Fiction: “Wicked Intentions” by Elizabeth Hoyt

wicked-intentionsI would rather get a three-hour Pap smear with an Ebola-infected cotton swab and a rusty speculum than listen to the address to the Joint Session of Congress, so in keeping with the theme, let’s talk about a book with mild sado-masochistic tendencies!

Wicked Intentions is the first book in the Maiden Lane series of romance novels, centered around a section of London known as Maiden Lane. I originally got turned to this series because I read a synopsis of one of the books a few years ago where it sounded like the main character became the Batman of Maiden Lane, and if there’s one thing I like, it’s Batmans in different fictional interpretations. Unfortunately, Georgian!Batman is about six books away, and y’all know how I am with series: I have to start at the beginning, regardless of continuity. It’s a Thing.

So the main character of this book is Temperance Dews, a meek widower who helps her brother, Winter, run a foundling home. Her other siblings are named Verity, Silence, Concord, and Asa. Yeah … the Dews family is kind of puritan-y. And in case you don’t get that from the family names, all the orphans in the foundling home are named Mary or Joseph, with different last names to tell them apart (see, Joseph Tinbox; Mary Whitsun; Joseph Candlestick; Mary Hope).

The foundling home is appropriately, almost Dickensian-ly poor, and in danger of shutting down without a rich sponsor. With Winter spending his time teaching school, that leaves Temperance at the home raising the children and running the home – which she does, admirably. But it makes it difficult for funds to come in.

Enter, stage left: the most ridiculously-named hero in the history of silly little romance novels I’ve ever read. Yes, even worse than the ones that add extra “Y”s instead of “I”s. I give you: Lazarus Huntington, Lord Caire. Yes, his name is actually “Lazarus.” Yes, people do call him “Caire.” No, I do not understand how the whole naming thing works. Also, I do not give a shit. You might say I don’t … Caire.

I’ll see myself out.

Now, I don’t normally concern myself with how the dudes and ladies look in romance novels: they’re all Barbie and Ken dolls, after all. But this guy – y’all have to see about this guy.

There, sprawled in her chair like a conjured demon, sat Lord Caire. His silver hair spilled over the shoulders of his black cape, a cocked hat lay on one knee, and his right hand caressed the end of his long ebony walking stick. [p. 15]

OH GEE, WHO COULD THAT BE

lucius-cs

YEAH, THIS MOTHERFUCKER

So, good news, Harry Potter Aficionados That Grew Up Having a Thing for Lucius Malfoy! This is the book for you!

Why is Lazarus Huntington, Lord Malfoy waiting for Temperance to sit down? Well, he saw her helping a baby in the Maiden Lane one night and decided he needs her help in tracking down the murderer of his mistress. Yeah, I’m really not making that up. See, his mistress was brutally murdered, and that made Caire mad, so now he needs to find the murderer to exact revenge. But because he’s a member of the hoit, he doesn’t know where to go to find lowlife scum, so … needs the help of a meek widower?

But Temperance is a lot smarter than she appears. In exchange for her help, she gets Caire to agree to help her find a sponsor for the foundling home. This involves Caire dressing her up and taking her to fancy dress parties, where she (naturally) awes the crowd with her beauty while being completely self-deprecating and awkward.

When Temperance’s acquaintances and family learn of her working relationship with Caire, they all warn her away, because he apparently has what’s known as “unhealthy appetites.” Essentially, rumors of his deviant behavior have run rampant throughout Maiden Lane, and back in the early 1700s, “deviance” is equivalent to “enjoying a bit o’ rough sex.” And it’s not even rough – he just likes being tied up.

Meanwhile, Temperance has her own shit to deal with – namely, she likes having sex, which is just as stigmatized then as it is now. Her husband would make her feel terrible for enjoying sex, because sex should only be enjoyed by the male, and only because he knows he’s making babies for women to carry. (I swear, I only followed the damn speech on Twitter, I have no idea if New Gilead is even happening yet.) As penance, she’s shoved her desires down, deep down, into herself so she can focus on caring for the orphans and showing her purity or whatever.

But as they work together, Caire and Temperance come to realize they have feelings for each other. These feelings are complicated by the fact that Caire also hates to be touched – he claims he feels actual pain when people touch him, but it’s been so long since I read the book that I am not going to bother looking for a quote to prove it.

There are also a lot – a. lot. – of subplots in this book that are apparently jumping-off points for future books in the series. There’s Temperance’s sister, Silence, and the misunderstanding between Silence and her husband. There’s Caire’s best friend, who’s dealing with his wife’s decline due to a mysterious illness. Sometimes the subplots are very distracting.

Overall, it took me entirely too long to finish this book – which has felt like a theme of 2016, to be honest. If my paltry review has made you curious about it, I highly recommend you check out the Smart Bitches, Trashy Books review of Wicked Intentions – and I would like to point out that if you do, I came to the Lucius Malfoy conclusion on my own, but was very gratified when I realized I wasn’t the only one who got there. Having said that, I never had a thing for Lucius Malfoy, so imagining him for the hero did absolutely nothing for me while reading the book.

And even though I did not like the book overall, and will most likely never read it again, I really want to find out if Georgian!Batman is a thing, so – you’ll see this series again. Not soon, but … later.

Grade for Wicked Intentions: No stars

Fiction: “The Rogue Not Taken” by Sarah MacLean

rogue-not-takenI had every intention of getting back into this a couple of weeks ago. But a couple of weeks ago the entire world turned upside down, and I kind of feel like the British troops did when they were run out of Yorktown – stunned, disheartened, and slightly confused as to how this all even fucking happened.

However, fear not: this is not a politics blog – even though I have had the occasional tangent down that dark alley. But my promise to you, my dear reader(s), is to maintain this blog in the same way I always have: poorly, with non-sequiturs and tangents, and only rarely discussing the actual plot of the books I read. And that’s a promise I won’t break.

So this is the third out of currently six “silly little romance novels” I’ve read thus far in 2016. Fun Fact!: I both began and finished reading this book while in the middle of reading The Witches. Y’ALL FORGOT THE WITCHES WAS GONNA BE A THING, didn’t you?! Don’t worry – it’s still coming up. Next, in fact. It’s, uh … it’s a Thing on its own.

I’d read a lot of good press about Sarah MacLean’s romances – that the heroines she wrote about were intelligent women with their own agency and a generous dash of snark, and that the romancing itself was very hot. I have to say, the press was actually correct in that respect. Now, pardon me while I quickly skim through the book to remind myself about the plot, because I read it in July.

