The Trouble with Honor
I can tell you right now that the trouble with Honor Cabot is her inability to think and behave sensibly. You do not need to read this entire book to identify its failings—just glance at the first chapters of The Trouble with Honor and you’ll see what I mean. Honor is not the first Regency miss to concoct a scheme to save her family from destitution, but she certainly has the most ridiculous plan of any I’ve encountered.
When Honor Cabot was eleven years old, her widowed mother made herself a beautiful ball gown out of the remains of two old ones, hurried off to a party, and returned the next morning with the Earl of Beckington, her new fiancé. Honor’s mother knew she needed a husband in order to care for her four young daughters, so she went out and found one. All was well with the world, because the new lady Beckington came to love her husband, and likewise her daughters learned to love their stepfather and stepbrother, Augustine.
Fast-forward to the spring of 1812. The Earl of Beckington’s health is failing, the Countess of Beckington is slowly going senile (though society doesn’t yet know about it), and Augustine is engaged to Monica Hargrove, aka Honor’s arch nemesis. Honor and her sisters know that Augustine is putty in Monica’s hands, and they’re very aware that Monica does not want four sisters-in-law and a senile mother-in-law hanging around the house after she’s married. So Honor does as any self-respecting girl would do: she concocts a scheme.
However, that scheme is not to get married. Never mind that that would be the smartest, nicest, most socially acceptable thing to do. Never mind the fact that it’s exactly what her mother did years earlier. No, impetuous Honor needs to go her own way. She decides that the best thing to do would be to get George Easton (the bastard son of a duke and therefore rake extraordinaire) to seduce Monica Hargrove—not fully, just enough that she remembers there are men other than Augustine in the world.
If I had picked this book up off the shelf, as opposed to choosing it for review, I would have put it down at this point. Honor’s plan struck me as rather mean, first of all—what if Monica had actually loved George, as Honor intended? Her heart would have been deliberately stamped upon when he never came through with an offer of any sort. Also, Augustine would be devastated by his fiancée’s defection. I found it hard to believe that a truly nice character would come up with such a malicious scheme.
Fortunately, thoughts along these lines did appear to occur to George Easton when Honor first suggested he help her with her plan. For a moment it appeared that he would set her straight and refuse to take any part in her machinations. I was hopeful, for just a moment, thinking that this book might be salvageable.
Alas, it was not. George agreed to assist Honor, and promptly fell in love with the impetuous and foolhardy girl. To top that off, he decided—after compromising her—that he could not offer for her. As the bastard son of a royal duke and a man who lost almost everything in a recent shipping venture, George felt he was not worthy of Honor.
This absurd notion of George’s was the final straw for me. Monica and Augustine were ready to marry Honor off to the local vicar—who hadn’t any more wealth or prestige than George—and yet still the foolish man couldn’t bring himself to make an offer. In what universe is this realistic?
Generally, Julia London is a good author. I don’t know what happened with this book, but I sincerely hope it doesn’t happen again. I intend to put the trouble I had with The Trouble with Honor behind me, and hope for a better book by Ms. London the next time around.