This is not a particularly well written book. However, I happen to think Ms. Lauren's is a better writer than many of her contemporaries and I gather those who determine what constitutes a good romance novel and what constitutes a poor romance novel disagree with me. Only one of her books is consistently rated highly by critics. And it wasn't this book, which is one of her earlier ventures as she moved on from writing Harlequin Regency clones.
But this book is saved by the same thing that saves many of Ms. Lauren's more readable books - there is a plot. It may be far fetched and it may be implausible, but there is a story beyond just the back and forth between two people trying to figure out if they hate each other or love each other. So many books in this genre are about nothing but the relationship, so if the relationship isn't plausible to the reader or if one of the characters isn't particularly sympathetic then the book has absolutely nothing else to fall back on.
I give Ms. Lauren's credit. This book starts a story arc that carries through another 9 or 10 novels in this particular series, and bleeds into her Cynster and Bride series as well. The plot never overshadows the love story and many times it should be emphasized more than it is. But it is always there, usually in the background, ready to remind the reader that there is more to the story and helping the author avoid dwelling too long on the romance at any given time.
I thought the narrator did a good job.
If you read any enjoyed other Lauren's novels, especially the Bastion Club series, then you will enjoy this.
My first Eloisa James. Probably my last. Not bad, just very predictable and not that interesting. It is the epitome of what critics find most appalling about the genre. I don't see anything wrong with reading escapist fantasy. But if this book is anything to go by, Ms. James has several contemporaries who write escapist fantasy far better than she does.
I think this is the book that Snoopy spent so many years typing out as he sat on top of his dog house.
On the old SCTV series, the actor Joe Flaherty used to play a cheesy vampire character named Count Floyd, who spent most of his time trying to convince the audience that something totally silly was actually quite "scarrrrrry" and wiggling his eyebrows. I think the author had Count Floyd in mind when she created these characters. If she tried to make the book sound scary, it might disguise the fact that it was silly.
Unfortunately it doesn't work this way. Making the narrator speak slowly and ponderously doesn't help either.
Silly book. I didn't finish it.
This entire novel could be told in no more than five sentences. And that is exactly what this author does. She retells the plot over and over and over again. She alternates between the characters currently and when they were in high school. Unfortunately, while she uses different words (sometimes,) the chapters that cover past events repeat themselves, could have been stated once up front, then never repeated again.
Just like no matter how many times you tell a lie, it doesn't make it true, no matter how many times an author simply repeats herself, it doesn't make a plot.
Needless to say, I found this to be one of the most boring books I have attempted to read lately. I could not finish it and do not recommend it.
The most amazing thing though is I understand readers can also be subjected to a second book, that evidently tells the exact same non-plot but from the man's perspective. I've seen lots of so-called novels written by so-called authors that seem to sell, even though there is absolutely no plot. But it is something of a hat trick if Heywood can actually stretch absolutely nothing into two novels. Will readers really buy the second book just because the title changes from Him to Her (talk about original) and there is a cute girl on the cover instead of a cute guy?
It is hard for me to make too many negative comments about a Heyer novel. And I knew what to expect when I started this book. As every reviewer stated, there was very little plot and the tension one would expect in a story about a fugitive attempting to escape from certain death, was definitely lacking. Charles II on the run for his life seemed to approach the world and his predicament with the same joie de vivre and humor as the 19th century courtiers in her Regency comedies of manners. It was obvious that Heyer found him a very sympathetic character and considered his adversaries as simpletons. It was in some ways one of her most "classist" novels, and that is saying a lot.
All of that said though, it is still a well written book and she managed to stretch out a six week adventure in rural England with a predetermined ending into a readable and lengthy book. I know that Heyer has a reputation as a stickler for accuracy in historical detail, but I have no idea how much of this story is true, beyond the battle itself, the king, Wilmot and the fact that they did eventually escape to France. But she certainly presented a plausible and believable tale of what very well might have happened.
I usually enjoy Cornelius Garrett's narration on Heyer novels. But he always has to make at least one character have a very annoying lisp. He did it in this book as well, and I found it even more annoying than usual.
I still recommend the book. But go into it with your eyes open. This does not have the plot, pace or conclusion of other Heyer books, whether her romances, mysteries or other historical fiction.
If you read this book and keep in mind that Heyer was 17 when it was published, which means she was probably 16 when it was written, you must consider it a masterpiece. It is not one of her best books, it is far more melodramatic than her later work. But in it you see the earliest example of her genius. It is a fully formed novel, with a fairly complex plot, multiple well developed characters, and complex relationships. In her later work, her intelligent, witty, humorous and sparkling dialog is unmatched. And we get numerous glimpses of it in The Black Moth.
