I love Fairchild for her sensual intensity and gorgeous language. These things are present in this novel but it still did not fully chime for me as I...moreI love Fairchild for her sensual intensity and gorgeous language. These things are present in this novel but it still did not fully chime for me as I could not empathise with the blinkered and stubborn heroine. Still worth the read though and with some lovely moments.(less)
Really enjoyed this one. Have read a few Laura Matthews before and enjoyed but they never hit the spot like this one did. Quirky and witty. I will hav...moreReally enjoyed this one. Have read a few Laura Matthews before and enjoyed but they never hit the spot like this one did. Quirky and witty. I will have to try some more.(less)
Probably my fifth reading of this book and I enjoyed reading it just as much as last time round. This is not a romance but an exploration of love, pass...moreProbably my fifth reading of this book and I enjoyed reading it just as much as last time round. This is not a romance but an exploration of love, passion, marriage, friendship and what they meant for a certain class of person in England in the early part of the nineteenth century. The contract of the title is the arranged marriage between Adam, an aristocrat who has inherited a wasted estate and urgently needs a lot of money in order to fufil his duties as a landowner and head of his family, and Jenny, a businessman's daughter whose father dreams of seeing her with a title and hobnobbing with the nobs. Matters are complicated because Adam fancies himself in love with Julia, a beautiful (if self-centred and shallow) girl of his own class, who in turn fancies herself in love with him and is given to making scenes and/or claiming she could have been happy in a cottage... Meanwhile, poor Jenny really does love Adam, but with no illusions about her own charms (she is short and round and sensible) hopes at best to make his life comfortable. So we have two well-intentioned people from very different backgrounds trying to make the best of a situation that can never be perfect. They work at re-building the estate and building a family, helped and hindered by an array of secondary characters; Adam has a splendid range of relatives: a dull sister and a lively one, a diva of a mother, forever comparing her children unfavourably to their deceased brother and sister, an overbearing aunt. However it is Jenny's father who steals the show. A self-made man, brilliant in business though under-educated, large in appetite, generous but given to temper tantrums, proud and insecure, a hard man for a bargain and yet with an innate instinct for beauty. Often Heyer's cits seem stereotyped, lobotomised by their lack of breeding, education, blood. Not the case here. So anyway, the book is by turns funny, uplifting and achingly poignant. I love it.(less)
This was, on the whole, an entertaining first Regency from Miranda Davis. I particularly liked the author's voice; she has a nice wry sense of humour a...moreThis was, on the whole, an entertaining first Regency from Miranda Davis. I particularly liked the author's voice; she has a nice wry sense of humour and a lot of style which I hope do not get lost as she progresses in the craft of writing. She also created a sympathetic bunch of characters who were enjoyable to read about. However, the book was a bit too long, a bit too repetetive at times (I certainly didn't need to see the sex act through in full through both pairs of eyes), the separation went on a bit too long, the duke was a bit too inarticulate to feel like proper hero material and there were a few of those US expressions that pull a Brit up short. It speaks volumes for the sanity of US City Planning that you can say "I turned into Tolkien" and expect the reader to understand you mean not some metamorphosis but a turn into Tolkien Street. In the UK, there would likely be Tolkien Road, Lane, Way, Crescent, Avenue, Parade, etc. all just around the corner so we would never do this. I'll definitely be reading the author's next book and am sure she will have moved on from some of these beginner issues.
Rating clarification 3.5 stars rounded up to 4 rather than down to 3 as it is a debut novel.(less)
Something like a cross between "It's a Wonderful Life" and your standard Regency Rake redemption story. Valerian Caine was killed in a duel with a wro...moreSomething like a cross between "It's a Wonderful Life" and your standard Regency Rake redemption story. Valerian Caine was killed in a duel with a wronged husband in 1716 and a hundred years later the lives of both families have been afflicted by vendetta ever since. Valerian's guardian angels give him the chance to regain his former life if he can end the curse and make everybody happy by Christmas. Of course it's not so simple. In general, I don't care for Rake redemption books, because the plots come in two sorts, either your chap fundamentally dislikes and distrusts women (in which case I won't believe in the redemption) or he's just a youngish man who's slept around a bit and had a few drinks with the lads, probably about ready to settle down anyway (in which case I don't think it's much of a plot). Valerian falls into the second category but it's okay because there's plenty more plot to keep my attention. On the whole I really liked this book, Valerian is drawn sympathetically and I enjoyed his yearning for his lost long hair and brightly coloured clothes. The other characters are also well-drawn amd the fantasy elements are well-handled. As the book was drawing to it's conclusion, with the revelation of dark secrets counterbalanced by the healing touch of lurve I was actually considering blowing the dust off my 5 star paddle. Unfortunately the end sequence, following a discovery scene, is too contrived and the atmosphere just felt wrong to me - almost like we'd walked into the swinging seventies rather than a nineteenth century home. It's a shame but this was still a good read.(less)
As I love this author's quirky alternate-history mystery Sarah Tolerance series, I thought it would be interesting to try one of her earlier straight...moreAs I love this author's quirky alternate-history mystery Sarah Tolerance series, I thought it would be interesting to try one of her earlier straight regencies. And it was. First published in 1977 this was clearly the work of an author who hadn't yet quite found her voice or her style. The language and the details are also often slightly skew-whiff and the main characters sometimes act in a way that makes it hard to empathise (such as a lengthy campaign of vengeance that seems all out of proportion to the initial offence. However, there are flashes of wit and originality throughout which made up quite comfortably for the flaws, so I shall look forward to reading further into Robins' Regency back catalog to see how the writer grew and learned.(less)