Okay so this book is largely written from a cat's point of view, a matchmaking cat who is also a witness to a murder and can do the moonwalk. And his...moreOkay so this book is largely written from a cat's point of view, a matchmaking cat who is also a witness to a murder and can do the moonwalk. And his mistress is a children's librarian who dresses up as Alice in Wonderland and Pippi Longstocking. Oh, and makes cupcakes with cats on them and wears cat pajamas. But! This book also seriously, gently deals with grief and involves a suspense/mystery plot.
Long's greatest strength lies in the depth, intimacy and detail of her characterization. She writes slow,...moreIn a review of an earlier Long book, I wrote:
Long's greatest strength lies in the depth, intimacy and detail of her characterization. She writes slow, nuanced stories of two people becoming truly known to one another, while coming to know and love themselves. Generally, her characters have aspects of their personalities that have previously gone overlooked by both the world at large and themselves. This is consistent in all her work that I've read, (though some of it is stronger than others) - this tone and care that she takes with her people - and yet the actual characters themselves are gratifyingly varied from book to book.
And in another I pointed out how in pretty much all of Long's books, it's notable how very much the h/h appreciate and enjoy one another.
This is all definitely true here. And also another thing: what palpable and fraut sexual tension Long can write. GOD. I was on tenterhooks with every word and every look between Marcus and Cynthia in this book.
And this book contains another theme I enjoy: hidden depths and strengths behind surface veneer, especially when it involves a female person who may be perceived as superficial when in fact she is doing her damnedest to survive.
Oh yeah, and there's the nerd factor of the fact that the hero studies insects. Love it!
Additionally, I suspect that Long is a cat-lady after my own heart, as this is not the only one of her books in which a man expresses love via feline. *g*(less)
When I think of this book, I think of how wonderfully capable the heroine is. And the hero too, actually. But it is a defining characteristic of Madel...moreWhen I think of this book, I think of how wonderfully capable the heroine is. And the hero too, actually. But it is a defining characteristic of Madeleine. We know that she was once the proprietor of a cheese shop, and that in the future she plans to farm, and that she is a "planner" or what might now be called a "fixer," for she engineers the seemingly impossible: the rescue of a famous convicted murderer right from the gallows. But truly, it becomes evident that this woman could do anything she sets her mind to. And the hero is in awe of her for it!
That's one of my favorite things about this book: how very much the h/h appreciate and enjoy one another. (Actually, this could be said of pretty much all of Long's books. Yay!)
They spend the majority of this book on the run, so I suppose it's a romantic suspense. And in the best way, for me anyhow, in that although I was avidly waiting to find out what next crazy aspect of the mystery would unfold (blackmail! stolen corpses! giant skeletons! three-legged dogs!) I was enjoying the ride just as much as the anticipation of the unfurling mystery.
I also really liked how the hero and his brother - though they'd been rivals for the same woman since childhood - so clearly loved each other all the same. Even when he had a small, unwilling suspicion that his brother had set him up, the hero still loved him.
This book also does a great job as a first book in a series - setting up the world and its major players, without falling into the trap of obvious sequel bait: being boring and awkward. We get just enough, just a whiff of continuing threads, but in ways that make sense, i.e. we don't get more of surrounding characters than is appropriate for their places in the lives of this book's leads.
Also, to be non-spoilerishly vague, there were certain aspects of the mystery that weren't completely revealed, mostly ones that had to do with the personal, interior worlds of other characters. Of course, this makes sense! And though I'd like to find out more in the future, I'd also be okay with not finding out, because sometimes you don't.
One pesky thing though...(view spoiler)[I was somewhat confused, in the end, over who exactly had decided to hide Horace the witness and thus doom the trial in the first place. It wasn't Mrs. Redmond, and I guess it wasn't Mr. Redmond either, since he was shocked that she should think that he had done so. So I guess it was as Mr. Redmond said (even though he implied that he was not telling the whole truth) and his man of business just took it upon himself because he thought that's what Redmond would want? So I guess I figured it out in the end, but I was a bit confused there. I was also confused as to whether Mr. Redmond himself had actually known that Colin was really his son. I mean, obviously, he should have been aware that it was a possibility... But I think this is one of those things that's supposed to be vague, so. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
In my other reviews of the series I've discussed how wonderful it is that Long writes these detailed, intimate characterizations and how her couples r...moreIn my other reviews of the series I've discussed how wonderful it is that Long writes these detailed, intimate characterizations and how her couples respect and like one another and this fuels their sexy sexiness.
But have I also mentioned how awesome it is how she makes her characters beautiful to one another, even if not to the whole world? Because she does, and not just with the female characters, or just with obviously plain or unusual looking characters (although this is the case in this particular book). She does this with all her characters, because physical, intellectual and emotional attraction all get fused together in Long's love stories.
