Once Upon a Sofa
Once Upon A Sofa is a light Regency Romance like so many that clutter the shelves nowadays. I like a light Regency well enough, but I didn’t like this one. The storyline moved in fits and starts and the characters were either silly or bland. It was not a fun read.
Isabel, Lady Ashby is a merry widow. After her elderly husband’s death and a suitable mourning period, she has cut a swathe through the gentlemen of the ton. Isabel wants to marry again, and she wants a title. She has her eye on the Earl of Caenby and plans to compromise him. She slips into the library at a party, artfully lowers the bosom of her gown and prepares for the earl’s entrance. Someone comes into the library and kisses and caresses her, and Isabel is about to swoon with delight, in what she thinks is the earl’s embrace. But when some people crowd in, and the earl is among them, Isabel realizes that she is in another man’s arms.
The man is Major Sidney Chamberlayne, the earl’s friend and half-pay officer who currently works for the Foreign Office. Sidney has a well-developed code of honor and he declares he will marry Isabel. She does not want to marry him, but she has been compromised and they wed.
Isabel declares she does not want to consummate the marriage, but that doesn’t last long. They finally consummate the marriage (and make love) off camera, in between chapters. After the honeymoon, Sidney goes back to his work in the foreign office tracking down Napoleon’s spies, and Isabel chaperones Sidney’s sister Lady Julia Chamberlayne, who is making her bow to Society.
Isabel vacillates between going to parties and flirting with her old beau, George Chiswick, who has his eye on Lady Julia, and mooning over Sidney (who makes love to her in between sentences). Sidney and Isabel don’t spend a lot of time together since he is knee deep in his investigations into the spy ring. Actually, he doesn’t think much of Isabel at all, and she spends more time flirting with Chiswick and trying to chaperone Julia than she does with her husband.
Anyway, the book finally comes to a conclusion. They find out the identity of the spy (as if we couldn’t see it coming a mile away), and all ends happily for Isabel and Sidney.
I have never met a more uninteresting pair. Isabel begins the book as a silly, conniving title hunter, and she didn’t mature all that much. Oh, at the end she is happy and pregnant and content with her life, but I couldn’t help but wonder how long that would last, given her immaturity. Sidney is presented as a man of honor, and he is. But he is also a man of very few words. He just doesn’t talk, and he spends a lot of time away from Isabel. Yet he comes to love her. Why? I could not see it at all.
The way the author has events occurring in between chapters results in a book that is jerky in places, but most of that happens in the beginning. Later on, the book smooths out and the action flows along nicely. If it weren’t for the silly, bland characters and their annoying habit of never talking to each other, I know I would have liked this much better. As it is, I spent my time reading Once Upon A Sofa in a state of exasperation.