by Celeste Bradley
Book 1 of The Liar's Club
The Pretender started off really rocky, and I'll have to admit that there were moments in the beginning that I thought I'd end up frustrated with the book. Our couple, as is typical of most romance novels, move from initial surprise meeting to insta-lust so quickly that I sort of got whiplash. And then the lust continued to dominate most of their interactions and conversations and thoughts for a time.
Needless to say, I was definitely feeling a bit irritated with it.
But then, I can't quite pinpoint when, the story started getting interesting when things began to balance out. Agatha started working with Simon in a strange little spy and investigation partnership rather than just issuing him his orders. Simon started taking Agatha's abilities a little more seriously and the two sort of, unofficially accepted their strange partnership.
It was only all the more intriguing that Simon had false impressions about Agatha, and that Agatha was working under false impressions of Simon.
And while I would have loved for this weird tango of deceit and secrets to continue, I have to admit that the reveals and the twists in the middle of the book worked out quite well. Nothing else seemed to change between the two save for a better understanding of each others' roles.
And as I was fully invested in both character's stories by then, I didn't care to nitpick too much more about the book as a whole. Though I must admit that there were some moments (such as Agatha's multiple attempts to seduce Simon) that actually came out more comical, even in spite of the more serious tone of her own thought processes. In creating these scenes however, I actually came to admire some of the more inelegant behaviors and actions of our two main characters (the scene where Agatha is unceremoniously thrust out of Simon's room in the nude is quite unforgettable, as I think about her having to make a stumbling sprint back to her own bedroom to avoid awkward discovery).
On a side note, Simon's attempts at evading seduction (a la the aforementioned scene where he extricates Agatha from his immediate quarters) were commendable. But really, with Agatha's head-strong determination, the poor guy really didn't have a chance in the world of resistance.
I think this is what sort of made the book a bit more enticing to me--not the seduction process, no. The characters were unique and interesting in their own ways, but their actions and antics were quite entertaining to follow. Well, okay, it was really Agatha's antics I really enjoyed the most, what with her managing to make so much headway into ferreting out secrets and investigating her brother's disappearance within days, while Simon admits that it had taken him and his men much longer to even come up with some inkling of what might have happened to James Cunnington.
Agatha was a study in contradictions, really. She believes herself to be ordinary and not a beauty. But during her investigations, she tactfully uses her larger than average bosom size (a not so ordinary trait) to extract information from many of the salivating lords and gentlemen she interacts with. She's written as a character who doesn't really have a deceitful bone in her body... and yet all of her behaviors are contradictory because she begins the book as a liar who creates a fake marriage and husband as part of her investigation strategy.
And yet, she's a readily likable character. In contrast, Simon was rather ordinary and standard for a romance novel.
Other characters in The Pretender were also wonderfully crafted as well, and I can't wait to see if any of them play a role in following books.
Meanwhile, there were a few things about this book that didn't quite work out for me, thus the rather mediocre to blah rating. But I can't deny that I enjoyed myself enough to want to continue on with the series.
The Pretender isn't the best book in the world, and definitely didn't start off all that well. Others who would expect a great book within the first few chapters might get impatient, but I'm quite satisfied that it felt like our author seemed to find a direction and better footing in her writing process as the book itself progressed. Though, to be honest, I can't help but note that the book DOES seem to feel like it could have been two, or maybe even three, different anecdotes when you get to the second half, even while the ending manages to tie things together well enough.
Roll #30: "Read a book where a main character is in STEM, or where the author's first and last name contain all of the letters in 'Tesla'."
Authors first and last name = Celeste Bradley
Page Count: 384
Cash Award: +$6.00
Updated Bank Balance: $227.00
Celeste Ng's sophomore effort, Little Fires Everywhere, is destined to be one of the hottest books in 2017. Great characters and an evenly paced plot come together in a novel that is sure to impress fans of the author and newcomers alike (maybe even Joyce Carol Oates herself). With its excellent pacing and riveting storyline, it is a quick read; with the many thought-provoking topics it addresses, it will be a leading selection for many book clubs; it's intelligent, it's commercial. Bam, and just like that, a literary star is made.
In many ways, Little Fires Everywhere has much in common with its predecessor. As with Everything I Never Told You, Ng's latest effort is a heartfelt, intelligently orchestrated story about the lack of understanding and empathy within a family. The novel is peopled with characters who are both beautiful and imperfect. And while I strongly believe that Little Fires Everywhere will be a larger success and a much better received book, I personally do not feel that it surpasses the gorgeously subtle brilliance of Everything....
Little Fires Everywhere succeeds unequivocally by most standards because of its formulaic plot. Naturally, this will also be the reason some readers feel the story to be disingenuous. Every turn of events relies on another that must be orchestrated perfectly. The results are the same again and again, a cascade of well-placed plot points that make the story one-hundred percent exciting, but also difficult to swallow. Yet this plotting is exactly what raises what would otherwise be academic reading to the ranks of a commercial success. Ng is an intelligent author with a strong grasp of language and of the craft, but she will not bore her readers. Those hoping for a more subtle telling will be disappointed by the obvious authorial manipulation, but it is this interference that frames an utterly unforgettable and engaging story where not one word is wasted.
While Everything... convinced me and moved me, Little Fires Everywhere pulled me in completely. It is a story I will not soon forget. Neither will you: I can almost guarantee you'll be hearing much about it in the coming months.
Author: Celeste Bradley
Title: Wedded Bliss
Series: Wicked Worthingtons
Buy This Book:
As a ship’s captain, highborn bastard Morgan Pryce has spent his life sailing away from England. The last thing he needs is a wife. But when he fears that his titled half brother, Neville, is about to be snared by a gold digger, Morgan aims to protect Neville by tricking the lovely crook into marrying him first. He knows he can't allow himself to believe a word she says. If only she weren’t so convincing....
Determined beauty Bliss Worthington is not terribly fond of finding another man waiting for her at the altar—after all, no one tricks a Worthington and gets away with it. Somehow she must persuade her dangerously handsome new husband to grant her an annulment, because her heart is set on his brother.
Soon the newlyweds must deal with a secret but mutual attraction. Morgan finds himself oddly devastated by her tenderness and braveness. When Neville shows up to rescue her from a loveless marriage, she will have to quickly decide which man is the right one for her..
I wasn't so thrilled with the whole arrangement and the ignorance of all the characters involved. I didn't buy into the wedding not knowing who the groom is or the way Bliss was treated following the nuptials. The sad Cinderella story after marrying someone desperate to save his brother and family from her when it wasn't necessary then beaten in until well after the horse was dead was fairly off putting and neither the growing affection on either side was enough to redeem anything that took place once they decided they actually loved one another. Too little too late.
Until next time book lovers...
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