The Truth About Lord Stoneville
I have only read two books by Sabrina Jeffries: Her unforgettable debut, The Pirate Lord, and another very forgettable tome that put me off until this book, when curiosity finally overcame me. The cat is still alive, but it’s not a happy camper. <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&Mo de=HTML&SiteID=1&PageID=33387 ” width=”150″ height=”200″ border=”0″ alt=””>
Hester Plumtree has had enough. She wants her grandchildren to start making great-grandchildren, but the Hellions of Halstead Hall will go on with their wenching, gambling, Gothic novel-ing, racing, and shooting (Oliver, Jarret, Minerva, Gabriel, and Celia, respectively). Since this is a generic historical romance, Mrs. Plumtree issues an ultimatum: Everyone marries by the end of the year or she cuts off all funds. Oliver, the oh-so-tortured Marquess of Stoneville and clearly a man of brilliance, decides to find an unsuitable woman to pose as his fiancée, which will hopefully call his grandmother’s bluff. Luckily for him, Miss Maria Butterworth drops into his lap in a brothel.
As it happens, Maria is not a prostitute. She is an American Catholic traveling to London with her cousin to find the errant fiancé she has traced to the brothel. Seeing her predicament, and mindful of his own, Oliver offers to help find her fiancé if she will pose as his future bride.
The book flows easily, perhaps because it is so contrived. Ms. Jeffries has refined the promise displayed in her debut to a well-oiled machine that expectorates roiling emotions and facile charm at the drop of a hat. Surrounding moments of genuine humor (mostly provided by Maria’s cousin) as well as genuine emotion is a superficial story that dots all “i”s, crosses all “t”s, and has as much substance as a hot-air balloon – perhaps less, for it fails to soar. With few exceptions, Maria and Oliver’s romantic fumblings elicit no more than benign interest, which is severely compromised when Oliver’s personal demons jump out and Maria’s Dr. Phil psychobabble jump in; the emotional resolution is particularly nauseating. Both are generic and both are too easily forgotten.
That is the crux of the matter. I can reconcile myself to a historical romance with few claims to substance, barely a smidgen of innovation, no presumptions towards historical accuracy, and prose that owes more to Candace Bushnell than Jane Austen. But, however smoothly executed, the facade cannot disguise the inherent shallowness.
Four books remain in the series, one for each sibling who performed their roles efficiently in this book and await their own. By the end, the Hellions will have found love, an old mystery will be solved, and Mrs. Hester Plumtree will be a happy camper.
But not I, my friends. Not I.