Friday, January 17, 2014

At the Duke's Wedding

At the Duke's Wedding R

"That Rogue Jack" by Maya Rodale
Jack Willoughby is a unrepentant and irresponsible rake while Miss Henrietta Black is the penniless and far too proper companion to cantankerous old Lady Sonophria. Jack has been tasked with bringing the family heirloom ring to the Duke of Wessex's wedding and the Duchess has been pressuring Henrietta to ensure its' safety. When she realizes Jack has lost the ring, she is furious, but the two embark on an adventure to find it. While the females are busy planning the wedding, and the men are busy admiring Jack's new pheaton, Henrietta and Jack, are trying to piece together his memories of his trip to Kingstag Castle in an attempt to locate the ring. Jack's happy attitude helps Henrietta loosen the constraints she has placed on herself. Luckily the two find the ring just in the nick of time, and in the process find that they are perfect for each other.

While I liked Henrietta finally coming into her own, I had a problem with the fact that her sense of responsibility was portrayed as something that needed to be fixed with the help of a very irresponsible man. Jack was just too much for me to handle because he didn't seem to care about anything and I could not really understand how he and Henrietta would really have a happy future together. They were too different, and he was so obviously not ready for a real relationship or anything that required him to focus and care about something than his own happiness. I would give this 2 hearts for funny times but an incomprehensible relationship.

"P.S. I Love You" by Miranda Neville
Frank Newnham enlists his cousin, Christian's, help in wooing lady Roseanne Lacy by letter as Frank is not precisely a wordsmith. As Christian and Roseanna exchange letters, Christian develops feelings for the intelligent and observant young lady and refuses to write more letters. Roseanne wonders what happened to the articulate and funny who wrote her letters when they became less interesting, but she hopes to find out at the Duke of Wessex's wedding. She is shocked when she finds herself far more interested in Frank's brooding cousin, but continues to be confused about what is happening. Christian is determined not to ruin his cousin's happiness, but it is increasingly clear that Roseanne is perfect for him.

I loved this case of mistaken identity and how Christian and Roseanne began their relationship via letters and fell in love that way. Christian was an amazing brooding hero, and the scarred face, made him positively swoon worthy, while his loyalty to his cousin was admirable. Although it took Roseanne a little long to figure everything else, I was rooting for these two from the beginning and liked reading every scene these two had together, including a very passionate kiss that burned up the pages. I would give this little short story 5 hearts and highly recommend this and other Neville books to anyone.

"When I Met My Duchess" by Caroline Linden
Gareth Cavendish, the Duke of Wessex, is preparing for his wedding to the beautiful and perfect bride, until he meets her vibrant and outspoken older sister and his plans are thrown on their head. Cleo Barrows is widowed and runs her husband's fabric shop while supporting her disapproving parents. Gareth knows he has made a mistake, but his honor demands he follow through on his promises, while Cleo would never do anything to hurt her sister. The two are thrown together during the preparation and it becomes harder for them to deny what is happening between them.

I loved this little short story as well; I think I just have a soft spot for stories where the characters have to risk hurting others to find love and find that it is worth it. Gareth was the wonderful, honorable, if not fully developed hero and Cleo was the outgoing and independent woman who is all wrong for him in the best possible way. The two aren't together that much, but what time they are together makes it clear that they are perfect for each other. The ending to this one was wonderful and of course everything turned out the only way it could have. I would rate this short story 4 hearts and really wish this had been a full length novel.

"How Angela Got Her Rogue Back" by Katharine Ashe
Angela Cowdrey is a graduate student in Michigan writing a baby about a huge scandal that took place in England 150 years ago and trying to figure out what caused a man to expose the huge secret he had been keeping. One day she falls into a lake and wakes up in England and meets a very handsome Lord Trent Ascot, whose own family is currently being sucked into the very scandal that Angela is investigating in the future. Angela confides in Trent and he reveals that he is a closeted artist and his pictures show a strong resemblance to ones Angela saw in a comic book shop. She simultaneously flirts with Trent and tries to do some investigating that will help her with her graduate paper. Unfortunately once her mystery is solved she is transported back to the future and despite her best efforts she can't seem to return to the past and to Trent. Finally Trent remembers that it was his drawing that helped Angela find him so he takes up a pen and begins to draw and once again Angela is in his arms.

