Friday, August 24, 2012

A Discreet Gentleman of Discovery

A Discreet Gentleman of Discovery

by Kris Tualla


18th century romance set in Norway. Brander Hansen lost his hearing to an infection at the age of seven. Disinherited by his father, he sets himself up as a "gentleman of discovery," a kind of 18th century detective, aided by his cousin Niels. Baroness Regin Kildahl writes to him for help when her husband gambles away their estate, not knowing that Brander has been systematically buying up the debts on the Kildahl estate, hoping to buy himself a title. Brander, using his professional pseudonym Lord Olaf Olsen, agrees to help her, while also attempting to solve a string of murders around Christiania (Oslo). The plot description on Amazon goes into a lot more detail about the plot, but it's kind of spoiler-y, don't read it if you don't want to know half the story.

If, like Devo Girl, you like historical fiction and a deaf hero, this is definitely one to check out. The writing is above average for romance, and the author has clearly done a lot of research. I really liked the Norwegian setting; it was original and interesting. The plot and characterization is satisfyingly rich, and the use of language is mostly appropriate for the era, something you don't find often in historical romance. It gets a bit overly cheezy toward the end, but on the whole the balance of mystery, adventure, and romance is pretty good, which is also unusual--most romance authors usually drop the other plot elements once the hero and heroine get together.

The depiction of deafness is pretty good. The author clearly did research on that too, which is much appreciated. Brander and Niels use a sign language they developed together, but Brander can also read lips. He communicates using a mix of sign language, mouthing words silently, and writing. It was a nice believable touch that he can't speak well, and chooses not to. I really liked that he wasn't like a deaf superhero who can do everything perfectly (although his lipreading is a bit too effortless and perfect). I also liked that he's pretty well adjusted to his disability--I'm so tired of the injury/recovery story. But his deafness is still a big part of the story, it's definitely not glossed over.

The best part is that even though this is a romance in a series, the next books will all be about Brander and Regin, not about secondary characters spun off into their own books. There are several other books about the Hansen family, but they are set in different time periods, and it's not necessary to read them to enjoy this one. The second Brander/Regin novel, A Discreet Gentleman of Matrimony, is already out, and the author has another three in the works. So much to look forward to!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Wheels of Steel Book 1 (of 3)

Wheels of Steel, Book 1Wheels of Steel, Book 1 by Pepper Pace
*** I really enjoyed this book.

Robin is a shy twenty one year old who is getting over the death of her father and readjusting to the new dynamic of her relationship with her mother after the loss of the buffer that kept their squabbles at bay. Having made the choice to move out and live on her own because she refused to go to college, she struggles to make ends meet. A tip from a work colleague sends her down the path of becoming a home care assistant (HCA). Her first client is an old woman who she eventually befriends. Her second client is Jason. Who on the surface is a surly student who has cerebral palsy (CP). Their friendship blooms.

The only thing that I disliked about the book was that there were a few spelling mistakes. I got the feeling that there may have been something wrong with Ms Pace's keyboard as every time she meant "than" we got "then". Also, now that I think of it, I did find the dialogue a bit hard to follow as I wasn't always sure who was speaking as there would be something said but the proceeding action was something of the person being talked to which made it not too clear and required a quick reread.

Now, what I liked about the book. Robin's characterisation was fantastic. A shy nervous girl who disliked crowds and being shouted at. I could really relate and the author conveyed this condition with great understanding. I also loved that although Robin was shy and nervous she had a strong side making her very dynamic. As the book proceeds we see her gaining more and more confidence and growing into herself.

Jason is grumpy when we first encounter him but soon it is explained were this stems from and he becomes a very sympathetic character. The relationship between him and Robin develops in a very natural way, refreshingly realistic and devoid of M&B cliché moves and dialogue. The situation of Robin being a HCA to Jason is handled very well. The author not shying away of dealing with every detail. It was interesting to see how Robin, whose duties involved doing some pretty intimate tasks for Jason, then has to see him in a romantic light.

I also loved the smooth changing of point of view between Robin and Jason. It felt good as a reader to be able to get into both of their heads.

My one big tip would be, have book 2 at the ready as you will want to reach for it as soon as book 1 ends, trust me. I am really looking forward to reading the next two books in this series.

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