(Another Fun Fact!: I was going to review this a couple of days ago, while I was puppysitting Hamilton Tickets for my parents [[oh my god i don’t think i’ve talked about Hamilton Tickets on here GIVE ME A MINUTE THIS WILL BE A TREAT]], but the book fell out of my laundry basket on my way downstairs and it was left on my deck outside for 24 hours [I live on the second floor and my entrance is through an open-air deck], wherein the book got rained on. But let’s take a moment to thank Avon Publishing for their stellar choice of cover material. The cover is only slightly warped, but the pages inside are STILL DRY.)

[[After My Sister’s Wedding, Mom and Dad got a puppy. Her real name is Ginger, but Hamilton Tickets is shaping up to be an excellent nickname (Thanks, Alaina’s Dear Friend Sarah!). Also, my goal in mentioning Hamilton Tickets is to get this picture to come up when people google “Hamilton Tickets”:

20160807_153327

LOOK AT THAT FAAAAAAACE SHE’S SO PRECIOUS]]

Okay, Alaina – the book. Talk about the book.

The Rogue Not Taken is the first book in the series “Scandal and Scoundrel”: each book in the series deals with gossip rags published and read among the ton, and while I think each subsequent book deals with a tertiary character from the last book in the series, I don’t think it will be like other romance series where each book deals with another member of the same family. I’m not sure, to be honest; the second book in the series was only recently released, so I’m not 100% sure what the pattern will be.

So in The Rogue Not Taken, we are introduced to the Talbot sisters: a family of five girls who rose to prominence when their parents purchased a title. The ton gets all mad because they don’t like upstarts who purchase titles; they only approve homegrown blue-bloods. Sophie, the youngest Talbot, keeps to herself and stays out of the gossip rags – unlike her sisters. And the story starts when her temper gets the better of her, and she pushes her brother-in-law into a goldfish pond after discovering him boinking someone else at a party.

In a spontaneous moment, she decides to leave London and return to her childhood home in Cumbria. But because this is 1833 and not 2013, she can’t exactly take an Uber there. So with the last of her pocket money, she hires a footman away from a carriage and disguises herself as said footman and hitches a ride on said carriage and rolls right into trouble.

Because she’s an unchaperoned young woman not fooling anyone in her footman’s clothes. And the carriage happens to belong to a dude whose name is, hand to God, “Kingscote.” He goes by “King.” Alaina is Never Making It Up. He is a bit of an asshole, at first – he’s heading back to his hometown (which is just outside of Sophie’s hometown, because coincidence is prevalent in silly little romance novels) because his dying father wants King to come back home and accept his responsibilities as duke. Or marquess. Whatever title King doesn’t want to do. I know he’s not an actual king.

See, King and his dad had a falling out, because years ago, King loved a commoner, and King’s Dad disapproved of the match, and when King’s Dad ran the girl off of the estate, the coach she was in careened her to her death, and King blames King’s Dad for it and that’s why he’s returning home reluctantly. Also, he’s vowed to never marry and the line ends with me and all that jazz.

(This is the second book I can recall where this is a major plot line. Spoiler alert!: they always change their mind.)

When he finds out that Sophie’s going in the same direction he is, his first assumption is that she’s trying to trap him into marriage – much like her sisters did with their husbands. But all Sophie wants to do is return to Cumbria, open a bookshop, and meet up with her childhood sweetheart Robbie and hope he’s still unattached. (Spoiler alert!: he’s not.)

King attempts to leave Sophie to her own devices, but she sells his fancy curricle wheels behind his back to get some money for a ticket on the mail coach. When King finds out, he goes after her (for the wheels, definitely not because he thinks he likes her, we’re only 100 pages in at this point, he hasn’t recognized what that feeling is yet). But when he gets to the mail coach, the passengers are being robbed at gunpoint, and Sophie actually gets hit. It’s a non-critical hit, but a hit nonetheless.

Can I just take a minute and praise this plot? First, let me point out to you the pun in the title: The Rogue Not Taken = “the road not taken.” This is a book full of road trip hijinks! Where the heroine takes a bullet! Unfortunately, the road trip aspect involves a lot more romance and no Hamilton karaoke, so it’s not exactly like an Alaina Patterson Road Trip™, but it’s still pretty hijink-ey. (The other part of the title that makes it almost a pun is that King is a rogue who is unattached – i.e., not taken. Geddit?)

I’m sorry. I don’t know why I didn’t trust you guys (are there more than one of you? Sometimes I wonder…) to get the pun in the title. I’m a bad person.

King takes Sophie to the nearest village and the doctor saves her, and then King feels responsible so he agrees to take her back to Cumbria. To keep an eye on her. Definitely not because he thinks he’s falling in love with her, dudes don’t do that.

Also, if you like heroines who don’t believe they’re pretty and heroes determined to prove them otherwise (see The Deception of the Emerald Ring), it becomes a theme between Sophie and King.

King eventually brings Sophie to his childhood home and introduces her to his father. We learn that the grudge King bears his father isn’t fully deserved, and Sophie and King work towards declaring their love, when Sophie’s family barges in and comes up with a cockamamie plot to trap King into marrying her, against Sophie’s will. She loves him for him and not his title or fortune, but her family doesn’t see it the same way.

There’s an obstacle in – not even the third act, it’s practically the denouement – but it’s overcome quickly. Again, the obstacle arrives in the last fifty pages, so it’s a quick descent to the happily-ever-after.

The banter between King and Sophie is great throughout the book, and the romance is quite steamy, and practically modern compared to some other novels I’ve read. (Stephanie Laurens’ next book in the Cynster series, A Rake’s Vow, I’m giving you this face right now:)

angry-kuzco

So I’m definitely adding Sarah MacLean to my list of authors where I must read every thing she’s ever done, because I really liked it. Even if “King” is a really stupid name for a dude.

Grade for The Rogue Not Taken4 stars

Fiction: “What a Pirate Desires” by Michelle Beattie

pirate-desiresLet me paint a picture for you for the next few books I have to review:

As attempted over the past few years, once April came around I found myself drifting towards an American History book. Conveniently, I had received Ron Chernow’s biography of Alexander Hamilton for my birthday. So I dug into that 900-page monstrosity. And as interesting as the story of the ten-dollar founding father is, that book is not very portable. I mean, if I had the hardcover edition, I could use it as a doorstop.

Neither is it easy to read in bed. A habit I cannot break is reading in bed. And when reading in bed, book weight is important to keep in mind. Because let’s say I had fallen asleep while attempting to read Alexander Hamilton: there’s a good chance the book could have fallen right on my face. And my sister was getting married at the end of May – I’m pretty sure she would have killed me if I had to have pictures taken with my nose in a sling.

