Mini-Reviews: Necessary, Rome, Unknown

Hannah March, A Necessary Evil

In this fifth and final book of the series, Robert Fairfax trades London for Bath, where he’s tutoring a group of pleasant yet unteachable girls. He also becomes acquainted with Colonel James Delabole and his family, which consists of a wife and daughter, as well as a long-lost daughter from his first marriage, with whom Delabole is trying to reconcile. Tensions are high, so when Delabole is murdered, Robert has more than enough suspects to investigate. As with the other books in this series, this one is well-written, with a complex plot, interesting characters, and an evocative setting. However, I don’t think the author planned this to be a series finale, as there’s no resolution to Robert’s personal life. He seems to end in a worse place than he began, which I found disappointing. I do still recommend the series for those who enjoy historical mysteries, but I wish Robert could have found a little happiness in the end.

Sarah Adams, When in Rome

Pop star Amelia Rose is feeling burned out, so she decides to pull an Audrey Hepburn and go on a Roman holiday — to Rome, Kentucky, that is. But when her car breaks down, she’s forced to rely on the surly yet attractive Noah Walker for help. As they get to know each other, they have a hard time fighting their mutual attraction, but Noah’s life is in Rome and Amelia can’t stay forever, so how could they make a relationship work? This is a sweet contemporary romance that I enjoyed, though I sometimes felt the characters blew hot and cold for no reason. It paints an idyllic picture of life in a small town, which makes the book a fun escape even if it’s not particularly realistic. The author just came out with a novel featuring Noah’s younger sister, and I do plan to read it if I can get it from the library.

Georgette Heyer, The Unknown Ajax

When Lord Darracott’s son and heir dies unexpectedly, Darracott shocks his family by announcing that the new heir is a grandson he’s never met, who grew up in Yorkshire and whose mother was a commoner. When the heir, Hugo, arrives at the estate, the family expects an ignorant yokel, so Hugo plays along — but it’s not long before some members of the family, including his cousin Anthea, recognize his intelligence and true worth. I love Georgette Heyer, but I’d only read this novel once, so I was interested to remind myself why it’s not one of my favorites. I think the answer is that the romance, while appealing, takes a backseat to family drama and a smuggling plot. I wanted more of Hugo and Anthea interacting and fewer conversations about the pros and cons of “free trading.” So for me, this is not one of Heyer’s best.

Mini-Reviews: Parfit, Swift, Keeper

Stella Riley, The Parfit Knight

When an attack by highwaymen and a heavy snowfall force the Marquis of Amberley to take refuge in a stranger’s home, he doesn’t expect to fall in love, but the beautiful, intelligent Rosalind Vernon captures his heart almost immediately. Because she is blind, Rosalind hasn’t had a Season or met any gentlemen apart from her nearest neighbors. So Amberley encourages her to go to London, hoping to woo her once she’s mixed a little more with the world. But their romance is threatened by misunderstandings, jealous rivals, and a tragedy from the past. If you’ve read everything by Georgette Heyer and are looking for a read-alike, I think Stella Riley might fit the bill! Riley isn’t quite as witty, but the character types and dialogue are very Heyeresque. I tend to prefer romances where the characters take a little longer to fall in love — it’s pretty instantaneous for both Amberley and Rosalind here — but otherwise I really liked this one and can’t wait to continue with the series!

Chloe Neill, A Swift and Savage Tide

In this alternate 19th-century world, the Napoleon equivalent has escaped from exile and is bent on conquering Europe through the forbidden use of magic. So Captain Kit Brightling and her crew are once again called upon to stop him — along with infuriatingly attractive soldier Rian Grant. When they encounter an enemy who can manipulate magic in new, powerful, and terrifying ways, Kit realizes she may have to test the limits of her own magical Alignment as well. I enjoyed the first Kit Brightling book quite a bit, and this one is more of the same. I think the series is trying really hard for a “found family” element with Kit’s crew, but I must say I’m not really feeling it; the secondary characters still don’t feel like they have very distinct personalities. I do, however, enjoy the seafaring adventure and the romance, which definitely progresses in this book. I hope a third installment is in the works, because there’s a lot more to explore in this world!

