REVIEW: “Leigh LaValle’s THE MISBEHAVING MARQUESS: Ain’t Misbehaving”

These days, says Miss Bates, romance novellas are like samples at the Costco: a delectation of good things to come, if you’re willing to dish out for a lifetime supply of candied ginger. Thus, Miss Bates has come to feel manipulated by the novella (she’s got one more to review and then she’s swearing off … ), even LaValle’s Marquess, which she enjoyed. Now, Miss Bates does not want to detract from the review at hand, which is a fairly positive one, but the romance novella, such as it is, annoys her. Why can’t publishers stand behind a stand-alone? Why does every romance novel spawn a series? Why does every series have a novella launch, or bridge between two longer books, such as this one?

To start, this marquess hasn’t misbehaved; he has merely pouted … a lot. The marquess, Jamie Forster, has been in a snit for five years because he thought that his wife, Cat, betrayed him mere weeks after their marriage. Even though she’s sworn up and down that she did not, immaturity and hurt pride ensued nevertheless. He nursed his amour-propre in parts unknown until making his appearance in the opening chapter in the marchioness’s sitting-room.

For five years, Cat has been holed up on this country estate, atoning for her non-sin by saving widows and their children from the workhouse. She is renovating cottages in which to house them and building a lace factory to provide work. She’s grown up; she’s changed. Jamie has as well; though he still harbors some hurt, he recognizes that his actions were hasty and immature. He sets out to win his wife back. Cat rightly wavers. Even though she still loves him, can she forgive and trust him? Ah, the marquess eats humble pie to redeem himself. He also bears gifts from his travels that would warm any woman’s heart, or in this case, thaw it.

This story was quite enjoyable. The prose was fairly smooth, a trifle overly impassioned in places, but it read with relative ease. It didn’t break any moulds, or enthral Miss Bates, but it didn’t jar either. Jamie and Cat are likeable and their hurt feelings make sense. LaValle handled the perimeters of the novella’s shorter length well and made the romance front and centre, unlike Miss Bates’s previous read (see her review of Jackie Barbosa’s Hot Under the Collar). She conveyed Cat’s and Jamie’s hurt and love and anger convincingly. She also developped their growing desire to release the hurt and anger in order to forgive each other, love each other, and give their marriage a second-chance. Miss Bates loves a second-chance romance.

In the end, however (Miss Bates picks up the snark again), LaValle’s novella is serviceable. It tells a nice story about two likeable people learning to forgive each other their wrongs and admit their love. By all means, read it; it is a pleasant way to while away an hour. And an hour is about as long as you’ll remember it after you’re done. (LaValle’s novella previously appeared in the anthology Three Weddings And A Funeral.)

Miss Bates would read one of Ms LaValle’s romance novels on the basis of this sampling, but for this diminutive effort, she can only say, “Tolerable comfort.” Mansfield Park

This honest review is the result of an e-novella offered by Heart Bay Publishing via Netgalley.

REVIEW: “Jackie Barbosa’s HOT UNDER THE COLLAR: Casting Stones at the Vicar Hero”

Miss Bates struggled with this novella, alternating liking and disliking it. The prose is polished and smooth; the story, reminiscent of 19th century novels like Trollope’s, except it’s set in 1803 and contains hot love scenes. The fact that the hero of this novella is a vicar makes for interestingly liberal Christian ethics, but the romance is a failure. It pales next to other more interesting aspects. The characters, especially the hero, Walter Langston, the fallen woman, Artemisia Finch, the townspeople of Grange-Over-Sands, their dilemmas, their quarrels are more engaging than the romance, as if Barbosa wanted to write about those things instead of torrid love scenes and a cardboard villain.

The plot of this novella is straightforward. Walter Langston, third son of a viscount, ignominiously injured in the army, unwilling to live on the charity of his older brothers, takes the position of vicar in a small English town. Among his parishioners is the beautiful Artemisia Finch, fallen woman and town outcast. At 16, Artemisia slept with the local aristocratic bad boy, who got her pregnant, sullied her reputation by claiming that she’d slept with other men, and abandoned her. She lost her baby and left for London where she became a highly paid courtesan.  Now, she’s returned to nurse her ill father. Walter takes one look at Artemisia and determines to make her his.

