Now this is what I’m talking about, and this is what I was hoping for when I started this series. While it takes place in the same Jane-Austen-with-magic world, this book has much more plot and action and drama and it’s nifty.
After getting married, Jane and Vincent have been doing a glamural for the Prince of England (who sounds lovely), but then they end up taking a honeymoon trip to Belgium, something that’s been undoable for years since Napoleon has been in charge. But Napoleon’s recently been deposed (it’s 1815) and hey, why not make a trip to the Continent to stay with Vincent’s glamourist friend there? However, Vincent’s acting a little weird while they’re there and Jane is bothered by this. Also, she comes up pregnant and of course that means she’s forbidden from doing glamour, which makes her feel completely useless and takes away what she and her husband bonded over. However, right before that happened, Jane came up with a brilliant idea: figuring out that a glamour can be trapped in glass and used without having to make glamour. How cool is that?
Not only cool, but useful.... since usually glamour can’t be worked while one is moving or pregnant.
I enjoyed Jane’s thinking. She’s the kind of girl who tries to figure out how to handle a royal dinner while noticing something in the glamural she wants to fix. She gets annoyed when her husband gets all the credit in public, though he supports the heck out of her. She gets scared that her husband will lose his connection to her without her being able to work glamour. I loved how they figured out new uses for glamour. And when Napoleon comes roaring back and abducts her husband, Jane has to figure out how to rescue him with the tools she has on hand. And she’s awesome. You go, girl. Four stars.
I've heard this is "Jane Austen with magic," and by god, that's exactly what it is, no more, no less. It's most similar in some ways to Sense and Sensibility. Basically it's the same kind of world, but people have the ability to use/shape/create things out of glamour, which is...folds in the ether of some kind, I think? I'm not the sort who'd be clear on the details, but it sounds lovely. People create tableaux vivant, fancy up their houses, maybe disguise their features a bit (though our heroine would point out that eventually someone would be surprised when she had to let the glamour go), create glamurals...sounds lovely.
Jane Ellsworth is a 28-year-old spinster who's decidedly unattractive by the standards of her day--brown hair, too long nose, sallow complexion--but in personality she's super smart, kind, polite, protective, and loves all kinds of puzzles. She's a pretty good glamourist despite not having had massive amounts of formal training, but she's not like, the world's best ever. (Yay, realism.) Jane is perpetually comparing herself to her younger and hotter sister Melody, who's actually attractive. However, Melody is apparently perpetually comparing herself to Jane because Jane has talents and Melody basically hasn't been that interested in applying herself. As the story goes on, the sisters become more quietly resentful of each other and annoyed by each other, and Jane has to stifle like heck when she finds out things like her sister likes to fake injuries to get men's attentions.
Anyway...both girls are originally interested in their nice but circumspect neighbor Mr. Dunkirk, but Mr. Dunkirk seems to be more interested in Jane and Melody quickly moves on to the charming Captain Livingston, who apparently gets around. Jane befriends Mr. Dunkirk's little sister Beth, who seems to have had some drama and scandal in her past that makes her brother choke on it. Eventually Jane finds out the whole story, and has to eventually take steps to fend off disasters. (And I have to say, how she did it was pretty cool. Excellent use of skills.)
There's also the mysterious grumpy glamourist Mr. Vincent, who's been employed to create a glamural at a highborn house. Mr. Vincent seems put off by Jane at first--she's very interested in his work and it bugs him when she can figure out what he did--but he starts to relent a bit as time goes on, and they get asked to create tableaux for others' entertainment. After Mr. Vincent falls ill and Jane manages to get the right kind of help for him, he gifts her with his notebook on glamour--which is potent stuff in all kinds of ways.
The end action is surprisingly dramatic for the previous slow pace of the story, and I deeply enjoyed it when the drama erupted. Jane Austen never went that far, whee! In the end, we get a "happily ever after" summation, which I think assumed this would be a one and done story, except now there are sequels.
