When the esteemed reviewer known as Old Latin Teacher on Amazon says that this is "the best written Regency romance I've read since Miranda Davis's [b:The Duke's Tattoo|16002563|The Duke's Tattoo (The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse , #1)|Miranda Davis|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1352648779s/16002563.jpg|19158253]," it gets my attention, so I decided to give it a try. I even added the book to the Goodreads database, which the author may (or may not) think a kindness.
Ms. Darcy's writing stands out when compared to many self-published authors, and I mean this as no small complement. She writes complete sentences of more than one word. She does not rely on italics for emphasis. She successfully bridges the gap between 19th century and 21st century language, and except for the use of "I'm just saying, is all" coming from young Nick's mouth, she avoids anachronisms. I did not notice a single typographical error, which is more than I can say for many books put out by the biggest publishing houses.
The plot was cute and had promise. Louisa Munsford, age 21, is the youngest of three sisters, daughters of an earl. Jasper Lansdowne, the Duke of Malvern, age 31, long ago agreed to marry one of the earl's daughters, but the eldest, Sophie, has married elsewhere, and the next, Emma, is betrothed. The book begins with Jasper proposing to Louisa. (BTW, I love that name, Jasper, perhaps because of my tendre
for Jasper Damerel in Georgette Heyer's [b:Venetia|32102|Venetia|Georgette Heyer|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1168335980s/32102.jpg|3234302]). Louisa is immature, overly romantic, and headstrong, however, and she considers the duke to be too staid, too serious, and too old. In her view he has always treated her like a child, and he is proposing marriage only to satisfy his promise to her father. So she turns him down, shocking him and everyone in her family.
Louisa is incorrect, it seems, as we are told (not shown) that the duke has been in love with her for years. Here's a conversation between Louisa's father and sister:
He’s about as deeply in love with your sister as any man I’ve ever seen.”
“He never shows anything but the utmost politeness to her as he does to anyone. I have never seen the look of the lover about him when he is with her.”
“That, I suspect, is the problem,” her father replied, folding his arms across his chest.
And that is a major problem with this book. The reader really does not know that Jasper is in love with Louisa any more than she does.
Moreover, this reader had a hard time imagining why he would be in love with her. She's very silly and selfish and has no regard for Jasper's dignity or feelings. She suddenly decides to become engaged to Nicholas Ashworth, younger brother of Jasper's best friend, and at times it seems that she has really fallen for him. But then she wants out of the engagement. She persuades Nick to accompany her to the duke's country estate to throw herself upon his mercy, but then she refuses to meet with him.
I don't downgrade a book just because the heroine is unlikable (see my quick review of A Woman Entangled
), but here the heroine's actions were so inexplicable that I could neither like nor understand her.
Finally, there were long passages in the book where nothing happens except what passes for humorous banter. It wasn't that funny, though, so the plot really drags.
I'm rating this book at 2.5 stars, which means it was OK. I do think that Ms. Darcy shows some promise, so I may very well read her next effort, The Rake and the Bluestocking.