This is my very first Kate Morton book, and unsurprisingly, I found it extremely addictive to read in spite of the fact that tActual Rating: 3.5 Stars
This is my very first Kate Morton book, and unsurprisingly, I found it extremely addictive to read in spite of the fact that there were so many frustrating events. The story itself even seemed to drag a little bit at some points, and I found that there were some points where I wished the progression would just move on already and give us the next event. Foreshadowing left little to be interpreted, thus making all the secrets left to be revealed pretty predictable. Really, the only thing I think I finished reading the book for were the little holes of the story left to fill in, and Kate Morton's beautiful writing style.
I guess I also kind of hoped that we would get to catch a few more glimpses of Grace's life post-Riverton. Truth be told, while the story about the Hartford sisters, with the main focus being on Hannah, was intriguing, I can't say that I truly felt much care for their day-to-day lives, or how conflicting their life decisions were. Even the main, tragic event that Grace continually alludes to throughout the book ended up being less than interesting, once you picked up all the hints and figured out what probably really happened.
I knew going into this that it was obviously not going to be a Happily Ever After; that the book was going to be hauntingly tragic, even if atmospherically attractive. While I had a hard time relating to characters--this was, after all, a much different world than what I'm used to in modern times--it was hard not to entirely sympathize with them, even though it was clear that our main characters all kind of dug their own graves (pun, not quite intended) with each and every step they took forward in their lives. I found myself wincing outwardly whenever a character made an important decision that I KNEW was not going to end well for anyone.
I even openly winced when Grace kept getting dragged into the middle of her Mistress's secrets, and while I found it frustrating that she would be so intent and passionate about her loyalties to Hannah, it was also understandable, in a way. Again, this is a different world than what I know, after all, and people's mindsets were infinitely different.
Nonetheless, the book was written very beautifully, and with such a big secret being lead up to for the bulk of the book, I subconsciously found the need to keep right on reading. Predictable as it was, I still loved how the story was framed and formatted, as Grace remembering the past and recording her story and the story of those at Riverton for her grandson to hear. It was a very nice touch, and I DO love how we drift back and forth from present, to randomly different times in Grace's history, with only the main story following a specific timeline.
Once again, those slight mentions of how she came to be pregnant with Ruth, and how she ended up pursuing archaeology as her career, and how he came to be part of the next war, thus separating her from her husband (whom she did not love), were sweet little gems that gave the story telling a more down-to-earth feel, rather than the Gothic, almost incredible story of events that took place at Riverton.
I will probably continue to read books by Kate Morton, as this was a great introductory to her work. However, reading this book reminds me why I have a hard time loving or one hundred percent enjoying historical fiction. This book shows a much more detailed, nitty-gritty accounting of the times, and takes a closer look at how snobbish aristocrats can be, and how divided classes were. It gave us a different rendering of how one culture unabashedly stereotypes and judges another based solely on their own closed-minded knowledge of the world. It showed a more historically accurate representation of how women were treated and, in turn, how women responded to this treatment, even during the timeline wherein the "times were changing."
Basically, I have a hard time NOT getting angry on behalf of how obviously unequal people were treated dependent on class, gender, birth, etc.... And while I had some issues with Hannah, as a person and as a character, I couldn't help but to sympathize with her, and grow indignant on her behalf when everyone pretty much implied that she was good for nothing but being married off. That her ideas and dreams of being independent and working and seeing the world needed to be quashed by marriage to a good man who would keep her in line.
Anyway, this book was a great read, very enjoyable, even if not my typical cup of tea. The secrets were obvious and predictable from the start, and while I enjoyed the build up to each reveal, I also found I wasn't overly excited about them, and was actually quite relieved when said secrets were no longer secrets, because that meant we could move on to the next secret reveal.
One thing is for sure, as I told my BFF when describing the book to her, this book may not be a personal favorite for me, but it sure incited a lot of emotions, and it certainly stays with you for some time after you've finished reading it.
There was a lot about this novella that I loved, but then there were also a few things I didn't quite care for. The characterActual Rating: 3.5 Stars
There was a lot about this novella that I loved, but then there were also a few things I didn't quite care for. The characters were fun, up to a certain point, and while I DID sort of like their banter, it didn't escape my notice that both had a way of doing or saying things that kind of frustrated me. Jonas tended towards condescending prick at times, but I DO like how straight-forward and no-nonsense he is. Lydia got frustratingly irrational at the beginning, jumping to conclusions, and imagining slights where there were none; but she had her good moments as well.