What do I think of this story? If you're super into Jane Austen, you'll love it. If you're not that into Jane Austen, I probably wouldn't recommend it because it won't be your thing. It ended up being a quick read for me. I'll admit with the addition of magic I was expecting a bit more than slow courtship plotting and was a little disappointed in that, until the end where things picked up. (More use of glamour as a plot point, yes!) I really like Jane as a character, she's certainly a worthy lass. Overall I think I'm going to give it three and a half stars.
It's been a long time since I read the beginning of the Princess Mia series, but like other series of late, the author's bringing her back for an adult take on her life. For those of you who didn't read the series, Mia Thermopolis was the bastard child of the Prince of Genovia and was pretty much kept in the dark as to her father's princedom until after he survived a bout with cancer and was no longer fertile.. which made her suddenly a legit princess in her teens because otherwise there's be no heir.
"But if you think about it, I have no real problems. Aside from my obviously annoying housing situation, my mentally disturbed family, and the fact that a stalker says he wants to kill me."
As an adult, Mia's still with her high school boyfriend Michael and still friends with her high school friends who knew her before she was royal. She's getting stalked and hiding out in the Genovian embassy in NYC, her father had a little race car incident and is having some kind of nervous breakdown, and she keeps compulsively checking her royal popularity ranking on the Internet. Girl, stop doing that.
As you figured out from the title, Michael finally proposes to Mia and it's time for a royal wedding...or, you know, distraction from the family scandals. Like her dad's impending nervous breakdown...or the fact that his sperm had one last gasp 12 years ago and Mia has a black sister nobody knew about. Upon discovering this fact--and that sister Olivia's being raised by a jerk aunt and uncle who want to haul her off to a country that's shitty for women--Mia literally jaunts off in a limo to her rescue. Olivia, however, takes this a lot better than you'd think. Go figure.
This is definitely in the "fun fluff" category of reading. It's a bit goofy and silly and while I'll admit the end was a bit much for me all at once (let's say Mia is surprised twice), it's the sort of thing fans would probably like. It wasn't a monumental book for me, but a fun enough time. So, three stars.
Mia, comparing herself to her elderly cat Fat Louie: "Of course I don't revenge-poop on things when I don't get my own way."
"Michael and I are an anomaly. Hardly anyone stays together forever with their first significant other, except maybe in YA novels. And usually when they do, it's because he's a vampire or a werewolf or owns a beautiful estate called Pemberley or something." -Mia
Mia comes from a long line of warrior princesses. Princess Rosagunde strangled her husband in his sleep with her braid, which got her named ruler of her village. (Princess Mathilde smashed her cheating fiance's furniture with a battle ax, then rode off with his hunting dogs, servants, and horses. Her own grandmother Clarisse sued her ex fiance for the cost of her new wardrobe when she found out he was married.
"The first rule of being a royal is that you have to learn to take a joke." "The first rule of jokes is that they have to be funny." -Mia and Michael
"Seriously, if my life were one of those romance novels with a love triangle, Lars and Michael would be the sexy paranormal alpha males, but the two of them would be in love with each other and just ignore me." -Mia
"Why do you think your father would be so ashamed of loving a spider man?" -Clarisse
"Famous? Being famous isn't a job! Then I realized that it is. Being famous is very hard work, but it's also empowering, because you have influence over a large number of people and can do amazing things with that power. And it doesn't even matter anymore how you happen to come by that fame, singing or dancing or posting a sex tape on the Internet or finding out that you're a princess. It's what you do with your fame that matters." -Mia
"If I recall correctly, when you were a tween, you would walk around with a cat stuffed down your pants while my sister filmed you for her public-access TV show." -Michael
"I guess that's what brides--kind of like princesses--are for. We might think we're in charge, but when all is said and done, our main purpose is to give people something to admire, and also to make them feel better about the world." -Mia
"And besides, that school obviously isn't a very good one if it can't handle a young boy's perfectly normal interest in flatulence." -Mia's dad
The word "twunt" is used. and sadly, they don't finish the "that's a cross between a--" definition.
