I'd seen another Loretta Chase title (Lord of Scoundrals) pop up on a number of recommendation lists and so when I couldn't find that one at the libraI'd seen another Loretta Chase title (Lord of Scoundrals) pop up on a number of recommendation lists and so when I couldn't find that one at the library, I decided to give Miss Wonderful a try instead. Chase seems to often get classified as a 'Classic' romance writer, and I get that from this book, which combines shades of Georgette Heyer with the overarching themes of Elizabeth Gaskell's North and South. This is a romance, of course, but that plot line is balanced with a rather complex one involving coal mines, the proposal for a new canal, and general distrust about modernization and mechanization. The gender balance gets upset pretty regularly, especially towards the beginning of the novel—our hero takes a Austenian tumble down a hillside and then has to be basically carried to safety by our heroine and tended to at her manor; he's also far more focused on fashion and clothing than she is—but these re-castings feel really natural to their circumstances, situations, and overall personalities. The plot resolution gets a little fast and loose towards the end of the book, there's a slight twist ending that didn't really feel necessary, and the heroine has some pre-wedding jitters that I didn't buy at all, but overall, I really enjoyed this book. Lots of banter and sparkling wit, lots of interesting non-romance plot, and lots of fun....more
I found this book—along with two other installments of the Penguin series celebrating the 150th anniversary of the London Tube—on a 1 bookshelf in BriI found this book—along with two other installments of the Penguin series celebrating the 150th anniversary of the London Tube—on a £1 bookshelf in Brixton on a recent visit and picked it up for the sheer novelty of the series and the esoteric back cover. What a delightful surprise. Wadham's thinly-veiled autobiographical memoir is funny and candid, offering rich portraits of various family members in a way which feels real and unadorned. These are splendid characters, but she presents them, and herself, as nevertheless flawed and biased and very, very interesting. It's not actually about the Tube (or specifically, the Circle Line, as advertised) but it hardly matters: this is a tightly written, vibrant, and revealing portrait of a complicated and fascinating family living in London in the 1970s. ...more
I was enthusiastic enough about the first of the Hathaways series that I jumped straight into the second, but while the premise was strong, the overalI was enthusiastic enough about the first of the Hathaways series that I jumped straight into the second, but while the premise was strong, the overall effect was a little too contrived for me. He (obviously) loves her; she (obviously) loves him. All the intervening drama then is just a whole lot of 'the lady (or actually, the man) doth protest too much.' The story of these two characters was much more effectively and interestingly dealt with in the first book, I think, when they were only secondary characters. ...more
Part of my 'I'm finished with classes, time to binge read genre fiction' spree, this was my first Kleypas book. I picked it up after her name kept comPart of my 'I'm finished with classes, time to binge read genre fiction' spree, this was my first Kleypas book. I picked it up after her name kept coming up on favorites lists and also because she seemed to be beloved of many of the readers over at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books who have long praised her plots and her actual writing.
Kleypas' writing is, indeed, very fluid and smooth, and she avoids the a pitfall you find rather often in romance, that is, overworking any one metaphor or adjective (particularly during/regarding sex scenes) so much that it becomes a bit cringe-inducing. I seem to have found myself reading a lot of historical English romances that take place in gaming hells or casinos (A Rogue By Any Other Name, for instance, or even Georgette Heyer's Faro's Daughter), so the non-ballroom setting didn't fill me with precisely the same sense of relief and freshness that it seems to have with other readers. But the premise was clever and for me, the characters were actually appealing precisely because of their weaknessess and shortcomings. If I were really going to level any complaints, it would simply be that a) it becomes abundantly clear less than 10 pages in that this irredeemable rake has already fallen madly in love and is, clearly a pretty stand-up guy even though everyone (including himself) spends a lot of time in doubt of that, and that b) the ending takes rather too long to well, end.