So while I read Alexander Hamilton at work (and at the gym – which led to a lot of funny looks), I turned to silly little romance novels to fall asleep to, because they don’t weigh enough to possibly deviate my septum should I pass out and drop my book on my face.

(I also turned to a more portable book to read while on the Escape To DC, i.e. Operation: Pick Up My Dear Friend Sarah In D.C. So She Could Photograph My Sister’s Wedding, a.k.a., Hashtag Adventure. But that was a fun read too.)

Well – What a Pirate Desires was a three-dollar find at Bull Moose. Normally, my romance novel preferences lean towards Regency society; looking back, I really don’t think I’ve veered from that theme in almost seven years of blogging about this genre. So “pirate” is actually quite a different step out of my wheelhouse. Look, Dad, I’m still broadening my horizons! (Even though I’m pretty sure that isn’t what he meant by that.)

So – why pirates? Uh, guys? I love pirates. I mean, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest was my favorite movie for quite a few years. I celebrated International Talk Like a Pirate Day for many years running. I brought an actual jar of dirt to work on Halloween one year to ward off rogue kraaken.

Once Upon a Time was an okay show; then they added Captain Hook to the cast, and it became a fantastic show. Hoo boy, did he immediately jump up the list of Alaina’s Pretend Boyfriends. For an entire season and a half, he usurped Daniel Craig/James Bond from the list! I know! That’s horrible!

Don’t worry, guys: Daniel Craig’s back on top. (giggity) And while Captain Hook is still extremely easy on the eyes, his character has been completely assassinated, I think. I mean, look: one of my bulletproof kinks – a surefire storytelling trope that will get all of my emotions firing on all cylinders – is the idea of a bad guy reformed for the love of a girl. And I’m not talking about any Manic Pixie Dream Girl shit; I’m talking about He Was the Villain Or At Least Misguided But This Woman Makes Him Feel Things And Now He Wants to Be A Better Dude. Damon Salvatore on The Vampire Diaries is one of the best examples of this – until those writers RUINED IT by making Damon Elena’s sire so when they finally consummated their relationship there was this aura of “she’s only doing it because he’s her sire and it’s what he wants so now she has to want it too” – it took all of her agency out of the equation.

And Captain Hook was on his way to being the next example of the Love Redeems trope, but they completely took away his struggle – after the Neverland arc, the entire rest of his narrative has been to act as the catalyst for Emma’s growth. And while that’s not unimportant, it effectively revoked Hook’s piratical nature. WHY WOULD YOU REMOVE HOOK’S PIRATE SHIT (that is not a typo)

Uh, okay. I … I apologize. I did not realize I had so many unresolved ~feelings about Once Upon A Time‘s narrative choices. Huh.

SO ANYWAY, since I wasn’t getting swashbuckling in visual forms of media, how about a book?

What a Pirate Desires tells the story of Sam Steele, formerly Samantha Fine, until an evil pirate named Dervish destroyed the ship she and her family were on; her family were unable to escape with her. After a horrible time being enslaved by a racist rapist on a Caribbean plantation, she escaped with one of the asshat’s ships and became a pirate, masquerading as a male captain, on the lookout for revenge against Dervish.

Sam Steele crosses steel with another pirate captain, Luke Bradley. He also seeks revenge against Dervish, and he doesn’t really want to join forces with Sam, but as usually happens in romance novels, her “fiery spirit” or whatever “entrances him” and he slowly comes to realize that he lurrves her.

There really wasn’t anything more than that. I really liked that the lead female character was the pirate, and of her own free will, not that she was Stockholm Syndrome’d into becoming a pirate, or that she was a normal maiden who happened to be kidnapped by the pirates and then falls in love with the pirate captain. In her piracy, she was very successful and had the utmost loyalty from her all-male crew.

OH SHIT WAIT I ALMOST FORGOT SOMETHING

TRIGGER WARNING: past rape
When Sam escaped from Dervish’s attack only to land at that horrible plantation, the plantation owner did rape her. It happened in the past so we the reader do not get the chance to relive it (thank goodness), but it happened and it was a formative influence for Sam. Wanted to put that out there in case anyone else might want to read this.

Oh, and after all that blathering up there about the “Love Redeems” trope, that wasn’t really present in this story – Luke never felt that he needed to become a more worthy man in order to win Sam’s love. They were just two pirates with an accord. So I shall continue to explore literature and other TV to find this trope again, because it is one of my favorites and I needs it like cake.

Grade for What a Pirate Desires: 2 stars

Fiction: “Just Like Heaven” by Julia Quinn

Just Like HeavenJust a heads-up: this is the first “silly little romance novel” out of four I’ve read so far this year. My average for the past couple of years has been two, max. I do not have an explanation as to why I’m suddenly picking up these things left and right; something to do with escapism, maybe? I mean, in the past six months, I have helped my family with my sister’s bridal shower, bachelorette party, and wedding, and after each event I have found myself withdrawing from social interactions. After the wedding, I didn’t really talk to any of my friends or make plans to do anything for about two weeks after? Maybe three? I spent time in my apartment watching Netflix and taking naps. And this isn’t the first time I’ve done this – after the Christmas Party last year, I started looking at Caribbean vacation deals that were cheap for one person (spoiler alert!: there were none. Goddamn double occupancy!), because all I wanted to do was escape.

And for the first time in a very long time, I found myself escaping in the books I was reading. Some of the “silly little romance novels” are quite silly – wait till you hear the one about the Lucius Malfoy-look-alike who enjoys light bondage! – but ever since March, I have been reading two books at a time: one of these historical romances at home, and then a Lunch Break Book I could bring to work to read on my lunch break without getting weird looks from the woman who always asks what I’m reading now.

(Not that I think she’d judge me; I just don’t feel comfortable reading romance novels in public. Don’t therapy me.)

So sometime in late March I felt the need to pick up a romance novel, and my choice came down to two things: 1) the way the back cover described the plot (which I’ll get to in a minute), and 2) the fact that Goodreads told me it was the first in a series.

And look, I know that while 99.9% of all “silly little romance novels” belong to a series of some sort – whether a trio or a quartet, or even, in the case of Elizabeth Hoyt’s Maiden Lane series or Stephanie Laurens’ Cynster series (hey guys, remember that shit show?! I sure don’t!), more than 10 titles to its grouping – you usually never have to read them in order. I get that; I do. Does it make me feel weird to know that I’m reading a series out of order? Hell yes! Do I do everything I can to avoid that feeling and just start with the first book in a series as much as possible? Hell yes!

