I admit to being quite ignorant when it comes to European historical figures. Everything after Rome fell is pretty much a gray area of if I know abouI admit to being quite ignorant when it comes to European historical figures. Everything after Rome fell is pretty much a gray area of if I know about its only because of a movie, TV Show or freak accident while reading. So unsurprisingly before I began this book, which is a fictional accounting of Alessandra Giliani, I went researching. And insofar as wikipedia can be trusted I discovered that Alessandra died at a young age (19 years) in a fire.
Well then. I guess I won't be expecting a happily ever after will I?
The author shines when it comes to descriptions. Her description of 14th century Italy, of Alessandra's aristocratic lifestyle, of the school in Bologna...this is all meticulously detailed to the point where I would be hard pressed to remember what century I live in. Its not an exaggeration to say I almost felt like I lived in that time period at times.
Unfortunately this didn't translate to the characters and motivations. Alessandra is understood quite well--Quick is at pains to have the reader understand the yearning Alessandra has to learn and become educated. The measures she takes (disguising herself as a boy to attend the Anatomy school in Bologna) so she doesn't have to live the same life as everyone else. Alessandra is well outlined, given the right tools to prove herself, but in the end Quick doesn't spend enough time on any one certain detail beyond that yearning.
And the other characters...truth be told I can't remember any of their names. I read the book about a month ago, but none of the names stuck with me. Which is a product of how bland they were. Even her stepmother, who disliked her so thoroughly, was given such a broad stroke for characterization that I'm hard-pressed to remember why she disliked her.
Whether its meant to be a historical fiction or fictional biography, the book didn't give me a good sense of Alessandra the girl. It gave me a marvelous sense of the problems she faced as a 14th Century aristocrat, but not much about the person behind the name....more
Spies, silks and swordplay—what more could you want in a historical romance? The third entry in Andrea Pickens' 'Merlin's Maidens' trilogy, THE SCARLESpies, silks and swordplay—what more could you want in a historical romance? The third entry in Andrea Pickens' 'Merlin's Maidens' trilogy, THE SCARLET SPY, features the (mis)adventures of Sofia as she fulfills the duties laid out to her by Lord Lynsley, the benefactor of Mrs. Merlin's Academy for Select Young Ladies.
Sofia considers herself lacking what her sisters-in-arms, the heroines of THE SPY WORE SILK and SEDUCED BY A SPY Siena and Shannon, must have. The two of them had already been called to duty while Sofia had been regulated to learning etiquette and drawing room manners. However, Lord Lynsley tells her 'Each Merlin is called upon to undertake a different sort of mission'. For Sofia, her inherent graceful deportment and nobility are necessary for the mission Lord Lynsley sends her on.
Prior knowledge of the first two books isn't necessary unless you want to know the story behind Siena and Shannon's own missions. Siena's mission is mentioned, as her husband is close friends with our hero of the story, Lord Deverill Osborne, and he has questions pertaining to the mysteriousness of it, but that doesn't effect the overall book.
Lord Deverill Osborne, Dev to most of his friends, spends much of the book trying to understand why Sofia is merely only civil to him when all the other ladies of the ton throw themselves at him. When he's not busy trying to win her over, he is either indulging in a good self-pity bout or helping out a friend in a government branch office with his accounts.
Some of the funniest scenes in the book are when Dev tries to tell Lord Lynsley that Sofia (under guise as the daughter of an old family friend of his) is utterly crazy. As he tries to point out that everything she does is contradictory to what Lord Lynsley should want for her, Lynsley merely reads his paper and says 'She'll be fine, just leave her be' completely unruffled.
This was a fun fast read for me. I spent a little over three hours reading the book, and it is certainly worth picking up if you like your heroines a little feisty and action oriented. I guarantee you'll not guess who the true villain is before she does....more
This short story nearly burned a hole in my screen as I read it. Natalia and Ethan have amazing chemistry from the very first exchange of dialogue beThis short story nearly burned a hole in my screen as I read it. Natalia and Ethan have amazing chemistry from the very first exchange of dialogue between them.
Ordinarily I'm wary of D/s relationships in fiction, since half the time it doesn't seem to be an equal partnership or its written in a half-hearted sort of way, but Paulin writes the relationship perfectly. She shows us what both sides get from such a relationship and the rewards while also making it abundantly clear that its not the life for every single person. She doesn't condemn or encourage, merely illustrates how it could be for the right personality types.
For as short as the story was, there was a surprising amount of depth. Natalia and Ethan knew each other before the story began, but the astonishment when they both find out the other's activities was amusing. And then its full tilt from there on out. Natalia makes a comment that she was like a "nymphomaniac on speed", which is probably an accurate description. Up until a work related issue comes up, separating them, the two of them can't get enough of each other.
Natalia's reaction to being away from Ethan also didn't seem to be contrived or just there for tension either. They had very little time together and she's new to the whole culture of being a submissive, so she had to work out something on her own. Ethan's reaction wasn't over the top either.
Basically this is a hot, thrilling short story that anyone even slightly interested in BDSM should look into....more
This was a refreshingly well rounded short story with underpinnings of steampunk woven throughout. Despite being a companion novella to Steam and SorThis was a refreshingly well rounded short story with underpinnings of steampunk woven throughout. Despite being a companion novella to Steam and Sorcery, which I haven't read yet, Pape does a wonderful job keeping the story rooted in the here and now. Other then a few throw away comments to the adventures of Merrick and Caro (from the aforementioned book), there was no sense of confusion or as if I had missed something crucial.
Kendall and Amy were straight forward and far more sensible than most romantic couples I've encountered. Kendall acknowledged that Amy was the grand-niece of a highly influential man, but he didn't harp on about it. Amy, to her benefit, recognized that marriage was not in the cards for her, so why not just do what feels right? Before anything went on they calmly talked about consequences and such. Not terribly romantic, but I appreciated the fact that Pape didn't have them completely lose their heads. They were both practical people who thought things through. They didn't allow their attraction to rule their every breath.
While I guessed the nature of the curse, or at least what was causing it if not whom at first, I was taken back by the sudden change. In hindsight I could see that Pape gave plenty of clues leading up to the revelation, but I was so caught up in the romantic progression I paid the clues little mind.
Caro and the brood of children were funny and charming. They were all introduced in Steam and Sorcery, but the quick backstory didn't take much time. A few lines at most. I thought they were fun and am looking forward to a longer sojourn with them in their own novel.
The world intrigued me. Some of it is vague--historical events are referenced (though I couldn't tell you how accurately, British history isn't my forte), but there is very little said about the current time so there's no definitive way to contrast the alternate history vs. our own. There are plenty of mechanical wonders--from the steam powered tram to the dirigibles and the Sergent's own mechanical arm--but very little is said of the world itself. This could possibly be because its only meant as a companion to the larger novel (a sampling of what to expect) however and not a defect in the story itself. Mildly irritating, but not anything to worry over. ...more