Proper young lady, Celine Fairweather is summoned to stay with her pregnant sister, Penelope, Duchess of Blackthorne, keep her company, and he...moreSynopsis
Proper young lady, Celine Fairweather is summoned to stay with her pregnant sister, Penelope, Duchess of Blackthorne, keep her company, and help run her household through her final month of pregnancy. Shortly after her arrival, the dashing Lord Adair asks the ducal couple if his second cousin, the roguish George Rodrick Irvin, Viscount Elmer, who is apparently hiding from pirates can stay with them since he's going out of the country. Celine is nursing an affection for a very bad poet by the name of Philbert Woodbead, and the bored Viscount is eager to help her reconnect with him to keep his mind off his own situation of being Public Enemy Number One with a vicious group of pirates. With his checkered past and happy-go-lucky personality, Viscount Elmer brings life and chaos into Celine's ordered existence. He makes her realize the difference between a temporary affection and true love, but is Viscount Elmer here to stay or is this just a temporary diversion while he's in hiding from his enemies?
Seeking Philbert Woodbead has the slapstick humor tone of its predecessor, Penelope, but unfortunately, it lacks its charm and the cohesiveness. Celine doesn't have the presence and doesn't captivate (and bewilder) the reader as thoroughly as her sister Penelope. That was a shame, since I really loved Penelope, her personality and her antics. I perceive that the author wanted to flip the page with this book, and have a serious heroine with a silly hero, but George isn't as funny or as lively a main character as this book needed.
While there are some humorous moments, they didn't feel organic. The silly tone felt contrived, as if the author was trying a little too hard. The biggest issue was this book doesn't have the energy and spirit a story of this kind needs. When a story is played for laughs, it needs to own its absurdity, and I didn't feel that needed sense of abandon to silliness that makes Penelope such a delightful read.
Overall, Celine is likable, although a bit bland. I didn't connect with her as much as I liked, and I hardly felt any connection with George. For a hero who supposedly had his sense of joie de vivre, I didn't feel it. The pirate storyline could have been a bit more prominent and better integrated into the storyline, because a lot of the humorous potential within this plot was left undeveloped.
It was great to catch up with Penelope and her duke again, and their scenes were some of my favorite parts. Penelope is now a married woman who is heavily pregnant, and seeing her and the duke deal with some of the aspects of pregnancy and marriage was a lot of fun.
Unfortunately, I was disappointed with Seeking Philbert Woodbead after being so captivated with Penelope. This is a decent book, and if I hadn't loved the first Fairweather series book so much, I would have enjoyed it more than I did. It just doesn't hold up as well in comparison. I'm still looking forward to continuing this series, because I do enjoy Anya Wylde's writing and her desire to make the reader laugh with sweet, fun Regency romance.
I'm not a big reader of mainstream fiction, so I am probably not the target audience, but Hart is a good writer. The emotional landscape is complex an...moreI'm not a big reader of mainstream fiction, so I am probably not the target audience, but Hart is a good writer. The emotional landscape is complex and gritty in this novel. Not light reading at all.
Okay, I enjoyed this one a lot. I admit I was pretty annoyed at Sergios for most of the book, and highly offended that he expected a wife who would lo...moreOkay, I enjoyed this one a lot. I admit I was pretty annoyed at Sergios for most of the book, and highly offended that he expected a wife who would look the other way at his sexual infidelities but wasn't allowed to have her own. Don't get me wrong. Cheating/marital infidelity is a big, fat, huge, no no for me, across the board. But I despised his double standard. Why was it okay for him to 'get some' outside of his marriage but not his wife? No way, buddy! Surprisingly, I could understand why Beatriz agreed to his terms. She wanted to see her mother cared for and she had already started bonding with Sergios' orphaned nephews and niece. Another aspect that had the steam coming out of my ears was how the hotness of Sergios just made Bee melt like ice cream on a Texas summer day. Will power...gone! I respect that you feel an incredible sexual attraction sometimes, but, ugh, I just wish that it didn't made the heroines in these books act so marshmallowy. On the good side, she fought it longer than some do in these books. A good point in this book was Bee. She was fairly mature and grounded. I think she was a bit on the insecure side, but other than that affecting some of her decisions more than I liked, I liked her and respected her a lot. Even Sergios wasn't a total write-off. Although I wished that his feelings for Bee were a bit more obvious to me as a reader earlier on (other than lust), he was a decent guy, for the most part. Even though he started off way too smug about his attractions (a real turnoff even if he is hot), presumptuous, manipulative, and self-absorbed, I could see a discernible change in him for the better, and I loved how he lays his cards on the table near the end. Let me tell you, though, I was seething, wondering if he really did go there on his wedding night. I am pretty certain that I think I would be driven to physical violence were I some of the women in these books. It's a good thing I am not a Harlequin Presents-caliber heroine!
