Just as with the other two titles in this series, this was a light, pleasant afternoon's read, suitable for anyone roughly 10 and up. The characters a...moreJust as with the other two titles in this series, this was a light, pleasant afternoon's read, suitable for anyone roughly 10 and up. The characters are likable, the world is likable, though people do bad things there's no real sense of danger or despair. . . it's sweet and quite innocent. The comparisons to Shakespeare in the editorial quotes, as a result, come off as a tad overblown, but I do understand where they come from -- the novel rests on mistaken identities and people in disguise, and everything of course comes together all at once for a chaotic but happy resolution. So pleasant, probably the most pleasant of the three, but ultimately probably forgettable.(less)
This is the first Barbara Hambly novel I have read, and on the strength of it I doubt it will be my last. Her characters are likable, her world well-f...moreThis is the first Barbara Hambly novel I have read, and on the strength of it I doubt it will be my last. Her characters are likable, her world well-fleshed out, and the plot builds tension well and set up a fairly good climax and denoument.
However, it felt like there was a lot of chaff mixed in with the wheat of this story. It was told using a rather self-conscious mix of present-day action and flashbacks that advanced the plot -- a device which, while I don't object to it as a rule, is hard to pull off well. The descriptive passages were heavy-handed, and while there were some excellent moments where a particular description hit me with immediacy and accuracy, most of the passages felt like they simply had to be waded through. I might have enjoyed the book more if there were no wonderful little moments of description, as then I would have felt free to simply skim all those passages; as it was, I felt the need to keep a sharp eye out for those bright flashes, and my enjoyment suffered as a result.
The ending wrapped things up a little too cleanly for my tastes -- Kyra's changed relationship with her parents struck me as simply far too easy a cop-out, as was the resolution of her romantic dilemma -- but the happy ending isn't totally unearned, and does leave a pleasant taste in my memory. So all in all, while not earth-shattering in any way, this is a good afternoon's read and a solid addition to the romantic fantasy cannon.(less)
This was my first Georgette Heyer novel, and I found it truly delightful. I rarely read romances because I have no patience for swooning heroines and...moreThis was my first Georgette Heyer novel, and I found it truly delightful. I rarely read romances because I have no patience for swooning heroines and brooding heroes, and though one of my favorite authors cites Heyer in general and this book in particular as an inspiration, it took me some time to pick it up.
I had no trouble with the amount of period detail, because it seemed no more overwhelming than reading any period piece (such as Jane Austen, who is mentioned a couple of times in the text); indeed, it was set out in a fairly accessible way, which it often is not when reading something written during that time period. I also had no trouble with the time spent on description, particularly of clothing -- Heyer uses her descriptive passages well, always making sure that they are accomplishing either some character-building or at the very least are humorous. (In many cases they were both.) I did find the characters drawn a trifle broadly for my taste -- each person, when introduced seemed so much a stereotype that I worried the plot would be wholly predictable.
However, once all the principal parties were introduced, Heyer was able to just set her characters at one another, and this was where she soared for me. I giggled throughout the novel, and actually found myself dog-earing pages with particularly witty dialogue so I could read them to my boyfriend later on. I found Jenny a heroine after my own heart, particularly because she would have laughed at anyone even attempting to call her one.
And that was why I loved the ending so very much. The novel has no ". . .and they lived happily ever after", and that makes it feel far realer than a romance has any right to be. There is no melodrama in this novel, no great stores of passion; it is simply two people finding contentment with each other, and discovering that if the choice is between passion and contentment, contentment is to be preferred. Truly, a novel after my own heart, and one I can heartily recommend.(less)