Saturday, October 2, 2010

Lessons in French

Lessons in French by Laura Kinsale 621

Lady Callista Taillefaire and Trevelyan de Monceaux became young sweethearts when Trev's family moved to England fro France after the Revolution when they lost all their holdings and the Ducdom they had lost. Callie's father is not at all pleased by this turn of events and chases Trev out of the town and he heads off to France. Hoping to gain back his family's holdings he enlists in Napoleon's army, but then surrenders to the English at the first opportunity. He returns to Shetford when he learns that his mother is close to dying, expecting to find Callie married, but he is shocked to discover that she has been jilted by three different men. It does not take long for all the old feelings between them to resurface, but Callie's self-esteem has been crushed by so many rejections and while he is pretending that he has restored his family's fortune, the truth is that he has gained his fortune by arranging prize fights around the country and it has gotten into something of a legal fix as he has been banished from England.

When Callie's prized bull, Hubert, is gambled away by her cousin, Trev decides that he needs to make her happy and wants to get the bull back. Unfortunately Hubert escapes before this can be done and when Callie finds him they know that if Hubert is discovered in her, or his, possession that everyone will assume they stole them. So they decide to masquerade as a Belgium couple presenting the bull at a fair and have Callie "accidentally" discover the truth about the bull. At the fair Callie runs into one of her old fiances who is in need of money and wants to marry her. When Trev refuses to come up to scratch because of his secrets, Callie agrees to the marriage, but there are several different law enforcements agencies out to arrest Trev: for forgery, for disobeying orders to leave the country, and for stealing the bull. Things are made even worse when Callie believes that Trev is actually married to another woman while he is proclaiming to love her. It will take a lot of maneuvering for these two to get their happily ever after.

Callie was a decently intriguing heroine and the back story was certainly interesting, but she did not really live up to what I was expecting. While raising bulls and cows is not my idea of a fun hobby, I did like that there was something in her life that really meant a lot to her. It was something she was passionate about, something that she planned on taking with her when she got married, and it was also good because Trev so obviously supported her, worked with her to achieve her goals, and wanted her to continue in this. Trev was frustrating because I spent a lot of the time wanting him to just tell Callie the truth about what he was going through. I understood that he was trying to protect her and didn't want her to make a bad decision, but it just got way too insane that he kept quiet about everything. Perhaps it would have been better if more of the story was told form his point of view so I could have understood him. The sex was a tad abrupt for my taste, it was decent if not hype, and there was definitely not enough of it.

I wanted to enjoy this book because it got such good reviews and I have heard such wonderful things about this author but I spent the majority of this book completely bored. There was, without a doubt, far too much going on. Between the bull and the fair, the secrets, the truth, the major who wanted to marry Callie, a maybe marriage and a maybe forgery, and a sick mother, I could not find something I genuinely cared about enough to focus on and keep me coming back for more. It was not a case of the romance being overwhelmed by what was happening in the rest of the book, a all of these plots were important to their relationship and served as a back drop to some great scenes between them. However, there were too many of them and the book was far too long. The writing was a tad long winded for my taste and while it was easy to read, very beautiful writing, I wish an editor could have cut 50 or so pages from the book. The epilogue was by far my favorite part as I did not think I'd ever get to a page where everyone was happy and where they were supposed to be.

Rating: I liked the writing, but I really could not muster up any feelings for the characters or most of what was going on in this book. There were funny moments though.


Danielle C. said...

Kinsale seems to be considered one of the goddesses of romance, so I, too, was surprised to find the story tedious and the characters unengaging. Perhaps I simply need to try one of her "darker" romances, because I agree about the quality of her prose.

Your excellent review, however, was stimulating!

blonde unicorn said...

The only other Kinsale book I've read is "The Dream Hunter" and although that was years ago (6 or so) I remember very much enjoying it- I checked it out from the library about a dozen times.

Danielle C. said...

Thank you for the recommendation; I will look the book up :-)