I never got to read this book when I was a kid, but it got such terrific ratings, I thought I'd order it and give it a go. I'm not quite sure that I l...moreI never got to read this book when I was a kid, but it got such terrific ratings, I thought I'd order it and give it a go. I'm not quite sure that I love it to the point of it having a profound impact on my life, but it is certainly a very well-written piece of work, not only on the paranormal, but on the everyday banalities of life.
What was particularly outstanding, as a matter of fact, was Mahy's exploration of a teenage girl's mind in dealing with the realities of life. Laura Chant is a 15 y/o girl living in New Zealand, with a young brother of around 6 y/o. She lives with her divorced mother due to the fact that her father had an affair with his young secretary and subsequently married her. Laura is quite close to her mother, Kate, who, although they live a semi hand-to-mouth existence (their phone was disconnected due to their failure to pay the phone bills), does not regret divorcing her husband. There is a very detailed analysis of Laura's caring of her brother, her relationship with her mother -- where sometimes she feels annoyed by her mother for not being able to take care of issues as she would like, or impatience with her mother for wanting to date again. There's her ambiguity with the shared glances with Sorenson, a senior at her school (I'm using US terms). There's her feeling of being able to sense paranormal happenings. This book deals a lot with growing up, with the uncomfortable awareness of the changes happening to her body, as well as her need to care for her brother outweighing her desire to flirt with Sorenson -- it is this need that is the most realistic and stands foremost in her mind in this new genre of books in which girls all worry about their appearances and boys more than anything else.
All in all, I very much enjoyed the day-to-day descriptions of a child of divorce, and how uncomfortable she feels with the father that still loves her but is unable to, initially, forgive him. That, amidst the YA horrific descriptions of the lemur (or incubus-seeming toad), is what stands out to me most of all. If nothing else, the world-building was wonderfully done, including all the characters, their backgrounds and motivations or lack thereof.(less)
I rank this book under a very weird category of romantic horror, and I loved it. This book is such a reflection of period in which it was written (197...moreI rank this book under a very weird category of romantic horror, and I loved it. This book is such a reflection of period in which it was written (1978?) and so eeriely gothic. I loved it! And I love how, despite all the atrocities that appear in the book, the sex is surprisingly tame. I mean, now there are all sorts of creepiola things that can show a really twisted mind, but Domenico (the Duke) was tame, other than his violent first rape scene.
The hero. Or rather, anti-hero. I loved this guy. Don't get me wrong. He's an absolute psycho and deserves to be locked up, but as a character, he was awesome! He was absolutely demented, and somehow everyone was in love with him? I'm not sure if this would logically be due in some sense to his status -- a duke of a province is essentially a sovereign, after all, but no. He was loved and lusted after even before he became the current duke, so there's no accounting for taste. Maybe because he was so pale in a country of swarthy folk? I have no idea.
The creepy gothic stuff that goes on. There's lots of pseudo incest that goes on. Apparently incest was the whispered byword of the day, and so there are lots and lots. First, the bastard brother of Domenico had sex with their father's third wife (not strictly incest, but counts, biblically speaking). Felicia feels at some point that they are brother and sister -- honestly, I felt a bit disappointed that they weren't. It would make the story so much the creepier. Domenico also had sex with his father's second wife in the chapel, after which she kills herself and is discovered the next day in a pool of blood. This event is puzzling to me -- did she bring the knife with her, or did she return to the place? Then the second wife also had some sort of weird love-thing going on with her own brother, which is revealed at the end.
Other than the incest, it's revealed that Domenico is also bi, but somehow Felicia has tamed this aspect of him. But at one point, he's content to let his men know that he's tupping an errand boy (Felicia dressed up as a boy). There's a torture chamber where Domenico sends a footman for daring to be the recipient of Felicia's smile. Six or seven people are summarily hanged for allowing Felicia to run away (one, a female has a huge, jagged rip in her face where I'm assuming Domenico struck her for daring to take Felicia's place). Domenico's close friend/long-time lover is manipulated and killed (by dogs!).
If you harbor hopes that Domenico will be a gentle caring lover when he first appears in the book and stares at Felicia hanging out of the window, put those hopes away now! It'll make you enjoy the book that much more. There are tons of intrigues -- Domenico's great-uncle the archbishop standing in the way of Cabria being excommunicated, disease-stricken courtiers, the bastard brother allying with the third wife of the old duke (also Domenico's spurned would-be lover), the big cover-up of Felicia's birth so that Domenico can get what he wants, which is, weirdly enough, Felicia to marry him. What? All because she refused to tell him that she loved him. Apparently this is all it takes to make a psychotic man fall in love with you.
I loved the book. It's such a book of the times, where these psychotic men are manipulative and do all sorts of crazy things and usually it's okay, because they love the female, and they have a somewhat troubled past (they weren't loved. they were loved too much. they have nightmares. etc.) Women's lib have left these men in the dust. Or rather, the backlash of women's lib brought these men back in the 80s, but now they've all gone away in the age of the Beta men. (less)
This is one of those books in which the hero(es) featured is a villain.
When the book opens up, it's from the viewpoint of the Marquis, who despises th...moreThis is one of those books in which the hero(es) featured is a villain.
When the book opens up, it's from the viewpoint of the Marquis, who despises the Black Duke for being depraved and licentious. They both spy a beautiful young girl attending the opera on the night in which courtesans seek new protectors. The Duke makes an immediate move towards her, but the Marquis doesn't.
What happens then is that the Duke doesn't give up. He's sinister in his pursuit of Regina and sets a carriage outside her house so that she's unable to leave the premises. Her uncle, when he finds out about this, requests help from the Marquis on the basis of their many years of secretive, exclusive, and profitable business dealings. However, the uncle then passes away, leaving his sister (?) and nephew.
Regina is given an ultimatum by the aunt, who tells her that she would be given a set amount of money to speed her on her way to her old governess in Canterbury (where she would probably take up governessing herself) or marry her cousin, Harry, who's none too bright and a bit chunky in the bargain. While she's thinking about this, the Duke reappears.
He reappears in a fashion as to utterly ruin her reputation in front of her family and gets her cast out onto the streets, where he then scoops her up into his carriage, an abduction that he's done before, according to rumors. He tells her that it's basically a done deal, except Regina hasn't been brought up like a young lady, and reasons with him by means of Mill's theories -- that is, on the rights of mankind, etc. And so he lets her go...for now. The bargain is this: if she can land on her feet using only her morals and pride and not resort to female enticements, within a set amount of time, he would let her go. If she fails, then he's coming after her.
Regina is set off in the middle of the city center and somehow makes her way to the man her uncle has told her about -- the Marquis. She then requests for a loan of money to get to Canterbury. He does better than this, or so he says, and allows her to stay with him and his family while he "posts" her letters for her. Except the Marquis is no better than the Duke, and he burns her letters and plots to get her as his mistress as well.
