think she should become a professional counselor. People confide in her and she's a sympathetic listener. She seems to have enjoyed Psych 101 so I think she's on her way. I hated the part where Heather reveals her secret to Cooper. Meg unnecessarily hits the readers over their heads with her personal opinions. She did that in Queen of Babble and I didn't like it then either. I happen to agree with her opinion, but I'm an adult and I don't need to be told what to think. This book works fine as a stand alone or as part of the series. Meg Cabot's younger fans may not enjoy this book as much because of the darker tone but adult fans will like it. The P.S. interview reveals at least one more Heather Wells mystery will be released this year.

The Sinister Spinster by Carolyn Madison -- Traditional Regency Romance

Elizabeth Mattingale hates working as a companion to the capricious Lady Derrings. If the Duchess isn't ordering Elizabeth about, her youngest son and his horrible cronies are after her for a bit of sport. To make matters worse, the Duke has forbidden Elizabeth contact with her father who is deep in enemy territory in Richmond, Virginia. Elizabeth has her ways, however, and when her beloved father asks her to choose between her country and her father, she has a difficult decision to make. Adam, The Marquess of Falconer, is visiting the Duke as a spy for the Home Office. He needs to know what the Russians, who will be at the upcoming house party, are up to. Meanwhile, Adam becomes furious with the younger men for their behavior. He feels protective towards Elizabeth for some reason. Elizabeth can't stand the Marquess's overbearing behavior and cold manner but slowly, she begins to see he has a heart after all. When some of the Duke's dispatches go missing, Elizabeth is accused. She stands to hang if someone doesn't come clean or if Adam can't clear her name. The evidence is stacked against her though and he fears the worst. He calls in his friend the Duke of Creshton and the Duke's intrepid daughter Elinore to help clear Elizabeth's name. When someone ends up murdered, the stakes become even higher. Adam can't help but admire the way Elizabeth handles herself through her ordeal and though he tries to deny it, he's madly in love. One lady rejected his offer once, will Elizabeth do the same? 
This story takes place during the peace talks in 1814 while England was at war with America. Though the reader knows, or thinks they know, the answer to the mystery, the story is exciting and kept me reading until the very end. The romance, on the other hand, is horrible. There's no connection between the hero and heroine at all. There are some sensual kissing scenes so I suppose there's physical attraction, but there's no real relationship development. I was intrigued by the Marquess in The Scotsman and the Spinster, but here he's overbearing, rude and way out of line. I could not condone his behavior at all. He had no reason for it. Elizabeth is a good heroine. She's intelligent, brave and has a firm conscience. All this makes her a little too good though. She's almost unrealistic in the way she calmly deals with everything that goes on around her. I found Elinore a far more interesting character. There is a hint of future romance for her but it doesn't seem as if the author wrote Elinore's story. Despite a mystery with a plot twist to keep me interested, the romance didn't work for me so I just didn't enjoy this book much and wouldn't recommend it. 

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