Thursday, January 16, 2014

What I've Read This Week Part II

What I've Read This Week Part II . . .

Miss Lacey's Last Fling by Candice Hern -- Regency Romance

Miss Rosalind Lacey has been the family rock since her mother's death over ten years ago. Now at six-and-twenty, she fears she has contracted the mysterious illness which killed her mother. Rosalind decides she wants to really live her life for a change and heads off to London to stay with her notorious Aunt Fanny. Max Devanant is a wicked rake. He's been there, done that and is well and truly bored with his life. A friend of his recently committed suicide out of sheer ennui. Max thinks this might be a solution to his boredom, but first he'll see what the Season has to offer. The Season does NOT have a beauty in Miss Lacey. She's a brown country mouse, or so Max thinks. The first thing Rosie does after settling in is get a makeover and then London rakes can't get enough of her. Max wants nothing to do with Miss Lacey yet he can't help but worry because Rosie is headed for trouble if she doesn't know what she's doing. He can't decide if she's a minx or an innocent. What does it matter for he isn't interested anyway, or is he? As Rosie cuts a dash through the ton, her headaches return and she fears the worst. She's determined to cross off all the items on her list but the one thing she wants she can't have.

Rosalind is a complex character. I kind of liked her and felt sympathetic yet she seemed very stupid at times. She has had many burdens to bear in her life and it's her Papa's fault for not taking care of his family. She's mature but yet she's not. She doesn't want to listen to anyone except herself, especially regarding her health. I have mixed feelings about her behavior. While I can certainly see myself wanting to act like that, I don't think I would even if I thought I was dying. Rosie acts really crazy and goes too far at times. Even if she doesn't have to face the consequences, there's still her family to consider. When she's faced with shocking news, she runs away rather than faces the consequences. She acts stupid in the end and can't face her insecurities. I didn't like that about her. She falls in love for no real reason. Max isn't a well developed character. He's a rake because he has nothing else to do. He can't live up to his family expectations so he stopped trying. He's charmed by Rosie's behavior and enjoys helping her misbehave. I can see why he would enjoy being with someone like that but falling in love, I'm not sure. He comes across as a disgusting pig for the first half of the novel. I usually like a good rake story but Max was too much for me and I didn't really care for him.

Right from the beginning of the novel I guessed what was going to happen. I wasn't surprised by anything. I expected more from this book. There was very little real emotional connection between the hero and heroine. There is a love scene (if I were Rosie, I would have done that same thing), yet I thought there would be more showing of the emotional coming together of the two characters. I wanted to see not just be told that they loved each other. I had also hoped that by that time Rosie would have confided in Max which would have made the scene more tender and sweet. The ending drags on too long after the misunderstanding. The epilogue is pointless. I would have liked an epilogue showing Rosie at the end of her life and having Max go on and care for their children, unlike her Papa, if there had to be an epilogue at all.

This isn't my least favorite Regency but it just didn't strike my fancy. 

The Mad HerringtonsThe Mad Herringtons by Jane Myers Perrine -- Regency Romance

Aphrodite Herrington is the only sane member of her mad family - all 15 of them. Her parents are madly in love with 13 children determined to shock and scandalize Society with their passions. Her younger sister Athena kisses the most unsuitable men and will end up in trouble if she's not taken in hand. Older sister Terpsichore has set herself up in her own establishment, hosts literary saloons and wears the most revealing clothing possible. Clearly something needs to be done about the mad Herringtons and Aphrodite sees herself as the responsible one who will keep her family out of trouble. Yet, when the opportunity arises to make a comfortable match with Mr. Frederick Horne, she seriously considers it. She's invited, along with her parents, to a small house party at Mr. Horne's estate to meet his mother. The senior Herringtons are unable to attend so Aphroditie must take her sisters along. Adphrodite looks forward to getting to know Mrs. Horne and Frederick's extended family, but she doesn't count on one of the guests being Thomas, Viscount Warwick, the rake who kissed her and dismissed her two years ago. Warwick is the head of the family and he takes a close personal interest in Aphrodite. A little too close if you ask her for she's in danger of succumbing to her passions once again. She's can't give in because she has to control her older sister who is flirting outrageously with every man and snubbing her former beau Callum McReynolds. She must also deal with her younger brother Aski, who is down from Cambridge on a lark. When Terpi proposes they perform A Midsummer Night's Dream, little do they except that Shakespeare could have such a powerful affect on them and change their lives forever.

At first I didn't like this book very much. The characters are beyond the pale. There's no way they would be accepted into Polite Society, especially not Almack's. The characters have the most ridiculous unpronounceable names and it's difficult to keep track of who is who because they names are so similar. Every piece of clothing, decoration and furniture is described in minute detail. I love period detail but dropping it into the narrative is not the way to do it. The dialogue was stilted with every word of every conversation written down. The "Come ins" and "Thank yous" were repetitive and pointless.

Then, when the characters move to the house party, the story improves. The story becomes an amusing romp with a carousel of characters in the midst of romantic entanglements. It's obviously who will end up with who but getting there is actually fun. I liked the play within the story and how it served to bring the characters together the way they should be. You can always trust Shakespeare to know what's what. The ending is rather rushed and I would have liked a few more chapters to really bring the central romance to a close. The beginning could be tightened a lot to make room for the conclusion.

I disliked most of the characters though. I thought Terpi was irritating and I didn't understand her actions. I disliked Athena but she's not very bright so I can't hate her too much. Frederick is the worst. I hate Mama's boys. The ghastly mother-in-law from Hell was a genius creation of a crazy author. She is pure comic genius and is a character readers will love to hate. I really liked Aphrodite and could relate to her, being the only sane member in an insane family. I could easily see myself saying and doing everything she does even through the end. I liked the message she ultimately comes away with in the end. As a fiery, passionate (half) Italian, I appreciate the balance between level-headedness and passion. It's basically the same message as in Sense and Sensibility. Her romance could be developed a little more. I easily see why she loves who she loves. He reveals himself to be someone trustworthy, steady and reliable plus loving and passionate. I just didn't see what he saw in Aphrodite and felt that their relationship could have been more than about passion.

This is a light, fluffy read for readers of all ages. Though the story is about finding a balance between passion and reason, the passion doesn't get beyond kissing and a bit of tingling. I'd give it 2.5 stars because it wasn't as well written as I would like and was too fluffy for me.

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