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REVIEW: Like No Other Lover by Julie Ann Long

Dear Ms. Long,

You have been one of the most reliable of historical romance authors for me for the past several years, during a time when historical romances were a bit scarce and their charms had begun to pall a little. I have read five of your previous six books (omitting only To Love a Thief), and my grades included two A-, a B, a B- and a C+. The lower of these grades does not reflect the fact that even the more average of your books have a charm and a verve that I truly appreciate.

Your latest is loosely connected to your last book, The Perils of Pleasure – the hero of this book is Miles Redmond, of the family that are age old nemeses and country neighbors of the Everseas (the hero of TPOP was Colin Eversea). Several characters were introduced in this book who led me to believe that we will be seeing more of the Redmonds and the Everseas in the future.

Miles Redmond is a scientist and naturalist, recently returned from an expedition to Lacao (I’m not sure if that is supposed to be a real place or not. Googling brings up an Isle Lacao in Chile, but it seems fairly obscure, and the book refers to Lacao being in the South Seas, which even this geography idiot knows Chile is not). He has returned to England, hoping to cadge funds for a new expedition from his stern father. In the village tavern, he encounters his sister Violet (irrepressible and minxish, Violet seems a likely candidate for a book of her own at some point) in the company of one Cynthia Brightly.

Cynthia and Miles have a history, though Cynthia is herself not aware of it. At a ball several years earlier, Miles had spotted Cynthia and fallen quickly and uncharacteristically into a strong infatuation with her. Before he could introduce himself, however, he overheard Cynthia chattering about the wealth of various prospective suitors, and then making disparaging remarks about Miles himself. Why should she "settle for a dour second son", when she believes she can snag an heir, perhaps even an earl?

So, when Miles comes across Cynthia at the Pig & Thistle, he is none too pleased. Even less so when he realizes that Cynthia Brightly has come to stay for a house party his parents have planned, and that his parents have been called away on family business, leaving Miles as the host. Miles is also concerned because he realizes that Cynthia’s presence in the country means that some scandal has forced her from London.

Cynthia Brightly is in dire straits. If she doesn’t find a husband at this house party, she’ll be forced to travel to Northumberland and accept employment as a companion to the odious Mrs. Mundi-Dickson. Actually, Cynthia hasn’t even been offered that position yet; if she doesn’t find a husband or get offered a position with Mrs. Mundi-Dickson, her circumstances look even worse.

Cynthia has looks and charm, though, and she knows it. She sets her sights on Miles Redmond immediately; her standards are a lot lower than they were at their previous almost-meeting. But, of course, Miles is on to her, and anyway, he has been set the task of pursuing another woman; if he marries Lady Georgiana her father may very well fund his next expedition.

Miles, to his own surprise as much as Cynthia’s, offers her a deal: a kiss in exchange for useful information on the eligible men attending the house party. Cynthia accepts, and it will come as no surprise to romance readers that the kiss ends up being more than either of them bargained for.

But bargain they did, and a deal is a deal. Cynthia begins pursuing Lord Milthorpe, an older bachelor whose main interests are hunting and dogs, in earnest. She also has her eye on Lord Argosy, who has the advantage of being younger and more attractive, if a bit more callow, than her other potential suitor.

The plot of Like No Other Lover is quite simple. There are no spies running around or secrets to uncover – just a house party with various characters (another, Lady Middlebough, is trying to arrange a liaison with Miles) interacting with each other. This is both the strength and the weakness of the book. I appreciated the focus on the characters and the simplicity of the story. But for it to really work, the characterizations need to be really strong, and that’s where I think Like No Other Lover falls a bit short. Miles is an appealing, if somewhat familiar, hero – the bespectacled scientific type (though he apparently does all right with women; Miles is not quite a Nerd Hero). Cynthia is rather more unique – here is a heroine who is fairly unrepentantly mercenary in her pursuit of a husband. She has made some mistakes that lead to her fall from grace in London. I really liked the way that Cynthia’s situation was handled – she is not depicted as a martyr. Thankfully, she doesn’t have a blind sister, a couple of young brothers, or a ragtag band of child pickpockets that she has to provide for. Cynthia has herself, and she’s looking out for herself. She wants a nice life. She doesn’t WANT to have to go to Northumberland and be a companion to odious Mrs. Mundi-Dickson. Who would? At the same time, when Miles comes to realize that Cynthia’s behavior is motivated by true desperation, he tells her that what she is doing is wrong. She is trying to make men believe she has fallen in love with them, and that is wrong, even if her motives are understandable. I liked the way that conflict was delineated. Cynthia is not presented as being awful or immoral for her behavior, but at the same time she is behaving in a less than admirable way, and she needs to realize it. Still, it’s an emotional moment when Miles understands what’s at stake for Cynthia:

