Thursday, November 03, 2022

Mini Reviews - XXIX (Susan Carroll)

Brighton Road

Brighton Road

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Despite the common basic theme - the reticent, brooding hero meets plain, irrepressible heroine - it turned out to be a truly hilarious, entertaining book. The heroine is an imaginative, day-dreaming author of gothic novels, and the hero is a stiff and upright baron (so correct that he has been nicknamed "Sobersides"). And therefore, they inevitably make an incongruous pair that ends up in one scrape after another. There are no mean relatives, no repulsive villains, but a cast of quirky and endearing characters, from hero's elderly valet to heroine's eccentric family and her mischievous dog.

The sequence of events, the way heroine manages to annoy the hero (intentionally and unintentionally), as well as the writing, was full of humor and left me laughing out at several points. This was my first book by this author, and I definitely look forward to reading more.


The Wooing of Miss Masters

The Wooing of Miss Masters

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a very enjoyable book, with several amusing moments, some of which actually had me laughing out loud. I liked that the characters are a little different from usual. The hero is not quite handsome with charming manners, but a little awkward, gruff giant. The heroine is a financially independent woman, a bookish introvert. Their first encounter is described in an entertaining manner, and their verbal and not-verbal dueling is hilarious. The way their relationship grows through their sparring is fun.

I have two quibbles about the story - The heroine behaves like a doormat, pandering to the whims of her younger sister, who is utterly selfish until the end when she does stand up for her. The responsibility is well in its place, but I don't like heroines whose kindness of nature manifests in bending over backwards for insensitive family. The character of uncle Matthew is brought in only for one purpose - to escort them to the ball, with no explanation of the previous history (why the quarrel with the aunt) and no conclusion to the arc (what happens with him afterwards).


The Bishop's Daughter

The Bishop's Daughter

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

It was tedious ... Can't believe its written by the same author whose two books I read earlier were a laugh riot. Didn't enjoy the writing style - lengthy inner monologues and descriptions were boring. The heroine is so stiff, going on an on about bishop's daughter and duty. I cannot stand such stupidity - she chooses to suppress her own feelings and ignore the hero's kindness - just because papa would have disapproved. The hero was really wonderful, charming and witty, and his amusing puns and dialogs made this bearable.


The Sugar Rose

The Sugar Rose

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The book had its moments - the banter between the MC in the beginning, and some quips (sparsely scattered though) by the heroine throughout were really amusing. However, on the whole, it was predictable and problematic, and the underlying theme is more like a modern movie than a RR.

The first problem is The Ugly Duckling transformation - in the regency era, it is unbelievable that a man who is not a relative takes charge of the lady's transformation - diet (which in itself was an unhealthy extreme), clothes and appearance. The trouble here is the emphasis that one needs to be thin and very well groomed to be appreciated/loved.

The other problem is the heroine's attitude towards his original fiance, Justin, who is terribly selfish and insensitive. But the heroine never seems to realize this - despite the fact that he fails to turn up for his own engagement party, abandons her for months, does not even recognize her upon her Transformation, and only takes pride in showing her off once her appearance becomes dazzling. She should have ditched him with or without Everard, in no uncertain terms. She should have trusted her godmother rather than believing the evil scheming Suzy. But no, heroines have to be beautiful fools.

Tuesday, November 01, 2022

Mini Reviews - XXVIII (Mary Balogh)

The Temporary Wife

The Temporary Wife

- Mary Balogh

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a typical MoC tale, full of common tropes of the genre, and yet I enjoyed it. The heroine is one of the stock characters of the genre - impoverished gentlewoman burdened with the care of her siblings, loving and generous. She not only more than overcomes the bias her husband's family has against her, but also mends his own relationship with each of them. Such a perfect heroine usually annoys me, but not here. The hero is also a typical character - a serious man with a troubled history, bearing the burden of suppressed feelings for a very long time. In a way, his emotional growth is the primary theme of the book.

