Monday, January 18, 2016

What I Read in January 2015 Part IX

What I Read in January 2015 Part IX . . .

Gather Ye Rosebuds by Joan Smith -- Regency Romance Gather Ye Rosebuds (Regency Romance)

Zoie Barron is taking over her late uncle's room and turning it into an art studio. While renovating the room she discovers a diamond necklace that a neighbor had reported stolen! While trying to discreetly return the necklace to the late Lady Margaret Weylin's family, Zoie is caught by the current Lord Weylin and practically accused of being a thief. Lord Weylin takes an interest in the affair of the missing necklace and together they set out to solve the mystery that involves Zoie's late uncle Barry and Weylin's late aunt Margaret. What they find is not what they expected - in more ways than one. The pair must solve the mystery before the butler bleeds them dry or runs off with the clue.

Joan Smith is hit or miss with me usually and while I liked this one, I didn't love it. The story is told in first person present tense and first person past tense. The first person narrative is really limiting in a romance because you never get the other person's point-of-view. I got used to it after awhile and didn't really miss the head jumping. The focus of the story was on the mystery anyway. I liked the mystery once it got going but it seemed really stupid of Zoie to try to return a necklace without a)checking to see if it was real and b)checking to see if it WAS indeed the missing necklace and c)trying to return it without getting caught. I wasn't surprised much by the reveal. Once the clues started to come together, I figured it out. I wasn't surprised by the final clue though it wasn't something that had crossed my mind in the last several chapters. There are a whole lot of coincidences in this book but the story is not improbable. The romance doesn't really develop strongly. The clues are there but the reader has to guess what the characters are feeling. I don't really get what Zoie sees in the hero.

I liked Zoie for the most part though she's pretty stupid at first. She's resourceful and strong but not foolhardy. Weylin didn't really appeal to me much. He's high handed a bit and quit top lofty. Zoie keeps putting him in his place a bit like Elizabeth Bennet does with Darcy. I preferred the kind artist Count Borsini for the same reasons Zoie did. My two favorite characters are the servants: Bradogan, the tough Irish housekeeper and Steptoe, the thieving butler. P.G. Wodehouse would also be amused by Steptoe. Steptoe is one of those people you love to hate but enjoy because he's the comic relief.

This is a pleasant, entertaining story for a bit of mindless fluff. It was available through OverDrive media at my local library.

Damsel in Distress -- P.G. Wodehouse -- Historical Fiction/romance

Maud Marsh is the daughter of Lord Marshmoreton and as such, she is expected to marry someone from a good background with an acceptable fortune. The problem is she has fallen in love with an inelligible American. Her aunt, Lady Caroline Byng, vehemently disapproves for she wants Maud to marry her stepson Reggie. Reggie has his heart set on Lord Marshemorton's secretary, though he gets tongue tied around her. When Maud sneaks off to London to meet Geoffrey for the first time in a year, she is forced by circumstances to jump into a cab with a strange man. That stranger, George Bevan, a Broadway musical composer, has little idea how his life is about to be turned upside down. The one thing he does know is that he has fallen hoplessly in love with Maud at first sight.

This cute story is basically the same as a Blandings Castle novel. Lord Marshmoreton is not as absent-minded as Lord Emsworth though. He does allow his sister to bully him into submission when he doesn't feel like coping. Maud is a sweetheart and she may be a young lady but she's not an empty-headed young girl. She knows her own heart (or thinks she does) and goes after what she wants. Instead of moping and allowing someone else to direct events, she takes control with some assistance from the downstairs family. The servants are hilarious, especially Albert the page boy. George is a nice man without much personality. He sighs over Maud and allows events to happen and allows the servants to help him on his path to true love. Reggie is a typical best friend chararcter: true blue but not much going on in the brainbox. He provides a lot of the humor though. The other characters are basically cookie cutter Wodehousian types. The plot moves pretty quickly and the screwball scene at the beginning is one of the funniest I've ever read.

If you like Downton Abbey or Upstairs Downstairs but don't like the drama, try this story. If you're a Wodehouse fan, you'll enjoy this early story a lot.

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