"The two rivals for Amalia's affection, "Mick" and "Jared," come from enemy factions. Jared is blond and warmly creative, whereas Mick has dark hair and is more coldly analytical. Amalia seems to be leaning more toward Jared. But none of it really matters since they're all dying of radiation poisoning." --Mia on the plot of her annoying ex's novel
"Any day that begins with you trying on wedding dresses and ends with your fiance beating up your ex-boyfriend is a good one, right?" -Mia
"Your dad did it! He finally impressed your mom! And he didn't have to injure himself in a high-risk sport to do it!" "Yeah, right. All Dad ended up having to do to win my mom's admiration was alienate his own country's populace by hiding a love child for twelve years in a small town just off the New Jersey Turnpike. Easy!" -Tina and MIa
"In addition to the usual antiroyalists, anarchists, misogynists, and general wackos, we've now acquired a few white supremacists and even some anti-Semites (Michael says he's very proud he was finally able to bring something to the family, even if it's only a hate group)." -Mia
"Reader, I married him. Ha! I've always wanted to write that!" -Mia
"I read J.RR.Tolkein's Lord of the Rings series when I was pregnant with you. I've always wondered if that's the reason you turned out the way you have." -Mia's mom
This is a sweet and slightly paranormal village soap opera kind of story, kinda like reading Alice Hoffman or Sarah Addison Allen books. I think the best way I can attempt to explain the book is to give a character rundown.
Etta: runs the title shop and sews rather enchanted dresses that give the wearer an emotional boost of confidence and sexy when she sews a little star into the cothes. Fifty years ago she fell in love with a priest and still misses him to this day.
Father Sebastian: Etta's priestly love who still misses her.
Cora: Etta's scientist granddaughter who shut off her emotions after the deaths of her scientist parents many years ago. She's been way too closed off to notice the childhood pal who's been pining after her for years. After Etta works some magic on her, Cora starts focusing on the deaths of her parents and whether or not they were murdered.
Henry: a detective with an inner lie detector who helps Cora investigate.
Francesca: Henry's ex-wife who still loves him--so why did she divorce him?
Dr. Baxter: Cora's boss/mentor, who's hiding some things from her she doesn't know about.
Walt: Cora's aforementioned pining childhood friend, who hits his limit after Cora rebuffs him and decides to date someone else. He has a side gig as ""The Night Reader" on a radio show that gets him a lot of fan mail that he usually ignores, and he starts dating a fan.
Milly: The fan that Walt dates: she's a lonely widow dying for another husband and children. Too bad for her this book makes it clear that Walt's destined for another.
Dylan: Walt's radio station boss who decides to answer his fan mail for him and falls for Milly in a Cyrano-sort of way. (Which made me go, GEEZ, DUDE, THIS IS A TERRIBLE IDEA.)
I had a fun time reading this, though there were the occasional plot elements that made me go "Oh nooooo" (namely, Dylan's pen palling and Milly's considering "oopsing" Walt if they ever have sex). One plot revelation surprised me even though I suspect it shouldn't have. And the ending line...wow, that was also a surprise. Generally speaking, the characters are sweet to read and I liked the quiet magic aspects of the book, particularly Etta's sewing, which makes me want to put stars in my clothes now.
On the other hand, I felt really sorry for Milly and winced pretty much every time she was on stage, and I wasn't emotionally involved in the idea of getting Cora and Walt together because they don't spend much time together for me to think they are MFEO as personalities. Okay, fine, they knew each other as kids, but what makes them soulmates now? I don't exactly see them together enough to sell me on them, especially since Cora spends most of the book now that her feelings are "on" again looking for her parents and what happened there, NOT with Walt, and the little I saw of them together before that wasn't winning me over. We see a lot more of Milly and Walt together. Hell, I just wished Walt would go for Milly already and get over Cora, but nope. There's a ton of "I'm going to confess my love but there you are with someone else" moments that were exasperating the more they went on. Oh, and "I want them to have a million babies!"--a remark made several times--was kinda making me gag.
(Admittedly, I'm childfree and thus not sold on proof of Our Love involving proof of babies, but really: do you want your favorite couples to have huge numbers of kids and be worn out and exhausted and not swooning in love with each other because they're too tired for that? Really? Why not just stick to two or three? But I digress....)
I think I'm going to give this three and a half stars. It's a pretty good sweet soap opera read, even if I was not quite so into the romancing and how it was handled.