Both of these men have their own agendas, and each one worse than the other. The Duke is the best, the most sinister antihero I've seen in a while being gentle, amused, and incredibly scary. The Marquis is initially tall, dark, and handsome, proper in his outward dealings but possessing of shady ulterior motives. They each want Regina as their mistress, because, after all, she's not a highborn lady -- her only connection to London was through her late uncle the merchant. Now, she has nobody, penniless, homeless, and alone, with only her exquisite looks as her detriment.
While the Duke is honest in his dissipation, the Marquis bides his time and plays her avuncular friend. Who will win Regina? If you've researched this series, you'll know that it's the Duke, and at the end of the book, both have fallen on their knees to propose to Regina -- a true proposal of marriage, this time.
I give this book 4 stars for the simple reason that the Duke was the best antihero I've ever seen in a romance novel. He was so sinister that I was frightened and titillated. He's a terrible human being, and yet by the end of the novel, he has changed. He's never loved a single person in his life save his old nurse, and he's done things and said things to rouse men to envy and anger. He is incredibly evil and so clever with it, the way that he plotted Regina's downfall down to the very last aspect, and yet you can't help for fall for him at the end, when you realize that Regina might very possibly be his very last hope for redemption. The handsome Marquis that you preferred in the beginning fades next to this slight, fair man with the hoarse whisper and the cherubic smiles.
Regina also fades next to this man, and honestly, I'm not completely sure whether she deserves the role of savior at the very end. She also undergoes, if not changes, realizations, and by the end, everyone has realized something new about themselves and their interactions with the other two in the complicated triangle. It's a novel of complicated interactions and interesting insights. I see that most people consider this Edith Layton's best work (it's a pity I started with this one!) but as a starter to her books, I would have to say it doesn't disappoint; rather, it is a pinnacle of historical romance. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
So. I know Sophie Kinsella is very popular for her easy-breezy writing, but I haven't always been a huge fan of her work. Shopaholic series? SO annoyi...moreSo. I know Sophie Kinsella is very popular for her easy-breezy writing, but I haven't always been a huge fan of her work. Shopaholic series? SO annoying. I hate the main character so much I couldn't even finish the first book. I've only liked two of her novels, Can You Keep a Secret?, and I've Got Your Number. And still, I thought the CYKAS book had a somewhat annoying main character too. It was just that the plot was funny.
Here, Kinsella spins a double story of Lottie, the 33 y/o who's been dating her boyfriend for 3 years and desperately wants to get married, and Fliss, her protective older sister who's going through the worst divorce in the world. Thus when Lottie realizes her boyfriend asked her to a fancy restaurant not to propose but to ask her to travel extensively with him (to San Francisco), she freaks out and has a mini breakdown. Fliss, who has seen her sister go through similar breakdowns resulting in the following: buying an overly expensive real estate, joining a cult, getting a piercing in a private area resulting in an infection, and a later-regretted tattoo, realizes that her sister is on the precipice of doing something crazy this time as well.
And it so happens that she does do something crazy -- she meets up with a long-ago boyfriend, Ben (from when she was eighteen and met him in Greece) and both of them, in depressed and vulnerable and drunk states, decide to get married, but not to have sex until they have gotten married. To Fliss, this is craziness. She thinks that Lottie should just sleep with him and get it over with, but she's quite a hand at manipulating her younger sister, so she pretends to go along with the scheme, but all the while, she thinks it's the worst mistake in the world and that Lottie will end up divorced and bitter, like her.
Into this strides Lorcan, an important executive at the paper company of Lottie's now fiance. He's probably single-handedly running the company because Ben can't be bothered, being a bit of a loose screw himself. Lorcan initially thinks that Lottie is a gold-digger until Fliss disabuses him of this fact and the two of them hook up one night, resulting in a hilarious misunderstanding regarding an overheard phone conversation between Fliss and Lottie: "Small. Literally, tiny. Worst night of my life. And afterwards wasn't much better..." This was actually talking about a relative's wedding ceremony and cake.
In any event, with Lottie doing impetuous things and rushing off to the Ikonos, Fliss puppeteers all the background things, her first and foremost aim to stop them from having unprotected sex. Fliss then flies off to the Ikonos with her 7y/o son (who's having delusions of his own), only to bump into Lorcan in the lobby, and Richard, Lottie's erstwhile suitor.
There are self-realizations of all sorts:
(1) Fliss realizing, forgetting, then re-realizing that interference in her sister's life is unforgivable and that she may lose her sister forever. (2) Richard's realization that he was an idiot for letting Lottie get away. (3) Lorcan's realization (spurred by Fliss) that the paper company doesn't belong to him, and for him to be more invested in it than the actual owner was ridiculous and possibly inappropriate. (4) Fliss realizing that her son is foremost in her life, and not to blame everything on her ex-husband, terrible person though he is. (5) Lottie realizing that the wedding was a terrible idea and that she misses Richard terribly. (6) Ben realizing that Lottie wasn't the dream girl he had fixated upon for all those years, and that it was someone else -- literally, it was someone else that took care of him when he had the flu, but he mistook that person for Lottie.
Although Lottie and Richard are the forerunners of the book (their problems carry the entire book), it is Fliss and Lorcan's relationship that develops and is the most touching. Both realize that they are trying to force other people into doing what they want the other person to do, that they think they know best. Both went through a terrible divorce, and their actions now stem from that terrible time. And although their relationship doesn't place foremost, it is the romance that carries the day.
Lorcan is more a romance novel hero than Richard or Ben. Richard has comical moments where he comes off as belligerent rather than attractive, and Ben comes off as a whining, immature loser. It is Lorcan who resembles the other heroes in Kinsella's novels (Secret and Number). He is laconic, steady, and reliable. Probably because of him, this book has moments of "aww..." rather than being just ridiculous fluff.(less)
Ok. This book was a bit beyond what was expected, what with the gothic undertones in the first 5 chapters (excluding the charming prologue) that I kep...moreOk. This book was a bit beyond what was expected, what with the gothic undertones in the first 5 chapters (excluding the charming prologue) that I kept looking for a review that would tell me more about the book. So I'm going to write one with spoilers.
(view spoiler)[ Prologue Essentially, as most people said, the prologue is utterly charming, after the first few letters. Hero is Heroine's husband's cousin, and they begin writing when he writes the cousin to inquire after some estate issue. She is revealed to not be the run of the mill sort of woman, being not particularly pretty, but inclined to chat easily with men (flirt harmlessly), so it is no surprise that she writes to him so easily. He writes back and at one point, he spills his feelings for her. She is shocked, but charmed (her marriage is to a much older man of some 60 years) and they keep corresponding but in a proper manner. But she falls for him eventually, and when her husband passes away, after a bit of time, she writes that she wants to travel out to India to find him, and he responds that he's married and that she's not to come out.
