A Spinster's Luck
Even when it fails miserably, there’s something admirable about an author taking risks when she writes, especially if it’s within the constraints of a fairly strict genre. Rhonda Woodward’s A Spinster’s Luck takes absolutely no risks at all, resulting in a competently-written but absolutely dull Regency Romance. It seems as if Woodward slotted in all the technical points necessary for a Regency - broad shoulders (on him), rakish ways, muscular thighs, windswept hair, unexpected generosity, vicious rumors, gallant friends, and ivory shoulders (on her) – but none of the delight and imagination that is possible within a traditional Regency.
Celia Langston is a 26-year-old governess, an orphan who has been teaching two boys since she was sixteen. Her best friend Imogene, the boys’ mother, is the Duchess of Harbrooke, and the two have spent ten years living quietly at the Harbrooke estate. The only interruptions have come when the Duchess’s brother, the Duke of Severly, comes to visit. When he’s in residence, Celia tries to avoid him, since she once overheard him saying she might be too young to teach his nephews, causing her to live in terror of him ever since.
The Duke, for his part, is handsome, athletic, wealthy, confident and intelligent. A paragon, in fact. The only imperfection to be found in his fabulous self is a facial scar he got while in battle. He sees Celia from a distance and is immediately intrigued. When he views her up close, he realizes she is beautiful, intelligent, poised and gracious. Her imperfection, if it can be called that, is that she doesn’t realize she’s as lovely as she is. These two are perfect, not only in themselves but for each other, since they are also relentlessly dull, with no hint of a personality between them.
Celia accompanies Imogene and the Duke to London for the Season. She is eventually launched into Society, with the shocking fact that she is a governess the only impediment to absolute triumph. A nasty beauty tries to thwart her untoward success by spreading rumors about her, which are quashed handily by the Duke.
At its worst, A Spinster’s Luck reminded me of Barbara Cartland’s writing (minus the ellipses and the heart-shaped faces): its heroine drifts along, content to let things happen to her, only taking action in the very last scene of the book. The plot has many unbelievable elements that would only happen in a fairy tale, and there are far too many dukes hanging about.
I am always willing to suspend disbelief if the story moves well, the characters are interesting, and the romance is suitably romantic. But this story does not have that, and while I thought Woodward’s writing shows promise, she is nearly as missish in her writing as her heroine is in her behavior.