Saturday, April 26, 2014

What I've Read This Week

What I've Read This Week . .

The Tynedale DaughtersThe Tynedale Daughters by Norma Lee Clark -- Regency Romance

The three Tyndale daughters are as different as can be. There's good natured Milly, beautiful Norrie and comical Kitty. None of them are looking forward to the visit from their father's heir, Anthony Beaumont. Mr. Tyndale hated Anthony's father for some reason and Kitty is determined to hate her father's heir. Though her father has many good years left, the visit from Anthony is one more change in young Kitty's life. Her older sisters are engaged to the most suitable gentlemen and now it's to be Kitt's turn to have her Season. She resents change and wants to stay the same forever. When Anthony arrives, Kitty feels she can never like him and they cross verbal swords whenever they meet. Then he shows his true colors and Kitty is vastly confused. When Milly goes to visit her godmother, she meets her sister's fiance for the first time. She's struck by his incredible beauty but also his kind heart. Then Milly's fiance comes to visit and Norrie is shocked to discover a man who can see past her beauty and admires her intelligence, something no one knew she even possessed. Then there's dear Aunt Sally, a middle-aged woman with the mind of a fourteen-year-old girl. Some dark secret lies in Aunt Sally's past that made her that way but she can't or won't tell anyone what it is. She befriends Anthony and trusts him quickly, unusual in such a shy person. He vows to care for her if she should become his dependent but he may be able to solve the mystery of Aunt Sally's broken heart.

The plot of this book moves very very slowly. The opening conversation is interrupted to tell us a description of each of the three girls. The conversation picks up mid-stream and by that time, I had forgotten what they were discussing. I kept falling asleep during the first half of the novel and didn't even make it halfway before falling asleep for good. The second half is a little better with a gothic mystery to solve. At first I didn't see the point of the mystery in a comedy of manners novel but when the significance is revealed, I understood why it was part of the plot. Ad for romance, there's a little bit of courtship but we're mostly told what's going on and who is feeling what. The central romance just barely gets off the ground before it flounders and comes to a horrible conclusion. I didn't find the ending romantic at all.

I liked the Tynedale family. They are warm and loving. Mr. and Mrs. Tynedale made a love match and are still in love after 30 years of marriage. They're very sweet together. Mr. Tyndale is a bit clueless when it comes to his daughters but a mother always knows what her children are up to and how they're feeling. She's made a few mistakes along the way but is willing to own up to her faults. The Tynedale parents never pressure their daughters into anything the girls are not willing to do. They don't feel the need to marry their daughters off quickly, they just want their children to be happy. They also care deeply for Mr. Tyndale's sister, who could be a tragic figure, but because of their warmth and kindness, is a sweet, shy little woman. I loved her just as much as her nieces did except that the reveal of the mystery seemed a little gothic and strange to me. The three daughters aren't quite so easy to like. I had a hard time telling the difference between Milly and Norrie and I didn't much care. Their plots were predictable and a bit silly. Kitty is very young, only 17, and immature. She's a lot like Jo March in Little Women because she's a hoyden and a tomboy and doesn't like change. I didn't like the way she acted without thinking and how she jumped to the wrong conclusions. I really really hated the last few scenes she was in. The interactions just didn't endear me to her or the other character. I can't say I wouldn't have acted the same way at that age but I don't like young heroines because they're just too stupid for me. I wanted to like Anthony but I found him boring. He's so good and perfect for most of the book. There wasn't much to him. Then, at the very end, I hated him and it ruined the whole story for me.

