1.5 out of 5 stars
Cut to the Chase:
An interesting-enough beginning, as well as a well-fleshed out cast of characters, are wasted on this slow, meandering book that felt, at times, more like a synopsis than an actual story. Too often, instead of seeing her characters interacting and falling in love with one another, we were instead told they really got along, or watched as others observed and commented about how well-suited they were. Halfway through the book, the lack of forward momentum really starts to show, and an evil villain, along with an eye-roll-inducing series of “twists” help lead us through the back half of the novel. While there were interesting scenes every now and again, and, again, the characters were interesting (and at times, quite witty), there just wasn’t enough to keep my attention, and finishing it was a bit of a chore.
Robert, Lord Bradleigh, is a wealthy, well-connected earl who should be in the prime of his life — he’s spent quite a bit of time earning and enjoying his reputation as a rake, but he’s realized that it’s time to settle down. So, he writes a list of attributes he’d like, and then promptly chooses the young lady (a debutante by the name of Augusta) who most fits his requirements, and then proposes.
We start our story with his grandmother, the charmingly irascible Lady Bradleigh, reading the betrothal announcement from her home in Bath, and throwing a bit of a tantrum about it. She thinks that Augusta’s family are a toad-eating, encroaching sort that she’s disdainful of having any connection with, and bemoans the fact that none of her children, and now, not even her favorite grandchild, are marrying (as she did) for love.
Enter Emily Townsend, the paid companion who’s actually the granddaughter of an earl herself. Emily’s mother was disowned for eloping with someone the family considered a wastrel (and ultimately gambled everything away, proving them at least partially correct). All of which means Emily is left to her own devices, forced to earn a suitable living.
Now… all the characters are well drawn, believable, and likeable (for the most part)… but there’s just no forward momentum, and too much is just summarized. Instead of witnessing the dialogue that makes them drawn to one another, too often, we just are told: they seem so drawn to one another! And while there are some good (the introduction of our villains, though eyeroll-inducing, was actually a solidly written scene) actual scenes here and there, there just weren’t enough…
And the worst part was the ending –
(detailed spoilers ahead, stop reading if you care)
Our heroine is abducted by the villain (her cousin, who wants to marry her for the fortune she doesn’t even know she inherited).
When our hero finds out that his true love has been kidnapped, instead of rushing out, or even recruiting everyone he can, he stops to:
1. break off his engagement (well, to be fair, that part is driven by his fiancee)
2. set up his ex-fiancee with his cousin (no really, he takes his cousin aside, and tells him that his ex-fiancee could probably use some cheering up)
3. tell one of his best friends that he’s in love with the woman he’s allowed his friend to pursue (after first saying, you don’t love her though, right? because I love her)… and also assurig his friend that he needs no help, he’ll rescue the damsel himself!
Juxtaposed with a scene where the villain is considering raping our heroine, all of the above was just grating — like really? This is how you’d like to use your time while responding to a crisis???
Comparisons to Other Authors:
This is a Regency Romance, meaning very little on the sensuality scale, and supposedly high on the witty scale. However, I found the style to be less than compelling, and thus I’m not positive what to compare it to. Clearly, it’s trying to be like Georgette Heyer, in terms of the balls, and the trying-to-be-witty dialogue, but for me, it kind of tried too hard to carbon copy stereotypes, and again, too much was told in summation, as opposed to action that was seen.