She was breathing heavier now. "This is not a game." Her voice was shaking a little.

"Not a game!" He gave a short laugh. ""Oh, Mr. Redmond,’" he falsettoed. ""You’re so inter ­ ­-’"

She flew at him before he could dodge and thumped one of her fists against his chest. "It’s not a game for me!"

"Christ! Cynthia-"

"It’s not a game." She hit him again. A good one. The third time she tried it, he captured her hands and held her fast, and it was like holding a trapped wild creature. She was remarkably strong for someone so small.

"You-You with your money and your bloody grandeur and your family and history. It’s all very well for you and Violet to play at romance. It will be all right in the end, of course. But I’ve none of that. None. I’ve no one. And you’ve gone and played dice with my future. Why shouldn’t I have what Violet will have? What you will have so easily? Why shouldn’t I?"

Sometimes I think that the plot of a romance is just there to distract me from what I know to be the inevitable HEA. How successful the distraction is determines how successful the book is. Often times in historical romance, the distraction involves spies and plots, but since I set out to read a romance, not a spy thriller, this does not usually work for me. Ideally, the distraction comes in the way of believable conflict and gorgeous prose. The conflict in Like No Other Lover was believable enough, but it just wasn’t totally strong enough to divert me from the predictable conclusion. Nor was the prose, though excellent in parts, enough to entirely distract me. The characterization wasn’t novel or deep enough to distract me.

That doesn’t mean that this was not a well-written, pleasant book; it was. The interactions between the hero and heroine had a lot of charm and sexual tension. I liked that they recognized their love for each other well before the end; I get sick of self-deluding heroes and heroines.

All in all, if Like No Other Lover does not transcend the boundaries of the genre, it is a better than average example of a historical romance. My grade: B.

Jennie

This book can be purchased in mass market from Amazon or Powells or ebook format.

has been an avid if often frustrated romance reader for the past 15 years. In that time she's read a lot of good romances, a few great ones, and, unfortunately, a whole lot of dreck. Many of her favorite authors (Ivory, Kinsale, Gaffney, Williamson, Ibbotson) have moved onto other genres or produce new books only rarely, so she's had to expand her horizons a bit. Newer authors she enjoys include Julie Ann Long, Megan Hart and J.R. Ward, and she eagerly anticipates each new Sookie Stackhouse novel. Strong prose and characterization go a long way with her, though if they are combined with an unusual plot or setting, all the better. When she's not reading romance she can usually be found reading historical non-fiction.

22 Comments

  1. Elle
    Oct 27, 2008 @ 09:23:03

    Nice review, Jennie. I also find Julie Anne Long to be one of the most reliable of the current crop of historical romance authors. But I must ask which of her books got which grades from you, and why you haven’t ever read “To Love A Thief”? (The latter is one of her most popular books, I believe, although it doesn’t happen to be one of my favorites.)

  2. Michelle
    Oct 27, 2008 @ 09:36:32

    I haven’t read the review yet because I like to do that after I’ve read the book if I know it’s a book I’m going to read. That said, read “To Love a Thief”. It’s very, very good. I think it would be one of her highest grades in terms of reviews.

  3. Robin/Janet
    Oct 27, 2008 @ 12:39:43

    But for it to really work, the characterizations need to be really strong, and that's where I think Like No Other Lover falls a bit short.