Beginning She is really a very charming sort of heroine, having grown to love her step-daughter very much, and four years has passed since their last letter. She is 30, hero is 34. He comes back and writes a letter stating that he demands their presence at his Abbey since he is the step-daughter's guardian now. By some maneuvering, heroine is forced to attend as well. When they get there, she is shocked at his appearance because he is haggard, impolite, never makes eye contact, doesn't respond to conversation starters, and has a tendency to walk off. Very different from the charming, quizzical man that she envisioned.
From his viewpoint, the story gets even more gothic, because he's thinking people are trying to kill him. He keeps them locked in his Abbey, until the butler-thief-taker Lander takes pity on the girls and drives them to their neighbors, Dingley.
He follows them over there, demands to see the heroine (who by this time feels that he is mad), and has a bit of cuddle with her in her bedchamber. I thought they did it, but according to other reviewers, they didn't, and I'm not inclined to go back to ascertain this. He still feels a lot for her, but he lets them go to London for the Season.
At one point, he is having dinner and he tells the serving girl that he knows she is poisoning him and grabs at her, because she reveals that she is under duress to do so. She cries and runs away, and he tries to follow and asks the kitchen staff where "Kathy" is only to find out there's no Kathy working in his Abbey. Readers are left wondering if he really is insane.
Middle Once they are in London, he follows them after a couple of weeks, and miraculously is better. There are some weird moments where you think that Dingley is after heroine, and the hero and heroine have a few encounters -- one in which he confesses his "theory" of a plot to kill the Prince Regent to her and where she thinks he's now totally insane. Then on Lady Dingley's behest, she sends a letter to Dingley, which was transferred to hero, who is all excited to be receiving a letter from heroine. At Vauxhall, there is some weird hullabaloo and Dingley barely saves heroine, who is shot.
The three of them, Dingley, Hero, and heroine wake up in the hull of a prison ship bound for transportation to Australia.
Then, there is some weirdness when Hero is revealed to have some "abilities" in which he bamboozles the Superintendent of the ship into setting them free. You are not told much even from his point of view, so you think he has some sort of mystical abilities.
End Portions They escape back to London, heroine recovers, and Dingley goes back to his family. By and by, you discover that he doesn't have "mystical" abilities, but natural sleight of hand and are able to manipulate people much as how magicians and fortune-tellers can. He exhibits his prowess to several people in the ton to draw the bad guys out. I'm not exactly sure what the purpose was, but something along the lines of -- they were poisoning him as a test subject to then poison the Prince Regent. It was all a big political scheme by political activists/anarchists.
Somewhere along the way, heroine and hero are forced to marry each other, and Hero is markedly unhappy about it. His reasons are sort of weird and makes the poor heroine unhappy. She's then captured, and he has to come out to save her with the calvary (Lander & co.). Eventually, they're all happy, and the whole Lander situation is also revealed accordingly (in the middle).
(hide spoiler)] Okay. My take on this. Laura Kinsdale is a very gifted writer. She can write very convoluted plots fairly well. HOWEVER. If you're not into angst (and I have to say that I'm not, so my review may be biased in that sense), this is not the book for you. However charming the heroine is, and she is quite a likable person, the hero is tortured beyond belief. I've now read two of her books, the other one being Flowers in the Storm, and that too featured a tortured hero, a brilliant mathematician who suffers a stroke early in life and then is confined into a madhouse because people think he's gone crazy. So. Along similar lines with the going crazy.
This hero has so many hangups that it's not even funny. He is probably a very real sort of person, but with so much baggage. I guess I'm not a fan of heroes with so much baggage, sorry. He had a terrible first marriage (his wife killed his dog and did all sorts of terrible stuff). He was never able to get over there, despite the fact that his "love" for the heroine was what kept him "sane." I suppose that's realistic, but it makes me a bit impatient with him. I mean, seriously, the woman was a psychopath; why dwell on her or put any sort of power in her words? Apparently she did such a number on him, total mind control and manipulation that he has nightmares about her. That is also the reason that he snaps at the heroine from time to time and makes her feel bad (although I thought he was just moody and didn't notice this until she pointed it out). He loves the heroine and wants to marry her, and yet when he has the opportunity, he throws a fit and says mean stuff to her about how he doesn't want to marry her...even though he's upset with himself that she overheard a joke he made about marriage. He was just too much to handle towards the end...so emotional that he was turning manipulative towards the heroine as well.
The part where he sends her away and she rushes back to him to tell him what she remembered was also a bit convenient, I thought.
In sum, the writing was superb, a little too angsty for my taste, and the hero was too over the top. He probably should have gotten better with time, and instead, I liked him more as the crazed loon who was being poisoned than the man who kept leading the heroine on sexually and not following through because he had some weird fear that she would leave him. What? Where did that fear come from?
Laura Kinsdale's writing is elegant but her heroes may be too tortured for my taste.
I read a reader's review about Loretta Chase once, and she said something about how it used to take her forever to come out with b...moreOh so disappointing.
I read a reader's review about Loretta Chase once, and she said something about how it used to take her forever to come out with books, but when it came out, it was an absolute gem. Then, maybe at the behest of her publisher, she was forced to churn out more books, and some of them turned into real duds.
This book is one of those duds.
Forget Lord of Scoundrels or Lord Perfect -- both of which were extremely well-written. Even the first book of this series, Silk is for Seduction, reads so much better. This book blew.
I appreciate that Loretta Chase was trying to center a plot around a dumb jock (Longmore, who made his first appearance as Clevedon's friend in the first book) and a literary genius (Sophy, Marcelline's younger sister). That worked only in theory.
The reason is because Longmore didn't come off particularly dumb in the first book. I personally didn't feel he was that stupid, except that he didn't spend a lot of time thinking about little details, but he wasn't particularly slow on the uptake when there was something major to be understood...HOWEVER, everyone in the book calls him stupid, including himself. Well, I suppose he didn't feel especially stupid to me because he was pitted against Sophy, and she felt like a really dumb person -- but one who calls herself super smart and comes up with these really stupid ideas without thinking it through. She's one of those characters who gets these ideas and then calls herself brilliant for thinking up these ideas, and it just so happens that some of those ideas pan out, BUT they probably wouldn't have. So honestly, it didn't seem like Longmore was any dumber than she was.
Perhaps because Longmore is made out to be a dumb block without sensitivity and feelings, there's not much angst going on within him before he figures out he's in love with Sophy. While that's okay, it's sort of stupid because you're left wondering how there was even love in the first place. Even stupid people think about their feelings. But Longmore is made out to be a person who doesn't think about anything at all...so it was hard to be touched when he blurts out that he loves her, and then laughs.
Also, there's the fact that their conversations are pretty bird-brained. The chemistry is exceedingly forced, and whenever they are talking or arguing, to get the couple into a lovey-dovey frame of mind, the author has Sophy laugh and dimple, which then makes Longmore lust for her. That's the extent of their bonding.
