gwendolenau

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His at Night

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Highly enjoyable. There's a satisfying plot but what really makes this story is the depth and complexity of the main characters, whose emotional arcs are truly and emotionally satisfying. The novel is only a little let down by occasional slips in tone from the author, whose characters sometimes sound rather more like modern Americans than the 19thC upper class English characters they are meant to be.
The Thirteenth House

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I didn't enjoy this one nearly as much as the first one in the Twelve Houses series. Unfortunately, the plot managed to make use of three of the narrative tropes I most dislike: one character impersonating another (deliberate deception); a character torn between two suitors (the dreaded love triangle); a character sacrificing love by lying to her lover (deciding "what's best" for them both without consultation, via manipulation and more deception). This is a pity as the underlying story of the camaraderie of a group loyal to the crown ferreting out treachery in a feudal society is a good one with interesting characters.
A Cavern of Black Ice

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There's a good tale hidden in this work but it could have lost a good third of the book and still been there. The narrative was so glacially paced that I ended up skimming about a third of the way in just to see what happened in the end. And then of course it was a cliffhanger, since it's part one of a trilogy. Not compelling enough for me to try parts 2 & 3.
A Summer In Europe

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Disappointing. The premise sounded really interesting (sheltered woman opens up and finds new things about herself while on an unexpected holiday in Europe). But, apart from the protagonist, the characters felt flat and 'by the numbers', the prose leaden and the dialogue deadly dull. Most unforgiveable, for a novel centred around a trip through Europe, there was almost no sense of place; instead the places visited felt as if they were being treated in the same way the heroine herself had started out, as locations to be crossed off her unimaginative checklist.
Unsolicited: A Booklover's Mystery

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This mystery, set mostly in England, with a side excursion to Nantucket, had an intriguing premise: a publisher whose old family firm is on the rocks receives an anonymous manuscript which becomes a surprise fiction bestseller. In the process of publishing the sequel, a mounting series of events convince him that the plot is not fiction after all but rather describes a real-life crime, and that there are persons unknown prepared to stop at nothing to prevent the publication of the denouement, which will reveal the actual perpetrator. Unfortunately, all of the fairly large cast of characters felt flat to me and none of them ever jumped off the page enough for me to care what was happening to them, including, and especially, the first person narrator. Instead, they all felt like ciphers being moved around by the author in furtherance of the complicated plot. I read to the end but I don’t think I’ll be seeking out any of the other mysteries in this series.
Silver Bay

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English businessman Mike Dormer travels to quiet bay on NSW coast to push for a luxury resort development. Instead he becomes sucked into the calmer lives of the residents, especially his hotelier's distant, traumatised niece and her daughter. Nice premise but felt bogged down by the author's choice to tell the story from multiple points of view, slowing the pacing. This wouldn't have been such as issue if the various pov characters' voices had been more distinctive. Instead they came across as rather the same, as in all feeling like the author's voice.
Venetia

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The only fault I have to find with this audiobook is that it is an abridged edition of the original work. Otherwise, it is a very well done production and Richard Armitage is an excellent narrator.
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Lord of Ice

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Guardian/ward romances are not really my cup of tea and this may have coloured my take on this story. The main characters were quite well-drawn but suffered from uneven plotting and pacing. The author has clearly done her historical research regarding details and yet, there was something every now and then which came through in the narrative tone, as well as dialogue and characters' attitudes, that was a little too modern, and a little too *American*, for the period and setting. This kept pulling me out of the narrative, which also lessened my interest. I don't think Gaelen Foley is the author for me.
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