    That I feel differently is probably why this book is easily an A- for me. I loooooved it, and I especially loved the quality of the prose and what I felt was an impressive depth of characterization, especially for Cynthia. This book accomplished what two other books it reminded me of — Chase’s Not Quite A Lady and Kleypas’s Secrets of A Summer Night — didn’t.

    I thought Long did a wonderful job at slowly eroding both Cynthia and Miles’s resistance to the trouble their attraction would cause them both and that she did a fabulous job at portraying the different facets of the typical goldigging miss. I loved that Cynthia is a woman of great natural charisma that she doesn’t really understand. I loved that she’s flawed and smart and calculated in ways that don’t make her unkind. I loved that she really brought out the best in her suitors and that she honestly wanted to like them and see them as good men. I loved that Miles is no chaste missish egghead himself, that he can be equally calculated and perhaps more cynical than Cynthia.

    I thought the melodrama of both the prose and the emotions worked really well, that it heightened rather than cheapened the emotionalism these two worked hard to suppress. I feel that Long has finally realized the promise of interesting and affecting prose that I saw intermittently and imperfectly in Beauty and The Spy. Except for the fact that the statue incident reminded me too much of “The Wedding Planner,” I thought the humor was natural and not overdone. The way the insect metaphors worked (the riff on the black widow, the web motif) was clever, even the kitten charmed me. And, as I said already, the prose impressed and moved me, as well.

    I loved this bit, for example:

    And for a moment he seemed mesmerized. Gazing down at her, not blinking at all, as his smile slowly faded. “Yes,” he said. The word was faintly surprised and soft as cobwebs. And full of his heart.

    and this:

    She hesitated on the threshold of her room. Then ventured over to the window and peered into the corner of it. She knew a peculiar relief that the web was still there and still intact.

    Such a fragile way to sustain a whole life: on a web one weaves for oneself.

    Then again, it wasn’t much more certain than the way she’d built her own.
    She blew gently on the web; it fluttered. The spider scurried forward and then stopped and waved two arms at her, like a gentleman hailing a hackney or a shopkeeper railing at a thieving urchin.

    “Sorry to disturb you, Susan.” It pleased her to give the spider a pretty name. “Good night.”

    Susan the spider quieted and seemed to regard her for a moment. Then she backed up into her corner and perhaps nodded off. It was difficult to know, given that she was a spider.

    Mr. Redmond would likely know.

    Cynthia had watched him stride from the room that evening, and she’d felt it almost physically, as though he were pulling her along with him. She pictured him today, steering people away from that grand web.

    And she went still, breathless with a rush of understanding: she suddenly saw that Miles Redmond saw the world as little worlds within worlds. Everything-’spiders, people, plants that ate animals-’were both separate and connected, living the intricacies and beauties and violence of life, woven together like a web.

    And this, too, was why, even when he was quiet, when he was still, he seemed to contain worlds. To feel vast.

    Because everything matters, he’d said.

    The book just felt so *vivid* to me, I guess, and in such a good way, that I could barely tear myself away once I had started reading.

  4. Deb Kinnard
    Oct 27, 2008 @ 20:05:39

    Haven’t read it yet, probably will pick it up due to this review.

    But: Le Cow? The Pig and Thistle? Methinks tongue was inserted quite firmly in authorly cheek…

  5. Jennie
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 01:50:22

    But I must ask which of her books got which grades from you, and why you haven't ever read “To Love A Thief”? (The latter is one of her most popular books, I believe, although it doesn't happen to be one of my favorites.)

    “Beauty and the Spy” and “Ways to be Wicked” were the two I gave A minuses to. “The Runaway Duke” was the C+, “The Secret to Seduction” was the B, and “The Perils of Pleasure” was the B-. I need to pick up a copy of “To Love a Thief” – I started reading her with “Beauty and the Spy”, and have read all of her new books since then, but since I was a bit disappointed with “The Runaway Duke”, I guess I wasn’t in such a hurry to try “To Love A Thief”, since it was an earlier book, too. Though looking at my grades for her, it doesn’t seem like it’s really a matter of her later books being better – she’s a bit up and down for me.

