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Now Face to Face: A Novel Paperback – January 8, 2008

4.1 out of 5 stars 118 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Ten years after Koen introduced heroine Barbara Devane in her bestselling debut novel, Through a Glass Darkly, she brings back the strong-willed young woman to face further challenges among the baroque world of the European and colonial American nobility of the early 18th century. The settling of America and the courtly intrigues of the Jacobite rebellion in England serve as both backdrop and parallel for Lady Devane's path toward her own independence as an aristocrat and as a woman. Having been widowed at age 20, she has embarked for colonial Virginia, determined to develop a plantation there. Spunky and headstrong, she bristles when she is patronizingly described by one of her many admirers as a "fragile black butterfly"; anything but fragile, she takes lovers across political divides and frees her slaves against all advice. These flamboyant gestures often seem shallow, however, and Lady Devane's dismay at the treatment of the slaves in the New World characteristically seems more picturesque than humane. Koen doesn't hesitate to make her heroine less perfect than conventional characters of this genre; Lady Devane comments in a rare moment of self-reflection that her pity for her favorite servant never led her to seriously consider his feelings. A pervasive tone of gentility grounds the novel in its period, and Koen's smooth prose and nicely integrated background details make this a superior historical romance. Major ad/promo; author tour.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Barbara Devane, featured in the author's Through a Glass Darkly (Books on TapeR, 1987), finds herself a widow and her late husband's reputation ruined in England of 1720. Traveling to Virginia, she manages her grandmother's plantation, finding new friends, experiences, and greater maturity. After returning to London, she becomes caught up in Jacobite plots, court politics, and battles to restore her fortunes and take revenge on the men who destroyed her husband. This long production is helped by the narration of Sheila Hart, who handles all the voices well, regardless of the character's age, nationality, or gender. Hart brings expression, warmth, and real emotion to the narrative. Despite her efforts, the story occasionally bogs down in political detail. Nevertheless, fans of the first title should enjoy this sequel.?Melody A. Moxley, Rowan P.L., Salisbury, N.C. Rumpole and the Angel of Death by John Mortimer 7 cassettes. unabridged. 91/2 hrs. Blackstone Audio Bks. 1996. #1751. $45.95. Mortimer's famous barrister (e.g., Rumpole on Trial, Audio Reviews, LJ 7/95) returns in this collection of six tales. Rumpole is his normal crotchety self, and reader Frederick Davidson brings Rumpole and his entire adversarial world to life with an astonishing range of voices that never fail to delight and amuse. Nadia May reads one story as told by Rumpole's long-suffering wife, Hilda, or "She Who Must Be Obeyed." This is an interesting collection that is enhanced by the right readers. Recommended for all mystery collections.?Michael T. Fein, Catawba Valley Community Coll., Hickory, N.C.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 734 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books; 1st edition (January 8, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307406083
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307406088
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.5 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (118 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #274,547 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
I just read Now Face to Face yesterday, in one sitting--I couldn't put it down. After loving Karleen Koen's first book Through a Glass Darkly, I expected to like this book--I am happy to say that I loved it and can't stop thinking about it. It's almost unfair to characterize this book as historical romance--it is so much more than that-- I like the author's statement that the book is about a woman's search to find who she is, and not define herself by who she loves. I cried, tears rolling down my face--at the losses suffered by the heroine--and at the beauty and depth of the story, the langauge and the writing.The book does indeed contain romance, in addition, although I was unconvinced by the romance that the heroine finally embarked upon--I wanted to see more of the relationship between Barbara and Tony,Duke of Tamworth, explored and defined. I have many favorite books, that I periodically reread such as Jane Austen's novels and Shirley, by Charlotte Bronte--both Through a Glass Darkly and Now Face to Face join that list. Magnificent. I fervently wish that Ms. Koen will write a third in this series--I want to know what happens next to Barbara and Tony and Therese and Hyacinthe (yes, as in the best of books, I know and love these characters).
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Format: Hardcover
I agree with another reviewer, who says that this book just isn't Through a Glass Darkly. There were many great things about this book, but there were some major things that really frustrated me.

