Sunday, October 07, 2012

Week-End's Minis XXVII: Starlight by Carrie Lofty

Starlight by Carrie Lofty
published by Simon & Schuster (Pocket) in June 2012
An esteemed astronomer, Alex Christie, the eldest and most steadfast of the Christie siblings, has never possessed his late father’s ruthless business drive. But to protect his frail infant son from his cruel father-in-law’s bid for custody, the young widower must undertake Sir William Christie’s posthumous million-dollar challenge: to make a Glasgow cotton mill profitable. At sea in an industrial world of sabotage and union agitation, Alex meets Polly Gowan, daughter of a famed union leader, who hopes to seize a mysterious saboteur without involving the police. Because a sympathetic mill master would aid her cause, Polly becomes Alex’s guide to urban Scotland. From soccer games to pub brawls, Alex sees another side of life, and feels free for the first time to reveal the man—vital and strong—behind his intellectual exterior. Polly is utterly seduced. Their ambitions, however, remain at odds: Alex vows to earn the mill bonus to save his child, while Polly fights for the needs of her people. Is there strength enough in their sparkling passion to bind them together in their quests— and in a lasting love that conquers all?
Genre: Historical romance
Series: The Christies, Book #2

What do you need to know? Well the story goes pretty much as the blurb says. Alexander Christie is content with his position as an astronomy professor at the university and doesn't care whether he inherits his father's fortune or not. That is until his father-in-law - a sick, cruel and sick man - makes a move to gain custody of Edmund, Alex' frail baby son. Alex married his wife, Mamie, so she could escape her father's abuse and perversion and there's no way he'll let his son fall into the man's clutches. That means he'll do anything, even travel to Scotland, learn the business and make the Glasgow cotton mill profitable in order to gain his inheritance. However, this story happens at a time when the industrial world is in turmoil with the unions... and that means standing in Alex' way is Polly Gowan, daughter of a famed union leader and his successor.

Why this book? I read and enjoyed the first book in this series, Flawless. Also, the author is Ms Lofty :) She has a reputation for writing different historical romances and that's why I've been wanting to read more of her books.

What did I like? Okay, so this book really didn't work out for me and you'll find out why in a few seconds. However, two thumbs up to Ms Lofty for the risk she took, the solid writing, the research done and the complex characters.

What didn't work? It's very ironic because above, I mentioned I wanted to read more of Ms Lofty's books because her historical romances are different, mainly thanks to the settings and time periods Ms Lofty chooses. However, in the case of Starlight, those elements really didn't work out for me ^_^; I like my historical romances more on the light and fun, fluffy side and Starlight was too dark and gritty for my taste. I really didn't like the whole union aspect of the book, how those workers are suppressed and taken advantage of and how union leaders like Polly are framed, etc. It's just not something I enjoyed reading and unfortunately for me, it was a huge part of the book ^_^;

As for the romance, it also didn't work for me. Basically, it's the same complaint that I've had for many other romance books recently: the H/H got together too fast. It's another case of instant attraction and lust as soon as they meet and quickly leads to marriage. Given Alex and Polly's respective positions,  I actually expected a lot more obstacles to their relationship. In addition, given Alex' situation, I expected his character to be a lot more reserved. I admire how he wanted to learn the business and how he wanted to be fair and hear both sides of the story, but I admit, I was surprised at how easily he mingled with the workers. So that's why I just didn't believe in this instant connection between Alex and Polly. Perhaps if there's been a slower development to their relationship or less of the union politics aspect, it would have felt more believable... But as it is, the romance felt off to me. The chemistry was there, but from their interactions, they needed more time. I also thought that Alex' marriage to Mamie was a sappy story and served as an convenient excuse for readers and perhaps even Alex to accept he has fallen in love so soon after the death of his wife. Like how Alex loved and cared for Mamie... but more as a friend than as a lover. Then he meets Polly and discovers passion. And finally, I didn't really like the circumstances under which Polly and Alex married ^_^;

My Grade? D. I did not enjoy Starlight, but the reasons have more to do with personal tastes than execution. As such, I will definitively give the next book in this series a try.

7 comments:

  1. Aww too bad the romance didn't work. I totally get you when mention that when the characters get together too fast that can damper the story a bit.

    I'm going to give this one a try - I skipped the first book, flawless, so I hope I don't suffer from it - to see if I like Ms. Lofty's style.

    thanks for the honest review.

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  2. Alex - I'm just annoyed because a lot of recent books have had the H/H getting together too fast and a lot of them, out of lust or for a fling instead of waiting for something meaningful. It wouldn't be too bad if it was once in a while, but it's more like every book :(

    As for Starlight, you really should have no trouble with the story if you haven't read Flawless. The stories are quite separate... the only thing that connects them is really the fact that the characters are siblings and were each given a business to make flourish in order to inherit. Otherwise, there's no real contact between them during the book.

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  3. It doesn't sound like it had very many of those light, fun moments that you prefer. Sounds a little too dark for me.

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  4. I knew this book was not going to work for you, Nath. Too many gritty, historical details. ;P It's interesting... I loved this book and it's going up as one of my favorite historical reads of the year.

    And by the way, I love that you specify that your grade has to do with your personal taste and not with the execution. With some minor exceptions, Lofty executes this story beautifully.

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  5. Leslie - No, it really wasn't a light historical. And sometimes, that's okay... but in this case, it just didn't work for me. Ugh, union discussions, I really don't like LOL.

    Hilcia - Yeah, I know you knew... I don't regret giving this book a chance though. It's just a matter of tastes :) And as you say, Lofty executed this story beautifully.

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  6. I liked this one better than you did - pretty much for the reasons Hils already stated. That being said though, it was a really heavy read at times, and the bickering did weigh the story down a bit (I think). Not my favorite by Lofty, but I loved the time period, setting, and the whole union backdrop. It felt refreshing in many ways, mostly because so many Scottish set historicals seem stuck on Men In Kilts ;)

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  7. Wendy - Nod nod. Starlight was definitively refreshing :) My grade really had nothing to do with execution and all with personal taste. I am looking forward to the next book and I'm sure Ms Lofty will show us a different side of theater :P

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