I may have completely abandoned my nonfiction book; it's very academic and unfortunately I am not gigantically into that. Of course, then I replace it with an even more academic nonfiction book. If I don't pick up the one about polio by the end of June, I'll let you know I stopped.
Lisa Kleypas, Secrets of a Summer Night. Reread. This is happy fluffy Kleypas, to follow the mashed potato metaphor.
Loretta Chase, The Mad Earl’s Bride. I think this is actually a novella, but I do not care. A few pages in, I thought, “Her love will cure him of a serious mental illness, migraines, or a degenerative neurological disorder. This is going to be great.” He thinks it’s the last of those, which killed his mother; she marries him mostly to study his case, alleviate his suffering, and then inherit a pile of money and a title with which to build a hospital. Muhaha. It’s a companion to Lord of Scoundrels, too, and I have three more in that set*. With luck, one will involve Bertie Trent more intimately.
*apparently the ones labeled ‘Scoundrels’ in my ebook folder are not, in fact, all of this set. Mope. I like Bertie.
Sabrina Jeffries, A Lady Never Surrenders. Last of the Hellions series, the premise of which is that Gran, who is rich, threatened to cut off all her five grandchildren if any of them wasn’t married by the end of the year. Because she knew they needed a push to get themselves out of their scandal-ridden past. This book is the one in which Gran realizes that oh hey, she is actually being kind of abusive and actively causing harm to those she loves.
This is good.
This should have happened in book three.
The siblings try various things to convince Gran to rescind her ultimatum, mostly ‘I shall find the most unsuitable spouse ever’, and oh surprise, not only do these plots not work, they result in happy marriages and the older four being pretty much convinced that Gran was right.
Gran is not right.
This is not okay.
I have a list of Historical Romances I Am Not Writing. On them is the meddling-gone-horribly-wrong plot, which is my fantasy every time there’s an ultimatum or other dysfunctional thing turned good by the power of love. In my fantasies, that kind of plot ends with estrangement at best and death at most melodramatic. I couldn’t write it as the main plot, not for a single book, but in backstory? The hero just knows best and forces a woman into something that destroys her, so he’s not going to do anything dramatic and coercive and romantic-if-you-love-him to the heroine? Hell yes.
Or, even better, Celia attempts suicide in book three, the entire family closes out Gran, book four is Gran trying to make amends, book five is her showing, not just saying, that she has learned from her mistakes and will not make them again. Solve the murder plot sooner, give me Gran’s heart on a platter.
Or Celia (or anyone, really) marries desperately as a B plot in book two, the marriage goes dramatically wrong, it ends (probably in death, this being historical) in book book three or four, and book five is... no, that doesn’t quite work because of the timing. Jeffries did a variation of that in her School for Heiresses set, where a student married ‘successfully’ and ended up unhappy, then dead. Eloisa James did the same with her Shakespearean-titled books, and that worked.
I expect better of Jeffries. I’m disappointed that this is such a good book-- and it is-- with such a poisonous premise behind it.
Barbara Hambly, Days of the Dead. My favorite part of the beginning of this book was the realization that Mexico City is to this period of North American history what Russia is to every European historical novel I can remember: batshit insane. My favorite part of the middle is Hannibal and Rose and memories of Shaw and all sorts of little bits the characters say, like that one madman in the family makes everyone else insane by having to work around it, or that Hannibal shouldn’t start reading a book if he has less than half an inch in his right hand, and oh, seriously, I wish I hadn’t returned it to the library immediately because I want to reread the ending. Because that had an important gravestone and a lot of yelling and it didn’t matter that I’d already metaed my way to the culprit because I can’t figure it out by clues and I like seeing how the mystery is actually put together.
Theodora Goss, In the Forest of Forgetting. I have owned this book for years and not read it.
Someone should have whacked me upside the head with it ages ago.
I binged on the last few stories to keep me from panicking over Wiscon, and I kind of regret that, but not really. The collection is lovely, the threads binding each story to the next are subtle in some places and less so in others, and oh, the first story. In many hands, an alternate history fairy tale from twelve different points of view would be a stunt, played for brilliance and laughs, and instead Goss made it absolutely right in its setting.