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.

7 comments:

  1. I really liked this review Elanor! You gave it fair rating, while still commenting on the semi-sappy romance of it all. (No, I haven't read it, I'm just going off your review. Am I right?)
    I can't usually stand sappy romances, but, this one I might think it's okay. But, I am shocked that they would "get sick" not become ill! (Really, become ill sounds so much better.) :)
    Nice review Elanor!

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    1. Oh, yes, it's not the sappiest romance I've ever read! Probably because it must devote some attention the espionage.

      Thanks for the comment, dear!:)

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  2. Ooo this sounds like a book I would like to read!! It sounds very exciting!

    Very nice review! I totally agree about how annoying flawless hero's and heroin's are, because it makes them completely unrelatable.

    And yes every time the book is like " Uh oh! looks like our heroin is dead!" I'm like "Yeah right like you would actually kill your main character." and then of course the "dead" character ends up being right as rain :/ It's all extremely vexing!!

    I enjoyed reading this Elanor! I'm going to be looking for this book next time I go to the library!!

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    1. Yes, I think that's why I like Jane Austen so much: her heroines aren't perfect, they're relatable.

      Oh, and I'm glad I'm not the only one who feels that way about the supposed deaths of characters. "Extremely vexing" is the perfect way to put it.

      Thanks for commenting, Miss Woodhouse. Do let me know what you think of the book when you have read it!:)

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  3. Yeah everybody likes heroin's and hero's that they can relate to!

    Haha thank you!

    I definitely will!! :D

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  4. Never read this book. I think I will give it a try.

    My favorite Jane Austen-imitation book is The Dancing Master by Julie Klassen.

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    1. Thanks for commenting, Rachel. I haven't read The Dancing Master, but I might be tempted to give that one a try sometime soon. :)

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