Charlie N. Holmberg, Keeper of Enchanted Rooms

When Merritt Fernsby unexpectedly inherits a house on an isolated island in the Narragansett Bay, he’s delighted — until he realizes that the house is enchanted and won’t let him leave. Luckily, Hulda Larkin is on the case: She belongs to an agency that cares for bespelled houses and knows how to deal with walls that move, libraries that toss books around, bloodred paint that drips from the ceiling and so on. As Hulda helps Merritt adjust to his new home, their relationship deepens, but everything is threatened when a powerful wizard with a grudge against Hulda sets his sights on Merritt’s home. I enjoyed this book, which is sort of a cozy take on the haunted house genre. Both Merritt and Hulda are likable, interesting characters, and I enjoyed watching their relationship grow. But I found the chapters from the villain’s POV distracting and not terribly necessary to the story. Overall, though, I did like this one and plan to seek out the sequel.

Mini-Reviews: Happy, Temptation, Paladin

Emily Henry, Happy Place

Harriet has an extremely tight-knit friend group from her college days, and they still reunite for a week every year at a beach house in Maine. Normally this is Harriet’s happy place, but she’s dreading the trip this year because she and her longtime boyfriend, Wyn, broke up five months ago — but didn’t tell anyone else about it. They decide to pretend they’re still dating so as not to ruin the trip, which goes about as well as you’d expect. This is an angsty, emotional book that I found very compelling while I was reading it, but now I’m thinking it might be a little overblown. I did like that Harriet and Wyn’s problems felt realistic and weren’t magically fixed in the end. I also liked the group dynamic and how the various friendships changed over time. Overall, I did like the book, even if I sometimes wanted the main characters to get over themselves.

Lauren Willig, The Temptation of the Night Jasmine

Lady Charlotte Lansdowne has been in love with her distant cousin, Robert, since childhood. After spending several years soldiering in India, he has just returned to claim his inheritance as the duke of Dovedale. Sparks fly between them, and Charlotte is thrilled that Robert finally seems to return her love. But he’s currently more focused on righting a wrong from his past, which means getting close to the sinister Sir Francis Medmenham and his Hellfire Club. This book isn’t one of my favorites in the series, though it’s still a pleasant read. Robert tries to do the whole noble sacrifice, “I’m not good enough for you” thing, which I found deeply frustrating. Also, the French spy’s involvement is never really explained, though maybe the next book will provide some answers? Anyway, I’m still liking the series fine, but this installment is not the strongest.

Lois McMaster Bujold, Paladin of Souls

Ista, the 40-year-old dowager royina of Chalion, has survived madness, a curse, and the deaths of several loved ones. She wants nothing more to do with the gods after what she’s suffered, yet she’s so impatient with the dullness of her current life that she goes on a pilgrimage just to get out of the house. But unexpected events — including prophetic dreams, demons, capture by enemy soldiers, and two brothers who seem to share a mysterious wound — make clear that the gods aren’t done with Ista just yet. I’m continuing to love this series! Bujold has created a vivid fantasy world with complex theology and geopolitics. The plot takes a little while to get going, but once it does, it really cooks! I also loved following Ista’s spiritual journey as she comes to terms with the gods’ involvement in her life. I’d definitely recommend this book if you enjoy sword and sorcery, but you should read The Curse of Chalion first.

Mini-Reviews: Ivy, Psalm, Lady

Lauren Willig, Ivy and Intrigue

This story (or short novella?) in the Pink Carnation series revisits Richard and Amy from the first book. They’ve now been married several months and are enjoying life together in the English countryside, but they both sometimes miss their active spying days in France. Espionage finds them again, however, just as Richard’s first love re-enters his life. Can Richard and Amy learn to recognize and communicate their true desires, all while thwarting yet more Bonapartist shenanigans? This is a cute but unnecessary interlude in the series…it’s nice to see a bit more of Richard and Amy (as well as Miles and Henrietta), but the plot is negligible and there’s no character development to speak of. It’s a decent, quick little read, but definitely not necessary even for fans of the series.

Becky Chambers, A Psalm for the Wild-Built

Sibling Dex, a monk who serves the god of small comforts, suddenly decides to change their life, abandoning the city to travel among rural villages as an itinerant tea monk. But eventually even this makes them restless, and they travel into the wilderness, where they meet a robot named Mosscap. This shocks Dex, since robots retreated to uninhabited portions of the planet after they gained sentience, and they haven’t interacted with humans since. This charming short novel has very low stakes, but it’s quite poignant and philosophical if you’re into that kind of thing. I liked the relationship between Dex and Mosscap, especially their conversation about humans’ desire for purpose. If the premise intrigues you, I think you’ll like this one.

