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Joanna Bourne - The Spymaster's Lady
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Leigh



Joined: 29 May 2007
Posts: 2689

PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2008 1:28 pm    Post subject: just don't get historicals Reply with quote

I reserved this book at the library after all the hype, but then decided to buy in, thinking that I would want to re-read it. I didn't dislike, didn't love it, I just thought it was okay.

I had a difficult time suspending belief on many things. One that being blind she could lead them out of prison, two, that she learned to hide her blindness after only being blind for less than six months. That this horrible french spys always backed off after being hit in the arm with a knife. That she always knew exactly where to hit the person in the head to knock him out (most head injuries just don't go down immediately)and on and on. That the spy head let his daughter prostitute herself and didn't have a problem with it, and that he left his granddaughter in the spy business, knowing what she was seeing. So he doesn't want to torture her, etc, but he didn't have a problem with a child seeing what she did.
This story was a fairy tale with no basis in reality for me.
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xina



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 6635
Location: minneapolis

PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2008 2:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Leigh, OT here, but I wanted to comment on those cute puppies! Are they English Cocker Spaniels? They are so sweet....I assume they are yours?
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WandaSue



Joined: 29 Mar 2007
Posts: 277

PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2008 2:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm one of the minority here. I didn't love it. I liked it, just barely. That's all. Anybody who knows someone with the sort of "burden" endured by Annique in the first part of the story will see how improbable and -- yes, unrealistic -- her attitude toward it is. Just not believable. Sorry.
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dick



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 2505

PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2008 3:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I didn't find the heroine's characterization exactly realistic either. But I don't think the realism of the book was its greatest appeal. It was a combination of things--the sharp and witty dialogue; the spirited personality of the heroine; the subtlety of the growth of the relationship; and, perhaps most compelling of all, the authors style, which with deceptive ease and flow, yet seduced with its marvellous aptness to the characters and the story. I've mentioned before that the book has all the lighthearted fairy tale quality of a Julie Garwood medieval without the sometimes daunting plainness of Garwood's style.
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Tee



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 4225
Location: Detroit Metro

PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2008 3:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

To Leigh and WandaSue--
I share a lot of your questions and concerns about the book, especially in the first third to half of it. In fact, I mentioned that in a previous post of mine. I couldn't quite grasp the operation (even though msaggie, as a physician, assured me that this was entirely possible). I felt the book literally picked up, though, once her first particular challenge was over. Also, her "issue" was presented here as a non-proclaimed spoiler, so I knew about it going into the book and wasn't surprised (but wished I wouldn't have known that beforehand).

She did sound like Wonder Woman in many spots, who could accomplish anything and everything thrown her way, no matter the circumstances; but I really did end up enjoying the story as it went along. I'm going to reserve total judgment on her work as an author after reading her next book.

I was in your shoes some time ago, when practically everyone who posts here totally raved about Elizabeth Hoyt's Prince series. After I read each of the books, I didn't "get" them then and still don't. But differences in opinions are what helps keep the world going 'round (I think).
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MrsFairfax



Joined: 27 Mar 2007
Posts: 1069

PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2008 4:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Maybe my standards are just terribly low, but what sold the book for me was the distinctive voices. It shouldn't be so unusual to be able to tell characters apart, but usually it's catch phrases, not cadence, that serves as identifier when a character is speaking. Bourne impressed me with her dexterity there, so writing style carried the story for me.

In another thread, there was a mention of a hero who, two years after being stricken with a "challenge" like Annique's, was still flailing about and bitter. I thought of her trek to Marseilles then and had to laugh, it is absurd. But then, I've "believed" stupider things in the interest of romance.

Overall, it's on my list for this year (I'm keeping a list! of course, it's only January) as a B.
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Leigh



Joined: 29 May 2007
Posts: 2689

PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2008 6:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

xina wrote:
Leigh, OT here, but I wanted to comment on those cute puppies! Are they English Cocker Spaniels? They are so sweet....I assume they are yours?