Some reviewers found Sophy irritating, and I must admit I did too. She wasn't charming like Marcelline, and even when she calls the shop the greatest, or whatever, it was bragging rather than stating a fact (especially since the shop wasn't doing so well, otherwise why would they have to embark on this mad scheme to "save" Clara). The whole trying to save Clara scheme was pretty lame, because she has to go after Clara and it has to be with Longmore, alone (even though Clara has like 5 siblings, at least of which are males) and Sophy keeps on talking about how "independent" she's had to be and how she's had to face a multitude of "tough" situations and apparently she carries a hatpin for that very purpose. But then at a crucial moment in a hostelry where she's set on by 5 drunk youngsters, Longmore has to save her, and then when he's trying to go after them to beat them to a pulp, she then sits there in the middle of the corridor, pounds the floor, and cries. Seriously??? Loretta Chase, what happened?!?!
It is a huge pity that I read this book immediately after reading Silk is for Seduction, because the characters seem to have just changed from who they were in the first book to be these people in the second book: irrational, stupid, and totally irrational.
I felt like the author wrote herself into a corner when she outlined her plot and characters. If maybe she hadn't tried so hard to make a stupid guy into the main character, the chemistry would have flowed more easily. I know that some (better) authors try to vary their characters a bit, but this case was a sad failure. Her male protagonist in Viscount Vagabond, for example, was a dumb, lazy, rebellious sort of person, but so much more charming than Longmore. Catherine Pelliston of the same book also had some ideas and initiative about carrying out those ideas...but she wasn't half so irritating as Sophy. (less)
I stumbled across this book because apparently this book was inspired by Beast by Ju...moreI really didn't like this book.
I really wanted to. But I couldn't.
I stumbled across this book because apparently this book was inspired by Beast by Judith Ivory, which I thought was insanely well-written and has all the elements of a Shakespearian farcical romance, without the author falling too much for her own characters. There's really nothing worse than an author who's more in love with her characters than the readers ought to be. Judith Ivory makes fun of her own characters, who are caricatures of themselves. But this review isn't about Beast.
First, kudos to Sherry Thomas for coming out with a buttload of books in the year 2012, but if they are all of the caliber of this book, I doubt I would read her books again. First, they are quite debby-downer-ish. This book is not of the light-hearted historical romance category. But this in itself is not why I didn't like it.
We are introduced to the Duke, who's had a thing for Venetia since both of them were young (around 19), but unfortunately, Venetia was already married at the time. Due to some drunken words passed by Venetia's husband to the Duke, the Duke is under the impression that Venetia is high-maintenance, money-grubbing, and possibly whorish. All that doesn't stop him from lusting after her, however. And it doesn't help that the husband dies the next week and Venetia is married soon after to a man much, much older than she.
Fast-forward a decade or so, they're both grown and somehow they separately have a love for fossils, apparently. (This was incredibly unconvincing to me, as a reader. I know I am a really picky reader and woe to the writers who encounter a reader like me, but seriously, I wasn't convinced that Venetia is an adorer of all things fossilized. It felt like it was just something mildly historical thrown in for them to have something in common.) Venetia doesn't know who the Duke is, and when three of them -- her sister and her sister-in-law -- attend a talk he gives in New York, they are there when he refers incognito to a beautiful, cold-hearted jade who married an elderly man soon after her husband kills him, she knows that he is talking about her. HOW? I am not convinced by this either. But her sister jokingly tells her to make him fall for her and then jilt him. Venetia goes to her hotel and runs into the Duke, but she has a veil on, so he doesn't see her, and she gives her name to the register as a foreign Baroness. He apparently is intrigued by her faceless person. She then finds out that he's due to sail out and books passage on the same ship so that she can encounter him.
Fast-forward some other inconsequential details, and they're going at each other on the ship...but the moments are unconvincing and their conversation lacks serious depth. They are trying to "get to know each other," but their conversations lack chemistry and truth -- sort of like an author trying to force two people to get together when they otherwise wouldn't get together on their own. For example, I can't remember anything they talked about. They must've had a "moment" or two, but I can't remember it. I think her brother and sister are twins and she revealed this, but the Duke didn't make any connection to his former beloved, which is sort of odd, since twins are not that common as to render this commonplace. I'm not saying he should have known it was her...but he didn't even think about the similarities between them, with this being one of them. She also revealed that she found a fossil when she was young, which was donated to a museum, and the Duke didn't know this either about his beloved. So the "Baroness" revealed that her fossil was donated to a European museum or whatever, but the Duke didn't even know that Venetia had done this as well to a museum in London! That's weird, right? I mean, he goes REGULARLY to the museum, and since it happened like a decade ago, he should have known about this. I mean, the man was obsessed with this woman for soooooo long, like a decade, and he didn't know that she was fanatical about fossils and even donated one to the local museum...which is ALSO his CHOSEN profession? That seems way weird to me, especially when the man's no stranger to London, and the fossil's been on display for a good decade or more...but he never knew and she has to cover up the display so that he doesn't see it? When he should have known the displays in that museum cold??
So then they disembark and she refuses to see him again (why??? Seriously, it would have been the perfect time to tell him the truth -- hey dude, you know that gossip you heard from my crappy ex-husband, you're wrong and you're a loser for believing it). Somehow he pieces it together at some point. I can't even remember how he pieced it together, that's how inconsequential it felt to me. But anyway, at this point he hates her guts (why??? he was the one who talked about her publicly!) and somehow she, who was unable to get pregnant, got pregnant (of course) and goes to tell him so (why??? again, this doesn't make sense, because she had vowed not to reveal her "Baroness" identity to him, because he would hate her...but now that she got pregnant, she was just going to go to him and say, hey, I know you don't know we slept together, but I'm pregnant with your kid...WHAT?!) and then they somehow get engaged to be married??? Even when the Duke doesn't entirely believe that she's pregnant...but somehow this is glossed over. The whole having to get married thing is just ODD, because she's in love with him and he hates her, yet she's the one practically hinting at a marriage? Even if she didn't bring it up, she sure jumped on it fast enough and in the next chapter, they're getting hitched.
And then the weirdest thing is with the two gossips who spread the whole tale of the Duke blasting Venetia's reputation to hell in New York -- those two show up and say something about how they gossip for a good cause????? And the Duke, by this time married to Venetia and bound to protect her whether or not he humors these two gossips or not, sits there and take it and TELLS the gossips that, no, he said that because he was jealous and he's loved his wife forever. Then Venetia bounds in and says, no, she was trying to get revenge on him and that's how their marriage all came about, because he's an honorable man.
WHAT the hell. So after they give the gossips MORE ammunition against them, they then skip off together to confess their love for one another, now suddenly in the open after the gossip-mongers did their gossipy therapy.
I'm sorry, I can't even take this author seriously. And I haven't even gone into how a third of the book was laying down the foundation for the story behind the sister and the sister-in-law's romances -- so that you'll be enticed into reading their stories next. Sorry, I won't be doing that. The way to get readers to keep reading to the next book is by doing a good job on THIS book so that when the reader finishes, she goes, "Wow, that was so amazing," and then rereads it again and again and then can't stop herself from finding more of the author's work. NOT by wasting time with unfinished side romances. TERRIBLE! I hate this gimmick so much.
