Magic, Cannibalism and Christmas

>> Monday, July 27, 2009

TITLE: Simply Magic
AUTHOR: Mary Balogh

This was a bit of a disappointment. It had nice characters and a sweet relationship, but frankly, it was also a little bit boring.

It's the third book of Balogh's Simply series, which tells the story of four teachers from a girls' school. Simply Magic is about Susannah, a former charity pupil of the school who's stayed on after she finished her schooling. On a visit to one of her former colleagues (heroine of an earlier book of the series, of course), Susannah meets Peter, Viscount Whitleaf. She's predisposed to dislike him, as another Whitleaf was responsible for her father's death, which left her destitute. However, Peter is such a lovely person that Susannah can't stay aloof towards him. Before long, friendship has led to something more, but is the social gulf between them too wide to do anything about it?

Now, I like Beta heroes and couldn't disagree more with those who think only an alpha can be interesting. I was ready to love Peter, and I should have. He really is nice, a guy who truly likes and respects women (especially appreciated in a genre where some authors seem to think that despising all women other than the heroine is an attractive trait in a hero). Unfortunately, this particular lovely beta is stuck in a romance that is quite blah. Not every book needs to be a page-turner, and I quite enjoyed the time I spent reading this quiet, sweet book, but I can't deny it was quite unmemorable.


TITLE: A History of Cannibalism: From Ancient Cultures to Survival Stories and Modern Psychopaths
AUTHOR: Nathan Constantine

Read when I was in a bit of a morbid mood.

"So why do people do it? Why .... have people done it? There are three essential reasons: duty, desperation and desire. Or, put another way, because they ought to, need to or want to." The book is basically Constantine exploring each of the three, as well as their overlaps.

Quite interesting stuff, but sometimes the balance between anthropological analysis and anecdote was a bit iffy. In the "because they want to" section, for instance, I got the feeling the author was taking a little bit too much pleasure on gorey detail.

Still, some good stuff.

MY GRADE: Another B-.

TITLE: His Christmas Bride
AUTHOR: Helen Brooks

Helen Brooks is one of the very few Presents authors I read (thanks to Jane's recs -and I think this particular book was actually one of them). His Christmas Bride pairs a heroine with trust issues with a hero who is determined to get through them.

Blossom is still recovering from a very bad marriage, one in which the husband she loved was just with her because of what she could do for him professional. It was clearly bad enough that her reluctance to trust another man again is perfectly understandable. Zak is her brother-in-law's boss, and when he meets Blossom he falls for her completely, deciding to do anything to show her he's different from the scum she married.

I liked it because Zak's tactics for winning Blossom are the opposite of the sledgehammer approach many alpha heroes seem to take. Rather than trying to steamroll her into anything, he determines to prove his character through his actions, and their courtship basically involves Zak being steadfast and not giving up, and them actually having conversations about things. It was just lovely, and this was one couple I truly thought would work.



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