For those looking for something fun and funny in the way of a regency romance, you couldn't do better than read The Duke's Tattoo. What a wonderful bo...moreFor those looking for something fun and funny in the way of a regency romance, you couldn't do better than read The Duke's Tattoo. What a wonderful book, so funny and tender! I loved the characters and the dialogue. I can't think when I have enjoyed a book more. The premise is hilarious and the way the plot developed, the attraction between the main characters, was handled exceptionally well.
Like the Baron's Betrothal there was more sex than I prefer in a romance novel, and one particularly long sex scene, but it was so perfect for the characters and so emotionally satisfying I loved it in spite of myself.
I'm putting this on the shelf with my favorite Georgette Heyer's to be reread when I am sick or feeling depressed and need something guaranteed to make me smile. (less)
Light reading, but perfect if you love regency romance and want something amusing to lift your spirits. I'm really somewhere between four and five sta...more Light reading, but perfect if you love regency romance and want something amusing to lift your spirits. I'm really somewhere between four and five stars on this one, because I felt the middle sagged a little, but I enjoyed the characters and the dialogue so much I am giving it a five. A funny and charming book.
For those who prefer their regency romance novels sweet instead of sensual, be warned. There was more explicit sex in this book than I really like to read about, but she carried it off without making me cringe (I usually do, more for the writing than for the sex itself) so while not-making-me-cringe may sound like faint praise it's actually a tribute to her writing ability.(less)
Let us establish this at the very beginning: these are not Tolkien’s elves, neither the noble and aloof el...moreKINGDOMS OF ELFIN, by Sylvia Townsend Warner
Let us establish this at the very beginning: these are not Tolkien’s elves, neither the noble and aloof elves of The Lord of the Rings, not the passionate and reckless elves of the Silmarillion. Where they are passionate, it is of another type altogether. They are sophisticated, fashionable creatures, egotistical, and selfish, and even though capable of intense attachments, they are generally fickle: essentially a cold-hearted species. The stories in this collection are full of whimsy and humor, but often of an uncomfortable kind.
Warner’s style is elegant, simple yet very detailed. As much of the story is in these details — beguiling if you love that sort of thing, tedious if you don’t — as it is in the actual events. If you don’t like her style you will not like these stories, and vice versa. There is no author behind the scenes winking at the audience as if to say, “do not take these stories seriously.” Very little is played for laughs. There is no need; the irony and the absurdity speak for themselves. If you are a fan of broad humor, it is likely that you will not enjoy these stories.
In the course of this collection, we visit a number of different realms, located in our own world but invisible to human eyes. Each of these realms is distinctive, both like and unlike the mortal realms in which they are located.
Into their own world they may occasionally admit mortals, but almost always in infancy as changelings, who live among the fairies only so long as they remain young enough to be comely. Then they are discarded during a sort of fairy house-cleaning, and sent back into a world they neither know nor understand. Of the fairy children who are exchanged for them — robbed of their immortality, knowing nothing of their true origins — there is only one story describing the fate of a single individual. Yet if Warner’s fairies are cruel, it is a heedless cruelty, rarely calculated; they simply don’t think beyond what they want. “Elfhame strikes cold,” says a fairy nursemaid, and that is no exaggeration at all.
Though all these stories have a decided charm of their own, there is (as you may have gathered by now) frequently a darkness behind the humor and the glittering façade, for Warner’s fairies seem to know nothing of morality, and only the rules of courtly behavior. For the most part, the elfin nobles are caught up in the idle pastimes and seasonal fads of the various courts, but they are also prone to sudden enthusiasms, sometimes for quite mundane hobbies like fishing or embroidery. This is but one of their many contradictions. Slightly smaller than humans, they are winged but do not fly. This is reserved for servant fairies, who must be agile and swift indeed to satisfy the whims of their betters. Flying, you see, is considered vulgar for the upper classes — though the temptation to take flight is sometimes over-mastering, and practiced in secret by those who can’t resist.
The title is a deceptive, for these realms of Faerie are ruled exclusively ruled by females. As a race, they are are often infertile, and succession to the crown is not hereditary, so infidelity is hardly an issue though they do marry. Queens take lovers, but their attention soon wanders elsewhere, and really, they are so autocratic and exacting, it seems to me that it must come as a relief to her husband or her lover when a queen decides to lavish her affection on another. Yet the title of Favorite, when it is bestowed, is envied by all. As in so much else, pride seems to take precedence over practicality.
If you are still reading, yet have never known the delights of these sophisticated little tales, if you have never experienced the transitory pleasures of a mortal in Elfin realms, then you would do well to seek them out, but the book is not easy to find, and the individual stories are scattered through numerous collections and anthologies. (less)