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.

FirstA 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

'til later


Marg said...

I have never read any Kasey Michaels before...but these sound good!!

Scurrying off to add MORE books to the TBR list!

Tara Marie said...

I either LOVE Kasey Michael's books, or I hate them.

I have the first in this series on my TBR pile, maybe I should actually read it.

Kristie (J) said...

Tara: I think that's why I've never considered her an autobuy author. Although I've read a lot of her books, I haven't like enough of them to move her to the autobuy list. But these ones are very very good.

Marg: Don't you just love/hate when you see a book highly recommended? On the one hand it's nice to add more to the pile, but on the other hand it takes a bit out of the wallet and makes the pile that much bigger.

Lori said...

I really enjoy Kasey Michaels. Her contemporaries are hilarious! I've only read one of her historicals, and it was so-so. These sound really good. *sigh* More to add to my TBR list.

CindyS said...

Now see, this is what is good about reader blogs. Kasey Michaels hasn't even been on my radar and by the looks of it, she has a few books published ;)

Once the move is over, I may have to go out and buy a few books and it looks like it's time to re-adjust my radar to include Michaels.

Oh, are her books sensual? Or subtle?


sybil said...

love her three books in america

The Homecoming
The Untamed
The Promise

Kristie (J) said...

Cindy: Oh there sensual all right :) A La AAR they would be Hot

Sybil: checking my handy dandy spreadsheet, I have The Untamed. I don't remember it. Yet another reason for the need for my library. If I ever *sigh* - it's been months and months now; not since November - make it to a UBS, I'll have something to look for.

Lori: I've read a few of her contemps. I have the Maggie book but didn't care for it. I know she wrote a couple of baseball books I liked. Again looking at my spreadsheet, I have huge gaps where I didn't read any of her books. Hmm, defintely writing her name down for the next UBS run!

Nicole said...

I can't remember if I've read Kasey Michaels or not. But I might have to try this series. Looks good.

Jennie said...

I've never heard of this author--I'll have to put her on my list.

I'm a nut about series books. I love to read them back to back.

Lori said...

Kristie, the baseball ones were the ones I read and really liked - I think the were Be My Baby Tonight and Love to Love You Baby. I liked them so much because they were so damn funny, I think.

I have never read any of the Maggie books - they never sounded up my alley.

Fickle Fiona said...

Oh yeah! A new series to read...woo-hoo!

The last Michaels I read was some of her early 90s work...Legacy of the Rose and Lion on the Prowl come to mind.


romancelover said...

Never read her...I'm definitely intrigued. Another series? Gosh, I'm're killing me. The romance blogs will be the death of me...or my savings account...yeah, death of my savings. Oy!

If you want a cool TRACY ANNE WARREN's TRAP series...I'm reading the 3rd one right now (just started and it's almost 1AM).

Thanks, Kristie!!!

Valeen said...

The second and third book of this series are the only Michaels books I've read.

Out of them, the third was my absolute favorite.

I sent an email to Kasey a couple of weeks ago regarding this series. She said to me that there will be a total of seven books in this series - the next one out March 2007 is Spencers story.

And unfortunately she wouldn't even hint as to whether or not Rian and Fanny will end up together. I do hope so though, I'd really like to read their story.

Kristie (J) said...

Valeen: are you planning on reading the first one 'cause if you were to tie me down and tickle me with feathers I'd have to pick the first as my fave. There was something in the third one where I kind of didn't think Rian and Fanny would end up together. It would be kind of weird if they did in a way. But then again, it might be very interesting!

Romancelover: You are most welcome. They are great reads - I was very impressed. I've seen the Trap series by Tracey Anne Warren - I'll have to look at them again - turnabout is fair play after all *G*

Fiona: I have Legacy of the Rose too - but yet again - I don't remember it - and it's buried - for now.

Lori: I liked the first baseball book - not so much the twin brothers. I just happened to be at a thrift store yesterday looking at books and I found another one I hadn't seen - Can't Take My Eyes Off of You. It was only $1.50 but now I have a feeling I already have this one.

Jennie: she doesn't seem to be that well know even though she's been writing for years!

Nicole: like I said to Jennie - she doesn't seem to be well know - but with my help, a small corner of the world will now hear of her *curtsey*

Jay said...

I'm somewhat surprised to hear that so many people have never heard of Kasey Michaels. She's definitely, if not an autobuy, then hunt down as soon as possible, author.

That being said though, I have the first Romney Marsh book tbr and now I don't think I'm all that interested in reading the series anymore. We know my thoughts on light and fluffy versus dark and mysterious. So thanks for the review, now I know I can post the book to PBS. :)

Kristie (J) said...

LOL Jay - When I like a book, the thought is that others might want to give it a try, not trade it in. *chuckle*
Still, I'm glad I could help you decide that this is one that doesn't appeal to you - being the huge fan of historicals that I know you are ;)

Jay said...

lol hey, anything to help whittle down the tbr is appreciated. Read em or get rid of them, that's what I say. Except that's a complete lie. I'm such a hoarder ;)

ag said...

Hmmm ... you're making me reconsider Kasey Michaels, hom I've picked up and then put back on the shelf on several occasions.

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