Quick Review: I didn’t much care for this book, sadly. The beginning didn’t grab me; both hero and...moreReview originally posted at Tea, Toast & Books.
Quick Review: I didn’t much care for this book, sadly. The beginning didn’t grab me; both hero and heroine seem to think in cliches, and the plot is so contrived it’s almost painful. There’s a whole lot of exposition without action, and fact dumps to explain the premise of the novel.
Mirabella and Cam are immediately attracted to one another, presumably based on their scintillating conversation, which wasn’t very interesting to me. And they’re already engaged, but the hero only agreed to it for money and he is bound and determined that he will never be so foolish as to fall in love again. Never! Because his first fiance was caught kissing another man in front of half the ton, right? And what is our heroine doing? Kissing men to track down a killer of sorts, to avenge her best friend, who was physically deformed but had a heart of gold — of course. In case you forget, the author will remind you about once every ten pages.
Naturally, Cam sees Mirabella kissing another man 15% into the book, and thereby we are introduced to the primary conflict, which could be resolved if they would just talk to each other. I might have bought Mirabella’s reluctance to open up if it had been written more convincingly, but no. Also, she thinks of Cam by his Christian name throughout much of the book, which grated, considering she wasn’t even willing to really talk to him.
The conflict was far too contrived for me (really: a villain with a hidden scar and a heroine who decides the best way to find him is to kiss all the boys? and a fiance whose very willingness to love was destroyed by a woman kissing another man?), and I didn’t really buy the characters, either. If this is the author’s first book, that might explain a lot, so I may check out some of her other work, but not soon. I hate writing such a bad review, because it wasn’t a complete wallbanger, but I found myself skimming the last 2/3 of the book just to get through it and say I was done.
Of course it's odd to keep filing these books as "historical," since they were contemporary when they were written -- at least for the most part -- bu...moreOf course it's odd to keep filing these books as "historical," since they were contemporary when they were written -- at least for the most part -- but I think that's part of their appeal for me now.
This is a sweet romance; while there are plenty of the typical plot twists to keep the characters apart, somehow they don't seem nearly so contrived as they often do in modern stories. Maybe because, at the time, they weren't?
A nice little story to read at bedtime and while in the bath, if you'd like to think of days gone by and so on and so forth.(less)
At first I thought it was perfect fluff. The plot wasn't too tortured, and it was mostly a great read for my horrible mood. However, in retrospect, th...moreAt first I thought it was perfect fluff. The plot wasn't too tortured, and it was mostly a great read for my horrible mood. However, in retrospect, the hero annoyed me. Even at the end, he was calling the heroine a "little fool" and a "chit" and generally being condescending in speech, even though he'd supposedly grown out of it. That took it from 3 to 2 stars for me.(less)
**spoiler alert** I admit, I watched True Blood before I read the books, and I intentionally waited until after Season 2 had finished airing as sort o...more**spoiler alert** I admit, I watched True Blood before I read the books, and I intentionally waited until after Season 2 had finished airing as sort of a... well, I don't know what. But it took willpower! It's interesting to note the differences between the book and the show, and perhaps because True Blood airs painfully slowly, one hour a week, the book seemed to just fly by.
While I was definitely on Team Bill for the TV show, the Vampire Bill of the books doesn't seem quite as indispensably RIGHT for Sookie. So now I feel totally fine with my slight defection to Team Eric -- and that's why I'll probably read the next eight books, oh, tonight or thereabouts.
TL;DR: Fast read, fun, less-sexy-than-TV Vampire Bill, needs more Eric. Quick read.(less)
**spoiler alert** On reread, I don't think I love this book quite as much as I used to, but that still leaves a lot of room to keep it on my favorites...more**spoiler alert** On reread, I don't think I love this book quite as much as I used to, but that still leaves a lot of room to keep it on my favorites shelf. It's possible that, because I've read it so many times, the pages seemed to fly by. The relationship between Claire and Jamie didn't seem quite as developed as I remember it being -- probably because a lot of that happens in the later books. There's also the fact that I know what's coming in Dragonfly in Amber, and I don't like it. Only a blip, though. On with the reread.(less)
Review originally published at Tea, Toast & Books. In Brief: Daphne, the eldest of the Bridgerton sisters, is feeling a bit on the shelf; all the b...moreReview originally published at Tea, Toast & Books. In Brief: Daphne, the eldest of the Bridgerton sisters, is feeling a bit on the shelf; all the bachelors seem to think she’s just great… as a friend. Simon, Duke of Hastings and an old school friend of Daphne’s brother Anthony, has just returned to England after the death of the old duke. Together they come up with a plan that will benefit them both: A fake courtship! But will the act they put on turn into something more?
I Thought: If I remember correctly, this is one of the first modern-style Regency romances I ever read, lo, these many years ago. It made me laugh then, and I went on a Julia Quinn bender for some time afterwards. (I believe my tendency to glom is already evident on this blog.)
