A Groom of One’s Own
I had a difficult time getting through A Groom of One’s Own. It was horribly modern, in that all the characters seemed like they were plucked from the 20th century and stuffed into Regency clothing. This alone is not necessarily a deal breaker for me, except that the story is also incredibly boring and unoriginal, and the unlikeable main characters are not convincing in their love for each other.
A year ago, Miss Sophie Harlow was cruelly jilted on her way down the aisle (literally; she was stopped midway). Finding herself destitute and unwilling to sponge off her friends, she is forced to take a job at a newspaper…as a wedding columnist. A now wedding-phobic Sophie gets sweaty and hyperventilates every time she has to report on a wedding. At her latest wedding, she can’t take it any longer and runs outside – straight into a carriage. Luckily, a heroic man saves her from nearly being squashed.
At age eighteen, Henry William Cameron Hamilton inherited his double dukedom and said goodbye to his youth. He is now known as a perfect duke who never makes a misstep out in society. When he saves Sophie from being run over by a carriage, he is utterly entranced by her. Sophie immediately knows he is The One – but her hopes are crushed when she finds out he is actually Duke of Hamilton and Brandon and to be married in a month to Lady Clarissa Richmond. Furthermore, Sophie has been hired by Clarissa’s mother to report on their wedding. As they move closer to the event, Brandon and Sophie cannot help but feel increasingly dissatisfied with this arrangement.
Brandon and Sophie meet maybe twice before they decide they’re in love with each other. Frankly, I saw nothing between them to make them believe this, particularly nothing that would make him start becoming dissatisfied with his current fiancée. I suppose it’s supposed to be the typical “refreshing woman” who speaks her mind vs. the prim, proper gently-reared English lady, but Sophie and Brandon’s time together didn’t leave an impression on me in the slightest.
Sophie as a wedding reporter is unbelievable. As far as I can tell, she never makes it through a wedding, and relies on her friends to take notes for her while she hyperventilates outside. The only way she gets through her life these days is to chant “seamstress or servant, governess or mistress” which are her only other possibilities for income if she stops being a wedding reporter. She chants it constantly. I did not like Sophie because she tries to manipulate her way into Brandon’s life. After every lusty laugh or longing glance, she always wonders why Brandon still isn’t postponing the wedding or considering her to be his bride. I couldn’t pinpoint my dislike of this expectation, but I felt like she thought too highly of her charms, and I wished she were more forthright in her intentions.
I was puzzled by Brandon’s character. He is introduced as a man who has been drowning in family responsibilities, so I expected him to be very serious but itching to break free and have fun. He is actually pretty immature and boring, and is buffered by rake friends who give him bad advice. I found him unappealing, with his lack of confidence and gumption. He is a compulsive list maker, which I can kind of relate to, but his lists are long and boring.
The writing is the type where every person’s thought and feeling is explained in excruciating detail, lest the reader accuse a character of being illogical. This leads to unnecessary paragraphs in which the characters rehash their thoughts and actions for us.
The only thing I vaguely liked about the story was Brandon’s fiancée. Not the typical social climber, Clarissa is not happy with the wedding, but sees no real point to protest until she meets the dangerously attractive Frederick von Vennigan, the Prince of Bavaria. Too bad I quickly stopped liking Clarissa and Frederick when I realized their romance was exactly the same as Sophie and Brandon’s – Clarissa is “delightful” in her choice not to kiss Frederick’s titled butt. Yawn.
A Groom of One’s Own is not very fun. I started losing interest after the first chapter, and the characters and insipid story line severely tried my patience. This just isn’t a book I can recommend.