This one was recommended to me by my shrink. Even though it involves stalking, which made me have some pause, she said it was all right. And it was.
Ellen is a 35-year-old Aussie who's starting to date Patrick, a widower with a young son and a stalker ex-girlfriend named Saskia. Most people would be disturbed that he has a stalker, but Ellen is actually kind of intrigued by the idea. I did like how we start out meeting Ellen by Patrick being all, "I have some bad news" and Ellen starts immediately expecting to be dumped on date four and rearranging her expectations if he did it and thinking how she'll cope. This goes on for pages (perhaps a bit much), but as a permanently single chick I kind of liked her saying that, even if it's a big long after awhile. Anyway, back to the stalker: Ellen is rather intrigued at Saskia's passion because Ellen has never been that passionate of a person herself.
The narration alternates between focusing on Ellen in the third person...and Saskia the stalker in first person, because what Ellen doesn't know is that Saskia is now a patient of hers. (Which one is eventually revealed, I didn't guess it.) Saskia was essentially his son's foster mom for years and Patrick dumped her out of the blue and she was freaking devastated...and focuses on him even though she kinda knows it's bad--and at the same time she's operating under a certain self-delusion. I have to say that the author does an excellent job of portraying Saskia's mental state and why she's acting like she is and how she mentally slips into happy delusions that people will be happy to see her if she breaks into their house. She also kinda seems friendly in her own brain towards Ellen, thinking that to some degree she could help her. "You Oughta Know" sums her mental state up pretty well, especially the bits where she doesn't want to be just thrown away. She feels like without Patrick and his family (which threw her out), she has nothing but her job left.
I do not love Patrick. To be fair, this book and situation aren't putting him at his best, but I still don't think the guy's awesome. He's merely tolerable at best to me.
After Ellen starts to head towards Typical Happily-Ever-After Land for a single lady over 30--which is to say she comes up pregnant and engaged pretty quick, and even the dad she never knew comes into her life--she starts to wonder why the hell she isn't happy like you'd think she'd be. Instead, she's annoyed at Patrick's quirks when moving in, feels jealous of his love towards his dead wife--isn't it a bit obsessive to visit her parents and her grave every month?--and then there's Saskia, now that Ellen's found out who she is. Ellen can't help but think that Saskia is the only one who'd understand how she feels about the dead wife, at least.
And then there's Ellen's job, which is handled in thoughtful ways. There's pain management (Saskia's issue in multiple ways), there's figuring out what you really want in life (client Rosie is engaged but doesn't want to be), there's the patients that Ellen gets the idea to hypnotically prime to at least try dating each other, which is a bit ethically dubious... and then there's Ellen's hypnotizing Patrick to go to sleep, which leads her to some uncomfortable revelations and even more ethical dubiousness. And when Rosie's man finds out about this, he threatens to put Ellen out of business.
Things get rocky, but they work out in the end, even for Saskia. Go figure. It's a nice story. Odd but nice. So overall I give it four stars.
This story tells the “star-crossed” romance of Rachel and Andy, who first meet in a hospital as kids, reunite as teenagers doing a Habitat for Humanity-esque project, and then they date off and on through their adult lives. Eventually they break up for usual young fool reasons. She marries a fellow Jew and settles down with kids and then he cheats on her. He dates a model, wins an Olympic gold medal, takes up doping when he starts to get older and loses everything, while dealing with finding out the truth about his missing father. Will they reconnect again for good someday? Yeah, most likely.
The story cuts back and forth between various snippets of the two’s lives, with Rachel told in a more immediate first person and Andy in a distant third. This book reminded me of why I vastly prefer first person to third person narration because it is just plain hard to get into third when you’re not in the person’s head and are watching them from afar. I rather wish the author had just written Andy in first person as well, in a differing voice from Rachel’s. It probably doesn’t help much that he’s not a super talker.
I wanted to love this because this is usually the sort of thing I love, but I just didn’t feel that passionately about either character or their love. I kinda breezed through it at jury duty and was all, “eh….” It’s okay but I wasn’t blown away either. Three stars.
I've read the first book in this series, but not the second. This is the third and last, which is a shame because this was a hoot.
