7B was my first Stella Cameron, and I found the premise intriguing. A single woman wishes to have a child and decides to ask her dearest male friend to be the father. There have been movies with a similar plot, but this is the first time I’ve seen it set in the 1800s. Unfortunately, instead of a story about two friends discovering their romantic feelings for each other in gradual natural way, it is the story of two friends denying their feelings in a forced and irritating way.
Sybil Smiles and Hunter Lloyd are reminiscent of the title characters in When Harry met Sally . They love each other. Everyone tries to get them together, including an angel. But they just push on, ignoring obvious signals and thinking “He/she isn’t interested in me.” At the book’s beginning, Sybil is a shy, proper young woman. At twenty eight she decides to act on her desire for children, and sets about learning the biological mysteries of procreation. The early scenes where she and her girlfriends look at pages in books and muse about pinnacles and the male anatomy are very amusing and bring to mind a tame version of Sex In The City.
Sybil’s first choice for a partner is Hunter, an ambitious attorney who lives in her boardinghouse. As I mentioned earlier, she’s in love with him. When she comes to him with her request, he’s torn. He loves her, and he wants her, but he can’t be part of something that would bring shame upon her. He also assumes that her request means she’s not interested in him. He worries so much about Sybil that at one point he offers to adopt her. This brainstorm comes, mind you, after they have already made out.
7B probably would have hovered around the low C range if not for one scene. Around the middle of the book, things take a turn for the worse. Hunter does a 180 from being Sybil’s protector to being a sexual predator. She goes to his quarters out of concern for his safety, and he throws her on the bed and is insulting and rude to her for no other reason than he thinks she’s there for sex.
Beyond that, there are other things about 7B that didn’t work for me. Sybil is a ditz supreme. She has a habit of doing dumb things and then thinking, “My God did I just do that dumb thing?” Hunter is thick as a pillar as well; he actually accepts a lap dance from a prostitute after he’s declared his love for Sybil and she is waiting for him. Hunter and Sybil also spend a lot of time apart, which isn’t usually a turnoff for me, but it was in this case because they spent most of their separations engaging in mindless chatter with other characters.
7B is long, and hard to follow. There is a suspense subplot involving Hunter which doesn’t really add to the story and is pushed aside for the aforementioned needless filler. There are some very imaginative love scenes in these pages, but unless you care about the people involved , they seem pointless. Unless you are already emotionally invested in the Mayfair series, skip this one.