A Kiss For Lucy
A Kiss for Lucy wants to be a Regency Romance where true love grows from a momentary case of mistaken identity. Instead, however, a briefly promising scenario quickly degenerates into a story so flat and uninteresting that it becomes a difficult book to finish.
Lucy Garwood, just turned sixteen, is adjusting to a comfortable life in the care of her uncle after her rescue from impoverished orphandom. She is mostly content to sit on the sidelines and enjoy her only-slightly-older aunt Maude’s coming out activities, and she agrees with her new family that the best she can hope for is a “respectable” marriage. Until, that is, the dashing Robert Renquist, Duke of Linborough, mistakes her for Maude and kisses her soundly.
I had high hopes for either farcical romantic comedy, or dramatic clashes of true love and social status. Instead, the rambling pointlessness of the plot, the characters’ lack of any dimension, and a crucial plot point that is not terribly believable made a short, 254-page novel seem never-ending.
This is one of those books where characterization takes a distant back seat to whims of the plot. Things keep happening with no rhyme or reason. For example, on one page Maude believes she’s been jilted by the man she loves, on only the thinnest of evidence. A few pages later, he is back, they are betrothed and married and no explanation is ever given for his sudden disappearance. There’s a whole subplot where Maude’s mother – with Maude married off – seems to be in danger of making Lucy into a substitute daughter/companion, to the detriment of Lucy’s future. Again, this emerges rather abruptly and disappears as quickly, with no sensible resolution. It felt as if the author just kept chaining random events together until the page quota was met.
It doesn’t help that both the hero and heroine become intensely annoying over the course of the story. Their attraction to each other is hardly clear in the first place. Robert is ruled for far too long by an insufferably snobbish mother, and again, this conflict is never resolved very satisfactorily. And Lucy is supposed to be sweet and mild but just appears passive as person after person, including Robert, try to make her into something they want her to be. A character who thinks up gems like “Without Robert Renquist by my side, my life yawns before me like a book filled with blank pages” makes me sigh with exasperation rather than romantic envy. Although I suppose such melodramatic thoughts are typical of sixteen-year-olds, I prefer the more interesting thoughts of slightly older heroines.
Which brings me to two central difficulties with the book. First, the heroine is sixteen, seventeen by the end of it, and the hero is twenty-seven. I realize that the story takes place in a different age, and that large age differences and very young heroines are not a problem for many readers; I’ve also read books with young heroines that I have enjoyed despite my reservations. However, the age difference and my discomfort with the age of the heroine added one more obstacle that the already weak story could not surmount for me.
Also, although the hero never seemed to have a problem distinguishing Lucy and Maude on any other occasion, in the crucial garden kissing scene, he believes Lucy is Maude. While I am willing to suspend disbelief to include a variation on “identical cousins,” I need a little more persuasion that they are that close in resemblance. It was barely remarked on by any character before or after the kissing incident, and is never an issue for any other character. It could easily have been made more believable by further establishing Lucy and Maude’s similarity.
Overall, A Kiss for Lucy had too much working against it for me to be able to even marginally enjoy it. If you have an urge to try a Regency Romance or give an unfamiliar author a try, I would suggest choosing a different book than this one.