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Tuesday, March 6, 2012
12:00 AM | Posted by MsHellion | | Edit Post
This is how many historical romance Regencies I read. It wasn’t until the second chapter of BLAME IT ON BATH that I realized this was the second in a series and I had read the first book. I picked it up because the cover was purple and very visually appealing; the blurb featured my favorite trope of plain heroine and handsome hero in a marriage of convenience; and I was pretty sure I’d read the author before and liked her voice. These are the normal things that help push me into a decision to read a new book.
Granted Avon had also sent me the book with the hope I would review it for the ship, but that’s no hardship. It’s not like I wouldn’t have read the book and recommended it anyway. I love using my powers of persuasion and influence for good rather than evil, and what could be better than a romance novel that makes you feel good? Exactly. Avon and I always have your best interests at heart, dear pirates. Never fear.
Back to my opening sentence—BLAME IT ON BATH is the second in a trilogy by Caroline Linden. The premise is that the old duke Durham dies, and it is only on his deathbed he reveals he had a previous marriage no one knew about, which was never annulled, and he never checked to make sure the first wife had died before marrying the second. Meaning, of course, that these three men who had been raised in wealth and privilege may end up without a farthing to their names and trashed reputations through no fault of their own. I’m sure this happened more times than anyone wants to think about. We’ve all had a Britney Spears marriage in our bad-decisions-skeleton closets, and in the good old days, annulments weren’t always available at your nearest Walgreens.
The three brothers handle this news true to their characters. The oldest is content to drink himself into oblivion and let everyone else handle it; the second son, who has been estate manager, is quick to consult with lawyers to straighten it all out as quickly as possible; and the third, the soldier, wants to find the blackmailer that has brought all this to light and put them in danger and beat the hell out of him.
Because this is a mystery that carries over three novels, it doesn’t have the happy resolution of tying up loose ends regarding the original mystery or goal, which usually happens in novels. This doesn’t bother me because I know it will be resolved in book three, and these other two books have whetted my appetite for a good outcome.
Specific to BLAME IT ON BATH, the third son, who was never going to have much money regardless, decides he needs to take up with a very rich heiress before word gets out that or is possibly confirmed that he’s illegitimate. Fortunately for him, as he’s about to leave on his expedition, he is approached by a widow who proposes marriage to him. A very rich widow. The best kind. After finding out that her offer is legitimate and her worth is about ten times what he’d been hoping to get, he agrees to marry her.
This all sounds very mercenary. And I suppose it is, but Captain Gerard de Lacey is actually a very charming bloke, and just the sort of man to bring the wallflowerish Katherine Howe out of her shell. He has no intent of just taking her money and leaving her in the country. He wants a real marriage, not with love perhaps, but affection and a romping good bed sport.
Katherine has arrived at this desperate attempt to get out from under her mother’s incessant maneuvering in her life and also from the very real prospect of being forced to marry a puritan lord who is about as fun and lively as a bag of dead kittens. He seems like an evil villain at first, but time leads us to realize he’s just a dead bore who hated being thwarted. The most romantic of souls might even hope that some vivacious young lady comes along and removes that stick from his backside. Stranger things have happened.
So what unfolds amongst trying to solve the mystery of who is blackmailing the duke and why is a charming little love story that lovers of wallflower stories love best: the handsome charmer falls thoroughly in love with his plain wallflower until she is plain no more. She is quite beautiful because she loves him.
What I loved best about this book (and the love scenes were really really good by the way) was the Grovel Scene. You know the Grovel Scene. Every romance has it. The Speech was reminiscent of When Harry Met Sally, and when I made the correlation in my head, I nodded. These people weren’t particularly attracted to each other at first…or had hopes of anything beyond perhaps friendship, but their friendship was a stable, natural foundation and just as naturally they fell in love with each other.
There are a great many things to recommend this book—if you like dukes, trilogies, mysteries, friends-to-lovers, charmers, wallflowers, authentic sex, humor, fun odd secondary characters, and the natural pains and growths of a relationship between a man and a woman—you’ll enjoy this book too.
And the cover is very purply.
Today we’re going to talk about friends-to-lovers romances. Do you love them or hate them? Why? Do you have a favorite novel that demonstrates this trope? What about wallflowers and plain Janes? Fun or overdone? And lastly, your favorite Grovel Scene. (I don’t think it’s fair to use Pride & Prejudice. I think we should all agree we love it and it’s the best. Now pick the next favorite one on your list. *LOL*)
I have two books to give away (as a set) the first and second books in this trilogy, so you’ll be all caught up for when the third one comes out. Because I’ve already bought them, this giveaway is limited to the continental United States.