Utterly, utterly satisfying. Light and even throughout, a leading couple that I’d want in my circle of friends, and a plot to discover hidden treasure...moreUtterly, utterly satisfying. Light and even throughout, a leading couple that I’d want in my circle of friends, and a plot to discover hidden treasure. I could not ask for more. I am happy with what Chase came up with for the two engaging children introduced in Lord Perfect; their shared history adds depth evident even if you haven’t read about them before (as I hadn’t), and though it’s ultimately a story of young love, from the character development you do get a sense of their lives going forward with lasting love. I only wish it didn’t have to end where it did! But any more would have probably been too much, all things considered. This is one romance novel I know I’m going to re-read.
Rating upgraded from 4 to 5, because I've reread this several times in the last year, and it always makes me so happy that I can't in good conscience hold its lightness against it. I think I originally decided against giving it a 5 because it doesn't compare in emotional heft to certain other intensely satisfying romance novels, for example Chase's own Lord of Scoundrels. But that's not really a fair comparison; this is a different kind of novel - and a superbly executed and compellingly written one at that, so 5 stars and boatloads of happy sighs in testimony to its delightfulness :) Nov 4/11(less)
So good. A bit difficult to get into, but at some point the story swept me in, and away. Compelling and painful and thought-provoking. Life-affirming...moreSo good. A bit difficult to get into, but at some point the story swept me in, and away. Compelling and painful and thought-provoking. Life-affirming even in its melancholy. Not without its problems, but appealing for its humanness.(less)
Wow, for a romance novel, the leads spend an astonishing amount of time apart. You can probably count on one hand the number of scenes that feature Iv...moreWow, for a romance novel, the leads spend an astonishing amount of time apart. You can probably count on one hand the number of scenes that feature Ivo and Serena in the same room. Yet somehow, the tensions that come from clashing personalities and conflicting courses of action are loud and clear in the reading experience. A compelling and satisfying read that I am happy to regularly re-visit, thus five stars.
I would like to take this opportunity to note that for some reason Heyer's descriptions of Ivo and Serena never properly rooted in my head-canon...
...Ivo's supposed to be your usual masculine, dark, brooding alpha-in-his-prime, or in Heyer's words: "From his appearance, he might have been almost any age, and was, in fact, in the late thirties. Of medium height only, he was very powerfully built, with big shoulders, a deep—chest, and thighs by far too muscular to appear to advantage in the prevailing fashion of skin-tight pantaloons....He was not a handsome man, but his countenance was a striking one, his eyes, which were of a curiously light grey, having a great deal of hard brilliance, and being set under straight brows which almost met. His hair was as black as a crow’s wing, his complexion swarthy; and the lines of his face were harsh, the brow a little craggy, the chin deeply cleft, and the masterful nose jutting between lean cheeks."
Which, if you downplay "medium height only" and "not handsome," is maybe Hugh Jackman?
And yet, maybe because we see him "sardonically" ribbing Serena from his first entrance, and because "he had few graces, his manners being blunt to a fault, made as many enemies as friends, and, had he not been endowed with birth, rank, and fortune, would possibly have been ostracized from polite circles", I imagine him as stodgy and balding like...Hercule Poirot??? (David Suchet)
Meanwhile, Serena's supposed to be "a Titian-haired beauty", perhaps in the manner of Nicole Kidman...
...And yet I can only see her with stunning raven tresses, like maybe...Catherine Zeta-Jones!
