||[Dec. 19th, 2010|05:28 pm]
The Black Moth felt like a Sweeping Romance. The hero is a disgraced (though innocent!) nobleman turned highwayman (for funtimes and playing Robin Hood, not for the want of money, of course) who saves the heroine as she's being kidnapped by the villain. The two are smart, sympathetic characters, but a bit boring. The villain, who is apparently somewhat of a predecessor of the Duke of Avon from These Old Shades, is actually more fun to read (though...that last chapter? Made me roll my eyes). The most interesting interactions were between the hero's brother and his wife, actually. I didn't like them, but they had a messed up relationship. But overall, lots of fun with people getting held up, kidnapped, fighting duels, honorably denying one's heart's desire, all in all acting very much like people out of a Sweeping Romance.
I enjoyed The Reluctant Widow, which to me is a bit of a mystery thriller and not much of a romance, though I had some issues with it. It's about a lady who's father had lost all his money though gambling and killed himself. She's going to a new situation as a governess, a job she loathes. She accidentally ends up at another house where a gentlemen is waiting for a woman who is supposed to marry a very worthless man, his cousin. The lady wants to leave, but she's "convinced" by the gentleman to marry his cousin. The cousin dies that night, leaving the lady a widow. There's a mystery dealing with Very Important stolen papers that takes up the bulk of the book. The mystery itself was pretty fun to read, though my biggest problem was that the gentleman is too right all the time. I was waiting for him to be wrong or not be sensible, but he persists on doing it all the way through! The lady wasn't spirited or clever enough to push him off balance, sadly. Though I appreciated the gentleman's declaration of love at the end, I felt like there wasn't enough support provided in the rest of the book to set up the scene (besides the expectation from the reader that they would get together).
I attempted to read Charity Girl and couldn't finish it. Wow, talk about a stupid book. I highly recommend not bothering with this one.
The Unknown Ajax is plain awesome, not for the romance but for the dysfunctional family dynamics and the final, perfect comedic insanity that is the end. I also loved the glimpse into the minds of the servants, and the bitter (BITTER) rivalry between two of the valets was particularly great. When Lord Darracott's oldest son (and the oldest son's son) dies, he's forced to deal with his second son's son as the guy has become his heir and he can't do anything about it. The second son had married a weaver's daughter. Lord Darracott, a mean, selfish, autocratic asshole, assembles another son and his two sons and the son and daughter of yet another dead son to "welcome" the yokel from Yorkshire who'd been in the Army until recently. Major Hugh Darracott shows up and starts acting like the yokel they think he is. Anthea, the granddaughter Lord Darracott wants married to Hugh to prevent him from marrying badly and to help keep him in line, at first treats Hugh badly as she doesn't want to be forced to marry anyone but learns to like Hugh. The other members of the family come to terms with Hugh as well, culminating in a huge farce in which they all scramble to Hugh's tune to save their family honor. I am so ordering this book.
I was surprised at how much I loved Lady of Quality as I've seen little mention of this book online. I think people want more exciting stuff to happen? Personally, I found this to be the book with the most romance thus far and was more than satisfied seeing the romance develop instead of seeing the characters run madcap on some mystery/adventure/whatever. Annis is a stunningly beautiful woman with an excellent fortune who, at 29, has basically given up on marriage. She'd had scores of gentlemen after her and a bunch of very good offers, but she'd turned everyone down because she couldn't see herself married to any of them. On the way to her house in Bath from her ancestral home (now taken up by her brother and his family), she runs into a young gentleman and girl with a broken carriage. She helps them out and finds out that the girl was running away from home. When she learns of the girl's circumstances, she offers temporary refuge at her Bath home. This brings the girl's guardian, her uncle, to Bath. He's, per Annis's brother, "the rudest man in London" and has a reputation. He's pretty blunt and rather put out by the whole situation, but he immediately shows signs of being interested in Annis. He does not court her as the typical gentleman does, but Annis finds herself thinking about him. I really liked the slow development of her feelings as the book progresses, as well as her relationship with her brother and his wife (loving and affectionate, but not without problems). The end was truly lovely. The only thing that really mars the book is the distant female relative Annis has live with her--that woman is a little shit that I wish had been completely cut out of the book. Otherwise, I was enchanted by how unexciting the story was. All the excitement (besides the brouhaha over the girl running away from her home) comes from the internal changes and struggles of the characters, and they don't get insanely angsty or convoluted.
I love how the man admits to his past and tells her bluntly that he wouldn't live like that if he married her. Any man lucky enough to have her as his wife would never stray. My friend whom I explained the story to thought it was a very modern sentiment to have, and perhaps it is, but it still is lovely. And as he's not into flowery speeches it comes across as just his plain feelings.
I came across a more extensive lexicon here.