Went to Longwood Gardens, mid-afternoon. It was packed. A little cold out today, but not bad. Renewed my Frequent Visitor pass -- that was my early Christmas present from Mom. Had a late lunch/early dinner at the Terrace Restaurant. Debated between chili and their locally rather famous mushroom soup, and went with the mushroom soup. Joined the crowds inching their way into the conservatories. There was a grapevine horse (there's a word for it -- it's not "topiary" exactly if the plant material is wrapped over a form like that) harnessed to a buggy outside the East Conservatory entrance. Walked down the right half of the East Conservatory, skipped the line to see the big tree in the ballroom, took a peek at the Main Conservatory -- classy Christmas design in there. I liked the white trees. When I was on my way out, the outdoor lights had just lit up, so I looked at the ones on the way back to the visitors' center. Topiary reindeer and presents in the topiary garden -- some years they're by the Peirce-du Pont house, but this year they're in with the other topiary. Will have to check out the Christmas displays by the Peirce-du Pont house next trip there.
...and turned out to be a charming book. Which one? My Fair Captain. Aside from the frequent and glowing recommendations from a certain LB, the promotional from Samhain let me read the first half of the book for free. So of course I had to read the second half, and the sequel. I've been trying to figure out why the books worked so well for me. I've read more than my share of Regency romances, including just about all of Georgette Heyer's Regencies. And I've studied English history. So I was familiar with the historical and romance parameters. That aspect of it was done so well, with the m/m relationship giving it a lovely twist. It really made the genre fresh again for me.
I liked that the space aspect wasn't overplayed. No character names or planet names with random apostrophes, for which I was very grateful. The futuristic technology was self-explanatory and didn't overwhelm the charm of the Regency worlds. It really was blended well -- and talk about two genres that would seem difficult to blend. The modern sex practices added in were a little more startling for me, but the sex scenes were hot. * Spoiler alert* Like in a couple of the books in the "With or Without" series, My Fair Captain had a big Dom and a smaller, pretty sub -- but in all of the stories, the smaller men are still feisty and pretty independent -- the men are equals in wit and determination, if not in brawn. The young male aristocrats being virgins is such a cool variation on the Regency theme, and really pretty sweet. I liked how the young princes' innocence didn't mean that they weren't up for fully participating in all that their older, more experienced partners could teach them.
I was more aware with these books than with a lot of other m/m romances I've read that the books were written for women -- not that the characters didn't act fairly masculine, just that the Regency romance genre is such a feminine one. It was a little odd for me to be appreciating these books as a woman would appreciate them, and not with as much of the double-consciousness of how I imagine a gay man would appreciate the m/m books I read. I did come to reading m/m fiction after reading genre fiction written by gay men, so my expectations are different. With the editing -- and reading writing books -- I've been doing, I've developed more of a critical eye for how a story is put together, and the author's choices. I have to say that this author made a good many intelligent choices. She knows her English history, she knows how to write romance, and she knows how to sweep the reader up on an entertaining ride. I've liked every series of hers I've read.