I found the story heart-warming and even somewhat amusing. It is a story about emotions, family, perceptions and misunderstandings that can damage lives and relationships. And also about warmth and redemption. I liked it for some interesting complexities of human relationships it explores.
I understand that this short a book does not have the luxury to dwell too much on one particular aspect, but the issues between the hero and each one of his family members were resolved very quickly - essentially, years of resentment was addressed by just thrown them together once to talk. One thing that annoys me about these stories is the extremely foolish way the supposedly intelligent heroines behave towards the end - why else, after all is said and done, would the heroine just leave without speaking to the hero. It is, as if the authors are compelled to throw in a little misunderstanding, however unnecessary, to make it worthwhile for the readers to see them united at the end. It's my view that instead of that lost-and-found scene at the end, the page count would have been better used to repair the feelings between the family (which was somewhat rushed).


Lord Carew's Bride

Lord Carew's Bride

  - Mary Balogh

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

It started off well, with the heroine mistaking the identity of the hero, and liking him for himself. There is a wonderful warmth in the gradual development of their relationship, each of them finding an enjoyable companionship with the other. I liked the heroine's family and friends, and the relationship they have.

What I really didn't like was the portrayal of the villain of the piece. This is the second of Mary Balogh's novels with this same theme - where an utterly detestable man rejects the heroine, and years later, when she is in a happy relationship, starts stalking her. The heroine, on her part, becomes ambiguous about her feelings about this man, who she knows to be evil. Apart from the repetition, what troubles me is this "hate masks love" thread.

I am not fond of the "big misunderstanding" trope, but the way the lead pair allow the villain to mess up their lives is stupid to the core. They both know that he is mean and evil, yet they believe his lies, particularly the hero, forgetting that he is completely untrustworthy. A most troublesome aspect of this genre is the typical portrayal of masculine strength - here, the hero, who was shown as a kind and understanding man, suddenly turns rigidly authoritative and asserts his power to hurt his wife. He eventually realizes his mistakes and avenges her, but IMHO, he does not make a sufficient apology to her. Instead, she is the one who apologizes and makes the first approach towards reconciliation.

Mary Balogh's writing style involves long inner monologues of the MC, but I tend to find them boring after a point. Further, in this book (or I didn't notice it earlier), the author has inclined to too much repetition - by projecting the same events through two perspectives, or adding several phrases with repeating words for emphasis. There is also an excess of interjected qualifying phrases. More than the story, her style has put me off and I would not read more of her works any time soon.

Mini Reviews - XXVI (Joan Smith)

 Winter WeddingWinter Wedding

  - Joan Smith
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book had a nice premise. I liked Clara for her spunk and humor, and that even in the situation where she was left dependent on others, she managed to carve out a life of some independence. She visits only those of her friends and relatives who need her help, and never for long - it deprived her from settling roots, but also prevented her from becoming an unwelcome burden to anyone. I liked Ben for his obvious charm and even more for his feeling towards Clara, but his actions regarding his ward Nel left much to be desired. In the times when direct means of communication were not available to them, it was sad to see their drawn out longing for each other, but the efforts made by Ben were heartwarming.

It is a gentle, sweet story but marred by the antics of Nel - she is a truly selfish and spoiled girl. Her recent tragedy is not sufficient excuse for her behavior, particularly the disruption of someone else's wedding as an uninvited guest. Ben's indulgence of her rudeness is even less acceptable (not to mention his blaming others for inconveniencing her rather than reprimanding her). I understand that cast in the role of OW she provides a required tension in the story, but the space devoted to her over-the-top tantrums is too much to be enjoyable and becomes rather jarring.


Valerie

Valerie

  - Joan Smith
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

It is difficult to believe this is written by the author of 'Imprudent Lady' or 'Talk of the Town'. Although the publication date of Valerie is later than these (and some other ones I really enjoyed), it felt like a very early attempt by the author. There were moments of wit, but they were sparse and few. The writing style was very immature - very short, trivial sentences, that were somehow made worse by first person narrative. The modern terms and sensibilities peeped out time to time, jarring with the time period it is set in.

