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review SPOILER ALERT! 2020-06-28 13:00
How To Love A Duke in Ten Days
How to Love a Duke in Ten Days (Devil You Know) - Kerrigan Byrne

My reviews are honest & they contain spoilers. For more, follow me:

 

Before beginning my review, would like to mention a **trigger warning** here. There is mention of sexual abuse at the beginning of the book. Not graphic mind you, but enough to turn your stomach so it had taken me quite aback. But the whole scene was handled pretty well by the author so kudos to her.

 

How To Love a Duke In Ten Days is book 1 of the newest series by Kerrigan Byrne titled Devil You Know. TBH, I was waiting for the latest in her other series, Victorian Rebels, which is a series I’ve come to love over the years. So this new venture left me a bit intrigued. Of course, I was going to check it out no matter what and so glad that I did! Just how do two fools fall in love in 10 days? Well, you’ll just have to read to find out. Devil You Know is also based in the Victorian-era England, much like Victorian Rebels, though I didn’t think there’s any connection between the two. Not yet at least.

 

When the story opens up, we find our heroine, Alexandra, studying in a school for females named de Chardonne. Located in Switzerland, de Chardonne seemed to be a famous educational institution for the young and affluent females, daughters and such, of the peerage. Alexandra came to be here because of the same. Even if her family’s financial situation was quite dire, as it was mired in deep debts, they still wanted her to be ready for the world. This school would educate her to navigate the world of peerage and such, though Alexandra knew that if her family’s secret is out in the world, she would not be welcomed by the Ton.

 

Mostly an introvert, Alexandra found friends in two other girls who come from somewhat similarly odd family backgrounds. Cecelia, a tall, pleasantly plump girl who could compete with any valkyrie in her stature. She was gorgeous in her own way but had no idea of her appeal; the bookish sort who sported glasses and saw goodness in everyone. She also had sad family secret that made her life miserable while at home. In de Chardonne, she found friends in Alexandra and Francesca, who, on the other hand, was tall, statuesque and undoubtedly striking. Her family background was a little too complicated, and since it played no big part in this story, I’ll refrain from mentioning it too.

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review 2020-04-23 21:44
The GRAND Sophy
The Grand Sophy - Georgette Heyer

(seriously, I don't have a pithy summary for a review better that it's own title)

 

I had a total blast.

 

I love Heyer's harebrained MC's, and Sophy is an order of magnitude on any of hers I've read. I had so much fun with the way she's completely on top of all the chaos she sows around while working to set things as they should go, and I knew the ride I was setting myself to as soon as she appears, but even more when her friends start popping up and you realize they like her, respect her, will help her, but pray not to be the focus of her arrangements.

 

I also love all her side characters in all their glorious follies. I even enjoyed Eugenia, because she was such a perfect foil.

 

It's not that the end is in any way unexpected, but the getting there was hilarious and entertaining. I totally get why it's a favourite Heyer now. It's certainly elbowing up there in the podium.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2019-12-28 17:48
The Luckiest Lady in London
The Luckiest Lady in London - Sherry Thomas

My reviews are honest & they contain spoilers. For more, follow me:

 

It’s been 6 long years since I’ve read a Sherry Thomas book. She has had quite a few out but I was burned by one particular book SO BAD that I was scared to pick up anything else. This one, The Luckiest Lady in London, isn’t even from the same series as that other book but I had issues why, though I bought it, I never read it.

 

The Luckiest Lady in London is the book 1 of London Trilogy. Usually I’m a stickler for following series in order but then, this series is quite different. First of all, when I read books 2 and 3, Private Arrangements and His At Night back in 2011/12 they had no series title. Just books that were connected by characters. The Luckiest Lady in London wasn’t even published. And even though I like to recap series info on my reviews, this one will have no recap of the other 2 books. Maybe snippets if I remember anything but that’ll be all.

 

Private Arrangements was the first book I read by Sherry Thomas, that kind of changed my opinion of a ‘cheating romance’. It’s a theme I avoid at all cost if I know the h or the H of the book has cheated even once. But in here, the author handled the whole thing in such a way that you just feel for the characters. Cheating was kind of technical since the H and h, Camden and Gigi, were separated by a big misunderstanding that pretty much ruined both of their lives. So they tried to move on, even if they were still married and totally in love with one-another, though that takes them a while to discover. His At Night isn’t really directly connected to book 1, though you’ll see references of the H Lord Vere a few times. I have fond memories book 3 and highly recommend that you read both because they’re just so good!

