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Iíve been on a Mary Jo Putney kick this month. Okay, Mary Jo Putney and Shakespeare, but Iím not going to talk about speed reading Shakespeare plays while mining for quotes.

Anyway, Putney is one of my favorite romance authors. She writes deft believable, slightly broken characters, who are nevertheless redeemed by love. Yeah, yeah, thatís the concept behind all romances right. Whatever.

Putney pulls it off in a Eros leads to Pysche leads to Caritas/Agape kind of romances. The idea that love is about the inner life within. That we are all in our way imperfect, broken, yearning for the light and that light is love. The love that moves the sun, the moon and the stars as Dante would be want to characterize. God.

Now, this is kind of a squishy sort of comment to make, because I must admit I really donít actually religious romances where people are so very, very perfect. And pious. And they quote verses, but I never feel the light behind the love.

Anyway, Putney, she strides a fine middle ground of lost people who half way through the journey of their loves find themselves in a dark wood, the true way lost. 

Really, I should be quoting Shakespeare, who makes a bit more of an appearance, ďBecause she is a woman, she is to be wooed, because she is a woman, she is to be won.Ē but Danteís a bit more coherent in terms of extended metaphor.

Angel Rogue

Decription: Regency Romance. Maxi, half English, half Mohican, decides to steal away to London to find out the mystery behind her fatherís death. Robin Andreville, a retired spy, decided all unasked to go with her.

Sounds pretty flacky doesnít it. All the tropes, but this is how they should be done. Part of her Fallen Angel series, sortof.

Robin is well named. He is Robin Goodfellow, that sly fellow that tricks and plays and slippery frips. And beneath it all are the things heís done. This inherent sense that he must conceal because he believes himself empty. 

Maxi (or Maxima) is a dark stranger in a blond land. American when she should be English. Red when she should be whiter than white bread. Aching and empty.

Itís a nice story with no real bad guys, just people doing what they do to get by.

Dancing on the Wind

Description: Regency Romance. Lucien , once more with the spies (well he is Robinís cousin/boss), is investigating a wannabe Hellfire Club for treason. Kit Travers is looking for something lost. They meet in disguise. Each time sheís a different woman. The same.

Part of the Fallen Angel series, Lucien is one of my favorites. Come on, heís basically Lord Peter Whimsey. Well, not quite, but close. He natters. He pursues. He gets the girl.

There are a number of leap of faith moments in the book, but I liked the concept of spiritual connections and several kinds of love. Lucien having lost his other at an early age, hiding it with piffle. Kit at a point, where she is all unexpected surprised by love.

Dearly Beloved

DeSRCiption: Regency Romance. Really, really messed up people mess each other up even more with love. Then they forgive, give, love.

Really one of my favorites. It probably shouldnít be. It opens with one of those sequences that should have me hating the main male character, Gervase St. Aubyn. But I donít, and there it is.

Diana Lindsey, the main female character, is a much stronger woman that I could ever be, because she bends. She gives. She experiences pain and she lets go. I love the repeated idea that we are all sinners, none of us saints, that we all need forgiveness.

Oh, there is a villain. And heís pretty darn evil, as counterpoint I suppose to all that love. Also, points to a little boy character, who comes off a little boy as opposed to a waxed dummy to be moved about the book.

Great characterizations, tragic decisions, bittersweet longing for acceptance.

One Perfect Rose

Description: Regency Romance Ė One day Stephen has everything. Power, title, wealth. But heís dying. Having all his life faced duty, he decides to wander and meets up with a theater troop and a Lady Caliban. A perfect rose.

Sometimes, I wonder at my own enjoyment of painting by the numbers of meanderings. Of course, and of course, and yet. The point of a romance is never the plot. It is the reveal. The moments when love blossoms.

That point when Stephen tells Rosalind that for everything there is a season and now it is high summer and it is time to dance. All the while the specter waits. That in the end, flowers die and kings and paupers are equally dust.

Stephen, as someone who has never thought beyond the physical, faced with death, must now hothouse inward turn. 

Each day in the book, headed by the number of days that Stephen estimates he may, might have left. Counting down to three months.

HmmmÖthat all sounds kind of morbid. Really itís not. Itís very nice. I especially like that after a brief attempt to send Rosalind away, she stays and thatís that. No tragic misunderstandings, well except the central one.

And damn with the Shakespeare. Caliban and Ariel and forgiving brothers and brave new worlds that have such people in them.

Thunder and Roses

Description: Regency Romance Ė A tiny mining town in Wales, a dangerous mine, a heartful heroine (Clare) who approaches a lost hero (Nicholas) as the only one with the power/money to do anything about it. Look a romance.

Thereís this wonderful moment, where Clare, the daughter of Methodist minister, realizes that after spending her life praying and praying for a personal connection with God, finally finds it by admitting that she loves Nicholas.

Now, Iíll admit there was one moment in the book where I wanted Clare into Michael, a side character, rather than leaving it to Nicholas, cause, ummmÖher father died in Michaelís mine. She should have way more issues with Michael than she does. But her father was a saint, and thatís hard to live up to, so, okay I can deal.

Other than that, some very nice misunderstandings, meanderings, final resolutions.

Uncommon Vows

Desciption: Medieval Romance Ė He finds her literally wandering in a dark wood, at which point his way is lost. He knows itís wrong, but arrests her on a trumped up poaching charge and takes her back to yonder castle. Then things go completely wrong. Then completely right.

No really, this is my favorite of Putneyís books. And really, really, I should be ashamed. Yup, weíve got kidnapping and the whole whatnot. Except, she doesnít fall in love with the kidnapper. She rejects any curtailment of freedom in the most medieval Christian way possible.

And for every moment he pushes, there is this sure knowledge that what he is doing is wrong. That moment when he goes to pray, and he canít. When he imagines his soul as a chalice and it is tarnished. Empty. And all he has to do is let her go. And he canít. And then he has to.

Itís all very, if you love something let it go, except, you know, good and well written and tragic and transformative.

Well, I think thatís enough Putney for now. I mean, I read more, but ummm...I've got some Willy Shakes to read.

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