Monday, August 5, 2013

What I Read This Weekend

What I Read This Weekend . . .

Carousel of Hearts by Mary Jo Putney -- Regency Romance

Antonia Thornton is furious when her domineering aunt brings in a companion for her. After all, Antonia is a Baroness in her own right and surely doesn't need a companion. Judith Winslow should be used to feeling unwanted. A poor relation, she married for convenience and was soon widowed. She longs for love and adventure but has yet to find a way. When Tony discovers Judith is not a dragon, she takes the young widow in and the pair soon become good friends. Judith owes Tony her loyalty yet isn't afraid to speak her mind. When Tony's handsome cousin, Adam Yorke arrives home from years in the East Indies, Judith's heart is touched at his kindness and devotion. Tony is thrilled to have her cousin back again but a bit annoyed because he left without saying goodbye. She had always assumed they would marry, but it seems that he sees her only as a sister so she must love him as a brother. When Simon, Lord Launceston pays a visit to Adam, both ladies are struck by the young man's godlike looks. Simon is equally captivated by Antonia's beauty and spirit. As Shakespeare once said, the course of true love never did run smooth. A shocking event changes the lives of the four people forever. Before the novel is finished, they will have gone round the carousel of love many times. This is a nice, light read. The basic idea is a tried and true plot line but the execution is rather different. The middle of the book is a bit dark. The pacing is a bit slow. There's a lot of descriptive details about steam engines and astronomy which are very boring. The ending is a bit rushed. There's some sensual romance (kissing, touching, feelings) but nothing super graphic and no love scenes. Actually, there's about the same amount or just slightly more sensuality than in her teen novels. I liked the characters a lot. Judith and Tony resemble the Dashwood sisters. I felt sympathy for Judith but she was also a bit of a doormat and too noble. She's supposed to be intelligent and a bluestocking but she's overshadowed by Tony and most of her development occurs in passing. I would have liked more character development for her. The passionate, fiery Tony was more to my liking. The young men are decent heroes. I liked Simon better because he's scholarly. Adam is obviously bright and a good businessman, but if he were as good a judge of character as everyone claims he was, he wouldn't have had half the romantic problems. He's a bit of a mystery only revealing his true self at the end. His back story would have been more interesting if it had been played out rather than dropped in on the end. I liked this story for it's originality. It's predictable but a good read for fans of traditional style Regencies.

Spiderweb for Two: A Melendy Maze by Elizabeth Enright -- children's classic

In this final volume of the Melendy quartet the older children are off to boarding school leaving Randy and Oliver behind. The younger children are bored without their lively family until a mysterious note arrives in the mail leaving clues to a scavenger hunt. The hunt not only promises a great reward but brings the sister and brother closer together. This story is not quite as good as the previous three. I figured out who sent the notes and what the outcome would be right away, but I still had fun trying to figure out the clues. I enjoyed seeing more of the neighbors and friends who dropped out of the previous stories. As with the other books, the illustrations are by the author. They don't really add to the story very much except for the frontispiece depicting The Four Story Mistake. I was sad to see this series end. I think this one should have had a preface and an epilogue with the children grown up and remembering when. This series is a must-read for fans of classic children's novels or those who liked the contemporary Penderiwcks series. 

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