## What I’ve been reading (with bonus algebra!)

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these and so the answer is quite a lot. I’ll spare you some of the more mediocre reads.

Here’s the summary:

**A Study in Seduction by Nina Rowan**

I had been waiting to read this since it came out last year because, hello, mathematician heroine, but boo, geographical restrictions. I am not sure it was worth the wait. I didn’t warm to either of the main characters much and I didn’t really believe that Lydia was a mathematician. We’re told that she is, a lot. And she knows lots of formulae and things, but she doesn’t really think like a mathematician. About halfway through, she sets a maths problem for the hero. Which I then had to solve before I could read any further and since my maths is pretty rusty it took a while. ~~I think I have solved it but I get a different answer from the heroine (but I think her answer must be wrong, unless she’s dealing with complex variables)~~. Finally I have solved it! Answer below. I am happy that this took me considerably less than the two weeks which Lydia allowed Alex. Also, authors, please put the solutions in the back of the book! Or at least, on your blog. Some of us care about these things.

** The One She Was Warned About by Shoma Narayanan**

Sweet, undemanding, a little bit predictable India-set M&B romance. Narayanan’s style is different from other books in the Modern Tempted line, but I like it.

** Girl with the Cat Tattoo by Theresa Weir** and ** Geek with the Cat Tattoo by Theresa Weir**

I was never planning to read a book narrated by a cat. And I was relieved to discover that neither this nor the sequel are entirely from the cat’s POV. It was cute. I think I liked Geek better than Girl. I’m happy to have read both but I would quite like pet romances not to become a Thing. (F, don’t read Geek. Someone is mean to the cat. I think you’re safe with Girl, if you want to try it.)

** A Night of Southern Comfort by Robin Covington**

Fun category romance with a side element of suspense.

** The Italian’s Suitable Wife by Lucy Monroe**

** The Greek’s Innocent Virgin by Lucy Monroe**

** The Sheikh’s Bartered Bride by Lucy Monroe**

Um, so M&B are digitising some of Monroe’s backlist and I am powerless to resist. The Sheikh’s Bartered Bride is very like her more recent Prince of Secrets. The Greek’s Innocent Virgin is a not-completely-secret baby book. And The Italian’s Suitable Wife has a hero in a wheelchair for much of the book. Sometimes I thought that was handled pretty well – there isn’t much unnecessary detail about how he manages to do things in his chair, and he’s very much still the alpha male, in control of everything, whether he’s on his hospital bed (he starts off in a coma) or in the chair. And I liked very much that at the beginning of the marriage, they clearly have a sexual relationship which is satisfying for her but does not involve penetrative sex. Because she is a M&B heroine, she is a virgin at the start, and it’s clear that the hero considers himself to have taken her virginity even though there has been no PIV sex. However, the next scene has the hero beating himself up about not being ‘whole’ and not being able to make love ‘completely’. His impotence fuels the major conflict in the second half of the book and I was not impressed with the way he dealt with it at all, and the consequence it had for his wife. So, um, I guess I’m not recommending this one. Which is a shame because it has some great scenes in it too.

** Love and other Scandals by Caroline Linden**

Bought and read on the strength of MFOB’s review. Light on the historical accuracy, and with an irritating motif of an erotic book for women called Fifty… But a nice courtship and characters who I wanted to get their happy ending.

** Promise of Happiness by Betty Neels**, ** Damsel in Green by Betty Neels**, ** Saturday’s Child by Betty Neels**, ** Enchanting Samantha by Betty Neels**

Some of the best Neels I’ve read, thanks to some recs from Sunita and others.

** The Lady and the Laird by Nicola Cornick**

Disappointing. I’ve read and enjoyed other books by Cornick much more than this.

** The Prince of Pleasure by Sandra Marton**

Didn’t like the set up for this, didn’t believe in the plot, didn’t care enough for the characters to let the rest go. Not her best.

** Reforming the Playboy by Inara Scott**

Didn’t love the set up for this either – one of those tricksy wills that I don’t really believe in. But after that it was great. Two artists, former lovers, lots of creative tension.

** Mr Right There All Along by Jackie Braun**

Oh, this was another great rec from someone. Sweet, funny and just lovely.

** The Chocolate Temptation by Laura Florand**

I do love Florand’s voice and style, so as I was reading this I was swept along with it and sighed happily at the end. But I admit even while I was reading that I had to find a creative solution to the sexual harassment at work issue, and I had some doubts about the heroine’s backstory. And afterwards, reading Brie’s comments here and Willaful’s here, I’m not sure I’ll read it again, or at least not with such pleasure.

** The Sheikh’s Bride by Sophie Weston**

An old M&B but a great one. Not sure if it’s available in ebook, but you may be able to find a second hand copy.

So, that’s me. What have you been reading?

*The problem is this: If a+b+c=6, a^2+b^2+c^2=8, and a^3+b^3+c^3=5, what is a^4+b^4+c^4?

Here’s my solution:

(a+b+c)^2 = a^2+b^2+c^2+2ab+2ac+2bc = 36

(a+b+c)^3 = a^3+b^3+c^3 + 3ab^2 + 3ac^2 + 3ba^2 + 3ca^2 + 3bc^2 + 3cb^2 + 6abc = 216

= 5 + 3a(b^2 + c^2) + 3b (a^2 + c^2) + 3c(a^2 + b^2) + 6abc

= 5 + 3a (8 – a^2) + 3b (8 – b^2) + 3c (8 – c^2) + 6abc

= 5 + 24a – 3a^3 + 24b – 3b^3 + 24c – 3c^3 + 6abc

= 5 + 24(a+b+c) -3(a^3 + b^3 + c^3) + 6abc

= 5 + 24×6 – 3×5 + 6abc

= 134 + 6abc

So 6abc = 216-134 = 82

abc = 82/6

(a+b+c)^4 = a^4 + b^4 + c^4 + 4ab^3 + 4ac^3 + 4bc^3 + 4ba^3 + 4ca^3 + 4cb^3 + 6a^2b^2 + 6a^2c^2 + 6b^2c^2 + 12(abc^2 + ab^2c + a^2bc) = 1296

If a^4 + b^4 + c^4 = n, then

n + 4a(b^3 + c^3) + 4b (a^3 + c^3) + 4c(a^3 + b^3) + 3a^2(b^2 + c^2) + 3b^2(a^2 + c^2) + 3c^2 (a^2 + b^2) + 12abc(a+b+c) = 1296

n + 4a (5-a^3) + 4b (5-b^3) + 4c (5-c^3) + 3a^2(8-a^2) + 3b^2 (8-b^2) + 3c^2 (8-c^2) + (12 x82/6 x 6) = 1296

n + 20a -4a^4 + 20b – 4b^4 + 20c – 4c^4 +24a^2 – 3a^4 + 24b^2 – 3b^4 + 24c^2 – 3c^4 + 984 = 1296

n + 20 (a+b+c) – 4(a^4 + b^4 + c^4) + 24(a^2 + b^2 + c^2) – 3(a^4 + b^4 + c^4) + 984 = 1296

n + 20×6 -4n + 24×8 -3n +984 = 1296

-6n = 0

n = 0