Cecilia Grant, A Lady Awakened

Martha Russell is a recent widow, and she’ll be forced to leave her late husband’s estate when his brother, the heir, takes possession. But the heir is a terrible person who raped two maids, so Martha is determined to prevent him from inheriting somehow. The only option is for her to give birth to an heir herself, which is impossible . . . but if she can convince her neighbor, Theo Mirkwood, to have sex with her until she conceives, she can pass off the baby as a legitimate heir. She has no intention of enjoying their illicit relationship, but the lighthearted, charming Theo is determined to change her mind.

Admittedly, this plot is completely nonsensical, but I didn’t mind because the book is so good! Martha is dismissive, detached, and cold, which makes her a challenging but very interesting heroine. It’s wonderful to watch her grow throughout the book as Theo helps her become less guarded. Meanwhile, Theo also improves as Martha teaches him how to manage his estate. There are a lot of sex scenes in the book, which I’m normally not a fan of, but in this case they wonderfully reveal the progress of the romance. The early scenes are awkward and deeply unsexy, which is so counterintuitive for a genre that tends to idealize sexual relationships. I highly recommend this one to fans of historical romance, especially if you’re interested in a twist on the usual formula.

Mini-Reviews: Tie, Bright, Italian

Ngaio Marsh, Death in a White Tie

The London Season is in full swing with its debutantes, chaperones, and elaborate parties. Unfortunately, a blackmailer is also making the social rounds, preying upon high-society women. Inspector Roderick Alleyn is on the case, and he asks his friend Lord Robert “Bunchy” Gospell for help, since Bunchy is invited everywhere and will be able to observe suspicious activity firsthand. When Bunchy is murdered, Alleyn will do whatever it takes to bring his killer to justice — but was it the blackmailer or someone else with a grudge against Bunchy? This is another excellent Alleyn novel; I loved getting more insight into his character as he’s forced to investigate the death of a friend and to suspect people he knows and likes personally. I’ll certainly continue with the series and am glad Marsh was so prolific!

Chloe Neill, The Bright and Breaking Sea

In an alternate 19th-century Britain, Kit Brightling is a naval captain who is magically Aligned to water. Her successes at sea have earned her the queen’s favor, and now the queen has ordered her to rescue a spy who’s been caught by the enemy and imprisoned in a pirate fortress. But Kit is also compelled to team up with Rian Grant, a viscount and former soldier. They distrust each other at first, but their opinions change as they’re forced to work together. Meanwhile, they uncover a dangerous conspiracy involving a deposed emperor and a ship capable of weaponizing magic. What a fun book! The plot is full of excitement, from daring escapes to naval battles to espionage at society events. I also really liked Kit and Grant’s relationship, though I found most of the secondary characters underdeveloped and unmemorable. Still, I’d heartily recommend this book if you love historical romance and/or tales of the British navy with a bit of magic thrown in. There’s a sequel that I plan to get my hands on ASAP!

Rebecca Serle, One Italian Summer

After her mother’s tragic death, Katy feels utterly bereft and disconnected. The loss makes her question everything in her life, including her marriage to her college sweetheart. Needing space, Katy decides to go solo on the trip to Italy she’d been planning with her mom. But when she gets to Positano, she’s shocked to meet her mother in the flesh at age 30 (not a spoiler, it’s mentioned in the cover copy). As Katy gets to know this younger version of her mother—and embarks on a flirtation with a handsome stranger—she also learns more about herself and begins to process her grief. I’ll say one thing about this book, it made me want to travel to the Amalfi coast immediately! But I found Katy a frustrating character. Though her grief is understandable, her actions aren’t particularly sympathetic, and while I love my mom, I can’t imagine idolizing her to the extent Katy does! So while I’m now even more eager to travel to Italy one of these days, I wouldn’t particularly recommend this book.