Yes my babies, Lyla,Lily, Lola and Lucas. I would guess that Lyla, Lily, Lola are English. Lucas is American cocker (breeder didn't want because his bite was off & turned him into rescue group. I got Lola from the same rescue group. Lyla and Lily I bought from an individual almost 8 years ago. Lola is almost 3 and Lucas around 2.

lol I never planned on getting four dogs but I discovered rescue groups, and picked out Lola. We all met and got along, but then I found that Lyla and Lily wouldn't play with her, so three months later Lucas picked us out<g>. My first male dog.
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Leigh



Joined: 29 May 2007
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2008 6:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tee wrote:
To Leigh and WandaSue--
I share a lot of your questions and concerns about the book, especially in the first third to half of it. In fact, I mentioned that in a previous post of mine. I couldn't quite grasp the operation (even though msaggie, as a physician, assured me that this was entirely possible). I felt the book literally picked up, though, once her first particular challenge was over. Also, her "issue" was presented here as a non-proclaimed spoiler, so I knew about it going into the book and wasn't surprised (but wished I wouldn't have known that beforehand).

She did sound like Wonder Woman in many spots, who could accomplish anything and everything thrown her way, no matter the circumstances; but I really did end up enjoying the story as it went along. I'm going to reserve total judgment on her work as an author after reading her next book.

I was in your shoes some time ago, when practically everyone who posts here totally raved about Elizabeth Hoyt's Prince series. After I read each of the books, I didn't "get" them then and still don't. But differences in opinions are what helps keep the world going 'round (I think).


I don't know why I can easily go along with improbabilies in contempories (Jennifer Crusie, Susan Elizabeth Phillips,etc) but am more critical of historicals. I think historicals tend to be more dramatic vs. contemporary which are more lighthearted Althought SEP does tend to have issues, but then she adds Lucky Charms, and you just suspend belief.

I did enjoy the writing, but was just drawn out of the story by the superheroine. I think if she had been older and not been blindthen I would have enjoyed it more.
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Tee



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 4225
Location: Detroit Metro

PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2008 6:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

MrsFairfax wrote:
But then, I've "believed" stupider things in the interest of romance.

What fun, MrsFairfax. Isn't that true of all of us? :lol:

Leigh wrote:
I did enjoy the writing, but was just drawn out of the story by the superheroine. I think if she had been older and not been blindthen I would have enjoyed it more.

Sometimes we like a book and sometimes we don't, Leigh. Excuses are not always necessary. It's good to hear some contrary remarks, also, from those who saw it from a different perspective.
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msaggie



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 692

PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2008 6:40 pm    Post subject: Re: just don't get historicals Reply with quote

Leigh wrote:
This story was a fairy tale with no basis in reality for me.
LOL. I suppose all romances are fairytales to some degree - look at the popularity of all the improbable paranormal romances with werewolves, vampires, demons, all-manner-of-supernatural-beings as heroes/heroines. I agree with you that Annique is a bit of a superwoman -and there are many "coincidences" in the story - but I agree with dick on his assessment as to why this book is so enjoyable (for me anyway). I have the e-book, and am getting the paper copy too (despite the cover). I suppose our enjoyment of particular stories depends on what manner of suspension of disbelief we find acceptable. Smile
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Maysa



Joined: 07 Sep 2007
Posts: 67

PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2008 9:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi, guys, I lurk more than post on these boards, but I've got to say that I really appreciate AAR's and the other positive reviews of this book in this thread because I never would have discovered The Spymaster's Lady otherwise (the title and the cover are kind of hysterical).

I liked it a lot - it was more adventurous than any romance I've read since The Scarlet Pimpernel. It actually reminded me quite a bit of the tv show Alias if Sidney Bristow had been 19 and sneaking around France in the early 19th Century. Especially the reveal about Annique's mother lying to her all her life. I was totally picturing Lena Olin as her mom.

