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"Love - a wildly misunderstood although highly desirable malfunction of the heart which weakens the brain, causes eyes to sparkle, cheeks to glow, blood pressure to rise and the lips to pucker."--Unknown.

"I learned long ago that being Lewis Carrol was infinitely more exciting than being Alice."--Joyce Carol Oates

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Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Learning Charity by Summer Devon


"Once a gentleman's daughter, the now destitute Miss Charity Vincent was forced to become Cherry the whore. Yet her core of a well-bred young lady remains intact-she is a thoroughly incompetent prostitute.

Eliot Stevens came from America to London for business and now he sees a way to mix his business with fun. Cherry can teach him the manners he needs to fit into society and in exchange, he can teach her about pleasure-which might improve her life or shatter it."

Learning Charity is a short story I bought from Samhain Publishing. The story opens with Eliot having a night of drinking and cards with some other men and the subject of a 'fallen lady' comes into the conversation. Eliot then searches Charity out and here begins our story. I felt the beginning of the story was very choppy. I didn't know where I was for almost the entire first chapter and I kept having to reread the dialogue. I was very concerned.

Several chapters in and I decided to go read the review that was written by Jayne at Dear Author. Her comment that Devon had to write in "broad strokes" reminded me that this is a short story and space was limited. That gave me the courage to go back and finish. Jayne is usually so on target with my own reading preferences that I found it hard to believe that she liked this story and I didn't.

I had a difficult time picturing the characters. The page constraint, I'm sure. But they spent so much time talking and thinking about their own feelings that I never got a good external view of the characters. I think this led to my immediate confusion. However, in Devon's defense, I tend to like a lot of things spelled out for me: I don't trust my own assumptions.

The dialogue was also trying. I had a hard time imagining a sultry look after Cherry would say, "Can I please you, sir?" It was the word 'sir'. Yanked me right out of the story. I guess I'm used to reading 'My lord' in historicals. Sir makes me think of a thirteen year old.

About halfway through the story it all started to come together. The bathroom scene allowed me to 'see' the characters. And the light banter afterwards, in bed, began to develop Charity and Eliot as a couple.

I couldn't figure out how Devon was going to end it in the pages that were left, but wow, I came away feeling strangely satisfied. There were lots of individual flaws to the book, but mainly due to lack of length given the story. However, with all of the parts put together, it made an overall enjoyable read.

Grade: B
Grammatical Errors: None that caught my eye
Buying Next: Somebody Wonderful by Kate Rothwell

...Fiona...

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