28 of 33 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is my first Kate Noble book and there were so many utterly fabulous things about it: historically rich in detail; features a compelling, unique heroine and utterly sweet hero who really comes into his own; is well-written and fast-paced; has both funny scenes and great chemistry. However all this only made the two flaws that much more annoying to me - and one is practically a literary crime (in the romance genre)! Either way, she is a great writer, FOLLOW MY LEAD is a lovely must-read, and I will definitely be keeping an eye out for her next book.
(Apologies in advance for the obscene length of this review!)
Miss Winnifred Crane (30), known to her friends as Winn, is a brilliant woman and an expert on art history. Her father was a revered professor of that discipline at Oxford, so she's been studying art and history from a young age. Following his recent death, she decides that after spending her life in the library and recent years caring for her increasingly sick father, it is finally time for her to be independent, have an adventure, and be in control of her own life. The first thing she wants is recognition for her talent and expertise, which will come by finally unmasking herself as C. W. Marks, the pseudonym she used to publish several esteemed and greatly-admired papers.
When her claim comes into question, she is forced to strike a bargain: if she can prove that a painting widely accepted to be by Durer was in fact painted by someone else, the Society of Historical Art and Architecture of the Known World will be forced to acknowledge that she was in fact capable of having written the Marks papers herself. Along for the ride with her is George Bambridge, her cousin who is also an "expert" in the family field. He has been set on marrying Winn for many years, calculating that through her, he will be able to rise to great heights by capitalizing on - and basically plagiarizing - her own brilliance. When he forbids her from going to Europe to find the proof of her claims, they strike their own bargain: should she succeed, he will back off and will also give her inheritance, which he has been backhandedly withholding since her father's death; if she doesn't, they will marry.
Lord Jason Cummings, Duke of Rayne (30) becomes involved completely by chance. Jason has finally decided to marry, figuring that this is the next step: after his father's death, he took over the responsibilities of his dukedom as he should and now that that is under control, it's time for him to marry. Though the entire reasoning is pretty dispassionate, he is actually quite committed to this path, though finds it an increasing trial given all the debutantes he has met bore him to tears. Becoming accidentally entangled in Winn's quest, he finds himself assigned to be the escort for the first leg of her and George's journey, which is to travel to Dover to board a ship to Calais.
Nothing is ever that simple of course, and through twists and turns, Winn and Jason find themselves stuck together as they travel through Germany and Austria trying to find the much-sought after evidence to back Winn's claims. Having to battle both their growing attraction to one another and the pursuit by George whom they are only able to stay one step ahead of, they find themselves on the most unlikely - and exciting and thrilling and lovely! - adventure of their lives.
There were a lot; one of the things I loved is that to find all of these in one romance is very rare, so I admire Noble and her books all the more for this:
+ Romantic relationship is so believable; no instant lust, are really nothing to one another at the beginning, but develops and builds in an absolutely lovely manner
+ Both the hero and heroine have their own vulnerabilities, as well as their own strengths, and together they provide the other what he or she is missing; are wonderfully 3-dimensional characters and the hero is to die for
+ Historically rich - doesn't at all overwhelm the story, is integral to the plot, it's clear Noble did her research, and is actually very interesting
+ The subplot of the painting quest is well-crafted, necessary to the story, and not contrived (historically rich and etc. as previously mentioned)
+ The book is humorous/witty and a lot of the scenes/dialogue are cute, but the story maintains a great amount of depth; is not light and fluffy, but is still a truly plain-fun read
+ Chemistry was wonderful - not a super steamy read, but there is great tension and what is there is very well done; has a lot of physical affection, couple of kissing scenes, and two love scenes
***MAIN CHARACTERS, Winn and Jason***
Winn was terrific! She's 30, which is significantly older than most romance heroines, however she has no experience with society or the outside world and before traveling to London to assert her claim of being C. W. Marks had never even traveled outside of Oxford. She is determined, intelligent, resourceful, naive, funny, perceptive, self-deprecating, charming, and just all-around great. What she seeks to avoid at all costs is the need for anyone else - she doesn't want to have to depend on anyone but herself. Because of this, her attraction and developing relationship with Jason causes her endless internal turmoil.
Jason was so, so, so wonderful. I know from other readers and from mentions in this book that he was not as much of a charmer when in The Summer of You, however not having read the book myself I cannot really speak to the change except for what I know from this book. He apparently used to always run from his responsibilities and could never finish a thing he started, but he has undergone a change in the last 5 years and really tried to reform his ways. This transformation is also one of the reasons - though not the main one ;-) - he decides to stick it out with Winn and accompany her to the end of her adventure: he wants to see this completed start to finish, and doesn't want to abdicate his responsibilities.
