Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Thinning the children's garden

Or attempting to narrow down the choices of good children's literature to a select few for Christmas giving. Using the Horn Book Magazine a wonderful, comprehensive source of reviews of children's literature. I have collected children's literature & picture books for many years now.

Tentatively, the list of candidates is eighteen titles long, although I plan to purchase only five or six at most & only hardcovers. All are the award winners
(or short list candidates) for this year. However, I chose them because of plot synopsis, not simply award status. In no particular order the top picks are:

1. Inexcusable by Chris Lynch; winner National Book Award for Young People

2. Lizzie Bright & the Buckminster Boy by Gary Schmidt; winner of the Michael Printz Award

3.Escape From Memory by Margaret Haddix; winner of the Golden Duck Award for children's fantasy/science fiction

4. Kira, Kira by Cynthia Kadohata; winner of the Newbery Award

Choices 1 & 2 are suggested for high school & older due to content. Choices 3 & 4 are middle school & up. Just in case you are wondering.

Monday, November 28, 2005


Busy, busy, busy long holiday weekend. Traffic, surprisingly, was was steady & at speed Sunday evening. Normal Sunday traffic is heavy & slow, especially north of Massaponax, however we arrived home in good time. Today was another story though. Fortunately, it was all tourists passing through. The local roads were free flowing although the interstate was one big parking lot, particularly heading south.

My new Nephew is a teeny beanie cutie pie. Just like Daughter when she was a baby he has spread out & likes the starfish position. My sister says he eats & sleeps well (so far) & his Sibling is adjusting to the new reality as well as could be expected. Husband's family is reasonably well, although SIL will have back surgery in January. Husband's Niece is to begin preschool in the next week or so, & between you & me & the lamppost, both my SIL & Niece will benefit from the independance. Potty training & back sassing were the main topics of the weekend (the older nephew will be 5 soon & the niece will be 4 soon).

Also- the evils of northern Virginia vs Southern Virginia (we live in the northern end & the others live southside). How come Husband can't visit more often & oughtn't the children take the train to visit the family? What else? The superiority of minivans over SUVs or cars. Why we need to buy a house ASAP- preferably down the street or around the corner.

I read the following: A Rogue's Deception by Valerie King, Miss Whiting & the 7 Wards by Lynn Collum & The Bartered Heart by Nancy Butler. The first two were good not memorable or unique, but I really enjoyed the third.

Friday, November 25, 2005

T-Day, Xmas & Smoke Thief

Here's hoping your turkey day was full of good cheer, good friends & great food. If you're shopping today, I hope you keep your temper; be decisive- don't wait until later & hope it'll still be there, 'cuz it won't; find close parking places & have FUN!!

As for us, we're doing laundry & then going out for errands, supper & playing in the traffic. Tomorrow we're heading down to the parents' homes (his & mine) for turkey & the trimmings & visiting our new nephew. Sunday is likely to be spent playing in the traffic on I 95 with every other human being on the Eastern seaboard.

We've finished shopping for one of the kids & wrapped it all already. Today we're going to shop for dad. He reads this, so I won't say what Santa might bring him. The daughter is nearly finished also. Only older son & dad & stocking stuffers. Any good ideas for stuffers?

I haven't read much this last week, but have slowly piddled along in Shana Abe's The Smoke Thief. It isn't a page turner, but I've savored every word unlike many other novels in which I regularly skip many paragraphs & don't miss all that much.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Haircut saga, part 3

"Why didn't you warn me over the phone you were going to get your haircut?"

"I did call you first, but you were with a patient & never got my message."

"But that was yesterday."

"Yes, dear. I got my hair cut yesterday."

He whips around to look at me over his shoulder."YOU DID?! YESTERDAY!!" Not yelling. Shocked. "Did you keep your ponytail so I can have it as a memento?"

"Umm..actually I'd planned to donate it to Locks of Love, but I guess you can have it.." I don't mention that I find this creepy & weird.

"No, I don't really want it. You have beautiful hair & some little kid will have a gorgeous wig with your help."

Haircut Update

Husband didn't say a word! Should I be surprised or suspicious?! I fell asleep while he was doing a sudoku puzzle & felt him stroking my hair, but he didn't actually say anything. Daughter didn't notice until I leaned over to kiss her goodnight. As for younger son- he only noticed I wore a dark lipstick & couldn't care about anything else- except maybe working on his Christmas list. Maybe husband is in shock? I haven't seen him this morning, perhaps he'll corner me later?

