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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars You read Kinsale For the Depth, 28 Jan 2010
This review is from: Lessons in French (Mass Market Paperback)
If you have read her books in the past, then you know they tend to fall into two categories: challenging and serious - or a bit more lighthearted but with depth. This falls into the latter category and has a lot of whimsy and charm but with the same Kinsale trademarks:

- strong male character who is definitely flawed, unsure, and 3 Dimensional. It's in her heroes that her strength lies - they aren't cookie cutter ciphers but do things that are unwise or even self destructive (just as a normal person does). You don't have the usual historical hero who is wealthy, knowledgeable, self assured, super intelligent, a 'rake', and utterly perfect - and then falls for random spirited girl. Instead, you have a 'wounded' man who finds a light at the end of the tunnel with someone who can understand his pain.

- female lead who isn't the prototypical "spitfire" who says and does dumb things just so she can be rescued from her own 'spirit.' Instead, Kinsale often gives her heroines quiet strength and dignity. That's what really draws me to Kinsale's protaganists - that sensibility. The heroes and heroines play the same game we all have to play - not knowing the true feelings of the other or why they do what they do.

- Obsessive love. It's complete and unconditional and Kinsale is really good at making the reader feel the depth and commitment (and reasoning) that the male character is so in love with the female character.

- A lot of pathos and depth to the characterization of many of the people in the book. No one is purely bad or good and many are just doing what people do normally - be selfish or unobservant. Kinsale is wonderful at plumbing psychological depths and characters don't act irrationally just to create a 'situation' that moves a plot.

- The book is well written and not given to lazy or sloppy sections.

For this particular book, the story moves over a short one week time period which suits the plot of two people who really cared for each other but were separated by circumstance. At times, it does feel a lot like an Austen book since the banter can be very witty and makes sense for a couple in their late 20s who once shared a close intimacy. And you do get the feeling that neither are quite sure of what time has done to change the other.

In all, the book is a very enjoyable read. It's not one of Kinsale's challenging works (the English of For My Lady's Heart or 'plot in letters' in My Sweet Folly). Instead, it is lighter and more pleasant, with a great supporting cast of characters and two protagonists that are deeply developed and not cardboard cliches of the genre. I give it one star less because of a plot point that I really thought was ridiculously coincidental and could have been constructed differently to achieve the same effect.

I don't read romance much any more and Kinsale is the only romance author whose books I still buy. As soon as they are announced, I put them on preorder on Amazon. I know that whether she challenges me or makes me smile, I can always look forward to a well written story devoid of usual hoary cliches that can really turn one off of the genre.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Laura Kinsale's stories are absolutely yummy!, 12 Feb 2010
Detra Fitch (USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Lessons in French (Mass Market Paperback)
Lady Callista "Callie" Taillefaire had been seventeen when her father, the Earl of Shelford, caught her in the carriage house with Trevelyan "Trev" d'Augustin, Duc de Monceaux. Having interrupted the couple, only seconds from Callie being ruined, the furious earl rejected the young duc as a penniless nobody of unsteady character. Having been treated as a contemptible French scoundrel, Trev went to France.

Nine years have passed. Callie has recently gotten out of mourning for her father's death. Cousin Jasper is the new Earl of Shelford. He and his wife, Dolly, now reside at Shelford Hall. Having reached the age of twenty-seven, Callie has resigned herself to becoming a spinster. Three times Callie has been engaged. Three times Callie has been jilted. She now spends her time trying to be invisible at gatherings. Otherwise, Callie's time is divided between her animals and caring for Madame de Monceaux, Trev's dying mother. Once again Callie trying to fade into the background of a party when Trev enters the room.

During the previous nine years Trev has become embarrassingly wealthy by arranging boxing spectacles of both fixed and fair varieties. Having been exiled from England recently, Trev is staying one step ahead of the hangman's noose so he may be with his dying mother. Spying Callie, Trev's emotions rise from whatever grave he had buried them into so long ago. Before he disappears forever, Trev is determined to sweep Callie into one last adventure.

***** FIVE STARS! After a long self-exile one of my all-time favorite authors, Laura Kinsale, has returned! I could not be more thrilled. This time the story is a light romance and, as usual, the author manages to weave animals into the tale. No small animal such as a hedgehog, porcupine, skunk, or ferret during this adventure though. Instead, I found myself enchanted by a humongous bull named Hubert.

