The Bachelor List
The Bachelor List is the first in a trilogy focusing on three sisters living in early 1900’s England. In this installment Constance Duncan holds center stage, in a romance that pits her feminist sensibilities against those of Max Ensor, a politician who believes women should stay at home – barefoot and pregnant. While much of the book succeeds, there are some problems that limited my overall enjoyment.
Constance is the eldest Duncan sister and the most like her deceased mother. Although Con is an unmarried woman, which is unusual for the era, she leads a rather busy life trying to keep her wastrel father from indebting the family, working for women’s rights and publishing a newspaper with her sisters. The Duncan sisters are anything but typical British society ladies, as proven by their newspaper, The Mayfair Lady. All three are much too busy and much too independent to want to be tied down by marriage – until Constance meets Max Ensor.
Max is everything that Constance should despise, which is why their relationship is so intriguing. He has made it his duty to stop this nonsense of women’s rights. Then he meets Constance, a woman to whom he is instantly attracted, and yet a woman who makes no qualms about voicing her beliefs on women’s rights. When Max discovers a copy of The Mayfair Lady, he instantly realizes that the newspaper contains more than fluff pieces of gossip. Underneath the silly feminine articles is a deeper agenda furthering the equality of women. If he wants to stop the suffragist movement, a good place to start would be with this newspaper. But no one seems to know who its authors are.
According to Parliament, the suffragists need to be subdued, and Max is planning on starting with Constance. Constance, meanwhile, has her own plans for Max. If she can just turn him to her side, he would make a powerful ally. And if not, then she may be able to gain useful information about the government. Constance and Max constantly challenge each other, physically and mentally, which keeps each one coming back for more and keeps the reader interested in their relationship.
All three Duncan sisters are intelligent and interesting women with whom the reader feels an instant kinship. From their amusing ideas on matchmaking to an advice column in their newspaper, the reader constantly waits to see what will happen to them next. They are not only open-minded about politics, but also open-minded about sex. Although I should have been relieved that Constance was not the typical quivering virgin, the political reasons behind her non-virgin status bothered me. That Max didn’t seem to mind Constance’s sexual history seemed surprising and not in keeping with his professed views.
Their differing opinions eventually come to a head. Constance feels betrayed by Max when in fact both are using each other – and hurting each other – but the way Max seems intent on his goals seems far more devious. And though he seems insistent on changing Constance, Max is portrayed as a man of some sensitivity, and in the end it is he who accepts Constance for who she is. The two share interesting conversations and engage in snappy arguments, but I wanted something more from their relationship. I wanted real sparks to fly romantically, and not just during arguments. This is a romance that sometimes suffers from a lack of romance.
The relationship between the Duncan sisters and their adventures is a delight for any woman to read. Feather’s ability to describe a scene and develop a character pull the reader right into her books. The Bachelor List is a strong example of that; the sisters are fun-loving and intriguing. It’s mostly because of this interest in the sisters and their exploits that I would not mind reading the next two books, just to see what adventures they conjure up in the future.