Books I read this week: Vol 26, July 8

Heavens to Betsy! Only TWO books!

Several possible reasons for that.

A) Work has been crazy, and I've needed my whole brain for most projects.

B) I'm starting not one but TWO 30 day challenges! I am committed to doing yoga every day, and writing every day. What am I writing, you ask? A romance novel of course! Silly hypothetical person! As if there was any doubt!

C) I've started several reading with eyes books, which take longer, as well as a book club book I have been avoiding.

D) All the above, and more. Step up off! Get out of my business!

 

I also finished Clean Sweep by Ilona Andrews, but that is my podcast book club pick, so you will have to wait for my thoughts till the next recording.


 

The Leopard Prince

Author: Elizabeth Hoyt

Series: Princes Trilogy #2

Tags: historical romance, pre-regency romance, estate manager, woman of independent means, murder, wrongly accused, commoner man, flibbertigibbet, Yorkshire

Format: ebook

Rating: yay!

 

I've successfully completed Hoyt's Princes trilogy all by reading with my eyes!

That doesn't sound like an accomplishment. It probably is not. But I hereby cross it off my list!

 

Loved it. Of course. Hoyt is my ringer. When in doubt, go to Hoyt.

 

Our heroine is a flibbertigibbet! Turns out the word is more fitting than I imagined. I looked it up, and it has Yorkshire origins.

She's flighty, silly, whimsical, witty, and sharp. She asks him a whole bunch of inappropriate questions and goes off on tangents, yet you know she also is a lot smarter than she seems.

She's the spinster owner of a Yorkshire estate. Our hero is her estate manager.

Uh oh! Workplace drama!

He is, by contrast, correct, proper, laconic, serious, and kinda scary. He's had a hard life, and has pulled himself up from nothing. His past is entwined with the neighborhood estate; it catches up with him, and he ends up in hot water for it.

 

Authors like Hoyt make me wonder if regency romance is secretly a subversive medium. I mean, on the outside looking in, one might assume that all these books are about women fainting and fawning over big brutish men. And some are. But some are about women of power, women with spunk, women trying to survive in a hopelessly patriarchal society. And then a hot dude comes along, and he's like:

"I just love you, I'll just do whatever you want to do."

Excellent.

Contemporary romance is usually much more bound by the heteronormative restrictions of today's society. It's usually why I can't stomach them. You wouldn't find a story about a woman and her male subordinate, unless it's just straight up erotica. Whereas, the other way around...

There's something great about having such obvious forces against the female class. You know who your enemy is. The struggle is external, rather than internal. Women in contemporary romance typically battle their own insecurities: "I'm so clumsy, I'm so shy, I don't deserve a normal guy" yadda yadda. Thank God a guy comes along to save her from herself.

I'm so over that. I am not interested in spending time in the mind of a woman degrading herself. 

I want to spend time in the mind of a woman who is too big and shines too bright for the world she lives in.

 

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure." - Marianne Williamson

 

Rawr. I'm feeling pumped today.

 

Anywho, the book was fun. Granted, it's an unlikely story, but what part of historical romance is in fact likely? Hoyt does a good job weaving in the characters's personalities with the possibly emasculating endgame, and I found myself loving them both. It was a delight, and I would read it again.

 

Sidenote: I love that Hoyt sometimes writes about men with chest hair. I mean, thousands of white dudes as dukes and vampires and ex-cops and assassins... They can't all be baby smooth like a Twilight: New Moon werewolf pack.

I tried to look up Hoyt's husband to see if perhaps she is inspired by life, but couldn't find a picture of him.

Darn.


 

With This Ring

Author: Celeste Bradley

Series: Wicked Worthingtons #2

Tags: Regency, Historical Romance, mistaken identity, kidnapped!, husband hunt, switcheroo, wrongly accused, scandalous past

Format: paper book!

Rating: yay!

 

It's been a while since I've read a Bradley, so I had to turn my mind back two years and hundreds of books to remember what I have read. Bradley was at the beginning of my latest Great Obsession with Romance Novels, where I started reading more than one book a week, and cleaning out the paperback romance section in the library from A to Z.

Isn't it always the way that a library has only SOME of the books of any given series, but not all? I was so glad to find this book and continue the series.

I may have hyped up this series a teensy bit in my memory. My feelings for this book didn't much pass lukewarm.

 

The series centers on a large, kooky aristocratic family. Each book focuses on a sibling, and the rest flit in and out, helping each other, creating crazy antics. Your typical family sitcom. This one has towers of books everywhere, a hawk in the observatory, parents that quote Shakespeare, and much more. Bradley likes to write children into her stories, and the best character is their littlest sister, who's smart and weird and runs around half wild creating hijinks.

The hero comes upon her seriously somersaulting down the hall. He asks her what she is doing. 

"I'm trying to determine the slope of this hall. I believe it is 3 degrees."

Next scene opens with the heroine finding our hero somersaulting with her.

 

Large kooky families are one of the most common historical romance novel series devices. I would say, in order of commonality, the list would be:

  1. Unlikely friends who banded together while at Eton
  2. Partners in a gaming hell
  3. A large, kooky (mysterious? notorious?) family with a long list of unwed siblings
  4. A secret club or band of spies
  5. Women who work together in a scandalous profession (writers! Scandalous!)
  6. A curse on a group of people or town
  7. Female boarding school chums

Do you agree? Did I leave anything out?

 

In looking at the Worthington series, I wish I had rather read When She Said I Do, the first one of the series, because it sounds like a Beauty and the Beast redux. And I love those.

Also, I'm super excited about what I'm sure will be a future book: the love story for the emotionally scarred war hero who is having a hard time getting back into society. We did a bit of character development on him here, and I'm SO READY.

However, this book... meh.

 

Elektra is not my favorite. She is a petulant, officious middle child, the only one in her crazy family to be concerned with reputation. She devises a plan to save her family from social and monetary ruin: marry someone rich. Elektra methodically works towards her goal, arranging her own season, and writing a list of eligible bachelors to hunt down. She finds the one at the top of her list, Aaron, by happenstance while staying at an inn. She tries to kidnap him as a way to ruin herself.

Aaron avoids the scandal by pretending to be his servant... Then, hijinks! Carriage mishaps, cuddling together for warmth, mad races from the country to London and back, a few heroic savings, a couple of makeovers, servant-master switcheroo, a comely tavern wench, and a very bad cold.

Aaron is one of those Not Quite a Rake characters. He has a scandalous reputation that is completely unwarranted (and the readers sigh in relief), and is in fact a noble upstanding future-Duke.

 

Not Quite a Rakes can be a let down for me. Yeah, I understand that the Rake Reformed trope is a remarkably stupid plot line based in nothing more than fantasy, but hey, it's fantasy. I'd much rather go all the way than set up a rake, only to magically sweep away his rakish past to the delight of every heroine and reader who realize it's not such a great idea to marry someone promiscuous. It's creative back-peddling.

Either make a rake or an upstanding citizen/recluse. Don't be three-staring it.

 

Even though Elektra's drive (you go get that season, girl!) should have endeared her to me, I found her character lacking. Same with Aaron. I found a lot of the story a bit too fantastical to allow. Would forthright, goal oriented really fall in love with a servant? I mean, really? And why the heck is a servant sitting at Worthingtons's dinner table?

On the other hand, I like how Elektra realizes she's in love, reassesses her goals, comes to terms with her feelings, and then goes out to do something about it. So, I'm going to marry a servant. Okay. Let's go do that.

 

Overall, I would read more Celeste Bradley. Kooky large families that help each other out are like a literary hug. You just can't say no to that.

%d bloggers like this: