This is the second and last book in a series by Domning that began with the last book I reviewed, Lady in Waiting. I probably wouldn’t have read this one if not for the fact that I borrowed both of them via my kindle in a package deal, but I ended up enjoying ‘White’ more than ‘Waiting.’
In ‘Waiting,’ we learned that the main male character’s brother, Nick, is an invalid and trying to gain his Lordship back. Due to the events of that book, Elizabeth decides that in order for his title to be restored, he must marry and try to produce an heir. Nick doesn’t like this idea because he’s already (inappropriately) in love with someone else. And, the woman he’s to marry ALSO falls in love with someone else. Again, this is a ‘love and marriage but ZOMG OBSTACLES!’ story, but I found the main love story (between Nick’s promised wife, Belle, and his steward, Jamie) to be more believable than the love story in ‘Lady in Waiting.’ I did, however, miss the court intrigue. There is some attempt to add drama and danger through a character sent by Elizabeth to spy on (Catholic) Nick, but it never feels as dangerous as the potential traps set out in the first book.
There’s also some random ghost stuff, which the author explains in both pre- and post-story notes. It’s only a few pages and doesn’t have that much of an impact on the plot, and I certainly wouldn’t say it’s scary (although the characters seem to think it is!)
I’ve always been interested in Tudor England, probably because my Dad is also fascinated by that period in history. When I was younger I tried (and failed!) to read some of the history books he had on the subject, and instead moved on to historical fiction. This period/setting is still one of my favorites to read, and this book didn’t disappoint.
The plot was fairly predictable (lady-in-waiting and courtier fall in love, but OHNO there are several obstacles on their path to wedded bliss!), so I won’t go over it in detail. After the last romantic novel I read, it was refreshing to have a somewhat strong female character, and a male character who (while he had some serious flaws and does some seriously shitty things) was not a total jerk. There were some awesome power-plays, intrigue, etc. The reason this book gets a 3 and not a 4, though, is that we find out pretty much all of the characters’ secrets long before the end of the book. This was kind of a bummer, as I like a good twist near the end.
This might be due to the fact that I haven’t read a lot of historical fiction recently, but I was really thrown off by the serious problem that the main female character’s non-viriginity seemed to pose. I know being found to not be a virgin could have serious consequences, but couldn’t she just stuff a bloody rag up there or otherwise fake it on her wedding night (I seem to recall such measures being taken by other heroines in similar situations)? She seemed paranoid at all times that she was going to be found out.
Best of all, I got my Lizzy One fix, and she was “beautiful and terrible as the Morn! Treacherous as the Seas! Stronger than the foundations of the Earth! All shall love [her] and despair!” (at least, that Galadriel quote came to mind as I was reading). I really appreciated this as, Elizabeth can come off as really fickle and irritating in the wrong hands.
I wanted to like this book a lot more than I actually did. Let me start out by saying that this book is written by a Cracked.com editor, so you can get a feel for his writing by visiting that site. I happen to enjoy most of the articles on Cracked, so I thought that this would be a pretty funny book. This book also had amazing reviews on amazon.com, so I thought I couldn’t possibly go wrong.
The main problem I had with this book was that it just wasn’t funny. I didn’t laugh until the last chapter, which was very disappointing. A lot of the humor was based on the characters being complete morons, but instead of finding their actions amusing I just found them annoying. There are several points in the book when the characters act impulsively and completely screw everything up, and this is presented in what I assume is supposed to be a humorous tone. Instead, I found myself extremely frustrated that I had to read about what these idiots were doing. Their perception of situations seemed to change constantly and it was difficult to keep track of who thought what at any particular time as they would vacillate between opposing positions from page to page.
The book is also extremely gory. I probably wouldn’t have minded as much if I’d been expecting a gory book, but I’d been expecting a funny one. Little of the gore could be described as funny, except perhaps an incident on a turkey farm. Most of the blood and guts was merely stomach-turning.
Perhaps my least favorite thing about the book was all of the philosophizing and random God/Jesus references. I came into this looking for a good laugh. The book was marketed as a comedy, and although I do like smart comedy, I don’t need whole chapters detailing the author’s views of crowdthink, human nature, and pop psychology about why we fear zombies. Throw in a few random but serious references to God by some decidedly non-Christian characters and cue my eyerolls.