The book starts out with the world's most amusingly polite letter from Nicole Krenski to King Alexander II of Alaska (this is an alternate universe where there's an Alaskan royal family that's incredibly kooky--the author flat out says the king is pretty much what her own dad is like). Nicole's mother has died recently, leaving in her will the stunning news that Nicole is the product of a three-week fling between her and the king before he got married. Mom's dying wish was that Nicole write the king and tell him whose kid she is. We find out later that Nicole wasn't too thrilled at that idea, but it's her mother's dying wish, and she didn't really expect the king to take notice of this or the included DNA results.
But we wouldn't have a plot if the Baranov family was inclined to ignore such a thing, and King Al would be delighted to have yet another kid. So after Nicole ignores some messages on her phone to come in for palace DNA testing, King Al and his head bodyguard/head of security Jeffrey Rodinov decide to show up at Nicole's door. Except Nicole is (like her relatives) a hardcore nature girl, wilderness guide, badass and she manages to sneak up on the intruders and take Jeffrey from behind. At first Nicole rejects the idea of dealing with all of this, much to King Al's shock because otherwise why would you write (see dead mother's dead wish bit). But...it's so apparent that Nicole takes after the king and the rest of her relatives in looks and personality that the family is pretty dang sure she's one of them. They just have to reassure Edmund, the prim majordomo, of all the legalities. Though when Nicole finds out that the inheritance goes to the oldest kid regardless of bastardy, she's .... well, nauseous, as you would be.
Anyway, the story of Nicole bonding with her unusual family is very sweet, with unexpected moments of feeling touched, in between the royal family dropping f-bombs with cheerful impunity. She also hits it off with Nicholas, the other presumed royal bastard in the family (he's the youngest child, came out blonde when everyone else is brunette, and his mother died going to meet a lover). Everyone kind of assumes this is the case, but the king and crown prince have not wanted to investigate this at all. Nicholas is sixteen and naturally snoopy, so in this book he takes advantage of the situation to find out for himself. And he deals with things pretty well, with Nicole's help. And Jeffrey and Nicole also hit it off--similar personalities and all that, but he has reservations about getting involved with her given that she's a princess and he's a bodyguard and he really wasn't planning on things coming out like that movie. It's not a whopping romance, but it's all right. I think more of the "romance" in this book is between Nicole and the rest of the Baranovs anyway. And it's very endearing. Nicole's still coping with the death of her mother and feeling abandoned by her only family while adjusting to new folks. King Al clearly still has fond memories of Nicole's mother and everyone is respectful of the situation, and they all do their best to help her adjust--even if that involves her sneaking out a lot.
For those of you wondering how the other royal couples from previous books are doing, Christina (of course) gets the most showcasing, especially when she and Nicole get into punching each other within a couple of minutes of acquaintance. Alexandria's husband is pretty much AWOL except for one brief scene and she's not saying much either. So there you go there. On the other hand, you do get Holly Bragon (rhymes with dragon), the king's oft-fired-but-she-never-truly-leaves biographer following the king around for dirt on the situation. She also has a whopping secret crush on the guy, hence why she's refusing to leave. But she's a forceful girl, so.... well, let's just say poor Edmund finds out more than he wants to know and breaks his composure.
I do think the editor/proofreader was a bit shoddy on the job in this book, though. Nicole briefly mentions a(nother?) father we don't see or hear about ever again (which seems kinda crucial given the plot of this book!), Holly mysteriously changes shoes from one page to another. And the timeline of the events going on seems to happen in one neverending week when frankly, after awhile a lot more time has to have passed than one week--for example, how long Nicole's been living in the palace and boinking Jeffrey and whatnot.
But despite a bit of proofreading errors, I had a lot of fun reading this book--I was reading it aloud to my visiting mother pretty much from the getgo and it was very fun to do. I need to keep an eye out for the middle book in the series--tried finding it all over two towns and three stores this weekend and still no luck. So, four stars.
I thought this one sounded like good ol' 1980's cheeseball fun (it's a republish), along the lines of Judith Krantz books. (Judith Krantz, I miss you.) But.... I dunno, it got kind of weird in places and it wasn't as fun as I thought it might be.