With Winn, Jason is just dreamy and delicious. He's sweet, tender, protective, teasing, insightful, caring, selfless, *thoughtful,* and is so adorable blushing at some of the things he says or some of Winn's comments!! Love how he has a pet name for her and that he's a redhead ... though it's a book, so really what difference, lol :-). I honestly can't do anything but add him to my favorite heroes list! In many ways, his change is the more remarkable of the two, since Winn's is more halting and doesn't fully show through until the end (practically not even then! See flaw #2b). Jason, who at the beginning is more of a passive actor in his life, really takes charge of his own destiny, makes decisive choices, and jumps headlong into the unknown void (several times) earlier and more often than Winn.
***THE TWO FLAWS*** (could be considered slight spoilers)
I'm annoyed just thinking about them, because this would be nothing but a rave review if it weren't for them and would qualified as one of my top 10 HRs, if not #1. And had the rest of the book not been as fabulous as it was, the rating would have suffered far more than half a star.
(1) There is another love interest: Miss Sarah Forrester for Jason. Their relationship develops throughout the book much, much further than I would have liked. I am not alluding to anything naughty, I just mean the stages that their relationship reaches. At the end, I was practically having heart palpitations, while also trying to tell myself this was a romance = has a HEA = stop being such a complete and utter dimwit. IMO though, Jason wouldn't have reverted back so much to how he was before the trip; even had his actions been the same, I would have wanted more inner turmoil on his part.
(2a) If you counted up the times that either Winn or Jason went out on a limb for the other / hinted at their feelings / reached out to the other, Jason would definitely come out on top. So much so that I began to get very annoyed with Winn. She was such a strong woman, that I wish she had grown a backbone in this area a little earlier. Jason proves himself in so many ways and it left me feeling that Winn hadn't done enough to deserve him yet. Now I could have let all this slide if not for 2b ...
(2b) I'm sorry, but what was up with that last chapter and ending? Before you freak out, yes it's a HEA, but I really felt cheated. I actually thought for a second that maybe there was a page at the end missing or they had forgotten to include the Epilogue, because without one or the other how that ending is told is practically a crime! Jason gives the most amazing declaration and deserves an equivalent one in return. It's the ending for pity sake; how can you leave us with that?
I read Compromised right after this and what that clearly showed me is that Noble loves to twist her readers inside out and put them through the ringer! I hate Big Misunderstandings for that very reason, and while she doesn't have those, it's a *huge* case of Things Left Unsaid (in both books).
Read it, definitely! I cannot recommend any other action. But can someone maybe just rewrite the ending for me and I'll paste it over the last page of my book? ... Or maybe I will just do it myself, because this a sure reread, but honestly I cannot emotionally survive going through this again! Yes, yes, overly dramatic. All I can say is: the book was so fabulous and strong that the ending's weakness stuck out (and slapped me upside the head and tortured me) that much more.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
There's a famous song from the 1934 Cole Porter Broadway show, Anything Goes called "It's De-Lovely." The chorus goes as follows- "It's delightful, it's delicious, it's de-lovely". I can't help but hum this song when I read a Kate Noble book. Her books are all of these things- delightful, delicious and lovely.
Follow My Lead is a light hearted, on the road romance between the hero and heroine who match wits while falling in love with one another. The hero, Jason Cumming, Duke of Rayne made quite a splash in The Summer of You. I love Jason, and not only because he's a redhead. In that book he was too young and immature, but so very lovable and endearing. Now in Follow My Lead, Jason has come into his own. As a duke, he feels the next logical step is to get married because Jason is about to turn thirty. His sister Jane still likes to coddle him and wants him to find the best possible woman to be his wife. She prefers he fall in love with his wife, just like she has fallen in love with her husband. But Jason is more practical. When his brother-in-law, Bryne asks him why he wants to get married, Jason replies that marriage is the next logical stage in his life. How romantic of Jason to think this way.
While Jason maneuvers through the parties, searching for his future bride, a Miss Winnifred Crane has come to London. Winn is on a mission to be accepted as a member of the Historical Society that only allows men. Winn thinks she has an "in" because she writes under a pseudonym, as the well-respected C.W. Marks. When she meets with Lord Forrester, the head of the Historical Society, she explains how he gave a letter of introduction to her father, inviting Marks to join the society. Forrester assumes Winnie's father was Marks and doesn't believe her. Winnie's cousin George then says he's Marks, which causes Winnie to take action. She'll prove that the painting hanging up in Forrester's office isn't by the artist he believes it to be.
Winnie has a lot going against her. First of all she's a woman alone and her cousin George, who expects to marry her, wants to stop Winnie on her hunt. George has waited far too long to claim Winnie as his own and will do whatever he can to sabotage her. But he doesn't expect Jason to accompany them. The moment Winnie smacks Jason in the face by accident, he finds Winnie equally strange but fascinating. He'll escort her to the Port of Dover where she, George and their companion, Totty will board a ship that will take them across the channel to Calais. But Winn has something else up her sleeve. She has tricked everyone and plans to take a ship to Hamburg, Germany. Winn has lied to get out from under the thumb of George. Jason follows Winn, thinking she got on the wrong ship. But when he realizes what she's done, he's forced to go along with her.
