Wednesday, January 27, 2010

ARC Review: Lessons in French

Lessons in French
Laura Kinsale
Historical Romance/1820's
Sourcebooks/February 2010
ARC from Publisher

From the author's website ~

She is, after all, Lady Callista Taillefaire, jilted three times in spite of her fortune and her father’s best efforts to find her a husband. Now her greatest desire is to win the silver cup at the agricultural fair with her gigantic prize bull, Hubert. But when Callie’s only old flame returns from his long and mysterious absence in France, her quiet spinster life turns upside down.

Dark-eyed, elegant and a magnet for trouble, Trevelyan d’Augustin has given Callie lessons in more than his language in the past. Her father put a harsh and humiliating end to any dreams of romance with a French émigré scoundrel, however, and Callie never thought to see him again. Swallowing his pride, Trev has finally come home to care for his failing mother, but his secrets and misdeeds follow him. Callie soon remembers that nothing is ever peaceful with Trev around. The enormous Hubert vanishes into thin air, one of her former jilts comes back to woo her in a most determined manner—and her bull takes the town by storm! In the midst of these misadventures, Callie finds herself falling in love again with the worst possible man for her…

She's back. And what a lovely way to come back. In Lessons in French Laura Kinsale has written a beautiful love story about friendship and loss, loyalty and love. She's made the heiress wallflower a charming character and the dashing Frenchman endearing in spite of his misadventures. Callie and Trev were each other's first love, then circumstances tore them apart. Now Trev is back, whether for good or not remains to be seen.

There's something about stories of first love that we romance readers can't help but be drawn to. Add to that a second chance at love and we just have to find out what happens. Will they finally get their HEA (Happily Ever After)? For Callie and Trev the road to HEA is filled with one detour after another. It's an adventure of laughter, love, friendship, narrow escapes, hiding from the law and waking up in the arms of your true love.

It's been nine years since Trev left. In those nine years Callie has had three fiancés along with three broken engagements. She is now twenty-seven and unsure of her future. She has recently come out of mourning for her father, the late Earl of Shelford. With her cousin Jasper now the earl and his wife Dolly wishing for both Callie and her younger sister Hermione gone from Shelford Hall, Callie no longer feels welcomed in her own home. It looks as though Callie's hope lies in her sister marrying someone willing to allow Callie to live with them. Not exactly the brightest of futures. Then Trev comes back and her world is turned upside down as she is once again caught up in his adventures.

Callie is a wonderful heroine. She's practical but has this fantastic whimsical side where she daydreams of romantic and humorous scenes of her life as she would imagine it. A fairy tale of sorts with her in control of the outcome. She also has wonderful sense of humor that she shares with Trev. Their banter and joking with each other goes back to their early years together. Another side to Callie is her love of animals, specifically Hubert her large but docile bull. Callie shows that she isn't afraid of hard work and getting her hands dirty when taking care of Hubert. Then something happens to Hubert and Callie is trying so desperately to hold on to her composure, to keep the tears at bay. It's one of those moments it's obvious why Trev loves this wallflower so.

Trev was an amusing, devil-may-care hero. He returns because of his love and concern for his mother. He doesn't expect to find Callie unmarried and still there. He has no plans to stay long but with Trev, plans tend to change and as he and Callie renew their friendship he finds himself pulled towards this woman who he thinks is out of reach. Trev seemed to enjoy becoming involved in plots of intrigue and adventure. When he wasn't engaged in daring plans he was caring for his mother and trying to be a friend to Callie. His love for both of these women came through, making him both vulnerable while still giving him that air of danger. Trev is far from perfect. He makes mistakes and acts rashly with some less than stellar outcomes. But even when he is engaging in some reckless behavior, his love of life and of Callie makes him hard to resist. There were moments when I couldn't help but laugh as I thought, "Oh, what has he done now?"

Kinsale's quick wit and way with words comes through in the dialogue and descriptions of the village, the people and the emotions that make this a fun, boisterous story. Any problems I had with the plot or storytelling were minor. The ending wrapped up a little too neatly with problems that had seemed insurmountable, swiftly taken care of. Then there was Trev's French mother, who I enjoyed but it became a bit annoying when she would get the English word wrong when using phrases and clichés. It was cute the first few times, after that, not so much.

Lessons in French could certainly be called lighter fare than what Kinsale is more widely known for. I would call it an enjoyable love story full of laughter and adventure. Here's to hoping we don't have to wait too long for the next Laura Kinsale release. And while we wait for the next novel, Sourcebooks is re-issuing some of Ms. Kinsales earlier novels. Go to the author's website to find out more.

Rating: A


  1. I was already looking forward to reading this novel. But now, thanks to your review, I'm looking forward to reading it very much. It sounds funny and heart-warming. Thanks.

  2. I've been waiting for reviews from bloggers I follow and I'm so glad to read your thoughts. It's on my list. Great review, Leslie!

  3. Taja ~ funny and heart-warming describe it very well. :)

    Mary ~ thanks! It think it's on many reader's lists. It was very good. :)

  4. Great Review, I have already heard a lot about this book and I am moving it up on my TBR!


  5. I'm so excited about this book! I have been planning to buy this since I first heard Kinsale was back but I lucked out and won a copy in a book contest. Thx for the great review.

  6. Brande ~ I think you'll enjoy it. :)

    Scorpio M. ~ good for you for winning a copy! Have fun reading. :)

  7. Leslie, I'm not reading reviews for this book because I wanted to be a total surprise! But I read the last paragraph and I'm jumping for joy! An A... Yay! I can't wait to read it. :)

  8. Leslie, what a lovely review! I could not ask for a better or more accurate description of what I hope readers will find in this book.

    I love this line in particular:

    'There were moments when I couldn't help but laugh as I thought, "Oh, what has he done now?"'

    (Love your panda icon too.)

    Scorpio M, I'm so glad you won a copy!

  9. Great review, Les! *whispering* I've never read a Kinsale before. I know - how is this possible? So this, I'm sure, will be my first but not my last. What else do you recommend?

  10. Laura ~ so happy you liked the review. It was a pleasure to read Callie and Trev's story.

    (red pandas are one of my favorite animals)

    Lori ~ *gasps* jk

    Oh, gosh. It' hard to choose. Seize the Fire, The Prince of Midnight or Flowers from the Storm. All are wonderful stories. I would suggest going to her site and reading the blurbs, see what interests you. I've read most but not all. Uncertain Magic is one of my favorites, it was the first I read of hers.

  11. This is a new author for me. Any of her older books you would recommend checking out first? Thanks!

  12. Fantastic Review, Leslie! I'm so happy to see that you loved it as much as I did.

    I really hope we won't have to wait too long for another Kinsale release.

  13. Tabitha ~ Kinsale has a wonderful backlist. The ones I mentioned above to Lori or really any that you can get.

    Brie ~ I know you’re a fangirl too. :) Yes, I hope, in addition to the re-issues we will get more new releases.

  14. Wow, two of my favorite bloggers have given this book a great review! LOL... and here I was thinking I should wait a little, read one of the books i have by this author before jumping on this one...

  15. Fantastic review, Leslie! I bought this the other weekend and am really looking forward to reading it. I love romances that are doused with plenty of humor along with all the emotional seriousness. I think I really like Callie already and I haven't even read the first page yet! :)

  16. nath ~ why wait? It's really a good, fun read.

    Christine ~ thanks! That's right, you got it on your Borders run. I think you're going to like it. :)