Here’s how the book cover is written:

Honoria Smythe-Smith is:
A) a really bad violinist
B) still miffed at being nicknamed “Bug” as a child
C) NOT in love with her older brother’s best friend
D) all of the above

Marcus Holroyd is:
A) the Earl of Chatteris
B) regrettably prone to sprained ankles
C) NOT in love with his best friend’s younger sister
D) all of the above

Together they:
A) eat quite a bit of chocolate cake
B) survive a deadly fever AND the world’s worst musical performance
C) fall desperately in love

It’s Julia Quinn at her best, so you KNOW the answer is …
D) all of the above

Being unfamiliar with Julia Quinn’s writings, I couldn’t really attest to that last D), but I was willing to give it a shot. I mean – the girl’s name is Smythe-Smith, and the dude’s last name is Holroyd, so clearly Ms. Quinn is aware of my Rule of Y (“never use an ‘I’ when you could use a ‘Y’ instead). Also, the world’s worst musical performance? I don’t think so, unless Honoria and Marcus also attended that Third Eye Blind show at Merrill Auditorium back in 2010 with the WORST opening band I have ever had to sit through – actually, I didn’t sit through it, I went out into the lobby and ordered a second tequila. Straight. They were that bad. They were so bad, I couldn’t tell you who it was; I tried so hard to block it from memory. They were even worse than Longwave, the middle band that opened for O.K. Go back in 2009 (p.s., shout out to Google for telling me when these shows were because my memory is terrible with dates).

But also, there’s cake?! Sign me UP!

Marcus was indeed best friends with Daniel Smythe-Smith when they were lads, and Honoria tended to trail after them like a mosquito – hence, the nickname “Bug.” When they were older, Daniel got into some trouble that I can’t quite recall and he had to shove off to France – but not before getting Marcus’s promise that he (Marcus) would look after Honoria in Daniel’s absence.

Flash-forward to the beginning of the story, and Honoria runs into Marcus unexpectedly. She is shopping with her friends and gets caught in a downpour, and Marcus offers her temporary shelter in his carriage. Also, he has cake. And it’s not like Marcus is a stranger offering cake; she knows him, so it’s safe to get into his vehicle!

Honoria is on the hunt for a husband – not because she feels the need to succumb to matrimony, but because she’s currently in the Smythe-Smith Quartet, and every year they put on a musicale. I don’t know why there’s an extra ‘e’ on the end of that word. But also, apparently this musicale is mentioned in Ms. Quinn’s other series, related to the Bridgertons. Anyway, once one of the female cousins gets married, she doesn’t have to perform in the musicale anymore. So, in an effort to get herself noticed by Gregory Bridgerton, Honoria steals a small shovel from the house where she’s staying and digs a mole hole in the hopes of making it look like she twisted her ankle in it and needs his assistance. This would have worked splendidly, if it wasn’t right next to Marcus’s property, and he comes upon her just as she practices her fainting. And then he steps into the mole hole, spraining his ankle.

Honoria walks him back to his manse, at which point he has to cut his boot off of his foot because his ankle has swollen so much. He accidentally slices his leg, which then gets infected – because remember, y’all, this is a historical romance; it takes place in 1824. When Honoria learns that Marcus has locked himself in his mansion by himself (he’s an orphaned Earl and doesn’t really have a lot of friends now that Daniel has absconded to France), Honoria grabs her mother and the two of them go and save Marcus, including cutting out the infected tissue of the wound.

Now, I’ve read a few historical romance novels, but I’ve never seen one where a woman is able to pretty much do surgery on the hero. So I really appreciated the novelty of this.

During his recuperation, Honoria steals him a treacle tart so the cake theme continues. Honoria’s mother tells Marcus that they wouldn’t have come if Honoria hadn’t insisted, because they’re not really related and it’s improper for an unmarried woman to be in the same house as an unmarried man. And Honoria learns that Marcus interpreted Daniel’s plea to keep an eye on his sister as “interfering with the dudes who tried to court Honoria.” Marcus’s reasons were always that he didn’t think those dudes deserved Honoria; never did it cross Marcus’s mind that he wanted Honoria for himself. Honoria also comes to realize that her feelings for Marcus are more than brotherly love. Their declaration of love comes after a veritable comedy of errors.

I can’t tell you how much I liked this book. In fact, it’s probably going to be the first “silly little romance novel” I’ve read here that I’m going to rate 4 stars. For one thing, I really appreciated that Marcus was not a rake. Not that I have anything against rakes, but it was very refreshing to have the male character not be in need of reform in any way. He’s a respectable member of society; in fact, great mention is made of his being quiet and solitary. He hasn’t had a lot of affairs, he’s not trying to marry for money, he’s not a spy, he’s not a secret twin. He’s just Marcus.

Same with Honoria – she has a loving family and while she’s looking for a husband at the beginning of the book, it’s not because she’s trying to escape from something or move up in society – she’s just trying to get out of her family’s musical quartet, and also, it’s a thing women had to do back then.

I also appreciated that the relationship between Marcus and Honoria was built out of a long history together. There were no obstacles of personality to overcome, no secrets that needed to be got over – and no, I’m not counting the whole “Marcus keeps an eye on Honoria by intimidating her potential suitors” as a “secret.” They just know each other so well, that it paves the way to a romance between them quite nicely:

“I like the rehearsals. Especially now that all of my siblings are gone, and my house is nothing but ticking clocks and means on trays. It’s lovely to gather together and have someone to talk to.” She looked over at him with a sheepish expression. “We talk at least as much as we rehearse.”

“This does not surprise me,” Marcus muttered.

She gave him a look that said she had not missed his little dig. But she did not take offense; he had known she would not.

And then he realized: he rather liked that he had known she would not take offense. There was something wonderful about knowing another person so well. [p. 242]

Their banter together was adorable; and if there’s one thing that gets me every time, it’s banter.

“You will have a terrible scar.”

He smiled wryly. “I shall wear it with pride and mendacity.”

“Mendacity?” she echoed, unable to contain her amusement.

He cocked his head to the side as he regarded the huge wound on his leg. “I was thinking I might set it about that I’d wrestled with a tiger.”

“A tiger. In Cambridgeshire.”

He shrugged. “It’s more likely than a shark.”

“Wild boar,” she decided.

“Now that’s just undignified.” [p. 206]

And finally, and probably the most important part – they all value dessert above all other foods.