It still makes me laugh, and even though I found myself recalling what happened as I read, I still had a great time getting reacquainted with the Bridgertons. At least in this volume, Quinn’s characters are just a wee bit anachronistic in their speech and behavior, but eminently enjoyable all the same. Quinn has a strong narrative voice, and uses witty plays on words along with great descriptions of the characters’ body language, so their personalities come through.
The plot is reasonably reasonable, if slightly shallow at times. The good thing is that none of the conflict is dragged out for an unconscionable amount of time. On a personal note, when I first read this book, I had no idea I would struggle with infertility, and so perhaps the major conflict between Daphne and Simon didn’t really strike me quite so hard. Vague spoiler alert: Of course, in the end, they start a brood of their own, which is lovely but I’m longing a bit to read about a childless-but-still-happy ending. Just for my own sanity, you know. (And yes, some of the books I’ve read lately don’t have the five years later epilogue featuring the whole new family, but I’d like to see a five years later epilogue that specifically addresses childlessness. Maybe I should write one. I’ve probably even read one but don’t remember it.)
Overall, this is a light and fluffy read that introduces us to a delightful world of personalities, and it makes me want to go back and read all the Bridgerton books over again. I probably will, sometime soon. The love scenes are moderately explicit and quite lengthy. There are a few typos in the Kindle edition, but nothing major, and a preview for Just Like Heaven that makes me glad I’ve got a copy coming in the mail.(less)
A perfectly fine bit of fluff, if you like Regency romances, which I do. The main thing to be said against it is that the author fell back on using co...moreA perfectly fine bit of fluff, if you like Regency romances, which I do. The main thing to be said against it is that the author fell back on using conflict that could be solved IF ONLY the two main characters would TALK TO EACH OTHER. That resulted in a couple hundred pages of frustration, although I will give Ms. Rolls credit for at least coming up with reasons they wouldn't just talk it out. It felt more believable than it does in some novels, where it's clear the author went "huh, what's a conflict I can use... I know... it worked on LOST, let's just have them not talk!"
Recommended for summer reading, if you've not already read it.(less)
Entertaining. The books are getting better, in my opinion, but I can't be sure if that's just because I haven't seen True Blood eps based on these plo...moreEntertaining. The books are getting better, in my opinion, but I can't be sure if that's just because I haven't seen True Blood eps based on these plotlines yet.(less)
Fluffy enough, if not especially surprising, interesting, etc. Since I finished it in a few hours, the somewhat thin plot and rather stereotypical cha...moreFluffy enough, if not especially surprising, interesting, etc. Since I finished it in a few hours, the somewhat thin plot and rather stereotypical characterizations didn't really bother me, and it's more or less exactly what I was looking for on a boring Saturday afternoon.(less)
I picked this up for free on the Kindle store, and it was vaguely entertaining enough that I finished it. The writing, though... it was like a catalog...moreI picked this up for free on the Kindle store, and it was vaguely entertaining enough that I finished it. The writing, though... it was like a catalog of examples of How Not to Write Fiction. (less)
I loved JQ's Bridgerton books, so I picked this up expecting to like this. The Bridgerton series featured plenty of witty, hilarious dialog between th...moreI loved JQ's Bridgerton books, so I picked this up expecting to like this. The Bridgerton series featured plenty of witty, hilarious dialog between the characters; unfortunately, what's witty as conversation becomes overbearing when it's carried through the entire narration of the novel.
I finished the book and I feel like I know next to nothing about the personalities of the hero and heroine, because there was almost no action in the book -- just lots of thinking. Wittily. "Show, don't tell" would be a good lesson to keep in mind here.
The entire thing felt like an exercise in trying too hard, which is always deadly when you're going for sarcasm. The narrative voice was so strong it killed the characters. Alas.(less)
Meh. I didn't really buy Kev's muleheaded "I'M NOT GOOD ENOUGH FOR YOU" because, in spite of the explanations as to why he felt that way... it just di...moreMeh. I didn't really buy Kev's muleheaded "I'M NOT GOOD ENOUGH FOR YOU" because, in spite of the explanations as to why he felt that way... it just didn't seem believable. Usually I really enjoy LK's books but this one, not so much. It seemed very Wuthering Heights-wannabe, but not in a good way.(less)
While I could make all the same criticisms of this book as I did of the last JQ novel I read, for some reason, here, it WORKED. I laughed out loud mor...moreWhile I could make all the same criticisms of this book as I did of the last JQ novel I read, for some reason, here, it WORKED. I laughed out loud more than a few times. The characters probably won't stick with me, but as lighthearted entertainment, it worked. (less)
I wasn't expecting much, but this book was actually totally charming. Sure, some of the falling-in-love bit was contrived, but you know it's going to...moreI wasn't expecting much, but this book was actually totally charming. Sure, some of the falling-in-love bit was contrived, but you know it's going to happen anyway in a romance, so I wasn't bothered. The plot was actually interesting, with just a touch of fantasy world building to keep me happy.(less)
Light and reasonably enjoyable, although I don't feel like there was much actual development of the relationship between the characters. I'd probably...moreLight and reasonably enjoyable, although I don't feel like there was much actual development of the relationship between the characters. I'd probably read others in the series.(less)
In Brief: Emily Townsend, gently bred but impoverished, serves as a paid companion to Lady Bradleig...moreReview originally posted at Tea, Toast & Books.
