A Game of Patience
A Game of Patience started out strong but as the book progressed, it became increasingly difficult to read. The problem? An odd choice on the author’s part: she apparently decided that if saying something once is good, then saying it two or three times in different ways is even better. This not only applied to descriptions but to the plotting as well. The same scenes and conversations seem to occur again and again. As a reader I’m supposed to be engrossed in the story, not looking for the next instance of repetitivitis. Guess what? I wasn’t engrossed, I wasn’t enthralled, and by book’s end I wasn’t even interested.
The premise is one that usually works for me. Patience, Richard (the second son of a Marquess), and Phillip “Pip” (the heir to an earldom) have been friends since childhood. Patience is a little younger then the boys and has secretly had a crush on Pip for years. Richard, obviously the better choice, is secretly in love with Patience. Patience has come to London for the Season but all she truly wants is to hook up with Pip again and make him forget his almost fiancée Sophie. Richard is pretty aware of Patience’s crush but he hopes that she will eventually forget the careless Pip and look his way.
Sounds a bit like a farce, but Richard has feelings of longing and despair, not only because of his unrequited love for Patience, but also because his family’s estate is crumbling under the control of his older brother, a wastrel who inherited everything. Richard has done his best to keep the family afloat but things are reaching a desperate stage. Though he tries to keep this hidden from society, he knows that he has nothing to offer Patience even if she were to return his regard. Despite all the problems with this book, Richard almost made worth reading.
Patience does not. Of the three she acts most like her age (seventeen) and that’s not a good thing. This girl can’t think of either man without adjectives. Pip is always Golden Pip or Clever Pip or Beloved Pip. Richard, poor guy, is doomed to be Dependable Richard or Dear Richard. Patience doesn’t exhibit much in the way of brains so perhaps she needs the monikers to keep the two men apart? Whatever the case, it becomes about as grating as fingernails on a chalkboard. Add that to the other symptoms of repetivitis and you’ll get the idea, picture, suggestion? Here’s an example of what I mean:
First page: “What she waited for she could not name, but like the missing heart it tingled in her bones, her fingertips, her toes. It poised just ahead of her, just out of reach, in the periphery of her vision, waiting for her to catch up to it. Something intangible and wonderful. Life-changing.”I cared about Richard. His emotional turmoil is all the more powerful because of the subtle ways in which it’s displayed. Which is a puzzle. In every other aspect of the book the author uses a sledgehammer, or maybe I mean a jackhammer, to get the point across. We’re told frequently and for much too long that Patience loves Pip. Fairchild should have let her have him. It would have made more sense. As it is, this is one book where I would rather see a sequel in which Richard’s first love (Patience) has died and he’s returned to find his real true love. It’s a sure sign that this romance and “happily ever after” didn’t work for this reviewer.
And going into the last page: “She stood on tiptoe to kiss him on the lips, a sweet kiss, a tender kiss, while he remained frozen, resistant to her. It was a kiss that left Patience breathless, weak in the knees, a kiss that stirred within her an unexpected wave of passion.”