Lady Katherine's Wild Ride
Let’s start off with the good news: Lady Katherine’s Wild Ride does not take place in the Regency, but instead is set in Restoration England. Now for the bad: It is very melodramatic.
To be fair, I’m usually not fond of over-the-top antics – well, unless they are told in a sly, tongue-in-cheek kind of way – and I have to say that, despite the freshness of the setting (which also leads to its own problems, by the way), this book was simply way too melodramatic for my tastes.
The Lady Katherine of the title is a noblewoman who has fallen into the power of an e-e-e—v-i-l relative who attempts to rape her one evening in the room she shares with a young maid. When the maid comes upon the attack, she bashes Katherine’s would-be rapist on the head. Well aware that she would be summarily executed for the crime, not to mention that Kit herself might well be thought to be the perpetrator, the two run away from the estate in the middle of the night.
With their pursuers hot on their trail, a traveling player by the name of Jeremy Hughes comes across the pair and turns them in for the ten guinea reward. However, the stingy sheriff only coughs up two guineas, leaving Jeremy feeling guilty about turning in the two young women. Lickety-split, he rescues the two and they join his group of players.
Of course, there is an e-e-e-v-i-l vixen in the troop who is anything but happy at the addition to their ranks of a comely young woman. (Hmmm, could said vixen be around to cause a little trouble later in the book?) Kit, of course, turns out to have a natural affinity for the stage, and soon enough she and Jeremy arrive in London and start working to attain their goal of rising from lowly traveling players to acclaimed London actors.
The author includes a few real people in her story, including Charles II, Nell Gwynn, and the Earl of Rochester, who ran a London theatre to which Kit and Jeremy become attached (and who was also played recently by the great Johnny Depp in The Libertine), while also setting the action of her story amidst the Great Fire of London. I have to admit that it is nice to come across a romance novel with at least some sense of history.
As for the characters of Kit and Jeremy, they felt one-dimensional to me. Jeremy is the classic rake whom no woman can resist (with a real actor’s penchant for spouting flowery verse, by the way) and Kit is a bit too feisty, a bit too beautiful, a bit too talented, and a bit too much.
I also have to mention that the author does take great care to write in true period style, which, when it comes to the love scenes, comes off not quite as the author intended. I mean, how much can you enjoy a love scene that includes the repeated use of the word “cod”?
Still, I do want to acknowledge the author’s willingness to write in a period that is most emphatically not 19th century England. If the story wasn’t to my taste, I can’t help but think that Lady Katherine’s Wild Ride might serve as an effective refresher for those of you suffering from Jaded Palate Syndrome.