    I also think I grade her a little hard. I think she has a lot of talent and so maybe I expect her to be able to produce A’s for me? She’s one of those authors I kind of grade against herself – if I had only read, say, “The Perils of Pleasure”, I probably would’ve graded it a B or higher. I think it can be hard for me with particularly talented authors not to judge them against their own best work.

  6. Jennie
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 01:51:41

    Robin, for whatever reason, it just didn’t quite come alive that way for me, though I did really like Cynthia and thought she was given the greater depth of the two. I’m glad you mentioned the spider bit, because I really liked that, too.

  7. Janine
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 07:45:59

    “Beauty and the Spy” and “Ways to be Wicked” were the two I gave A minuses to. “The Runaway Duke” was the C+, “The Secret to Seduction” was the B, and “The Perils of Pleasure” was the B-.

    I gave A-’s to Beauty and the Spy and The Secret to Seduction, and B’s to Ways to be Wicked and The Perils of Pleasure. So our grades are pretty similar, except for the flip between The Secret to Seduction and Ways to be Wicked. I haven’t read Like No Other Lover yet, but when Long is on, she is really on. Among the best out there.

  8. Elle
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 21:39:13

    “Beauty and the Spy” and “Ways to be Wicked” were the two I gave A minuses to. “The Runaway Duke” was the C+, “The Secret to Seduction” was the B, and “The Perils of Pleasure” was the B-.

    I liked The Perils of Pleasure a lot more than you did, but otherwise I would agree with your grades. I started reading Long’s books with The Runaway Duke, which I thought was OK, but nothing spectacular. Based upon that experience, I mentally pigeon-holed Long with the likes of Julia Quinn (i.e. as an author who writes books that others like more than I do.) For that reason (and because I have read about a zillion historical romances in which the heroine first meets the hero while attempting to pick his pocket), I did not read To Love A Thief when it first came out. I went back and read it after finishing the triology about the three sisters, and really liking those books.

    I would be interested in hearing your comments about TLAT if you ever get around to reading it Jennie. It was a little too cliche-ridden for my taste, IIRC. Actually, I have trouble remembering much about the story itself, since I am mixing it up with a number of other historical romances that I have read with (miraculously) virginal, (stunningly) beautiful pickpocket heroines from St. Giles, who are only stealing to support starving younger siblings or orphans.

  9. Jennie
    Oct 29, 2008 @ 02:02:26

    Elle, I’m sure I’ll get to it at some point. The cliches will probably make me roll my eyes, but at least I’ll be able to enjoy Long’s prose.

  10. Michelle
    Nov 01, 2008 @ 16:03:50

    I just finished this and overall really liked it. It had a slow start for me – all very surface and similar to other stuff – particularly the characters – but the further I got into it = the deeper it got and the more I liked it. I thought Cynthia was a really interesting character, and I also liked the insect metaphors. I didn’t think we got as deep into the hero. I really understood Cynthia and why she acted the way she did, but I didn’t get the same depth of understanding with Miles. All that said, I’m sure I’ll do my best to buy JAL’s next book the day it comes out.

  11. Elle
    Nov 03, 2008 @ 21:42:03

    I just finished this book, and I liked it more than you did, Jennie. Actually, my reactions seem to be more in line with Robin’s in this case.

    I was also reminded of Kleypas’s Secrets of A Summer Night when reading Like No Other Lover since both feature beautiful, fortune-hunting heroines. As a heroine, Cynthia worked much better for me than SOASN’s Annabel since Cynthia seemed much smarter and more self-aware. What really made Cynthia come alive for me was her restlessness juxtaposed with her determination to marry well. I also loved her streak of mischief. Her charm and vivacity is part of what made her so attractive to men, and in comparison Annabel seemed very bland to me.

    I thought that Miles was a well-drawn character as well, although I felt that he had a lot of nerve criticizing Cynthia for trying to marry for money when he was essentially planning to marry Lady Georgina to please his father and get funding for his next expedition to Lacao. I did think that Cynthia stepped a little bit out of character at the end of the book (and got more romance-heroine-ish than she had been up until that point), but I liked the way that sacrifices *did* have to be made for the HEA.

  12. RfP
    Nov 03, 2008 @ 22:42:24

    There are no spies running around or secrets to uncover – just a house party with various characters… interacting with each other. This is both the strength and the weakness of the book.

