Trusting Miss Trentham by Emily Larkin

January 25, 2017
A poem for you which doesn't rhyme:
O, little corn flake all nice and crispy
What a lovely golden brown treat, floating in some milk
Thank you Mr. Kellogg, even though you were so weird
You pressed together some stale old wheat,
and gave us something good to eat.
So, thank you Mr. K. 'cause now we don't have to eat
innards of cows, pigs, lambs and frogs for breakfast.

Trusting Miss Trentham is the third book in the Baleful Godmother's series by Emily
Larkin. Remember, this is the one where certain people in a family line get one wish. Now, these wishes are tricky because they usually come with a "whoops" clause. In the last books, the heroine couldn't shape shift if she was pregnant, in this one our heroine's wish is that she can hear lies. Not only does she know when a person is lying to her, she hears a giant clang in her head when they do. I don't think I would want that wish myself. But in Letitia Trentham's case she uses it because she has been bombarded with marriage proposals from fortune hunters.

Knock knock. Who's there? It is I, the hero Icarus Reid and I need your help in finding a traitor. So, Icarus finds out about this woman who is pretty sharp when reading people. He doesn't know it's magic, he just thinks she's extra perceptive. Be warned my little Petunia's, this story has a lot of "suspension of disbelief" laying around. Icarus' acceptance of Letitia's insightfulness is a little staggering considering that he doesn't really know her. He only has one encounter with her knowing gaze and they are off chasing after a traitor. I accept that. I know that one has only around 300 pages and some things just get lost in the shuffle, but his acceptance was mighty quick.

Anyway, they're off chasing suspects, spinning convoluted tales to their loved ones. These convoluted tales are so we, the readers, are given an excuse for two unwed people to be traveling together. This is sort of a road trip, an angst-filled road trip because our hero, Icarus, has nightmares. Our heroine believes Icarus means to do away with himself when they find the traitor, so she must find a way to save him. But that's not unusual for this pair. This is a road trip story and along the way Icarus and Letitia become good-deed-doers. Both of them. Unwed mothers, veterans with no arms or legs, people with no place to live, people with no jobs, starving animals, orphans. There is no problem these two cannot solve, except their own.

Letitia's problem is trying to find an honest suitor, but Icarus has some major issues. He was tortured during the war. He feels guilty because the men under him were killed, and that's a large weight to carry around. But there's more - while under torture he revealed information - and he cannot find it in himself to forgive. So, night after night he relives the horrors of the torture and eventual betrayal. This was some pretty strong stuff in the book and it went on a long time. I have to admit that even though there was some excellent writing during these scenes, for me there came a time when I started to find them monotonous. I would have been happier if we could have seen a little bit of improvement in Icarus before we did.

Food. I did become a tad bit distracted while reading this book and had a few ewwwwh moments. This is not the first historical romance I've ever read, so I am familiar with some of the food served during these times. But in this book we have fried sweetbreads (that's not something with yeast and sugar, that's a thymus or a pancreas), raised mutton pie, suet pudding (made from animal fat with spices), chitterlings (intestines) - is your mouth watering yet? There's more! We have muggety pie (made from the small intestines of a calf), apple fritters (how did that get in there?). Sure all of these foods had tons of spices to hide the taste but, ewwwwh, turned my stomach. Oh well - waste not want not.

Disturbing scene. I cannot go on without bringing up a scene in this book I found disturbing. Letitia is an innocent - I mean really innocent, especially as far as what kind of dangly things hang from a man's body. Add to the innocence is curiosity. Here's the set-up. As I mentioned before Icarus has nightmares. Letitia finds a way of helping him through these episodes. She gives him a drink of brandy, followed by Valerian, followed by her reading to him. He eventually sleeps. This scenario is repeated night after night after night after night. Then they start kissing, night after night until he falls to sleep. Then one night Letitia, being mighty curious, waits until he has fallen asleep and takes a peek at what lays under the blanket. Not only that, but while he is still sleeping she starts performing oral entertainment on his Mr. Toad until Mr. Toad explodes in her mouth. This wakes Icarus. One might say Icarus is a tad bit upset. While this may be a titillating scene for some, I found it too unpleasant. I don't care how curious one is, there are boundaries which are set and one doesn't cross those boundaries unless one is given permission. He was not a willing participate, he was drugged, and while she was an "innocent" she should have known she was crossing some lines. I could find no excuse for what she did and I didn't think it was in any way sensual or romantic.

Overall, I found this book hard to rate. While I liked part of it, I was disappointed it was not as vibrant as the previous book. I grew bored with the nighttime routine and didn't think the couple showed any kind of a connection with each other. But most of all, I think what ruined this book for me was the so-call seduction while Icarus was sleeping. For me there are just some lines that shouldn't be crossed and that was one of them.

Time/Place: Road Trip England 1808
Sensuality: Sex yes, Sensual no

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