Say You'll Love Me
The most positive thing I can say about Ally Broadfield’s Say You’ll Love Me is that it’s a quick read. And I mean QUICK. Everything happens at breakneck speed so there is no time to develop the romance, get to know the characters or craft a sufficiently interesting plot. What there is of a plot is actually little more than a series of convenient happenstances that just, well, happen one after the other.
At the ball held to celebrate her betrothal to her childhood sweetheart, Robert, Viscount Hinsdale, Lady Abigail Hurst is shocked when she goes looking for her intended and discovers him in a dark corridor with his hands up under the skirts of his sister’s maid. Things go from bad to worse when, later the same evening, the maid is pulled out of the river with marks on her neck that clearly indicate foul play.
It appears that Abigail wasn’t the only person to have seen her intended with the maid, as he quickly becomes the prime suspect in her murder, and the news is all over the scandal sheets the next day.
Even though Abigail can’t believe Robert is guilty of the crime, she is determined that she can no longer marry him. He’s not the boy she grew up with or the man she thought he was – but her father insists that she maintain their betrothal until his name is cleared, and she agrees.
Not trusting the authorities to do their jobs properly (I rolled my eyes SO hard at that – what does a twenty-something debutante know about investigating a murder?!) and find the evidence that will either condemn or exonerate Robert, Abigail decides that she will have to do some sleuthing of her own, and enlists the help of her friends Georgina and Henrietta. They suggest involving their brother, Edmund, the Marquess of Longcroft, as he’s super clever and incredibly methodical; plus as a man he will have the entrée to places that young ladies will not.
Edmund – who is more than a little bit taken with Abigail – agrees to help, and the Scooby Gang (and yes, there’s a dog, even though it doesn’t talk!) begin their investigation. Such as it is. Because really, information just falls conveniently into their laps. By three-quarters of the way through, Robert is cleared – although he remains a total dickhead – but is unwilling to accept that Abigail no longer wants to marry him. Given he hasn’t called on her, has already shacked up with a new mistress and does nothing but moan and scowl at her on the occasions they have appeared in public, you’d think he wouldn’t be all that bothered about marrying her, but no – he isn’t prepared to let her go.
What’s the best way to force a woman into marriage? Compromise her of course, so that’s what Robert sets out to do. Fortunately, Edmund is wise to him and manages to foil his evil plot – but not without having to become engaged to Abigail himself. Yet, she thinks, how can he possibly want to marry a woman now so mired in scandal when he has six sisters to get settled?
If Abigail had been a keen reader of romantic novels instead of fairy tales, she’d have known the answer to that one and we’d have been spared the last few chapters. And don’t get me started on the sex scene which is just thrown in for the sake of it at the end. It’s toe-curling… ly bad.
I’m afraid Say You’ll Love Me isn’t even one of those books that’s so bad, it’s almost good; it’s far too bland and unmemorable for that. There is no depth to the characterisation, the writing is terribly simplistic, the mystery isn’t very mysterious and there is no subtlety to the storytelling. The best thing about the book is Edmund, who is sweet and geeky, but he’s as much of a barely two-dimensional character as the rest of them.
Do yourself a favour and give this one a miss.