March 21, 2017
A man with a plan.
Convenient Proposal to the Lady by Julia Justiss is the third book in the Hadley's Hellion
series. Having never read the other two in the series, I can safely say this is a standalone novel. Although some of the other characters show up for support, I didn't find them distracting. This story revolves around a marriage of convenience story, a favorite storyline of mine.
This story begins with our hero, Benedict Tawny (irritating surname) trying to save the reputation of Alyssa Lamborne. They have never met, but Benedict has a very strong sense of honor and cannot just sit on his thumbs and do nothing when there is a right to wrong, an orphan to save, and a lady in distress or about to be in distress. And, even though Alyssa doesn't know it, she is in need of rescuing. You see, her brother has stolen the affection of the mistress of our villain Lord Denby. Lord Denby, in a fit of spoiled-brat-male-ego-boo-hoo has devised a plan which encompasses ruining Lady Alyssa. Now, this portion of the plot confused me a little, because neither Alyssa's brother or father seem to care about anything related to Alyssa. So, I didn't buy into the Denby ruination plan, but hey, something was required to bring Benedict and Alyssa together.
Anyway, Benedict gets pulled into the plotting of Alyssa's downfall and feels that he must save her. Benedict is a great protector of women. He is the illegitimate son of an aristocrat and has always felt the stigma of that status. He has also watched his mother’s pain through the years, which is why he will do most anything to protect people who are powerless within the society they reside. Jumping on his trusty steed, Benedict is off to the country to warn Lady Alyssa of Denby's nefarious plot.
Amazing coincidences. Ok, here is the set-up. Benedict is riding along on his horse, through the country-side, looking for his damsel in distress. The birds are chirping, the sun is shining, and the leaves are lazily fluttering in the breeze. What ho! Who’s that Benedict spots peacefully sketching on her Etch-a-Sketch? In the country side - the same path Benedict is on. Why, it's Alyssa, the woman Benedict is going to save from ruin. What a coincidence! Was this moment irritating? You betcha, but I rose above it. I accepted it. I moved on.
Benedict quickly introduces himself to Alyssa and explains to her why he is looking for her. In another moment of peculiar storytelling Alyssa believes him. She's never met this guy - oh sure, she's heard about him, but she doesn't know him. His whole story is a little suspect, but she believes him almost immediately. In fact, based on his warning, she devises a comeuppance for Denby and his cohorts. Now, supposedly Alyssa was a shy person, but her brilliant idea isn't something a shy person could carry out. It would require her to actually talk and flirt with men. Let's be real here. If there is anyone out there who is shy or ever been around someone who is shy they will know that most people are not enchanted by the scintillating conversation of a bashful person. I know what I'm talking about here. I've had more people walk away from me at parties than I care to admit. And, it's not because I smell. I am an introvert, always have been and I've seen those male eyes glaze over because my words don't work themselves down the brain-tube to my mouth. Nothing scares a man more than to be left standing all alone with a shy woman. You can see the sweat dripping down the back of their necks. So, for a "shy" person like Alyssa to turn into a femme fatale, flirt, charm, show her dimples and entice the villain was a real stretch for me to believe. However, I accepted it. I moved on.
Much to Alyssa's surprise, her silly plan works - it works too well. Denby is humiliated. But that isn't the end of the story. Denby must now have revenge on Alyssa. His revenge works a lot better than Alyssa's did and it isn't long before Alyssa and Benedict find themselves in a compromising position. They are forced to marry. Then more silliness appears on the scene because Alyssa decides that she cannot consummate the marriage because she will fall in love with Benedict if she does. And, she wants to be free, free, free, to pursue her art. He loves her, but doesn't know it and she doesn't want to burden him with falling in love. I did not move on from this love burden routine.
Even though I was less than thrilled with the chance meeting at the beginning of the book, I was intrigued with the characters. But then it degenerated into a story of two people who love each other, but won't tell the other one. She's too good for the illegitimate guy and he's so wonderful she just cannot let herself fall in love with him. Convenient Proposal to the Lady was an ok read, but it wasn't something that I will remember in years to come.
Time/Place: Regency England