Winn rather go on the journey alone, but Jason being such a gentleman, won't allow Winn to go off unprotected. Unfortunately, Jason doesn't have any of his funds readily available and he and Winn must find ways to make money to keep from starving. They meet a few choice characters among their travels, and Winn is always looking over her shoulder because she knows George will figure out what she's done and come for her. As Jason and Winn rely solely on each other, they soon follow each other's lead into their arms and in their hearts.
Plucky comes to mind, especially with Winn, who may have lived in a small town and preferred books over people, but when her father dies, and she ventures off to London, she's finally free for the first time in her life. Winn is honest and forthright, especially around Jason. I love a heroine who befuddles the hero, and Winn definitely does that where Jason is concerned. But Jason takes everything all in stride. He doesn't act lofty with his nose up in the air like most his lordish counterparts and his adventure with Winn is a breath of fresh air for him.
One of my favorite passages in this book is where it finally hits Jason that Winn is the woman for him. When he first meets Winn, he doesn't find her attractive, but respects her intelligence and stoic manner. While Jason is doing some manual labor for money, he comes to the conclusion that Winn's hair isn't just plain brown, her face no longer small and her eyes sparkle. He loves how he finds out that Winn has breasts and she's full of energy and light. This is where his regard changes for her and he wants her as a man wants a woman he desires. Jason is smitten and nothing Winn can do or say will change his mind.
I loved Jason and Winn's banter. Kate Noble had a way with words and dialogue. These two complete each other perfectly. The love scenes are not overly passionate, but have just the right amount to keep the reader happy. Also, Jason is more a beta than an alpha with an instinctual need to protect Winn, but never forces her to do what he wants. He treats her like an equal in every way.
Follow My Lead is the best in what historical romance has to offer. If there's an author you should be reading, it's Kate Noble. This is one book that shines in every possible way.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
I just finished this book, and will agree with all the other reviewers who said that the romance of the story is well developed. It took time, which made it believable.
The aspects of this book that I enjoyed are many. The author's research was well done. The scenic descriptions were accurate and could have been felt. The dialogue was well written. Our h and h are both intelligent people. Our hero is not a rake, but a rather nice man, who, believe it or not, has feelings other than lust. Winn is a 30-year-old woman (an aspect I REALLY like, esp. since Jason is the same age as well), and she is very intelligent, concerned about her studies rather than the balls and such that other female protagonists in other novels obsess about. I also enjoyed the lighthearted introspections of Jason; I believe he was better developed than Winn. His struggle to follow something through and not delegate was lightly, yet thoroughly explained (from his point of view). However, Winn's desire, or better yet single-minded, dogged obsession for her independence was too drawn out; it is the sole reason for her existence, her decisions, her indecisiveness when it comes to Jason, and her rejections, which brings me to the aspect of the novel I did not enjoy - Winn!
Winn, who has spent her entire life helping her father with his studies, enjoyed an intellectual freedom that many women of that time probably could not. Her father indulged her desire for knowledge, in fact he sparked it. So, one point that I would wish to argue is Winn's desire to see the world, which is one of her reasons for wanting a life of her own. Had she voiced this desire to travel to her father, given the description of the man, to me, as a reader, it is quite plausible, if not believable, that he, her father, would have allowed her to travel, especially in his healthy years (he did take the time to include her in dinners with his students, trying to offer her a man other than her cousin, so it begs the question, wouldn't he have allowed her an "adventure" where she might find something better as well?). The other aspect of Winn's fierce desire for independence is rooted in only a year's time span. Her cousin, George, her secret fiancé, of the past 15 years has put a halt on her inheritance, arguing that it belongs to Oxford - of course George is only trying to further his career, but that is neither here nor there. The point I am trying to make is that just one year of financial confinement should not be enough to stem Winn's irritating desire for independence, especially when she meets a man like Jason, so completely different from George. So, it is therefore, my opinion that Winn's frustrating need for a life alone is based on a rather superficial, if not unfounded premise.
Another aspect of Winn's personality that left me shaking my head was her cold-hearted dismissal of Jason after their initial night together. And, again, the reasoning for her not allowing her feelings to show was her desire for independence. I swear this whole "independence" feature of the novel just grew tiresome, to say the least. Winn, in Jason's words is "an idiot." I cannot agree more with that description.
Then there is Jason, who actually courts another woman, Sarah, both before and after he and Winn are together. He even likes her. He proposed marriage to her. REALLY ! This is something I find disturbing. If Jason so likes Winn, what is he doing courting someone else, esp. AFTER being with Winn, regardless of her cold hearted rejection. This would happen in real life to be sure. However, this is a fictitious romance novel, and I for one read such novels for escapism, not for reality.
And finally, although the romance aspect of the novel was well developed, the actual attraction was not palpable, to me at least. Even the two sex scenes were not all that sensual. I suppose I like a little more sizzle between my h and h.
However, all of this criticism aside, it is not a novel I would not recommend. I believe it is a novel that people who like a romance in the more PG style, or PG 13 style would enjoy (if they can get past Winn).