April 16, 2014
Road Trip! Road Trip!
I'm doing another project. I love starting projects (don't usually finish them). It seems lately
that I'm been underwhelmed by some of my auto-buy authors. It takes me a long time before I stop buying my old stand-byes, but it has happened. So, what's a person to do when their list of favorite authors start to shrink? Why, they start looking for new ones. In this case I'm not talking about debut authors, although I do keep an eye out for new and exciting authors. No, what I've decided to do is forage around for authors who have been around forever and ever and for one reason or another I’ve never read any of their books. I've decided to pick at least one of these authors every month and read their latest. This month I've chosen Louise Allen's Unlacing Lady Thea to begin my odyssey. Louise Allen is an author from the United Kingdom and she seems to have first been published in 1993 under the name of Francesca Shaw (a collaboration). Since 2003, she has been published under the name of Louise Allen.
Unlacing Lady Thea is a road trip book - a well-drawn travelogue of sorts as our hero, Rhys, and our heroine, Thea, have an adventurous journey through England, France and Italy. And what an enjoyable journey it was.
This book has the standard heroine tomboy who has loved her childhood friend forever. Of course, he is totally oblivious to her, thinks of her as nothing but a nuisance who used to follow him around. He is a Romanceland standard one-too many-drinks rake, and he's bored bored bored. He has decided to do some sightseeing, and has planned a journey across Europe. Now, somehow, our heroine finds out and, are you ready? Disguised as a boy, she shows up at his London house and connives him into taking her with him. Seeing as how he's drunk and he could never turn her down he agrees. She, by the way, is running away from her father, who is going to force her to marry a man she doesn’t want. And, thus begins our journey. I did have a moment that threw me out of the story. I question that even drunk, Rhys would agree to traipsing all over Europe with a aristocratic girl who isn't properly chaperoned. However, after I got past my puleese moment and accepted this premise, I actually enjoyed the story.
I also have to say that part way through the book I said to myself, "Boy, this author must have had a great time in France." The places our couple journey to are painted with such a vivid brush, that I wanted to run and pack my suitcase. It's very obvious in her writing that she had a wonderful time. The story was at its strongest when we get to see these places through our heroine's eyes - the scenes were so colorful, one could almost hear the sounds of the bustling villages and smell the scents surrounding our couple as they traveled.
Let's look at the romance portion of this book. Dare I use the word cute? There were scenes of humor and I even had a few giggle-out-loud moments. Usually, those times were when Rhys would end up saying the wrong thing. In this book that happened a lot because he just could not handle his growing awareness of his childhood friend who was blossoming before his eyes into a sensual woman. Thea was a no-nonsense woman and I liked her a lot. She is also a plain woman who is actually plain, unlike all those flame-haired-violet-eyed plain Romanceland heroines out there. What I really like about Thea and Rhys as a couple was that they were friends; it's just the lust that starts to get in the way.
Unlacing Lady Thea is a fast, enjoyable read with some very vivid writing. The romance may bog down a little in the middle and there may have been some traveling down the "I'm not worthy" road. There was also a moment in the book where the heroine starts to take the blame for the hero's jealous reaction. My opinion of that was, "Whoa, there big boy, she's not responsible for how you react." Rhys' stubbornness may have gone on a little longer than I would have liked, but then it would have been a novella instead of a full length book, so I lived with it.
Overall, this is a good story with a cute romance and a brilliant travelogue. I do recommend it.
Time/Place: Regency England, Sea, France, Italy