A Scholarly Gentleman
When I got the list of books to be reviewed, I saw this title and wanted it. I have a weakness for books with an academic setting, and I love heroes who are scholars. The setting of A Scholarly Gentleman is Cambridge, where Lord Jordan DeVaux is a lecturer on astronomy. Add to this, the plot is about old lovers rediscovering each other – a favorite theme of mine.
“Oh bliss!” I thought.
Then I read it.
The setting was wasted, the heroine was a shrewish ninny, and the hero was a nonentity. The only thing that saved the book from an F was the presence of Lord “Boxty” Fuller, one of Jordan’s pupils. Boxty had all the charm and character that the wooden Jordan lacked. I looked forward to the times when he appeared in the book, which were far too few to redeem it.
Years ago, Phoebe Granville threw over Jordan DeVaux for his cousin Arthur. Jordan immersed himself in his studies, becoming a lecturer at Cambridge. Arthur and Phoebe gave themselves up to gambling and partying in London. Then Arthur was killed in a duel, leaving Phoebe a widow with debts, and Jordan a title and the responsibility for Phoebe.
Phoebe comes to Jordan trailing a bad attitude and seven trunks of clothing. Jordan tells her she is deep in debt and has to live frugally so he is placing her with his cousin Hillary and her family. Phoebe agrees – what else can she do? – and goes to live with Hillary, who is a sweet, but dim young woman all wrapped up in her new baby.
Not a lot happens. Jordan and Phoebe meet, they have misunderstandings, they muse about their current lives and past misunderstandings until Phoebe realizes that her husband Arthur was a cheating wastrel and she should have married Jordan. La dee dah, la dee dah, kiss, The End.
The book came alive only when Boxty appeared. Lord Stanhope “Boxty” Fuller was a dear. He’s doing his best to get sent down because he simply does not like Cambridge and knows he hasn’t much hope of graduating. It’s not that Boxty is dumb, it’s that he loves architecture and really wants to take the Grand Tour so he can study classic buildings. He likes Jordan, but the course of education he is taking is not for him, so he pulls several stunts in the hope that he will get the boot. Boxty is a charming young man who lit up the book whenever he appeared. I’d rather he had been the main character.
I have read a wonderful Regency Romance with a scholarly gentleman as the hero and Oxford as the setting. It’s Miss Grimsley’s Oxford Career by the wonderful Carla Kelly. It’s out of print and hard to find, but if you are as fond of bookish heroes in a university setting as I am, try and find that one. As for A Scholarly Gentleman, it needs remedial work.