Of the characters, the hero was quite good, even though something of a cardboard cut out of a RR ideal. The heroine, on the other hand, was quite foolish (view spoiler) I skipped a lot in the second half, just to see it end and confirm my suspicions.



Mini Reviews - XXVII (Mary Balogh)

Lady with a Black Umbrella

Lady with a Black Umbrella

  - Mary Balogh
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The premise of the book is not new - two sisters come from countryside to London intending to make a 'brilliant match' for one (and sometimes both) of them. In fact, I have recently read two others with the exact same theme. But they usually end up with a number of comedic situations, and therefore provide good entertainment.

It starts off quite well - the initial scene, with the eponymous umbrella, is hilarious. The heroine, with her indomitable spirit, keeps landing into scrapes and bringing the hero in with her. However, I felt her outpouring became progressively shrill, and her actions more stupid than naive. Her repeated assertions regarding the undesirability of her spinster status (by men, particularly the hero) became annoying. The hero was also more irritating than the kind soul or misunderstood gentleman that usually feature in these stories. So, given the theme and what I heard about the author, I expected it to be much better than in turned out to be.


A Certain Magic

A Certain Magic

  - Mary Balogh
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The book started off well, with a lifelong friendship between the MC and their banter. Their banter continues intermittently through the rest of the book and I enjoyed it. But I didn't like the rest of the plot. No spoilers, as its quite outlined in the blurb - they have been in love with each other forever. I find that less palatable than if they had grown to love each other, because it gives a tinge of unfaithfulness even if they believed and behaved with loyalty while their spouses were alive. Their restraint in confessing their feelings to each other is foolish but pardonable, but the hero is a big idiot for falling into a trap that he himself senses and everyone else knows, and even more so for continuing the farce after certain truths are brought home to him. Moreover, he comes across as a weakling, failing to stand up for anything he believes in.

Though I have been enjoying the genre, especially the ones with subtle, charming novel and witty banter, certain patterns of deep prejudice that keep recurring (with different authors), troubles me. One of the most prominent of these is the portrayal of the non-titled people - they are referred to as 'not gentleman', 'not genteel', or most degradingly, 'cit', and they are most often characterized as vulgar, scheming, dishonorable or immoral.

Mini Reviews - XXV (Joan smith)

Talk of the Town

Talk of the Town

  -  Joan Smith
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

The first half of the book is wonderful - one of the best repartee and a thoroughly entertaining battle of wits between the MC. I enjoyed that the hero kept ending up meeting the heroine and bested by her, despite his determination not to do so.

The heroine's character is a bit inconsistent - a young, inexperienced, country lady, moving with so much poise and confidence in the London society does not make sense. It would have been better of the author could had defined her personality in a manner that made her interactions with the top elite more believable (fun as they were!).

The second half lets the book down. The characterization of the aunt, Effie - she is supposed to be smart, but her actions contradict this - she lets people take advantage of her so much that she falls from affluence into abject poverty, she refuses to see that her "friends" are self-serving parasites, and also gets back with her unfaithful ex who continues to be a jerk. In the latter part of the book, the heroine starts behaving in an increasingly annoying manner, and the hero makes stupid mistakes, leading to a totally unnecessary misunderstanding (my least-liked trope).

In all, the premise was entertaining, but the characterization was lacking.

Lady Hathaway's House Party

Lady Hathaway's House Party

  - Joan Smith
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was not as amusing as I expected it to be - I was looking for more banter between the MC, even if it was to be a trading of insults. But it rather turned out to be domestic fights, more or less one-sided (justified as it was - I sympathized with the heroine). It was redeemed by the efforts of the hero, who made genuine attempts to understand and rectify his mistakes. There was humor in the writing though, which I enjoyed.


