Saturday, July 15, 2017

A Spy's Devotion | Book Review

Image result for a spy's devotion by melanie dickerson
     
     You've seen it before: writers inspired by Jane Austen to write a Regency-era romance.  But they never quite get it exactly right, do they?  I mean, no one will ever be able to equal Jane Austen.  But, of course, that goes without saying.  Well, even if that's so, Melanie Dickerson did come up with one of the most satifactory Austen-imitation novels I have read in a while.  (It was much better than the Julie Klassen I read last summer.)  
     
      In England's Regency era, manners and elegance reign in public life--but behind closed doors treason and deception thrive.  Nicholas Langdon is no stranger to reserved civility and bloody barbarity.  After suffering a battlefield injury, the wealthy, well-connected British officer returns home to heal--and to fulfill a dying soldier's last wish by delivering his coded diary.

      At the home of the Wilherns, one of England's most powerful families, Langdon attends a lavish ball where he meets their beautiful and intelligent ward, Julia Grey.  Determined to maintain propriety, he keeps his distance--until the diary is stolen and all clues lead to Julia's guardian.  As Langdon traces an evil plot that could be the nation's undoing, he grows ever more intrigued by the lovely young woman.  And when Julia realizes that England--and the man she is falling in love with--need her help, she finds herself caught in the fray.  Will the two succumb to their attraction while fighting to save their country?*

     Hmmm...will they?  I don't know!  (Please note the tone of sarcasm there.  Is it just me, or are books like this always super predictable???)
Image result for a spy's devotion by melanie dickerson 
     I'll give it to Ms. Dickerson.  The plot is original.  Although, I will add she used some obvious parallels to Mansfield Park.  There were a few holes I noticed and a couple loose ends, but the book was fairly good.  It was well-written, if rather more in the style of a YA than a classic.   (However, I would like to point out that people "become ill"; they don't "get sick".  Especially if they are in historical England's high society.)

     I did enjoy reading it.  There were a few good, heart-pounding moments woven throughout the pages.  The ending, though, as I said was too predictable.  Sometimes it bothers me when the author dangles the main character's life in my face, like "Oh, no!  This is the end!  Will they even survive?"  And I'm simply turning the pages, rolling my eyes with a smirk and thinking "Of course, they're not going to die.  You would never let that happen, and it amuses me that you think your readers would actually wonder if you might."  (Am I the only one?)  But it's all good, because I do prefer happy endings, after all.

     The characters were fairly well-portrayed and developed.  Everyone had a different personality and behaved characteristically throughout the whole story.  My favorite was Felicity Mayson, a background character; I really feel like she didn't get enough say in the story.  (Oh, wait, not to worry.  The third book in the trilogy is all about her.)  Julia and Nicholas were fine characters.  (Though sometimes I wish modern authors would keep the physical descriptions to a minimum.  I mean, maybe I am too picky, but you never hear Elizabeth thinking to herself "how attractive it is that Mr. Darcy hasn't shaved in a day or two".  *eyeroll*)  But to give Julia a little more credit, she did assert that character was more important than physical beauty.   All in all, I can't say anything really bad about them.  The good guys were good, but not perfect; the villains were perfectly sinister.  Just as it should be.
(Yet I will criticize a bit more and say that it is quite convenient how the hero and heroine are always absolutely flawless supermodels.  You know?  Reminds me of Jane Austen's own words:)

Image result for jane austen quotes 

     There was really no objectionable content, so I have nothing to say on that score.  All of the manners and traditions which would have been correct in the setting were observed by the characters, which I was pleased with.  (Excepting maybe once or twice, but it wasn't ridiculously historically inaccurate like other Austen-imitation novels I have read.)  Spying in order to save General Wellington was, obviously, fictional, and there I am not certain how common such things like espionage were among the elite society of the Regency era.  However, I trust the author researched that.

     I rated this 3 okay, 4/5 stars.  I really did like the book.  It is sometimes fun to read a sappy romance sprinkled with mystery and intrigue with *spoiler warning?* an attempted murder thrown in.

     So, yes, I will probably read the rest of the trilogy.  (Although, I didn't care for the character of Leorah Langdon very much, and she's the heroine of book #2.)

*synopsis taken from the back of the book

     Have you read this book?  What did you think of it?
     Or, if you haven't, comment below and tell me what your favorite Austen-imitation novel is.

Friday, July 07, 2017

Fictional Characters Tag

     Hello, everybody!  Lovely Friday, is it not?  I am about three chapters away from finishing A Spy's Devotion, which is a regency romance that I have been reading for the past few days.  I plan to finish it tonight after I post this.  I also have to finish my list of period dramas I haven't seen and need want to.  In other news, my youngest sister has been away at camp this week, but she comes home tomorrow and I am quite glad.  I have missed her.  
     And, goodness, I'll be lucky if I actually get this post up tonight.  The WiFi here has been awful the past couple days.   (I just heard Meg March in my head, "Jo, please don't say 'awful'; it's slang.")
     Oh, dear.  My apologies for the rambling.  MovieCritic tagged me with this a good while ago and I am finally getting around to it.  If you don't know, this is me comparing myself to four fictional characters that I find to be...like myself in certain ways.  That's not the best explanation, I know.  So, without further ado, I give you The Fictional Characters Tag.

