A Perfect Gentleman
The best parts of A Perfect Gentleman are the small ones. It is so filled with funny one-liners that my book was seriously dog eared after I finished reading it. Unfortunately, the plot is a total mess; but for lovers of humorous romances, this will be prime stuff.
Viscount Aubrey “Stoney” Wellstone is handsome, charming, polished and penniless. His father left him with lots of debts and, since he is a gentleman, he can’t go into trade. Stoney attempts to gamble his way into riches, but he is no good at it. One day, the gentleman to whom Stoney has lost a packet is bemoaning his fate. Seems he has to escort his sister-in-law to a ton party. When Stoney offers to do the pretty if the gentleman will forgive his debt, the man happily agrees and even slips Stoney a bit of the ready. Before long, Stoney has become a professional lady’s man. Gentlemen know that their womenfolk are safe with him, and women love being seen on the arm of such a handsome escort.
Ellianne Kane (of the banking Kanes) is in town to look for her missing sister, Isabelle. Isabelle went to London with their aunt to have some fun during the Season, but when the aunt died, Isabelle disappeared and Ellianne is worried sick. She has hired a Bow Street Runner, but there are some situations where a only gentleman can go, so Ellianne hires Stoney to help her look for her sister.
Stoney and Ellianne are a delightful couple. As the book begins, tall thin Ellianne thinks of herself as ugly and dresses in the most ghastly way possible. But at one point, Stoney sees her hair, which is a glorious fiery red. He and his delightfully dotty stepmother persuade her to dress with more style for her introduction to society. Garbed in black silk, with pearls in her glorious hair, Ellianne is so stunning that all the guests suffer from dropjaw, none more than Stoney.
As for Stoney, he is a bit Bertie Woosterish, but kindhearted and decent. He is powerfully attracted to Ellianne yet goes through the book insisting he will never marry an heiress like her since all she wants is his title, don’t you know. Stoney has no head for business at all, yet manages to support a school for abandoned young girls (how he does this with no money is never explained). He oozes polished masculinity at every pore, yet faints at the sight of blood. Altogether, Stoney really needs a strong and intelligent woman to take care of him. The banter and bickering between him and Ellianne is the best thing in the book.
However, the book reads as though the plot were an afterthought. Ellianne came to town to find her missing sister, but for chapters upon chapters we don’t hear anything about her. Then out of the blue, Metzger introduces a weak mystery subplot involving women who are found with their throats cut and their heads shaved. The culprit is transparently obvious, and the whole thing seems tacked on. Finally when the book was almost over, and I was wondering whether Metzger had totally forgotten about Ellianne’s sister, up popped Isabelle with a hurried explanation of her whereabouts, and then it’s HEA.
Despite the weakness of the plot, I enjoyed this book for the humor and the wonderful characters. Barbara Metzger is the queen of romantic farce, and when a book has grade A characters, I can overlook the grade D plot.