I have spent quite a bit of time reading in the last week--more so, in fact, that I have in quite a while. To a certain extent, I've felt of late that I've been doing absolutely nothing but reading. I realize that's not true, but when your eyes are burning from too many words, it's hard to figure out otherwise.
So what has the roundup been? First off, Humphry Clinker, an 18th century epistolary and picaresque novel by Tobias Smollett. In case you don't know what picaresque means (as I did not until it was explained to me), it's an example of a novel, following the Spanish example, where you have at lot of noteworthy events following each other again and again and again, with the only real connection between them being that they happen to the same (or same set) of character(s). It was entertaining enough, but I wouldn't recommend reading an un-annotated version, as Smollett's novels tend to be extremely contemporary and reference a lot of things that aren't easily understandable without a degree in history. I recommend the authoritative version published by the University of Georgia.
I have, fortunately, had time to read my two new romance novels that I picked up at Hastings. The first one I read was by Stephanie Laurens, the first in her new Cynster sister trilogy, Viscount Breckenridge to the Rescue. (Incidentally, another piece of information I picked up--the 's' in viscount isn't pronounced. It's vy-count. Don't look at me like that, I'm American, I've never heard the word said aloud.) The rather simplistic title aside, the book was wonderful. Heather Cynster (one of Gabriel and Lucifer's younger sisters) decides to follow her cousin Amanda's example from On a Wild Night and seek out a husband in the less socially acceptable venues frequented by the ton. Instead, she is kidnapped by someone who simply has an order to kidnap one of the Cynster sisters, and Breckenridge follows in hot pursuit. She stays with her captors a while to get as much information as possible, in order to protect her sisters, and eventually escapes with Breckenridge, walking across parts of Scotland to the Vale where her cousin Richard and his wife live, and adventures ensue forthwith.
It's an excellent addition to the Cynster series, even though I'd had a moment at the beginning where I thought this was going to be far too similar to On a Wild Night, and I was pleasantly surprised. It really was a good adventure, and in true Cynster fashion, Breckenridge has to admit that he loves Heather before she'll marry him. A- on Viscount Breckenridge to the Rescue.
I also read Jayne Castle's Canyons of Night, and was unfortunately somewhat disappointed in it. It didn't have nearly the connection with the rest of the Looking Glass trilogy (already reviewed here) that I was hoping for--in fact, you could barely tell that there was a connection, other than the fact that one of Mrs. Bridewell's clockwork curiosities was at the center of the mystery. Heroine Charlotte has taken over her aunt's antique store near Rainshadow Preserve, and old friend Slade has taken the job of sheriff while he recovers from a potentially psychically crippling injury. He's actually coming into a new Arcane talent (or strengthening of the old one) which isn't explained well. One of Charlotte's old clients is after a snow globe in her possession (that she doesn't know she has), and it turns out that one of the people on the island is in with him on it (which is the only part of this that we really didn't see coming). The snow globe is what Bridewell used to infuse her curiosities with the psychic power to make them weapons, but it's not explained any more than that. In fact, the book centers more on something strange happening in the preserve which isn't explained. Canyons of Night serves more as a setup for something to come than it does a conclusion to the Looking Glass trilogy. There was, however, one saving grace. It's what makes all of Krentz's Harmony novels so wonderfully humorous and charming--a dust bunny. Rex is cute, steals anything shiny, including a purse he decides to carry around with him, and he's overprotective of Slade. And he's adorable, as always. Don't believe me? Go watch the trailer for Silver Master again. Rex, I give an A. The novel gets a C.
Krentz does have a new book coming out in January called Copper Beach. It appears to be paranormal, but not related to the Arcane Society, so I'm curious as to how this will turn out. It claims to be a "Dark Legacy" novel, but I'm not sure what that means. Obviously, we'll find out.
I picked up Just Like Heaven by Julia Quinn at Target for 25% off today. It's a quartet following along with the Bridgerton series, only this time starting to focus on the beleaguered and musically deficient Smythe-Smith girls. Quinn's books are also Regency-era, and while they definitely aren't as good as Stephanie Laurens (and let's face it, very few are), they're charming in their own way. It's also been interesting in places to find that Quinn borrows (with permission, of course) characters from Stephanie Laurens and Lisa Kleypas' Regency novels. I just wish that the characters borrowed would have been like Laurens' Lady Osbaldestone. Putting her in the same room with Quinn's Lady Danbury would frighten the most devilish of rakes.
Checking out Quinn's site, I've found that there are second epilogues for some of her Bridgerton books; however, you have to order them as ebooks. They're about 30 pages apiece, and there are plans to put all eight in a collection and print them as a paperback when all eight are completed. This should be interesting.
All right, I'll stop typing now. I'd probably do better to update more often than update in these sprawling posts. In any case, the next post should be a review of Just Like Heaven. That can wait until tomorrow, though.