1. Belle

     Cinderella is by far my favorite princess, but I do think I am more like Belle in plenty of ways.  For one thing, I LOVE books.  Good books.  That's obvious, right?  For another, I feel like a lot of people around me think I am 'odd'.  I'm a bit preoccupied and daydream-y from time to time.  And I just don't seem to fit in with most cliques.  Finally, everytime I hear Belle sing "I want adventure in the great wide somewhere...I want so much more..." etc., my heart sings out "Me too!".

2. Anne Shirley


     I believe I have compared myself to Anne before.  But let's rehash.  I am constantly doing something awkward or making a goofy mistake because I was lost in thought, not paying attention, or simply not thinking.  I am a bit of a hopeless romantic, too.  (I say 'a bit'  but, okay, I just am a hopeless romantic.)  I also tend to be rather idealistic, and some day I think I'll find, just like Anne, that what I was really looking for was right in front of me the whole time.  Maybe.

3. Elinor Dashwood


     This likeness I discovered through an online quiz and couldn't help but agree.  Perhaps I am romantic and 'daydream-y', as I said, but I can be sensible and careful, too, when it is really important.  I have also been known to mother-hen everybody, being overly concerned about others.  I'm also fairly reserved and quiet when it comes to my thoughts and feelings.

Yes, I may have thoughts and feelings like Anne, but I do not wear them on my sleeve as she does.

 4. Meriadoc Brandybuck


     Here's the most surprising one, I am sure, but as I was considering my fourth choice, he came to mind and the more I thought about it...yeah.   See, Merry and I are both kind of in the background a lot, but we can be loyal and courageous, too.  It may not be obvious at first, but he and I both have what it takes to be a hero (or heroine, in my case).  And like him, I may be underestimated because I am short, but I am passionate about what I believe in.

     So there you have it.  Four fictional characters I really relate to.  I hope I proved my case satisfactorily ;-)  Thanks for the tag, MovieCritic.
     Speaking of her, MovieCritic is actually hosting the Robin Hood BBC watch-along that is going on right now.  Be sure to hop over to her blog and join in the fun!

    Have a lovely weekend, everyone.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Cordy's Jane Austen Would You Rather


     I discovered this lovely game of would you rather -- Austen style -- over on Cordy's blog, Write On, Cordy!  I'm so excited to play, so let's get to it!

 1. Would you rather summer at Abbey Mill Farm with the Martins or spend the winter in London with your aunt and uncle?

     London.  I'm definitely more of a hustle-'n'-bustle-loving city girl.  I think visiting the Martins' farm would be pleasant, of course, but I wouldn't spend an entire summer there.
 
2. Would you rather be carried away in the moment and insult someone in company or be overcome by horrid imaginings and have to confess your thoughts to someone you admire?


     I suppose, if I have to choose, I would rather embarrass myself than insult someone in public. 
 
3. Would you rather marry Mr. Bingley or Robert Martin?


     Probably Mr. Bingley.  He seems like such a fun guy.  Robert Martin, as nice as I'm sure he is, seems too serious for me.  (Not that that's a bad thing.)


4. Would you rather tour the lake country or visit the seaside?

      The seaside, definitely!  I am so in love with the seaside.
 
5. Would you rather entertain Miss Bates or Mr. Collins in conversations?


      Oh, Miss Bates, to be sure!  She may talk as incessantly as Mr. Collins, but at least she's a kind and well-meaning woman.  Mr. Collins can be so annoying.
 
6. Would you rather sing a musical piece at a gathering while hiccuping every other line or take a great tumble while dancing?


     Oh, dear.  I suppose I'd prefer...I don't know!  Goodness, I'd be embarrassed either way.  I'll go with the hiccups while singing, though.  I might be able to work with that.  I'd hate to fall in the middle of a dance and appear clumsy!


7. Would you rather be deceived by Willoughby or Wickham?

     I have to say Willoughby.  He never seemed so spiteful and vindictive as Mr. Wickham.  At least, to me.
 
8. Would you rather fall head over heels in love with a man who turns out to be engaged or fall for a man too busy loving someone else to notice you?


     The former.  At least that way he made the engagement before he fell in love with me, rather than making me feel like a fallback after publicly displaying affection for someone else.  If that makes sense.  Pretty much what Cordy said.
 
9. Would you rather ride in a carriage or upon a horse to an evening party?


     In a carriage.  I wouldn't want to soil my dress, now would I? ;-)

 
10. Would you rather accept advice from Mrs. Weston or Elinor Dashwood?

     Oh, I don't know...either one would be fine.  Perhaps Mrs. Weston because she's not so blunt as Elinor.
 
11. Would you rather have as a companion Jane Fairfax or Charlotte Lucas?


     Jane Farifax.  I definitely have more of a soft spot for her.  

   Thanks for the fun game, Cordy! :-)