Mini-Reviews: Neighbors, Cluny, Velvet

Stephanie Burgis, Good Neighbors

Ever since Mia and her father were run out of town by an angry mob wielding torches and pitchforks, she’s tried to appear normal and respectable, hiding her true identity as a metal mage. Too bad her new home is right next door to a necromancer’s castle. Leander has no interest in hiding his own unnatural gifts, and he soon seeks Mia out to form a defensive alliance against the hostile townsfolk. But as Mia and Leander grow closer, the town’s increasing anger toward those with magical powers forces them to take a stand. This is an enjoyable but insubstantial wisp of a book with a heavy-handed message about how society treats those who are perceived as different. The story is a bit sketchy and underdeveloped, and several loose threads are left dangling. I like the author but wouldn’t recommend this particular work — try Masks and Shadows or Congress of Secrets instead.

Margery Sharp, Cluny Brown

Cluny Brown is a young woman who, according to her plumber uncle, doesn’t know her place, so he decides to find one for her as a parlormaid in an English country house. Cluny isn’t a great success as a parlormaid, but she does make several new friends, both upstairs and down. Eventually she decides where (and with whom) she’ll make her true place in the world. This is a quiet slice-of-life novel set just before the outbreak of World War II. It satirizes the English class system but does so in a gentle and affectionate, not mocking, way. The plot centers around romantic complications that all come right in the end, although I did feel sorry for Cluny’s rejected suitor! I also watched the movie starring Charles Boyer and Jennifer Jones, which I didn’t like quite as much as the book (it changed too many things, and I think Boyer was miscast). But I would recommend the book if you like this type of novel!

Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Velvet Was the Night

This novel, billed as “neo noir,” is set in 1971 against the backdrop of the Mexican Dirty War. Elvis belongs to a gang with shadowy ties to the repressive government; he’s tasked with brutalizing student activists and other left-wing demonstrators. Meanwhile, Maite is dissatisfied with her life and escapes through the pages of romantic magazines. When Maite’s neighbor Leonora, a young woman with possible communist ties, disappears, Elvis and Maite cross paths as they both try to track her down. I’m not a big noir reader, as I generally prefer optimism in my fiction, but I found this novel fascinating. I know shamefully little about Mexican history, so I was happy to learn more about an unfamiliar place and time. I also really enjoyed the story and was able to guess some of the twists and turns. The ending isn’t exactly happy (this is noir, after all!), but it is satisfying and arguably hopeful. Overall, this book impressed me, and I’m eager to try more of Moreno-Garcia’s work.

Mini-Reviews: London, Fortune, Death

Sarra Manning, London, with Love

This contemporary novel follows Jen Richards from her awkward adolescence in 1986 to her middle age in 2021. When she was 16, she was an insecure kid who strongly identified with Sylvia Plath, and she was desperately in love with her brooding, pretentious best friend, Nick. As the years go by, she and Nick pass in and out of each other’s lives, but they can never completely ignore the strong connection between them. I don’t think this is a bad book, but it ultimately wasn’t for me. While I sympathized and related to adolescent Jen, I found her less likable as she got older and (theoretically) more mature. I also didn’t think her relationship with Nick was healthy, so I was never really rooting for the romance. I think this book might really resonate with people who grew up in London during this specific time — but since I’ve barely even been to London (though would love to go back!), I don’t have that nostalgia. Overall, it’s a decent read, but I just don’t think I’m the ideal audience for it.

Kristin Vayden, Fortune Favors the Duke

Six months ago, Quin’s older brother died tragically and unexpectedly, making Quin the new duke of Wesley. Now a grieving Quin must grapple with his new responsibilities, when all he really wants to do is continue his career as a Cambridge professor. Meanwhile, the late duke’s fiancée, Lady Catherine Greatheart, is grieving too, but she’s accepted that it’s time to move on. As Quin and Catherine support one another in their shared loss, they develop romantic feelings but are unsure whether they ought to pursue a relationship. This was another disappointing Regency romance. The premise — man falls for his dead brother’s fiancée — had so much potential, but it’s barely explored. Quin and Catherine fall for each other pretty quickly, with minimal guilt, and the book’s main conflict turns out to involve an external villain. Where was the guilt, the uncertainty, the struggle against (arguably) inappropriate feelings? In my opinion, exploring that conflict would have been way more interesting than the random troublemaker’s shenanigans. Further, the writing style was awkward and inauthentic, and I didn’t even believe in the central romance. I’m glad I got the e-book for free, but I wouldn’t recommend it even at that price.

