Tuesday, August 9, 2011

REVIEW: "The Amorous Education of Celia Seaton" by Miranda Neville

 Being kidnapped is teaching Miss Celia Seaton a few things about life:
Lesson one: Never disrobe in front of a gentleman . . . unless his request comes at gunpoint.
Lesson two: If, when lost on the moors, you encounter Tarquin Compton, the leader of London society who ruined your marriage prospects, deny any previous acquaintance.
Lesson three: If presented with an opportunity to get back at Mr. Compton, the bigger the lie, the better. A faux engagement should do nicely.
Lesson four: Not all knowledge is found between the covers of a book. But an improper book may further your education in ways you never guessed.
And while an erotic novel may be entertaining, the real thing is even better.

GENRE: Historical Romance
SETTING: Regency England
SERIES: The Burgundy Club #3
HERO: Tarquin Compton
HEROINE: Celia Seaton

OVERALL RANKING: 4.5 out of 5 Stars


10.  The way Miranda Neville took an abundance of romance novel cliches and, somehow, managed to make a novel that is anything but stereotypical.  In this book alone, there is amnesia, kidnapping, faux engagements, house parties, makeovers, and even a mystery subplot.  I'm not sure how Ms. Neville managed to make this novel as wonderful as she did, but applause for her!

9.  One of the romance cliches that Ms. Neville uses in this book is the amnesia subplot.  I loved how she used that device to create a unique way to be introduced to our hero, Tarquin Compton.  While we spend a little time getting to know Tarquin before the amnesia, we received the bulk of the inner workings of his mind afterwards.  It was fun being inside his head while he was trying to deal with what Celia was telling him about himself.  I especially loved the way he responded to the name that she gave him!  

8.  Speaking of Celia, I really really liked her.  She found herself in quite a few desperate situations (before and during the book), but I never saw her get weepy or overwrought.  It always seemed like she was trying to do the best she could with what was going on in her life.  Celia was a supposed wallflower and plain jane, but she never let that stop her.  Also, she was never TSTL in any of the weird subplots she was placed in.  

7.  One of the interesting things I discovered while reading this book is how the author deals with Celia's makeover.  Celia does not currently have the means to dress well (due to the aforementioned kidnapping and robbery), but, thanks to new friends, undergoes a makeover to become more stylish.  At the same time that Celia is getting made over, readers see Tarquin undergo a different type of makeover.  He begins to seriously re-evaluate the life he has led and his place in society.  The way that these two "makeovers" happened almost simultaneously and as an effect of Tarquin and Celia's growing romance was a fun touch on the part of the author.

6.  This book was full of interesting relationships, but one of my favorites was between Tarquin and his Uncle Hugo.  This is the uncle who found Tarquin when he was an awkward teenager and taught him how to be the stylish dandy that he become.  But, their relationship goes beyond the mentor/student one that is hinted at the beginning.  Hugo wants Tarquin to be happy above all things and Tarquin wants to please his uncle more than anything.  This causes some intriguing backlash when Celia enters the picture.

5.  I am always fascinated by the research that authors do when writing a book.  Ms. Neville definitely showed off her knowledge in the Burgundy Club series.  The idea of book collecting is very appealing to readers so I think this was a good aspect to concentrate on.  It gave me a sense of commonality with the heroes in the series despite the historical period.

4. Speaking of collecting, the erotic book that Tarquin receives at the beginning and that Celia reads is one of the most entertaining aspects of the whole novel.  I loved reading the actual passages and then finding out about Celia's reactions.  I was especially pleased when I discovered that The Genuine and Remarkable Amours of the Celebrated Author Peter Aretin was a real book that Ms. Neville discovered while doing her research.  Needless to say, I am eager to get to the British Library and read this little book for myself.

3. I believe the secondary characters are among some of the most detailed and purposeful of any book I've read this year.  Many times I feel like an author is just piling on the characters in order to provide sequel fodder or as background noise.  Most of the characters here have a definite purpose, though readers may not always be privy to that purpose at the beginning. 

2.  My favorite secondary characters in this book are the members of the Montrose family.  We already met Diana and her husband, Sebastian, in The Dangerous Viscount, but I enjoyed seeing them again.  Sebastian is as socially awkward as ever, but he and Diana just work for some bizarre reason.  I especially loved any scene with Minerva Montrose.  This is a lady who is demanding a book, if I have ever seen one.

1.  In my opinion, the final proposal scene is one of the cutest I've ever read.  I don't want to give too much away, but the way that things seem to come full circle for Tarquin and Celia is just so sweet and romantic.  I know its a great proposal when I am silently cheering while reading it.

FAVORITE LINE: "My darling love, I think you have a fundamental misconception about what it means to be a great dandy.  I have better taste than anyone else so I don't care what anyone else thinks about anything.  I am right and they are wrong."--Tarquin Compton 

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