I can't say that this was an entirely awesome and wonderful story, having recently coming off of the magnificent high that was The Duchess War. Although since I hadn't been particularly enamored of the prequel novella, The Governess Affair, it wasn't like I was entirely disappointed.
Truth be told, while I did like Lydia from when she was simply a side character, as Minnie's best friend in the first book, I'm not quite sure I really needed a Lydia story. I'm happy for her Happily Ever After, but I'm guessing I probably could have gone without this novella and would have been fine.
It was enjoyable to read, but nothing spectacular.
This novella would be my first foray into Courtney Milan's work, and I will admit that I'm not disappointed. While I feel likActual Rating: 3.5 Stars
This novella would be my first foray into Courtney Milan's work, and I will admit that I'm not disappointed. While I feel like this novella could have been developed a bit better, it gives a pretty satisfying, even if kind of boring introduction into the world of the Brothers Sinister. Maybe if this were a full-length novel instead of a short novella, we would have been able to delve a little deeper into each character's backgrounds?
Instead, this novella simply stood out a little awkwardly as a teaser, especially with the ending chapter wherein we get introduced to the next generation--this I hadn't realized until partway into those last two chapters, since I'm not familiar with Milan's other books, nor did I take any time to really read the summary of following books in this series.
Nonetheless, the way in which the boys we will meet in the novels are introduced really kind of felt forced.
Anyway, I did enjoy The Governess Affair. It was written well, and the while there were certain, brief moments that felt distasteful, I had no problems with either the story nor the characters.
If I had to choose something I immensely enjoyed about this story, I'd probably say it was the banter between Hugo and Serena. In contrast, while I can see that the author tried to make out Serena and Frederica's relationship to be that of close, loving sisters, it was actually kind of hard to believe--so I wish they could have had a stronger relationship.
Otherwise, The Governess Affair was a sweet, short story to pass the time.
First of all: This book was so, so good! And I want to thank Obsidian Blue for the recommendation!
Let me tell everyone about the many ways in which IFirst of all: This book was so, so good! And I want to thank Obsidian Blue for the recommendation!
Let me tell everyone about the many ways in which I absolutely loved this book! And also, we will even disregard all the little quibbles I felt about this book, because in light of how much I absolutely loved The Duchess War and all of the characters presented in it, flaws mean nothing.
And then let me follow up with a few quotes to underscore the many reasons why I loved this book!
As a fair warning: This post is not really a review. This post is really a big squee, once again, highlighting all the reasons why I loved this book... interspersed with some passages and quotes from the book I found extremely lovely!
My love for this book probably started with this particular passage:
He tried to be honest with himself. He had to be, as so few others were. His friend, Sebastian, could charm the bloomers off even the most upright dragons of the ton--and had, on occasion. His brother had a razor-sharp wit on the one hand, and a way of making others comfortable on the other. Oliver could make ladies laugh.
For himself... He could rarely think of how to respond when immersed in that heady back-and-forth. Sometimes he thought of clever things to say... hours later. Usually, he committed the worst sin possible: He said what he was really thinking. That was why he came out with gems like, I like your tits. Not one of this finest moments, that.
And then, soon after, as I continued reading this book, and began getting to know the characters, I found myself falling for everything about this book.
Then little gems like this would appear:
"This is true," Sebastian said. "The Countess of Cambury is like a deep, dark hole--secrets go in, but none of them ever come out."
"Sebastian," Violet replied, calmly looping the yarn about one of her needles, "it is neither proper nor respectful to let a woman know that you think of her as nothing more than a hole."
I snorted quite loudly at this one and drew attention. XD
"Now what will we do for women?"
"Really," Roberts said a little more forcefully. "I know I've not yet said my wedding vows, but I must insist that..."
But they weren't paying him any attention. "I know just the thing," Oliver said, brightening. "Mary Wollstonecraft. I have a copy of A Vindication of the Rights of Women in my room--I'll be sure to bring that."
"Excellent," Sebastian said, rubbing his hands together. "And there's this letter I received by this curious woman from the United States--one Antoinette Brown. She wrote the most extraordinary things about evolution and women's rights. I'll bring that."
"I have a pamphlet by Emily Davies."
Robert's lips twisted upward despite himself.
"I was thinking I could bring a copy of Thomas Payne," Oliver said, "But that would make our numbers uneven."
"Violet," Sebastian said, with a wave of his hand. "She can be surprisingly handy in an argument."