I'm interested in reading more of Kleypas, though, and maybe will go for one of her books about non-aristocratic characters yet...perhaps one of the Bowrunners series.... ...more
I found this book on a list of romance novels with body-positive, full-figured heroines and having read and enjoyed a book of MacLean's before, I wasI found this book on a list of romance novels with body-positive, full-figured heroines and having read and enjoyed a book of MacLean's before, I was intrigued. It was a quick read and an enjoyable one, although given some of the writing tics found here, I wasn't surprised to learn that it was the author's first romance for adults (versus YA readers). I think there are some descriptions here that either get overused or just feel a bit...odd—for instance, I'm not personally a huge fan of the idea of one's mouth being "plundered" and nor do I think the euphemism of "sweet rain" is at all successful—but all in all, it was light and fun and chock-full of sexy bits and bound to turn out happily, which is the point, really.
I've read complaints from readers that decry the immense, period-inappropriate improprieties that the main character allows herself and I see that, and I also agree with comments that the misunderstandings of the book are generally of the sort that could be cleared up immediately if either of the main characters would just say what they actually meant when they needed to. However, I accept that a book with a title this playful is not going to place epic focus on historical accuracy (this is frothy fun, not a textbook) and the latter complaint is basically my main quibble with Sense and Sensibility, so at least MacLean is in good company as regards that one shortcoming.
If I want to read a historically accurate (albeit chaste) regency romance, I will read a Georgette Heyer novel. But for English-y, historical-ish romance with a maximum of scandalous interludes, I think MacLean fits the bill. ...more
This English edition was actually a translation from the Swedish translation of Gerpla. I'm reading it alongside the Icelandic original because the laThis English edition was actually a translation from the Swedish translation of Gerpla. I'm reading it alongside the Icelandic original because the language in Gerpla—Halldór's self-created medieval Icelandic—is so complex and stylized that it would be pretty difficult for me to read it on its own within the given time frame. (Halldór said that he could have taught himself Chinese six times in the time it took him to develop the language spoken by the characters in this book.)
This version conveys the plot, obviously, as well as a lot of the latent humor and subtext of the story and situations. But the linguistic qualities of Halldór's writing definitely do not come across. So I am very much looking forward to Philip Roughton's new English translation of the book, which will be released by Archipelago Books in September 2016. ...more
Having indulged in a Heyer on my outbound trip from Iceland to Maine, I decided to keep things symmetrical and read another on the way home. But whileHaving indulged in a Heyer on my outbound trip from Iceland to Maine, I decided to keep things symmetrical and read another on the way home. But while The Convenient Marriage has some of Heyer's typical delights, this one really didn't do it for me. Maybe it's just a matter of over-exposure at this point, but it didn't feel as fresh as some of her other works, and a good deal of the novel (maybe even the last third) is imminently skim-able. A lesser version of These Old Shades (not itself my favorite, but still better), with some rather tired Shakespearean-style comic relief. ...more
Following a rather grueling month of translating projects at school and facing a very long journey from Iceland to Maine, I decided it was obviously tFollowing a rather grueling month of translating projects at school and facing a very long journey from Iceland to Maine, I decided it was obviously time for a 'fun read' and was persuaded, by thisvery enjoyable and informative post about Georgette Heyer's inadvertent creation of the Regency Romance genre, to pick up The Corinthian.
