So if you noticed last post, I most carefully did not mention what exactly my exciting next-on-list title was. That was because I did not want to ruin the full effect of the following story:
Her take was that this book was different for two reasons: 1) The characters were more bourgeois than aristocratic and 2) The male lead was French... and a French revolutionary at that! #1 was an obvious minus, as you know me and my snobby tendencies :) But at least it wasn't a noble marrying beneath him/her... a'la The Scarlet Pimpernel :) (not really, I don't really mind it in Sir Percy and Marguerite). And they weren't low class, just not noble... actually Laura is artsy, kind of like Marguerite, and Andre is pretty bourgeois, but raised to a fairly high position by the revolution. So in the end, it wasn't too much of a minus at all. As for #2... well yes, I'm a total Anglophile, but I usually dive wholeheartedly into whatever I'm reading at the moment, so switching perspectives really isn't too much of a hardship for me. So you wouldn't think I'd mind #2 at all. Besides, given that this is Lauren Willig, I knew he wouldn't really be all a'la lantern les aristos (wow, I just looked that up, I actually got it right! go me :)) and he wasn't... so far from it actually, I thought it might have been a little more believable and still very doable if he had been a bit more in between... but enough said, don't want to spoil the surprise for you :)
Anyway, the truth is, neither of those two differences made much impact on my enjoyment of the book in themselves... but they did contribute to what I felt made this book very different than previous ones - a much more plot-driven, spy-centric storyline. I mean, there's always some mystery/danger/drama somewhere in these books, but it's often (sometimes more often than others) almost the backdrop to the characters' developing relationship and/or the social scene of the time/place. And since you know I'm not reading these books for the thrill (at least the thrill of a noble life on the edge), I'm perfectly happy with that balance. This book, with the far more immediately dangerous setting than Regency London or far-way British India of early Napoleonic France, had a whole lot more of the spy stuff, and not really quite enough of the good stuff... These were characters with a job to do, and they spent most of the book doing it. Yes, there was early admiration on both sides, but it really wasn't anything they paid any attention to, or anything we paid much attention to either for that matter.
I mean, it's not like I wasn't enjoying it... it's Lauren Willig after all, I would like her books simply because I like her books (familiarity breeds fondness? :)) And there was a brewing romance, if a subtle one... and the history was interesting as always, the writing as usual light, funny, and very well constructed. But you know, I wasn't *loving* it (as is evidenced by the fact that it took me an entire week to get through (though I did read it every night, I just fell asleep reading it every night)). Anyway, that was until about half way through... and I can literally mark the moment when the pace picked up... actually, it was when Andre's true allegiances are revealed so perhaps I am wrong in saying they were too extreme. Realistic they may not have been, but fun they were. (Except that the nuanced view of the world opened up by taking the other side's point of view for once is entirely lost, as Andre turns out to be not really on the other side at all... but perhaps I have said too much once again, I shall desist :)) Anyway, the point is, half way through, the book got good. The romance picked up, most definitely, as the characters interacted more - and we had the treat of them playing a fake family, always a great opportunity for... out of the ordinary situations. And the spy part picked up too, in its own way - though it does recede for i'd say the third and fourth fifths of the books. But that was good - not too much tension, as as soon as things got really scary, we stopped spending so much time on them, and starting spending more time on things we cared a little more about :) And then of course at the end, it went back to the spy stuff for a final finish, but that's typical and totally expected, acceptable, and even necessary. So all in all, entirely satisfactory. Maybe not the absolute best, but I think I would say one of her smartest books. And in case you were wondering, Colin and Eloise's story continues to amuse, even if it is not as necessary as it once was, now that there an old fuddy duddy couple :)