04 May 2012

Rumor Has It by Jill Mansell


"Oh God, I'm so ashamed. How could I have gone out with someone for six months and not known they were a secret bell-ringer?"

"Come on." Erin's tone was consoling as she put the empty pudding bowls on the coffee table and stood up. "It's stopped raining. Let's go to the pub."

One fine day, Tilly Cole comes home to find that Gavin, her live-in boyfriend, has done a runner. Hurt, she visits her friend Erin in the tiny town of Roxborough for much needed cheering up. While there, she ends up applying for a job as a "Girl Friday" for a interior designer and his teenage daughter. Of course, Tilly gets the job and suddenly she has a new home and new life. Maybe even a new romantic interest in the form of Jack Lucas. Except Jack's a player with a tragically romantic (romantically tragic?) past. Will Tilly give her heart to a man who will break it or can she fix Jack's own broken heart?

Oh, I think we all know how this will end -- wedding bells and whatnot -- but, I promise, it's fun getting there! It's impossible not to like Tilly or root for her happiness and the abundance of secondary characters/subplots means the novel just roars along with never a dull moment. Some of it, especially the ending, borders on the ridiculous, but you just have to suspend your disbelief and say "I do believe in Romance! I do!"

Rumor Has It by Jill Mansell (Sourcebooks, 2010)

02 May 2012

Another Cookery Catch-up, Or, "Food, We Ate Some"

It's not been all cupcakes and grilled cheese sandwiches here at Chez Savory Tart, you know. There have been proper meals at proper times. There have been vegetables and the counting of Weight Watchers Points+. Oh, yes. Not that anyone in their right mind should calculate out the Points+ values of grilled cheese sandwiches. Particularly not on a day where you've eaten two of those delicious darlings, plus some stray bacon that just happened to be loitering in the kitchen.

Anyway, proper meals:

Stroganoff-ish Mushrooms Over Pasta

Sliced mushrooms cooked with garlic and minced shallots in olive oil until tender and all liquid evaporated. Then splashed with a bit of red wine vinegar and cooked until vinegar evaporated. Tossed in some goat cheese crumbles, salt-free Italian seasoning, parsley, and black pepper. Stirred until cheese was thoroughly worked in. Served over whole grain pasta with garlicky green beans.

Supper

Caesar Salad -- chopped romaine hearts, grated Parmesan, garlicky croutons, black pepper, Newman's Own Creamy Caesar Dressing.

Cheesy Artichoke Chicken -- Freebird fully-cooked breaded chicken patties spread with a mixture of Newman's Own Creamy Caesar Dressing and diced artichoke hearts, topped with a slice of provolone, and reheated as directed.

Supper

Fish -- frozen tilapia fillets, brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with salt-free lemon pepper seasoning blend, and roasted with asparagus.

Asparagus -- trimmed asparagus stalks tossed with olive oil, salt-free lemon pepper seasoning blend, garlic cloves, and cherry tomatoes and roasted at 42°F about 15 minutes. Served with rice.

Sunday Breakfast

Alton Brown's scrambled eggs with sauteed halved cherry tomatoes, Heinz baked beans ("The British Bean"), and buttered toast. Just needed some mushrooms and orange marmalade to be The Perfect Sunday Breakfast.

01 May 2012

Some Brief Folly: Intrigue, Romance, & Derring-do

When she saw the group gathered in the bedchamber, she gave a scandalized gasp. "Hawkhurst! Are you run mad? And the girl in her nightrail!"
"No, is she?" He turned his quizzing glass interestedly upon Euphemia as if seeing her for the first time. "So she is, by Jove! And I, alas, thwarted by the presence of her admirable brother." He sighed and, allowing the glass to swing from its black velvet riband, shook his head reproachfully at Buchanan.
One of my co-workers, rereading her way through Patricia Veryan's Regencies, kept prodding me to read one. She thought I would like them because I liked Georgette Heyer and am a fan of what she called "old-style Regencies" (I think she means no sex and more authentic dialogue/behavior). Bowing to pressure, I borrowed Veryan's Some Brief Folly and, wow, what a great read!

Euphemia Buchanan, "The Unattainable," travels with her brother, a lieutenant injured on the Continent, and her page to visit their aunt for Christmas. Euphemia persuades her brother to detour their route a little to admire a passing estate, Dominer, that is famous for its beauty. There they suffer a terrible accident and find themselves at the mercy of Sir Garret Hawkhurst who, it is said, caused the death of his wife and only child ...

Oh, this was fun! The central characters were mostly dashing and witty types and the well-fleshed secondary characters were, if not entirely sympathetic, then dashed colorful. While there were many trials to be overcome and dramatic situations resolved before any characters could find happiness, these were dealt with in ways which seemed appropriate for the time period and the characters seemed like real Regency people (or, at least, how I imagine Regency people would be) and not like modern people in fancy dress. The language, too, seemed very correct and reminded me, during the best bits, of Heyer.

I did think Veryan's decision to have the protagonists' siblings run away together even though one was already married (and cuckolded) was de trop, but the situation was well-handled and resolved in a satisfactory manner. Not every Regency marriage would have been a happy one and I imagine Buchanan wouldn't have been the only soldier, returned home to an unfaithful wife, to have found his happiness elsewhere.

Anyway, Some Brief Folly has loads of intrigue, romance, feuds, and derring-do. Definitely recommended.

Some Brief Folly by Patricia Veryan (St. Martin's, 1981)