I feel like a two year old, "Notice ME daddy! MEMEMEMEMEME!" I love it though & have spent the morning fiddling with it & hunting for grey hair. Trying to roll it up into a French twist, which is somehow mysteriously harder now that my hair is short. It's just barely long enough to French or Dutch braid leaving a teeny stub at the nape of my neck. I may have to invest in some new hair products to keep it all glued in place. Then again, why bother?

Middle Earth


To which race of Middle Earth do you belong?
brought to you by Quizilla

Hmm. Not the result I expected, but the male/female ratio of Ents definitely favors us ladies. Thank you to By the Book for this fun, time wasting, procrastinator's delight.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Shorn like a sheep

The sheep in the photo above? That was me.

So, I'm gonna 'fess up right off- I made a last minute appointment this morning & had 10" cut off my ponytail so I can donate it to Locks of Love. It took three years to grow my hair from bob length to just about down to my waist. Husband is at work & has no idea what I've done. Older son walked in the door from school & complimented me right off- score a point for teenagers everywhere!

Honestly, I feel like a new woman. I can't get used to feeling my hair swing around my face & I keep trying to toss it over my shoulder. One bad thing- I'm colder. You'd be surprised how warm your hair will keep you if it's cascading down your back.

I'll be back tomorrow unless I have to take Husband to the ER for heart ache.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Memorable Day

Anger management 101

Do not attempt assault a patron who politely asks you to keep it down- especially if said patron is several inches taller than you even though he's standing below you by one row. When the manger is brought in (by Husband) to inquire what the problem is, do not repetitively poke the manager in the chest as if she's a tree trunk & you're a woodpecker hunting for bugs. Kicking the chairs of the people in front of you & nearly yanking the chignon off of the back of her head is similarly unhelpful & childish to boot.

The fact that all of this occurred in front of his wife, his two middle school aged sons, our three children, our son's guest & myself (the chignon yanking victim), not to mention an entire theater did not concern this man at all. Finally the manager threatened to call the police & have the family evicted by force. The man took one last lunge at Husband's collar & only then did the instigator's wife insist that they leave.

So I spent the majority of the movie with my heart racing, sweating, hands shaking & in fear that this jerk would lay (lie?) in wait for us outside the theater & cause another scene. Remembering that the movie is nearly three hours long calmed me down a little, but I didn't truly relax until we returned home safe & sound.

As a consequence, I watched most of Harry Potter IV in shock & completely stressed out. Dazed & Confused as Led Zepplin famously said. I think Husband & I will see it again Wednesday- hopefully a quieter, less confrontational show.

Review: Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire

My initial impressions are that the screenwriter did an excellent job abridging the book enough to fit it in under three hours & in a way that a non reader can follow along without too much trouble. Some back history & character development was sacrificed, but there are touching scenes with Neville Longbottom & Ginny Weasley as well as Hermione Grainger & Viktor Krum all at the Yule Ball. Ralph Fiennes is superbly evil & cunning as Lord Voldemort. I missed Winky & Harry's relatives.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Checks with Commas

So, what's the deal with the Hamburger Helper commercial?! Since when does HH count as a 'home cooked meal'? I'm sure I'm being unbearably snobby & pretentious, but jeez. Yuck. That stuff is horrible.

Do you know how fun it is to write checks with commas- especially when it's someone else's money? Seriously. Even better when you're giving the money to charities helping the neediest in our community. Seven grand, spent in just under two hours. Not me by myself, the committee had five other people there to discuss who got what. It's the end of the fiscal year & if we don't spend the money they gave us we'll get less next year. Less money is a bad outcome. We want to be more generous, not stingier. That sounds awkward. I suppose I ought to say- not less generous- but that was entirely too much typing. HAHAHA

We've tickets for tomorrow's morning showing of Harry Potter IV- 11 am. I think we'll need to be seated no later than 10:30 if we all hope to sit as a group. The reviews I've seen claim much of the plot was excised & that the movie is harder to follow unless you've read the book. Supposedly the tone & visual aspect is similar to the last film, so hopefully there'll be some conitnuity.

