Weekly Reading Round-Up

Now that Pink X, The Passion of the Purple Plumeria, is off in the hands of my editor, I finally have a chance to catch up on some leisure reading. This week’s haul included:

— Caroline Llewellyn, The Masks of Rome.

I’d found this book in the library back in Middle School and have been looking for it ever since– but, fortunately, my college roommate is brilliant about locating these sorts of things. It’s classic romantic suspense with a first person narrator, set in Italy in the 80s. Both the setting and the tone remind me a bit of Susanna Kearsley’s Season of Storms.

— Sherry Thomas, Ravishing the Heiress.

I loved this book. I’ve always been a sucker for arranged marriage plots (among my old favorites are Georgette Heyer’s A Civil Contract, Joan Wolf’s Golden Girl, and Kasey Michaels’ The Illusions of Love) and Thomas does it beautifully, convincingly building the relationship between the two characters, so, in the end, it really becomes a friends to lovers story, so close have they become. It’s a beautiful picture of the way people can build a life together, shared experience by shared experience, against unpromising circumstances.

— Georgette Heyer, A Civil Contract.

I couldn’t read Ravishing the Heiress and not read A Civil Contract after. (It’s the same way I can’t read Colleen McCullough’s The Ladies of Missalonghi without going back and re-reading L.M. Montgomery’s The Blue Castle.) This is, perhaps, the most controversial of Heyer’s Regencies. People seem to either love or hate it. I’m firmly in the loving it camp. You can find a piece I wrote about it, “A Not So Fine Romance”, here, on the Assorted Ramblings page. Just scroll down a bit until you hit it….

I’m also a big fan of Heyer’s other, more upbeat, take on the arranged marriage, The Convenient Marriage. There’s a very different feel to that book, although part of the difference is that The Convenient Marriage is Georgian, while A Civil Contract is Regency. Heyer, as always, does a brilliant job of distinguishing between the manners, mores, and general feel of those two very different time periods.

Fortuitously, while I was struggling with the last pages of Pink X, the post office, in a moment of unusual prescience, delivered a box of research books for my next stand alone novel. So I’ll be reading about the Victorian Home, 1840s fashion, and Desperate Romantics. I’m quite looking forward to it.

What have you been reading?


  1. jeffrey on August 31, 2012 at 9:43 am

    I’m about 90% finished with Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. What began as a series of seemingly unrelated and irrelevant side-stories have now been fleshed out as the story plot reaches its climax. Mr. Dickens has totally caught me up on this masterpiece of story-telling!
    What a cast of unforgettable characters: Pip, Estella, Miss Havisham, Joe, Provis, Herbert, Mr. Jaggars, Orlick, etc, etc…

  2. jeffrey on August 31, 2012 at 9:46 am

    I’m about 90% finished with Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. What began as a series of seemingly irrelevant and confusing side-stories have now been fleshed out as the story plot reaches its climax. Mr. Dickens has totally caught me up on this masterpiece of a tale!
    What a cast of unforgettable characters: Pip, Estella, Miss Havisham, Joe, Provis, Herbert, Mr. Jaggars, Orlick, etc, etc…

  3. Jessica @ Quirky Bookworm on August 31, 2012 at 10:35 am

    I’m firmly in the “hate it” camp on A Civil Contract!

    I’ve been reading the Duncan Kincaid/Gemma James series by Deborah Crombie.

  4. Jessica Mac on August 31, 2012 at 10:50 am

    I finished up A Rather Charming Invitation. It took me a while to get through this one. I got annoyed with all Penny’s reservations about marriage. I thought it took up way to much of the book. But in the end I enjoyed it.
    A quick cute read by Nora Roberts, The Reef. Easy and fun for summertime.
    I just started The American Heiress. It promises a good read!

  5. Bridget Erin on August 31, 2012 at 11:03 am

    I actually just finished up reading all of the Pink books again. I hate to admit it, but I somehow missed the Letty was pregnant in my first readings of the books. I’m now in the middle of re-reading the Hunger Games books.