Walter is a very sympathetic character, one who matures and finds purpose as the novella progresses. He recognizes the injustice done to Artemisia and embarks on a campaign to win her, as well as reconcile her with the town. There is a lovely scene where he openly calls on her, setting the example of Christian charity for the townspeople. She is lonely, isolated, and suspicious. He offers friendship. How refreshing, how lovely, how original, thought Miss Bates … above all, our vicar hero is kind. When he turns into alpha-vicar and yanks her to him and kisses her … Miss Bates thought, “Badly done.”

In several excellent scenes, Walter ministers to the townspeople, comforting, reassuring, and counselling them. In the process of doing so, Walter realizes that a sense of purpose had been missing from his life. He found it in this last-resort position of town vicar. As he states at the end, “All his life, Walter wondered what was wrong with him. Why he could find … no pursuit that engaged him … But now he understood.” By going through the motions of being a vicar, already by temperament a kind and charitable person, Walter becomes the very thing he took on so lightly and cavalierly. His journey is believable and engaging. His journey is so believable and engaging that the romance plays second fiddle to it. In the end, the love scenes are not moving, or interesting, or as subversive as Barbosa hoped. The romance doesn’t interest us as much as the individual fates of our hero and heroine. Maybe the shorter form of the novella didn’t give the romance much room to develop convincingly. We are not invested in it, whereas we are invested in Walter’s journey to acceptance and maturity. This is a novella of many interesting ideas, but not much feeling.

Miss Bates is enamoured of the vicar, but not his hotness and says, “Tolerable comfort.” Mansfield Park

This honest review is the result of an e-novella provided by Circe Press via Netgalley.

REVIEW: “Cecilia Grant’s A WOMAN ENTANGLED: Or How Jane Austen’s EMMA Triumphed”

Oh, Cecilia Grant, “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.” With a nod to Elizabeth Barrett Browning, it is what came to mind as Miss Bates closed Grant’s best novel yet, A Woman Entangled. She considers A Lady Awakened and A Gentleman Undone two of the most original and interesting romance novels she’s read. A Woman Entangled is great, less alienating, gentler too. Grant has you reconsider figures such as Samuel Richardson, Jane Austen especially, Mary Wollstonecraft, et. al.. She connects what she does in her novel squarely in the romance genre’s “founders” (and detractors?) and other literary influences. This does not make for a dry romance novel. It is great: memorable, witty, engaging, and heart-wrenching.

Grant’s novels are structured on the basis of one premise: putting her characters in a quandary. This allows her to focus on the most important literary element of the romance novel, characterization. Grant’s premise has been one where the heroine navigates the economic, legal, and social givens of her society. It relies on illuminating and critiquing questions of class and status. In A Lady Awakened, Martha contends with a woman’s inability to retain her deceased husband’s property. In A Gentleman Undone, Will and Lydia are both in straitened circumstances; however, Will is in this position because of honour and obligation. It is a free choice. Lydia’s dilemma, on the other hand, is darker, uglier, desperate. In A Woman Entangled, hero and heroine are caught in a similar dilemma: the desire to restore their families’ reputations. This binds them in friendship, but prevents them from acknowledging their love. Their marriage would result in thwarting their ambitions. Even when they’re willing to admit their feelings, they recognize the impossibility of their union in light of their aspirations.

Kate Westbrook hopes a society marriage will restore her family’s reputation, lost when her father married her actress-mother. Their family friend, Nick Blackshear, has the same mission, his family’s reputation shattered when his younger brother married a courtesan. To this end, Kate cultivates her father’s estranged sister-in-law, Lady Harringdon. When Lady Harringdon summons her, Kate is hopeful that her sponsorship will open society’s doors and lead to a respectable marriage, thus ensuring her siblings’ future. Kate’s father, suspicious of the ton’s Lotharios, asks Nick to watch over her. This proximity forces Nick to reconsider Kate’s rejection of his former suit (oh yes, there’s lovely history there!). It rekindles his love and desire for her, improbable as they are. Kate too harbours feelings she is unwilling to admit. Huis clos. Circumstance and obligation bring them close and the pull of attraction, friendship, desire, and love will leave no room for either to make a marriage of convenience.

