The Disgraceful Mr. Ravenhurst
If it weren’t for one tiny thing, we’d have a solid read on our hands. As it is, all I can say is ew. <a href="http://www.likesbooks.com/banmanpro/a.aspx?ZoneID=4&Task=Click&Mode=HTML&SiteID=1&PageID=33387 ” target=”_blank”> <img src="http://www.likesbooks.com/banmanpro/a.aspx?ZoneID=4&Task=Get&Mode=HTML&SiteID=1&PageID=33387 ” width=”150″ height=”200″ border=”0″ alt=””>
Theo Ravenhurst is an antiques dealer who, at the beginning of our tale, is roaming around Burgundy searching for a pornographic chalice. When he bumps into his cousin, Elinor Ravenhurst, who spends her days as voluntary dogsbody to her scholarly mother, they find themselves kindred spirits. So, when Theo invites Elinor and her mother to the chateau where he thinks the chalice lies, Elinor doesn’t hesitate to accept.
For such a small volume, the suspense plot is quite complicated, although easily followed, so let us dwell on more explicable matters. Elinor and Theo embody the cliche of the spinster and the black sheep, but Ms. Allen refrains from caricatures and makes it clear from the beginning that they are meant for each other. Elinor sees beneath Theo’s cavalier exterior and tames him a bit, while Theo sees beneath her frumpiness and helps her break out. Neither is fantastically complicated and their journey to love is comparatively harmonious since both are nice people who become friends for life immediately. That they become two red-headed lovers who can’t keep their hands off each other is a big fat bonus, and I found their exchanges touching and satisfying.
However, if you’ve been paying attention you’ll have noticed a) the word cousin and b) that they have the same last names. That’s right, folks: Elinor and Theo are first cousins. Not step-cousins, not second-cousins-thrice-removed, not adopted cousins – they’re our-fathers-were-brothers first cousins. I know this is true to the past as well as the present when first-cousin marriages are legal in many countries including the UK, Canada, and some American states. And a recent study does say that the chance of genetic defects for a child borne of a first-cousin marriage is no more than that of a child born to a woman over the age of 40. But it’s too much for me. My first reaction was, and still is, ew.
Aside from that, I will point out that the suspense plot is a bit lopsided, but otherwise adequate. And the writing is sharp, the humor unforced, and Elinor’s mother a more interesting character than might be supposed. But the blood relation is a sticking point I can’t get over. If you can, don’t miss this book. If you can’t but still want to read more of Ms. Allen’s Scandalous Ravenhursts – well, don’t say I didn’t tell you.