  6. AngelB on August 31, 2012 at 11:46 am

    I’m still on my Georgette Heyer read-a-thon since I stocked up my library a couple of weeks ago. This week was Bath Tangle and Black Sheep. Since football season has officially started (already have gone to 3 games this week) and they started yoga at lunch at work, I’ve slowed down quite a bit.

  7. Susan on August 31, 2012 at 12:12 pm

    I read the first 2 of the Ranger’s Apprentice. I bought them hoping my 10 year old would get interested, but so far I am the one who is hooked!

  8. Sheila on August 31, 2012 at 1:21 pm

    A Lady Cyclist’s Guide to the Kashgar, by Suzanne Joinston, an intriguing story of a time and place little touched on, very evocative and moving, after a somewhat slow start.
    She Wore Only White, by Dorthe Binkert: The modern era has no lock on bad marriages and escapism.
    On The Island, by Tracy Garvis-Graves: overrated, but still a fun read, and not as silly as it could have been.
    Marriage of Mercy, by the always reliable Carla Kelly. Not her most believable, but wonderful characters nevertheless.
    One Good Dog, by Susan Wilson: The biggest surprize of my vacation reading. A story of loss and redemption, really wonderful.
    The Scandalous Marriage, by Marion Chesney (M C Beaton)You can’t go wrong with Chesney !

  9. Leslie on August 31, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    Lauren, I love A Civil Contract, it is my favorite Heyer. I first read it back to back with Pride and Prejudice when I was a teenager. Recently on another website there was a huge discussion about ACC. Is it a romance? Does it have a HEA ending? It was amazing how many people really hated this book, so I read it again and just finished it last night. Still love it, ACC may not be a traditional “romance”, but it is definitely a genuine love story.

    I also read Haunting Jasmine and Enchanting Lily by Anjali Banerjee. Lovely light reading with ghosts.

    Jeffrey, You might like Our Mutual Friend. It’s my favorite Dickens.

  10. Céline on August 31, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    It was a week of slow reading for me, given that I’ve discovered that you have to choose between sleeping and reading and it seems I needed sleep… but I’m reading the second book in Tracy Hickman and Margaret Weis’ Death Gate series, called Eleven star and I love it!
    And on Tuesday, I bought Eloisa James’ latest, The Ugly Duchess. I know what my next read will be!

  11. Pam on August 31, 2012 at 2:48 pm

    I ordered a bunch of the books/authors you got in your care packages for my mom’s birthday, but one of them got sent to me instead so of course I had to pre-read it to make sure it was good. So I read The Hour Before Midnight by Velda Johnston and it was really fun and campy in the best ways!

    I’m going to start Bride of Pendorric (Victoria Holt) tonight I think.

  12. Gina on August 31, 2012 at 3:01 pm

    I immersed myself briefly in the world of YA fantasy for the latest Cassandra Clare books(City of Lost Souls and Clockwork Prince), and while I enjoyed them, I need to get out of the teen brand of angst for a while.

    Next up, I think, might be Persuasion by Austen, if school doesn’t get too in the way.

  13. Elizabeth (aka Miss Eliza) on August 31, 2012 at 3:28 pm

    Finished up my Elizabeth Gaskell Cranford miniseries related reading. Really liked Cranford and Mr. Harrison’s Confessions but could not stand My Lady Ludlow.

    Also read a few epub stories and now am revelling in a re-read of The Night Circus for my Book Club. One member of the club is alreay not liking it, should be interesting, she’s the first person I’ve recommended it to who didn’t like it!

  14. Kristen A. on August 31, 2012 at 4:23 pm

    Working on some rereads. The Black Tower by Louis Bayard, about the lost Dauphin maybe turning up in 1818, then False Colors by Alex Beecroft, a M/M Age of Sail romance, and now just about done with Alcestis by Katharine Beutner, a reinterpretation of the Greek story.

  15. Céline on August 31, 2012 at 4:24 pm

    Oh, Lauren, I meant to ask… whick book by Victoria Holt would you recommand to start with? She’s been mentionned quite a few times here and I would love to finally read her books, but I don’t know which one I should read first…

  16. Lauren on August 31, 2012 at 4:27 pm

    Celine, I’m going to do a whole separate post for that question– since I have a feeling you’ll get lots of separate opinions on it!

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