However, a lot of entertainment was derived from the antics of two completely inappropriate characters, which didn't work for me. I especially wonder at the characters like Lady Dempster - whose inclination to gossip goes so far as to almost manufacture it, regardless of the cost to the people involved, and who don't even shy away from barging into personal and private conversations. I suppose its a caricature, but still wonder whether the etiquette in that society went so far as to not even insult such people.

Mini Reviews - XXIV (Joan Smith)

Aunt Sophie's Diamonds

Aunt Sophie's Diamonds

- Joan Smith

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was a fun romp, an entertaining farce of a plot and a good deal of humor. It has a likeable MC and a secondary pair, and a wide array of other characters. I really liked the characterization of the heroine, who showed wit and intelligence not expected by others. Aunt Sophie of the title comes across as delightfully eccentric. The standard "mean relative" is played by the heroine's mother, and her selfish and stupid behavior was one of the deterrents to the enjoyment of the book - despite knowing that this is an over-the-top farce, such behavior manages to annoy me. This was my first book by the author, and encouraged me to look out for more of her work.


Imprudent Lady

Imprudent Lady

  - Joan Smith

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book has one of the wittiest banters I have read, and I have read quite a few RR books that involve witty exchanges between the MC. Moreover, the banter in this book is neither a battle of wits nor a trading of insults, just a delightful conversation between two like minds. It had me laughing out quite a bit, so that the family asked me a few times to share the funny things!

The hero and the heroine are so very likeable from the start (and well suited to each other, as we readers know ;-)), and I was really amused by his subtle flirtation. It does not even have any real villains, only the heroine's uncle who is somewhat oblivious to everything except his own purpose but is kind enough to her.

The unnecessary, avoidable misunderstanding before the HEA can be achieved, is a plot device that I don't care for, even though it is a fairly standard trope in the genre. That part of the book prevented it from being an almost 5-star read to me. Overall, I enjoyed it a lot, and encouraged to explore more works by this author.


Escapade

Escapade

  - Joan Smith

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The heroine is an anonymous columnist of society, and depends on the help of her mother and aunt to 'cover all the bases'. I am not interested in celebrity gossip myself, but I don't dislike this as a premise of the novel. However, the big disconnect is the unerringly stupid way she acts, for all her intelligence we are told about - first she takes it upon himself to pull down the hero without any real insight into his character, and then she prints an unverified gossip from an unreliable source without a single thought. Her seeming to thrive upon gossip undermines both her intelligence and her likeability.

Another negative was the characterization of the potential matches for the hero - all three of them are single-dimensional stereotypes of society ladies the heroes of the genre despise. Typically, the books will have one of these in the role of the ow, but all these in the same party with the single objective of forcing the hero's hand is quite over-the-top. Which brings me to another grouse with the genre - why don't these heroes simply make their stand clear instead of being cornered into situations they despise.

Despite these drawbacks, it was fairly entertaining, with some witty dialogs and amusing incidents - which is what saved this book. And the hero is quite a honorable and sensitive gentleman, with a wonderful sense of humor making the readers root for him.

Tuesday, October 11, 2022

The Tenacious Miss Tamerlane

The Tenacious Miss Tamerlane (Alphabet Series, #2)

The Tenacious Miss Tamerlane

- Kasey Michaels

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

It could have been entertaining, but the uppermost impression it created was that it tried too hard. The author picked some of the common plot elements of the genre, specially from Heyer, included ALL of them, and attempted to do it one better. So, the result is a book that comes across as labored on all fronts.

The prose is purported to be witty but often felt tedious, with many qualifying phrases and parenthesized clarifications (seriously, who thinks in brackets? ;-)) The banter between the MC is amusing in general, but there were quite a few points where I didn't see a reason for their "breaking out into laughter". The regency ladies are not expected to use slang (or "cant") in their speech, so the spunky ones throw a word here, a phrase there. In what looks like one-upmanship, the author has Tansy deliver two whole paragraphs of dialog exclusively in cant.

