Thursday, April 15, 2010

My mom is a long-time romance reader. She loves Debbie McComber and Nora Roberts, Sarah Brown and Jude Devereux among others and she’s always passing books onto me that I then pass to my mother-in-law who is also an avid romance reader. My mom reads about 15 books a month; my m-i-l reads an average of 25. They expect me to keep up.

I don’t, obviously. And while I enjoy the occasional romance novel, I like to vary the genre I read. I tend to be a news junkie, so I read a lot of non-fiction. I also enjoy fantasy (have I mentioned lately I’ve been a Tolkien geek long before it was fashionable?), science fiction, and historical novels that may or may not be romantic in nature (love Michael Sharra’s books!).

All that said, this year I’m keeping track of the books I read. The most recent additions to the list are two books by Judith Devereux: The Summerhouse and The Duchess.

I enjoyed The Summerhouse very much. The plot had a cool hook that fed into the fantasy lover I am and, of course, her characters are wonderfully drawn as always. The story follows a group of women who are given a chance at a “do over” in life. Watching them analyze their respective pasts and make decisions about their futures made for a good two-day’s reading. And it’s thought-provoking, too. Makes you think what parts of your own life you might like to have an opportunity to do over.

So The Summerhouse had qualities I look for in good books: characters I can believe, a good plot hook, and it stuck with me after I read it. I didn’t want to jump right into another book, I wanted to carry this one around in my head for a few days after I was done reading.

I can’t say the same about The Duchess. Oh, it was a good story, if a bit traditional in the historical nature genre. I found only one anachronism when the female protagonist walks into a room and “flips on a light.” In 1883. Both the action and the phrasing were too modern for the story and I had to flip back to the start of the book to make sure I had the right period.

Other than that, I really did enjoy the story…right up to the ending. Won’t give spoilers, but I felt cheated. It was almost as if she’d gotten tired of writing the book, so she wrapped up all the loose ends in an epilogue and closed the file. But some of those “loose ends” were actually subplots that deserved their own climaxes. Such a let down at the end of the book. I wanted to throw the darn thing across the room and yell at her for being a lazy writer.

So, two Jude Devereux stories, two Diana Gabaldon, one Debbie McComber and a Neil Gaiman. Three and half months into the year and I’ve read six books. Not a bad start to the year!

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