Lady Diana's Daring Deed
The word that best describes Lady Diana’s Daring Deed is “uneven.” The pacing varies greatly and the plot moves into unexpected and jarring directions, which impaired my enjoyment of what started out as a very pleasant read.
Lady Diana Ballinger is devoted to her family. Her twin brother Trevor is besotted with the Lady Genevieve, and when their forthcoming marriage is threatened because Trevor doesn’t have the money to secure her hand he decides to remedy the situation by gambling against Jack Melville. When he loses, Diana steps in, disguises herself as Trevor and sets about winning his money back. Then she gets cocky and decides to try and win enough money so Trevor can marry Jennie.
Bitter Jack Melville is setting out to prove a point when he proposes that Trevor bet Diana’s hand in marriage, and his point is that women are more trouble then they are worth. When he wins he has no intention of carrying out his promise, but he’s stuck courting Diana and becomes more charmed than put out as time goes on.
When I started this book, I was actually curious. What would happen when Diana found out Melville’s real intentions? What would happen when Diana’s masquerade was revealed? I felt that on those merits alone, the book was intriguing. What it didn’t need was the needless clutter of a villain and an outrageous, improbable third act to take the attention away from those key issues, especially considering that it was such a short story.
Also, I didn’t think Diana and Jack made a true connection in the book or that anyone would go to the lengths that Jack went to merely to teach a younger man about the treacherous ways of women. These problems are compounded by inconsistent pacing. The pace in the first two thirds was very leisurely, at times too much so, whereas the last chapters moved along head swimmingly fast.
In the end this was a tough book to review. the beginning was promising, but it fizzled out at the end. I didn’t dislike it, but it won’t stick in my mind either.