Back in 2012, I commenced a Summer of Harlequin in an attempt to understand what the hell “category romance” actually meant. I learned a lot.
To continue my odyssey into the deeper realms of Romancelandia, the next logical step seemed obvious: Georgette Heyer. And I just happened to have nearly all of her titles waiting patiently on Minerva (my Kindle) thanks to Sourcebooks’ $1.99 sales. Have I mentioned the OCD book-hoarding thing?
So far, I’ve read 11 (six on audio) and temporarily DNF’d two. I’ll do individual reviews for each book, but here are my first impressions on the Heyer Oeuvre….
I guess it’s not really “full snark.” It’s more like half-snark with vitriolic overtones of CAPSLOCK OF RAGE.
- Title: A Light in the Window: An Irish Christmas Love Story
- Author: Julie Lessman
- Genre(s): Historical,
- Publisher: Ten Talents Press, November 2012
- Source: Purchased (99¢ promo)
- Length: 407 pages
- Trope(s): DON’T EVEN ASK .
- Quick blurb: DON’T MAKE ME GO THERE.
- Quick review: WHAT PART OF “CAPSLOCK OF RAGE” ARE YOU NOT UNDERSTANDING?
- Grade: DNF
He flinched. “I have faith,” he said, a bristle of hurt in his voice.
“Yes, of course you do,” she said quickly, gaze gentle as she tapped a finger to her head. “Up here.” She slowly slid a hand to her heart, taking great pains to soften her words. “But based on what I know of a man of your ilk, I worry that it doesn’t live here.” She studied the confusion in his face and tried again. “I believe that in your mind, your faith is deep—doctrine, precepts, catechism—but when it comes to living it?” Her smile was sad as she curled her hand over her chest. “I suspect it may be heart shallow.”
Yes, it’s THAT BAD. If this were a movie (God help us, and I mean that literally), the tagline would be “She has a License to Judge — and she know how to use it.”
The only thing “inspirational” about this book is my overwhelming desire to tell the Saint Mary Sue “heroine” to TAKE HER UNBEARABLE SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS and STUFF IT SOMEWHERE UNSPEAKABLE and go somewhere FAR, FAR AWAY.
That smarmy smile on the cover model’s face? It’s THAT for the ENTIRE BOOK. It’s being HIT OVER THE HEAD with SANCTIMONIOUS PREACHING in every. freaking. chapter. I skimmed ahead in hopes of the “heroine” finding herself in need of enlightenment and redemption, but of course not. She’s PIOUS. She’s VIRTUOUS. And she makes sure everyone around her knows it.
I DETEST (and that’s putting it mildly) the “You’re Not Worthy of Love Until You’re as Godly as Me” inspie trope, and this book is built on PILES AND PILES of that HOLIER-THAN-THOU HYPOCRISY. It’s ironic — and not in a good way — to find such a pharisaic message glorified and rewarded in a Christmas novel.
I wasn’t kidding about the “binge” thing.
Only one dud in this bunch, the rest will go on the re-read list next year. Or this weekend. Or maybe I’ll sneak out of the office potluck early.
A few anthologies, a few novellas, a novella from another anthology, and one I thought was a novella but was actually a novel which is probably why I got pissy with it.
I kinda forgot about the “Naughty & Nice List” theme, but I can’t think about that right now because I need to figure what to take to the office potluck tomorrow that won’t require cooking or baking. Or buying ingredients. I’m thinking Mint M&Ms. Unless I eat those for breakfast again.
Holy crap, I love this WordPress theme so much I’m going to keep it ALL YEAR LONG. No, I haven’t started drinking yet, it’s only 11:15 a.m. on a Tuesday.
I am now wishlisting books by narrator. I am officially addicted.
That would be “highly recommended” as in “read this NOW, dammit, your life is meaningless without this book.”
The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
Narrated by Allan Corduner
I avoided this for years because it’s told from Death’s point of view. I was a dumbass. It’s stunning. From start to finish. I can’t even begin to count how many times I nearly drove off the road trying to bookmark a “holy SHIT, that was good” passage.
It’s one of those books that uses language in an entirely unique way. I kept thinking the title should be “The Word Thief” instead, because Zusak somehow manages to turn seemingly simple words and phrases into characters in their own right. Just read the prologue in the sample, you’ll see what I mean.