Hannah March, Death Be My Theme

After a serious illness, Robert Fairfax is convalescing in the rural outskirts of London when he encounters another mystery: Curmudgeonly Gabriel Chilcott falls to his death down a flight of stairs with an expression of horrified shock on his face. The incident appears to be a tragic accident, but then why did Chilcott’s much younger wife lie about the man seen leaving her bedroom? When a local servant is murdered shortly afterwards, Robert investigates and uncovers a particularly cold-blooded killer. This might be my favorite book of the series yet! The mystery plot is very well done, and I also liked the development of Robert’s ill-fated romance with the married Cordelia. There’s even a cameo appearance by the Mozart family, and a mistake in one of 8-year-old Wolfgang’s compositions proves to be a vital clue. I’m hoping the next (and, alas, final) book will give a satisfying ending to the series!

Mini-Reviews: Seduction, Chalion, Summer

Lauren Willig, The Seduction of the Crimson Rose

Mary Alsworthy has just endured the humiliation of watching her younger sister, Letty, run off with the man she was supposed to marry (as detailed in The Deception of the Emerald Ring). Now she’s faced with the awful possibility of becoming a spinster dependent on Letty’s charity. Fortunately, the enigmatic Lord Vaughn steps in with an alternative: he’ll fund another Season for Mary if she agrees to become a double agent, infiltrating the network of the French spy known as the Black Tulip. But the lines between business and pleasure blur as she and Vaughn become increasingly attached to one another. I remember this as being one of my favorite books of the series, and upon re-reading I’d definitely agree! Both Vaughn and Mary were “villains” of previous books, portrayed as cold and amoral, so it’s great to get a new perspective on them here. Though the mystery isn’t terribly compelling (the bad guy is easy to spot), the romance more than makes up for it, I think because both Mary and Vaughn experienced real hardships before getting their happy ending. So far, this installment of the series is the one to beat!

Lois McMaster Bujold, The Curse of Chalion

Once an honorable soldier, Cazaril is now physically and mentally broken from long imprisonment, torture and illness. He’s making his way back to the noble household where he once served as a page, hoping the lady of the house can find a small job for him. Instead, she makes him secretary-tutor to the princess Iselle, which thrusts him back into the world of court rivalries and political intrigue. There he encounters powerful enemies and calls on the gods for help — with unexpected results. After loving the Vorkosigan saga so much, I was slightly worried that Bujold’s fantasy novels wouldn’t measure up, but thankfully, I absolutely loved this! Cazaril is the opposite of Miles Vorkosigan in many ways (he’s not arrogant or ambitious, and mainly he just wants to be invisible), but he has a similar snarky internal voice, as well as the same surprising competence in a crisis. I also loved the world of this novel, with its detailed politics, history, and theology. Looking forward to the next book!

Anne Gracie, The Summer Bride

This final book in the Chance Sisters series focuses on Daisy, the Cockney girl who dreams not of marriage but of opening her own dress shop for high-society ladies. Her goal finally seems within reach, but she doesn’t have quite enough money or time to take the next step. Meanwhile, roguish Patrick Flynn may not be an aristocrat, but he’s rich and determined to marry the finest young lady in London. He’s even got a particular earl’s daughter in mind — but for some reason he finds himself drawn to Daisy instead. This book was…fine. I liked that Daisy and Patrick are both outsiders trying to figure out their place in the world. I also really enjoyed their first kiss! But I felt like the obstacles to their relationship (career vs. marriage, kids vs. no kids) were legitimate, and the resolutions were a little too pat. Overall, I enjoyed this series, but The Winter Bride is the only standout for me. Still, Gracie is one of the better Regency authors I’ve encountered lately, so I’ll likely keep exploring her work.

Mini-Reviews: Closed, Countess, Wager

Patricia Wentworth, The Case Is Closed

One year ago, Geoffrey Grey was convicted of murdering his uncle and is now in prison. His wife and her cousin Hilary believe he’s innocent, but the evidence against him is overwhelming — that is, until Hilary has a chance meeting with Mrs. Mercer, one of the prosecution’s star witnesses. Mrs. Mercer seems deeply troubled and hints at secrets she could reveal if she weren’t deathly afraid of her husband. Hilary decides to investigate with the help of her beau, Henry, but her sleuthing soon puts her in danger. I really enjoyed this book! The mystery is satisfying, albeit not particularly complex, and I also adored the romance between Hilary and Henry. They’ve quarreled at the beginning of the book, but they obviously still love each other, and it’s a treat to peek inside their heads as they attempt to get back together. If you like your vintage mysteries on the lighter side, with a generous helping of romance, you’ll enjoy this one!