This was a time traveling modern/ historical romance which is definitely not my cup of tea, but I still enjoyed reading it. I did not like that the book really seemed to be pushing the idea that Angela's life was not fulfilling despite all of her success and what she really needed to be happy was to go back to a "simpler" time and find a man. I was uninterested in the investigation she was involved in because it was ridiculous and sounded generally unimportant. I did enjoy the relationship between Angela and Trent and the relationships they both had with other characters; Trent's with his younger siblings and Angela's with other members of the wedding party. This story featured far more sex than the other stories in the book and it was fairly hot for such a short story. I rate this story 3 hearts because I did enjoy parts of it, but also had some difficulties with some of what the story seemed to be implying about Angela.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Where Dreams Begin

Where Dreams Begin by Lisa Kleypas

Lady Holly Taylor is a young widow mourning the death of her much-beloved husband George. George was everything a gentleman of the ton should be; kind, upright and moral, and well-liked by everyone who knew him. Upon his death Holly and her daughter, Rose, moved in with George's caring family and although she loves them and appreciates all they have done for her, she wonders what is going to happen with her life and if she will be able to provide for Rose on the limited funds she was left with. Zachary Bronson has worked his whole life to build himself up from nothing and he is enjoying the power and prestige that comes with his vast wealth. He is accepted by the ton because of his money, but even he knows he is not truly one of them and hopes that he can find a wife who will gain him entrance into the most hallowed company and help his sister navigate the ton as well. Zachary is immediately struck by Holly's beauty and how she holds herself apart from the rest of the ton, even while clearly being completely accepted and revered by everyone.

He decides that she would be the perfect woman to help him find the perfect bride. Holly is skeptical, and scared of what taking the position would do for her reputation among the ton, but she knows that the money he is offering will secure a great future for Rose, so she accepts. She moves into the Zachary's over-the-top nouveau riche mansion and finds herself overwhelmed by all the new luxuries in her life and surprised by how much Zachary listens to her and follows her advice on matters of importance. Sure enough the ton scorns her decision and George's family tries hard to get her to leave Zachary's employment. She realizes that Zachary is a very complex person, trying to cover up the hurts of his childhood and all he really wants is acceptance. The sparks between them fly, but Holly refuses to give into them in honor of George, but Zachary encourages her to finally start leading her own life and Holly finally realizes she is not disrespecting George by falling in love again.

Holly is a very quiet woman who follows the rules, which makes her a bit of a rebel in terms of romance novel heroines and a nice change of pace, not to mention probably more accurate. I liked that she was dedicated to her daughter and had such a happy relationship with her deceased husband and his family. She was genuinely in mourning for him and the story was about her learning to move past what had happened while still maintaining that love for him, just in a different way. I loved her transition from woman who's life had stalled to a woman who took charge of her own life and made scandalous decisions because she could. It was slow at times, but, once again, probably more realistic of how a woman like Holly would have achieved this- even if the premise is not. Zachary is brash and tough, and his desire to be accepted by the ton is both frustrating, but also understandable given his back ground. Of course his ruthlessness in business is tempered by his generosity to those less fortunate and his attempts to help those who work for him. It's nice, but also expected of any hero at this point.

Holly and Zachary are completely different and yet Kleypas does an excellent job of showing how these two different people would work together and have a strong relationship. She tames his harsher impulses and he respects her completely and treats her and her child like his own family. They have tender moments, they have funny moments, they have fights, and they have a few sexy moments. Kleypas usually excells at writing hot sex scenes between two characters, but in this book she does fall flat. I really did not feel any sexual chemistry between the characters and there were very few sexy scenes, and those fell flat to me. I liked so many other elements of their relationship so it is a shame that this part of it did not live up to the rest of their relationship. The writing was much slower than usual for Kleypas and sometimes felt a little heavy; it was definitely not a fun and fast paced romance.

Rating: This book was well written and had a wonderful relationship, but because of the slow pace was difficult to truly enjoy.