Anyway, there were just too many "HUH?!?!" moments in the book to be believed.
As for the writing, I think it's competent, but lacks passion. And I feel like the characters themselves are not consistent. (less)
Seldom do I rate books of this genre so highly, but this book is truly a masterpiece.
This book does something really exceptional with two very unlikab...moreSeldom do I rate books of this genre so highly, but this book is truly a masterpiece.
This book does something really exceptional with two very unlikable characters and gives them a really dramatic great love. I ended up staying up to finish the book (never happens anymore) and then I reread it immediately after reading it and then again. So, three times in a row.
There were some reviewers that complained about the writing style and I think that's a valid complaint -- initially when I picked up this book, I stopped reading midway through the first chapter, because the stop and go, conversational quality of the writing, with lots of parentheses, was very informal and jarring. But then as I progressed further, I started to be swept up by the flow of the writing so that I stood squarely in the characters' shoes.
People also didn't like the main characters. Oh, they are horrible people. Louise is a gorgeous young lady who's secretly quite wild. She's young and very smart...to the point where she does look down on other people. She loves her family, but she complains about them. She can also turn into an ice queen at any time, which, combined with her looks and wardrobe and wealth and general good fortune, makes her quite a bitch. Charles, on the other hand, is as vain as you can get. Born with an eye infection that had to be lanced, he bears a scar on one side of his face, along with a very obvious blind eye and a bad knee that cramps up at times and causes him to limp, he's not exactly Prince Charming. In fact, at the beginning of the book, we see him betrothed to a woman he's never met and climbing out of the bed of a married woman -- one who he's tried to get to marry him multiple times. And THEN he has the gall to be piqued when he sees and hears his betrothed flirting heavily with another man. Seriously, these people are vain, superficial people who need to be taken down a peg.
And they do -- out of one another. Charles determines to teach Louise a lesson and lures her out with the threat that he knows what she's been up to (and she's on board with her parents too), and so they begin meeting each other in the dark. It's humorous, because Charles is so intent on his mission and such a bored rich man that he prowls the ship looking for dark places to meet -- since he doesn't want her to see his crippled, scarred self. He even goes into the pet cargo area and removes all the light bulbs. Seriously, this man. It's funny, because of the lengths his vanity drives him to do this -- he even snags a kaffiyeh off some Arabian guard on the ship in order to spy on Louise. Except Louise then thinks he's an Arabian.
Unlike other historical romances, the hanky-panky makes perfect sense here because Louise is such a wild child and just bursting at the seams. The girl is rebellious and daring even before she meets Charles, and really, he was just a catalyst. So she goes to his room, and they get up to some hanky-panky in the dark. Of course, Louise was a virgin and really falls for Charles in a big way. It's realistic because despite her bravado, she's a young girl at heart, and he's twice her age and rather experienced with the ladies. In the dark, he knows just what to say and how to listen to her and he makes her fall hard.
This book would have been quite terrible IF Charles had been made out to be a badder ass than he was. The reason this story works so well is because Charles falls so hard right back for Louise, and he begins to angst over being recognized by her once they land. Of course he's thrilled out of his mind that he's marrying a girl he adores, and he's bound and determined to keep the ship incident an isolated incident because he can't think of a logical way to explain why he did such a dastardly thing as pretend to be someone else when he knew who she was to him.
Unfortunately, he does too good a job that she doesn't recognize him at all -- he speaks a different language and wears a different cologne and he's so smitten that he lets Louise walk all over him. Oh, and of course he tries to kiss Louise because to him, it's the same girl he fell in love with. For Louise, it's disgusting that this man to whom she's newly betrothed keeps on trying to kiss her while she's still hung-up on her ship-man. It's heart-breaking for Charles when nothing he does can sweep Louise off her feet...and she's also giving him the cold bitch treatment as well, because compared to the confident man from the ship, this man is self-effacing, self-conscious, and a people-pleaser...gross!
Nothing that much happens, really, but there's such chemistry between the two that it sizzles off the page. Both of them are exactly alike and yet so perfect for one another -- vain, worried about their vanities, insecure, impetuous... Charles IS a very self-conscious and vain creature, but so lovable...because he loves so much. In setting out to teach a lesson, he learns a big one of his own. Layered in the background, Judith Ivory has given us the story of amber-gris, the scent from sperm whale poo, as a metaphor for the Beast -- a disgusting piece of feces that when exposed to the air, becomes fragrant and desirable.
The writing is absolutely seamless -- not at any time did I feel the conversations between the two are forced, or the setting ill-drawn. Everything is richly and confidently described, down to the conversations in French the two hold once they disembark. Judith Ivory has a such a confidence with the language that phrases are given in English and then parenthetically in French. Charles is given such a rich, textured character that his very Frenchness is drawn out by his small actions, like blowing out his lips when disagreeing good-naturedly. He is self-conscious, insecure, vain, manipulative, and yet so humorous and lovable with it that one is drawn in to his insecure, one-sided love for Louise.
This is historical romance at its very finest. (less)
I had sworn off reading historical romances but then saw that this protagonist is based off House, MD. So, I was drawn in. And it's quite a light-hear...moreI had sworn off reading historical romances but then saw that this protagonist is based off House, MD. So, I was drawn in. And it's quite a light-hearted (for the most part) novel. The beginning is hilarious -- the dad and the aunt are just delightful creatures (not lovable, but just hilarious) -- they're arguing about her nonexistent pregnancy due to the fact she wore a billowing dress and food poisoning that one time.
I hate the blurb for this book. It insinuates that there's nothing to her other than Linnet's "beauty" or whatever, and that she was always engaged to Piers. What actually happens is that Piers is the son of a Duke who divorced his wife in a fit of opium-induced rage and later regretted. The Duke and his son are estranged, due to Piers' inability to forgive his father, and the Duke's guilty regret over rendering his son sterile due to a childhood accident caused by his opium rages. So the Duke would of course be happy to betroth his son to someone who might be impregnated. That's how Linnet comes to be engaged to Piers.
Piers walks with a terrible limp and his leg pains him every single day if he misses one day of exercise, which is how he comes to be super built by the standards of the day. He also operates his castle like a hospital and sees patients on a regular basis, along with his very gallant cousin, who's a surgeon but no good at diagnostics.
There's not much stuff that goes on while Linnet is at the castle except Piers' mother also shows up, now a widow for whom the Duke pines. Linnet and Piers have flirty moments together and Piers eventually starts coming to Linnet's room every morning to take her swimming in his clifftop spa. Eventually they get caught in a rainstorm one day and get up to some hanky-panky in some bailiff's cottage or something. They find that they're quite sexually compatible (you know, as opposed to a tortoise and a horse) and keep on secretly meeting, but Piers adamantly does not want to marry Linnet. His reason: Because his leg pain is so severe that he's afraid he'll act out towards his wife like his dad did under the influence of opium.