    Hmm, I might like this one. I thought Secret to Seduction lost traction when it left the country house. It had some excellent scenes focused closely on a few characters, but once it had to deal with the outside world, the plot and setting weren’t as strong. I’ve meant to try her again, so maybe this is the one.

  13. Jennie
    Nov 04, 2008 @ 00:53:25

    I thought that Miles was a well-drawn character as well, although I felt that he had a lot of nerve criticizing Cynthia for trying to marry for money when he was essentially planning to marry Lady Georgina to please his father and get funding for his next expedition to Lacao.

    Well, I was going to say that maybe Miles objected because at least he wasn’t trying to make Georgina fall in love with him – he was courting her, but not necessarily deceiving her. Of course, she was in love with him already, so in a way, what he was doing was worse. But I don’t think Miles knew that Georgina was infatuated with him, so maybe the whole thing was a wash.

  14. Elle
    Nov 04, 2008 @ 14:13:39

    Well, I was going to say that maybe Miles objected because at least he wasn't trying to make Georgina fall in love with him – he was courting her, but not necessarily deceiving her. Of course, she was in love with him already, so in a way, what he was doing was worse. But I don't think Miles knew that Georgina was infatuated with him, so maybe the whole thing was a wash.

    Yes, but Miles main motive for courting Georgina was as a means to an end–basically to fund his real passion of exploration. The “preference” that he was showing to her at the house party was as false in its way as the fortune-hunting that Cynthia was engaging in, since Miles was busy arranging assignations with lusty Lady Middlebough, and fooling around with Cynthia.

    True, he never pretended to be interested in things in which he was not in order to ensnare Georgina, as Cynthia did to engage the interest of her suitors (although, ironically, *Georgina* did so to try to please Miles.) But at least Cynthia seemed to feel that she would be honor-bound to keep playing the same role if she ever did manage to land one of her suitors on false pretenses. I certainly agree that she was being more than a little underhanded in her methods, but I also think that Miles was not such a paragon of virtue himself.

  15. Jennie
    Nov 04, 2008 @ 19:10:22

    Oh, I certainly didn’t think Miles was a paragon of virtue, and I wouldn’t have minded if he had acknowledged the parallels between what the two of them were doing more explicitly.

    I think one reason I wasn’t *as* bothered as I might normally be by the double standard was that I saw Miles as having a pre-existing reason to take issue with Cynthia’s mercenary ways, having been sort of inadvertently slapped in the face with it several years earlier. While later on he seemed sincere in telling Cynthia that he thought she was doing wrong, early on, I thought much of his judgment was the result of plain old jealousy and resentment, which made it slightly more palatable for me.

  16. Robin
    Nov 04, 2008 @ 20:54:00

    One of the things I loved about the relationship between Cynthia and Miles was the total hypocrisy he exhibited in dressing Cynthia down for her mercenary ways, not only for the reasons Elle specifies, but also because he was so horrible himself when he plays that dirty trick on her regarding Mr. Goodkind (the names are wonderful!). That was just plain awful of him, passive aggressive at best, and an exhibition of exactly what Cynthia *isn’t* doing in her husband hunt (lying to these men and trapping them).

    I don’t think we’re supposed to see anything but flat out jealousy and prideful hypocrisy in Miles’s judgments of Cynthia. In fact, one of the reasons I liked it so much was that it IMO created much more subtlety in how we saw Cynthia. Instead of seeing her through the adoring eyes of the hero, we see her first through his rejected eyes, then his jealous eyes, then his lusty eyes, and so forth. Cynthia unfolds as a character through all the ways in which Miles does and does not understand her or judge her correctly, and that really worked for me. For me, at least, it added depth to both Miles and Cynthia’s characters.

  17. Elle
    Nov 04, 2008 @ 23:45:57

    Oh, I certainly didn't think Miles was a paragon of virtue, and I wouldn't have minded if he had acknowledged the parallels between what the two of them were doing more explicitly.