The ten year old son has a buddy spending tonight & tomorrow. A very nice young man, he & the son have known each other for three years. Amazing from my point of view. At ten I doubt I'd known anyone outside of my family longer than a year or two. Then again, we were military & we moved often. Not that I'd change anything about my childhood, but it's good to see my own children thrive in an environment completely different from my own.

The temperatures have dropped precipitously over the past thirty six hours. Wednesday afternoon it was seventy five degrees & this morning it was in the low forties. Beautiful, classic fall weather: sunny, breezy, bright blue sky. You'd think it was September. The earth has tilted enough so that my livingroom is filled with sunshine all day & will remain so until spring. The walls are painted buttery yellow & the sun makes the whole room glow during the bleakest, darkest days. Very cheerful. Husband was correct to insist on yellow & I'm happy he did.

I'm slowly wading through Shana Abe's Smoke Thief. The story is good, but not really a compelling, compulsive page turner. So far it is typical Abe work- well executed & thoughtful.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Review: A Dark Champion by Kinley MacGregor

Those of you out there who have followed me around or visited me regularly know that I LOVE medieval novels, be they mysteries, romances, fantasy or straight fiction. I finally dug Ms. MacGregor's first Brotherhood of the Sword novel out of Mt. TBR & read it this weekend. Initially the goal was simply to get the bad taste of Above All Others out of my mouth. However, I very quickly realized that this novel was very good on its own merits.

So you have Stryder, aka Widowmaker, Earl of Blackmoor returned to the bosom of the English court after long imprisonment in Outremer (modern day Israel). You also have Lady Rowena de Vitry, pacifist, minstrel & enormously wealthy heiress. Queen Eleanor pits Lady Rowena & Lord Stryder against each other in competition even while a nefarious plot unfolds around Lord Stryder, his men & Rowena.

Rowena hides a soft heart behind her prickly & strident pacifist facade. Duty to her family is never far from her mind even as she realizes she has done a disservice to her maids & to Lord Stryder & knights in general. Stryder, for his part, is loyal to his men & his sworn oaths. Letting go of or changing some of his goals to satisfy his own needs seems disloyal & soft.

Imagine that- two adults who manage to see beyond their intitial differences & painful past histories and yet they come together & form a bond. Uh. OK. Pet peeve- weird names. STRYDER IS ARAGORN IN LORD OF THE RINGS, which predated A Dark Champion by several decades. Other than that this is one damn fine piece of fine storytelling. Or perhaps it meely felt damn fine after suffering with that other piece of crap. Whatever. If you like medievals with a little mystery thrown in try this one.

Monday, November 14, 2005

3 finishers & a DNF

This weekend I read the following:

1.An Affair of Honor
2. Miss Lacey's Last Fling (reread)
3.The Best Intentions

All of the above are the traditional Regencies written by Candice Hern for Signet. Miss Lacey's Last Fling was an accidental (meaning I'd read it years ago, but forgot it) reread. Excellent nonetheless. An Affair of Honor was ok although the villain was too obvious. Some romance authors really need to borrow a page from mystery authors & develop the list of villains a bit more. The Best Intentions was touching & deftly worked.

Started Karen Ranney's Above All Others. It ended up as a DNF because I hate the hero & the heroine. Simple as that. The Hero is controlling, manipulative man who has no problems using the heroine's naivete, poverty & status as his employee against her. She initiates a sexual relationship with the hero for no believeable reason & then "falls in love" with him within two weeks after disliking him for the previous six months. Then, after two weeks of unprotected sex, she becomes pregnant & runs away with his infant daughter just prior to a blinding blizzard. Somehow the heroine manages to hide in a small village near the estate for thirteen months. Then she is surprised when he comes along & takes both children from her.

I do not care to enumerate why this entire scenario, the hero & the heroine are just plain awful. That plot is full of every known horrid Romancelandia cliche that exists. Above All Others is compelling, page turning reading even when I decided I wasn't going to finish. I got to page 252 out of 382 before deciding I just can't take any more. I have three other books by Ms. Ranney on my keeper shelves & Generally speaking I enjoy her style & voice. This title simply wan't meant to be.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Review: The Bride Sale by Candice Hern

Verity Osborne Russell is being sold at auction in northern England when James Harkness, Baron Harkness comes upon her just before she is sold. Pitying her & disliking the idea of the young woman being indentured to the blacksmith, Baron Harkness buys her & her trunk for two hundred pounds sterling. Note: Hern gives historical background HERE, which I recommend reading before you start the book.