But just before he turned to greet her, she turned in the opposite direction, and he could have sworn he heard her mutter, “Blast it all, I’m getting an éclair.”

She drifted off, weaving her way through the crowds. Marcus watched her with interest; she seemed to know exactly where she was going. Which meant that if he’d heard her correctly …

She knew where one could get an éclair. [p. 276]

I don’t know – I found this book so refreshing. It’s the first book I’ve read in this genre in at least a few years where the drama originated from internal forces rather than external, and there was no deception in any measure happening between the two main characters. It was just … cute? and happy? and escapist? But I enjoyed every word of it?

PS guess what I found in my bookcase: the second book in this series. boo. yah.

Grade for Just Like Heaven: 4 stars

Fiction: “The Deception of the Emerald Ring” by Lauren Willig

emerald ringI told myself I couldn’t have dinner until I posted this, so – let’s see how late I eat tonight!

A very odd thing happened when I finished The Masque of the Black Tulip — I immediately picked up the next book in the series. I mean, you guys should know me by now; it takes me, on average, two years to get to the next book in the series. (Spoiler alert, coming soon!: the second book in a series where I read the first book five fucking years ago.) (And let’s not get into the time that goes between my finishing a book and then posting the review. Two months is not a good thing; especially when, within that two months, I have developed a backlog of ten books.)

(On the plus side, I am killing my book goal for 2016.)

As much as I’ve — not ranted, or even complained — I guess as much as I’ve made a Whole Big Thing about how this series doesn’t return to previously-coupled characters, I went to the next book immediately because of the romance between Colin and Eloise, the modern couple. Eloise and Colin had A Moment during The Masque of the Black Tulip, and then the next day, Colin shunts her back to London with nary an explanation. As he’s pulling away from the train station, he asks her if she wants to get a drink sometime. Eloise quickly acquiesces, but it’s not until she’s back in London in the beginning of this book that she remembers —

— he doesn’t have her phone number.

So I went to the next book so quickly, not to get to know the new couple, but to see how the Colin/Eloise romance fares. Good news! It fares well, thanks to some intervening and cute manipulations of Eloise’s friend Pammy. The next book in the series will cover their first date.

But who are the players in the new historical couple? This time, we meet again — but with greater detail — Richard’s second best friend (in quantity, not rank), Geoffrey Pinchingdale-Snipe. Geoff has been in love with Mary Alsworthy for a couple of books, but only in passing — we’ll hear about him writing a terrible poem for Mary, and his other friends make fun of him, and then the plot continues on. But at the beginning of the historical portion of this book, Mary’s sister Letty hears Mary bustling about in her room around midnight, and there’s a carriage in the alley behind their house, and —

— Mary’s going to elope with Geoff to Gretna Green! As eloping in that day and age was a mark of ill-breeding and overall tragedy, Letty tries to tell the carriage driver to leave, but instead she gets put into the carriage and driven to the hotel where Geoff is waiting for Mary. When Geoff gets into the carriage he automatically starts kissing the woman inside, assuming it’s Mary – and that’s when two loud drunks show up, and Letty is unable to escape.

And that’s how Geoff ends up married to Letty – if he doesn’t marry her, she’ll be ruined, because remember – virginity is the most precious commodity a woman had back then! Neither Geoff nor Letty are happy about the arrangement, but marry they must.

Oh goddammit – I just got stuck in an endless loop of #Ham4Ham videos for about thirty minutes. Dinner, Alaina! Focus on the goal!

Anyway, after the wedding — but before the wedding night — Geoff is sent out on a mission to Ireland to try and stop a revolution spear-headed by the Black Tulip, who escaped at the end of the last book. After finding out Geoff’s deserted her, and with the help of a lot of champagne and some advice from my second-favorite duo, Miles and Henrietta, Letty hightails herself over to Ireland.

In Ireland, we catch up with Jane, the Pink Carnation, and her governess-slash-right-hand-woman Miss Gwen. This is welcome, because Jane is an excellent character that we don’t see enough of. Jane welcomes Letty into the spy-fold, and together they gather more information to be able to stop the Irish Rebellion, which would have brought Napoleon closer to England. (It’s a whole historical thing. It’s interesting, but not enough to get into depth with. My hungry stomach apologizes.)

Meanwhile, Geoff isn’t too thrilled with Letty putting herself in danger – while he’s not happy about being forced into a marriage he never wanted, he also doesn’t hate Letty; nor does he want to see her hurt. As typically happens in a Marriage Before Romance plot, Geoff begins to fall in love with Letty, and his obsession with her sister Mary falls away.

He realizes that Mary was acting all time in order to gain herself a husband, but behind the beautiful mask, there wasn’t anyone real. Whereas Letty, who is plainer and quieter than Mary, shows her emotions and headstrong-ness and can cut a bitch with her wit at twenty paces, and also hides her self-esteem issues behind her sarcastic, self-deprecating style of humor, and —

— huh. That’s — … huh.

Uh, ANYWAY. They fall in love and their marriage becomes happy, because romance novel.

One of the best scenes for Letty is at her wedding reception. Her new husband won’t look her in the eye, and everyone invited assumes Letty was so desperate for marraige that she would throw her sister over for her own beau, and everyone is judgy and awful – and halfway through, Letty realizes that she no longer has to distribute fucks. It’s like, “the gift for coming to my wedding? Were fucks. And oh, look, the gift table is empty, for I have no fucks to give.

Mrs. Ponsonby’s bosom filled with pleased pity. “But for Mary to lose her beau — to you! Who would have ever thought it!”

“Who, indeed?” tittered Lucy [Ponsonby].

Lowering her hand to her side, [Letty] leveled a long, hard look at Lucy […] For over a year, Letty had been forced to endure Lucy’s jabs about her dress, her hair, her clothes, a million little snubs under the guise of being “helpful” to Mary’s younger sister. And since there was nothing she could say without looking a shrew or causing a fuss, Letty had curbed her naturally blunt tongue and let Lucy jab.

Not anymore.

In a voice that sounded strange to her own ears, Letty said, “You’re just upset that you didn’t think of it yourself.”

Lucy’s mouth fell open in an entirely unflattering and gratifying way, and two round pink spots formed on her cheekbones. “Well, I never!”

“No, you didn’t,” agreed Letty, deciding that there were advantages to being ruined. “But it wasn’t for lack of trying. I saw the way you tried to get Lord Pinchingdale out on the balcony at the Middlethorpes’ ball. If you could have stolen him from Mary, you would have in a minute.”

