November 24, 2015
When I finished reading The Demure Miss Manning it only took an hour before I forgot almost everything in the book, especially the romance.
The book is set against an interesting but little-known event in
history: the invasion of Portugal by Napoleon, and the panicked exit of most of Portugal's nobility. That nobility also includes the Portuguese royal family, the House of Braganza. This story covers the mad scramble out of Portugal by Dom John VI and his entry into Brazil, where he sets up court. These were real, actual events. If you happen to read an account of them, you will find that the real story is exciting, and filled with intrigue, danger, suspense. The actual account of the Braganza court leaving Portugal for Brazil is/was a whole lot more interesting than The Demure Miss Manning. The factual story of a shipload of aristocrats crossing the Atlantic was horrendous, and should have been explored more in this story, but it wasn't. There were storms, fighting political factions, a dysfunctional royal family, and semi-starvation on the ships containing all these aristocrats. Nothing of this was brought up. Nope our hero gets our heroine on board the ship, and then the next thing you know they are in sunny Brazil. The author missed all the exciting things that happened on the crossing and changed them into a mundane, choppy story. Along for the ride was a romance couple who are separated a lot in this book and have no chemistry.
I was underwhelmed by this story. There were 173 pages in this book, but it seemed shorter. The characters are never fully developed and the heroine, Mary, seems to be overly concerned about her father's health. In fact she asks him how he feels about a gazillion times throughout the story. It was really irritating. Turns out he was just tired, nothing was wrong with him. So what was the point of asking him over and over and over how he felt? I thought for sure he'd die somewhere between Portugal and Brazil but he never did. His non-illness was just page fill, it served no purpose.
By the way, our cardboard couple were Mary and Sebastian. No chemistry, no romance, no bickering, bantering - nothing. There was just a lot of jumping from one scene to another, from one year to another. This was a forgettable romance and I'm sorry to say, I just cannot recommend it.
Time/Place: 1814s Portugal/Atlantic/Brazil
Sensuality: No chemistry