Sunday, August 21, 2016

Culmination Kind of Flat

You might think that posting so recently after my last update, the latest review would be fresh in my mind. You'd be mostly right but... things go fast on vacation.  I'm already 3 books behind - so onward and upward.  As I mentioned in the last post, next on my list was, of course, the final Pink Carnation, Jane's story.  In contrast to #11 about a pair of minor characters and a plot that doesn't really tie in with the Pink Carnation's work at all, #12 features Jane herself as the heroine, in the thick of her spy war on Napoleon.  So it was going to be different for sure. I quite enjoyed #11, with its relative lack of plot and clean-slate characters, so the burden was on #12 to prove as enjoyable when back in the thick of the action.  On the other side was #10, Miss Gwen's story, which suffered from introducing us the the woman behind the parasol, and rendering the previously redoubtable heroine vulnerable.  And if this was a problem for Miss Gwen... Throughout the Pink Carnation series, Jane has remained ever calm and unruffled while pulling all the strings and knowing all the things.  So who wouldn't want to hear her love story?

Thus far we have the awesome Jane, ready for her hero.  As for the hero himself, I have nothing particularly bad to say of him, though I would say Jane is substantially more awesome (unlike her French counterpart and one-time flame The Gardener, but apparently he's destined for someone else (Lizzy) - two alpha spies can't work? whatever, I'm really fine with that).  But the issue comes down to the same thing as #10 - how to render the heroine sympathetic without damaging that sheen of omniscience? Personally, I don't know why Jane had to be rendered so vulnerable, but what do I know? Lauren Willig not only introduces us to her inner doubts (fine enough I guess) but moves the story along two years, placing her outside her old Paris network and outside the pale of polite society (disowned by her family).  Why, why, why? By making Jane so far from awesome, it deprives us of the treat of the coup de grace of Pink books.

So ok, let's try to judge the book on its own merits rather than as the culmination of the series.  As far as it goes, lots of spy plot, which is not a plus in my book.  Portuguese countryside instead of Regency London.  And the romance? I just feel like Pink romances are all the same - rather than a true angsty, suspensful back-and-forth true progression of a relationship, it's all professional interaction + an undercurrent of a certain type of tension, denying it because of said professional interaction, and culminating in a declaration. It just gets old, you know? Maybe it's really the way most romances go (at least those with more.. err.. physical description).  But these are the ones I read, so that's where I see the repetition. Anyway, yeah, it just felt like same, same, and not necessarily that enjoyable.

Oh well, right? Still, same as #10 - fast, easy read of a romance. Shouldn't be that critical. And looking forward to reading the standalones! Not hampered by any of the same-same (hopefully :)) And it was certainly fun to wrap it all up with the various characters.

Verdict: 3.5/5

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