The Viscount Made Me Do it
Diana Quincy’s The Viscount Made Me Do It boasts an interesting idea for a romance with a smart and strong heroine, a sense of drive and purpose, and an interesting mystery. But the suffers from some overheated prose and clunkiness, which means it misses the DIK shelf by a considerable margin. I would gladly read more of Quincy’s work, should she gain a little more grit and verve in her technique.
Thomas Ellis, Viscount Griffin (nicknamed Griff), has been haunted for years by rumors that he offed his parents to gain his inheritance when he was only a boy. No woman has ever been worth the risk of his heart since the rumors swirl about him like smoke and put a rather large damper on his prospects. He’s drinking coffee in a coffee shop when she (printed in italics in the text) walks in to set the wrist of someone who has fallen – and he is immediately intrigued. Unfortunately, the lady bonesetter is wearing the very same necklace which was stolen from his mother the night of her murder, which instantly makes him believe that she (my italics) is a giant fraud.
Hanna Zaydan is a bonesetter who is on her guard all the time. To be trained and accepted into the profession at all was a hard uphill battle for her, and she plans to open her own dispensary and continue the family profession. But racists and sexists do not make her life easy (Hanna is of Arabian descent). Yet battle on she does.
To get closer to Hanna, Thomas approaches her to have his arm treated. It’s basically been unusable since the war, and his one-time guardian has been unable to treat it, even though he’s a renowned doctor. In taking care of Griff, Hanna becomes closer to him – and manages to relocate his joints, ending years of pain for him. But can their cross-class romance work out? And who really killed Griff’s parents?
The big issue is not the plot of The Viscount Made Me Do It, which is decently twisty and filled with a good sense of the dramatic – it’s the writing. Quincy’s style is old-fashioned melodramatic, complete with (too many) italics and pounding hearts and tear-filled eyes. The reliance on clichés is irritating and unfortunate, because the characters are genuinely interesting.
I liked the way Quincy examines Hannah’s culture, and I really adored the details of her profession and the world in which she operates; I loved her family and her work life. I liked Hanna’s determination, and a starcrossed-by-class plot is always an interesting one. But the romance is weakened by the hero, who is much harder to like – far too high-handed and superior for far too much of the book. He does get it together but it takes forever for him to see Hannah as the jewel she is.
Overall, The Viscount Made Me Do It impresses on some levels and disappoints on others. It just needs more bang for its buck.
A final quibbly note: who the heck approved that title?