Tuesday, February 2, 2016

What I Read in November 2015 Part III

What I Read in November 2015 Part III ...

The Parfit KnightThe Parfit Knight by Stella Riley-- Regency Romance

"He was a verray, parfit, gentil knyght."
~Geoffrey Chaucer, Prologue, The Canterbury Tales

At almost 10 years of age, Miss Rosalind Vernon loves teasing her older brother Philip and racing him through the countryside. On the day before her 10th birthday, she meets with a terrible accident that will have repercussions that last through the whole novel. A dozen years later, the Marquis of Allendale has recently returned to London from a sojourn in France with his latest mistress only to be accused of fleecing young Robert Dacre out of 3000 guineas at a card game. Young Captain Philip Vernon may be new to London but Robert is his brother-in-law and he won't stand by to see his friend taken advantage of. Allendale deals with the matter with humor and good grace, just as he deals with all of his problems. Summoned home on urgent business, Allendale's carriage is held up by highwaymen and his coachman shot. The men seek refuge at the nearest house, the home of Mistress Rosalind Vernon. Then the snow begins to fall and Allendale is trapped. He's stunned by his beautiful hostess and shocked by her limited world. Rosalind slowly begins to blossom as Allendale figuratively opens her eyes to the wider world. She begins to fall in love and Allendale too, experiences more than feelings of friendship. Then she reveals something shocking and Allendale's world is rocked. He decides it's time to withdraw from his lady but first convinces Philip it's in his best interest to give Rosalind a London Season. Rosalind is scared and delighted. She enjoys the company of her sister-in-law Isabel and the Duke of Rockingham. She soon becomes the toast of London and Allendale is completely miserable. Philip can't understand why his sister turns down numerous good opportunities for an advantageous marriage. There's only one man Rosalind wants and he doesn't seem to want her back.

This is a squeaky clean Heyeresque Georgian romance. The plot and characters are influenced by Heyer, but the blind heroine makes the story unique and saves it from being another Heyer copycat story. The plot pacing could be a bit better. The beginning is slow but once the hero and heroine meet, the story picks up. I had a hard time putting it down until I found out how these two got together. I could have done without the gambling brother plot and some of the dialogue is lifted from Austen and Heyer but tweaked to fit the situation. Otherwise the story is well-written and I liked the descriptive writing style. I didn't like the head jumping point-of-view shift very much and thought the author should have stuck to Rose and Allendale.

Though the characters are not very memorable and don't leap off the page, they're well-written. Rosalind is a wonderful heroine. I loved how she didn't let her blindness affect her attitude. She never dwells on what she can't do, she never laments her lack of sight or blames anyone for the accident. She's independent, strong, intelligent and stubborn. She knows what she wants and how she gets it is funny and charming. Her soon-to-be sister-in-law Isabel is also charming. She's sweet and caring but has a lot of backbone and knows what she wants. Like Rose, she's a good judge of character.

The men don't fare as well as the ladies with the exception of Allendale. Denzil is so charming. He has a reputation as a rake but he isn't really. He's sensitive, kind and caring. He deals with his feelings with humor and enjoys a shared sense of humor with Rose. I like how the romance develops, though it happens quickly. It's very sweet. Philip is an awful brother. He's selfish and unimaginative. He never stops to think about how Rose feels or what she wants. He loves her very much and thinks he's doing the best for her but he has placed in her a gilded cage and more or less forgotten her. He's quick to judge and has a hasty temper. He supports his awful friend Robert long after he shouldn't. Robert is truly a terrible person. He's selfish, manipulative, cruel and a liar. I couldn't stand him and failed to see why Phil supported him. The two best men besides Allendale are Broody, a salty-tongued parrot and the charming Duke of Rockingham.

Read this if you like Georgette Heyer and early copycats.

Nobody's SecretNobody's Secret  by Michaela McCall-- Young Adult Historical Fiction/mystery

Fifteen-year-old Emily Dickinson is tired of living in Amherst, Massachusetts where everyone knows her family. She wishes sometimes she could be nobody at all. She also wishes for a friend who will understand her thoughts. Then she meets Mr. Nobody, a handsome stranger who gets her love of nature and her unorthodox views on religion. When Mr. Nobody is found dead in the Dickinson's pond and no one can identify his body, Emily is determined to find out his identity. As she pursues the clues, she learns that Mr. Nobody may have been murdered! Who in Amherst could have done that and why? Can she solve the mystery before her parents put a stop to her activities?

This is a cute introduction to Emily Dickinson. It provides a unique look at her life though the plot is fictional. It's hard to believe Emily Dickinson wasn't always a recluse. At 15 she enjoyed socializing (but not sewing circles or dancing) and being out of doors. She was beginning to jot down the poems in her head that would become the famous poems we all know. She's a great character - bright, inquisitive and loyal. I thought she seemed younger than 15 and younger than her sister. I liked how unique she was and how she felt she didn't fit in with her family. I think most teens will be able to relate to her. Her parents appear very two-dimensional as do the other secondary characters. Mr. and Mrs. Dickinson are hypochondriacs who worry about everything. Mrs. Dickinson doesn't believe in educating her girls to do anything other than run a household. She annoyed me a whole lot. Emily's sister Lavinnia is a bit better. She's lively but more content than Emily and she has a quick mind which gets them out of trouble a lot. Mr. Nobody is an intriguing character. Since he is found dead early on, Emily and the reader don't get to know him well but I really liked what I knew about him and thought he may have been based loosely on Henry David Thoreau.

The plot isn't that spectacular. Though I had a hard time putting the book down, I did figure out what had happened before Emily. That murder device is sooooo overdone. It seems so easy in novels but if it was that easy to get away with murder then I think more murders would have been committed. The confrontation is a bit silly and predictable. The story is fairly light despite being a murder mystery so adults may not enjoy this one as much as younger readers.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Leave comments and or suggestions for QNPoohBear, the modern bluestocking.