    I agree with this, Jennie. Miles did muse once or twice about how his own financially motivated pursuit of Georgina, and Cynthia’s hunt for a wealthy husband were not so dissimilar, but he still felt justified in scolding her for thinking of people in terms of money. Your observation is correct in that a lot of his more spiteful remarks to her are motivated by his own hurt pride and jealousy. He *loves* having the upper hand with her at the beginning of the story and telling her that she is definitely not good enough for *him*, since he is the Redmond heir (perfect vengeance for the injury dealt to his pride by her off-hand dismissal of him at that first ball.)

    I was actually very sympathetic to Cynthia’s husband-hunting, since she was motivated by desperation. What did you think of her actions at the end of the story? In character or out of character for her? Do you think that it was necessary for the storyline for her to be the one to make the first grand gesture for love?

    I don't think we're supposed to see anything but flat out jealousy and prideful hypocrisy in Miles's judgments of Cynthia. In fact, one of the reasons I liked it so much was that it IMO created much more subtlety in how we saw Cynthia. Instead of seeing her through the adoring eyes of the hero, we see her first through his rejected eyes, then his jealous eyes, then his lusty eyes, and so forth. Cynthia unfolds as a character through all the ways in which Miles does and does not understand her or judge her correctly, and that really worked for me. For me, at least, it added depth to both Miles and Cynthia's characters.

    Yes and yes. And Miles’ changing perceptions of Cynthia are mirrored by Cynthia’s of him. I love their first conversation in the book, particularly when Cynthia first realizes that Miles is aware of her intentions.

    Instead he said: “This room must feel rather like Tatersall’s to you, Miss Brightly. What an interesting variety of eligible men are represented. However will you pick one out?”
    Miss Brightly went rigid.
    A tick of fraught quiet went by between them.
    And then she tipped her head slowly up to him, as though balancing a scalding cup of tea atop it. Aware of a grave, grave danger.
    And she looked–really looked, for probably the first time–into his face.
    What she saw there caused wary reassessment and comprehension to cut across the blue field of her eyes as swiftly as a pair of hunting falcons. They were there and gone as though they had never been, leaving her eyes once again blue fields of innocence.
    So she was not entirely a fool. This was a bit vexing, as he would have preferred her to become less interesting, rather than more.

    And I really loved Cynthia’s conflicted feelings towards Georgina–how her feelings of superiority were tempered by real envy.

  18. Jennie
    Nov 05, 2008 @ 01:36:51

    What did you think of her actions at the end of the story? In character or out of character for her? Do you think that it was necessary for the storyline for her to be the one to make the first grand gesture for love?

    I kind of think it was. I didn’t see her as the self-sacrificing heroine, realizing her wrongs; it was more just that she realized she couldn’t be married to anyone but Miles, so she took the other option open to her. I guess she could’ve been even more pro-active and somehow engineered her and Miles coming together, but I’m glad she at least made a choice – Miles swooped in to save her, sure, but she had already made a choice and I thought that worked better than if Miles had “saved” her before she left.

    And I really loved Cynthia's conflicted feelings towards Georgina-how her feelings of superiority were tempered by real envy.

    Yes. I felt sympathy for Georgina but understood Cynthia’s resentment towards her – it was very real and understandable given the circumstances. I thought Long did a good job of showing how hard it is to be in Cynthia’s position, surrounded by people without financial worries who couldn’t begin to understand her circumsances or appreciate their own.

  19. Dear Author Recommended Reads for November | Dear Author: Romance Book Reviews, Author Interviews, and Commentary
    Nov 05, 2008 @ 17:18:06

    [...] Like No Other Lover by Julie Ann Long. The plot of Like No Other Lover is quite simple. There are no spies running around or secrets to uncover – just a house party with various characters interacting with each other. This is both the strength and the weakness of the book. I appreciated the focus on the characters and the simplicity of the story. Miles is an appealing, if somewhat familiar, hero – the bespectacled scientific type (though he apparently does all right with women; Miles is not quite a Nerd Hero). Cynthia is rather more unique – here is a heroine who is fairly unrepentantly mercenary in her pursuit of a husband. She has made some mistakes that lead to her fall from grace in London. I really liked the way that Cynthia's situation was handled – she is not depicted as a martyr. Recommended by Jennie and Janet (Robin). Review here. [...]