A Dream Defiant by Susanna Fraser
- Title: A Dream Defiant
- Author: Susanna Fraser
- Series: N/A
- Genre(s): Historical (Regency)
- Publisher: Carina Press, July 2013
- Source: NetGalley
- Length: ~85 pages
- Trope(s): Forbidden Love, War Heroes and Widows, Family Matters
- Quick blurb: Black soldier delivers spoils of war to new widow and marries her for her protection
- Quick review: Too much story for the short format.
- Grade: B
He caught her hand. “Wait.” He slid his hands to the back of her neck, fumbling for the necklace’s clasp. He undid it and held the chain of rubies up, red and gold in the flickering candlelight. “No shackles for us,” he said, “no matter how rich.”
Loved the characters and premise, and Fraser managed to get a lot of emotion into less than 100 pages. But this story deserves more than a novella to avoid the rushed romance and resolution.
- Title: The Sweet Girl
- Author: Annabel Lyon
- Series: N/A
- Genre(s): Historical (Ancient Greece)
- Publisher: Knopf, June 2013
- Source: Public library (Overdrive epub)
- Length: 256 pages
- Trope(s): Daddy’s Girl, Bluestocking, Orphan, War & Peace, Gods & Goddesses
- Quick blurb: Aristotle’s brilliant and cosseted daughter is unprepared for real life when Alexander the Great’s death disrupts their household.
- Quick review: Odd and uncomfortable.
- Grade: D+
Herpyllis says when a man is at ease his testicles are tender, but when he’s excited they go wizened and tight. I don’t know if she’s trying to give me the world or take it away.
This short book attempts to tell a big story with tragedy and treachery and sinister deities (and yes, magical man parts are involved), and it isn’t very successful.
The modern YA voice, combined with the Fancy Allegorical Lit-Fic Pretensions, had me disconnected from beginning to end. Just because you CAN use first-person present-tense and anachronistic language to show off your textbook-level grasp of Greek history and mythology doesn’t mean you SHOULD.
As with The Pianist in the Dark, I want this story told by a different author. I’m not the right reader for this book — and I have no clue who the intended audience is.
Read these. All of them.
Especially this first one. IT’S FABULOUSLY GOOD AND IT WON THE RITA AND IT’S FREE.
Did I mention the part about it being FREE?
Just read it already.
- Title: Flowers from the Storm
- Author: Laura Kinsale
- Narrator: Nicholas Boulton
- Series: N/A
- Genre(s): Historical
- Publisher: Avon, 1992
- Source: Purchased ($2.99 ebook, $3.49 audiobook)
- Length: 565 pages (19 hours)
- Trope(s): Sheltered Spinster, Dukish Duke, Evil In-Laws, ANGST ANGST AND MORE ANGST (did I mention the ANGST?)
- Quick blurb: Sheltered Quaker woman feels called to help a notorious (but brilliant) duke when she finds him wrongfully imprisoned in her uncle’s asylum.
- Quick review: Go away and leave me alone. I’m still swooning.
- Grade: A- for story, A+ for narration
“It was an Opening,” she whispered.
“It was…you,” he said.
OH. MY. GOD. You people weren’t kidding about this book. Good lord. It’s going to take me months to recover my equilibrium, and god help whatever books I’m reading and listening to next.
The minus on the story grade is for the slight lag in the pacing after the [NO SPOILERS], and I wondered about Maddie being called “Duchess” instead of “Your Grace,” and I couldn’t figure out why her father didn’t play more of a role in her spiritual conundrum, but then I had to replay the last chapter three times because, you know, OH. MY. GOD.
[Gimme a sec, I need to swoon again: *~*SWOON*~* <thud>]
Sorry, where was I? With the wrong narrator, this audiobook would have been a disaster of epic proportions. Nicholas Boulton captured Jervaulx’s anger and anguish — and Maddy’s longing and confusion — so bloody brilliantly I had my headphones on all night for four nights straight. And I stayed up until 3 o’clock this morning and I don’t care if I fall asleep at my desk and drool on my keyboard.
These characters, and all their lovely, glorious angst, will live with me — and I can’t think of much higher praise for an author than that.