Her attention to detail and her obvious knowledge of the styles, manners, customs and general history of the mid-18th century was astounding. A schoolgirl may have been expected to have a good knowledge of the government and wars of that time, but Heyer knew details about fashion, manners, actual people and custom that would have required extensive research, especially in the pre-Internet days of the early 20th century.
I read These Old Shades and Devil's Cub prior to reading The Black Moth, so I had a firm impression of the Duke of Avon's character. (He has a different Dukedom in the Black Moth). But those books also offered enough of the back story of the duke that I knew what to expect when I read The Black Moth. But I was surprised at just what an excellent job Heyer did of portraying the villain. He was indescribably evil and wonderfully fascinating. And she had the good sense to make her hero just as wicked and wonderful in his own way as the villain. So many times a great villain overshadows a wimpy hero and it is hard to understand why the heroine chose the good guy instead of the bad guy. In this book, the "good" guy was just "bad" enough, he was equally intriguing.
The narration was great as well.
This is not a scholarly historical piece. The author spends too much time telling us how the regent "feels" and writes as though she was a witness to King George's mental deterioration. But it presents a great snapshot of history during a very specific decade in a way that is easy to follow, yet still has enough fact and detail that most readers can walk away learning something new about the time period. And while the book spends a great deal of time on the celebrities and main events of the decade, Waterloo, Napoleon, Byron and the Prince Regent, it also provides detail on "celebrities" of the time that are not household names today and also talks about events that occurred beyond those that are covered in a English history textbook. And through the writings of actual eyewitnesses of the period - regular people - we get a better idea of the day-to-day lives of those who lived through the period that were not poets, generals or royals.
If you are looking for a broad overview of this time, a book that is understandable to a reader without a degree in English history, this is a good book for you. And as usual, Simon Prebble's narration makes it fun to listen to.
I was pleasantly surprised by this book. It is the first book I read by this author and I had no idea what to expect.
This was at its core a story about coming home. And not just for the main character. The author spends the book showing us that you have to come home to learn the truth about yourself and that when you are home, miracles occur. Perhaps not plausible, but one can dream.
I liked the way the recipes were woven into the story and the way the author used food and dogs to express emotions, spirituality, love and the magic of life.
It was a little sappy. But I have to admit that I was happy that Tessa seemed to fall as much in love with Vince's oldest daughter as she did with Vince himself.
The narration was great. I recommend the book. I highly enjoyed it and will read other books by this author.
This book came out to rave reviews. Everyone said I had to read it, including people who's book judgement I usually trust. I've even seen it show up on a couple of those "100 Books to Read Before You Die" lists. Yet after reading the synopsis I was pretty certain this book would not appeal to me. I got so tired of hearing about it that when it went on sale on Audible I bought it. Even though I was pretty certain I wouldn't care for it. Then it sat in my library for about six months until I was at a point between books and I was tired of alternating between fictional fluff and non-fiction. I decided I needed to read something with pretensions to literature. So I listened to it. Or at least all but about the last two hours and then I skimmed through that. And, I hated it.
If after reading I found I just didn't care for the book, I would have moved on and not reviewed it. But it isn't just that I didn't care for the book ... didn't like the genre, the subject, etc. ... I thought the book was very poorly written and terribly dull. This is a great example of an author who thinks - "why use five words when I can use thirty" - on a phrase that can be sufficiently expressed using two. I understood that the circus tents were black and white stripped after only being told that once. I am even OK with the author reminding me of that fact another 10-15 times. But by about the fiftieth time I have to hear about the black and white stripped tents, I've lost patience.
The word that best describes the book to me is - languid. Stultifyingly, painfully, laboriously, dully languid. Unfortunately, I am not the author of the book, so I can't come up with another 30 words to express just how languid I found the pace of this book.
The narrator was great. Unfortunately he had very little to work with.
I've really enjoyed the "Her Royal Spyness" series so I expected to enjoy this series as well. After reading Murphy's Law, the first in this series, I have realized that the narration is what sends the Royal Spyness series over the top.
Murphy's Law is well written but without the humor and warmth of the other series. The characters are not nearly as lovable or laughable. The plots in both series are pretty predictable, but Murphy's Law lacked the off-kilter premise that made the predictability of the plot still wildly entertaining.
The narration was good. But, while she nailed the accents and language styles of the characters, her interpretation of the characters didn't add to them.
This was a well written book. I had no trouble finishing it. I might, if nothing else grabs my attention, read the next book in the series someday. If you love this genre you will like the book. I just can't work up a great deal of enthusiasm for it.
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