Nearly 30 years ago, Eleanor Lord, owner of a chain of Macy's-esque stores, lost her son and daughter-in-law when they were murdered. Their 2-year-old daughter Anna was kidnapped and the maid that made off with her was also killed. Anna was never found. Eleanor has always been very insistent on looking for her lost granddaughter, posting ads all over the place every April and even resorting to consulting a psychic medium. This doesn't really ever go anywhere, though, so I don't know what the point of that was.
Eleanor's right hand man, Zach Deveraux, is the guy who investigates things such as all the frauds that pose as Anna. One lady was pretty well adopted by Eleanor until she made off with all the presents. Zach is a nice enough dude, but he unfortunately gets romantically involved with the wrong woman.
Eleanor's main remaining relative is her niece Miranda, the evil manipulative slutty bitch of the book. Need I say more? Of course she's after whatever power and money she can get and she will screw anyone for it. She takes up boinking Zach, and pushes for marriage once she gives a blowjob to the family lawyer and gets a peek at the will and sees that the stores are going to him. She pretty much stops the affection on the honeymoon and goes around screwing whoever. Stay classy, Miranda.
Our fourth main character is Alexandra Lyons, who as you might imagine, is the possible Anna. She grew up moving around all the time with her mother and twin brother(!), but after both of them died, she moved to Paris to pursue a career in fashion. Alex gets hired by her design idol and crush, Debord, which she's pretty happy about even if he passes her designs off as his own (he's having a rough year). Then they start sleeping together. Then he rapes her (though this is the kind of book that doesn't actually use the r-word) and then demands that they have a threesome....with the third being his SISTER. WHAT.
After that, Alex flies the hell out of Paris, moves to LA to take a job with a nice lady who offered her the job of designing the wardrobes for the soap opera she runs, and swears off of dating old, domineering asshole men. Oh, daddy issues. Good for her. The new job goes well, but when Alex goes to Louisiana for a show event, she ends up meeting Zach. Who promptly rescues her from drunk jerks and then out of nowhere takes her off to his mother's wedding, which his wife couldn't be arsed to go to. They fall in insta-love, but he's married.
And I have to say that as a romantic setup, "we fell in love, but he's married to an asshole" is....not great. I've certainly seen worse, mind you, but it kind of buzzkills things to constantly have the Evil Wife hanging over their heads. Plus it makes Zach look like a cheating jerk, no matter how much the author tries to justify it with the evil wife and all. It makes him kind of look like crap and Alex doesn't come off so hot either. I mostly just wanted them to steer clear of each other until Zach wrangled a divorce, but noooo.
And then there's the lost heiress thing. You would think that in a book like this, the whole "I think you're my missing granddaughter" thing would come up a lot sooner than it does. But it takes a long time just to have Eleanor finally spot Alex winning an Emmy on television. And then they don't actually bother to tell Alex why Eleanor has suddenly taken an interest in her and wants to get Alex to design a line of clothing for her and to move into her house. And then it takes a REALLY long time (like 5/6th of the book) for Alex to find out that she's the possible lost heir. I guess the delay kind of makes sense when Eleanor has been scammed before, but hello, DNA tests existed in the 80's, and why wasn't anyone doing any? Why didn't the magic words "DNA test" come up a LOT earlier in the book to resolve the problem altogether? The answer is because that ties in to the final revelation of who did in Anna's parents, but that's dragged out so late that by the time it's brought up, I was all, "oh, I forgot about that." The biological plot is supposedly the point of the book, but it's implausibly dragged out and it just seems kind of ridiculous after awhile, despite the justifications.
"I've been known to tune out what I don't want to know or hear more often than I'd like to think." Len remained quiet, visibly computing what I had just said. Uh oh, I shouldn't have told him that."
I've mentioned before that I am not into books of the Bad Boss Genre, i.e. you just keep reading along and waiting for the main character to quit already. I thought this book was supposed to be about one woman's dating adventures among the rich men of NYC in the 1990's, but really, it's about her dating one rich guy, who is...a Bad Boyfriend. I pretty much felt like I was reading Because She Can or watching The Devil Wears Prada again, except this time it's a relationship and you are just waiting for the girl to realize he's a jerk and dump the guy already. Plus, well, that goes on in my real life enough.