I had some issues with the hero, Robert, and how he treated Annique, especially when he drugged her because that's such a violation, but I guess it was war or whatever. Ultimately, it was great to find a new author that can really write.
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MrsFairfax



Joined: 27 Mar 2007
Posts: 1069

PostPosted: Thu Jan 24, 2008 7:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Maysa wrote:

I had some issues with the hero, Robert, and how he treated Annique, especially when he drugged her because that's such a violation, but I guess it was war or whatever. Ultimately, it was great to find a new author that can really write.


That's one of the things I liked, actually. Not specifically what he did, but the fact that they remained on their respective sides of the larger picture and really did work toward their own ends. How many heroines would have left the guy tied up in the old church? I think that's the point where most books would have had them join forces (the heroine capitulating, of course), rather than remain antagonists to the end.

I recently read Agent ZigZag, a true story about Eddie Chapman, who was a double agent during WWII. The house where Grey takes Annique is a lot like the safe houses where Eddie stayed with his British or German handlers. The games played to pass time waiting for something to happen, the wary friendships, had a similar tone in the fiction and the bio. Minus, of course, any surprising familial revelations and possibly sex in the bathtub, although I wouldn't put that past Eddie. Overall, I thought Bourne's characters behaved more like spies than most Napoleonic spies I've read.
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Lynn



Joined: 23 Mar 2007
Posts: 86

PostPosted: Sat Jan 26, 2008 4:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Em wrote:
I too have used a floral little book cover that I found at a craft sale years ago, precisely for books that have cheesy covers like The Spymaster's Lady.
It has annoyed me no end over the years that I feel constrained to cover some of my reading material, but publishers continue to produce those "-half-naked hunk-slobbering over-heaving bosom-flowing hair babe" covers, despite comments such as those on this thread.


Several years ago I was reading a very good book with an awful cover and I wanted to take it to a doctor appointment. I made a book cover with a grocery bag, like we did in school. When the doctor came in and saw my book he said he had his copy of "Candy" covered the same way in high school! (I think it was an "adult" book when I was much younger.) I showed him my book and he agreed it was better with the book cover on it! We had a good laugh, but now I take Time magazine to my appointments.

Lynn
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Margaret



Joined: 23 Mar 2007
Posts: 881

PostPosted: Sat Jan 26, 2008 5:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:

I don't know why I can easily go along with improbabilies in contempories (Jennifer Crusie, Susan Elizabeth Phillips,etc) but am more critical of historicals. I think historicals tend to be more dramatic vs. contemporary which are more lighthearted Althought SEP does tend to have issues, but then she adds Lucky Charms, and you just suspend belief.


Possible spoilers below...





I'm struggling thru this one. I don't think this book sets the tone for 'improbabilities'...it comes across as very series. Honestly from the back cover and all the positive comments about it I was expecting a capable heroine...but she is captured in the first 30 pages and pretty much dominated by the hero. I'm not finished yet, and not sure if I'll try again.
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cheri



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 1350
Location: michigan

PostPosted: Sat Jan 26, 2008 6:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

MrsFairfax wrote:
Maybe my standards are just terribly low, but what sold the book for me was the distinctive voices. It shouldn't be so unusual to be able to tell characters apart, but usually it's catch phrases, not cadence, that serves as identifier when a character is speaking. Bourne impressed me with her dexterity there, so writing style carried the story for me.

In another thread, there was a mention of a hero who, two years after being stricken with a "challenge" like Annique's, was still flailing about and bitter. I thought of her trek to Marseilles then and had to laugh, it is absurd. But then, I've "believed" stupider things in the interest of romance.

Overall, it's on my list for this year (I'm keeping a list! of course, it's only January) as a B.


I so agree about the different voices, however I had to post more about your list comment. LOL, because I started my list too and realize IT is only January. I'm trying to stay organzied this year but am doubtful! At least I know my weaknesses. Very Happy
Also Maysar mentioned Alais and that is exactly what came to mind for me but way better. cheri
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