May 1, 2013
I've never been a big fan of Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen. I always found the second sister to be rather irritating, in fact a lot of Jane Austen characters irritate me. All that silly catching-colds-because-they-were-in-the-rain business sometimes can be annoying. Ashlyn Macnamara's debut novel, A Most Scandalous Proposal, has a bit of a Sense and Sensibility flavor about it (although there wasn't any rain-cold illness). We are led to believe that the main romance in A Most Scandalous Proposal is between Julia and Benedict, however the romance between Julia's sister, Sophia, and Rufus was given almost as much exposure. When the author chose to combine the St. Claire sisters' love story into one book, the formulating of any in-depth character development was stymied. What could have been a great romance turned out to be a tolerable read.
I liked the male leads in this story, especially the considerate, wise Rufus who falls for the annoying if-there-was-a-downpour-I'd-stand-in-it Sophia. Sophia is the secondary female, and has been in luv with the pseudo villain of the piece, Clivesden. This infatuation can only be based on good looks, cause this guy is a real whanker...how anyone could love this smirking rotter is beyond me. And it took the exasperating Sophia forever to discover how wonderful Rufus was and drop Clivesden. Rufus was a missed opportunity for some great character development. There are things that are hinted at from his past, but we are never really given the chance to see what they are. I wanted to see what Rufus was all about.
The other romance in the book is between childhood friends Julia and Benedict. I do like stories of childhood friends who discover at some point that they are in love with each other. Once again, because the two stories were bouncing back and forth, Julia and Benedict were not fully developed. I have to say I didn't care for Julia that much either. She happens to be one of those heroines who is never going to marry for love. Not her! She's not going to fall in love, even if someone loves her back. Even if that someone would do anything for her. Julia was too stubborn...too hard and I really couldn't sympathize with her boo-hooing routine. She will never, ever love the person she marries...wha, wha. I wasn't actually sure why, although I believe it had to do with her atrocious parents. And, by the way, her parents really deserve the Mommie Dearest award.
The other problem I had with this story was the construction. There were diffidently two stories, which doesn't bother me if those stories are put together well. These stories had a jolting quality. They were abrupt in the way they went back and forth between the two sisters. There just wasn't any smooth blending.
And then there were the mean people. This book was full of mean, nasty people who I think were supposed to be funny. However, for me they all seemed to be bullies.
A Most Scandalous Proposal had all the ear marks of a could-have-been-great romance, if only more time
had been spent developing the characters. And, because of the could have been, I'm not ready to give up on this particular author. I will be checking out her next book and hope that there is only one couple to keep an eye on.
Time/Place: Regency England