March 26, 2013
auf Wiedersehen Hadley Green
So we bid a fond farewell to Julia London's Hadley Green series, and I have to say right up front that The Last Debutante is given short shrift. It has the feel of an author eager to move on to her next project, especially the ending, which has a very rushed feel and a quick wrapping of loose ends. I was disappointed that I was not allowed to savor The Last
Daria, our heroine, is off on an adventure! She is the last unmarried girl in Hadley Green, so she must must must find adventure. So, she talks the "bad" girl into being her chaperone in her little jaunt into the wilds of Scotland to give her grandmother some money. Now, why Daria's parents would okay Daria journeying anywhere with the resident fallen woman, Charity, is one of those "this would not happen in real life but since this is a make-believe romance we have to do some stretching of the boundaries and no one will care." Charity's chaperoning doesn't really matter anyway, since she disappears for some behind-the-scenes hanky panky on board ship and then abandons Daria and runs off with a Captain MacKenzie. This part had me searching my short stories and/or others in the series to see if I had missed something...don't think I did. And, let me say Charity's character deserved a better treatment than what she was allotted in this book.
The story starts with a bang. And that is because Daria's grandmother shoots our hero, Jamie Campbell. There is a reason for that and the reason is one of the mysteries around which this story revolves. Daria, our plucky heroine, gets left in the lurch by her chaperone Charity and then deposited along the road along with her luggage. Eventually, she walks to her grandmother's cottage (sans luggage). And what is one of the first things that meets her eyes when she enters? A big naked Scottish guy (our hero) asleep in her grandmother's bed. He's big, big, big. Daria has never seen anyone so big...everything on his body is big. Of course, she has nothing to compare it to, being a virgin and all. Her grandmother returns and lies to her, Jamie wakes up and kidnaps her and holds her at his castle for ransom. Thus romance is born once again.
I thought this part of the story was fun. Of course, she wins over almost all of the "I hatessss Sassenach" Campbells. But, I noticed that there was a little lacking in all of her encounters with the clan. Her relationship with them was sort of glossed over. What could have been some well-developed characterizations were lost in the shuffle of bringing out the mystery of her grandmother's secret. And, then when we finally find out what the mystery is, it also involves a villain. This villain also has a connection with our missing chaperone Charity. All these things and more are thrown together in a "hodgepodge" ending that was a disappointing culmination to a lovely series. Daria and Jamie were great characters; it's just too bad they were in the book that wrapped up Hadley Green.
Time/Place: Scotland early 1800's
Sensuality: Almost Hot