How to Entice an Enchantress
I have read a number of books by Karen Hawkins and have enjoyed most of them, but this book just fell flat for me. How to Entice an Enchantress has received rave reviews from quite a few readers and I just found myself wondering if we had all read the same book. I did not hate this book, but I did find myself constantly looking to see just how many pages were left until the end.
Alasdair Kirk has a problem. He wants to marry a certain young girl, but his unrefined manners stand in the way. He seeks out his godmother, the Duchess of Roxburghe and her companion Lady Charlotte for assistance. They agree to put him through their gentleman’s training to help him win his fair maiden. With the help of his new valet MacCreedy, his wardrobe is updated and his waistcoats gain some color. After two months, he feels he is ready to try to gain the hand of his chosen one and the Duchess of Roxburghe’s Christmas house party provides him with the perfect opportunity.
Dahlia Balflour is also a godchild of the duchess. After seeing both of her sisters marry for love, she is determined to have her chance at happiness. She arrives at Floors Castle with high hopes and a positive attitude until she sees her neighbor Lord Kirk is also in residence. If there is one man she never wanted to see again it is Lord Kirk. She blames him for a bad loan he made to her father that almost cost them their home. This loan came after she refused his offensive offer of marriage and Dahlia is convinced the loan was Lord Kirk’s idea of revenge. The lovely lady who descended from the coach upon her arrival at Floors Castle quickly turns into a sniping termagant.
I had quite a few problems with this book. It seemed that Ms. Hawkins was going to engage in a play on the Pride and Prejudice theme: A botched proposal that was insulting to Dahlia and her family, a description of fine eyes, a muddied hem and two rude young ladies to ridicule her lack of fashion. Then the book just takes a different turn and leaves that behind. The Duchess had a journal and each chapter opens with an excerpt from that diary. She describes all of the entertainments that her Christmas guests will enjoy and goes into detail, then half of those entertainments never materialize or they are glossed over. The journal entries almost took away from the story rather than adding to it. During the course of the book, our heroine Dahlia challenges the rude ladies to a duel of battledore and much is made of this match. Wagers are placed and the stakes are raised. It received a fairly large build up in the book and then…we never even see the game. We are told in snippets what happened after the fact almost as an afterthought.
This book made me feel like I was walking down a long hall with doors on either side and when I opened half of them there was nothing there but a brick wall. The author seemed to throw everything into the story but the kitchen sink or just threw ideas at the wall to see what would stick. A few of the characters were caricatures, like the valet who served with the Duke of Wellington, was a former boxer and could tie the most current and interesting cravats while boasting the fashion sense of a tailor. The Scottish dialect given to the servants was distracting. A side romance was suggested between the valet and the heroines lady’s maid, but that fizzled out as well. The entire book just struck me as disjointed and poorly thought out.