And as is also the case in other Long books, the characters here do not always behave well, but they are always sympathetic all the same, even in the wrongness of in conflict with one another. (less)
When I was thirteen or so, I decided that my ideal man was an amalgam of George from A Room With a View and Gilbert Blythe. I think I should re-read t...moreWhen I was thirteen or so, I decided that my ideal man was an amalgam of George from A Room With a View and Gilbert Blythe. I think I should re-read this to remind myself of why. I also recall that I watched the Merchant-Ivory film adaptation first, and when I read this I thought it read like a film script or treatment. Now, I hadn't actually read any film scripts at the time, so I assume that I meant that the prose with "cinematic" rather than in screenplay format. (less)
I don't know how many times I reread this book - and for that matter, how much of my knowledge of WWI comes from it. But I do know that whenever I enc...moreI don't know how many times I reread this book - and for that matter, how much of my knowledge of WWI comes from it. But I do know that whenever I encounter someone else who's read - and loved - this book, I am suitably impressed that they are not just some dilettante who only read one or two of the Anne books - or god forbid, just watched the TV mini-series - and yet claims to be a fan. (less)
This book change my life. Er, or at least it had a permanent effect on my life goals: to travel, to make the world a little more beautiful, and to liv...moreThis book change my life. Er, or at least it had a permanent effect on my life goals: to travel, to make the world a little more beautiful, and to live by the sea when I'm old. And Miss Rumphius was a redheaded, librarian/adventuress! Oh yes, maybe still my favorite book of all time. (less)
I loved this! Never mind the pining love from afar, what's more romantic than a man who thinks that men who lie to women about their own bodies belong...moreI loved this! Never mind the pining love from afar, what's more romantic than a man who thinks that men who lie to women about their own bodies belong in a low rung of hell? (view spoiler)[Or a "french letter" wrapped up with ribbons and bows for a Christmas present? (hide spoiler)] And the relationship between the hero and his proud, ailing father is simultaneously heartbreaking and heartwarming. Meanwhile the relationship between the heroine and her father is just heart-filling [that should be a word even if it isn't, or at least there should be a more elegant sounding word that means the same].
This is definitely one of the more complete, emotionally rich novellas I've read in this genre; where despite the shorter length, both characters' journey to love and self-acceptance is fully believable.["br"]>["br"]>(less)
4.5 stars. The thing with Judith Ivory is that she's a crazy genius - her books are so damn smart and genre-tweaking (bashing, bruising, remolding), b...more4.5 stars. The thing with Judith Ivory is that she's a crazy genius - her books are so damn smart and genre-tweaking (bashing, bruising, remolding), but in an elegant way such that their meta-bent never overshadows the story. But as someone recently noted to me, they're sometimes almost too good. This is such a one, where I wanted to enjoy it even more than I did, on account of its meritorious eccentricities and genius. And so even though I really enjoyed this book, I feel a little guilty for not loving it even more.
This book simultaneously breaks and follows genre rules. For example, the hero is a rake but not one who willfully ruins or disrespects women - although he does perhaps commit these sins upon his own person. The heroine is an odd duck, too smart to fit in and not traditionally beautiful enough for that not to matter. These are, in fact, desirable character profiles for romance readers, but the realism of their portrayal in this book is such that I think it might make some readers uncomfortable. That is, this heroine is odd in such a way and this hero is scandalous to such a degree that might well be too much not only for the sensibilities of the historical setting of the fiction but modern sensibilities as well. Which is AMAZING.
But I wouldn't judge you if you have a hard time reading a romance in which the hero is sleeping with someone else for the majority of the book. I would, however, suggest you give it a try anyway, if you dare. (less)
I wavered about giving this book five stars. 'Cause yeah, it's anachronistic that they eat breakfast in the kitchen. And also, how believable is that...moreI wavered about giving this book five stars. 'Cause yeah, it's anachronistic that they eat breakfast in the kitchen. And also, how believable is that this well-bred regency girl would get up to such sexual shenannigans right under the nose of her family with a man she doesn't think (realize) she's in love with or plan to marry????
The thing is though, that Long made it believable. All of it. And the parts that she didn't, well, let's say that even if they weren't literally believable they are a well, literary sense. In that they make sense within the emotional logic of this book.
But let's address the even more bizarre thing - That in this book, Long could get to me to get past the fact that hero plans to engage in one of my most hated HR tropes. He was going to seduce and abandon her as a means to punish her brother who got naked with his fiance. *sputtering rage* The misogyny! The downright dastardliness of it!
But. Not only does Alex quickly fall in love/fascination/respect with Genevieve, she figures him out before he can even become aware that he'd decided not to go through with it. Moreover! He notices her: how she is quiet but not shy, passionate, and talented at life, a tremendous appreciator of beauty and art and the splendor and humor and tragedy of the world. So yes, he notices feels a kinship with her and tries to draw her out.
Also, it becomes clear that he has never actually done something so dismissive and hurtful of women before. He's an equal opportunity jerkface at any rate. And indeed, not anywhere near as dastardly as his reputation. True, he's ruthless and doesn't care about very many people. But as he points out to Genevieve, he doesn't need to be liked by very many people.
Also, the sexytimes are sexay: inventive yet realistic and also notably, in character. Specific. (less)