Hi everyone! This is Julia of The Broke and the Bookish, formerly blogging on my own at The Competitive Bibliomaniac.
I read mostly historical romance, but can often be found reviewing paranormal romance, young adult books (mostly distopian/fantasy), fantasy/sci-fi, classics, and the occasional non-fiction book about languages.
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Well this was a pleasant surprise! I found this book because Smart Bitches were doing it as their book of the month thing for November, but I didn't get it in from the library until this month so darn.
What that means is though, I had a nice slightly Christmas-y romance to read in the lead up to the end of the world (12/21 dontcha know).
The story starts off with the Earl of Xavier reluctantly betting his cousin, Lockwood, that he can't keep a proper lady at his scandalous two week holiday party. This chapter was the moment I liked Xavier aka Alex. We already see the seeds of him not liking the current role he plays within the ton.
Anyway, Louisa, our heroine, comes to the house party with her aunt (who is amazing and reminds me a bit of Lady Danbury from the JQ world) with goals in mind to change the current course of her life. She doesn't like Xavier due to the last book in the series* but gets over that quickly enough in a really believable way. The whole story is really more of a character study so I am going to segue into that section.
This story is held up by strong characters. The leads are really strong in that they both have a motivation and are striving for it. Alex is a little more unsure in his, so we spend a lot of time watching him go from careless ton pawn to the man he is at the end. I really liked that.
Louisa has very specific things she wants to change (namely get out of her sisters house) and uses the house party to come into her own. I am curious as to how she was portrayed in the first book, because in this one she comes off really strong in herself (through he relationship with Alex and her constant denial of Lockwood).
The secondary characters were great, at least the ones we saw on screen. Lockwood had a believable bent to his nature. Jane, the other cousin, was simply adorable and I apparently the star of book three. The aunt was amazing in all things with her brazen speech. And the opera singer was great in her role. There were other people at the house party, but they might as well have been draperies for how much we knew about them.
This is where my star count gets a little low. There was something about this that just didn't sit with me. I really liked the characters and it was very character driven plot, but reading it, especially the latter half seemed to drag a bit. I have no idea how this can be improved since I think it may just be my perception. I did read it in about a day, so many that has something to do with it.
The actual technical details (meaning can she write?) are good. I believed the story, the characters... I liked the voice. There was nothing stilted about the writing that would make me not want to read another.
This I liked, though I think may have a teeny bit taken a backseat to telling the characters (namely Alex's) story. I do like the Louisa took control over her own romantic entanglements, being the first to kiss. You don't see that often, and it totally fit her character or the new one she was exploring for herself.
The romance was actually really sweet and enjoyable.
I would definitely recommend this book, even if you have not read the original. It is not a solely Christmas story but has enough of it in it that it was fun to read this time of year. If you like a character driven story this is definitely for you! I am pretty sure I will be checking out the other books (especially the third).
*I am going to go off on a rant about this, hence me putting it as a footnote. Every. Time. the author mentioned what happened in the last book, it was a complete summary. The first time it was helpful because it actually had bearing on this story. The third time I literally screamed at the book "I GET IT. THEY ARE MARRIED AND HAVE A BABY ON THE WAY!"
Originally posted on GR in December 2012