Saturday, August 26, 2006

Comfort Reads, pt. 2

When I first discovered book blogs, one of the first I read was Rosario's Reading Journal. She's been keeping it for quite a long time, and has an extensive archive of her great reviews. Anyhow, while puttering around her site I discovered that she was a fan of one of my favorite authors evah, Elizabeth Peters/Barbara Michaels, and in turn made me an instant fan of hers. Recently, Rosario revisited one of my favorite Peters books The Street of Five Moons.Ms. Peters is best known for her historical mysteries featuring Amelia Peabody, but I came to those books late, after reading many of her others. My mother introduced me to Peters/Michaels at the tender age of 12, and I was hooked. As Peters, she writes comic mysteries, as Michaels she writes Gothic Romantic suspense, but her books all had intelligent (if sometimes TSTL) heroines, exotic international locations, plots with lots of archaeology, art history and history, and sizzling, yet tame sexual tension. To boot, the author actually has a PHD in Egyptology. Absolute catnip to a geeky, brainy tween from the 'burbs.

Anyhow, while Amelia Peabody may be most people's favorites, my heart belongs to Vicky Bliss, the art historian heroine of the Street of Five Moons, and her on again, off again lover, the third great imaginary bad boy hero love of my life (following Fonzie and Han Solo), Sir John Smythe. The man was British, he was an art thief, he quoted Shakepeare and John Donne, and he always, always saved Vicky. Witty banter and romantic tension abounded.

So Rosario's review inspired me to re-read Trojan Gold and Night Train to Memphis, my personal faves, and they've really done the trick in cheering me up. These books feature mysteries involving ancient artifacts, they are fast paced, very funny and have Peters' hottest love story. One caveat, they are definitely intentionally over the top and tongue in cheek. They're also a bit old fashioned (well, they did come out a long time ago). Vicky is constantly bemoaning the fact that she is an intelligent, feminist academic trapped in a tall, hot, blonde, curvy body. She embodies the TSTL heroine in some ways. She always gets everything wrong, always expects the worst of John and always ends up in the worst possible situation. But within the context of the book it works. These books are just plain fun, and that John (again over the top) is just too yummy. It's books like these that led me to romance, and they just don't make 'em like this anymore. I bought the most recent Vicky Bliss mystery, Night Train to Memphis, during my freshman year in college, people. Peters has since been devoted to the Peabody mysteries alone, but after 12 years I refuse to give up hope that she will some day return to Vicky. They should be read in order, see here.


Rosario said...

Hey devon! It's great to find another EP/BM fan. I'm really glad I reread SOTFM, not just because it was great, but because it's brought all of us Vicky fans out in the open and talking about her! :-)

Devon said...

I know Rosario, I've had a great time rereading these books. Really hit the spot. Great comfort reads. I finished SOTFM last night. Silhouette in Scarlet was my least favorite, but I'm on a roll so i'll hit that too. Will we ever get more Vicky and John?