Eva Ibbotson, A Countess below Stairs

Newly arrived in England after fleeing the Russian Revolution, Countess Anna Grazinsky has no choice but to work as a housemaid at the grand estate of Mersham. Despite her noble upbringing, she’s willing to work hard and soon endears herself to the other servants and the entire household. She also catches the eye of Rupert, Mersham’s owner, but he is already engaged to the beautiful but coldhearted Muriel. This book is one of my favorite comfort reads, and I adored it just as much this fifth or sixth time through. The central romance is sweet and passionate, and there’s a wealth of sympathetic, lovable secondary characters as well. The good characters are a bit too perfect and the bad ones totally irredeemable, but I love the book so much that I can easily overlook its flaws.

Lynn Painter, The Love Wager

After a drunken one-night stand, Hallie Piper is determined to make better romantic choices, so she joins a dating app in hopes of meeting “the one.” On the app, she spots her one-night stand, Jack Marshall, and decides to send him a joking message. He responds, and they soon strike up a fun conversation, which turns into a real-life friendship. They make a bet about which of them will find love first — but the more time they spend together, the more they begin to wonder if they’re each other’s perfect match. I enjoyed this fun and funny romantic comedy. Hallie and Jack both felt like real people, and their playful banter had me rooting for them from the beginning. I did find the central conflict a bit frustrating, since it all came down to poor communication, and the ending felt a bit drawn out. But I still liked the book overall and would definitely recommend Lynn Painter to fans of contemporary romance.

Mini-Reviews: Wrong, Hardcastle, Season

Lynn Painter, Mr. Wrong Number

Olivia Marshall is perpetually unlucky, and when her latest mishap results in her apartment burning down, she’s forced to move in with her brother Jack and his best friend, Colin. Liv and Colin have never gotten along, but now that they’re living together, they start to see each other in a new light. Meanwhile, a text to Liv from an unknown number sparks an anonymous flirtation, but what will happen when she learns Mr. Wrong Number’s true identity? I enjoyed this cute rom-com, mostly for Liv’s funny and self-deprecating voice. The romance moves from enemies to sex to feelings a bit too rapidly, and I also wanted more exploration of Liv’s conflict with her family (they perceive and treat her as an immature screwup). That said, I enjoy Painter’s writing style and look forward to reading the sequel, which will feature Jack as the hero.

Stuart Turton, The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

This genre-bender begins on the grounds of Blackheath, an English country estate, where the narrator wakes up in a forest with no idea how he got there and no memory of his own identity. The next day, he wakes up in a different body altogether, and eventually he pieces together the truth: He’s supposed to solve the murder of Evelyn Hardcastle, and he’ll keep reliving the same day (in a different host each time) until he can identify the murderer. Along the way, he discovers both allies and enemies and eventually learns the true nature of Blackheath. This is a clever take on the classic country house mystery, with a plot that becomes ever more intricate as the narrator’s choices in later days affect what happened on earlier days. The murder plot hangs together, but the resolution to the bigger question of what’s happening at Blackheath and why is not completely satisfying. Also, the book is long, and while seeing events from multiple perspectives is interesting, it does bloat the narrative. Overall, I’m glad I read this one, and I think it’s a well-done experiment, but it didn’t totally work for me.

Jane Dunn, The Marriage Season

Sisters Sybella and Lucie are headed to London for the Season so that Lucie can potentially make a match. Sybella, a widow with a young son, has no intention of remarrying; she’s too busy managing her country estate and keeping her son out of trouble. But of course, both women meet several potential suitors and must discern who’s a hero, who’s a rake, and who’s just a friend. I bought this e-book when it was on sale, partly because of the appealing cover and partly because I’d heard it was a well-written steamless romance. Steamless, yes; well-written, sadly no. I found the style clunky and unrealistic for the time period (Sybella at one point has an “existential crisis”), and the romances were unconvincing. My search for non-steamy historical romances continues, but unfortunately this one was a dud.