Kate is a widow with two kids and she's around 40 or so. She was very happily married until her husband died of cancer, and years later, she's decided to place a personal ad. The one seems-nice-enough-I-guess fellow to answer it, Len, is one she sticks to despite 200-ish pages of him being....well, a fish that should be thrown back. He's very unattractive, generally rude, is obsessed with his reputation. has a terrible temper, and thinks he's a Master of the Universe sort because he makes a lot of money and knows bigwigs. (Eventually he reveals to Kate that he is very, very loaded.) He keeps Kate as a dating secret for quite awhile, wants to cat around before she eventually gets him to stop, and at one point likens himself to Raskolnikov because he's so awesome he can get away with anything. There's also the special moment where he threatens to kick Kate's chair out from under her at a dinner party if she ever contradicts a client again. And in general he seems to be trying to get Kate to be a trophy wife, though she still insists on working.
I'll be fair: Len has his not-terrible moments, and he's great with Kate's son Ben (her daughter, on the other hand, avoids him). He does spend a lot of money on Kate and her family and she does get to mingle with the beautiful elite, though she finds the men to be depressed and the women to be shallow and boring. And apparently he eventually improves his sexual technique, because they do get laid a lot. But in general, he's the guy who is really unpleasant around your friends and your friends keep their mouths shut about him because if they can't say something nice.... The author makes it very clear that Kate's friends can figure out he's a boner, but they are tactfully not saying anything about it for the most part because Kate isn't ready to listen to it. (I especially loved Sarah's responses to this sort of thing, though.. Sarah is a welcome breath of sense and snark whenever she pops in.)
Kate is a nice person who I suspect is used to putting up with a fair amount of shit after the experience with cancer, and she hints of snarky funny going on here and there that I wished there was a bit more of, which I'll repeat below the spoiler cut*. I get the feeling that for most of the book she is kind of flying under the radar in order to be presentable to Len, though, so perhaps that is why. And it sounds like "flying under the radar" is kind of her modus operandi in life anyway. So why is Kate with this dude? Well, she's older and lonely and wants a father figure around for Ben and Chloe, and well...this is the guy she got when she went fishing, I suppose. The money is nice, though it doesn't seem like a major motivator for her and more of a nice convenience when they go on trips. She finds hanging out with the beautiful elite to be pretty depressing and sad, though. Kate is aware of Len's bad traits, but.... well, she's determined to stick with the guy so she won't have to be alone, so there you go.
In between talking about her relationship with Len, the author frequently backtracks to talk about her happy relationship with her husband Jake and how his cancer came back and he died. You can see where she's coming from on this and what she's missing now, and what she was looking to replace versus what she is getting now. She knows exactly what she is missing that she had with Jake, but ... maybe this guy is all there is now and it's time to settle? It's the eternal debate of the single older woman, all right. Is this literally the last man I'll ever have, even if he's not really a good one? If I throw him back, he'll be gone in 2 seconds and can I find someone else? Can I stand it if I don't find someone else? I understand the dilemma....though frankly, I don't know if I could still stomach Len even if he's the last single man around.
I should write the rest of this review below the spoiler cut. This kind of pains me because I think the latter part of the book is the best part of it, and frankly, is what makes me want to sell this book to you on some level despite my being frustrated by Len's jerky behavior for about 3/4 of it. Should you choose to read below the spoiler cut, it's up to you. But I will say that the end of the book made me a lot happier, and raises my review to about 3 and a half stars. Overall I am not into "waiting for the badness to end" stuff, but this ends well.
This is the last (for now?) book in the series, and I wish I'd finished my e-book copy earlier than this. Alas, I tend to save my e-books for reading more under certain circumstances (like being in the dark or in a boring meeting, because that is apparently the only thing I am allowed to do at those), so I go through them slower. Due to spoileration from the previous book, I'll have to put the review below the spoiler cut. But I can say that I thought it was a very good book, with a lovely ending. If this is the last we see of the Enchanted Inc. folks, it's a good place to leave them at. Four stars.