I love spunky, sassy RR heroines (I read the genre for the humor rather than romance), but Tansy started looking shrill and ill-mannered as the story progressed. Not considering that she is currently the duke's dependent, even as a guest her attitude towards her host isn't commendable - battle of wits with Ashley had her insulting him frequently (generally without reason) and calling names to his sister (with just cause). The hero was nice but not interesting, and the romance seems artificial. There are several quirky characters, but even they stopped being amusing after several repeat performances.

It appears as if the author created a checklist of the amusing elements of RR novels, and proceeded to include an instance of each and make it better than it has been done before.
- Heroine needed: impoverished, sharp-witted, unladylike - can't dance or sew, can ride and shoot, will speak in stable or boxing cant
- needs to shatter hero's ordered routine - fire the housekeeper within a couple of days upon arrival
- rescue a stray in an outrageous manner - don't stop or merely jump from carriage, manage to rip your dress and then wade through the lake, in full public view
- save her reputation - fool the public with help from no less persona than Beau Brummell
- Hero needed: clueless, prone to fall in love with argumentative cousin - will "kiss ruthlessly" every now and then, blow hot and cold, make an idiotic proposal without professing love, will tolerate impudence from everyone
- a beautiful 'airhead' - Emily, sister of duke, will not understand any jokes, will elope not once but twice
- quirky characters - superstitious valet, quote-speaking aunt, managing grandmother, unpredictable dog, irrational villain. Self-centered relative is missing, but we do have the thoughtless sister.

Mini Reviews - XXIII

The Maid of Fairbourne Hall

The Maid of Fairbourne Hall

- Julie Klassen

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I found it too long and boring. It seems to go over same ground repeatedly, and take much time doing that. The auxiliary plots also take a lot of space, and some of them didn't make much sense. There is a lot of drama and contrivance, but no humor.

I didn't quite like the heroine, even though she is reformed very soon. The hero seems to be a sincere person, but I do not see that she gives him any reason to move beyond his earlier infatuation and disappointment. In fact, I hardly liked any of the characters, except perhaps Hudson.


An Accomplished Woman

An Accomplished Woman

  - Jude Morgan

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

It had its moments of wit and humor, but overall it was too long and winding. The author may be commended for a writing style inspired by Jane Austen, but terribly long sentences with many clauses made me either read them a few times to make sense, or skip them altogether. The pseudo-philosophical pondering and prosy bouts of sensible advice from one character to another, bored me. I felt that the author was trying too hard.

The story was nice by itself, though predictable as expected, but the humor was scattered sparsely. I would have enjoyed it far better if the prose was more comprehensible in places, and the length was under 300 pages.

The Village Spinster

The Village Spinster

  - Laura Matthews

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This was perhaps nice enough, but I didn't find anything remarkable about out it. It was quite a run-of-the-mill story, with neither humor nor much of conflict to make it interesting. The only conflict was provided by a cheerful second cousin of the heroine (whose presence the very 'proper' hero found objectionable), who turns out to not just be married but expecting a baby! I didn't warm up to the hero - he was well meaning, but not really sympathetic to people, and worse, did not realize it until the end. Development of his affection for the heroine was not well done - it seemed sudden and without much cause, except perhaps guilt. Later on, their one fleeting contact in the past was much focused on, but it seems to be to small a thing to have so much of impact after so many years; it also contradicts the heroine's initial lament that he had never noticed her.
Overall, a very average writing and forgettable story.


Lady Elizabeth's Comet

Lady Elizabeth's Comet

  - Sheila Simonson

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

This book was more enjoyable than entertaining, and I really liked this story of two sensible people who come to regard each other deeply. This is a gentle story about family and complex feelings, and the understated romance with touch of humor is delightful.

I liked the independently minded heroine, who is more inclined towards science than social conventions. Her passion towards her interest, and her intelligence is admirable, though her conviction that her scientific pursuit is unnatural in a woman, is jarring to the modern thought. The hero is simply wonderful - honorable, intelligent, sensitive and kind, and with a sense of humor. His strength lies not in subduing others but in exerting himself. Dark, brooding, glaring heroes may be all the rage, but something is to be said about a gentle soul who respects and encourages his lady's talent and takes the trouble to befriend her gauche teenage sisters. The cast of secondary characters is wonderful too, and gets ample focus.

