Friday, July 19, 2013

What I've Read This Week

What I've Read This Week . . .

Peerless Theodosia by Rebecca Baldwin -- Regency Romance

When Lady Southcote learns that her husband's American diplomat friend, Senator Clement's children have been taken prisoners of war she invites them to stay with her family in their country home. The war will surely be over soon and how much trouble can two children be? Senator Clement's children turn out to be fully grown young adults and how much trouble is a matter of opinion! Bookish Jefferson, age 18, finds himself strongly attracted to Lady Cynthia, a beautiful bluestocking while Theo and Lady Southcote look on disapprovingly. As for Theo, she's too bold, too fashionable and too fast for Edwina Morton-West, neighbor and affianced wife of Lord Claremont Southcote. Theo is reunited with her old friend Albert, the new Marquess of Torville and other old friends from her past. Lady Southcote is delighted to be a part of such a fashionable crowd. Edwina, always aware of what's proper and what's not, aided by her new friend Torville's cousin Lieutenant Steyland, sends tales of the goings-on to Clare, who rushes to his family home to put a stop to these adventuring mushrooms. Though Theo fears being put into prison, she is too fiercely proud of her independence to give in to Clare's bullying. When they aren't fighting, they find a good friend in each other, however, Theo can't forget she's a prisoner of war. Soon everyone around them can see what's happening, but Clare's temper and Theo's pride may get in the way of their relationship -whatever form it takes. This story is a remake of Georgette Heyer's The Grand Sophy. Unlike The Grand Sophy, most of the action takes place off the page. Theo is called "peerless" any number of times and we're told a lot about what she has done, but not much is actually part of the action. Nevertheless, the plot is cute and enjoyable. It has something for almost everyone: a pair of mischievous twins; a parrot; the ton; a young couple; slightly older ladies; an alpha male; a somewhat buffoonish young Lieutenant, and of course, romance. The romance has it's ups and downs. Theo and Clare's relationship is difficult but they understand each other. It ends up being sweet, anyway. I liked Theo for the first 2/3 of the book. She's strong, brave, independent and fearless. In the last third she turns into a missish watering pot and the way she chooses to solve her problem seems out of character. Clare's temper keeps him from being a truly appealing hero. He loses his temper over the most trifling things. My favorite character is Peg. She made me giggle, especially during the romantic scene. I also liked Lady Cynthia and I felt bad for her because she's a young bluestocking and everyone scolds her for it. I enjoyed the plot, for the most part, especially the last chapter, which was so unrealistic but very funny. I think this book is cute though it's not at the level of Georgette Heyer. It's more like a Joan Smith and a lot of the other early Regency writers. It's a good, light, summer read. 

Regency Delights by Patricia Rice -- Regency Romance novellas (Kindle/e-book)

Three previously published stories are compiled in this e-book. 

In Something Borrowed Melanie is a bit envious of her older sister Jane: beautiful and vivacious, a wealthy widow and now about to marry a handsome Earl. What more could a girl ask for? Well, Jane never arrives so Melanie takes matters into her own hands and proposes a fake marriage to Damien. Damien is the only person who doesn't turn away from Melanie's crippled leg. He needs money and she believes he is the best person to help her escape her controlling family and help her live a little. Damien finds Melanie's innocence attractive, but is reluctant to ruin the innocence of a young miss. Hhe needs the money and would marry her legally but he hesitates to burden her with his dark secrets. He takes her to London where she quickly becomes the talk of the ton. Can her fantasy survive a little London gossip? What will happen to Damien when Melanie returns home? This story is a different take on the arranged marriage plot. The tone is rather somber. Melaine has self-esteem issues stemming from her crippled leg and doubts her own worth. Damien has dark secrets that aren't revealed until the end. He's a very noble sort of gentleman and I can see why he would be attracted to the lighter hearted, innocent Melanie. I think many ladies would swoon at his feet given half a chance. The plot is decent. It contains a bit of sensuality which doesn't make sense in the context of the story. There's some interesting issues to think about here. Overall, the story was darker than I usually like but it wasn't bad. 

Father's and Daughters is set around St. Valentine's Day and 18 year old Carolyn Thorogood is in love with the rakish Lord Jack Chatham. Her Papa disapproves and refuses to allow his oldest daughter to wed a penniless spendthrift and live a life of penury. He forces Jack to break Carolyn's heart and leave her to earn his fortune. Five years later Carolyn is still unwed. She's chaperoning her younger sister Blanche in her first season. Blanche is enjoying the delights of town and preparing for St. Valentine's Day. Carolyn is waiting to become officially engaged to a stuffy Marquess when she discovers Jack is back in town. Older, wiser, wealthier and with secrets he would rather not share just yet, Jack is shocked to discover that Carolyn has turned from a loving girl to a cold and heartless shell. Can he find the heart that beats inside her once again and this time hope for better results? If she can't accept his past, he's doomed to bachelorhood forever. This is my favorite story of the three. The plot is paced nicely for this length. The plot elements are realistic (somewhat) and make sense for the story. The hero and heroine are a bit annoying with their constant bickering but the romance is so sweet, I was rooting for them. Blanche adds a bit of comic relief. I really enjoyed this one and I liked learning about Valentine's customs in the Regency era.

Deceiving Appearances is very different from the other two stories. The hero, Peter,  is a self-made man. He was not born of the ton but his money opens doors. The one door his money can't open is the path to finding a wife. Longing for the peace and beauty of his favorite painting, he sets out to find the house and offer to buy it. When his carriage meets with an accident, he's nursed back to health by the lovely Cecily, whom he assumes is a ladies' maid to the home owner, Lady Honora. The mysterious and lovely lady visits him during his convalescence and he is determined to meet and marry her. Cecily and the man servant block his way, however.  Mysterious moonlight happenings confuse everything and Peter finds his carefully laid plans changing. This is the weakest of the three stories. It's strange. I didn't care for the supernatural element. The romance could have been based on friendship and Cecily's loving heart but instead it's based on physical attraction. I didn't like the ending AT ALL and it wasn't what I expected. If you like ghost stories and romances, you might enjoy this one, but it wasn't my cup of tea.

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