We are introduced to Kate at a lending library. She holds a copy of Pride and Prejudice. She ruminates on the novel, dismissing Lizzy Bennett’s refusal of Darcy’s first proposal as impractical, even foolish. Kate is pragmatic. She self-identifies as an anti-Lizzy, content to settle for wealth, comfort, and status. In the end, however, it is a conversation with her blue-stocking sister, Viola, about Austen’s Emma, that helps Kate realize the importance of friendship and a love match, such as she would enjoy with Nick. It is Austen who helps her make up her mind about Nick, Austen who urges her to listen to her heart, not to compromise, to live honestly and openly with her deepest desires.

We meet Nick in court, an ambitious lawyer, pondering the likes of Blackstone, Goldsmith, Donne, Fielding, and a variety of law reformers. Nick yearns for a place in history as a barrister and parliamentarian. He yearns for the respect of his peers, a reward for his talent and work ethic. Kate, in turn, yearns for a place as a society wife. Marriage to each other would not alter their status, or serve their ambitions.

In the end, however, Nick and Kate are worthy of our love because they are essentially good people who love their families. They are worthy of our admiration because they have integrity. At the eleventh hour, they are honest about their feelings. They dismiss society’s hypocrisy and choose to live honestly, even though it means their life together will be spent on the fringe. But, maybe not … Grant describes a society in flux, the rigid hierarchies of early 19th century English society giving way to the stirrings of radical social change. This gives hope to Nick and Kate, but does not matter to them as much as it originally did. They’ve done some growing up since then.

The conclusion to this novel is one of sheer happiness, hope, contentment, friendship, acceptance, and forgiveness.  How they reach it is all the pleasure of this novel. Read it. Grant’s novel posits the triumph of desire over intellect, heart over will, and love over pragmatism. It is a romantic, love- and life-affirming vision and a novel not to be missed. Grant takes her place in the romance novel canon alongside Heyer, Chase, and Balogh. Her novels are complex, beautifully written, conscious of their place in a tradition, original, moving, and a breath of fresh air in the miasma of derivative romance.

Miss Bates is so very pleased and says, “You have bewitched me.” Pride and Prejudice

A Woman Entangled is available June 25th.

This honest review was made possible thanks to a generous e-ARC from Random House/Bantam via Netgalley.

REVIEW: “Jessica Hart’s WE’LL ALWAYS HAVE PARIS: A Marriage of Mind & Heart”

Miss Bates has a crise de coeur when she starts a Jessica Hart novel. Could it be that she’s fallen into … gasp … chick lit? The beginning of Hart’s novels is deceptively frivolous. When Promoted: to Wife & Mother (a fave of Miss Bates’s) opens, the hero and heroine are attending a corporate conference on personality types. Silly. When We’ll Always Have Paris opens, the heroine is trying to convince the hero to star in a reality show she’s producing, Romance: Fact or Fiction?  Kitschy. But Hart’s novels do not end as they begin, do not remain in “frivolous” territory for long. Hart doesn’t tarry before she brings her characters from flat to full, from two dimensions to three, consistently increasing the reader’s sympathy and liking for them.

Hart cleverly plays with allusion to popular film, the title itself an echo of Casablanca; the narrative, analogous to The Sound of Music. (There are moments of screwball comedy reminiscent of Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn in Bringing Up Baby.) The hero and heroine of Hart’s novel, Clara and Simon, enact the story of Maria and Capt. Von Trapp. This gives the novel tongue-in-cheek charm and novelty. Hart establishes Clara’s  light-heartedness and joie de vivre and Simon’s dourness through their clothing: Clara meets Simon in a fuchsia mini-dress and purple heels; he is dressed soberly in blue, or grey throughout. Clara is a TV producer, a purveyor of fantasy; Simon is an economist, grounded in hard economic reality and fact. Hart machinates some less than stellar coincidences forcing Simon onto Clara’s show. But when the star opposite Simon bails on the production, Clara has to step in and sparks fly. What ensues is a debate, embodied in witty dialogue, between the heart, Clara, and the mind, Simon; between fantasy and romance, Clara, and reality and pragmatism, Simon.

If Miss Bates claims that Hart brings her characters from flat to full, how does Hart accomplish this in light of the “allegorical” nature of her novel as described in the previous paragraph? Hart fleshes out her hero and heroine by filling in their lives previous to the meet cute. Their present demeanours mask the pain of their pasts. In Simon’s case, this means a spendthrift dad, who died and left the family destitute, and a mom as romantic and blithe as … well, Clara. Simon shudders to think how alike Clara and his mum are. Clara’s singing, dancing, and romantic sensibility hide a heart bruised, broken, and irreparable from a relationship where the love of her life, Matt, left her for the high school sweetheart.

