Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Review: The Woman in the Window

The Woman in the Window The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Anna Fox doesn't leave her house. Hasn't for almost a year. She gets everything delivered, included wine -- lots of wine. She doesn't say why she won't.... the clues come slowly, the truth not revealed to close to the end of the book.

Something happened, something bad.

She now lives alone, talking on the phone to her husband and young daughter. Drinking wine. Watching old movies. Drinking wine. Watching her neighbors.

She lives in New York City, in a brownstone, and the neighbors she watches are just across the street or the garden.

Anna has had a few glasses of wine when she looks out the window and sees someone murdered.

The combination of wine, her agoraphobia, and other parts of her story leave Anna and the reader wondering what, if anything, Anna actually saw.

This is a great thriller, a mystery that had me guessing, and also a sad look at a broken survivor of a terrible trauma.

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Thursday, October 25, 2018

Review: P.S. I Still Love You

P.S. I Still Love You P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The sequel to To All The Boys I've Loved Before, which I read years ago and just watched on Netflix.

I adored the movie so much I had to return to the books.

This takes place immediately after the first book ends. It has some elements that the movie used, leaving me to wonder about what the movie sequel (if there is one) will be like.

Short version: Lara Jean and Peter navigate their now-real relationship. Continues to be charming and sweet and romantic and real.

The move from pretend to real, and how Lara Jean addresses her feelings, emotions, wants, and desires is terrific. Part of that includes addressing her jealousy about Peter's ex-girlfriend (and her own ex-best friend.) Part is her insecurity in that this is her first real relationship, yet it is not Peter's. And it's not just about expectations about sexual intimacy -- it's about learning about each other, and learning what it means to be a couple.

To be honest: I'm not that thrilled with how the Lara Jean - Gen dynamics are shown, particularly at the beginning. It's a bit too "mean girls" for my taste, especially as it falls into a particular story line I'm not a fan of, because if Gen is so terrible, why were she and Lara Jean friends, why did Peter date her for so long, and why is Peter still friends with her? This does get addressed, a bit, with the idea of Lara Jean realizing that her perspective of people and events is not always the right one. Still, I would have liked that to be stronger.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Review: The Governess Game

The Governess Game The Governess Game by Tessa Dare
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Tessa Dare is one of my favorite writers; and her books really highlight, to me, what is so wonderful about Regency (and Regency adjacent) Romances. Yes, there is a certain structure, certain things to expect (a happy ending, for one.) But there is a lot that a writer can do within that structure.

The Governess Game is part of a series, Girl Meets Duke. So, that tells you the plot in a nutshell, right? Except not so much. In The Governess Game, for example, the "governess/employer" storyline is twisted a bit by a few things: first, Alexandra isn't a governess. I mean, she is - but her profession, her career, sets and repairs clocks. Self-employed. For various reasons, she finds herself taking the short-term job of governess to two young girls.

Chase Reynaud is the guardian, and a rake, etc. But here's the thing: it's clear from the start he is a good guy because of all the efforts he is making for these two young orphans. His interactions with them show the reader that he's more than "a rake."

The employer/employee interaction isn't problematic in part because the power is more in Alexandra's hands than Chase's. He's gone through several governesses because the girls keep acting out; yes, she needs the money but she's negotiated a huge salary, it's short term, and she has friends (the other ladies from the "Girl Meets Duke" series) so she has options and isn't beholden to Chase. He needs her more than she needs him; and she has options; so it's a more equal footing.

Anyway, I won't get into the particulars of why she ends up having to be a governess; or the ins and outs of the romance. That's the fun of reading the book. But yes, highly recommended!

And like the best of these series -- yeah, you're going to want to read the other ones. But it really isn't necessary to read in sequence, because you know the girl is going to get her duke so it doesn't matter if you read the romances out of order. (In my opinion.)

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Tuesday, October 02, 2018

Review: Never Deceive a Duke

Never Deceive a Duke Never Deceive a Duke by Liz Carlyle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Enjoyable historical romance.

She's the widow of the recently deceased duke.

He's the long lost and very reluctant heir.

There is backstory angst. Antonia has buried two husbands, and there is heartache and betrayal in her past. And, her family while not terrible isn't very supportive (in part because the times and sexism.) But she's basically had loss and her own demons, even if she is beautiful, rich, and from the upper class.

Gareth is a self made man who has basically been on his own since he was about 12 or 13. His earliest childhood was good -- loving grandparents and mother. But then his father died, and then his mother, and his grandfather lost his money, and the relatives who should have taken care of him did not. And that's just the start of it. He does not view being the duke as a good thing.

In addition to these two getting together, and helping each other, there is also a murder mystery!

I like that this touched on issues of class, and sexism, and the value of work, and responsibility. Honestly, the best part of "long lost heir" stories isn't the "and now I'm rich and powerful, wowza" bit but the "huh, there is responsibility here." Because, especially for this time period, being a duke is equivalent to being a CEO. And how most of these stories approach that aspect is to have the person take it seriously. (Bad guys and villians and bad fathers tend to focus on the "rich and powerful" part and irresponsibility leave the estates, and those dependent on it, in a terrible place.)

Other bits: Gareth's mother is Jewish, and the prejudices of the time are part of the story.

Also: Gareth spends time on a ship and there is abuse. Not a lot of detail about it, but a heads up because that's a big "no" for some readers.

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