Lord Nightingale's Debut (Lord Nightingale, #1)Lord Nightingale's Debut by Judith A. Lansdowne

Nicky Chastain, Earl of Wickenhire has worked hard these many years since the death of his father when Nicky was 13, to make his estates pay off. Now he has come to his rundown country house Willowsweep to work the land and make it profitable. He finally has a chance to live his life thanks to a bequest from his aunt's will, however, he only gets his money if Lord Nightingale will sing in public on June 1. Who is Lord Nightingale? Lord Nightingale is Nicky's late uncle's irascible parrot! Lord Nightingale swears like a sailor and will bit any fingers that come near him. Teaching him to sing when he's so cranky and Nicky can't carry a tune, seems an impossibility. Miss Serendipity Bedford's Papa has died and her distant cousin Henry Wiggins has inherited the title. The new Lord Upton wants to take up residence in the family's London home and of course it isn't proper for an unmarried lady to stay with a bachelor, so Serendipity and her little sister Delight are shortly to be homeless. Serendipity is searching for a position and writes to her school friend Eugenia Chastain to employ her maid Bessie. Eugenia happens to be visiting her cousin Nicky when she receives the letter. Nicky knows of the new Lord Upton, a friend of his wastrel cousin Neil and feels for Serendipity. He tells Eugenia to send for her friend and he will employ her as a singing teacher for Lord Nightingale. It's fate, or serendipity! When Serendipity views the crumbling house with boarded windows and hears screams late at night and early in the morning, she lets her imagination run wild. How can a man who is so kind to her shy little sister Delight be a villain out of a gothic novel? Then she discovers her pupil is a lusty parrot! How can she ever teach him to sing? Did the earl of Wickenshire hire her out of charity? Her cousin Henry and his friend Neil have their own reasons for not wanting the plan to succeed and are determined to make sure that they get their own way. Serendipity thinks her first impressions might have been wrong. The Earl seems kind but yet the house is so gothic. Her cousin seems cruel and heartless but now is kind and thoughtful. Who should she trust? Meanwhile, someone wants Nicky off the property, but who and why? Is it safe to stay there with his mother, cousin and the Bedford ladies?

I stayed up too late again reading. The charm of this book lies in the plot. There's the plot about Lord Nightingale, a plot with villains and a mystery plot. I guessed the mystery almost right away. It was obvious and Nicky should have figured out why. I never figured out who and that came as quite a shock. There's another plot with villains that I didn't much like but they provide a lot of humor. The romance is subtle and takes a back seat to the adventure plot. It's a very sweet romance with only a kiss at the end. There's nothing else except friendship and trust. I could have used a little more interaction between the hero and heroine. Most of his scenes are by himself or with someone other than the heroine. It makes it hard to believe in the romance if the hero and heroine are not together. The plot would have made a cute short story without the villains and mystery. As is, it's too long and I found myself skimming passages to get to the action.

The best character in the novel is Lord Nightingale. He's anything but a Nightingale. His former owner must have been quite the character for Lord Nightingale's vocabulary is... interesting. Lord Nightingale is a colorful character both literally and figuratively. He's a beautiful bird physically and has quite a large personality. He provides a lot of laughs. The other animal companions are also a lot of fun. I'm a sucker for a good animal story. The humans are less interesting. I liked Eugenia the best of the humans. She's smart, non-nonsense but loving and very generous. I am hoping she finds a man to love her despite her lameness and bluestocking spinster manner. I also liked Nicky's mother who is loving and wise and sweet, shy Delight. Nicky is a paragon of a hero. Since the age of 13, he has been working hard to repair his estates with no money. This means working on the land himself. He seems himself as a frog in a fairy tale. He thinks his soul is disfigured. Nicky is very kind to damsels in distress, accepts Delight for herself and knows just how to charm the little girl. He's also great with animals. What's not to love? He makes a good change from the rakish heroes but he's not much of a ladies man which drags the romance plot down.

Serendipity, on the other hand, is TSTL. She has read too many gothic novels and lets her imagination run wild. She makes up stories in her imagination and then shares them as fact. She doesn't know enough to trust her instincts. She is optimistic and has utmost faith that everything will turn out. I suppose the hero loves her for her optimism and support but I found her silly and stupid. I wish the hero waited for Delight to grow up because the younger sister seems much better then the older.

I plan to read the rest of the books because I loved Lord Nightingale!

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