The other interesting though less successful aspect of the novel is Hart’s use of setting. Clara’s reality show situates the debate of Romance: Fact or Fiction in location shooting in some very romantic places: Paris, the Caribbean, the Scottish Highlands. Setting acts as foil or partner to the debate between romance attainable and sustainable, or in fact!, a spectre soon dispelled by practical reality. How Clara and Simon arrive at a compromise and fall in love is wonderfully depicted through their dialogue. The frequent shifts in setting are less successful, resulting in a novel that does not flow, is episodic, and leaves annoying gaps in the narrative.

Miss Bates can’t believe she’s stating this, considering her spinsterish ways, but the absence of detailed love scenes is unappealing. Miss Bates reads inspirational romance, devoid of any love-making scenes, and quite enjoys it; detailed love scenes are not essential to portray the connection between hero and heroine. However, in this case, the closed-door “policy” of this category of romance diminished the love story. Maybe the severe hero and carefree heroine would have had yet more depth by a depiction of their love-making? Miss Bates is uncertain, unable to express what she means, but has a niggling feeling about this.

In the end, this is a strong little novel. Hart has humour, clever use of allusion to classic film, especially the beloved Sound of Music, smooth writing, witty dialogue, a tongue-in-cheek awareness of the genre, and the theme of love’s healing possibility. There is a lovely reversal at the end of the novel: Clara’s dans la lune romanticism gives way to practicalities and rueful awareness of the true nature of love in Simon’s steady, faithful presence and support, and Simon’s sober and utilitarian realism gives way to a grand romantic gesture (worthy of the closing scene of Pretty Woman) and the realization that complementarity is the cement of a relationship and not compatibility.

Miss Bates, despite her quibbles, did enjoy this romance novel, and says, “Almost pretty.” Northanger Abbey

REVIEW: “Tonya Burrows’s SEAL Of Honour: Action Heroes and Damsels In Distress”

Burrows’s soon-to-be-released début, SEAL  Of Honour, is action-packed, well-paced, and entertaining. It is also raw, crude, caricaturish in its characterization and cartoonish in its ethics. The writing is uneven, typical of the newbie writer, but improves as the novel progresses. It doesn’t break any ground, or say anything new about the genre. Even though it is not to Miss Bates’s taste, it was obviously written with commitment and heart. Ms Burrows loved her story and characters and this comes through. It disturbed Miss Bates’s sensibilities in places, but it is genuine and engaging, reminiscent of a good action flick with accompanying romantic interest. Good for a sleepy, rainy Sunday afternoon curled up on the couch.

In principle, SEAL Of Honour, is simple: good guys, former SEALS turned rescue team for kidnap victims, extract the heroine’s brother who was kidnapped by unsavoury ones in Colombia. The love story happens between the stalwart leader of this motley crew, injured and retired SEAL Gabe Bristow, and the victim’s sister, free-spirited artist Audrey Van Amee. They fall in lust, then love, are taken hostage, shot, beaten, abused in sundry ways by such a variety of bad guys that Miss Bates had trouble keeping track of them. Like an Indiana Jones film, after a while this didn’t matter. The action sequences swept her along and just when things reached an idyllic point for hero and heroine, bad guys reared their ugly heads again and again … were foiled again and again …   until the true happy ending was enacted.  A neat and entertaining package, if that’s what you’re looking for.

Miss Bates made a point of saying this novel was not her cuppa and she needs to back that up. To start, Burrows’s novel had passages of awkward writing, stilted dialogue, and convoluted plotting. One of the things that Miss Bates loves about romantic suspense novels is that hero and heroine are motivated by honour and integrity. What she doesn’t love about them, and this comes through loud and clear in this novel, is the glorification of vigilante justice and passionate and acrobatic love scenes in circumstances where that would be the last thing on anyone’s mind. The superhuman ability to enact lustful scenes, especially when hero and/or heroine are injured or beaten is ludicrous. This is especially evident in SEAL Of Honour. Miss Bates was also nonplussed by love scenes that were crude and … well, a trifle too clinical for her taste.