The first person narrative was a bit lacking in style at times, but worked well to provide emotional depth. There are some instances of telling-and-not-showing, e.g. at a point the heroine states that she and Clanross indulge in verbal sparring whenever they meet, but I did not see much of sparring matches prior to this and some amusing exchanges later on.


Monday, October 10, 2022

Mini Reviews - XXII (Carla Kelly)

Miss Grimsley's Oxford Career

Miss Grimsley's Oxford Career

  - Carla Kelly

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is my first book by the author, and it enchanted me. There are many things that I liked about it.

In a way this is one of the rare RRs, in having a heroine who is just not independent-minded, but also an intellectual. At the core of the story is her love for learning, in a period where education of women was decidedly frowned upon. I loved the hero, also in a different mold than usual - an eminent scholar - squeezing out a last year of studies before duty beckons. I appreciated that he encouraged the heroine in her pursuit of knowledge and admired her for her spunk as well as intellect. His courtship is sweet and unique, progressing from a friendship based on their mutual interest. One of the most wonderful aspects of the story is the heroine's growth as a person, learning a good deal about love and life.It has the usual mix bag of characters. Other than the lead pair, who are both adorable, there is her aunt, who is spirited and highly supportive. We have a toad-eating parent in her father, and a tyrannical fool in the schoolmistress. A terribly selfish relative is one of the stock characters of the genre, and here the role is played by the heroine's brother, though he redeems himself in the end.

I liked the subtle and amusing banter between the couple, and their time stolen together made possible by the unique situation. However, I did not care for the PDA in the college square at the end, which was completely uncharacteristic and unnecessary. It was lovely and enjoyable, though quite improbable (but are any romances ever believable? :D) .


Reforming Lord Ragsdale

Reforming Lord Ragsdale

  - Carla Kelly

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a moving story, with more substance than the usual, fluffy RRs. The hero and the heroine, both have a deeply troubled past - something of greater significance than a broken heart. I really liked the characters, and the slow development of their relationship - from trust to respect, friendship and more. Emma's character is created particularly well - strong, resourceful and intelligent - though I think making her a bit older would have been more credible. Lord Ragsdale, wasting away his life as he is, is kind and honorable, and impressed me as being more than the standard reformed rake.

The author makes the story realistic by including a glimpse of the historic event of the war, and not tying up everything neat and tidy at the end. Yet, there are some aspects that are truly unrealistic - Emma's cheerful character despite all she suffered and her sophisticated learning despite the young age she had to leave her home. The overnight cure of Ragsdale's alcoholism by simply withdrawing his supply of liquor is too optimistic (whatever about the thing called withdrawal symptoms?). Sadly, the author fell into the trap of a last-minute, filmy conclusion. I definitely prefer happy endings, but they shouldn't be so uncharacteristic and dramatic.


Mrs. Drew Plays Her Hand

Mrs. Drew Plays Her Hand

  - Carla Kelly

My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars

This wasn't much fun, and I didn't like it as much as the two books I read by this author before this. It's perhaps a cute and cozy enough romance, but that is not what was looking for. so, despite being heart warming, it left me a bit disappointed. Low on humor, rather saccharine, predictably predictable. The language and the interactions felt too modern for the era at many places.


The Lady's Companion

The Lady's Companion

  - Carla Kelly

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was very different from a traditional regency - the hero is neither a peer, nor rich, nor English (he is Welsh). The setting is rural, with farm-work consuming his time and energy. The usual balls and morning visits and other pastimes of aristocracy have no place here. The instant attraction between the lead pair is not something that I digest easily, but their banter is fun.
We get glimpses into the Napoleanic wars, including some battlefield action - I found that interesting. There is also more than the usual lovemaking, and more intimate in nature, which I didn't quite care for.
It gives a significant focus to emotions and relationships, and I like that most of the characters are nice and sympathetic, and care for others. The heroine's family is cruel and despicable, but for the most part we are treated to human kindness, and the end was particularly moving.

