While the plot is fairly mundane, the writing is good and Fellows avoids the little things that make so many historical novels seem jarring. This hero...moreWhile the plot is fairly mundane, the writing is good and Fellows avoids the little things that make so many historical novels seem jarring. This heroine has a little Sophy Stanton-Lacy in her which I like, although there is insufficient explanation of how a young woman who has lived a secluded life gained so much assurance prior to arriving in London.(less)
This book had so much potential - an intelligent and brave 19th century heroine who accompanies her father to India and uncovers a mystery in her new...moreThis book had so much potential - an intelligent and brave 19th century heroine who accompanies her father to India and uncovers a mystery in her new home, but basically the plot was very meager. The only thing that made Jennifer interesting was her ability to keep a secret and her determination to learn Hindustani, unlike many English women of her class who expected servants to make all the effort. Jennifer's father, Colonel Metcalfe, is condescending, and her love interest, Charles Bracken, pretends he is only interested in brotherly relationship, which is confusing and annoying.(less)
This book was recommended and I found it pleasant enough except for the irksome issue of the British class system, which the author appears not to und...moreThis book was recommended and I found it pleasant enough except for the irksome issue of the British class system, which the author appears not to understand: the heroine's father had been a Sergeant in the English army and the hero had been an officer. There was no explanation for her gentility (for want of a better word). It could have easily been part of the plot - a mother who had married beneath her, an unexpected time at boarding school when her father was in funds, etc. Given her father's status, it seems very unlikely Cressida could have become friends with Julia Hayes, the daughter of landed gentry and sister of the (disgraced) hero. Even worse, Cressida and her sister Callie share their home with a former soldier who had served with their father. Tom came home with their father (although the two men were far from friends) and stayed on as a man of work. Even after the father disappears, the young ladies' grandmother serves as a chaperon of sorts, but even if it was possible that Julia would invite the Turner family to stay, despite their low birth, it seemed impossible her mother would include them and Tom at a dinner! Surely the neighborhood would be scandalized at such behavior.
These inconsistencies, not to mention the hero and heroine behaving improperly under his mother's roof, lessened my enjoyment of the book and made me question the author's (and editor's) knowledge of the period.(less)
This was a very thoughtful gift from someone I had thought incapable of thinking about anyone but herself. It is immediately engrossing on a number of...moreThis was a very thoughtful gift from someone I had thought incapable of thinking about anyone but herself. It is immediately engrossing on a number of topics, although is the sort of book one enjoys for an hour rather than reading all the way through at one sitting. Four and a half stars.(less)
This is a charming but slight novella about an appealing couple separated by class: he the handsome son of a self-made man whose merchant status has p...moreThis is a charming but slight novella about an appealing couple separated by class: he the handsome son of a self-made man whose merchant status has prevented him from being accepted socially, and she the daughter of an arrogant but impoverished titled member of the ton. When Annabelle's reputation is destroyed, Reginald Mason is bullied by his father into proposing to her. In this way, he will gain entry to the social milieu sought but never achieved by his father, and Annabelle is saved from social disgrace as her family benefits financially from the two fathers’ mutually beneficial negotiations. Balogh uses the ‘arranged marriage’ plot but adds an unexpected twist as only she can.
I had forgotten how much I enjoy this author’s regencies and historicals. My one complaint is that this book is too short. It would have been better positioned as a short story in one of the Regency collections Signet used to publish so well. It is very overpriced at $15.95 and I think her readers will not be happy. (less)
Enjoyed this first installment of a Victorian-setting mystery series, starring an intrepid and ambitious orphan-turned-sleuth, Mary Quinn, who has man...moreEnjoyed this first installment of a Victorian-setting mystery series, starring an intrepid and ambitious orphan-turned-sleuth, Mary Quinn, who has many secrets to hide. It is written in the tradition of Pullman's Sally Lockhart in The Ruby in the Smoke but does not immediately captivate and catch at one's heartstrings as Sally does...(less)
**spoiler alert** I hate reading books out of order, so when I realized I had read Hazel, about Ivy's daughter, I had to rush to the library (electron...more**spoiler alert** I hate reading books out of order, so when I realized I had read Hazel, about Ivy's daughter, I had to rush to the library (electronically speaking) to order this earlier book. I read it last night when I should have been sleeping. I found this book somewhat disappointing because it was all over the place: dazzlingly beautiful redhead (yes), neglected orphan (yes), abusive family (yes), abusive teacher (yes), Victorian do-gooders (yes), bands of thieves (yes), drug addiction (yes, laudanum), artists (yes), artist's models (yes), jealous mothers (yes), murderous pythons (yes), cross-dresser (this was unexpected, not necessary, and not very convincing).
Several things puzzled me: 1) Ivy is a vegetarian in approximately 1890. Would an illiterate five year old growing up in a slum around the turn of the century boycott meat? (unlikely she would have had much opportunity to eat meat in the first place) I realize there were vegetarians in Victorian England but I question whether Ivy would really have been aware of what she was eating other than that there wasn't enough of it. She does have a weird affinity with animals but is otherwise fairly cold, both in this book and in Hazel. This is not surprising, given her violent childhood but it makes for an odd heroine.
2) Ivy becomes addicted to laudanum when she is 5-7 years old, yet suddenly manages to detox ten years later with barely any agony at all. Let alone how did this girl in the slum get so much laudanum (and she wasn't selling her body which would have been plausible).
3) I read this book partly because I was curious about her relationship with Hazel's father but it ends before she meets him. She is about to begin working at a Home for Dogs, which we know is where he will fall in love with her, while searching for his sister's pet.
Ivy is 40? 50? when Hazel ends so her story may not be done but this book left me unsatisfied, especially as it was my last read of 2009.(less)
The author describes how she came to write this book: a descendant of the great Indiana publisher Samuel Miller wrote to her and offered a manuscript...moreThe author describes how she came to write this book: a descendant of the great Indiana publisher Samuel Miller wrote to her and offered a manuscript of her childhood reminiscences in the late 19th century. While Hunt made the story her own, she was attracted by the connection to a noted Indiana family.
Unfortunately, I found much of the story no more than pleasant and much was very dull. It was saved by the heroine's visit to New Orleans at the end of the book. Susan's friendship with a traditional Creole family is charming, and some of the author's observations could have been written now, rather than in 1937:
"Uncle Karl said that New Orleans was badly in need of a proper drainage system, for after such rains the city would be water-bound, until the flood could drain away and be lifted over the levees at the rear of the town by big slow-moving paddle-wheel pumps."
The title refers to the frequent warnings given by the heroine's mother to her reckless daughter.(less)