One loves one’s heroes larger-than-life, yes, but these guys sound like their muscles are blown up using a bicycle pump. The heroine is harder to pinpoint: her characterization is uneven. Initially, she is supposed to be free-spirited and fey, but comes across as puerile and immature, calling the hero “numb nuts” and “grumpy butt”! As the writing improves, she does too: she is honest and forthcoming about her physical and emotional needs and this was refreshing to read. A heroine who is not coy, or strident. It’s unfortunate that she’s constantly weeping: read it, you’ll see what Miss Bates means. Miss Bates is circumspect about crying a river, but then Miss Bates isn’t a free-spirited artiste! The violence in this novel is over-the-top and Miss Bates had a hard time reading certain scenes. If you like that kind of thing though, you’ll definitely enjoy this book.

Burrows’s SEAL Of Honour doesn’t break any ground, or do anything more than a good Cindy Gerard novel does. It doesn’t reach the goodness of the early Suzanne Brockmann, but it’s entertaining and will keep your interest, if you can stomach it.

Miss Bates is a tad displeased and may not come calling here again, but she does say, “Tolerable comfort.” Mansfield Park

This review was made possible by a generous e-ARC from Entangled Publishing via Netgalley.

REVIEW: “Allie Pleiter’s HOMEFRONT HERO: Casting Off the Old Adam”

Allie Pleiter’s Homefront Hero is a gem. Pleiter wields the strict parameters of the category and inspirational romance like a sonnet in the hands of the Bard. If inspies aren’t your thing, this lovely little book may change your mind. This is one of the best romance novels I’ve read in a sea of uninspired ones!

What does Pleiter accomplish? Because this is an accomplished book. She depicts established and burgeoning faith as something living, breathing, elemental, and essential to a full life.  She does so without preaching, only weaving her characters’ faith effortlessly into the narrative in a believable and moving way. In her hero and heroine, she creates two loveable, sympathetic, and flawed individuals. She makes history come alive with detail and atmosphere without over-riding the plot or the romance. She makes wonderful use of a central, unifying metaphor. Her romance is a fully fleshed romance as well as an allegory of death and resurrection of body and soul. Some of the writing is simply superb. There is banter, delightful dialogue between the two leads and secondary characters with “character,” not just functionality.

The story is set in the midst of America’s involvement in the Great War, at Camp Jackson in S. Carolina.  A wounded, recovering war hero, John Gallows, and a neophyte nurse, Leanne Sample, meet when General Barnes orders him to assist with her project. He has been the driving attraction of an army recruitment campaign; he’s handsome, cavalier, charming, wealthy … and wants only to return to battle. Leanne is also on a mission to convince men and boys to join women in knitting socks for the troops. What better poster boy than John Gallows? John uses his acquiescence as a bargaining chip with General Barnes to return to the front, even though his leg is not, nor ever will be, healed and he is in constant pain. What follows is a wonderful, humorous undermining of an alpha male as he learns to knit at the hands of this beautiful, intelligent, pious, and sharp-tongued young woman who takes a stand against his charm.

What starts as a gentle inspie romance soon grows into a dark night of the soul. John grapples with feelings of self-hatred and worthlessness, declaring himself “an unfinished hero,” even while his feelings for Leanne and her gentle persuasion towards God have him in knots. Once the hero’s and heroine’s feelings are fully engaged, John’s imminent departure, his need to be worthy of his heroic status, brings the first of the dark moments for this couple: separation, possible death. But death comes in another form and John cannot abandon Leanne to it. The Spanish influenza epidemic strikes; John and Leanne are plunged into a dark night of the soul. But it is always darkest before the dawn and this novel concludes with stirring scenes of redemption and rebirth. It also has the best “baby” epilogue I’ve ever read … with nary a baby in sight.

For me, the most appealing aspect of Homefront Hero is Pleiter’s use of the unifying metaphor of knitting. If you’re thinking how prosaic … you’d be wrong. Witness the following lovely little phrases. We are introduced to Leanne as she asks that “God cast her life’s reach far and wide,” playing on the notion of “casting” stitches and nets, as in the Christian reference to fishermen’s nets. She uses an understanding of tension in a knit’s weave to represent the tension that attraction brings between the hero and heroine. It stands as the central metaphor of a communion with God: “God spoke to her thoughts and breaths, in colours and sensations.  All her senses seemed to weave together — sometimes tight and coarse, other times loose and billowy.  When the world was tight and coarse, she would feel God beside her, holding, protecting. When the world was loose and billowy, she would feel Him underneath her like the wind under a seagull.”

