Aug 21 2008
Dear Ms Hughes,
It won’t take people long to realize that this book is something different. It’s not just that it isn’t a Regency or that it’s not about vampires and that it doesn’t have any Navy SEALS littering the narrative. It’s a Georgian English historical, and I don’t think there can be too many of those, that features an experienced heroine, and IMO, a hero who might not be as quite strong as she. Yes, what I said. Something different.
I can understand Ivo’s initial anger at George. Six years ago he challenged a man to a duel for her honor and he’s been made to pay for what he did, even if she never asked it of him. Now he wants some kind of payback and he’s pissed that his efforts to keep her name unsullied are, in his viewpoint, being thrown away by her as she saunters around prizefights and takes lovers. How dare she! Mrs. Georgianna Exley, on the other hand, is totally unaware of his feelings and astounded when he reveals them to her. Shows how the same event can be seen in totally different ways.
When he bargains with her for six nights of her favors, one for each year he was in exile from England, he’s getting his own back while she fondly imagines she’s just scratching an itch. Because George is no virgin widow! Major huzzahs. In fact, she’s experienced and not afraid to show what she wants or embarrassed to go for what she wants or is willing to do for him. Much to Ivo’s amazed delight. Sex with George is a revelation. The sexual scenes are hot without being ridiculous. Not too long, not too purple, while it’s evident they’re having fun and enjoying themselves. Each is attentive to the needs and pleasure of the other. The sizzle between them sparks off the page.
George is the kind of woman a lot of other women probably hate. She’s got men hanging off the chandeliers of her townhouse. Oh, not for any kinky sex but merely because so many of them show up at her place there’s almost no room to put them all. She can joke with them, hunt with them, ride to hounds with them, shoot as well as they do yet is still feminine. Yet I noticed a line where she realizes she’s ignored the women of the ton and needs to make her house calls. One must keep in the good graces of the leading ladies or risk their censure. George is strong but not strident. She does things most women wouldn’t do (even -gasp – smoking) yet none seem beyond the capacity for a woman unlike broadsword wielding medieval women.
Ivo is a bit brooding and emo but I kind of liked seeing a woman truly take charge, be the slightly stronger one. I’m not sure I could believe George falling for a man who ended up beating his chest and bellowing commands, demanding she assume a subservient role – be more like a normal woman. I remember he even despairs of this after the resolution of the villain stuff when he thinks how much easier it would be if he’d fallen for a “normal” woman, after which he seems to shrug his shoulders and accept that he hasn’t. He talks about convincing her that she’s “his,” and does toss around a few terms of ownership but mainly to himself and by book’s end, I think he’s accepted that she’s going to either agree to marry him as an equal or it isn’t going to happen.
Now for a little sand in the Vaseline. I thought through a lot of the book – yes, they’re in lust but are they falling in love? Ivo has possessive feelings, is afraid for her and mad at attempts on her life but …..I don’t know if I’m convinced beyond you telling me they’re in love. Does Ivo really come to appreciate the woman George is? I think he does finally realize he can’t boss her around or issue orders and is smart enough not to forbid her to see her male friends. But I’d like to have been just a teensy bit more sure that he hasn’t merely accepted that she isn’t going to change.
Okay back to the happy thoughts. George’s mastiff is great – you’ve got the guarding instinct, size, drool, his aging in the epilogue. Unfortunately they don’t live to be very old.
The book has a great period feel as seen in the clothes. Busks, vivid colors for men, embroidery and passementerie on men’s clothes as well as women’s, wigs, hoops, George’s pocket. And do I remember men’s red healed shoes or is that from another book? I loved it all.
The realization of status in this world – in horses made available at inns, George’s thoughts on the society invitations Ivo has received, love of wit, renting Vauxhall.
I loved, loved, loved the scenes at Astleys and the performance of Hamlet! What a riot. I also loved the attention Glendower pays to his tenants and staff. Noblesse oblige. I like the way George handles the issues with the children. Very maturely but with sensitivity to their feelings.
Sorry, sand time again. I did wonder if any mention would be made by George of the fate of poor Maeve. For a while it seemed like the loss of her maid was going to be a “ain’t no big thing” thing. The villain is singularly inept. I knew his appearances weren’t supposed to be comedic but they did take on an evil Snidely Whiplash tone. The villain and dealing with the villain stuff dragged ending of the book down slightly.
I hesitate to mention this as you supplied me with a doc.file but there were lots of typos. Nice for niece, heard for herd, dropped letters that change words. I hope these were corrected in print copy.
As for the lack of dialogue – yes I noticed it but mainly because I’d read the other reviews which mentioned it. It didn’t bother me but it might appear to some to slow down the action of the story. I actually liked it as we the readers do get into their heads and get to know everything they’re feeling. It gave me the feeling that I was almost in their shoes.
Long time readers here might be aware that epilogues are things I usually treat with disdain. It was therefore with delight that I saw there is actually a reason for this epilogue –