 

Now Felix Riverdale, the hero of The Luckiest Lady in London, was briefly introduced in Private Arrangements as Gigi’s ex-lover. They had this brief affair that ended as fast it began because they decided that wasn’t the right direction for their relationship. They were still good friends. Frankly speaking, at that time, I wasn’t interested in reading about h or H’s lovers appearing as the hero or heroine of another installment of the series. That seemed to muddy the whole thing for me. I was even annoyed that the author thought Felix even needed a book! So I avoided this book like a plague.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2019-12-18 07:50
The Complete Novels of Jane Austen
The Complete Novels of Jane Austen (Chartwell Classics) - Jane Austen

 

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POSSIBLE SPOILERS

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TITLE:  The Complete Novels of Jane Austen

 

AUTHOR:  Jane Austen

 

EDITION:  Chartwell Classics

 

FORMAT:  Hardcover

 

ISBN-13:  978-0785834212

 

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DESCRIPTION:

"Jane Austen revolutionized the literary romance, using it as a platform from which to address issues of gender politics and class consciousness among the British middle-class of the late eighteenth century. The novels included in the collection - Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, Northanger Abbey, Persuasion, and Lady Susan - represent all of Austen's complete novels, and provide the reader with an entrance into the world she and her memorable characters inhabited.

With witty, unflinching morality, Austen portrays English middle-class life as the eighteenth century came to a close and the nineteenth century began. Austen's heroines find happiness in many forms, each of the novels is a story of love and marriage -- marriage for love, financial security and for social status.

 

In a publishing career that spanned less than ten years her work brought her little personal fame and only a few positive reviews during her lifetime. It wasn't until the 1940s that she became widely accepted in academia as a great English writer. The second half of the 20th century saw a proliferation of Austen scholarship and the emergence of a fan culture. Austen's works continue to influence the course of the novel even as they charm readers today."

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REVIEW:

 

Notes on the Physical Book

 

The physical hardcover book is quite large, fat and heavy with a pretty dust jacket.  The paper is bright white and of good quality.  The text is standard sized, similar in size to the Oxford World's Classics series.  The book includes an introduction by Jennifer C. Garlen, a section on the life and times of Jane Austen, reviews and notices, and a section of suggested reading.


 

Sense & Sensibility [3 stars]

 

Jane Austen originally published this novel, in 1811, anonymously - "By A Lady" appeared on the title page in place of the author's name.  Sense and Sensibility is the coming of age story of Elinor and Marianne Dashwood; two sisters with different personalities (one sensible and one emotional) who each experience romance and heartbreak. 

 

Personally, I found the main characters and the majority of the secondary characters to be overly nice and for the most part terribly bland and more similar than different.  The majority of the men also appear overly spineless since they can't seem to do anything without mommy's permission or they might loose their inheritance [this is ridiculous - go find something useful to do and make your own fortune!]  Despite all the courting drama and descriptions of hysterics in the novel, I found that the story lacked passion.  It was all very proper and civilized... and bland.  I also couldn't help the mental image of everyone going about their business with huge, florescent price tags stuck to their shirts.

 

I'm not quite sure why this is such a lauded classic, unless whole generations of impressionable girls were forced to read this and then inflicted it on their own children.

 

 

Pride & Prejudice  [4 stars]

 

I enjoyed Pride and Prejudice more than Sense and Sensibility.  The characters were more rounded/flawed, with more variety; the pacing a bit faster. This is a novel that revolves around relationships - not just romantic relationships, but those of friends, family and other acquantances.  The novel also provides something of a social commentary in terms of the limits imposed on women inheriting property and class structure.  There is also a great deal of humour in this novel that I missed on the first read.  I do find the female obsession with marriage and marrying someone with lots of money rather irritating, but then that's what was required in that time period if you didn't want to end up destitute or dependant on some other relative.  Context (social structure, society, time period etc) really is important with books like this, otherwise all the characters come off as shallow and the plot insipid.  The book is not too long winded with some delightfully pithy clauses.

An interesting thing I noticed on the second read was that the reader initially only learns about Mr Darcy through the observations and dialogues of other people, so the reader essentially aquires the same prejudices against him that Elizabeth Bennet has.  

NOTE This is not a historical fiction novel.  Jane Austen was writing novels about contemporary life (to her), especially the problems facing young women in her own social class (the country gentry).

 

 

Mansfield Park [1 star]

 

All Austen's novels are social commentaries in one way or another, and one could mine Mansfield Park for all sorts of things such as the marriage market, child abuse, child rearing practises (or lack therof), morality, family dynamics etc.  But I found this novel to be rather dull, long-winded and superficial, with nothing substantial happening until the last third of the book.  I can't say I was terribly impressed with the very convenient ending either.  The majority of the characters were also rather flat, lacking depth, and essentially forgetable.  Mrs Norris is terrifyingly devious and manipulative, and would have made a better villain assuming there was someone stronger (or at least more vocal) than Fanny to use as her favourite target.  But Austen didn't write that book.  She wrote the tedious Mansfield Park instead.  Karma is a bitch, but it still doesn't make up for slogging through 400 pages. 

 

 

Emma [2 stars]

 

This novel has a tedious beginning, but does pick up pace eventually.  There is also too much "tell" and not enough "show".  I can't say I was terribly impressed with this novel, but it was better than Mansfield Park.  In someone else's hands, this might have been a comedy along the lines of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing.  But it's not.  The plot was superficial and the main character highly annoying.  The setting is too idyllic - the worst thing that happens is a bit of snow and a breeze [I'm beginning to wonder if a digression into the Paris sewer system would be preferable?].  Everyone is in perfect health except for the occasional sniffles.