Suddenly some sort of scarlet fever influenza deal breaks out among the patients there and while Piers is organizing the people to leave the castle, he orders her to leave. Linnet doesn't want to, but Piers tells her to get out, not knowing that she's been infected by someone on her last day at the castle.
The book is quite decent for a historical romance, and I appreciate the medical research the author has gone through in order to have sufficient details regarding Piers' profession during the relevant time period. It was quite humorous in the beginning, but I wasn't all that convinced about Piers and Linnet's supposed love for one another. It felt more like attraction. Piers obviously goes for Linnet in a big way, because let's face it, who else does he see up there in his secluded castle, with him telling everyone that he's impotent? It was a competent enough book, but not terribly convincing on their great love. But a good enough read for all that. (less)
So I have been perpetually disappointed by what people call historical romances and tried to look up some with exceptionally high ratings to see if my...moreSo I have been perpetually disappointed by what people call historical romances and tried to look up some with exceptionally high ratings to see if my mind can be changed.
I may not be the best judge of character for such books, because I require really tight historical background, and I know that most do not have these. And I realize that a book set in the Regency wherein the cover has two people lolling around in bed will undoubtedly not be totally accurate. That's fine. I also found recently that it's not that I mind the sexual romps that go on in these books, but I mind it exceedingly when it is wholly unnecessary and inconsistent with say, the heroine's character.
And thus it was in this book. Minerva is a bespectacled, nerdy bluestocking with an older sister who is beautiful (of course). In the same town resides Colin, who's a flippant young noble with no funds of his own (his inheritance is tied up until he marries) with demons of his own. What my problem with in this book is not Colin, even though he may not appeal to me in particular. But while he is a manwhore of the highest caliber for reasons of his own (before the invention of Ambien, he has to sleep next to someone in order to fall asleep), he is a harmless, good-hearted man. That is, he's not totally without conscience. The things that he says that are mean, well, he doesn't say them intentionally. He may seem like a person without depth but that could be due to the fact he doesn't particularly wish to attain the title of Most Intellectual. That is to say, he's never reached his potential, probably. But he's exceedingly handsome.
My problem is with Minerva. In the beginning of the book, she arrives at Colin's front door in the rain to ask him to leave her older sister alone, because her sister is kind-hearted and gentle and Colin would undoubtedly make her unhappy. True or not, it contradicts the fact that Colin is rich (or would be if he inherits upon his marriage) and consider a good catch by all accounts at the time. I mean, seriously, few people married for love, especially someone as impoverished as Minerva's family. And who's to say her sister wouldn't get a thrill out of marrying rich for the sake of her family?
Minerva has this plan in which they would plan an elopement to Edinburgh to attend a fossil conference (or some sort...I read this book awhile ago), and she's sure to win, and that money could go to Colin, and he could leave the town and return to London where he can frolic to his heart's desire.
Except the one who makes the most sense is not Minerva, the scientist, but Colin, who asks, why would you elope and ruin your good name when your sisters are unmarried? Sure, you don't care about yourself, but what about your unmarried sisters? Plus, wouldn't her older sister be further shamed if the man everyone thinks was on the verge of proposing runs off with her younger, plainer sister? Well, Minerva hasn't thought this out, apparently, brainy though she is, good-hearted though she's supposed to be. So basically, we get a protagonist whose words we already don't trust. Here's also her saying how she despises Colin and yet she's salivating ALL over him, all the time, and even smooches him in the cave where she found her fossils! I mean, here's a first-rate man-stealer! And please, can we have no more of these women who claim they're not interested in the guy and yet their every other thought is comprised of how hot he is?? PLEASE, authors? I mean, just, PLEASE, give us a break. These women are liars, to themselves and worse, to the READERS.
So somehow they embark on their trip up north, and the book is back on track. Their adventure is quite interesting, as they encounter various problems, such as highwaymen, floods, etc. That part is quite interesting as they battle the odds to Edinburgh. But then as they are running out of money and food and clothing, you find out that they are THIS close to his estate, but he had refused to go because of his bad memories. REALLY? You are starving along the way and you won't go home because of bad memories? And of course they END up going there anyway, so all his little angsting was for naught. So they go there, and the deadline's up because they can't make it to Edinburgh...but lo and behold, he then conjures up some horses so then he's able to take her to Edinburgh for the conference! And they get there, but they won't let her in because she's a woman, but they would let him in if he applies, and then she could get in if they get married on the doorstep. So the doorman dude keeps on asking, so are you guys going to get married or not? And THEN, for some weird reason, even though this conference was the HOPE of a lifetime (Minerva's lifetime) AND she's soooo in love with Colin by this time, she declines.
And the strange thing is...Colin WANTS to marry her too! So when they give up this chance of a lifetime, and she retires to his estate with him, the two of them discuss how they want to wait because he wants to court her properly. So that happens is that they both wait and wait -- for them to go to London so she can have a proper Season and for Colin to court her properly in front of everyone. Anyway, about two weeks into this "plan," both of them suddenly throw in the towel and say, okay, we can't wait, let's get married!!
So...that's why I'm not a fan. Also because I really didn't like how Minerva kept saying she would never go for someone like Colin and every chance she got, was throwing him cow eyes and dreaming of how hot he was. Twilight much? (less)
Not my usual type of read, so I'm a bit unsure how to rate this. I wonder if all books in this genre are so corny, because the plot to this was except...moreNot my usual type of read, so I'm a bit unsure how to rate this. I wonder if all books in this genre are so corny, because the plot to this was exceptionally corny.
Krisa has been bred off a planet noted for churning out Stepford wives who will never cheat. On board a luxury ship bound for her husband by contract's planet, she meets an alien convict who's bound and blindfolded in the cargo space. (Really? A convict who's held in the cargo container, and not even in a cage? And why wasn't he put in cryosleep?) Krisa is then almost raped by a captain who regularly makes this trip...which means that convicts are REGULARLY bound in the cargo space of a luxury ship? Anyway, somehow the alien convict, Teague manages to save her by snapping the neck of the captain. She doesn't feel bad about this (which is not terribly surprising, since he was about to rape her.
Well, as it turns out, her cryosleep container malfunctioned and only closed halfway over her, which was why she was up and around. Somehow the ship crash-lands on this scary foreign planet, and Teague gets out (naturally, since he would otherwise be taken to some presumably better prison than the cargo space of a luxury ship. He tells Krisa that she'd better come with him, as the other people in their cryosleep containers are safe from the wild animals on this planet, but she isn't...what, on a luxury ship, there are NO other cryosleep containers?? I can't believe that for a second. The luxury ship is described akin to an ocean liner like the Titanic, and there aren't ANY OTHER cryosleep containers??