James Harkness suffers from trauma induced blackouts & has isolated himself on his estate other than necessary oversight of his mines & infrequent trips into town to market. Verity too is not without her wounds stemming from her odd & painful marriage & subsequent auction. Too they must somehow work out their social & working relationships that resulted from Verity's sale & her legal & marital limbo.

This is truly a romance between two adults who overcome tremendous, heartbreaking past events to establish a loving relationship based on friendship, mutual trust & desire. It seems, at first to be a very one sided relationship, but the gothic plot twist at the end surprised & satisfied me. Ms. Hern has certainly earned my respect & a coveted spot on my keeper shelf hall of fame. Run out & find one!

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Reviews & the craft of writing

The ongoing conversation about romances, the art & craft of writing, & critiques continues at Storytelling (see link on the sidebar) with Sara Donati, Robin & Candy among others. The discussion has been insightful & thought provoking, I highly recommend taking the time to read through it all including the comments.

Personally, I have never read romance for the art & craft of the writing or for the beauty of the prose or even the quality of the characterization. Pathetic, but true. IMO, there are very few examples of exemplary art & craft in the romance genre. I do not look to romance when thinking of masters of the writer's craft. Rightly or wrongly.That there is room for tremendous improvement is unquestionable.

For me, romances are like Ben & Jerry's or Pepperidge Farm Gingerbread cookies or Doritos or..name your favorite indulgence. The restrictive 'requirements'- the well hung hero, the naive innocent virgin, the HEA, the streotypes, the 6-7 plots, etc. etc. etc. You know what you're getting. The stories, regardless of sungenre, arc similarly. It's comfortable. Dependable. Like your favorite pair of shoes or the sweater that plays up your best features no matter how awful you really feel.

This is not to say I am for stagnation, sterotyping & flat unimaginative prose. By any means. After all, growth in quality & diversity means more books for us all. Who wants fewer, but badly written books? Not I.

I enjoy content based discussion & thoughtful informed critiques. I may not agree. I may disagree very strongly or agree wholeheartedly. We all have the privilege of expressing our opinions. When I write my little reviews I focus mainly on characterization & plot. Narrative voice, authorial voice & technique I do not discuss since I do not have the background to make sense of it all. As far as I'm concerned, if you as an author have not been able to completely submerge me into your world, then you have failed miserably.

As to the viscious attacks on thoughtful critiques? The inability of readers & authors to accept critiques perplexes me. The belief that only glowing, positive fangirl reviews are valid is ridiculous. While I feel that personal attacks are unnecessary & unprofessional, critiques are part & parcel of everyday professional life. Children are critiqued daily by teachers & parents. Worker bees are critiqued as part of their 'annual performance review.' Why should books be different?

I for one hope this discussion continues. I have read romance for a long time & plan to continue to do so for as many more years as I am able to carry huge piles through the bookstore. I look forward to the evolution & growth of our genre- particularly the art & craft side.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Review: The Scent of Lilacs by Barbara Hazard

I made a mistake yesterday about Sum of Me, apparently there are comments once in awhile, but not regularly. Regardless, Beth's comments are always insightful & to the point.

Review: The Scent of Lilacs by Barbara Hazard

To my delight & astonishment, I discovered a tightly plotted little gothic mystery between the staid covers of this traditional Regency. Edwin & Katherine Whittingham move into a small manor house. If at the end of thirty days they have resided in the house every night Edwin will inherit it. Luke Tremaine, the Earl of Bryce, discovers Katherine by a secluded pool in a wood bordering their properties.

Without revealing all, I will say that the plot involves several tried & true Romancelandia plot lines. However, they were revealed only at the end &, honestly, surprised me. Very well done & highly recommended.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The Art & Craft of Writing

There is ongoing conversation about the craft of writing on Sara Donati's blog, Sum of Me (the Sunday, November 6th entry) & Smart Bitches' November 7th 'Good Writing vs. Bad Writing vs. Writing you Love.' The comments on Sara Donati's blog & Smart Bitches are excellent. Sum of Me doesn't permit comments. Very insightful, well educated women commenting on the art & craft of writing as it relates especially to our favorite genre, Romance.

