Saturday, March 25, 2017

What I Read in December 2016 Part III. . .

What I Read in December 2016 Part III. . .

A Suitable Wife (Ladies in Waiting, #2)A Suitable Wife (Ladies in Waiting #2) by Louise M. Gouge-- Inspirational Regency Romance

Lady Beatrice Gregory has been forced to seek employment as a companion in London due to her wastrel brother's immoral ways. Mrs. Parton has kindly taken Beatrice in but she doesn't treat Beatrice like a companion- more like the daughter of an Earl that Beatrice actually is. When Beatrice meets Mrs. Parton's neighbor, Lord Greystone, she's drawn to him because he seems to share her values. Greystone is striving hard to be the man his mother wants him to be and not the wicked man his father was. However, since a recent bout of illness, Greystone has been drawn more towards Christ's teachings and Christian charity. He has ideas about charity and educating the poor that his mother simply doesn't share. His mother would NOT approve of his growing interest in Lady Beatrice Gregory. Her brother is entirely unacceptable and his loss of his sister's dowry makes her ineligible to be the wife of any good man of the ton. Her brother's solution is to marry her off to his ... friend... Rumbold, a scoundrel of the first degree if there ever was one. Beatrice has no wish to marry without love and she fears her heart is taken, but will Lord Greystone ever marry a mere impoverished companion?

I started this book months ago and read a chapter or two at a time at the library before work. I realized early on the book wasn't worth bringing home. The plot has the tired old gambling brother story, which here takes center stage as the old story of the Prodigal Son becomes the prodigal brother. There's an added subplot about climbing boys, which I actually found the most interesting and one sanctimonious, priggish hero. The story started off well enough. I liked Lady Beatrice and her mischievous employer, who was obviously playing matchmaker from the get go. Lady Beatrice and Greystone have a good connection at first and the praying is kept to a minimum.

As the story went on, I began to intensely dislike Greystone. He's as priggish as he believes Lord Winston to be- even more so, since Greystone is a lot less confident and more snobbish. Greystone tries hard to rely on his religion as the solution to all his problems. Have a problem? Ask the Lord for help. Greystone is also constantly battling self-doubts. He's worried he will become as cruel as his father whenever he becomes angry or shows any spark of emotion. He can not possibly take a wife until he is convinced he will not turn out like his father. He tried to be sympathetic to a situation with a maid, but I thought the solution was pretty harsh. He was very kind to the climbing boys but he distanced himself from them by sending them off to his charity school. This action is more in keeping with a peer of the time than his religious convictions. From what I understand, religion was at this time, mostly out for members of the haut ton but would soon becomes in again as dissenting religions gained popularity during the Victorian period. However, for this particular character, the actions seemed unkind and unnecessarily harsh. Towards the end he takes some action and I liked the action sequence.

The villain was very very bad. He can not possibly redeem himself because he doesn't know Christ. However, Beatrice's brother only has to rediscover his religious teachings to realize he has behaved badly. This sort of thinking annoys me. His redemption seemed a little too quick and easy after being dissipated for so long. His character didn't really develop or grow slowly over time. He could have realized his ways without religion. He could have asked for help from Greystone, which would have made his development more interesting. Gambling and alcoholism are diseases that can't be fixed by praying for help or change. We know this now and so I think Melly would need more help than just discovering the error of his ways and rediscovering religion.

The historical details seem well done. I've read about climbing boys in Arabella and other Regency novels and what happens here seems to be accurate as far as Heyer's research. There's an especially gritty and sad scene towards the end that shows what life was like for women who did not have wealth or family background to protect them.

I've read other Inspirational Regency set novels and this one is just too heavy handed for me. I prefer more character growth and personal action.

Father ChristmasFather Christmas by Barbara Metzger--Regency Romance

The Duke of Ware needs an heir - and is not happy about it. If only there was some way to have the joy of raising on heir, without nannies and servants, without having to get leg shackled. That is a prospect that does NOT appeal to Leland Warrington When in his cups he hits upon the idea of adopting one of his late cousin's twin boys. The elder of the two is his heir unless he sires children of his own- which he won't be! When Graceanne Warrington reads the Duke's letter she is incensed! Take one of her sweet babies away? Never! (The entire village is hoping the Duke will take both devilish boys). Her Papa, a vicar dependant on the Duke for his living, thinks it is a tremendous opportunity for little Wellesley. Graceanne thinks over her dead body. When the Duke arrives in the village, Graceanne gives him a piece for her mind and her foot. Not only does this libertine want her baby, her wants her body! Graceanne would die rather than succumb this this man's wicked ways or let her sweet baby boy be turned into a wicked rake. However, she doesn't count on Leland's considerable charm. The three-year-old twins adore their new Cousin Collie and her sister Prudence can't stop batting her eyelashes. Is Graceanne the only one who sees the Duke's true colors - or is she mistaken?

This is not Barbara Metzger's best work, in my opinion. She did the same story, more or less, is short story form in one of the Christmas anthologies. I liked the shorter version better. This one goes on too long and has too many plot elements to keep it novel length. The story suffers as a results. There's the rakish hero, the young widow, and children plot; her strict pious Papa plot; her spoiled, headstrong younger sister plot - all bookended with Christmas celebrations. The Christmas scenes end up a bit repetitive but I liked learning about the Christmas traditions and gifts given. At least I would have if I didn't already know about them. Christmas just didn't charm me when here it is mostly about the selfish hero.

Instead of an amusing animal companion, she has a pair of mischievous 3-4 year old twins. My nephews are 3 and 4 and while they are loud and sometimes crazy, they're not like the boys in the book. However, my cousins probably would have been if they were closer in age. I didn't find the boys charming at all or as amusing as the usual animal companion. The boys were too young to be truly mischievous. Their antics are mostly told after the fact.

Leland is not an appealing hero. He starts off as a bit of a bully but he's kind to the children. He's generous with Graceanne but then in the misunderstanding section, he turns into a jerk again. I didn't like that he went off with a new mistress and had an intended after he fell in love with the heroine. He lusts after Graceanne more than truly loves and appreciates her.

I liked Graceanne. She's strong mentally and physically, and though she has a blind spot where her sons are concerned, she's a loving mother. I liked her attempts at making a merry Christmas despite her father's strictures. The way she handled her sister is admirable. I would have just slapped Pru for being a nitwit and then lectured her on being so incredibly stupid. Pru may be naive but she understand what she was doing more or less. Her plot is really unnecessary and just creates a big misunderstanding that doesn't really make sense. Mr. Beckwith is a horrible father. He's more selfish than even Leland and doesn't care at all about his family. His piety is just a front. He doesn't come across as sincere- just a bully who thinks she can tell everyone what to think and do. He believes he speaks for God. His wife had all my sympathy.

This book is technically a kisses only romance but there is a fair amount of sensuality. It's not as much as some of her later books though. There's also quite a bit of language here and the usual talk of mistresses/opera dancers/lightskirts, etc. and an unplanned pregnancy.

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