Catching up: two historicals

>> Thursday, April 03, 2014

So, I just realised I've got a few half-written reviews that have basically fallen down the back of the sofa. For completeness' sake, and because I've got more than a touch of OCD, I'll be doing a few round-up posts. I really liked most of these books and I wish I could do proper reviews for them, but unfortunately, it's been so long since I read them that I'd have to reread them if I wanted to do so.

TITLE: The Forbidden Rose
AUTHOR: Joanna Bourne

Just like The Spymaster's Lady, which I adored, Bourne's The Forbidden Rose has spies and adventures in France just after the Revolution. The heroine, Marguerite, is a French aristocrat who's part of a secret organisation devoted to smuggling people out of the country, and she teams up with Doyle, a British spy. Both are pretending to be someone they're not, and each knows the other is doing so.

I enjoyed it. The writing was great and I enjoyed the adventure feel of the story. My only issue was that I felt Marguerite couldn't quite compare to Annique, from Spymaster's Lady. She felt a bit more passive, and wasn't quite as interesting. I did like Doyle, and particularly enjoyed one of the secondary characters, Adrian, the boy Doyle's taken on a sort of apprentice. He has the makings of a fantastic character in his own right, and I will definitely be reading his book, which Bourne has now written.


TITLE: A Lady's Lesson in Scandal
AUTHOR: Meredith Duran

A Lady's Lesson in Scandal is a terrible, generic title for a book that's really unique. Our heroine is Nell Whitby, a young woman who was brought up in the slums of London but who turns out to be the long lost heiress of an aristocratic family. Simon St. Maur is the current holder of the title, which came to him without any of the money. So the perfect solution occurs to him: if Nell marries him, he'll help her get access to the family fortune, and as her husband, he'll have access to it as well.

It sounds like a bit of a hokey setup, but the thing is, it's done with subtlety and characters who have real psychological grounding. Ok, so if a woman really had grown up in the slums and now had the chance to take her place as a heiress, how would she feel about it? How would she react? And how does a cynical man react to someone like her? We get the full thing, complete with complex feelings and motivations. Both Nell and Simon are intelligent and realistic and they fall in love with their eyes wide open. I really enjoyed it.



Christine,  3 April 2014 at 23:32  

It's funny because I feel the opposite about Annique and Maggie. I felt that. Maggie was far more in control of her life and her decisions. Annique was a teenager and Marguerite an experienced woman who had organized and was running the entire ring of "sparrows." People admired Annique for her skills and beauty but they respected Maggie. Gray really was in control of Annique almost the entire time they were together and I felt there was a huge disparity in age and power. Maggie saves Doyle and is pretty much on to him from the get go. They are so evenly matched with each other in terms of brains and skills. While I love both books dearly I felt like Maggie had far more personality and sense of self while Annique was really a creation and tool of others. She had a lot of skills but I never really felt like I got to know her apart from what she did.

Rosario 5 April 2014 at 09:42  

I think my problem was that I didn't understand Maggie the way I understood Annique. I didn't know why she was doing what she did. Funny how we feel exactly the opposite about them! Bourne is a really fantastic author!

Christine,  5 April 2014 at 16:14  

It is funny how two people can read a book and get something entirely different from it. I saw you are interested in reading Adrian's story (The Black Hawk) which is excellent and I highly recommend! I would suggest either rereading or glancing through Spymasters Lady and reading My Lord And Spymaster first as he appears significantly in both and they give you a background on his life and the relationship in TBH. I think it will mean more and make a lot more sense if you do. Even though they were written out of order chronologically speaking, the chronological order is Forbidden Rose, Spymasters Lady, My Lord And Spymaster and The Black Hawk. Doyle and Adrian play parts in all the books.

Christine,  5 April 2014 at 16:22  

I also meant to comment about A Lady's Lesson In Scandal. It really enjoyed this book and I think I would say it is my favorite amongst all the Duran books I have read (and I think I have read all except the newest which is sitting on my kindle).
I thought she did a good job of trying to portray how the working poor were living at the time. The only criticism I would have is that having grown up under those conditions it would take more than some meals and baths before she looked as good as her sister who was raised in wealth. Perhaps this is because I have been reading "Call The Midwife" which is set in the 1950's in London and poor people were still living not unlike they were in the 19th century. Rickets and other preventable diseases were still pretty common despite only needing a regular dose of sunlight to prevent it! Otherwise I really enjoyed this book and thought the hero and heroine were both great characters.

Rosario 6 April 2014 at 08:16  

Christine: I will do that. I really need to try to keep up with series, especially ones I really like, such as this one. I'm forever rereading stuff just to be able to read the latest in a series.

I think you might be right about A Lady's Lesson in Scandal. I just told myself she was young enough that maybe she would still have all her teeth, and things like that, but I don't know how likely that actually is!

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