"Now, sir. We'll talk, if you like. I'll tell you right out, I am a man who likes talking to a man who likes to talk." - Maltese Falcon
Why Earls Fall in Love is the second in the Wicked Widows series by Manda Collins and I will say right up front, I was disappointed in this one. I was looking forward to the second one in the series; I wanted to see where Ms. Collins took her mystery plot and what she had in store for Georgina and Dominic, the Earl of Coniston (Con for short). However, there were numerous TSTL moments, I was distracted by some things, and there were an awful lot of conversations going on in this story.
A distraction. This is my problem, not the author... sort of. I have noticed lately that a lot of authors in romance books have a tendency to justify the hero's lustful thoughts by adding something about the heroine's brains in the next sentence. You know what I mean, the hero sees the heroine and immediately his brain is measuring her legs to see how far they will stretch around his body. I don't mind that, in fact I think that it's probably a pretty accurate reflection on what a real guy actually thinks. What is starting to irritate me is somewhere in the same paragraph the author will add something about the heroine's great brain or her sparkly personality or that she love dogs, cats and orphans. Now, I don't know for sure, but I strongly suspect that most male authors do not add a "justify the lust" line. Have you ever been in a meeting that has both men and women in it? It's usually a woman who will begin her sentence with "don't get me wrong, but..." I have always felt that leading phrase somehow weakens whatever is following and that's how I feel about adding something about the heroine's brain/personality/charities. It somehow weakens the hero's feelings that were expressed in the beginning. For me it implies that his lustful thoughts are somehow wrong, and I don't think they are.
So, here's the plot. Lydia (a Wicked Widow) is a paid companion for Lady Russell. She is also being blackmailed/threatened by a mysterious person because she and her two friends, Perdita and Isabella (the other widows), eliminated Perdita's husband. Now, don't get me wrong, but all of these ladies'/widows' husbands were stinkers and deserved whatever end was given to them. But the widows are all receiving threatening notes from a nefarious person. Enter into this hubbub our hero, Dominic, or Con as his friends call him. He was at one time engaged to Perdita; however they broke that off and now his lustful eyes have turned to Georgiana, and besides that he doesn't trust her to watch his beloved aunt, Lady Russell. And, that distrust lasts probably about three pages into the book. Of course Georgiana, or Georgie, doesn't like Con at all. She can't stand the man, she thinks he's a worthless fribble... and that lasts about one chapter. It doesn’t take Georgie very long at all to confide in Con. First of all, she's seeing her dead husband or someone who looks like her dead husband and she's also tripping over dead bodies and following strange people down deserted hallways. One of the interesting things about this book is that Georgie and Con trust each other almost from the very beginning. He never doubts her word at all when she says her dead husband is standing outside her window.
Words. You know, words are a funny thing. I don't know how many times I've heard other romance readers say something like, "if only this couple had talked to each other, I would have liked this book a lot better." Why, I myself have been known to spout those thoughts out loud... Oh, those silly misunderstandings, if only they had talked to each other. Well, I got my wish. Georgie and Con talk to each other... talk, talk, talk. When they are not talking to each other they are talking to others. Georgie talks to Con about her husband, he talks to Archer about Georgie, Archer talks to Perdita, Perdita talks to Georgie, Georgie talks to Lydia, Lydia talks to Clara about Georgie. Georgie talks to Lady Russell about her husband, Lady Russell talks to Georgie about her husband and gives her a necklace. Lydia talks to Lady Russell, Lady Russell talks to Con, Con talks to Archer, Archer talks to Perdita, Perdita writes to Isabella. Isabella shows up. She talks to Georgie. Georgie talks to Mary and Lettice and the guy who looks like her husband. Mary talks to Georgie. And the killer talks to Georgie while he/she is trying to kill her. I wanted them to stop! Stop the conversations!!
Distraction number two. Chemistry, or lack thereof. Even though there was plenty of communication in this story, I felt the couple Georgie and Con lacked any chemistry. There just wasn't any spark between the two, which is why when it came to the Big Bang moment I was distracted. It seems we have a very talented hero in Con. In fact, he should probably try out for Cirque de Soleil. He's an amazing guy. While he's got his head buried in the Valley of Whankee-roo, he can pin the heroine down with one arm and at the same time insert numerous fingers and one tongue in that said valley. It's not as if those digits aren't doing anything, heck no. They were delving and digging and thrusting all over the place. It just seemed rather busily crowded to me - I just kept wondering how Con could keep track of everything that was going on down there. What a busy place. I suspect it was noisy, too. Eeewwww.
It's not a good sign for me when I can be distracted as easily as I was in this story. Besides being distracted, there were other moments that didn't work for me either. There is the blame game surrounding a stolen bracelet and how easily Lady Russell turns on Georgie. There is the character of the spoiled Lydia being extra snotty in her conversations with Georgie and the silly set-up with the bracelet. There are a couple of TSTL moments with Georgie, especially the jumping into the carriage with the killer (who she suspects) and on top of that Con is just standing there and watching her jump into the carriage.
Sorry to say, I could not connect to this story. The dynamics that were present in the first of the series were just not there in this one. I wanted to like this story, I opened the book with the intention of liking it, but in the end it didn't work for me. Maybe next time.
Time/Place: Early 1800s England