Monday, October 28, 2013

What I Read This Weekend

What I Read This Weekend . . . 

Spellbound Hearts : Three Bewitching Tales of Regency Romance by  Jo Ann Ferguson, Karla Hocker, Joy Reed 

This collection of tales centers around Halloween and is perfect light reading for this time of year.

In Spellbound by Jo Ann Ferguson, Faye Wynchwood is asked by her dear friend Venetia to cast a love spell or else Venetia will die of a broken heart like the other women in her family. Faye is cautious. She doesn't like anyone to know she's a witch and she doesn't really consider herself one, despite the tales in the village. She knows the folklore and remedies her great-aunt taught her but she does know how to help her friend. When she discovers that her friend's true love is from the family that has persecuted the Wynchwoods for centuries, she's torn between loyalty to her family and her desire to see the handsome, teasing stranger who caught her stealing dirt from his estate. This story is a little too cute for my tastes. In everything else I've read, witches don't cast love spells. That never goes well. The excuse here is that it only works if the two hearts are willing. Cassidy St. James is an alpha hero and he's a little too in control for my tastes but I can see Faye's attraction to him. The plot was resolved in a weird way and I didn't quite understand it. It goes with the magical theme but seems strange given the rest of the story. It's not a bad story and I liked it, I just didn't love it. 

The characters in A Soul of Indiscretion by Karla Hocker are already married but the idyllic honeymoon period is over and after ten years, Philip and Amanda can't seem to get along. Philip feels Amanda is indiscreet and will ruin his political aspirations. Amanda doesn't like Philip's political mentor and fears the man will make her husband compromise his beliefs. Philip, an ex-clergyman, believes he is firm in his convictions. While staying at Philip's family's crumbling, spooky old manor home on an island in Northumberland, Amanda hopes they can repair their marriage, but Philip isn't sure what to do with her. when his eccentric and mysterious Aunt Sybil arrived (when she was believed to be dead), she forms her own opinions about the couple's relationship. As All Hallows Eve approaches, a sinister feeling is in the air. Can the couple reconcile before the pagan holiday's evilness ruin everything? This story is too sad and gothic for my tastes. Philip is a lot like Mr. Darcy. He's annoyingly stuffy and proper and believes himself to be right. Amanda is more like Elizabeth, lively, friendly and believing herself to be a good judge of character. On every other page it seems Amanda is weeping and she can't get Philip to stop and talk things out with her. He annoyed me so much. I liked Aunt Sybil the best. She provides some comic relief for this story. The ending was rather unusual and very strange. It's a good tale for Halloween but not my favorite.

Moonlight Masquerade by Joy Reed features two best friends who couldn't be more different. Minnie is flirtatious and forward and Susan is shy and reserved. Susan sometimes wishes she could be more forward like Minnie. Last Halloween, she shared a sweet flirtation and tender kisses with a masked gentleman at the Squire's Ball. She longs for the gentleman's kisses again, but she believes her true love is also the man Minnie has her sights set on marrying! Susan wishes just for once, a gentleman would see her and not Minnie. Perhaps she'll have a chance at the Squire's ball, if only she dares let go of some of her reserve. This is my favorite story in the collection. I can relate to Susan. My Junior High best friends were Minnie and I was Susan. I immediately sympathized with Susan and loved her instantly. I hated Minnie. She's a lot like Lydia Bennet and I found her only slightly less irritating. Her love interest isn't much better. He's similar to Mr. Bingley but dim-witted. Susan's romance is so sweet it will make you sigh. Her hero is worthy of a swoon or two. I guessed who he was right away but I understand completely why Susan didn't. Her feelings came as a surprise to her and the romance develops gradually. Even though it takes place in only one night, the pacing of the story feels just right and makes the romance sweeter. It could have been a little longer to be more realistic but I liked it a lot.

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