The Smuggler and the Society Bride
There’s nothing wrong, really, with The Smuggler and the Society Bride – it’s a pleasant-ish story about pleasant-ish people with a decent-ish plot and acceptable-ish prose. But, geez Louise in a wicker basket, is it ever blah.
Julia Justiss’s latest is the third in the eight-book multi-author Silk & Scandal series dealing with virgins, rakes, and a twenty-year-old murder mystery. This instalment involves Honoria, a society virgin who’s the daughter of one of those involved in the murder, and Gabe, a naval rake (of sorts) and a part-time smuggler. Honoria has just been sent down to Cornwall after her impetuosity lands her in disgrace, and she finds herself rather liking the rustic seashore lifestyle – particularly with such a handsome, kind, nice, respectful sea captain hanging around. Bit by bit she likes him, and he likes her, and soon Gabe vows to find out who set her up for social ruin.
Now in all fairness, Ms. Justiss’s story was kind of blah and didn’t exactly grab me, but it isn’t the pits either. The series has potential, and if I didn’t understand or care about the details of a decades-old conundrum, well, it could be worse. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: It doesn’t actually bother me that a plot is clichéd, or uninteresting, or average, because there’s only so much authors can do, really, before everyone starts repeating themselves.
So it comes down to characterization, setting, prose, and whatnot. In a nutshell: I couldn’t be bothered. I blame the writing the most, which is dense and wordy and earnest, and man, was it was hard to wade through. On the one hand, Ms. Justiss tries really hard to write historically accurate language, and I applaud her for that. On the other hand, it didn’t flow for me (quantity, not quality, clearly), and it makes the occasional anachronism stick out like – well, like her society virgin in the backwaters of Cornwall.
Which brings me to the characters, setting, and whatnot: Blah.
The Smuggler and the Society Bride isn’t bad. It really, really isn’t. But it sure as hell isn’t good either.