...Yeah, I don't know why my head-canon is so off. But the romance still works for me, so there's the power of Heyer for you :D Sept/13
*********************************************** On re-rereading, I realized that all the blather about Serena's willfullness obscures the downright decent core of her. She even has a degree of selflessness, that requisite for all romance heroinces. Ivo plays a cool game and Fanny and Hector are not so charming on repeated exposure, but all in all it's a delightfully strong, mature tangle. A rich cup of coffee, mellowed only slightly by milk. -2011.(less)
Only read the Loretta Chase - The Mad Earl's Bride. Lovely, lovely novella. Chase packs a punch even in this shorter form, establishing an enthralling...moreOnly read the Loretta Chase - The Mad Earl's Bride. Lovely, lovely novella. Chase packs a punch even in this shorter form, establishing an enthralling, almost gothic atmosphere and a very likeable hero and heroine. The ending is sweet and satisfying without being overdone, and as a whole this piece definitely whet my appetite for more Chase. (less)
This is what those mostly lame attempts at fairy tale romances should be, but edgier and better plotted and more compelling than the vast majority of...moreThis is what those mostly lame attempts at fairy tale romances should be, but edgier and better plotted and more compelling than the vast majority of romance novels. Sharpe's writing is beautiful and her storytelling is wrenching. This vivid, entrancing read has stayed with me since I first stumbled across it online. It's short but nonetheless feels deep and full. Highly recommended. Feb 25/13(less)
On balance the treatment of history is probably too earnest and pedantic to qualify My Lord John as a good dramatic read, but I loved the immersive qu...moreOn balance the treatment of history is probably too earnest and pedantic to qualify My Lord John as a good dramatic read, but I loved the immersive quality of Heyer's rendering of the era. One of my favourite Heyers - 5 stars. Sept/13(less)
So unexpectedly delicious. So very satisfying. The world felt so real, I had to keep reminding myself that history went differently. The plot may have...moreSo unexpectedly delicious. So very satisfying. The world felt so real, I had to keep reminding myself that history went differently. The plot may have been done before, but never like this. The characters were so, so funny. And so, so compelling. And neither the fantasy nor the romance seemed too out of place. I never knew steampunk urban fantasy romance existed before this, and this book was an excellent introduction indeed.(less)
This has always been one of my favourite Heyers, probably because of its play with writing and writers - its metafictional gestures. It's also exquisi...moreThis has always been one of my favourite Heyers, probably because of its play with writing and writers - its metafictional gestures. It's also exquisitely funny, at least once you're primed to understand the vocabulary by reading less satirical Heyers. I think there's something kind of magical in this novel because though I can never pin down the whys and whens of how Phoebe and Sylvester fall for each other, I can sense the progression of them falling in love, battling with it, and achieving it, and it's deliciously intense. Possibly this has mostly to do with that amazing ballroom scene - but more likely it's the intended effect of Heyer's always understated but supremely expressive style. She creates the love story in your head more than on the page, and for me at least, that happens more thoroughly and viscerally in this novel than most of her others.
If you can get your hands on the audio version narrated by Richard Armitage, do! It's abridged and cuts out some of my absolute favourite conversations and plot details, as well as being a bit choppy in its streamlining of the story, but Armitage voicing Sylvester helps bring the story to life in a special way. It's also fun to hear his voices for the ladies, for the contrast if nothing else :) 13 March/12
Here are some visual aids for the leads of this novel!
Sylvester - Richard Armitage (of course) (just imagine the eyebrows more dramatically): "...though not above medium height he was well-proportioned, with good shoulders, a pair of shapely legs, and a countenance sufficiently pleasing to make the epithet handsome, frequently bestowed on it, not altogether ridiculous. In a lesser man the oddity of eyes set with the suspicion of a slant under flying black brows might have been accounted a blemish; in the Duke of Salford they were naturally held to lend distinction"
Or in period (though not Regency) costume as Mr. John Thornton in North & South:
Phoebe - Keira Knightley (imagine grey eyes and less glam and darker brown hair to go with the nickname "sparrow") - "Phoebe...needed to overcome the disadvantages of a thin, wiry figure, a brown complexion, and no more beauty than could be found in a pair of clear grey eyes, which could certainly twinkle with mischief, but which more frequently held a look of scared apprehension"
Or in period costume as Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice - and with a book, which would've been Phoebe's favourite thing until she met Sylvester ;)
These aren't casting suggestions, just visual aids. But if only they'd film that scene at the Castlereagh's ball...! ;)
I find this book just beautiful. The hero and heroine are unconventional both in terms of the romance genre and in terms of the world they inhabit. Th...moreI find this book just beautiful. The hero and heroine are unconventional both in terms of the romance genre and in terms of the world they inhabit. Their story, with its bitter past and complicated strands of emotional development, is not really light fare. I suppose another way of putting it is that you have to be willing to enter into the angst in order to enjoy this book. I suspect there are some flaws in terms of structure and tone, but it's beyond me to say what they are because I get utterly, happily lost in Thomas' delicious prose style. This is not light reading - and yet it is ultimately uplifting, because it affirms the possibility of love even in unlikely circumstances. (Rating upgraded from 4 to 5 - I suppose it's a book that improves on re-reading, once the complexities of the backstory have already settled in your mind.) Nov 3/11(less)
Really well fleshed out considering the short length. Am impressed that somehow Balogh made the hero likeable by the end of the story when he seems ra...moreReally well fleshed out considering the short length. Am impressed that somehow Balogh made the hero likeable by the end of the story when he seems rather a cad at the beginning.(less)
A contemporary take on the Hades/Persephone story that makes full use of its mythical setting while also renegotiating some of the less palatable plot...moreA contemporary take on the Hades/Persephone story that makes full use of its mythical setting while also renegotiating some of the less palatable plot points. Hot and fun, with banter and some really compelling side characters (ie a wacky Cerberus and a Zeus that models the best and worst of upper management).(less)