Personally I'm still trying to assimilate what everyone has said & maybe put an original thought or two together. I'm initimidated though, by such well spoken ladies. My family would howl with laughter at the thought I'd ever NOT have an opinion on an issue.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Just chatting

Hmmm. A mostly quiet weekend with no more than the usual amount of driving up & down I 95. Reminds me of the subtitle of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit or There and Back Again. We had dinner with friends while the kids socialized at church, I made coconut curry pork with yellow & orange bell peppers & mushrooms over rice. Other than avoiding 'the funguses' as the youngest son calls them, it was gobbled down & there weren't any leftovers (darn it).

Today the younger son has been home due to a teacher workday & tomorrow all of the kids are home due to it being a teacher workday/conference day plus being Election Day. They're off on Friday too since it's Veteran's Day. Luckily, the kids are going down to my mom's to help her paint. See the August archives if you don't think kids can do a good job painting. HAHAHA. Ok, to be fair, the older two are fine.

Am in the middle of The Bride Sale by Candice Hern. Not too sure I believe the premise, but I'm keeping at it.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Review: Beyond the Highland Mist by Karen Marie Moning

Miss Adrienne Doe, assumed name Adrienne de Simone, is whisked back in time to 1513 by one mischevous fairy court fool in order that the fae king's plot against his wife's supposed lover- one Sidheach Douglas,aka Hawk, Earl of Dalkieth.

Hawk, a man whose name lives in legend, has a mythical capacity to please women sexually & whose insatiability, arrogance & cynicism are revealed right at the start.

Adrienne, meanwhile, is an orphaned naif whose first & biggest mistake was to fall in love with a socially prominant New Orleans drug dealer who used her as a drug mule while pretending to groom her as his bride. She overhears the truth & then kills him. Thus she adopts a new name & runs to Seattle where she lives in fear & dread that the police or the drug mafia will find her & kill her. Adrienne decides that she hates all beautiful men- not manipulative men or drug dealers or native New Orleanean men. All beautiful men.

As I mentioned at the start, fairy court fool Amadan Dubh, kidnaps Adrienne & whisks her back to 1513 Scotland. There she is forced to assume the identity of Janet Comyn & is immediately wed to Hawk by proxy marriage. Once ensconced in Hawk's castle, Adrienne slowly adjusts to the 16th century, becomes close to Hawk's mother & enrages two of Hawk's former lovers by marrying him. There are murder attempts & fae interference, as well as gypsies & falling stars.

Mainly though, Adrienne & Hawk's relationship evolves very slowly as the two of them are forced into signifigant personal & marital growth due to behind the scenes plotting by the fae, the mysterious enemies trying to commit murder & King James' hatred of Hawk. I found Adrienne to be irritatingly stupid in her inability to differentiate between Hawk & the drug dealer. I also found the author's repetitive description of Hawk as 'perfect' & 'hung well enough to make a stallion blush' to be uninspired & tiresome. Not to mention painful. I certainly wouldn't have sex with such an overly endowed man.

Anyhow. Other than these minor quibbles, I find Beyond the Highland Mist to be an intense page turner, good until the last page (to paraphrase a coffee commercial). For those to whom it makes a difference, the book is written in standard American English as opposed to a God Awful fake Scottish brogue. Only a few uses of wee or lass. I did find Hawk's repeated references to 'taming' or 'gentling' Adrienne as if she were a falcon troubling, seemingly manipulative & condescending although Ms. Moning explains Hawk's point of view. As a 21st century woman it seemed a bit much to take, even if Adrienne did get her HEA.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Reviews: A Knight's Vow & Tabitha's Tangle

A Knight's Vow by Lynn Kurland, Patricia Potter, Deborah Simmons & Glynnis Campbell

As with many anthologies, I liked one alot, one was cute & funny, one was barely ok & one was a DNF. The Kurland story The Traveller was cute & funny. The Potter story The Minstrel touched my heart & I wished it was longer. The Simmons story The Bachelor Knight started with a device that didn't work (long separated childhood companions who never told each other of their feelings & then expected the other to magically be come psychic & realize their affection later in adulthood). The Bachelor Knight just barely redeemed itself at in the last few pages. An ok premise for a novel but not for a story. The Campbell story The Seige was a DNF since the heroine prejudges the hero based on his reputation as a warrior & nothing else. THEN we are expected to believe she's too claustrophobic to use the garderobe at night but is willing to flee said horrible, tyrant husband to be in an unlit, unfinished underground dirt tunnel with a single maid & a harp. Not happening.

