Tuesday, June 15, 2010

STOKE OF GENIUS by Emily Bryan

Publisher: Dorchester
Date published: June 2010
ISBN: 978-0-8439-6361-8
Historical Romance
Reviewed by Gina
Obtained via: Publisher

Going along with her parents' determination to see her wed to an Englishman with a title, Bostonian Grace Makepeace has traveled with them to England. Not only that, she finds herself undergoing the scrutiny of the highly touted and admired sculptor, Crispin Hawke. Despite being the darling of the ton, Hawke disdains their fashion, style and snobbish fawning over him. The sharpest sword has nothing on his wicked tongue. When he condescends to sculpt Grace's hands, she is less than impressed. However, because it pleases her mother and will further her mother's cause in procuring her a titled husband, Grace goes along with the plan.

Despite his cutting speech, Grace finds herself drawn to the oh-so handsome sculptor. That he has talent is not lost on the awkward, long in the tooth debutant and she finds herself drawn to him more and more with each passing sitting. Conversely, Crispin, who has no use for the upper crust and less for a virgin, finds Grace occupies his every thought. He hides his desire and utter lack of suitability for her marriage bed behind his rapier wit. But desire her he does, so much so he contrives a way to wed her off to a hapless title and enjoy her charms himself. The question is, will Grace quietly acquiesce to his plan?

I'm normally a huge fan of Emily Bryan. She delivers some of the wittiness lines and amusing situations for her characters. You find yourself turning each page, eagerly waiting for her next quip. Entertainment and Ms. Bryan go hand in hand. Her books are well researched, her characters normally well defined and memorable.

STROKE OF GENIUS was an enjoyable read, one I would recommend, but I felt like something was missing. I felt no real connection to Grace and while I felt empathy for Crispin and thoroughly enjoyed each biting quip, I found I could take him or leave him. The characters were not as memorable as those in her VEXING THE VISCOUNT, PLEASURING THE PIRATE and DISTRACTING THE DUCHESS. The ending felt hurried to me – as if Ms. Bryan was running up against a word count and had to stop before she went over her limit. Yet there was nothing in the rest of the book you could cut because of how richly Ms. Bryan writes. She has a marvelous sense of timing and wit. You wouldn't want to cut a word; rather you want to read more.

That is not to say I don't recommend STROKE OF GENIUS. It's a perfect book for beach reading this summer.

This is an objective review and not an endorsement of this book.

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