A Dash of Scandal
Maybe Sylvester the Cat said it best: “Thame old, thame old.”
The heroine is an anonymous gossip columnist. There’s a thief on the loose – the Mad Ton Thief, believe it or not. The heroine cries virtue ad nauseam while kissing the hero at every turn and suddenly (and inexplicably) suggesting that they make love. An Earl is called “sir.” And one young lady says to another that her friends “aren’t into” hearing gossip.
Frankly, I am one of the more tolerant AAR reviewers when it comes to anachronistic language and historical fuzziness, so if it bothers me it has to be pretty darn bad. Still, to be fair, I do have to admit that these errors aren’t on every other page, but when they do occur, they are so blatant that they had the fatal effect of pulling an admittedly non-fussy reader out of the story. For an historical romance, that is a major league no-no.
The daughter of a woman who suffered a scandal in London some years earlier, young Millicent Blair is visiting her aunt in the city for the very first time. Not surprisingly, she is stunned when her injured aunt asks Millicent to work as her surrogate and write her gossip column until said aunt can get back on her feet. Naturally, since she doesn’t want Millicent distracted by any men who may pursue her, she suggests that our heroine hide her beauty behind a pair of spectacles. (It takes a loving aunt to do that, don’t you think, since this is sure to be the girl’s only season in town?)
Before you know it, Millicent has attracted the attention of Chandler Preswick, Earl of Dunraven and one of society’s most notorious rakes. Chandler (and yes, I kept picturing Matthew Perry) is distracted from his normal pursuit of pleasure by the fact that the Mad Ton Thief has stolen an Egyptian relic that has long been in his family.
Chandler thinks Millicent is cute. Millicent thinks Chandler is cute. And – with the interruption of a small misunderstanding when he thinks that she just might be casing the joint – without wasting any time, they are kissing every chance they get and working together to catch the thief.
Nothing ever really came to life for me here. Millicent is annoying as heck with her constant protestations of virtue and her totally contradictory willingness to liplock. She is allegedly obsessed with not having to face the same dire consequences as her mother (though her mother married a nice man and had a nice child, so just how dire could that be?), but her actions just don’t bear that out. As for Chandler, well, the best way to put it is that the TV version has far more depth.
My overall assessment here is that while the author is certainly talented enough, she just doesn’t seem to have a real understanding or feel for the Regency period. Her characters say the right things (most of the time) but their actions just don’t fit. Add in the tired plot devices and this one was pretty much a total disappointment.
For me, there’s a lesson here. As unfair as it may be, an abundance of research certainly doesn’t guarantee a good book, but a lack of it sure can kill one.