Final Thoughts: This was an enjoyable read for me. I know many long time Lynne Graham fans have not been happy with her newer books, I felt like this one was more or less on par with some of her older books, although it's not a favorite of mine. I like that this heroine is a bit more mature and not dizzy like she tends to do with her heroines. I liked that she knew her mind and she was an independent thinker, for the most part. The romance was good and at the end, I felt like Sergios had proven worthy of Bee. At any rate, I didn't feel like holding him off from her like a maiden aunt with a rolling pin. I'd give this one a thumbs up and a solid four stars. If you like Harlequin Presents novels, you might like this one. I did.
Confession time: I passed this book by based on the blurb. It didn't appeal. I am not super-fond of second chance at love stories, or playboy/womanize...moreConfession time: I passed this book by based on the blurb. It didn't appeal. I am not super-fond of second chance at love stories, or playboy/womanizer heroes, and I didn't think I would care for this story. It sounded like a lot of the shallow and plastic (to me) romantic comedies out that I avoid like a plague. I am glad my GRs friend wrote such a sterling review that I pulled it off my shelf. It was a very good book.
What did I like:
* I liked how Ms. Blake took the time to show Caleb's viewpoint. I don't think this book would have worked nearly as well just through Ava's viewpoint. I absolutely needed to see his vulnerabilities, and first-hand how Ava had always been in his heart, even if he had erected the callous, carefree armor of a slick womanizer/high finance shark. His soft spots really endeared him to me, and that's saying a lot because I didn't think much of his values, and just merely being dumped wasn't enough to let him get out of jail free for being so slick and materialistic. I don't mean to be judgmental, but those qualities don't shout out to me in a hero. For all that, Caleb ultimately won me over, especially when he came to his senses at the end. I think deep in his heart, he was always in Ava's corner, and that endeared him to me. * Let me say I loved that Ava was pursuing her doctorate in higher education. Danielle was mentally doing a fist pump. I am always campaigning for more HP heroines with higher educations and careers, and Ms. Blake gave me that! In a strange way, it worked for me that Ava was such a book-smart woman but kind of a screw-up in other ways. Her family baggage had set her on a path where she made mistake after mistake. It was realistic. Now, when I read romances, I prefer it to be about the hero and heroine meeting and falling in love with no other partners and no long years lost. Ten years is a huge time period to regret the one that got away. However, in this case, I feel that this time apart might have been necessary to shape Ava and Caleb to better appreciate life together. So, although this in not my ideal scenario, it worked for this book (although I have some pangs about it). * I loved the interactions (non-sexual) between Ava and Caleb. The relationship re-builders such as their snarky back and forth, and their flirting and just hanging out, and how they were there for each other emotionally. Moreso from Caleb's side. But Ava also helped Caleb to see that getting in deep was okay, and feeling something more was the way life should be. Are you really living if you only play life fast and loose? I firmly believe that Ava and only Ava could have taught Caleb this. *Although more time could have been spent on showing Ava with her family, I am glad that the crucial make-up between Ava and her father did occur. I think Ava can heal in some essential ways now.
What I didn't love: *Honestly, the love scenes were a bit of an afterthought for me. I wanted to know that they felt more and it wasn't just sex, and it was hard to feel that way with both scenes, to be honest. When I read romance, I hate to see sex treated casually. It might work for some, but it doesn't work for me. And when I see it in a romance book between the hero and heroine, it puts a bad taste in my mouth. Although the scene on Caleb's car might have seemed hot, deep down, it left me feeling emotionally unsatisfied, especially compared to the emotional and tender first time they made love ten years ago. However, the moments of connection outside of their sexual interactions were winners for me. Such as when they lay on the grass and caught up with each other. I wanted to knock some sense into Caleb at his actions when Ava lay her heart at his feet in his apartment, so that post-coital intimacy was ruined for me. *As much as I liked this book, I felt kind of melancholy after reading it. I felt like so much time had been wasted, and maybe that's what made it a bit of a downer in some ways. I did like the end, so that sort of makes up for what was lost, but not completely. That's probably why I couldn't rate this higher than four stars, along with the love scenes not being as emotional as I liked.
I enjoyed this book a lot. It's a good reunion romance and friends to lovers book. The heroine has a lot of emotional depths, and Caleb's soft heart beneath a callous exterior intrigued this reader. I loved his expanded viewpoint a lot. I would recommend this book with the above reservations.(less)