"Ah, I suppose she'll do in a pinch." Oliver stood, and set his hand on Robert's shoulder. "Let nobody say that the Brothers Sinister have no idea how to be depraved."
"There shall be brandy!" Sebastian stood. "And we shall even drink it, although Robert will stop after two glasses because he always does."
"There will be food!" Oliver declaimed, mirroring Sebastian's stance. "And we shan't drink that, because then we would choke."
I can't express how much I love Robert's friends as well as his relationship with them. The character interactions in his book are divine! The dialogue is witty and wonderfully timed. The banter is excellent, the character growth is superb! And I'm running out of positive adjectives to help make this review anymore meaningless than it really is right now... O.o
I loved how Minnie and Robert battled each other verbally with their wits. I loved how Minnie was depicted in such a positive, confident light in spite of her situation. She's the strong, independent, intelligent female heroine I absolutely love to follow, with a sense of imperfection, just enough to make you love her and want to follow her plight and feel for her and with her.
But what came as more of a surprise to me was how much I loved Robert for his non-standard character as a duke. He was never arrogant, and had a great sense of loyalty for those he cared about. But what stood out the most for me in Robert was his strong sense of humility, rarely seen in these types of characters--and Minnie describes it quite well at the beginning of the book, likening him to someone who knows how much power he holds, but feeling embarrassed to be the one in a position of status and power over others.
When Minnie first describes this, I didn't really understand what she meant. However, the more you get to know Robert as the story progresses, you start to understand him. And I slowly fell for the self-aware, humble duke presented in this book. The fact that he doesn't apologize for his origins, but uses his power to try to help make the world a better place... He's an idealistic prince sitting in his ivory tower, and even with his built-in humility, I love that he still finds more to learn about from Minnie.
And vice versa, I love that Minnie finds her own self-revelations through him.
There are so many reasons for me to love this book. The story line itself wasn't really all that unique in itself, but the parallels that present themselves between Minnie and Robert are outlined very well. The conflicts might have been a bit over-dramatic, but everything falls together in the end and wrap up in a well-rounded way.
Finally, I love all the positive relationships presented in this book. Robert and his friends; Minnie and Lydia. Oliver Marshall, who has every right to despise and hate Robert and the entire duke's family for what befell his mother (detailed in the prequel novella)--his relationship as Robert's half-brother was much sunnier than I'd expected, and I really love that.
I also loved that Lydia's reasons for being angry at Minnie had nothing to do with lies or betrayals or station, but that she felt more upset that Minnie didn't trust her enough to confide in her--it does sometimes come as a shock to a best friend when you find out that said best friends knows all of your own deepest secrets, but she never trusted you enough to tell you hers. And I'm glad that the two loved each other enough to get past that, though, of course.
Finally, while it DID get slightly frustrating to watch Robert and Minnie dance around their feelings, both sexual and emotional, for so long, it was a rather refreshing to watch them work out their problems in a logical fashion like mature adults.
Or sort of, but you can't deny that Robert's the more endearing for everything he does and says in his clueless fashion.
"Oh," he said quietly. He seemed to take a few moments to absorb that before he opened the primer again. "A is for 'All the ways I love you.' There are more than twenty-six, but as this is the alphabet we have, I'm going to have to restrict myself. At least for now."
"B is for 'But I am going to make mistakes.' Something I am sure does not come as a surprise to you. "C is for Confession. I don't know how to do this. I don't know how to be a husband. I don't know how to be a father. All I learned from my father is how not to do it--and that is rarely any guide. But... D is for Determination... E is for Eternity, because that's how long it will take before I give up again. F--that's for Forgiveness, because I think I'll need a great deal of that, before I start to get things right."
"G is for... G is for... G is for 'Good heaves, I should have written these down.' I've forgotten."
He frowned in perplexity. "Really. I have no idea what comes next. I puzzled them all out in my head, and they were going to be utterly brilliant, and when I was finished, you were going to leap in my arms and everything would be better."
Truthfully, I'm more surprised at how much I loved this book considering just how mediocre I had found the prequel novella The Governess Affair. Currently, I'm crossing my fingers in hopes that this wasn't just a fluke and that the following books in this series will be just as enjoyable.
Cutesy holiday short for some beloved characters of The X-ops series. Fans will love it just for the pleasure of seeing broody and snarly wolf-shifterCutesy holiday short for some beloved characters of The X-ops series. Fans will love it just for the pleasure of seeing broody and snarly wolf-shifter Clayne shopping on Black Friday, and getting super excited about watching his beloved Danica opening presents....more