  20. Elle
    Nov 05, 2008 @ 23:30:56

    Re: Cynthia
    Do you think that it was necessary for the storyline for her to be the one to make the first grand gesture for love?

    I kind of think it was. I didn't see her as the self-sacrificing heroine, realizing her wrongs; it was more just that she realized she couldn't be married to anyone but Miles, so she took the other option open to her. I guess she could've been even more pro-active and somehow engineered her and Miles coming together, but I'm glad she at least made a choice – Miles swooped in to save her, sure, but she had already made a choice and I thought that worked better than if Miles had “saved” her before she left.

    SPOILERS…..SPOILERS I suppose, since we are talking about the end of the book here.

    SPOILERS…SPOILERS….SPOILERS

    I see what you are saying here, Jennie, and I don’t disagree, although I am not sure that Cynthia’s decision seemed very much in character with her pragmatic, mercenary nature, so I guess we are meant to understand that she has repented and changed her stripes. Maybe I am not enough of a romantic to feel that one night of True Love is worth jettisoning a lifetime of comfort for one of penury and loneliness. A lifetime of True Love, maybe, but not just one night. (Hmmm, maybe that is why I find Cynthia to be a more sympathetic heroine than many other readers seem to….)

    I suppose that it somehow had to be made clear that Cynthia was choosing *Miles* and not just *Miles’ money and position* (and you know that older brother is going to come back at some point, BTW.) But at the same time, it seemed a little unfair to me that Cynthia had to be the one who made the big gesture, since proportionally the sacrifice for her was huge, and Miles seemed unable to take even the small step out of line that he would have needed to gain True Love.

  21. Jennie
    Nov 06, 2008 @ 01:29:41

    Elle, I think Miles did take that step – he stood up to his father, which seemed to be difficult for him. I agree that Cynthia’s sacrifice was bigger, but what I liked – what I found Romantic, in the capital R sense – was that love made both of them better people. *I* was fine with Cynthia being mercenary, but there is something Romantic about the ennobling aspect of love. And as I indicated, while I would have had every confidence that Cynthia was choosing Miles for love if he had “rescued” her before she made the choice to leave – I think it was ultimately more empowering for her to have that choice, and to make it. I’m almost going against my instincts here, because if there’s anything that makes my eyes roll out of my head in annoyance, it’s the Noble Self-Sacrificing Heroine. But I really didn’t see Cynthia that way, ultimately – I did see her as making the best choice for her in the end, even if it happened to be the one that consigned her to a life of servitude.

  22. Elle
    Nov 06, 2008 @ 07:48:08

    SPOILERS…….MORE SPOILERS

    Elle, I think Miles did take that step – he stood up to his father, which seemed to be difficult for him.

    That is true, but he only did this *after* Cynthia had made her move. I kind of got the sense that he was going to allow her to slip through his fingers until she came to him the night before she meant to get engaged to Argosy (or, actually, slip away in the pre-dawn.) I suppose that I am just saying that I wished that Miles had been a little bit more pro-active in securing his own happiness, rather than just reacting to what Cynthia did. But, in truth, that is just a small quibble with the story.

    I'm almost going against my instincts here, because if there's anything that makes my eyes roll out of my head in annoyance, it's the Noble Self-Sacrificing Heroine. But I really didn't see Cynthia that way, ultimately – I did see her as making the best choice for her in the end, even if it happened to be the one that consigned her to a life of servitude.

    Ah, yes. I think that you are right about that, actually. There was certainly the sense that Cynthia was finding all her role-playing very draining and flat. And quite frankly, despite her best intentions, I doubt that she would have been able to be the good and faithful wife that she hoped to be if she entrapped someone like Argosy, Goodkind or Milthorpe. After all, she had almost deliberately sabotaged her own engagement to the Earl of Courtland (who was the embodiment of all her mercenary and social-climbing aspirations.) She needed someone to keep her interested and on her toes. So I see what you mean in saying that Cynthia’s “sacrifice” was more a choice indicating her growing self-awareness as opposed to romance heroine martyrdom.

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