Belle's Beau
Grade : C

Belle's Beau is a very uneven book. When I first started it, I thought it was terrible. The good news is that the book got better and better as it went along, but the bad news is that it took quite a bit of time to get better.

Annabelle (Belle) Weatherstone is thrilled to be making her come-out in London. Raised in the relative seclusion of the country, she has had little opportunity for balls, parties, or flirtations. Now that she is finally in town, she wants to enjoy herself, and perhaps even get lucky enough to catch a husband.

Belle quickly attracts the attention of Lord Adam Ashton, who is home on leave from the war. Everyone else believes that the war has ended with Napoleon's abdication, but Adam is sure that Boney will make one last stand. Since he is the last of his line, he is determined to wed before any more fighting takes place. When he was wounded and convalescing in Bath, he met a beautiful woman, and he is eager to renew the acquaintance. He is completely surprised to find Belle (the woman he thinks he knew in Bath) in London. He happily sets out to court her.

But sadly, he finds that Belle cannot even remember their earlier acquaintance in Bath! He decided she must be shallow and selfish - not at all the woman he thought she was. As it turns out, Belle doesn't remember their acquaintance because he had actually met her twin sister, Cassandra. This misunderstanding impedes their relationship for awhile but happily, all is straightened out in the end.

At first I was sure I wouldn't like anything about this book. It starts out slowly, with such a superfluity of adjectives that one can't help but be overwhelmed. Then the reader waits and waits for the hero and heroine to meet - and waits some more! I am not one to think that every romance must have the hero and heroine meet on page five, but when the book in question is scarcely over two hundred pages, and the hero and heroine don't meet until page 58, it has a very negative impact on the story.

If the author had been using those 58 pages to develop the characters in an interesting way, that would have been one thing. Instead the focus is on Belle (rather than the much more intriguing Adam) and her inane conversations with her relatives and acquaintances. And when they finally do meet, the reader has to tolerate the inevitable and annoying Big Misunderstanding. In this case I found the misunderstanding hard to credit, since it occurs after Adam and Belle have spent a good deal of time together. Somehow, in all this time, Adam has never heard that Belle has an identical twin sister. It seems unlikely that the subject would never arise. And when Adam finally sees both sister at once, his astonishment seems really strange. I know twins are more likely nowadays with the advent of IVF and fertility drugs, but surely they weren't so rare that no one in the Regency period had heard of the concept. Adam (and several of his contemporaries) act like they are seeing people with three heads or something.

Fortunately, when Adam and Belle finally meet and get past their misunderstanding, the story improves dramatically. The characters talk and share, and they develop a creditable love relationship. By the end, the story is quite enjoyable. I really did come to appreciate Adam's gallantry and introspection, even though it took him awhile to understand the concept of "twins." Belle, too, improved with time, and heaven knows I'd much rather a book start off poorly and get better than have the opposite problem. But is it worth reading over half a book to get to the good parts? You'll have to decide.

Reviewed by Blythe Smith
Grade : C
Book Type: Regency Romance

Sensuality: Kisses

Review Date : December 13, 2000

Publication Date: 2000

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Recent Comments …

  1. What kept me reading was the sheer unpredictability of the storyline. I knew David’s and Chelsea’s paths would cross again…

Blythe Smith

I've been at AAR since dinosaurs roamed the Internet. I've been a Reviewer, Reviews Editor, Managing Editor, Publisher, and Blogger. Oh, and Advertising Corodinator. Right now I'm taking a step back to concentrate on kids, new husband, and new job in law...but I'll still keep my toe in the romance waters.
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