26 February 2011


Locus Focus: Take Forty-Two!

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I don't know about you, but I'll be relieved to say goodbye to "Romancelandia" next month. As magical as any place is where the right things always happen to the right people, at the right time, and in the right way (without actually interfering with any of the conflict in the plot!) . . . I find that it's not very satisfying as the bulk of my literary diet.

Remember that next Saturday is for our Battlegrounds Theme Challenge. Share a post on a place in literature that has something to do with war!

Stony Cross Park
Scandal in Spring
by Lisa Kleypas

To Daisy's delight, she was installed in her favourite bedroom in the manor. The lovely, quaint room had once belonged to Lord Westcliff's sister Lady Aline, who now resided in America with her husband and son. The most charming feature of the bedroom was the tiny attached cabinet room that had been brought over from France and reassembled. It had originally come from a seventeenth-century chateau and had been fitted with a chaise that was perfect for napping or reading.

Curled with one of her books in a corner of the chaise, Daisy felt as if she were hidden from the rest of the world. Oh, if only she could stay here at Stony Cross and live with her sister forever! But even as the thought occurred to her, she knew she would never be completely happy that way. She wanted her own life . . . her own husband, her own children.

If I had wanted to focus on Hearts instead of Horror this month, I would have submitted this setting for the Romantic Rendezvous challenge. (Don't I seem to say that every week? =P)

The beautiful and rambling Hampshire estate of Stony Cross Park has been a backdrop in seven Lisa Kleypas novels, and has always obligingly adjusted its atmosphere to match whichever love story is being told. It is a very encouraging place for lovers, willing to arrange "accidental" meetings, keep their secrets, and make sure everyone is shown to best advantage, whether it takes the torchlight of its centuries-old May Day festival or a bright spring morning and a really angry goose. (I'm so happy that I got to write that line.)

We first see Stony Cross Park in a much earlier novel, the story of the old Lord Westcliff's daughter Lady Aline and the increasingly dear friend she has known since childhood. They met when his parents died and her family took him in . . . to be one of the boot blacks. Ah, aristocratic angst! It's a little early for Stony Cross Park to seem more than your generic, socially stratified Regency-era estate. In fact, the commoner hero and high-born heroine ultimately realise they can never live there and cross an entire ocean to make their own home together. But this setting is not selfish; it seems happy that they're happy and just continues playing matchmaker.

Four books later, when
Daisy, the new Lord Westcliff's sister-in-law, finds herself installed in Lady Aline's old bedroom, it is clear that Stony Cross Park has a kind of magic that goes beyond the endless serendipity of "Romancelandia." Although a great romantic, Daisy has been a wallflower for three London seasons in a row; and after having tried the usual means of finding a husband and having failed at all of them, she is left with no better alternative than tossing a pin into Stony Cross Park's legendary wishing well and hoping that the Well-Spirit will be as generous to her as it has been to her friends.

Was there ever a doubt that any part of Stony Cross Park would come through for a young woman about to lose hope? Mere seconds after she tosses an entire rack of pins into the spring-fed well, crediting them all towards the same wish, she hears a twig snap behind her. The matchmaking estate has been several steps ahead of her all this time: the man she has just wished for is already there.

Now it's your turn!
Leave the link to your Locus Focus post in the linky
and take some time to check out and comment on those of others.
I can't wait to read what everyone has to say! =D

This Week's Other Locus:

The Blue Scholars' Northwest @ What Kate's Reading

Image Source: Scandal in Spring by Lisa Kleypas


Kate said...

Argh!!! I've been wanting to read this for AGES and my library system doesn't have it!!! I really unexpectedly loved Lisa Kleypas' historicals, and I think she does the angsty Victorian medical catastrophes better than almost anyone. (When Sebastian is shot in Devil in Winter? Criminy.) I'm going to have to take special trips to cheap bookstores when I'm home in about a month and find this one. The Wallflower books are all keepers for me.

Sullivan McPig said...

Now you did it! Voodoo Bride will pester me until I finally buy a Kleypas book.

Enbrethiliel said...


Kate -- Lisa Kleypas is simply the queen of Historical Romance for me. She is the only Romance author I was already reading in high school whom I still read now--and the only Romance author I read during my two years of post-uni Romance reading (gorging on the genre after having nothing but literary fiction as a student) whose books I still buy when they come out. This might not sound very impressive, but trust me, it is.

And that's why I feel your pain at never having got to the last Wallflowers book! =( If it makes you feel any better, it is possibly the weakest in the series. (Yet even as I think so, I admit my copy gets reread a lot.) Good luck finding it!

I never really thought about Kleypas' handling of "angsty Victorian medical catastrophes" before, but you know what? You're right!

By the way, I'm still wondering about Meredith Duran, since you featured one of her novels in a Locus Focus post. Would you say she stands up to Kleypas? (Well, okay, few Romance authors do--but I hope you know what I'm asking!)

Sully -- Well, I'm on Voodoo Bride's side on this one. ;-) Seriously, you can count on Kleypas to deliver. Her older novels (those from the early 90s) aren't that great, but when it comes to everything else, I feel confident in saying that even the mediocre reads are pretty good.

I'm already looking forward to her first Kleypas review! LOL!

wordsandpeace said...

Just want to let you know, because I'm disappointed each time, and there maybe others like me here: I follow your blog on google reader which has a white background, both on PC and ipod. so most of your posts show up there in pink/purple font. on the white background, it's about unreadable and frustrating for your followers. I wonder if you could change something on your template to make it more compatible with white backgrounds. just a suggestion, from a faithful follower. Emma @ Words And Peace

Kate said...

En, Duran definitely stands up to Kleypas, but they're really horses of different colors. Duran is much more dramatic, without the light touch that Kleypas has. Think dark, complex characters filled with angst. In wholly readable ways. That said, if you're not into angsty Victorians, try Kate Noble if you're into the lighter touch. She does Regency, and does it very well. Her first book, Compromised, was really delightful to me. I hope you enjoy them!

Enbrethiliel said...


Emma -- I tried Google Reader for the first time a few hours ago, after reading your comment. Do you mean that the blockquotes show up pink and purple or that the entire posts do? For me, it's just the blockquotes, some captions, list numbers, and everything else I deliberately change the colour of.

Thank you for telling me about the problem. As you can tell, I really like playing around with colours, and I hadn't realised that some people might not be seeing them in the context of my other design elements. I'll see what I can do to make my posts more readable in the future.

Kate -- Thanks for the recommendations! It has been a long while since I tried a new Romance author. After someone who were so obviously modern that I felt like accusing her of having an agenda, I grew really wary--especially since I don't have a library system at all and have to buy everything I read.

joan said...

hiya many thanks for visiting my blog and leaving a comment. I've been given a large cushion which I plan to cover with my squares but I am also doing a Cal( at the Flower Bed) so my squares are on hold at the moment