 

Emma is a snobbish, entitled, arrogant, bored, callous, hypocritical, immature, know-it-all, busybody who has decided to play match-maker for all and sundry.  And she somehow comes out of the whole affair with no consequences to herself.  Miss Bates could have used less ink time - a lot of irrelevant babbling just doesn't do anything for me.  Then again, a whole many pages could have been burned since the characters did nothing but babble about the proverbial weather or how "pleasant" and "agreeable" so-an-so was.  All the characters are "agreeable"!  Heaven forbid we have someone that is NOT agreeable and charming and nice!!!  I'm assuming Mr Woodhouse has issues (agoraphobia and hypochondria comes to mind), if not, he is just plain silly.  Mr Knightley is the only redeeming aspect of this book, until one of those very convenient WTF moments.  Come to think of it, I liked Mr John Knightley a great deal as well.  He didn't waste any words!  I also have the impression Austen got bored of her own novels and just ended them in the most expedient manner possible to get a happily ever after.

 

NOTE:  If this is supposed to be a social commentary of some sort, it is extremely narrow in focus (wealthy landed gentry) and highly idealized.

 

 

Northanger Abbey [3 stars]

 

This is the first of Jane Austen's novels to be completed, but it wasn't published until after her death, due to publisher vagaries.  This is a coming of age story that is not as long, or as tedious, as some of Austen's other novels, but this one still has that chopped off, summarised in a few paragraphs, ending.  Northanger Abbey is something of a parody of Gothic fiction, which (no doubt) the reader will get more out of, if they have previous read Gothic fiction.

 

 

Persuasion [3.5 stars]

 

Persuasion was completed 6 months before Austen's death, and published posthumously.  This novel deals with old love rekindled and given a second chance, along with some scheming shenanigans by other interfering busy-bodies.  This book is fairly short compared to the other novels and thus has less frivolous, long-winded descriptions of the furniture, the weather, clothing, the monetary worth of everyone and sundry, and how "agreeable" everyone is.  This novel also has some "action" that does not involve tea parties.  I enjoyed this book more than the others (except Pride and Prejudice).

 

 

Lady Susan [4 stars]

 

Lady Susan is a short epistolary novel, which was completed in 1794 but not published until 1871.  The narrative follows the schemes of the charming, manipulative and unscrupulous seductress widow, Lady Susan.  The letters follow the various attempts of Lady Susan to marry off the daughter she detests and find herself a new, wealthy husband.    This is a fairly entertaining and rather amusing novel that has the benefit of skipping all the "boring bits" and dealing with the action and thoughts of Lady Susan and her relations.  Too bad Austen didn't write more epistolary novels.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2019-11-22 20:03
Diamond in the Rogue
Diamond in the Rogue - Wendy LaCapra

My reviews are honest & they contain spoilers. For more, follow me:

 

Diamond In the Rogue by Wendy LaCapra is the third installment of her Lords of Chance series and it was amazing! Yes I’ll go ahead and say it the first thing. I’ve been going through some rough patches in my personal life for the past few months and needed a distraction badly. This book gave me that and more. I’ve been a fan of this series since it began and the installments never ceased to amaze me in the least. I always applaud Wendy’s writing style and her lovely narratives that hook you right into the story. But this book was just chock full of surprises I didn’t see coming. In retrospect, I should’ve expected at least some of them.

 

Lords of Chance is a Regency set series with 3 peers of the realm, who are also old friends, as the center of the storyline. They go by sobriquet taken from the game of card—Spades, Clubs and Diamonds. Lord Markham came as the extra addition to the group; as Hearts to complete the circle. He’s also the youngest and often jokingly called as the ‘pup’. But unknowing to him, in the beginning of the series he was being groomed by our Spades for an ultimate purpose. No, nothing nefarious but that didn’t mean it was any less important to Spades’ own existence.

 

In his story, in book 1 Scandal in Spades, we found Giles Langley the Marquess of Bromton, in a dilemma. A big one TBH. He had a very serious family issue that he needed to take care of. It involved the survival of the Bromley bloodline and Giles was ‘trained’ to become someone who’d do anything in his power to keep that bloodline flowing to the next generation. But there was a dark twist in his story which led him to find a proper (or improper, didn’t matter) solution to his aforementioned dilemma. And that’s how Markham came into the picture. Help came in the form of Markham’s elder sister Katherine, the scandalous spinster who made the Regency ‘headlines’ a few times in her life; not because she wanted to make any headline, but because she seemed to had bad lucks where Beaus and fiancés were concerned. But her meeting to Giles was the thing of magic; full of spark and chemistry that both felt and were unable to deny. Both were scared to fall but fall they did despite everything. I love LOVED that book.

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