Homefront Hero is a story, to quote the hero, of “love and God,” of redemption and hope, of humour and everyday life and heroism.  It is not insipid, naïve, or simplistic, which are the adjectives we can sometimes lay at the feet of inspirational romance.

Miss Bates is very, very pleased and says “You have bewitched me.” (Pride and Prejudice)

REVIEW: Iris Johansen’s The Lady and the Unicorn: The Myth Of the Alpha

Iris Johansen’s The Lady and the Unicorn was published in 1983; it is available to readers via Loveswept’s digital reprints. This is a romance novel stamped with the flaws of its time and a reader must suspend certain sensibilities to enjoy it. Enjoy it Miss Bates did, however, even while gritting her teeth and squirming with embarrassment in places. No matter its failings, Johansen is a lovely writer and can paint a scene with beauty and subtlety. For that alone, it is worth reading.

The compelling opening to The Lady and the Unicorn puts it in the Brontë Camp of romance novels. For this reader, one of whose favourite novels is Jane Eyre, this is a sure way to hook and reel me in. An original scene opens the novel: Janna Cannon rappels into millionaire Rafe Santine’s fortress, his “Thornfield,” determined to convince him to donate prime development-bound real estate to her employer, a wild life reserve looking for a new home for its wards. The associations to Jane Eyre are immediate: a lowering citadel; a heroine named Janna, an orphaned innocent with an independent spirit and a moral and spiritual bent; a hero who is irascible, discontented, impatient, officious and, to quote the Bard, at a point in his life where “man delights not me, nor no woman neither.” Though brooding, petulant, and seemingly indifferent to her, he’s affected by Janna’s beauty and purity. Her conquest of his stronghold walls is a foreshadowing of her triumph over his emotional ones. (Even her last name, Cannon, is indicative of the power she’ll have over them.) Like Jane Eyre, Jenna is cared for, coddled, protected; she converses as an equal and roams the grounds, experiencing sublime natural surroundings.

Johansen’s writing is graceful, fluent and makes interesting use of natural and animal imagery. The romance is structured around these metaphors and they both elevate and damn it. On the damning side, Rafe strikes a deal with Jenna: he will donate the land and she, in turn, will spend two months isolated in his fortress as his “pet.” Jenna is the “gazelle” that arouses his “hunting instincts.” Metaphors of hunter and prey, pet and keeper necessitate the reader to suspend certain sensibilities regarding the novel. Rafe and Jenna work out their relationship on the basis of this uncomfortable premise, made worse by the fact that Jenna is part Native American. Jenna is stereotyped when Rafe calls her “my little earth mother,” “Pocahontas,” and “little doe.” Rafe holds her captive, manhandles her, and flies into jealous fits. He is always, as he tells Jenna, on the brink of “losing control.” Thus, Rafe is the beast and Jenna the dove who will tame him. He, in turn, will domesticate her and rein her desire for the open spaces and independence. A distasteful scenario of captivity and compulsion.

The Lady and the Unicorn comprises passages of beauty; the writing is consistently polished and flows with ease and grace. As I said above, the use of animal and natural imagery elevates the novel and makes it worth reading. The reader will appreciate and enjoy the lovely passage where Jenna tames Rafe’s vicious guard dogs, the descriptions of the wild and craggy lands that surround Rafe’s castle, whose beauty sustain Jenna’s spirit, and the comfort Jenna draws from the splendor of a sunset when she is sorrowful. Most importantly, the legend of the lady and the unicorn serves as an elucidation of Rafe’s volatile, capricious moods and meteoric personality. In the end, Janna is free to decide her role in the legend and the answer lies in love, compromise, and sacrifice for both characters.

There is much to love about The Lady and the Unicorn and much that one can deride too. It is undeniable that the descriptive writing is a cut above; it is true that Johansen deftly makes use of a charming mythical reference. In the end, it reminded me somewhat of Laura London’s Lightning That Lingers, with the animal and natural world coming to bear upon the romance. You won’t like everything about it, but you won’t easily forget the lady and her unicorn either.

Almost pretty.”  Northanger Abbey

This review is the result of a generous e-ARC from Random House/Loveswept via Netgalley.