Tuesday, October 3, 2006

Wendy, You Ignorant Slut

My TBR Anxiety is killing me. So in a poor attempt to make myself feel better, I have vowed (when I'm in between review books) to dig out some titles that I've had lying around for years. This one has been lying around for at least six. Seriously, I have a problem.

The Basics: All Through The Night by Connie Brockway, published back in 1997. Considered by many to be a "classic." It ranks in at #9 on the AAR Top 100 Romances Poll.

The Plot: Anne Wilder is a nobody in Regency London who married very well. Then her noble husband gets himself killed fighting Napoleon and Anne is left with the guilt. From the outside her marriage looked perfect, but she knows she drove her husband to his death - and consequently because he was a horrible officer, many innocent "baser" born soldiers died. She is doing her penance in charity work, trying to scrap together funds for a home that takes care of veterans (the common soldiers) - but drat it all, members of the gentry are reneging on their pledges. So Anne takes to the roof tops as a cat burglar, stealing baubles and fencing them for her charity work.

Colonel Jack Seward is a man who has sold his soul to the devil. A man who works in the shadows as a spy for his government. His latest mission is to track down this cat burglar stealing from the ton. Seems the thief unwittingly stole a valuable letter - a letter his superiors don't want leaked to the masses. But what happens when he discovers the thief is a woman? He infiltrates society and finds Anne Wilder, a vulnerable widow. But our boy is already distracted by the thief - he cannot afford to be distracted by the widow as well.

The Good: It was so nice to read a Regency-set historical that wasn't fluffy nonsense, that had a real sense of place. I thought Brockway handled the war details well. For a long time the British had a nasty habit of padding their officer ranks with men who had no experience, no brains, but plenty of money, titles and connections. Look no further than The Charge Of The Light Brigade.

I loved that both hero and heroine were simple "common" folk. Seriously, I get tired of reading about Dukes, Earls and What-Not.

I adored how this novel ended. It's a touch mysterious, and not the least bit syrupy. Tired of heroine's squirting out triplets in the epilogue? Read this book.

The Bad: It took forever to go anywhere. Seriously. I almost gave up on it. While I wouldn't say I was bored, I was indifferent for a while because there was no action to speak of. I kept waiting for something, anything, to happen.

Also, I wasn't convinced on the romance for a very long time. Jack doesn't trust anyone (and I mean anyone), and Anne has been running around as a thief - essentially lying to him by omission for a good portion of the novel. Color me crazy, not exactly a great way to start a relationship. They also don't spend a ton of time on meaningful conversation. I was too skeptical for a little too long.

At times I felt the characters were set adrift in the story. There were aspects here that easily could have been written out entirely, and maybe should have because they weren't explored fully. The example that immediately leaps to mind is Sophia - a slutty, young thing that Anne is supposed to be chaperoning (and doing a crappy job of it I might add). This twit was a distraction more often than not. At first I thought she was going to provide conflict, but she really doesn't. She doesn't do much of anything except "ruin" herself and annoy me.

The Final Verdict: I thought this was a good read. An above average read. But not a great read. Frankly, it doesn't even hit my keeper standard. Am I sorry I read it? No. There are aspects of this novel I'll remember for a while (namely the ending). I also enjoyed the setting quite a bit, and trust me when I say I was burnt out on Regency London a long time ago. My Grade = B.

2 comments:

Rosie said...

Wendy, I always love when I find someone who has an older, bigger or more crushing TBR dilemma than I do!! *vbg* That's my therapy.

Good review. I haven't been able to find this (w/out an online purchase) and think I'll wait. I've never enjoyed the cat burglar/jewel thief storyline.

Susan K said...

I too loved the ending of this book -- should be required reading for any author tempted to add the cliched popping out triplets (usually annually) epilogue. I've always thought Brockway should write about the poor man who offered to marry Sophia; he'd appeared in one of Brockway's earlier books where he also lost the heroine to the hero. I think she wants to but doesn't own the rights to her earlier books/characters, so can't.