So Krisa has to follow Teague to the planet, where it's inhabited by humanoid aliens who are green, and she's highly prized because she has dark hair (whereas they all have light hair...riiiiight, the first thing that other humanoids care is the color of an alien's hair). The alien race has erotic and pornographic rituals in front of a fire. There are other things going on, and yadda yadda yadda, Teague is betrayed by someone he trusted and Krisa is taken back to her husband by contract, who activates the chip imbedded by the Stepford Neighborhood Association and she forgets about Teague but still has dreams about him.
Oh right, I forgot to mention that Krisa has erotic dreams about a "dream man," and because she's always sleeping with Teague, she always rubs him all over and then she wakes up and says, "Noooooo I can't, because of my V-contract." I'm quite surprised that he, as a CONVICT, doesn't just rape her and get it out of the way. I mean, that's basically what happens pages later anyway. Or she decided to get over the V-contract thing. I can't really remember.
An initially amusing read but not much in the way of actual science.(less)
For most of this book, I wavered between three and four stars. The beginning was beautiful, haunting (not the prologue, which I thought was a little t...moreFor most of this book, I wavered between three and four stars. The beginning was beautiful, haunting (not the prologue, which I thought was a little too thick and not entirely necessary -- probably necessary for a series, but unnecessary for this book). The pacing was incredibly fast and exciting. In the first chapter, we are introduced to their village, the drakon enclave and by the end of it, Clarissa Rue has died and disappeared. By the second chapter, it's already years later and she's in London, posing as random aristocrats and making off with diamonds of the highest caliber. By the fourth or fifth chapter, she's already been caught by Kit and led back to the enclave in a blindfold -- fast, right? I know, it's awesome.
And then suddenly it begins to slow down, until by the middle of the book, it feels like the rest is redundant, and like the prologue, unnecessary. Why? Well, the reason is probably due to the fact that Clarissa has been in love with Kit forever -- not surprising, considering that he was the rich aristocrat, the alpha's son who will inherit the leadership, and talented in flying besides. I mean, that's gotta be super cool. Added to that, he's extremely hot, with blond hair and green eyes. There are not a lot of romance novel guys that I find super hot (even though, say, for the sake of the book, I would find the hero with endearing qualities, but not appealing on a personal level), and I'm not even partial to blondes, but there was something about the descriptions of how he moves, how he talks, how he looks at a woman that make him really unbelievably attractive. So, with this triple or quadruple hammer, it's no wonder that Clarissa adores him, being the little insignificant and poor half-breed that she was.
The Plot So, it's decreed that as the Alpha, only an Alpha female would be able to mate with Kit. Kit is undoubtedly the Alpha, being able to Turn (into smoke and then drakon) at the precocious age of 10. There has been no other female who's been able to Turn for hundreds of years, but there's a seriously catty female in the village (who picks on Clarissa and does the nasty with Kit) who's been the undisputed Alpha. So, when Clarissa finds that she can Turn at 17, she runs away (a HUGE felony according to their bylaws) instead of being compelled to marry Kit, who would only marry her out of obligation but not love her. There's nothing worse than being married to a man you love but who doesn't love you back. All understandable.
Clarissa then goes to London and becomes Rue the jewelry thief (but for the sake of the review, will remain Clarissa) because of her awesome Turning ability. When the news of this "thief that can turn into smoke" reaches the enclave, they all know, of course, that it's one of them, and horror of horrors, is beyond their immediate jurisdiction, thus putting all of them at risk. So, they decide to put up the Langford diamond (diamonds apparently have magical abilities for the drakon) as bait in order to capture this smoke thief.
But drakon can sense one another, and so they sensed that she was there, and Kit corners her, now startlingly beautiful, and instead of brazening things out (or NOT even going in the first place), she turns to smoke RIGHT in front of him, leaving him holding her dress. She then hides out but Kit has an amazing nose and sniffs out where she lives. He comes over and hides in her room, and after a bit of fencing, he disappears into the sky (smoke -> drakon) and she curses under her breath and plunges into the sky after him.
WHAT JUST HAPPENED? But why??? Why would she do this? Because at this point, you think the diamond thievery was a joint affair by her and someone else. But later, you find out that she didn't take it and she never planned it!!
So, in retrospect, you wonder why she would chase after Kit like that only to be caught...if she didn't take it in the first place! I seriously thought she had...but she didn't? I thought maybe the other guy was an accomplice, but it turns out he wasn't!
Then she gets tricked by Kit and is caught by the enclave, the only thing she can do to bargain her freedom (Kit's bound and determined to make her come back as his bride, and she's equally determined to NOT do this...so, why did she reveal herself able to Turn in the first place??) is to rat out the actual diamond thief.
Thusly, the two of them set out for London for 2 weeks to catch the thief. The Alpha apparently has the ability to sway the Council...except Kit doesn't seem like he has this power most of the time, except in little shows of violence. A bunch of times when he could have evinced true power (such as setting various people free, like Clarissa, or even himself), he doesn't and just pounds on the table or throws darts that cut off other councilmembers' hair. And yet, it was undisputed that he could?? So, that's also quite confusing and unnecessary. And then at the end, he somehow lets the other Runner free -- and why did this Runner steal the diamond in the first place? He stole it because Clarissa's waif-boy asked him to. Really? REALLY? The man cuts off his HAND to run away from the enclave and steals the DRAKONS' CHIEF DIAMOND because a waif asks him to??????? HOW does that even make sense??
And in the end, you know what's going to happen is that he's going to "set her free," that is, free from the enclave, free to live where she wants, instead of being a slave in their hometown...which apparently is the fate of all drakon, and the Runners are dealt with with macabre violence (wings clipped, torture, killed, etc.) But this was a given that nobody could escape the penalty for Running (away), not even the Alpha...but the Alpha can set someone else free? It's quite confusing. But you know that it's a romance novel, so of course, the biggest show of "love" is to set them free, so you know that he's going to do this, because Clarissa really chafes at the bit and she HATES the fact that she would be forced to be with Kit. And yet this doesn't happen, and it doesn't happen, and it still doesn't happen, and when it finally does, it was kind of an anticlimax, like, okay...that's not so exciting anymore. And I'm not one to like angst (some angst is necessary to have a satisfactory feeling, but it's the unnecessary angst that's just...well, ridiculous), but she immediately goes, forget that, I wanna be with you, Kit my man! But this conflict within her was the basis of some 200 pages of their conflict, and suddenly, with a wave of the hand, she says, oh that's not an issue anymore??
So that part was unfortunate.
I really enjoyed the beginning, but I think the plot started to go downhill when it's revealed she didn't steal the Langford diamond and basically gives up the other Runner (to death, essentially) in exchange for her freedom.
The Biggest Inconsistency (for me) Basically, in the end, you find out that she runs from the enclave because as the Alpha female who can Turn, she would have been forced to marry an unloving Kit -- so then if she knew it was going to be a trap and wanted to keep hidden, why turn up, and why Turn to smoke in FRONT of the Alpha -- a sure sign you'll be captured to MARRY him in direct opposition of what you wanted in the first place???
