Friday, May 26, 2006
A Reading Experiment
I had the first book, of Kasey Michaels, A Gentleman By Any Other Name sitting in my TBR pile when I saw the next two were also out. I thought I would try something different and read them back to back to back. I must admit to a bit of hesitancy when I decided to do this. While on the one hand I appreciate this new trend of releasing books in consecutive months, instant gratification don’t you know can be a good thing, on the other hand I was a bit worried that the similarities of character might water down enjoyment somewhat. I don’t normally read new books like that – I’ll do it with rereads sometimes but this was a bit of an experiment.
Well – I’m happy to say my worries were unfounded! Each set of hero/heroines were distinct and unique with their own personalities.
First – A Gentleman by any other Name is the story of Chance Beckett and Julia Carruthers. This one starts rather slowly (in a good way) but as the book goes along more and more layers are added and we see that Chance and Julia really aren’t who they seem to be at the beginning. Chance Beckett, a businessman (yea – not a member of the ton!) is a recent widower who rather reluctantly hires Julia Carruthers to look after his daughter Alice. Julia is one of the heroines who can’t keep her mouth shut when she thinks Chance is handling something wrong. It was wonderful to see her “stick it” to Chance every chance she can get. Chance struggles between wanting to fire her and wanting to bed her. Guess what he does? Julia is strong, capable and an all round great heroine. Chance is a man of mystery. As the book opens he is somewhat estranged from his family. The oldest of eight adopted children, he works for the War Office and is sent back to his family home in Romney Marsh to check out the smuggling going on there. Saying very much would necessitate giving spoilers and I don’t want to do this. But this book is fascinating as we read along and family secrets are slowly revealed. I know I’ll be rereading this one again. It’s a Keeper
Grade: 5 out of 5
Second - The Dangerous Debutante is the story of Morgan Beckett, one of Ainsley Beckett’s adopted daughters. Morgan is off too London to stay with her brother and sister in law and enjoy a 'season'. She is beautiful, wild and exotic and definitely a rule breaker. On the way to London she runs into Ethan Tanner, the Earl of Aylesford, a seemingly beautiful but useless member of the ton. The attraction between them is instantaneous and powerful. Often this kind of thing doesn’t work, but in this book it works very well. As with the first book, Morgan and Ethan aren’t all that they appear to be. Each is much deeper than we originally were led to believe. To be honest, I wasn’t sure whether I liked Morgan or not throughout much of the book. She’s beautiful and knows it. She’s wilful and knows it. She’s manipulative and knows it. Then in one very poignant and painful scene it’s brought home to her how her careless flirting has affected other people. I thought it was a testament to great writing that even though I found her character confounding, she was still very compelling. And we can’t forget Ethan. He’s not your run of the mill ‘peer who’s a spy’. Nope – he’s got some depth to him. And he loves his Mama. Despite the rather dumb title, this is another very good entry.
Grade 4 ½ out of 5
Third – Beware of Virtuous Women is the story of Eleanor Beckett, the oldest of the Beckett daughters and Jack Eastwood, the associate of Ainsley Beckett. Eleanor is the glue that holds the Beckett family together. It’s been assumed by everyone that Eleanor with her soft-spoken ways and her crippled foot will always remain with her father. But beneath her rather calm exterior beats the heart of a woman (that sounds rather dramatic doesn’t it – but it is the best way to describe her) who has secretly been in love with Jack ever since he joined up with the Beckett family. When an opportunity arises for her to travel to London with Jack and pose as his wife she jumps at it, thinking this will be THE memory she holds for the rest of her lonely life. Jack is just a working guy. He’s a former soldier; nothing special. But as with all the other characters in this series, there is much more to him as the story goes along. Although he’s known Eleanor for a number of years, she just wasn’t on his radar. But it’s when they spend time together and he really “sees” her for the intelligent and compelling woman she is, he falls and he falls hard. She really brings out the caring and tender side of him. And although he has a secret agenda, there is a part of him that longs to be completely included in the intriguing Beckett clan.
Grade 4 ½ out of 5
The series overall.
I think this is a series that needs to be read in order starting with the first book. There are several mysteries that arc over all three books and by the time I got to the final book, I couldn't wait to find out the deep and dark secrets behind the Beckett family. I don’t think one is complete without the other two. The overall feel of the books is rather dark – people die. But the Beckett family is multi-dimensional and fascinating and compelling. I know I didn't give much of the story line; even the back cover might give more that I did, but I didn't want to spoil it for anyone thinking of giving these ones a read. It seems that Ms Michaels has plans for the remaining Beckitt siblings coming out in 2007. I will be so there when they do come out. Although only Ainsley , the intriguing and tortured patriarch, and his youngest daughter Cassie are related by blood, there is no question this is a family who deeply love and protect each other. This is a wonderful, rich series that reminded me of why I love romance.
Although I’ve never really considered Kasey Michaels an autobuy author I have read quite a few of her books. She is one of the multi-talented authors that can write dark historicals one book and light and humours contemporaries the next. She has dared to skewer the publishing industry in her Maggie books. I officially declare her a buried treasure! (whew! That’s one category I’ve found already for next year’s ballot)
Now I'm off to read my military book for Angies May Challenge