April 6, 2017
It's Ugly American time - sort of.
Once again I am in the middle of glomming an author, but this author I have read before.
I've also read all of her historical books before but I felt as if I needed to revisit some of my old memories. After my recent reading of Devil in Spring, I wanted to refresh my palette by rereading Devil in Winter. Then, because that book had tons of characters from other books, I decided - What the Hey, I'll just read the entire Wallflower series. Not only did I reread the entire series, but the two outside books which connect to it: Again the Magic (almost a prequel) and Mine Until Midnight (also the first in the Hathaway series).
Let's start with Again the Magic - and its Ugly American time. An ugly American refers to perceptions of loud, arrogant, demeaning, thoughtless, ignorant, and ethnocentric behavior of American citizens mainly abroad, but also at home. And, while our Americans in this book may not have been loud, the book was certainly a monologue of how American ingenuity is going to save those poor decaying English people and the entire nation of Great Britain (those poor boobs.) In fact, there was so much overbearing flag-waving in this book that I was embarrassed.
This book is connected to the Wallflower series through the sisters of Marcus, Lord Westcliff from It Happened One Autumn. While mainly about the eldest sister, Aline, there is also a secondary romance threaded throughout the story about the second sister Livia.
When this story begins we find that Aline is in love with the stable boy John McKenna. Her father is a you-must-marry-an-aristocrat tyrant. Though if I were to be really honest about stable-boys and daughters of the aristocracy I would have to say in the real world for a stable-boy and a lady to marry would be something that would never happen. Reality check. Their worlds would have to be sooo far apart that any kind of a marriage would be a disaster from the very beginning. What would they find to communicate about? Would he be able to even write or read? Would she be able to cook or clean? But, this is Romanceland and there is always America to send a stable-boy to. And, we allll know there wasn't ever any kind of class division going on in the U.S. of A.
Anyway, Aline and John have sort of grown up together. Sure, she's in the big house and he's in the stable mucking horse poop - but they hang out with each other. They talk, dream, find secret places to escape their respective worlds. John seems to have a better handle on class separation than Aline, but as they grow older those pesky hormones start to awaken. Aline starts to get a bumpy chest and John just turns into a typical teenage boy who cannot control those harmonica-hormone urges. Soon a young Aline and John are sneaking out to secret places to do finger puppet shows. They are partaking in moist, throbbing afternoons all over the place (and not discreetly) until someone sees them and tells Aline's mean old dad.
Now Aline is faced with a dilemma - she must pretend to John that she is a cruel girl/woman - that she was just stringing him along. If she doesn't her father is going to ship John off to some horrible place, so she lies to John. John is heartbroken. He thinks Aline is a cruel girl who has betrayed him. He is still shipped off, but somehow lands in America where the streets are lined with gold and he eventually becomes rich. (My ancestors must have missed that street.) Anyway, John becomes a powerful man and he joins forces with another rich guy, Gideon Shaw. Years pass, Gideon and John land on the shores of Great Britain to help out with Britain’s economy. But John has never forgotten Aline and he has vowed revenge. Oh no, not the revenge plot! I hatesssss revenge - but in this case it doesn't last long. It's silly while it last, has a fast solution, doesn't further the plot, and I have no idea why the author added it to her story. Page filler maybe, but why would one need a page filler when one is writing about two couples instead of one couple. Yes, we have John and Aline and Gideon and Livia. The revenge is forgotten and the pages are filled with scene after scene of hot, sweaty, throbbing, humpedy-bumping.
My eyes crossed. We no sooner get done with John and Aline bouncing in the bed, on the floor, against the wall, than the names are changed and it's Gideon and Livia doing the happy-happy. When that's over it's time to hear about how very inventive Americans are, then it's time for more hoinky-doinky.
This was a full length novel, but had the feel of a rushed short story. It was filled with things that didn't go anywhere. There was John's revenge plot, didn't go anywhere. Gideon is a drunk, but he's cured. Aline was burned badly in a fire, she's keeping it a secret from John - but John doesn't care. There wasn't any character development and if this story didn't have Ms. Kleypas' name on its cover I never would have guessed it was one of hers. I could only think that this story was written for the sole purpose of filling pages and pages with superfluous sex.
A good thing I knew that Devil in Winter was part of this series, or that Derek Craven had already been created, because if this story had been my introduction to Lisa Kleypas I would probably not have read any other book by her. If you needed to ask, I cannot ever see myself recommending this book.
Time/Place: 1844 England