In Brief: Emily Townsend, gently bred but impoverished, serves as a paid companion to Lady Bradleigh. The dowager countess is distressed when she learns that her grandson, Robert, has affianced himself to a very young lady with a very grasping family. Lady Bradleigh would rather see him marry her companion — but how to convince him of that and, worse, how can he extricate himself from his disastrous engagement? And will Emily ever believe she is a worthy bride, given her status in life?
I thought: Emily is a bit of a Mary Sue. Her every action is imbued with nobility and quiet sacrifice, and it makes it a little difficult to relate to her. There don’t seem to be any rough edges. Robert, on the other hand, is introduced as an unrepentant rake, but we don’t see much of that behavior, either. And Lady Bradleigh is a somewhat sarcastic, meddling-but-in-a-good-way matchmaker. In short, the characters are lacking in realism. Yet they manage to be likable enough.
The general prototypicality of the hero and heroine means that there aren’t too many moments of tension about whether they’ll end up together. Of course, there’s really never any doubt when reading a romance novel, but some of them still manage to have me on the edge of my seat. This didn’t, but on the other hand, neither did it have the 800 annoying contrived obstacles sometimes found in books of this genre.
The motivations of the villains were fairly transparent, and they were easily handled. I didn’t get any real sense of urgency when the hero had to go deal with them; in fact, he sort of lingered about so all the loose plot ends could be wrapped up before he went off to rescue Emily. Bit odd, and that was the only part of the book that really had me shaking my head a bit.
Something I did appreciate was that the hero and heroine didn’t hit the hay on page 100 and immediately realize they had to have each other; their growing relationship did feel like it was based on something besides base lust. I actually believed they were falling in love, and my heart was racing a few times during the fairly tame love scenes (comparatively, nothing too explicit here — kind of a welcome change).
Overall it was a pleasant, quick read. It didn’t exactly leave me wanting more, but I didn’t regret the time spent reading. Everything was pleasantly fluffy, and sometimes that’s all you need. There are plenty of detailed descriptions of Regency fashions, which I enjoyed reading. Unlike a lot of free/cheap Kindle editions, it’s not riddled with typos, although there is a frequent substitution of the letter “d” for “ct” (I think — now that I’m looking back through, I can’t find examples).
Certainly worth picking up for free, if you have any interest in Regency romances; I will definitely check out some of Ms. Hern’s other work.(less)
In Brief: Widower Miles needs a mother for his children, but has no interest in looking for love ag...moreReview originally posted at Tea, Toast & Books.
In Brief: Widower Miles needs a mother for his children, but has no interest in looking for love again, believing he can never feel for anyone what he felt for his wife. Besides, he’s far too proper and starched for that sort of thing. When his sister brings a widow and her younger sister to the estate for a visit, he knows a setup is in the works. Hannah has her head in the clouds, but not for romance — she’s far too focused on her study of architecture. And since her older sister is the intended match anyway, nobody could really have suspected what would happen….
I thought: I absolutely loved this book. I decided I wanted to read another of Ms. Hern’s stories, so I went with this and am so glad I did. The characters are absolutely adorable and frequently hilarious, and the hero and heroine stay true to themselves throughout the book.
Having now read two tales from Candice Hern, I suspect that I will find similar attention to detail in all of her writing. There’s a scene near the beginning of the book, for example, where Miles is eating breakfast, complete with a wonderful description of cracking open a soft-boiled egg. It’s abundantly clear that the author knows a whole lot about the Regency period, but it’s a bit more subtly displayed in this than in A Proper Companion. She manages to perfectly evoke a real sense of time and place.
Hannah is simply wonderful; enthusiastic, imperfect, and mostly ok with that but still with a little insecurity that keeps her from being boilerplate. Miles is a bit reserved, but he opens up over the course of the story and it’s obvious that he and Hannah complement one another quite well.
The side characters, too, are reasonably well-drawn, and there are plenty of interactions with them that display the dynamics of the various relationships. I found myself hoping throughout that Charlotte, the older sister, would not turn out to be just a horrible shrew, and I was not at all disappointed.
There was a particular scene where our heroine was in peril, and the series of events that occurred afterwards was quite hilarious. It could have seemed contrived, but where the same sort of thing seemed a bit gimmicky in A Proper Companion, here it felt perfect.
I once again appreciated the relatively tame love scenes. Ms. Hern here proves that you don’t have to be explicit to convey passion, and that falling into bed together is not a necessary prerequisite for a great relationship.
I tore through this in a single evening; it’s fast-paced and full of warmth and laughter. I didn’t find any distracting typos or text scanning errors, happily. I didn’t realize it was the second book in a duo (the first is A Garden Folly), and will certainly go back and read the first — though I think it will be a little odd to see the beginning of Miles, knowing the end!(less)