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?