I plan to look for novels by said authors since I think few authors can properly master short & long form writing.

Tabitha's Tangle by Emily Hendrickson

A traditional Regency featuring what I now know to be one in a family series detailing the marriages of the children of The Rev. & Mrs. Herbert. This one stars Miss Tabitha Herbert, who has been hired to catalogue the newly purchased library of one Hugh, Baron Latham, aka the 'Black Baron'. As with all short form Regencies this a play on the manners of the time. The baron is all but affianced to the Earl of Montfort's daughter Lady Susan. It quickly becomes apparent that Lady Susan & Baron Latham shan't suit at all & Miss Herbert ought to be the perfect wife.

Miss Herbert's parents are actually loving & attentive. Despite an error of judgement on her part resulting in more plot entanglements, they support her & help her achieve her goals as much as they can. Baron Latham's best friend helps things along with Lady Susan. The cat, Septimus, & a male swan help ensure both comedy & drama too.

An excellent Regency true to the period & the mores therein. The timeline was long enough to be realistic.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Escapee- or how to lose a hamster @ 3am

Now, I have to tell you husband & are very light sleepers. The hamster, Lemon Drop, was in his cage & seemed quite happy when we went to bed at 11 pm. Husband got up at 1:45 am to visit the necessary & swears he saw Lemon Drop in his cage while getting a drink of water from the kitchen. Trudges back to bed & all is well until 3 am. I heard odd little rustling noises & sort of a snapping metallic type click. Husband & I both awaken & I mutter, "Probably one of the kids going pee." Husband harumphs in my ear & rolls over to peer at the bedroom door (which is wide open). Husband climbs over me (AGAIN) to look around the house. Suddenly the lights in the hall & the livingroom switch on. Several very loud cuss words later I discover that Lemon Drop has escaped. We get his ball (the hollow ones with a lid they can explore in) & his favorite treats. The hunt begins in the litchen, where some birdseed has rolled under the dryer & some shelves. This is where we found Lemon Drop last time after he escaped from our son. While crawling around the kitchen floor in our pjs- actually, husband was in the buff, which caused howling laughter when the ten year old son walks up with the hamster in his hands. "I found Lemon Drop in my dragon castle. Why are you (to husband) naked on the kitchen floor?!"

So, how was your night?

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Review:Devil Takes A Bride by Gaelen Foley

I adore Gaelen Foley's books. I have all of the others & they're all keepers. Like the other titles in this series, it is a Regency with some gothic overtones. Overall, this book is excellent. It's well researched & has emotional depth. The vast majority of it rang true to form.

Set in England in 1817 the book opens with Elizabeth Carlisle employed as a chaperone to a dear elderly Lady. Using a false pretense, Lizzie manipulates Devlin Kimball into visiting his elderly aunt. Devlin, though angry with Lizzie, is pleased that she cares so much about his aunt. Lizzie for her part, wants nothing more of Devlin than to have him spend some time with his aunt.

Devlin, orphaned at seventeen, was sent abroad by his aunt after running wild in London for a couple of years. After spending ten years traveling the world Devlin has returned to England determined to unearth the truth behind the death of his parents so long ago. This requires some undercover sleuthing & a cover story. His chosen cover story causes his aunt & Lizzie some pain & consternation, but Devlin is convinced this is the only way to learn the truth.

Lizzie for her part, must come to terms with her lack of close, intimate family and her need and desire for a home & a family of her own. Too, Lizzie wishes to assert her independance from the Knight family. So she embarks on a career path as companion & governess with the ultimate goal of becoming a bookshop owner. Devlin has other plans for her, plans which she disgrees with. Of course, there's always Alec, who must be confronted & her feelings resloved before she can move on in any real way.

So you have a man who plays a role to uncover the truth of his parents. Who, despite his efforts to resist her, falls in love with Lizzie. You have a young woman attempting to become emotionally & financially independant & healing wounds inflicted by an unrequited love.

Will they succeed? Will Devlin tell Lizzie the truth? Can Lizzie see beyond Devlin's facade? What really happened to Devlin's parents and to what ends will the guilty parties go to protect themselves? Was it realistic of Lizzie to succumb to Devlin in a runaway carraige after he kidnaps her? Could you possibly have laughed longer or harder during the scene between Devlin, Alec & Lizzie at the girls' school?