“I don’t know how you can say such things,” […]

“Because it’s true,” said Letty calmly. “You don’t think Mary didn’t realize? She found it amusing. Because she knew you couldn’t possibly be a threat.”

[…] “Young lady …,” [Mrs. Ponsonby] blustered.

Letty lifted her head high and looked Mrs. Ponsonby levelly in the eye, buoyed by champagne and a year’s worth of pent-up indignation. In a voice as quiet as it was deadly, Letty asked, “Don’t you mean, ‘my lady’?” [p. 90-91]

applause

Unfortunately, Geoff wasn’t around to see that. If he had, it would probably been a shorter book, because who can resist someone who can throw that much shade that elegantly?

Speaking of Geoff, it took a while, but the more he interacts with Letty he realizes how wonderful she is; especially compared to Mary. Geoff was one of the people operating under the assumption that Letty was merely trying to trap him into marriage with her. When Letty gets swept up in the spy game and Geoff realizes she has “no talent for dissembling,” he finally realizes that she couldn’t possibly have had an ulterior motive in ending up in that fateful carriage, and his opinion of her softens. Over another couple of weeks (in book-time), he realizes he loves her.

Not only is Letty unable to act or lie, but she also doesn’t believe any compliments that come her way – most likely as a result of always being the quieter shadow to her more classically beautiful sister. So when Geoff tries to tell her she’s beautiful, she really doesn’t believe it:

But Geoff correctly read the slight tightening of her lips, and the way her eyes slid away from his.

“You really have no idea, have you?”

Letty bristled. “I have a mirror. And eyes.”

“And no idea how to use either,” muttered Geoff, before realizing that probably wasn’t quite fair of him.

He looked down into her flushed face, framed with its tangle of hair that alternated between copper and gold in the candlelight, and knew that no number of compliments would convince her. With her sturdy common sense, she would write them off as pure flummery. To a certain extent, she would be right. She would never be a beauty by the accepted standards. Pretty, yes. Even lovely. But she lacked the stateliness and symmetry society demanded of its chosen goddesses.

[…]

“Right.” He raised one brow in an unspoken challenge. His voice dropped seductively. “Then I’ll just have to show you.” [p. 346]

He is finally able to convince her of his love for her about fifty pages later, using the early 19th century edition of the Harry Burns “I Love You” speech:

“That’s where you’re wrong. Perfection may be admirable, but it’s not very lovable.”

Letty’s disbelief must have shown on her face, because Geoff repeated, “Yes, lovable. I love the way all your thoughts show on your face — yes, just like that one. I love the way your hair won’t stay where it’s put. I love the way you wrinkle your nose when you’re trying to think of something to say. I love your habit of plain speaking.” He touched a finger to her nose. “And, yes, I even love your freckles. I wouldn’t eliminate a single one of them, not for all the lemons in the world. There. Does that convince you?” [p. 410]

Please compare that with Harry Burns’s New Year’s Eve speech to Sally:

harry met sally quote

#ProTipsForDudes: This scene. Every time. Speaking as someone who has no idea if men ever flirt with her (“I’m telling you, I have never been flirted at. Men aren’t attracted to me.” “That’s not true, Alaina – you just don’t know when you’re being flirted at.” “Isn’t that the same thing?! If I don’t know it’s happening, is it even happening?” “Next you’re going to ask me what the sound of one hand clapping is, aren’t you?” “Don’t be silly, everyone knows Bart Simpson answered that question twenty-five years ago.”), how about using pop culture references instead? Seriously – tell me I’m your density. Buy me a diary and tell me you like me just as I am. Send me any one of those Hannibal-related Valentine’s I post every fucking year.

But don’t you dare tell me “as you wish” unless you fucking mean it.

[Special thanks to Best Friend Kerri for the above conversation re: flirting, Alaina’s inability to recognize it as it is happening to her.]

The last thing I wanted to mention about this book is just a drive-by name-drop of a Ms. Siddons. This is a reference to Sarah Siddons, the famous Welsh actress of the late eighteenth century. She is also the thespian for whom the Sarah Siddons Award is named, and — hold up, it’s a real thing?! That’s fantastic!

See, the Sarah Siddons Award is named by my number-one Patronus, Addison De Witt, in the opening sequence of one of the greatest movies ever made, All About Eve. Sarah Siddons was a real person; the award was created by Joseph L. Mankiewicz in the script. But apparently, the city of Chicago took that idea and ran with it, and now gives out a Sarah Siddons Award every year. Go Chicago! (PS I’m ecstatic to see Bette Davis’s name on that list of recipients.)

So that’s my review of The Deception of the Emerald Ring. And for my concerned readers who are seeing that the post-time on this is nearly eleven o’clock, please be advised: I took an hour break when I remembered I had potstickers in the freezer, so I didn’t have to go out and get food. I ate dinner around 8:30.

I can’t tell when flirting happens, but I know how to find food, so — don’t worry about me, I’ll be fine.

Grade for The Deception of the Emerald Ring4 stars

Fiction: “The Masque of the Black Tulip” by Lauren Willig

Black TulipI grabbed this off of my bookshelf in the last week of December for two reasons. One, I wanted to read a book quickly in order to bump up the number of books I read in December, and therefore, the year (spoiler alert! I didn’t make it. By about forty pages). And two, I was looking for something cute and funny and romantic in nature, but I wanted to know that I’d get that from the book that I ended up choosing. And I say that because the last few “silly little romance novels” I started to read all turned sour rather quickly; either the plot became too ludicrous for words, or I just got bored with the characters.

I haven’t given up on them, mind you; they’re on my nightstand under a whole bunch of library books right now. I’ll get to them eventually. And when I do, we’ll all be in for an excellent rendition of The Rant Song; so we’ve got that to look forward to, which is nice.

I also didn’t realize it had been three years since I’d read The Secret History of the Pink Carnation; it feels like I just wrote about it a year ago. So, I decided that it was about time to get back into the series, even if it is only temporary.

In case you didn’t elect to click the link above to my review of Pink Carnation, let me give you a rundown: these books are framed novels, in that we begin and end each book from the perspective of Eloise Kelly, a graduate student who is studying the flower spies of the French Revolution for her thesis. She is helped in her quest for original sources by a descendant of the Purple Gentian, one of the flower spies (along with the Pink Carnation and the more widely-known Scarlet Pimpernel). The descendant is Colin Selwick, who starts off the series kind of surly and protective of his family’s history, but — as typically happens in rom-coms — eventually warms to Eloise. Although, as the modern portions of the stories are told from Eloise’s first-person perspective, we the reader aren’t entirely sure how Colin truly feels; and Eloise definitely voices her confusion as part of her narration.

