December 18, 2013
Oil paint doesn't dry fast! And it smells!
Once She Was Tempted by Anne Barton is the story of Daphne Honeycote, the sister to
Annabelle from When She Was Wicked. Once upon a time, these two sisters were impoverished and doing whatever they could to save their mother. Annabelle married a Duke, so everyone's problems were solved... well, almost. You see, when they were all struggling to survive, Daphne posed for two portraits. Those portraits were never to be shown in public, but, alas and alack, one of them has found its way into the hands of Benjamin, Lord Foxburn. Now Benjamin has become obsessed with this portrait, much like the guy in the movie Laura. To further complicate matters, he has jumped to the conclusion that Daphne has set her sights on his young friend, Hugh. Well, because he thinks Daphne is a loose woman and his young friend some kind of male innocent, he warns Daphne off, strongly. All the while, his Mr. Toad is in lusting mode. Anyway, it isn't long before the light bulb goes off and he figures out he's wrong on all counts and Daphne confides in this grumpy stranger that there is another portrait... oh, by the way, can Benjamin help her get it? And we are off on the road to romance.
This was an interesting book for me to read. There were some things that I just loved and then there were some things that I didn't love so much. I liked Daphne quite a lot. She was a nice person, almost too nice, and she was honest or as much as a romance heroine is allowed to be honest. Then she falls for Benjamin. Now, Benjamin was a grumpy-gus. He's a mean grumpy-gus because he went off to war and was shot in the leg and now his leg hurts and he walks with a cane and that makes him mad and he can never subject a woman he loves to a life with a guy with a cane. This poor-me attitude got on my nerves (and on top of that he reminded me of House, and I'm not a big fan of that guy). Granted, I didn't mind his sharp wit and dialog when he was aiming it at the nimcompoops around him. I always enjoy sarcasm. It was just the boo-hooing that made me want to reach in and trip him. But never fear, readers, because Daphne has been reading medical books! These are not modern medical books, of course. These are medical books from the 1800s (just makes me shiver to think of all that sage advice). Anyway, Daphne knows that massage and a little Vicks Vapo-Rub (1894) will do the trick. After a few evenings of Daphne massaging that nasty, naked thigh, alone, in a dark room, why Benjamin is up and at 'em in a jiffy.
Daphne and Benjamin made for a great couple, and except for the poor-me-I-have-a-ugly-leg routine there wasn't all that much angst going on. There were suspend-your-disbelief moments, the couple being together a great deal for one, and the oil paint drying fast enough to fool people for another. The story also seemed to slow down for me in the middle. However, having said all that, this was an entertaining read, even with a grumpy guy who eventually grows on you.
Time/Place: Regency England