As with many of Heyer's books, this one presents a number of variations on themes and characters that she would pick up again and again throughout her career (although it was, to be fair, the originator of many of these themes). Here, our May-December romance is comprised of a large, "sleepy" hero who favors dandy-ish fashion and yet is no one to be trifled with; Richard, we're told, is apparently a renowned "whip" (he's good with horses), a fearsome boxer, and is very handy with his pistols—although we never see the latter two talents in action. We also have his young(er), plucky heroine who has a knack for getting into trouble, who rallies the hero out of his boredom and staid habits, and who favors boys' clothing. There are also stolen jewels, murder, masked bandits, and Bow Street Runners in the mix. It's all a lot of fun, although not nearly as sharp with the dialog or as delightfully convoluted as The Masqueraders, for instance. But it was a great way to while away a long journey, and it's interesting, I think, to see how Heyer got started in a genre she'd go on to perfect. ...more
It had been a long time since I'd read a romance novel and when I was packing for a four day camping trip, it seemed like a good time to pick up one oIt had been a long time since I'd read a romance novel and when I was packing for a four day camping trip, it seemed like a good time to pick up one of the ones I brought back with me from a used bookshop in Scottsdale last Christmas. This one isn't just the Best Ev-er (actually, the longer I think about it, the worse it stands with me), but it was a quick read and it worked for me, while I was reading it, at least. I actually kind of liked that the book started with the steamy sexual encounter and then had you wait for the reprise, rather than vice versa, as has been typical in most of the romances I've read. That may have been my favorite twist, however, given that thinking back on it now, Ican say that neither of the main characters really popped for me, the actual diary conceit was a bit thin, the is-she-isn't-she ghost was giggle-worthy, and I wasn't really taken with the whole dad-gone-mad subplot, either. (Also, 'June' just bothers me for the name of a baby in the late 19th century...maybe it was super common at the time, but it feels like the name of a 50s housewife in suburban Ohio.) Take all that out and you're left with good pacing and a functional plot and writing, minus some silly lines about relieving "the heated tensions of [Cassandra's] womanly urges" and men smelling of "musk and leather" etc. So, end of the day, probably not coming back for another of MacLean's books, but this was nevertheless a fun book for the road. ...more
**spoiler alert** I picked this up on a whim at the library because I was in the mood for a quick crime read and all the jacket quotes about it having**spoiler alert** I picked this up on a whim at the library because I was in the mood for a quick crime read and all the jacket quotes about it having "one of the most stomach-churningly fatalistic noir endings of any crime novel published [in 2011]" etc. were rather compelling. In the end, I was a little less taken with the result, although I do have to admit that I read it through rather speedily—three or four sittings spread over a little over a week.
I suppose my main complaints are two-fold. Firstly, this book is the fifth in a series and feels distinctly transitional, as though it is kind of a road stop between other, more developed stories. It works fine as a standalone—all the back story that you need about the characters is woven through the narrative—and yet, it seems pretty clear that having prior context about Doctor Quirke's orphan past, his decision to pretend that his daughter had a different father, and his relationships with his assistant and Detective Hackett would probably make this particular story feel more significant. I've read crime novels where the plot of one is really contingent on the one before it (Louise Penny's Bury Your Dead, for instance), but those are rare. Typically with a series, you can expect to step into it pretty much anywhere and feel as though you're right in it, even if the secondary plot line about the detective has developed over the course of multiple books. But here, there are an awful lot of references to past cases, past circumstances, etc. and in many instances, those cases sound a more compelling. A Death in Summer hones in on the femme fatale element, but only seems to occasionally dip into the crime itself, most of which is resolved in one fell sweep at the end.
To that end, I might add that the conclusion (specifically the child abuse at the orphanage), though most certainly serious in its tone and subject matter, is one that has been telegraphed quite clearly from early on. Its final reveal is a little disappointing, however, because it feels pretty cursory. I would definitely not enjoy reading vivid descriptions of child abuse, but I do think the psychological fall-out, as you might call it, is pretty glossed over here. Sure, Francoise immediately shoots her husband in the face when she discovers that he has been abusing her daughter, but, for one example, the way that the child behaves throughout the book doesn't seem at all consistent with the idea that she's been repeatedly raped by her father. Neither does the idea that Richard Jewell could just up and "corrupt" a twenty year old man and convince him to repeatedly take part in the systematic sexual abuse of children really make any sense. I appreciate the delicacy that the author had in explaining the crimes themselves—the circumstances are horrific enough without having to go into visceral specifics—but the psychology of the victims could have been dealt with in a less vague manner. ...more