The action of the story moves between Eloise’s search in present-day and the goings-on of the flower spies and their acquaintances back at the turn of the 19th century. Pink Carnation introduced us to the Purple Gentian, Richard Selwick, through the eyes of Amy Balcourt. Amy is a lovable imp who only wants to join forces with the Purple Gentian. She and Richard fall in love — almost against their better instincts — and they are so damn cute together it’s sickening in the best kind of way.

When I originally reviewed Pink Carnation, I alluded to the rest of the books in the series. In writing these books, instead of returning to the characters we (read: I) fell in love with in Carnation, she instead spins off the sequels to get other pairs together. And while The Masque of the Black Tulip is similar enough to Carnation that I can enjoy it on its own, constantly moving to other couples in the historical section is not enough to keep me reading the books one after another; I need to take breaks in-between. (Mostly.)

That paragraph is convoluted. Basically, the history section of Pink Carnation introduces who we think are going to be main characters in the series (Amy; Richard) and their assorted sidekicks (Miss Gwen, Amy’s governess; Jane, Amy’s best friend; Henrietta, Richard’s younger sister; Miles Dorrington, Richard’s best friend). But in The Masque of the Black Tulip, we focus on Henrietta and Miles and the development of their relationship and eventual marriage. They are also sickeningly cute in an excellent way, though also in a different way from Amy and Richard.

I’ll get back to Henrietta and Miles in a moment, but within the historical part of Black Tulip, we meet sidekicks to Henrietta and Miles: Geoffrey Pinchingdale-Snipe, best friend to Miles and cohort of Richard; the object of his affections, Mary Alsworthy; and Henrietta’s friends, Penelope and Charlotte. So at the end of Black Tulip, we want to see more of Richard and Amy and more of Henrietta and Miles. But in the next book, The Deception of the Emerald Ring, we are diverted yet again to focus on the developing relationship between Geoffrey and Mary’s younger sister, Letty (it’s a long story. Wait a couple of days, I’ll get into it later). So each book is like a spin-off of the one before, and I just want to get back to the original story! Because I know there are shenanigans at the School for Spies Richard and Amy started up after the Purple Gentian was de-masked! And I know there are tons of adorably bantery conversations we could watch enfold between Henrietta and Miles! Come on!

And yes, the entire series has a through-line of the courtship between Eloise and Colin, and that development is doled out in … well, very small portions. Just enough to keep us reading further to see what happens between them. And at one point in Black Tulip, their relationship is just about to go from “simmer” to “hot boil,” and then circumstances intervene and Eloise has to return to London, and that helps to propel us to read the next book, because we just want to know if those crazy kids get together in the end

It’s also possible that I’m being prematurely judgy. I’ve read through the fourth book out of a dozen, so it’s entirely possible that Amy and Richard (or Henrietta and Miles) return with substantial parts in later books. But based on my current perceptions, I’m disappointed in how the series progresses.

Not that that is going to keep me from reading the future titles in hopes of being proven wrong. And again, I’m talking about the series as a whole; The Masque of the Black Tulip is just as delightful as Pink Carnation, and while a lack of Richard and Amy is disappointing, Miles and Henrietta compensate wonderfully.

When Eloise isn’t trying to parse whether Colin’s flirting with her, she’s reading the journals and diaries of Henrietta Selwick, Richard’s younger sister. She has been kept in London during her Season while Richard, newlywed to Amy, has retired to the country to run a school for spies. Henrietta, as many younger sisters in literature do, just wants to tag along and do her part for the cause. Richard’s best friend, Miles Dorrington, has been tasked to stay behind and intercept missives from the War Office. Miles also stops by the Selwick household in town daily to keep an eye on Henrietta.

Miles’s mission is to determine who is acting as the mysterious Black Tulip: a French spy on British soil, ostensibly gathering secrets about the British effort against Napoleon. His prime suspect is Lord Vaughn, who is described as a witter version of Lucius Malfoy(*):

… the gentleman approaching was dressed in a combination of black and silver, like midnight shot with moonlight. His hair carried out the theme, a few silver strands frosting rather than disguising the original black. Henrietta wouldn’t have been surprised if he had silvered them intentionally, just to match his waistcoat ….

… Henrietta noticed the silver serpent that slithered along the body of [his] cane, its fanged head constituting the handle. It was an ebony cane, of course. Henrietta had no doubt that, as he drew closer, the silver squiggles on his waistcoat would also resolve themselves into the twining writhing bodies of snakes.

Silver serpents, for goodness’ sake! Henrietta bit her lip on an impertinent chuckle. That was taking trying to look wicked and mysterious just a little too far. [p. 54-55]

(*): Fun Fact!: I have been reading the Harry Potter books for fifteen years, and no matter what I do or how many times I say it to myself as I write, I can never not write Lucius Malfoy as “Lucious” Malfoy or “Lucien” Malfoy first. I guess, at least I don’t write it “Luscious Malfoy”?

Lord Vaughn takes a liking to Henrietta, which sets Miles’s radar off. He wants to protect her out of honor to her brother. Meanwhile, the Marquise de Montvale is getting rather cozy with Miles (to no avail), and that’s pinging Henrietta’s own radar. The more Henrietta and Miles attempt to protect each other from Lord Vaughn and the Marquise, respectively, the more they realize that they love each other. Of course, there are some obstacles to conquer before they get to their Happily Ever After, but get there they do.

Richard and Amy fell in love under what TV Tropes calls the “Loves My Alter Ego“: Amy meets the Purple Gentian and falls in love with the Gentian, whereas she hates Richard while his mask is off. Until she realizes that Richard is the Purple Gentian, that is. Then everything is hunky-dory and they get married almost immediately.

Miles and Henrietta, however, personify the “Friends to Lovers” trope. At least, that’s what call it; unfortunately, after a brief perusal of TVTropes.org (brief – hah! TVTropes is never brief!), apparently “Friends to Lovers” is too broad a category for this — in fact, “Friends to Lovers” doesn’t actually exist as a trope over there, which is shocking to me.

The closest example I can find is “Relationship Upgrade“: where two people who may have experienced unresolved sexual tension in the past decide to announce their love and become official as a couple. Henrietta and Miles have bantered with each other all their lives and felt protective of the other as near-siblings are wont to do, but never attributed their feelings to actual love; Lord Vaughn and the Black Tulip become the impetus for their relationship to be consummated.

I should note here that yes, The Deception of the Emerald Ring takes a third type of trope for its romantic plotline.

