A Lady by Midnight (Spindle Cove, #3): Review

Book: A Lady by Midnight
Series: Spindle Cove, #3
Author: Tessa Dare
Reviewed by: Ellyce
Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Like many romance authors before and after her, Tessa Dare’s first work isn’t exactly what you would call stellar. It follows the typical genre formula, making the characters and style lack a certain element that could distinguish them from the massive influx that came before. Nonetheless, you can tell that her work has potential, so she’s someone you keep your eye on with future releases. Predictably, her next few titles aren’t exactly outstanding, but she writes in such a charming way during some passages that you can’t help but hope she improves. In 2011, Dare released the first book in her Spindle Cove series, which revolves around several spinsters and unusual ladies residing in the titular location. Spindle Cove has proven to contain some of her strongest books yet, and it’s here that her writing has truly flourished and begun to distinguish itself from the plethora of clichéd bodice rippers that flood the shelves.

As such, I had high hopes for the third book, A Lady by Midnight. Kate and Thorne were fascinating characters in the snippets that we got of them from the second installment, A Week to be Wicked. When I say I held high hopes for this book, I mean that I was ridiculously thrilled, and I haven’t been this anxious for a publication since George R. R. Martin’s A Dance With Dragons last summer. My friend Megan and I counted down the days till the book would be released, purchased Three Weddings and a Murder for the sole purpose of the sneak peek it had of A Lady by Midnight in the back, reread book two to pass the tide until Kate and Thorne’s story was released, and engaged ourselves in long discussions about how giddy we were about their story. I always tell myself not to have high hopes for things, because often times whatever it is won’t live up to my expectations. Sometimes, my worries will have been for nothing and I’ll be so happy with whatever it is that I don’t even think about the concerns I had. As the release date inched nearer for A Lady by Midnight, I began to worry if the book could really be as good as I was hoping it’d be. That being said, I liked the book well enough, but I didn’t love it like I was thinking I would. There are several things about the story that I enjoyed, but often times, Dare fell short of delivering and the book suffered heavily as a result. Continue reading

Les Liaisons dangereuses: Review

Book: Les Liaisons dangereuses
Author: Pierre Choderlos de Laclos
Reviewed by: Ellyce
Rating: 5/5 stars

Although it seems there are a great number of classics filling our shelves today, few works of literature have managed to truly endure throughout the years and remain such fascinating subjects to each new generation. In that regard, Pierre Choderlos de Laclos’ defining work is an unparalleled tale that depicts a cunning game of love, betrayal, sex, revenge, and cruelty. Les Liaisons dangereuses has remained a subject of fascination for legions of readers since its release in 1782 and remains so today. Indeed, upon its initial publication, it caused a stir in France, shocking and exciting its readership. Laclos was condemned for his work even as it flew off of the shelves and into the hands of thrilled readers. When it was eventually banned, this did not stop illegal circulation (some complete with lewd illustrations) from being read in droves among intrigued audiences. Today, there have been numerous adaptations among a variety of mediums, including film, opera, theatre, radio, and ballet. It arouses fervid discussion and debate regarding how it should be interpreted and its possible themes (such as the feminist deconstruction of the Marquise de Mereteuil). Some believe that Laclos meant his novel to be a moral lesson to warn his readers; the consequences of such licentious behavior depicted by his characters should be interpreted as having dire consequences. Others dismiss this explanation, as both the heroes and the villains in this novel are of aristocratic standing. Regardless of its original intent or numerous interpretations, Les Liaisons dangereuses remains a necessary component of classic literature.

The story is told through a series of correspondence among two bored aristocrats and the pawns in their game in eighteenth century France. The Marquise de Mereteuil is still smarting from the fact that one of her lovers, the Comte de Gercourt, left her for another woman. Gercourt has now set his eyes on the convent-educated Cécile Volanges, whose virginity he prizes, as his bride. Mereteuil asks her ex-lover, the Vicomte de Valmont, to do her the favor of seducing Cécile, which would turn Gercourt into a laughingstock once he discovered that his bride had already been deflowered. Valmont initially refuses, as he sees the task of seducing a young chit fresh from the schoolroom to be simple and requiring no effort at all. Instead, he has set his sights on seducing a visitor of his aunt’s: the married Présidente de Tourvel. Tourvel is a paragon of virtue famed for her devotion to God and her marriage. Valmont believes that his success in this endeavor will be the crème de la crème of his career as a rogue and thus solidify his skills in seduction as unparalleled. An amused Mereteuil tells Valmont that if he is able to succeed in seducing Tourvel and provides written proof, she will reward him by once more taking him as her lover. So begins a game between the two that doesn’t exactly turn out the way that they expect. Continue reading