Hardly a Husband
Hardly A Husband is based around one of those increasingly-ubiquitous school friends clubs – in this case the Free Fellows League. The members of the FFL have pledged not to get tangled up with women who have marriage on their minds. Nope, our guys are going to have fun until they are at least thirty, and do a little spying too. This book is the third in the series, and it seems two of the FFLs have gotten married; but a couple of other guys have taken their places amongst the fellows. Golly, this series could go on forever. What hath thou wrought, Jo Beverley?
Jarrod Shepardson, Marquess of Shepardson, gets a jolt one night when Sarah Eckersley shows up on his doorstep wearing a black velvet cloak and her nightgown. When Sarah’s father the vicar died, the new vicar, his wife, and their incredibly spoiled children moved into the vicarage, offering Sarah a job as the governess. Clearly, no sensible woman could stand those hellions. Sarah can marry Lord Dunbridge, her companion Lady Dunbridge’s haughty nephew, but she certainly doesn’t want to do that, so she and Lady Dunbridge move to London to test the waters there..
Jarrod has no fond feelings toward the institution of matrimony; his parents hated each other and ignored him, which explains why he is such a fervent member of the FFL. He has known Sarah since she was a little red-haired girl toddling after him, so when she asks him to teach her how to be a courtesan, he’s shocked. He finally gets her to agree to allow him to help her find a husband, then he goes back to meet the Free Fellows and do some super-secret spy stuff.
Jarrod and Sarah meet at ton affairs and from then on it’s the usual flirt and chase story. We all know that he will realize that She Was Meant For Him and they will fall in love, but I could not get involved with this book at all.
No, I don’t dislike light Regency-era romances. As a matter of fact, my my top favorite reads this year have both been light Regency-era romances. But those books had charm, while this one was just silly. There are a number of mistakes when it comes to titles, Jarrod’s good friend Lord Robert Mayhew is referred to as Lord Rob and then in the next sentence as Lord Mayhew – it’s either one or the other but it can’t be both. Sarah is a twit. She blithely refuses all the help Jarrod offers her and insists she wants to be a prostitute. Now really – that is beyond stupid! There’s a madam in the book who is depicted almost as though she’s a house mother, and the prostitutes all just love their work. No one gets injured, no one gets diseased (the madam knows a doctor), and evidently no one has any complications when it comes to pregnancy.
Jarrod is neither charming nor tortured enough to be memorable. He only comes to life when he solves coded messages with the FFL (who were so interchangeable as characters that I never sorted them out). The love scenes were purple and I burst out laughing when Sarah reached into his pants to discover “an eclair without the cream filling.” When she finds out that it does contain cream after all, I had to put the book down to wipe the tears from my eyes. This is the silliest sex scene I’ve read this year.
I usually have a very high tolerance for silliness, but Hardly A Husband was just too dumb for words. Charm is something I can’t really define, but I know it when I see it, this book did not have it. This is the third book in the series and based on all the supporting characters, it could go on for years. But I don’t think I’ll be signing on for any more stories.