Mini Reviews - XXI (Barbara Metzger)

An Affair of Interest

An Affair of Interest

- Barbara Metzger

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is perhaps one of the most entertaining story of this genre that I have come across so far. It uses several many of the usual tropes, but the sum total is absolutely hilarious. We have a young, intelligent and spunky heroine - spirited enough to devise outlandish (at least for the times!) schemes, and innocent enough to keep falling into scrapes. Then we have a stiff and sensible hero, who always ends up rescuing her. And add to the mix, a bunch of most comical villains. So what you end up with is a series of madcap adventures! The writing is very amusing, though by the end of this, the third book I read by this author, it kind of feels forced. The plot is a big hoot, and I found myself laughing out several times.

My first exposure to regency romance was through Georgette Heyer, and have only recently started exploring other authors. I am not sure if Heyer's interpretation of the language and mannerisms of the period are most authentic, but in comparison, the tone and and style of Metzger feels much more modern.

Where I certainly appreciate Metzger more is, that her heroines are much more enterprising. Sydney here shares some similarity with 'The Grand Sophy' and 'Frederica'. Like Frederica, she wants her sister to have a London season, but instead of appealing to a rich, distant relative, she tries to raise funds on her own. Like Sophy, she keeps on creating elaborate, outrageous schemes. Sophy is confident, worldy-wise, and backed by her father's support and resources, and most of her plans are prompted by doing what she believes is best for other people (meddling indeed). Whereas Sydney had nothing going for her, and all her ideas are prompted by a desire to support her family. So, I definitely find Sidney most creditable of all.


Lady Whilton's Wedding

Lady Whilton's Wedding

- Barbara Metzger

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was an entertaining comedy of errors - with the body of a despised uncle disappearing and reappearing, a couple of terribly inept thieves, and chaos reigning in the wedding of the lead couple's parents.

The plot is as contrived as can be, but the situational comedy and the witty dialogs make it a good fun read. I liked the heroine, sensible yet a little naive, but the hero is a bit of a jerk. Rest of the cast is quite engaging, including the bumbling villains. I would have preferred it if the hero's character had rectified his ways after his first error, but I suppose it would have been a blow to the situation created in the story.

Another downside to the book was the long time spent on relating the back story, done in an intrepid manner with only occasional witticism to break the monotony. It was about 30% mark when any events of interest take place.


A Worthy WifeA Worthy Wife
  - Barbara Metzger

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I was glad to find in Barbara Metzger another regency author I like, but very soon her work has become a hit-or-miss with me.

The start of this novel is a bit strange, but not inconceivable for a regency novel - Kenyon, an earl marries a commoner Aurora in order to save her reputation. The rest of the plot consists of a sequence of predicaments that Aurora handles with great ease. She looks such an epitome of sense and perfection, that I couldn't assimilate that she landed in the trouble that she did at the beginning. Kenyon's character didn't endear himself to me, starting from his behavior towards Aurora on their wedding night. He later keeps distrusting her yet wanting her, and his laments to himself become intrepid. Eventually, there are reasons for him to appreciate Aurora, but I see no reason why she should place such confidence in his ability to settle everything.

The suspense that was, was evident since the question first arose. There are not very explicit scenes, but more sensuality that usual, or at least my expectation. There were some amusing antics, but overall I didn't much like the characters or the plot.


An Enchanted AffairAn Enchanted Affair
  - Barbara Metzger

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I did not like this much, particularly because there was too much of abuse (not graphic) at the hands of greedy relatives. RR as a genre have some very standard tropes, and this one employed two of my least favorite - MoC and MisUnderstanding (I feel MU has to be the most idiotic things; just a little bit of communication, even in the times of that high degree of formality should have easily avoided it).
I found it quite average, with run-of-the-mill plot and no humor to redeem it.