Grocery shopping the other day, I picked up Lord of Fire. I had no expectations about the book or the author--just a general sense that her name came up in conversations about Regency Authors. (I'm putting this in as being on my TBR pile for a long time in order to fit in with Angie's challenge. I don't have TBR piles in my house, but I've been meaning to read *A Title* by Gaelen Foley for some time.)
Um, now I just don't know what to write about it. I think I liked it. But I'm not sure why. I think it has flaws, but none that were so egregious that I got angry at the book or shook my head in disbelief. I liked the heroine a little more than I usually do, but I don't quite follow her logic. If I had to rate this, I'd be lost. If I had to recommend it to another reader, I think I'd preface the recommendation by asking if they were desperate to read something else first.
Title: Lord of Fire
Author: Gaelen Foley
Year published: 2002, reissued 2006 by Ballantine
Why did you get this book?
It was on sale and I've been meaning to read something by Gaelen Foley.
Do you like the cover?
A house surrounded by fuschia borders? Um no, not really.
Did you enjoy the book?
Yes, I enjoyed reading it, but I'm not convinced I would recommend it or rate it highly.
Was the author new to you and would you read something by this author again?
Yes, she was new to me, but I'll probably not bother with more.
Are you keeping it or passing it on?
Oh, I don't know? Why are you asking me all these questions?
I think my reaction to this book is built upon books I have just recently read. It doesn't stand on its own enough to really impress me. In other words, I'm not sure if I'm comparing it to similar books and it comes up short, or if I'm having trouble experiencing it on its own because it reminds me so much of other books.
First, the hero's name is Lucien, and his twin brother's name is Damien. What father or mother ever named twins thusly? Um, trying valiantly to maintain the suspension of disbelief, I soldier on. (Where are all the Harolds, Georges, Alfreds, Alberts, and Richards? Just wondering....)
Next we learn that Lucien is a spy who's involved in a Hellfire Club. Um, didn't Mary Jo Putney already write about this guy? Damaged from his service in the war, he comes home as a spy to face the scorn of his friends who admire him but don't fully understand his participation in this "infernal vice"? It was in one of the Fallen Angel books, but I'm too lazy to look it up. I continue to soldier on.
But while we're on the Hellfire Club, I have to add in here that I just finished rereading Seize the Fire and The Prince of Midnight, both by Laura Kinsale. S.T. Maitland very handily dispatches both the Marquis de Sade and a charlatan minister who are deeply involved in the "infernal vice." So this treatment from The Prince of Midnight is still fresh in my mind as I read Lord of Fire. I think I'm kind of done with the Hellfire imagery. We need to come up with a new "orgiastic infernal vice" at some point.
I'll put my vote in for predilection to Madeira, as in "Have some Madeira, M'dear!" from the talented duo of Flanders and Swann. However, it is unfortunately is set in Edwardian England. (Lyrics and song clip) Ahem. Enough of that.
We need a heroine; enter Alice, the Goody-Two-Shoes. (I thank Gaelen Foley for letting me know that the epithet was not anachronistic, but does this not seem a bit hamfisted?)
"I want to go. It's just that I received a letter today from Goody Two-Shoes. She said--"
"From whom?" he demanded, cutting her off with a dubious look. If he recalled correctly, it was a character in a classic children's story by Oliver Goldsmith.
OK, I admit to rolling my eyes and dogearing the page for that one. Pul-eese. Thanks for the research notes, Ms. Foley. Ahem. Enough of that.
So I liked Alice. She likes cats and small children. (Did I mention there was an adorable three year old blond boy who ALWAYS has his finger in his mouth and speaks with a lisp? Thankfully he's not around too much.) Lucien forces her to stay at Revell Court (poor name choice, I think), and the romance begins. And I do really like Alice quite a bit--which is unusual for me. Usually the girls flit right past my notice.
I actually liked these two together. I don't quite buy the way the two of them fall into a mutual infatuation with each other, but it was an enjoyable read. I don't quite buy that the evil arch-villain, who previously tortured Lucien to near death, is quite so obviously awful and direct in his pursuit of Lucien. (Seems very Green Goblinish. "I know how to find him! Why, I'll just kidnap his one true love, and then he'll have to come and get me! Mary Jane! Where are you?") But, nonetheless, I enjoyed the read.
I have to talk about the title for a sec. Lord of Fire means absolutely nothing in the context of the story, which can only mean that it's a set up for a Lord of Ice sequel. (Twins. Fire & Ice. Sun & Shadow. Yeah, I get it. What about a linked story of twins entitled Sea & Shore? Earth & Air? Blood & Water? Surf & Turf?) So the next book has to be about Damien. As I said above, having just finished Seize the Fire, Damien's explosion of Shell-Shock induced hallucination at the close of the book, running around with a loaded pistol as he hears fireworks, did not compare well with Sheridan's more moving portrayal in Seize the Fire. I find myself not at all interested in reading Lord of Ice, which I feel mildly guilty about.
I just want to close by saying that I Did Not Hate this book. I enjoyed reading it. I just have trouble getting past the idea that I've read a lot of it before. I think I ought to read one more Gaelen Foley to see if I like her, but I can't say that I'm very motivated to do it.