Friday, November 6, 2015

Sandra Schwab - Springtime Pleasures

George Augustus Griffin, Viscount Chanderley has to marry - fast: His father has ordered him to find a suitable wife this very season. Alas, the only woman Griff has eyes for is the very unsuitable Miss Carlotta Stanton, who is not only unbecomingly tall but also wears the ugliest spectacles in all of England. Still, Griff is utterly bewitched by her intense green eyes. Yet however much he feels drawn to her joie de vivre, duty and honor demand that he stay far away from Miss Stanton.
Dubbed "the Giantess" because of her unfortunate height, Charlie Stanton finds the London season far less glamorous than she had thought it would be - not the least because she is consigned a place among the wallflowers. But then she becomes acquainted with the very dashing Lord Chanderley, whose life is overshadowed by a terrible tragedy in his past. Ever ready to help others, Charlie is determined to rid him of his Sad Melancholia - even if it means taking on wild boars and highwaymen. However, the biggest challenge
might be the elusive viscount himself and his belief that he is beyond all redemption.

Comment: At the time I was reading the other books I have by this author, I did some research on her work and this title seemed intriguing in a way other didn't. The story immediately caught my attention and a few months ago I got the book and decided it would be a good way to start the month of November with. I had reasonable hopes for it.
In this book we meet Carlotta Stanton, called Charlie by her friends, a young woman who's been studying at a school for ladies and is now under an aunt's wing to have a Season, along with her cousin Caroline. But Charlie isn't petite and fragile, she's quite skilled and big and others make fun of her for it. That doesn't stop Charlie to be independent and try to help those around her, such as Isabella, a woman who sits in a wheelchair due to an accident.
Isabella's brother Griff still feels the guilt over the accident her sister and older brother suffered because of him - although he wasn't even physically close to them - and tries to make it up to his parents by looking for a suitable bride. He and Charlie seem to hit it of but she certainly won't be considered suitable.. could they be happy nevertheless?
Yes, this book was quite successful for my taste. I can see how many people find it ridiculous or with anachronistic content (despite the author saying that in the beginning of the book) that becomes almost comic, but for me it worked and it was different from so many other books which is great in a sea of reading always the same things.
Overall, I enjoyed almost everything about this book. What I didn't think worked as well were the final scenes, the way Griff finally reaches Charlie but before they can talk like grown ups, there's this silly situation with students at Charlie's school. I get it and the author explains a bit about it, but I felt it was unnecessary. The HEA seemed rushed after everything and the epilogue I certainly would have preferred to have featured the main couple and not the characters that showed up. I assume it was meant as a starting point to a sequel? If so, where is it? I don't think it's a cliffhanger, but it's hanging there... it doesn't feel useful.
Cliff's rich aunt also shares an information at some point that can be shocking and historically it can be very real but it didn't sit well with me, it almost feels like any situation could be solved like that and I don't think the way it came across was the most balanced one. It suits the story and the situation in cause but I don't think was very well presented.
As for the good stuff...I really liked Charlie's innocent joie de vivre, how she tried her best in everything, no matter how weird or deemed unsuitable. Yes, some scenes seemed exaggerated but I found her refreshing and her way of thinking was innocent and friendly, she wasn't malicious or completely aware of the implications and possible hidden meanings in things. There was an almost purity to her mind I appreciated. And her behavior towards Isabella and other people...even when she didn't agree with something she would try to do things in a way that wouldn't "hurt" the people involved. I liked that, she is a great heroine even if slightly cocky at times - especially when it came to save everyone from highway men.
Griff is a likable hero, because his actions are a sort of atonement for something he feels guilty of but wasn't actually the perpetrator. His character is well explored and his way of thinking isn't something people can just change. I liked that he kept thinking that, not being a complete martyr, but it was something that marked him. If the tone of the book were more towards the serious, his character would have been darker and moodier I'm sure but this way we could understand him and his actions and how he felt he had to compensate others for something he thought was his fault. Guilt is a powerful tool, even when we only hurt ourselves with it.
The romance was sweet in general, because they are attracted to each other despite Charlie's descriptions of ugly glasses and being taller than most men and wearing clothes that didn't fit her perfectly... but Griff saw through all that. I liked how the romance developed, the difficulties and obstacles and yes, it would have been cute to see an epilogue with them more settled.
The plot is very seem, the conflicts arise mostly from the characters situations and the expectations others (family or know people) have of them. The secondary characters play their part, some of them to the perfect extent, others with less impact or less balanced presence. Everything worked well for the most part, but there were some occasions like I mentioned, that I feel weren't as well done. Like I said, the tone is more on the light, funny side and I liked that, but I wish some situations could have been dealt with more seriousness too.
All in all, I consider this a success. It isn't a perfect read but for readers who don't nee their historicals to be perfect descriptions of perfect characters and socially accepted situations, this is a great story to let ourselves be entertained. I hope the author writes more about this "world".
Grade: 7/10

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