All the characters are well developed, including the secondary ones. The story is well written with various sub-plots to keep things moving along smoothly. There is a bit of mystery, some exciting romps, and odd but lovable characters as well. Laura Kinsale's stories are absolutely yummy! *****

Reviewed by Detra Fitch of Huntress Reviews.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars After a five year drought Ms Kinsale again delivers her special magic., 19 Jan 2010
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This review is from: Lessons in French (Mass Market Paperback)
First of all let me start by saying that this is the first book in this genre I've read where there are four, yes FOUR, full pages of tributes from highly respected authors/writers of this genre. Not platitudes. You know how sometimes on the front of romance books you see that prescriptive drivel, "Another great winner from the New York Times Bestseller...." etc.? Well these are nothing like those. These words of praise are from authors like: Lisa Kleypas, Elizabeth Hoyt, Anne Stuart, Jennifer Ashley, Madeline Hunter, Joanna Bourne, Loretta Chase, Mary Jo Putney and many more. All of them in praise of the writing and the writer.

I have read and keep on my bookshelf six of Laura Kinsale's books. Those other's of hers that I don't have I only lack them because I can't get hold of them - they are either out of print or are too expensive for me to buy on the used book market. No two books are really alike (although there are a couple that are linked by characters). It's what makes her writing special. She's a storyteller who produces books for the mass market and with each new book has challenged herself technically - either with the complexity of the setting or a peculiar writing technique (e.g. using quite well researched medieval and Quaker language in two books).

This book is a first for her, I think, in that it's her first humour-based book. And the challenge she sets is to make the setting quite preposterous and yet so utterly believable! And she pulls it off - with bells on!

Callie, our heroine, isn't vacuous or flippant. Her country pursuits are serious pursuits, to her and to the local community she lives in. Trev, our hero, is an utter and complete and unreliable and compelling and madcap wastrel and the reader really should frown at him as a suitable suitor for our heroine but Laura Kinsale does such a terrific job of endearing you to the two of them and each of the, sometimes surreal, situations they find themselves in that you're swept along with the whole thing and find yourself wondering with them how the heck we're going to get out of this or that situation. Rollicking fun!

This book is nothing like previous books. There's no heavy undertone or 'the moral of this story is...' here. Nor is there the very fine attention to detail you find in early Kinsale books - some of the behaviours of our hero and heroine are far beyond the pale of the aristocracy they are both purported to be, but you can overlook those slights because you are so engrossed in the adventure and the sheer fun of the story.

Ms Kinsale has emerged from her five years sabbatical with a light heart and a book full of sunshine and smiles... and a dusting of lurve.

Bless you, luv.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Magical, delightful - top notch Kinsale, 5 May 2011
Margaret (Edinburgh, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Lessons in French (Mass Market Paperback)
I discovered Laura Kinsale earlier this year after buying a kindle - and what a discovery! She combines the best elements of historical romance - utterly convincing world-building; gripping emotion; and multifaceted characters which you care about from page one. Her writing is subtle, beautiful and emotive - and incredibly versatile.

Having already read Seize the Fire, the Shadow and the Star and Flowers from the Storm by Laura Kinsale I was prepared to expect a problematic hero with a dark soul. What I hadn't expected was to see the type of hero Laura Kinsale writes so well, transported to a world of whimsy and light-hearted hilarity.

It's a testament to Kinsale's writing that she can write dark romance novels touching upon issues such as child abuse, cowardice and disablity as well as being able to write light, frothy humour - and that she is able to do both well. What's even more spectacular is that in translating her writing from darkness to whimsy, she loses none of the emotional depth which characterises all her books. Lessons in French has both; you root for the characters, you're entranced by their whimsy and you're traumatised by the threats to their love. It's a rare combination to find: emotional depth combined with absurdity - and that's what makes her so good.

Trev is witty, absurb and darkly wild, Callie is loyal, intelligent and secretly rebellious. She breeds bulls; he has a secret history as a sharper and both have been in love since childhood. Their love is palpably heart-warming, their passion sizzles and there is much to laugh at too.

I was so pleased by Lessons in French that on finishing it I immediately purchased four more Laura Kinsale books (thank you Amazon) - simply on the basis that I haven't read a bad one yet.
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Lessons in French
Lessons in French by Laura Kinsale (Mass Market Paperback - 26 Jan 2010)
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