Thursday, July 3, 2014

What I Read in May Part IV

What I Read in May Part IV . . .

Grey Mask  (Miss Silver, #1)Grey Mask by Patricia Wentworth-- Historical Mystery

Charles returns home to London after years away only to discover his house is headquarters for a mysterious villain and his henchmen who are plotting to use nefarious methods to steal the fortune of a young heiress. Charles is about to call the police when he discovers his former fiance Margaret is somehow involved. He can't implicate her in a crime, no matter how much he hurts over her rejection. He turns to his friend Archie who suggests Charles go to a Miss Silver, a inspectoress. Miss Silver refuses to help until Charles is honest with her. He finds it hard to trust anyone, especially a woman. Meanwhile, the heiress, Margot, is summoned home from boarding school upon her father's death. She hardly knew him so his death doesn't really affect her at first, until shocking family secrets are uncovered and her awful cousin tries to marry her. Can Charles figure out the secret of the Grey Mask and save the woman he loves?

I only skimmed this book. The first few chapters were so dull I couldn't get through them. Miss Silver doesn't even appear until almost halfway through the book and even then she only pops up here and there to offer more clues. Charles is the real detective. I figured out two of the major plot points pretty early on. I was on the right track for one and got the other correct. It seemed perfectly obvious to me who the villain was. There were a few plot twists I didn't see coming though. I wondered if J.K. Rowling likes this book because the villains reminded me a lot of the Death Eaters in Harry Potter. The writing style is very matter-of-fact and dry. The characters don't really come alive at all. The setting seemed very modern until a reference to flappers. From what I read, I couldn't really tell it was written in the 20s. I had some issues with the ending. It was a little too tidy for me.  I wouldn't classify this as a cozy mystery. Miss Silver is a professional detective and the criminal was really dark.

I don't know much about the characters. Charles is a boring misogynist who doesn't even trust the woman he claims to love. Margaret is OK. She's strong at times and appears weak at others but she's brave when she needs to be. Margot/Greta is insanely annoying. She's only 18 and been very sheltered her whole life so she acts and sounds much younger. She goes through the plot without really understanding what could happen to her and the consequences of her behavior. 

Lord Dearborn's DestinyLord Dearborn's Destiny by Brenda Hiatt -- Regency Romance

Forrest, Lord Dearborn's Mama believes in all manner of superstitions. To please her, he goes along with having his fortune told by one of her friends. The fortune teller predicts he will find his soul mate this season; a woman who is tall, blond, composed, graceful and demure. So Lord Dearborn enters the marriage mart in search of his destiny. He sets his sights on the incredibly beautiful Rosalind Winston-Fitts, a girl in her first Season. Rosalind and her cousin Elinor O'Day have come to London with Mr. and Mrs. Winston-Fitts in search of a titled husband for Rosie. Ellie understands her cousin is painfully shy in the company of gentlemen, with the exception of their neighbor, Sir George Bellamy. Ellie tries to draw her cousin out without much success. She truly wants her cousin to be happy, but fears what her aunt will do if Rosie defies orders. As the cousins spend more time with handsome, golden-haired Lord Dearborn, Ellie begins to realize she really enjoys his company. She realizes she could never be her cousin's companion after she weds Lord Dearborn for it would be too painful. Instead, Ellie will go to Ireland, to her grandfather's estate where she spent some of her happiest times. There's a little matter of the fact that she hasn't heard from him in a long time and his heir wrote to say he'd been ill. No matter, Ellie will go anyway for running away is preferable to facing her feelings.

Lord Dearborn is a boring hero. He's a bit of a rake and a misogynist but he loves his mother and he's good to her, even though he thinks her superstitions are nonsense. Other than that, I don't know much about him, or I can't remember, which amounts to the same thing. Rosie is a bit more than an insipid debutante. She's very sweet and loves her cousin. There's more to her than meets the eye. She's a bit more shrewd than Jane Bennet but seems to have been modeled after Jane. Ellie is more appealing. She's forthright without being rude, witty and charming. At least we're told she's witty. I thought she was a bit too mean at one point. She let go of her temper and rose to someone's bait, which she should not have done. She's a little too perfect to be a really wonderful character. She doesn't really have any flaws. Forrest's mother is also a fun character. She's a bit silly but she loves her son and wants what's best for him. I found it a little creepy than Forrest falls in love with a girl who physically resembles his sister and has the same personality and some of the same interests as his mother. Rounding out the characters are Rosie's hen-pecked father and social climbing mother. Mrs. Winston-Fitts is a typical Regency social-climber without any redeeming qualities. She gives Mrs. Bennet a run for her money. Mr. W-F is left out of most of the story. He does appear briefly and shows a glimpse of his true personality. The plot of the story is incredibly predictable, as most romance novels are. I kept waiting for the hero to wake up and stop being so stupid. The story advances pretty slowly before it gets to that point and then it's rather rushed. The story is rather forgettable but a pleasant read.

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