Friday, January 29, 2016

What I Read in September 2015 Part II

What I Read in September 2015 Part II ...

A Diamond in the Rough (Dangerous Liaisons, #1)Diamond in the Rough by Andrea Pickens- Regency Romance

Adrian Linsley, Viscount Marquand has had it with his parents' profligate behavior. With a secret occupation as a landscape designer and a modest inheritance, he has managed to become a respectable member of the ton and a noted Corinthian. Adrian has also found a most proper and perfect bride, Lady Honoria Dunster, an Earl's daughter who will be a lovely addition to his life and home. That is, if he has a home! His father, a drunken gamester has wagered Halsey Hall on a golf match between Adrian and Lord Hertford a notorious villain! Adrian is furious with his father but accepts the challenge. He knows nothing about golf but is assured that he will have the best teachers at St. Andrews in Scotland. However, his caddy, "dirty" Derry, makes Adiran's blood boil! He's also stressed about a garden design he has to come up with and trying to spend time with his elusive fiance. Can he ever concentrate enough to win his ancestral home? Miss Derrien Edwards leads a dual life. By night, she's the proper young lady of Scottish society but by day she hangs around St. Andrews learning all she can about her favorite sport. When "Derry" as she is known, is assigned to work with Viscount Marquand, she's furious. She knows he's just one more lazy, rakish English lord like the one who seduced her mother years ago. She vows she will never give in to the charm of an English lord.

This is a digital reprint of an early paperback Regency. It's one of the better e-book offerings right now, especially since it was free on Amazon! Let me begin this review by saying I hate golf. I liked mini golf when I was younger but I was terrible at it. I never even tried it when my uncle took us to the driving range, preferring instead the arcade video games. I stink at Wii golf. This story is all about golf. It contains endless details about golf, the history of and how to play. It should be a snoozer right? Wrong! (Actually that's why 4 stars and not 5). I actually kind of liked learning about the early modern history of golf. I knew it was being played in Scotland with a stick similar to a walking stick and a ball of feathers from a visit to Colonial Williamsburg (where the interpreter portraying a colonial man absentmindedly practiced his golf swing and then covered his tracks by explaining how it was being played in Scotland). There are way too many details about how to play and the best way to go about winning. I could have done without all the play by play.

I also knocked the book down to 4 stars because Adrian is so extremely stupid. He doesn't figure out any of the secrets about the ladies in his life, let alone understand his feelings. To be fair to him, he's preoccupied. I did find him an admirable hero though. He's not a rake, though he has known a ballet dancer or two. He excels at sports, he's loyal, values his estate and has a passion for landscape design. Lest you think he's too perfect, he also has a temper and is impatient on the golf course. Plus he insists on marrying the most porcelain-doll like lady, ignoring his own feelings. I really liked him but fell short of falling in love myself.

I liked Derry a lot though found her a bit immature. She's always resisting the urge to kick someone in the shins or stick her tongue out at them. She's busy running around dressed like a boy and thinks no one will notice. Her mentor sees all and knows her better than she knows herself. I also disliked her assumptions about Adrian based on one or two bad experiences. I can see her feeling that way before she meets Adrian but she insists on misjudging him for too long. It was a little annoying.

The romance develops nicely. The two go from antagonists to mutual respect and admiration, to friendship and love. Sure they haven't known each other long, but that's the norm for this genre and they know each other better than Adrian knows Honoria and better than they would if they had met only in Society. There is one scene with heavy kissing and light petting but no body parts are exposed. I actually expected a lot more love making based on the chemistry between the two. There is a minor subplot that develops that I could have done without. It's predictable but shows how young ladies were expected to behave.

I really want to read Rafe's story. He was a good friend to Adrian, a brave and patriotic British man and his story involves chocolate. And there's a dog on the cover. Two things guaranteed to win me over. I requested the library buy the e-book so hopefully they'll get it soon.

Artemisia (a Regency romance in the tradition of Jane Austen)
rtemesia: A  Novel in the tradition of Jane Austen 
by D.G. Rampton-- Middle Grades Fiction

Artemisia Grantley, niece of the Duke of Wentworth, likes nothing better than to romp around her uncle's estate dressed as a boy with her best guy pal, much to her uncle's dismay. The Duke is determined to get Arabella a Season before she comes into her full inheritance and gets into mischief. He asks his political friend Jared, the Marquess of Chysm to enlist the aid of his sister Marianne, the lovely widowed Lady Lubriot to help. Unfortunately for Artemisia, her first meeting with Lord Chysm was less than stellar and now she's convinced he is her greatest enemy. Marianne wins over Artemsia and helps the girl adopt a few social graces in preparation for the Season. Artemisia is determined to do the Season her way, which means clashing with some of the leaders of the ton, especially Lord Chysm. His interest in the girl excites the gossips of the ton for everyone knows Lord Chysm is not the marrying sort. As Artemisia becomes a greater success, the more the gossiping tongues wag and the more Artemisia feels peevish and the more she and Lord Chysm disagree about her behavior. She still has no plans to marry... unless she falls in love and the man she loves can love her back. As for Lord Chysm, he could care less about debutantes, he's just doing a favor for an old friend and his beloved sister, or so he tells himself. He's more concerned with finding out what happened to his spies carrying news from France. It seems there's a leak somewhere in the War Office but who is it?

This book states that it is in the tradition of Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer. The influence of these two wonderful writers is clearly seen, especially in the opening paragraph. The opening is worded similarly to Northanger Abbey. There's also a scene with Michaelangelo, the spaniel pup and a poodle in the park which is reminiscent of a scene in Frederica. It's not quite as zany or funny. Overall, the writing is decent and the author soon develops her own style of writing. The relationship aspect of the novel also resembles a Georgette Heyer novel. It develops OK but the constant fighting got on my nerves by the end of the book and I didn't feel there was anything romantic about it. The 13 year age difference between Artemisia and Chysm made her seem childish at times. The mystery gripped me and I couldn't put the book down until I found out how it all turned out. I wasn't surprised at the identity of the villain/s but how it all came together was a bit of a surprise.

Artemisia is a likable heroine, for the most part. She doesn't want to grow up and chafes against the prescribed gender roles of her time. She longs to be free to do what she really wants. She longs for adventure and travel, which are not possible for an unmarried girl, especially during war time. I felt bad for her that she had nothing to really look forward to or goals available except marriage. She does seem rather childish at times though when she fights with Chysm. She also shows her naivete at times which causes her to do stupid things. I think she could have been made more likable by making her older and a little less stubborn.

Chysm is likable for the most part. He's a strong alpha male who has a strict sense of propriety regarding unmarried women and he knows how the ton will tear apart Artemisia for being unconventional. I almost felt bad for him that she willfully misunderstood him and continued to fight with him long after they should have been friends.

The secondary characters are very good too. Marianne is charming and sweet. I couldn't help but like her the way Artemisia did. She knows just how to handle stubborn young ladies who don't care what other people think. I liked the close bond between the two women and how they supported each other. Uncle Timothy is a Mr. Bingley sort of character. He's very amiable and not dashing or romantic but kind and good. I liked his story though it was very predictable. Artemisia's gentlemen friends are largely unmemorable and not worth mentioning. The villains are truly despicable in their actions.

If you like the Signet and Zebra Regency romances of the 90s, especially those by Regina Scott you will enjoy this one. I would be willing to read more from this author. If you don't like Bath Tangle then this book is probably not for you.

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