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review 2017-08-21 03:58
The Foundling
The Foundling - Georgette Heyer

I don't really know what to say about this book.  The writing is superb; really just near perfect.  The dialog is crafted so well it just trips off the tongue, even though it's a speech pattern that's hardly common today.

 

And I genuinely liked Lord Sale and his cousin Gideon (him best of all, I think); I even didn't mind the pompous uncle and Tom was moderately amusing.  I should give Heyer a fourth star just for that story about the two donkeys, a horse and a cow.  But as for the rest... 

 

Lord Sale's staff were insufferable.  Heyer meant them to be, of course; that's a big point of the plot from the beginning, but she did her job so well it was tedious to endure the reading of it.

 

Liversedge was probably brilliant and towards the end even I thought the situation was hilarious, but the first half of the book his character was just smarmy.

 

But the character I save most of my ire for is Belinda.  It was coincidence that I was reading this book the same time I was reading Grey Mask by Patricia Wentworth, but it was also perhaps karma having a go at me:  I claimed nobody could be as stupid as Margot in Grey Mask and so the fates brought Belinda into my reading life.  Belinda makes Margot look like a genius; Belinda makes air look literate.  Belinda, in short, should have been institutionalised.  Nobody – nobody – could be that vacuous and still show signs of life.

 

If this book failed at all it was with Heyer's decision to make Belinda too stupid to be believed.  I could not be sympathetic to her story at any point because she was not even believable as an automaton.  And because she played such a huge part in the middle of the book, the story dragged dangerously midway through and at one point, I just didn't want to finish it.  Fortunately, the POV shifted to Gideon, and the story picked up pace considerably.  The last half of the book was great, in fact: even though Belinda got to let her stupid shine to the very end, there was a lot less of her and the story focused on the characters that were interesting - the sentient ones.

 

The moral of this story:  stupid people can ruin even the best story.

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review 2017-08-20 13:14
Review: Emma and the Outlaw (Orphan Train #2) by Linda Lael Miller
Emma And The Outlaw - Linda Lael Miller

The cover attached to this review is for the original book, published in 1991. I read the 2014 reprint.

 

Emma Chalmers is a seven year old girl who, along with her two sisters Caroline and Lucy, are sent on the orphan train by their biological mother at the request of the mother's newest lover. Caroline is adopted first, leaving Emma and Lucy to continue on the train west. Emma is adopted by a woman who is hoping to get a free domestic servant for her household and possible sexual servant for her husband. Lucy continues on the train west. Emma is rescued at the train station by Chloe, a brother. and saloon owner who wanted a daughter and paid off the vile woman. Emma ends up in a nice home and has a good upbringing.

 

Chloe decides to open up a public lending library so Emma has a job after coming home from normal school (teachers' college). Even though Emma loves and defends Chloe, Emma also wants respectability. She feels her life is stained twice over with a biological mother who was weak for men and brandy and being the daughter of the local madam. Hence her courtship with Fulton Whitney, the banker; yet he leaves her cold. Emma hasn't given up on the dream of re-connecting with her sisters.

 

One day, a drunk decides to celebrate his birthday by bringing a stick of dynamite into another saloon and an explosion leaves many saloon patrons injured. One of those patrons is Steven Fairfax, a former Confederate soldier and an outlaw wanted in his home state of Louisiana. Chloe takes Steven into her home so that he can heal; Emma does nurse him back to health in between shifts at the library. There is a lot of lust from Steven's side already. A few days of nursing and they are having make out sessions. Steven decides to stay in Whitneyville and court Emma, Fulton be damned. Emma decides to play Steven against Fulton so she can be rid of both of them, but ends up falling for Steven.

 

Once the sex starts between Steven and Emma it doesn't stop. EVERY CHAPTER after Steven takes Emma's v-card in a field of daisies has at least one sex scene. Steven really likes Emma's breasts;  so much nipple sucking and licking. Seriously after a while, the sex scenes were just repetitive nonsense.

 

Macon, Steven's half-brother and technically the real villain (although Fulton gives that role a real shot), is searching for Steven so he can bring Steven back to New Orleans to stand trial for the murder of Dirk (Macon's bastard son) and Mary McCall (Dirk's lover who wanted Steven....it's complicated). Macon uses Emma to get to Steven; they travel back to New Orleans, more family secrets are discovered, Macon repeatedly promises that he will rape Emma over and over again after Steven is hanged for his crimes, Macon actually attempts to rape Emma while the rest of the family is at Steven's trial, Lucy (Macon's wife) mental illness....Old skool romance crazy sauce is HIGH in this book. Being a romance, the true killer is found, Steven is cleared of all charges, Emma has a baby, finds one of her sisters, and Macon takes off for Europe.

 

Daisy, the African-American cook and house cleaner that works in Chloe's household is the only POC character that is treated with respect. The Fairfax plantation owners treat it's household help as if blacks were still slaves. Emma is the only one to show any respect for the workers. A few black characters are physically described by their hair and size/whiteness of their teeth. The black servants of other households in New Orleans were also given a crappy hand; the one black servant to the McCall family goes home to her husband who is the epitome of black angry man and abuser. And then there is this gem, courtesy of Lucy Fairfax:

 

"Please tell Miss McCall that Mrs. Macon Fairfax and Mrs. Steven Fairfax have come to pay a visit," Lucy said in a business-like tone that belied her odd ways. "And kindly don't leave us standing out here in the midday sun while you dillydally."

The woman hurried away, and Lucy turned to Emma and confided "You must be firm with people of color. After being told what to do for so long, they can't always be trusted to reason for themselves." (pg. 305)

 

It was at that moment that the book became intimately acquainted with the wall opposite my reading chair. Reminder: this book was published in 1991.....not 1891. Memo to publishers/authors: before reprinting old romances, revise/update/edit the fuck out some shit that you got away with earlier, for modern readers are going to red flag that shit. Between the racism and the constant verbal rape threats/real sexual assaults by Macon and Fulton on Emma, I started to become sick and couldn't wait for the book to end (I was curious about the killer's identity).

 

Maybe it's just bad timing reading this book after the IRL events of the last couple of weeks, but the bitterness held by the Southern characters over the Civil War was the last thing that I needed. Not a book I can recommend.

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text 2017-08-20 10:40
Reading progress update: Chapter 32
The Miss Silver Mysteries: Grey Mask, The Case Is Closed, and Lonesome Road - Patricia Wentworth

Was anyone else absolutely horrified that Charles let Margot get behind the wheel of an automobile?

 

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review 2017-08-19 23:37
Hope's Spring, Katie Wyatt

I really enjoyed this clean, Historic, Western Romance. I voluntarily chose to review it. I've given it a 5* rating. This had a bit of action in it, cowboy style, dealing with cattle. A very unusual wedding day and more. Lots to hold your attention.

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text 2017-08-19 16:33
Yes, yes and so much yes.
The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue - Mackenzi Lee

I'll write a real review for this soon, but since I just finished it this morning I'll have to do a little more pondering before I write. Otherwise it'll just be an entire review filled with something along the lines of...

 

OMG PERCY AND MONTY ARE SO CUTE AND FELICITY IS A BADASS AND PIRATES GUYS! PIRATES. BUT ALSO ROMANCE AND AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

 

So, yeah. I'll sit for a bit and figure out what I want to write. I LOVED this book though. It was so brilliantly written, overall. The plot was great, the characters were stellar, the attention to detail in the settings was amazing. Ugh. I love Mackenzie Lee. I do. I don't care who knows it.

 

I need much more Monty and Percy very very soon.

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