So this book could have gone a lot better, but because it was fairly well written, I'm going to go ahead and give this 3 stars instead of 2. Since you don't really start to think about all its holes until it's over but I did enjoy this book because overall, it was a decent read despite all the holes.(less)
This is an exceptionally well-written YA novel, and I believe that this work will hold up through the years.
In essence, Kate and Emily are orphaned wh...moreThis is an exceptionally well-written YA novel, and I believe that this work will hold up through the years.
In essence, Kate and Emily are orphaned when their father dies, and are sent to live with two (now spinster) great-aunts under the guardianship of their uncle, who doesn't like them: Kate's paternal grandfather owned Hollow Hill and after his wife dies, picks up an orphan playmate for his daughter. One day his daughter is also lost to the Hollow Hill woods, and broken-hearted, he takes the playmate away and adopts her as his daughter. This orphan is Kate and Emily's mother, making them no blood relation to the uncle, so he's understandably bitter about them being the ultimate heirs to the estate.
Kate makes for a great, seldom seen in YA, heroine. She's small, beautiful, and golden-haired. But other than that, although well-educated by her father, she takes herself sort of seriously and doesn't laugh very often. She's not the typical heroine in which she's always reading books -- instead her favorite pastime is lying in the woods among the trees and staring up at the stars. Her younger sister, in stark contrast, is vivacious, outspoken, and adventurous. The two definitely have a strong rapport -- yet they are very different, and many things that Kate wishes to talk about, she can't with her younger sister.
One day, they are walking out from the forest when they lose their way -- which is strange, because Kate has never gotten lost there before. They come across a campfire with a small gnarled gypsy woman and two men on horseback. Kate gets the eerie feeling that if she were to allow herself to be led home on horseback, she would be taken away and never return home. So she doesn't. But when at the door of her house, the man allows her to see him without his hood, and Kate is horrified, because he is no man -- with gray pointy teeth, mismatching eyes, and coarse, horse-like hair.
Kate is of a suspicious and careful turn of mind, but no one believes her. Thereafter, Marak the goblin tries multiple times to capture her, and Kate is in a frenzy to escape. She attempts to run away, but she is caught by the uncle. She brazens things out, but he sets out to make her out to be crazy and incompetent. Then her sister disappears. It has to be the goblin -- right? So she goes to Marak to offer herself as an exchange.
I've almost given away the entire book, but there are some good bits regarding the uncle getting his comeuppance, her wedding to Marak (which is a crazy, barbaric ritual), and her miserable first days underground. But then when the goblin kingdom is in danger and under attack by a man possessed, we see Kate step forward to set things right.
It's not a happy or light story, but a fantastic version of the Persephone story. There's nothing to indicate that it's based off the Persephone story, but a bride stolen from aboveground to a hated underground world where she's held captive is pretty much the Persephone story. There's nothing salacious about her life with Marak, and yes, there probably should be a tad more detail, and yet the give and take between them for the first half of the book is oddly engrossing and realistic -- for once, we don't have a hero from the underground who looks like a dark-haired Brad Pitt. Marak is described in detail and he's grotesque, but he's also humorous and charming in his own way, which I find more appealing and frankly, it's more challenging for an author to render a ugly man attractive. And there's nothing exceptionally emo about Marak and how he kidnaps her to bring her underground. He doesn't go back and forth about whether he should capture her or not -- for him, it's a way of life and ensures the survival of an entire people. There's nothing coy about how Kate tries to escape from Marak -- there's no other "hot guy" who shows up to save her or stand in as the other angle. She doesn't escape because of some emotional romance novel reason, like "she wants him to love her to set her free" or some other such nonsense -- she's actually running for her life, getting away from a supernatural kidnapper. There's nothing romantic or human about their wedding day -- in fact, it must have been horrifying for Kate as the newcomer to the underground. But somehow, it all works. It works fantastically. It all works realistically, and Kate finds happiness in her life below ground. Would it have been better if she could have it both ways, to live above ground and below ground? Perhaps. But that wasn't the story, and what the story was (what some people call the Stockholm Syndrome), worked out in its own way. It's a fairy tale, after all, and a somewhat dark one, but beautiful for all that. (less)
The really great thing about this book is that it was written so long ago (1990) and it reads so quickly that the writing doesn't seem to have aged at...moreThe really great thing about this book is that it was written so long ago (1990) and it reads so quickly that the writing doesn't seem to have aged at all. I contrast this writing with Song in the Silence, by Elizabeth Kerner (1996), which came highly recommended, but the narrative was so full of boring prose -- of the sort that seems old-fashioned to me, but it may just be a writing style.
(view spoiler)[ In the book, a short story is told about a king who fell in love with someone of the sea (not explained -- you are to assume that it's a mermaid or the queen of the sea, but no fins or tails are ever mentioned, only pearls and shells in the hair) and had a son by her, and then had a son with his young wife of obligation. The queen of the sea loved the king but was angry at him, so took his human son with her into the sea and gave him her inhuman son of the sea.
So, in the beginning, when Peri meets Kir, the king's son, that's when the book opens up. In general, the book ends on a much better note than how it started. Peri is angry and grieving when she hexes the sea. She meets Kir, the king's son, who longs to be a part of the sea but it refuses to let him in. Meanwhile, a sea-dragon with a humongous chain of gold starts to peer at the fishers from the ocean. A magician called Lyo comes into the picture at the behest of the town to bring back the gold chain (it was very tempting to the villagers). Somehow the sea-dragon begins to drag itself out of the sea and visits Peri in the form of a human for several hours a night -- it was the king's human son who had been under an enchantment.
It's quite a lovely story, and at the beginning Peri and Kir start having feelings for each other -- but the feelings they have for each other are criticized by other reviewers as being not developed or romantic -- but that was really the way it was supposed to be. They don't know each other that well, and Kir was a really tortured soul. He seemed to be connected to Peri only because he saw in her something apart from the villagers. Although that was quite odd, because she hated the sea so much, so why would he want her to take a message to the sea on his behalf?? Their "romance" doesn't seem much of a romance, and I much preferred Lyo to him, or even the sea-dragon, who never had to fear anything in his inhuman shape.
In the end, Kir elects to leave his land-home and go into the sea (and it turns out that Peri is quite the magician, because her few words are able to prevent things from happening or spur things on), and the sea-dragon walks out of the sea as a human. The king meets with his old-time lover (not a really exciting scene), and then Lyo comes to see Peri and reveals shyly that he had always been fond of her, but she had always had princes around her. The End.
(hide spoiler)]All in all, it was an interesting story, but it was weird that Peri was in the midst of all this. Why her? I guess maybe because she was supposed to be magical? The characters were not developed that well for me, probably because Kir took up such a large portion of the story, but he turns out to be the least likable part.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)