April 9, 2015
Right - er - wrong, no, right.
Another author with another name. Scandalously Yours by Cara Elliott, who happens to have written under the name of Andrea Pickens looonnng ago. She was one of those authors who wrote those little Signet Regencies which I used to gobble up and I have to admit, this book reminded me a little of a Signet.
What we have here is the beginning of a series - the Sloane Sisters series. There is Olivia, Anna, and Caro. All of these sisters are rather outspoken women and not really looking for what other women seem to want - men. They seem to be ahead of their time by about 20 years or so. They are interested in politics and writing, they don't simper very credibly. Thanks to their anthropologist (I think) father they also seem to be aware of how men and women fit together. In fact, there is a highly amusing scene between the three sisters when they discuss a man's pizzle, along with a demonstration. I did chuckle when that scene came along. That scene and many of the other scenes involving the sisters is what makes this a hard book to review. I loved the sisters when they were together.
I also loved some of the other secondary characters in the book, namely our hero’s precocious son Scottie. Where this story fell apart for me was between the two main characters, our hero John and our heroine Olivia. They were more interesting apart than they were together. This story reminded me of Sleepless in Seattle. John is a widower and he actually loved his first wife. His son Scottie thinks that his father doesn't laugh enough and is on the lookout for a new wife for his father. Scottie also doesn't think too much of the women John is courting, especially one Scottie has nicknamed "the Steel Corset." Along with some help from Scottie's bestist friend Lucy they send an advertisement to a newspaper seeking a woman to fill the job of wife/mother.
Olivia, who writes under the pen name of the Beacon, sees the advertisement and just to be funny writes a sarcastic reply. She signs it "Lady Loose-Screw" but doesn't send the reply - however, her sister does. From Scottie's point of view this woman is the perfect candidate and he arranges to meet her. Scottie run's away to London, but his journey doesn't last long because John discovers his son’s plans and overtakes him on the road. After a bit of a tussle, they come to an agreement and set off to London together. John and Olivia meet, but he doesn't discover allll of her identities - she has more than one. The romance between John and Olivia was slow, without too much chemistry, and allowed me to reflect on other things.
Reflection number one. Olivia hops into bed with John, he loves her, and she loves him - although they haven't admitted it yet. So, is the ultimate point of a HEA marriage? Because at times in this story that seemed to be the only thing that the couple was aiming for. Then they admit their love, but still there is hesitation and then there was the out-of-the-blue thought from Olivia's brain that John might love another. Don't know why that bit of pondering was added to the story at the point it was added. It would have worked better in the beginning. It took too long for all the back and forth "should I - do I - will she - will he" to be solved.
Reflection number two. Some might claim a spoiler is approaching. When one's beloved son is kidnapped and one is following over hill and dale in hopes of ambushing the villains, does one take time out for a spot of whankee-roo? It always bothers me in romances that a parent/sibling/loved-one can think of hopping into bed with someone when in reality their biggest emotion has to be fear, not lust. Yeah, yeah, I've heard about the surge of endorphins or whatever when people are in battlefield situations or fighting. But having someone you love kidnapped has to be a totally different can of worms. Which is why for me, partaking in a loving, intimate, lust-filled moment when a child has been taken just doesn't work. In fact, I can't think of any romance book which has this plot in it (and there are tons) that this has ever worked for me.
Reflection number three. Right. There is a point in this book in which the hero replies to the heroine with the slang word "Right." This is not the first time in recent history that this word has appeared in an historical. My immediate reaction was to rant about the proper use of historically accurate slang. I had it all ready, you know the routine - all those authors who have been around forever and should know better. However, before I jumped into my rant I opened up my handy-dandy book called 1811, Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue. Yes, I own this book. I use it for research and it was first published in 1811. Guess what word was in that book? Go ahead, guess. Yep, right there in black and white was the word "right." And, the definition matched the use in the book. Well, color me red.
What happened? I guess I don't know as much as I thought I did and sometimes there is a difference between what "feels" correct and what "is" correct. Sometimes our gut reactions are nothing more than just guts. I think a lot of times, we the readers jump to conclusions concerning historical accuracy based on our gut. Which is ok, but the problem arises when we act on that reaction - does anyone remember that horrible argument a few years ago (another website) on the use of the word "flute." There was quite a lot of name calling and ridiculous reactions that were thrown around in that discussion. Accusations of the author’s incompetence was thrown out and all the while the use of the word "flute" was correct. That poor author never saw it coming. Recently, I read a review in which the reviewer was questioning the use of the word "f..." in an historical. My first reaction to that comment was “OMG are you kidding,” however I did resist the temptation of responding. For your information that particular word has been around long enough to have a Greek spelling - so that's a long time. Although the word we know in English speaking countries is probably from the Dutch form. But we are still talking 1400s, and, the definition is mostly the same as it is today. So, yes that word would have been used as it was in the book that was reviewed. For me I have learned a lesson. I am actually going to check things out before I start my rants on accuracy. It's easy to do: one just opens a book and reads.
Odds-bodkins, enough reflection. However, that is what happens when one isn't totally enamored of a book. Overall, I found the main characters to be lacking in chemistry, which made their "romance" seem to go on forever. I was entertained by the secondary characters enough to check out the two sisters when their book is released.
Time/Place: Regency England