September 6, 2016
A Bridgerton who caused a hiccup moment.
Who would've believed that with all of the charming Bridgeton's inhabiting Romanceland, I
would run across a Bridgerton who stepped on one of my pet-peeve moments. Yep - Benedict did some things in An Offer from a Gentleman which for me came close to being dishonorable.
Let's take a look at this third entry in the Bridgeton series.
Besides my irritation with Benedict, I was also chagrined that part of the story was a reworking of the fairy tale Cinderella. Now I like fairy tales in their original form, I'm just not too keen on rewriting, updating or changing those tales. The Cinderella portion of the book revolves around Sophie Beckett.
Sophie Beckett is the illegitimate daughter of an Earl. For most of her childhood she has been tucked away in the country, raised by his servants. She tries her best to be the child he wants her to be. But she is terribly lonely and only wants to be loved by her father. Then one day he brings home a wife and two step-daughters. There's a wonderful scene where Sophie is watching them alight from the carriage. All the time she's watching them, she's thinking that at last she'll have someone to love her and other children to play with. As soon as she looks into her step-mother's eyes she knows the chances for a happy future will never be hers. Her step-mother, Araminta is really one e-viiil woman. Araminta's eldest daughter is also hateful; there is a small twist on the Cinderella step-sister mean-fest in the form of Posy. Posy, the youngest daughter, likes Sophie. However, Posy is too afraid of her mother to do too much of anything about it. So things progress poorly for Sophie, and then her father dies. Things go from bad to really really bad.
The ball. Years pass and Sophie is nothing more than an unpaid, downtrodden servant to her step-mother. But all is not lost. You see the Bridgeton’s are throwing a masquerade ball. Everyone who is anyone will be there. That means Araminta and daughters will be going - but not Sophie. But this is based on Cinderella, so we all know that Sophie's is going to go to the ball. Thanks to the generous servants, she's off - in a lovely gown, her step-mothers shoes, a mask and a coach. There are no mice turning into coachmen or singing or sewing - but that coach has to be returned by midnight. Now all we need is a prince - enter Benedict.
Well, Benedict is no Prince Charming, he's more of a bored rake. But when his eyes fall on the mysterious woman descending the stairs it's a case of instant love. In keeping with the plot of the fairy tale, Benedict and Sophie fall in love, exchange conversation and a kiss. The clock strikes midnight - and she's off! She doesn't leave any shoes behind; she just scuffs them. In fact it is the scuff which gives her away to eviiil Araminta. Being the mean step-mother that she is, Araminta kicks Sophie out into the cold cruel world.
Two years pass. Benedict is still wondering what happened to the mysterious woman who is his soul mate. Hey! There's a party going on in the country. Granted the party is given by a man Benedict doesn't really care for and is attended by men Benedict would never call his friends. But he's bored and he's tired of looking for his soul mate. What more can a rakish guy do than kill some time with a group of drunken louts.
As it turns out, one of the servants at this drunken lout party is Sophie. Poor Sophie. Not only is she a drudge, but she is also being manhandled by the host. She screams. Ta ta ta dah - Benedict to the rescue. He rescues her from the party, but now he feels responsible for finding her another position. He is attracted to her, but he's sort of fighting it. He suppresses the idea of having her work in his household, but thinks she would be perfect in his mother's.
Sophie of course has recognized her rescuer as the charming prince from the party, but she doesn't say anything to Benedict. It never dawns on Benedict that the servant he has the palpitations for is the same woman he luved two years ago. He installs her at his mother's house where she becomes a pseudo-servant.
The more Sophie and Benedict are thrown together, the more they become attracted to each other. This is where the story falls apart a little for me. Benedict is obsessed with Sophie, he's even in love with her - he even admits it. What does he offer her? Hey, he needs a mistress! She'd be perfect for the spot. He seduces her, and then asks her to be his mistress. Even when he marries, he still plans to have her as his mistress because he loves her sooooo much. This means that Sophie would get to share him with his wife. Yes, I know this is a historical romance and she's a servant and he's a ... what? Just what is he that puts him so far above Sophie? He doesn’t have a title. He's not a duke, prince, marquis or even a sir. He just has money. Oh sure, his brother is a viscount and his sister is a duchess, but he's still a Mister. But that isn't what really disturbed me. Sophie's is a servant in his mother's household. This is her only livelihood. Even though she is a willing participant to her own seduction, it just seemed to me that Benedict's seduction of someone in the family's employ was a tad bit dishonorable, especially for a Bridgerton. Usually, that type of maneuver is reserved for villains or Anne Stuart heroes. He does apologies for his actions later, but I found the initial seduction somehow distasteful.
I recommend this story - it’s okay. The characters are strong - alll of the characters. I did have a problem with the hero not exhibiting heroic actions, even if he is a charming Bridgerton. I just wanted to say to him - shame on you
Time/Place: Regency England