False advertising; this is super not a mystery - just straight-up historical fiction. Reminded me a great deal, in feel if not in details, of The FallFalse advertising; this is super not a mystery - just straight-up historical fiction. Reminded me a great deal, in feel if not in details, of The Fall of Atlantis, though a much quicker read. The transitions between the two first-person narrators was occasionally a little clunky, and there were moments that felt like Greenwood just wallowing in all of her clearly extensive research, but the Amarna dynasty has more than enough intrigue and oddities to make a rip-roaring yarn. Also, the respectful, consensual, of-age threesome/non-monogamous relationships of all sorts of gender combinations were a delight, particularly in the midst of all sorts of pedophilia/incest that, even in the context of being par for the course and traditional in the royal family at the time, were still considered creepybadwrong....more
A vast, vast improvement on earlier books in the series, though that is faint praise, indeed. (And yet, and yet I still read them all.) The pacing isA vast, vast improvement on earlier books in the series, though that is faint praise, indeed. (And yet, and yet I still read them all.) The pacing is still weird, but Lackey went with the bold choice of actually having things happen at multiple points during the story. In fact, I somewhat wonder if this is the start of another sub-arc in the overall Elemental Masters series, as otherwise there are large swathes of the book that seem disconnected from each other. The training montage/lavish house party/wallowy descriptions of luxury and food at the heroine's new home base works much, much better if it's the origin story for this heroine. One of the other strengths of this book over previous - the jettisoning of the strict adherence to romance novel relationship pacing - also makes me suspect future books about Rosa, who is also one of the least irritating heroines in this series in quite some time. Rosa will get her tied-with-a-bow happy ending at some point, just not yet. Which is good. Lackey doesn't compromise Rosa's established character traits to force a romance happy ending, which makes for an overall better book.
So, hey. Hope for the future! Because of course I will still be reading. ...more
This series was recommended ever so thoroughly to me, as it seems to be absolutely my thing (England, lady mystery-solver, historical setting), and IThis series was recommended ever so thoroughly to me, as it seems to be absolutely my thing (England, lady mystery-solver, historical setting), and I think it simultaneously a) was oversold to me and 2) has elements I just don't like. It's terribly competent in doing its thing; I just don't like the thing.
I was expecting, I don't know, something more serious. I was not expecting to be introduced to a forcibly whimsical cast of characters. I was not expecting a romance-novel-style asshole hero. I was not expecting the heroine to make quite so many boneheaded moves.
I think it's that this is written like a certain kind of romance novel that does not work for me (some do, and I enjoy them thoroughly, but my tastes are very specific), except there's not a romantic resolution at the end of the first book, plus there's some dead people and some mystery solvin'. This again should be right up my alley, but the execution fell down for me.
Mostly I just cannot make myself be allured by a hero who says, "If you do X, I will not be responsible for my actions." No, jackass. You're always responsible. To place the blame for your actions - presumably harmful ones - on the heroine, in order to control her? Yeah. I'm checked out and could care less whether your emotionally stunted wooing over corpses is successful. This is a certain brand of romance hero who has little more personality than "hot" and "brooding" by which I remain utterly unentranced. Also, I will admit my bias for a clever heroine, and so far Lady Julia isn't cutting it.
All that, and I still give it three stars. It was competent, yes, and I will read at least a couple of sequels. It almost scratches the itch, and it remains to be seen if the other books magnify the problems or resolve them. ...more