For one thing, there were huge gaps in the story line. Something dramatic would happen, and then there would be a gap afterwards and we would never learn what the conclusion of the incident was. For example, Hyacinthe goes missing, and we learn hardly anything of what happens of him between the time he is captured and the time he returns home.

I felt that the characters in this book were not as well drawn as they were in Through a Glass Darkly. Although a woman in the sequel, Barbara's character is flat. Sure, she has this adventure in Virginia, only to return home in the middle of a mini-civil war, but she seems completely unaffected by what's happening around her. I found her story to be very unbelieveable. There's no romance; the adventures in love that Barbara had as a younger women are written off by the author as youthful indiscretions and completely out of character for Barbara. Please!

I wanted to hear more about the Duke of Tamworth and his grandmother, the Duchess; but I was sadly disappointed. Tony seems selfish, mean-spirited and almost a different person in this book.

The historical background of this book (ie, the fight between the House of Orange and James Stuart the Pretender for control of the English throne) was dumbed-down almost to the point of absurdity. Although this book was well-written, the major flaws show through. Koen has set the stage in this book for a sequel but I don't think that it will get written. There's just not enough material for it.
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Format: Hardcover
Now Face To Face is another great work of historical fiction that is wrongly categorized at historical romance. Perhaps that is why I enjoyed it so much, for the purely historic aspect. Having read several books, roughly set during the same timeframe which revolve heavily around the Jacobite cause, I appreciated the level of detail Koen paid to this subject. I also appreciated her frank approach to the sensitive subject of slavery, allowing readers to get a first hand look at the atrocities associated with such a brutal practice.

That said, Barbara Devane continues to mature as a woman. During her time in the colony of Virginia, she oversees the running of her grandmother's tobacco plantation, making bold decisions which gain her both admiration and criticism from her peers.

A stronger Barbara returns to London, ready to face the legacy of debt left to her by her late husband Roger. She also returns to a home where much has changed. Her mother, Diana Alderly, is pregnant, her best friend Jane and her family are heavily involved in the Jacobite plotting, as well as her great aunt Shrew. One of the few things that hasn't changed is her cousin Tony, Duke of Tamworth's, love for her. But, alas, it goes unrequited due (in part) to the appearance of a handsome actor, Laurance Slane. Of course, Slane is not what he appears at first, and Barbara find herself in yet another unfolding drama as she discovers his true identity as a key Jacobite plotter.

I thought the ending was a bit rushed, with many loose ends tied up in the wool gatherings of Barbara's grandmother, the Duchess. Still well done, the ending leaves me longing to know more about the outcome of the main characters.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Looking at the other reviews of the sequel to "Through a Glass Darkly", "Now Face to Face", my feeling is that many readers missed the point. Even though both books were marketed to the Historical Romance market, they really are closer in spirit to true Historicals such as Mary Renault, Patrick O'Brian or "The Thornbirds". The writing, especially, puts them into this class but also the themes both books deal with make them more fulfilling than "poor but plucky girl wins love in a corset".
"Now Face to Face" is missing some parts of what made "Through a Glass Darkly" successful. The first is sorely missed-the character of Roger Montgeoffrey who was as beguiling on paper as he was supposed to be in life. The second, graphic and gratuitous sex scenes I did not miss at all, although the milieu for them (the French Court) was wonderfully written. Some of the new characters simply aren't fleshed out enough; Col. Perry is described as "a saint" yet we never clearly find out why he's become Barbara's protector at the risk of losing his daughter's love. The scenes with Viscount Duncannon, Barbara's love interest, are simply not convincing; her overwhelming attraction to him is not explained in a believable manner.
Yet overall, "Now Face to Face" is a worthy successor to "Through a Glass Darkly" in dealing with themes of honor, devotion, and duty. As long as a bodice ripper is not expected, you will not be disappointed!
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