Friday, January 28, 2011

Carola Dunn's Fairy Tale Romances

The Frog Earl

So earlier this week I was sleepless thanks to a lingering cough and resorted to some lite reading late at night. I ended up choosing The Frog Earl by Carola Dunn as my light reading of choice and had a fun time with it. Yes, this is a romance novel. Yes, it is almost twenty years old and has been rereleased to ebook format along with several of Dunn's other novels. This also means it is not a bodice ripper but more in line with Georgette Heyer lite. If that is your taste, Dunn's books may be for you. I was interested since I have read some of Dunn's Daisy Dalrymple mystery series and enjoyed them. I own this one somewhere as a tattered copy found at a used bookstore years and years ago but I've never read it. My allergies often hinder reading old paperbacks and they have to go in sealed boxes to prevent my sneezing. Not an issue with an ebook...

Here's the book description:

Escaping into the countryside to nurse his wounded pride and heart, Simon Hurst encounters the lovely but eccentric Mimi (half English, half Indian and all mischief) who promises him three favors—then only grudgingly doles them out. If he can capture that last one—that kiss—before she learns the truth about his identity, he should transform into an earl once again.
I had fun with just how many ways Dunn incorporated the Frog Prince into the story. It's fun and clever with several little "wink-winks" at the reader. In truth, I was impressed with just how well the tale is incorporated into the plot. There is no magic but the fairy tale elements appear in several places. I think I also enjoyed it because it is rare to read a novel-length interpretation of the tale. We have Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast everywhere, but the Frog Prince is pretty rare and Dunn shows how it can be successfully used.

The leads are interesting, too.  Few Regencies I've dabbled with include half Indian, half English heroines so that was a change of pace. I definitely got my $4 worth of entertainment on a sleepless night. Now I will be adding her other fairy tale romances to my TBR pile for when I need some lite reading. I will share those below although I haven't read them myself yet.

Lady in the Briars

Lady in the Briars by Carola Dunn is a take on Sleeping Beauty, a much less literal adaptation of the fairy tale it appears.

Book description:

Rebecca Nuthall, downtrodden unpaid companion to a relative, is saved from drowning by Lord John Danville. Lord John has been ordered abroad by his father after indulging in a frivolous but near fatal duel. About to leave for Russia with his cousin Teresa Graylin and her diplomat husband, he persuades Teresa to take Rebecca along as governess for their little girl. In St Petersburg, Rebecca blossoms…until she is arrested for espionage. Once again, John must risk his life to rescue her.
This review from Library Journal is more descriptive and better explains how the Sleeping Beauty theme is used.

After nine years of terror and abuse by her uncle, Rebecca Nuthall flees to London. There she enjoys a dull but safe and insulated life as a companion until she meets the Graylin family and becomes involved in their adventures of intrigue. Lord John Danville, a gentleman of the ton with profligate habits, has been banished to the family estate. Old friends with the Graylin's, he too becomes involved in their schemes--and with Rebecca. Initially John feels sorry for Rebecca; she is so timid and fearful of men. His feelings change as he and Rebecca travel with the Graylins to Russia and Rebecca learns to overcome her fears and assert herself. A light, diverting romance, this is the author's ninth Regency.

The Magic of Love
Finally we have The Magic of Love by Carola Dunn which is actually a collection of three Regency romance novellas. I own this one but had quite literally forgotten about it.

Book description from the publisher:

Three Regency Fairytales and a Halloween ghost story:

RUMPLESTILTSKIN—with an unexpected hero

ALADDIN’S LAMP—turns up in Regency Oxford, jinnee and all

THE FIREBIRD—with a wer-fox as heroine

with Superstition—a Halloween short story, in which a Gypsy’s fortune-telling proves doubly accurate
All of these books are also available in other ebook formats, not just Kindle mobis, at Belgrave House where several of Dunn's Daisy Dalrymple short stories are free for downloading.

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