This won’t be a fancily laid out as previous ones because most of the books come from a single series.
I bought second hand & read all the books in Sabrina Jeffries’ School for Heiresses series – 6 books, set in Regency England, including the amusingly titled last book, Wed Him Before You Bed Him, which 9 out of 10 women in Regency romances utterly fail to do, including the star of the aforementioned book.
Don’t read 6 Regency romances in a row. It’s not a good idea. Especially if you are a married, 40 something woman with a cynical outlook & just starting a new sleep regimen.
Do you know the 3 things about Regency romances that are the most jarring to me?
1. Mutual orgasms EVERY SINGLE TIME! I mean seriously. Every single time? I’m all for suspending disbelief to further the narrative in fiction but come on. Sometimes someone goes early or is left hanging if you know what I mean.
2. No morning breath ever. Given the level of dental hygiene at the time this has to be damn near impossible. And yet there they are, the randy hero & heroine, rolling over at the crack of dawn for some long passionate kisses and one more mutual orgasm before one or the other has to sneak back to their own bed before the servants wake up. Maybe they had lower expectations. Maybe in the 21 years since the early days of DH & I’s relationship & our own predawn wake ups prior to going home, I have forgotten that morning breath didn’t matter then. Given the state of my memory anything is possible
3. Someone needs to require all romance editors & authors to take a course on female anatomy. Specifically the location of the hymen. Here’s a hint, it is NOT half up the vagina.
These things bother me more than the oft repeated plot devices
A. ‘not telling someone something for no good reason other than if they did the story would only be 3 chapters long’
B.“perfectly capable woman going successfully about her chosen interest meets a man who finds what she is doing ‘too dangerous’ for her & causes no end of trouble ‘protecting her’ from herself” which would be fine if HE learned the error of his ways but almost always ends with some sort of half assed situation he himself caused that proves him right.
So why do I read them? I often ask myself that.
I generally like Sabrina Jeffries’ books. She has fun heroines & witty dialogue & can tell a good solid story. She generally doesn’t use annoying plot device A & out of 6 books only truly used plot device B once, though there were parts of it in another one.
Overall I enjoyed them. Fun, light reading that I complicated by overthinking the sexual details. Most times I can just let that stuff go. Sometimes I can’t. This month (well, ok, 4 books in) was a can’t. (I was fine for the first 3 books) Not Ms Jeffries fault.
From the library:
I read a memoir called The Foremost Good Fortune by a woman who’s family moved to China for 2 years. Ordinarily I like this sort of thing, but the author of this book was not, IMO a very sympathetic character. She whined a lot about difficulties but when presented with chances to change the situations she whined & got judgy & failed to make the effort & whined some more. Then she learned she had cancer & ordinarily the struggles of that would make her a more sympathetic character but no. She talked a good game about her thoughts but her actions showed she made none of the changes she claimed to have made. Perhaps that’s a result of editing, lots of time was skipped over. There were parts where I related & actually liked her but for the most part I’m not surprised she had a hard time making friends. And the wrap up seemed forced. Like she felt she had to give it a ‘oh yeah, we’d go back” ending because “Thank god that’s over!” might not sell.
There was also the Oracle of Stambul, which was a beautifully written book that suffered only from an abrupt ending. It’s the story of child named Eleanora who in 1877 stows away on her father’s trip to Stambul. There her life changes forever while living with her father’s business partner Moncef Bey. It’s magical, full of details of the time & place. The prose style was wonderfully fitting, feeling almost like it had been written at time of the setting. It did get a bit slow in places & like I said, ended rather abruptly but it is based on a real event & sometimes well, things just end. I highly recommend it.
There was The Secret Eleanor, fiction about Eleanor of Aquitaine & her sister, Petronilla. The plot is that Eleanor & Henry of Anjou hop in the sack a day or so after meeting & Eleanor gets pregnant which must be hidden so she can divorce her husband Louis of France & then marry Henry. The sisters have a strong resemblance & Petronilla stands in on public occasions for Eleanor & allows there to be rumors that she, Petronilla, is the one who is pregnant. Eleanor has the baby, gives it to Petronilla & goes off to marry Henry, the end. Overall it was ok. Not gripping but not dull.
And there were Blackout & All Clear, which I reviewed earlier here. Wonderful books!
Last was a 99 cent Kindle offering called Take the Monkeys & Run, which had flashes of brilliance but mostly gave you what you paid for it. But potential is there & I hope the author writes another one.
So, three clear winners plus 6 positives that only suffered from overdoing on my part & 3 so-so to not so good books. Overall a good month for reading.