Saturday, October 01, 2005

Vacation Book Report - part three (final)

Libby's London Merchant and Miss Chartley's Guided Tour by Carla Kelly (two books in one)
Carla Kelly is a goddess when it comes to writing traditional regency romance. I read One Good Turn (grade: A) first which actually follows Libby's London Merchant but it didn't make any difference. LLM was a wonderful treat as well. Benedict Nesbitt (Nez), Duke of Knaresborough, poses as a London merchant in order to check out the fiancé of his friend. He has an accident in front of her house hoping that she will take him in, which Libby Ames does. Her Uncle Ames has taken his own daughter, Lydia (who is the friend's fiancé) to Brighton. Unfortunately, Nez is severely injured. He is also an alcoholic and Dr. Anthony Cook recognizes the symptoms. Through treatment of his injuries, Nez is forced to dry out and goes through the horrible agonies of withdrawal but Nez comes out of it a changed man. He falls deeply in love with Libby. But Libby is the daughter of a tobacconist and not suitable wife material for him. Dr. Cook is also desperately in love with Libby. I won't give away the ending but the plot has a number of surprise twists. Kelly is a talented author and intertwines the light comedy and dark tragedy so smoothly. Nez, Libby, and Anthony all have deep scars and Anthony's father reveals some ugly secrets. This is an emotional book with many layered characters. I highly recommend it. My Grade: A

Miss Charley's Guided Tour is more comedy than tragedy, but it also has it's dark side. Omega Chartley was abandoned at the altar eight years ago when her fiancé, Matthew Bering, disappears and she is forced to seek a teaching position. She is touring the Cotswolds before starting a new position when she helps a runaway boy, Jamie, escape a Bow Street Runner. Jamie has been abused by his guardian and is looking for his uncle (spoiler: her former fiance, Matthew Bering) to seek refuge with. Both Jamie and Omega are now hiding from the law and they meet some wonderful characters along the way. All the characters here are three-dimensional and memorable including Jamie, Hugh, his foster daughter, Angela, and Timothy, the Bow Street Runner. There are surprises along the way and a mystery to solve before our h/h get their HEA. Kelly's characters are such 'real' people and that's what is so outstanding about her books. My Grade: B+

Dance by Judy Cuevas
I was absolutely blown away by this book! Seriously. Unfortunately, I don't think I have enough words in my vocabulary to properly describe it, but here goes. This book is set in turn of the century Paris. In the previous book, Bliss, Marie du Gard disobeys her autocratic father and leaves Nardi, Sebastien de Saint Villier's brother, at the altar and runs away to America. I LOVED the heroine, Marie, a very independent woman who now produces and directs her own films. Sebastien is a wealthy, stiff-rumped pompous ass and her father's close friend and business partner. Her father's approval and love hinged completely on Marie's obedience and when he doesn't get it, writes her out of his will. Marie deeply feels the rejection of her father. She wants his love and approval desperately, which he has transferred to Sebastien after her failed wedding. Marie is a 'modern' woman and a true non-apologetic feminist. She refuses to sacrifice her principles and independence for her father's love. I liked how Sebastien tried and failed to bully her into his bed and into marriage. She comes to him on her own terms. She's the perfect example of a strong female character that I admire and I want my daughter to read this book. Cuevas keeps her strong throughout and doesn't compromise her independence and strength to get the HEA. Cuevas' writing is superb; evocative and lush. Her words are beautiful and flow with rich sensuality. Yum. I read Bliss years ago and don't remember liking it all that well probably because I couldn't get past Nardi's ether addiction. But I really believe that I have matured as a reader in the last 5 years or so. I can better appreciate Cuevas' deeper, fuller writing. So I'm kicking myself that I returned Bliss to the UBS. I really want to read it again (wow, have you seen the prices for it, apparently it's very hard to find - drat). This one gets my highest accolades. My Grade: A

Well, that's the last of my vacation books. Back to normal (whatever that is :)


Rosario said...

Uh-oh, looks like the #$%#@ spammers have discovered you!

Anyway, Bliss are Dance are among the best books I've read lately, and I really enjoyed both. Email me about Bliss, I might be able to help you out.

Avid Reader said...

Renee, I would change your settings to not put your blog in the listings, to prevent spamming in future. That's what kept them from me thus far.[knock on wood]

I loved both Bliss and Dance and am so glad you enjoyed them. I think there is a difference in her writing before Avon, that showed an ambitious writer who wrote out of the norm. I love her voice. I also really enjoyed many others by her like Beast, The Proposition and Sleeping Beauty. I really miss her right now, when my list of favorite historical novelists is rapidly dwindling to nothing but Laura Kinsale. Take care.

ReneeW said...

Rosario - I hate those spammers! GRRR. I guess it's time to change my settings! I'll send email when I get a chance about Bliss. Thanks!

Keishon - Yes, I agree, Cuevas/Ivory has an unusual voice. I loved both Sleeping Beauty and Beast, but I haven't read The Proposition yet. I have 3 Kinsale's in my TBR and I'm saving them for when I need a treat. What's happening with Ivory? Did I read that she been ill or something?

Avid Reader said...

What's happening with Ivory? Did I read that she been ill or something?
Yes, the last I'd heard was that she was ill but working on a trilogy? I hope that's true and hope she's feeling better. Talk with you later!

Kristie (J) said...

Renee I have an extra copy of Bliss if you want to email me at for details

ReneeW said...

Kristie - You're a peach! Thanks, I'll send mail.

Wow, I haven't touched my blog in over 6 years and I'm still logged in!  Good thing because I have no idea what my password is.  In ...