I realize that my review sounds rather negative of the series, once you put all the parts together. But I really do like the series – I can state “this happens in this book, and I wish XYZ would happen in future books” while still liking it. My wanting different or more things from something — in this instance, at least — doesn’t diminish my enjoyment of the something. This will be a much different discussion when I read the next Laurell K. Hamilton novel, but when it comes to this series, I’m still interested enough in a positive way to keep reading.

As we shall see.

Grade for The Masque of the Black Tulip: 4 stars

Fiction: “Lady in Waiting” by Nicole Byrd

lady in waitingWhat’s this? Two reviews in as many days? And a state-sponsored holiday tomorrow wherein I can get my car inspected AND post a third review? What’s happening? Have I fallen down a wormhole where I actually finish tasks that I assign to myself? Will tomorrow be the day I finally clean my kitchen?!

No. Tomorrow’s not that day. I’m telling you that right now. It’ll happen – it has to happen, and soon – but tomorrow, even more than my inspection appointment and anything else I might decide to do, my number one A-plus top priority is: SLEEP. IN.

Forget Mulder/Scully, Luke/Lorelai, or even Hannibal/Will Graham; my number one ship that I ship — my one true pairing, if you will — is me/my bed.

Speaking of ships and pairings and romantic notions and shit like that, let’s talk about this silly little romance novel that I read over the course of six months!

Okay, so, apparently, the first romance novel I ever read to review for this site was A Lady of Scandal, also by Nicole Byrd. (“Nicole Byrd” is also a pseudonym for a mother-daughter writing team made up of Cheryl Zach and Michelle Place; for ease of use, I’ll be referring to the team as a singular person.) Ms. Byrd uses a lot of the same tropes, and now that I’ve read two books by her, I’m slightly interested to see if these are things that carry through the rest of her novels. (True confession: after reading A Lady of Scandal, I did find a whole bunch of Ms. Byrd’s novels in a used bookstore. This … this is the first one I’ve pulled out of my romance bookcase. In almost six years. No, wait – in precisely six years. Jeezum, six years?! And now Sydney, my Trusty Laptop, is playing “Pride and Joy” by Stevie Ray Vaughn, and according to the “Last Played” column in iTunes, I haven’t heard that song since 2009 either?! WHAT IS HAPPENING)

ANYWAY. Like in Lady of Scandal, the main heroine has a sister, and they both have rather ostentatious names; Scandal‘s names were taken from Shakespeare’s tragic heroines Ophelia and Cordelia (appropriate, since that book deals with a supposedly-unsavory career in the theater); in Lady in Waiting, the names are Circe and Psyche. And apparently, I read that entire book without looking up who exactly Circe was in Greek mythology. Here I thought she was one of the Sirens; nope, Circe was the one who turned Odysseus’s soldiers into pigs. (Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m getting a serious feeling of nostalgia — wasn’t that an episode of Ducktales or something?! With Magica De Spell? HOLY SHIT YOU GUYS I WAS RIGHT)

Man, that Ducktales!Circe only knew two spells. She’s not a very good witch.

SO ANYWAY, AGAIN, the main characters in Lady in Waiting are Circe and Psyche. Psyche is married and expecting her first child; Circe, just 19, has returned to England from a few years abroad studying art and painting. Circe’s eccentricity is a desire to be an artist of note, which isn’t really a career for a woman in Regency Britain. As a tender young girl of 19, she should be enjoying her first Season – as in, Husband Hunting Season. Because that’s all girls did after they reached their majority – marry. And because Circe wasn’t brought up a proper young lady, she has to be careful about how she acts and reacts to certain situations. She’s bolder than the typical Regency miss, and tends to stand out in a crowd.

Circe attracts a few different men – there’s the sinister Count von Freistadt, who definitely has ulterior motives (spoiler alert! It’s stealing a lost Titian painting); there’s Sir John, a shy botanist who I kept imagining as Archie from Once Upon a Time, for some reason; and then there’s her childhood friend, David. David doesn’t have any feelings for Circe aside from the familial at the beginning of the book, but after he asks her to pretend to be courted by him so he can keep his mother off his back (read: actually keep himself unattached so as to better investigate Count von Freistadt’s shady dealings, without telling Circe what he’s doing), he starts to realize that he does love her, even as she frustrates him with her eccentricities.

Another thing that carries forward into this novel from A Lady of Scandal is that there are two romances; the main one between Circe and David, and the second one is between Sir John and Psyche’s friend Sally. Sally and Sir John are both older than Circe and David, so I suspect that plotline might belong to the mother of the mother-daughter writing team.

I … really don’t have anything else to say about it. Circe is plucky and caring, getting involved in things she shouldn’t be, but doesn’t let David boss her around or keep her from putting her nose in those aforementioned things. Overall, this is a very sedate romance novel; not too much hanky-panky to be found, so if that’s what you’re looking for, you will most likely want to look elsewhere. If you like sweet stories that don’t require a lot of thought or effort to follow pretty staid plotlines? Then, this one is for you.

Not gonna lie, I’ve been sitting here for thirty minutes trying to find a last random thing to throw into this, and … I just can’t. So instead, I’m gonna hit ‘post,’ go get into my jam-jams, and pop open a bottle of white wine and watch Casino Royale, because WHY NOT, I don’t have to work tomorrow!

PS THANK YOU SYDNEY FOR DECIDING TO PLAY ME OUT WITH THE BEST BOND THEME SONG OF ALL TIME

OH DO YOU HAVE A DIFFERENT OPINION

I REGRET TO INFORM YOU THAT YOU ARE WRONG

WHAT YOU’VE JUST SAID IS ONE OF THE MOST INSANELY IDIOTIC THINGS I HAVE EVER HEARD

I AWARD YOU NO POINTS

AND MAY GOD HAVE MERCY ON YOUR SOUL

NO DON’T DOUBT ME

DON’T DOUBT ME ABOUT THIS

I WILL FIGHT YOU

I NOW HAVE A WINE BOTTLE AND I KNOW HOW TO SMASH IT

I HAVE ARMED MYSELF BECAUSE NO ONE ELSE HERE WILL SAVE ME

CLEARLY I HAVE A LOT OF FEELINGS ABOUT CASINO ROYALE AND ITS THEME SONG AND I WILL WRITE ABOUT THEM AT ANOTHER TIME

BUT THE DESIRE TO FIGHT IS STRONG IN THIS ONE

“THIS ONE” BEING ME

… I really needed this day off, you guys.

Grade for Lady in Waiting: 1.5 stars