Friday, December 29, 2006


I’ve managed to read four books over the last week or so. Three traditional Regencies and one paranormal erotica (aka the new Laurell K Hamilton).

Just Say Yes~

Written by Myretta Robens and published by Zebra in 2005,.this one has a cartoon cover which initially made me skip over it. Miss Caspar Hartwell, the vicar’s eighth daughter who was named after their only titled male relative, comes across one Geoffrey Dorton being licked to death by a large dog in a fallow field near her home. Being the eighth daughter means no dowry and Cassie isn’t afraid of hard work, so she likes Mr. Dorton and it’s ok since they’re sort of social equals. Except Mr. Dorton is actually Geoffrey Dorrington, Earl of Cheriton. Will she still love him when he reveals his true identity? Why is he playing at being a steward anyway? Will Cassie escape from the evil, slimy suitor her mother has chosen for her? Will Dorrington’s father permit his son to court a vicar’s daughter?

The Magnificent Masquerade~

Written by Elizabeth Mansfield and published twice; once by Jove in 1994 and once by Charter in 1987. This one features several chestnuts often found in this genre: the incorrigable daughter who must be married off in all haste because the parents can’t cope; the identity switch with the maid of all work, who just happens to be an impoverished nobleman’s daughter and the second son who has been busy raising hell at school and in London. However, this one involves quite a few scenes ‘behind the green baize door’ as it were. Scenes belowstairs with the servants. Ms. Mansfield reveals the hierarchy of servants’ social classes- who does what, sits where and has permission to interact with whom. Their daily schedule, etc. Fascinating stuff not often seen in romance novels. I enjoyed this novel, but it has a few too many timeworn plot devices and the time frame it too short (a little over a week).

Miss Haycroft’s Suitors~

Written by Emily Hendrickson and published by Signet in 1999 Miss Haycroft’s Suitors showcases a little legal nicety in England called a suit of seduction. Not an idea I’d seen in a Regency before, but Ms. Hendrickson discusses it briefly in her note at the end of the novel. Miss Haycroft also takes a steamboat picnic, which my daughter and I had to google just to check dates. According to Daughter, steamboats were in use in the colonies back in the mid to late 1780's. I presume they’d made their way to England by the Regency, but we didn’t do any more research into the details of steamboat history.

Anyhow. Miss Haycroft is nearing her 21st birthday and her aunt and uncle, her legal guardians, are attempting to force her into a marriage with an older stalker-type wealthy man. Impulsive and desperate Anne trusts a complete stranger to help her. Ms. Hendrickson does Justin Fairfax justice, by implying he initially helped Anne because she is attractive rather than out of plain chivalry. Anne moves into Fairfax’s aunt’s home. There follows a gothic tinged tale of attempted abduction, legal maneuvers and stolen kisses.

Mistral’s Kiss~

Written by LKH and published by Ballantine. I had to reread the previous novel, A Stroke of Midnight, before I began this one. I know LKH’s readers seem to be very polarized. Love her or hate her. No one in between. I don’t read the Anita series, so all of the baggage attached to that series doesn’t apply to me. Smartbitches wrote a post about LKH recently and the commentary was very interesting. I don’t categorize this series as romance, but rather a unique hybrid of urban fantasy and erotica. Therefore, in my mind, none of the Romanceland cliches, rules or stereotypes apply.

Merry Gentry is the niece of the current Unseelie ruler, Andais. Andais is infertile. Only fertile couples can rule in faerie, so Merry and Andais’ son Cel are supposed to be trying to prove their fertility by either becoming pregnant or impregnating someone depending on which person you’re talking about. Andais is a sadist and Cel is insane. Merry isn’t fully faerie. Therefore few of the inhabitants of faerie are pleased with Andais’ plans.

Merry has been chosen by the Goddess to be her vessel. Merry is descended from fertility goddesses, so anyone or anything the Goddess chooses to be brought back to power via Merry must be brought back through sex. Merry consistently chooses sex magic over violence or blood letting- two other ancient ritual ways of Goddess worship. So between the Goddess’ plans for Merry and Andais’ plans for Merry- she’s a busy busy girl.

Merry has brought several of her guards back to some degree of their former powers. The sithen reawakens and power invested vessels suddenly appear in her care. The Goddess has kept Merry quite busy reawakening various powers and aspects of faerie. As mentioned above, the health and fertility of the ruler directly impacts the health and fertility of all faerie- since both courts are currently ruled by infertile power hungry people, faerie is dying.

I’m hopeful that since Merry restored the fertility of Faerie by bringing the gardens back, by restoring water sources, by renewing the soil, etc. Perhaps now that Mistral’s powers have returned a little the Storm God’s lightning strikes will energize and restore the soil. You know, make it ready for planting?? And therefore help the fey get pregnant faster? In other words, maybe Merry has more of a chance to get pregnant now that the land itself is more fertile?

Ms. Hamilton’s plot arc has been quite slow across this book and the last book. Yet, I’m invested in what happens. This title doesn't stand alone, do not begin this series with this title. I enjoy delving into ancient mythology and symbolism. So I’m reasonably happy following along. However, this book was only 212 pages and $20 was pretty steep for the equivalent length of a traditional Regency. Especially considering the lack of signifigant plot advancement. I’m not irritated enough to wait until the paperbacks- but, well, we’ll see.

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