Here, I (slightly apprehensively) present the first romance novel review! I’m not sure if this is how book reviews are meant to be done but as I said before, I’m hoping this does something to improve my writing so please don’t review the review – that would be too scathing for my fragile ego.
Author Sarah Mallory, Mills and Boon 2011
Kitty Wythenshawe is off to London for her first Season with her Godmother, the start of a slightly desperate search for a husband to help pay the bills. After her father’s death 10 years earlier, her mother and aunt were forced to work for a living (Oh the humanity!). Now, she’s after a rich husband to make sure that she can improve their station in their old age. She becomes loosely acquainted with the infuriating Mr Daniel Blackwood, an industrialist with whom she is at odds from the beginning. Their first meeting involves him being in a crap mood (standard) and her being snotty (also standard). It also involves a man in a horse-drawn cart refusing to ask for directions – I’m still not sure how I feel about that bit.The plot follows the standard “regency historical romance novel” blueprint of parties, suppers, picnics and walks in Hyde Park. At each social occasion, shockingly, she runs into the belligerent Mr Blackwood. While she tries to find her footing in society, she meets a number of youngsters, making friends her own age for the first time, and develops a promising attachment to her Godmother’s nephew, Lord Harworth. All this time, she’s also constantly having run-ins with good old Dan.
The book takes an interesting turn when Kitty is dragged by her friend Ann to a slavery abolition meeting and her liberal leanings (and background) come out. There she sees Dan and it becomes an ongoing plot-point that the two share a social conscience (unlike all the Un! Prin! Cip! Led! people in their immediate society). This does give them common ground and some depth to the development of their relationship instead of just falling in love at first sight. These extra details about slavery (and industrialism) also sent me into a Wiki-hole. This is a good sign, but I’m not going to get those hours back *shakes fist at sky*. The two characters had a lot in common personality-wise. I know I’m one of those people who finds it too easy to throw herself into the story so every disagreement or argument they had was so very frustrating! How can they not tell they like each other? How does she miss that fact that he’s frowning out of jealousy and not because he doesn’t like her? Can’t he see she’s just doing it to help her mother? You’re in lurrrrrve come oooooooooooooooooooooooooon (I am such a sucker.). It was doubly obvious with this novel for some reason, I feel like they were at odds more than usual perhaps? So when he ends up being the only person she tells her true feelings and situation to it felt a little strange that they werestill always arguing. Push-pull, love-hate, I like you, No I changed my mind now I don’t. I did enjoy their fights though, when I wasn’t yelling at them in my head.
After a dramatic ride through another (ill-fated) abolition meeting Kitty and Dan have a cold night riding back to the Harworths’ alone where they once again miscommunicate and miss the chance to roll around in the grass and lock themselves to each other. She ends up accepting Lord Harworth and her ‘best friend’ Ann nabs Dan (after discovering he’s loaded!). Kitty and Dan confess their love for each other (a smidge too late). Finally, Kitty grows some ovaries and tells Lord Harworth she can’t marry him – his mother loves that, since they discovered she was poor post-engagement, she’s barely managed to control her disappointment – and is promptly shipped back to her cottage, to spend out her days in poverty with her mother and aunt.
She’s depressed, he’s depressed. They’re all depressed. Somehow his mother works out who she is and that they love each other and sets up a fund for them to live comfortably while her son marries another woman. They, predictably, end up breaking up in a scene where it is hinted at that Ann knew that Dan and Kitty were in love all along (bitch! Or did she work it out after? I don’t know, it’s a bit fuzzy) and she gives him an out. This scene also has a nice touch where the Harworth’s are given a chance to be somewhat nice. It falls flat for me, unfortunately. Throughout the book the Blackwoods and Kitty are made out to be shining beacons of goodness, deep special snowflakes. The rest of them are quite shallow, selfish people. Even the Godmother starts out well-meaning and soon descends into a rather frightening money-grubber. All snark aside, this was really the only sticking point for me. I mean, why are all these people so awful? Surely they must know nicer people with a bit more depth. Those characters needed some love and attention.
They get together, they get it on and they get married. And! It turns out he’s going to be a Lord anyway… Nice touch. This last bit was nicely developed – sometimes the happy ending is a bit rushed in romance novels but this flowed well.
Overall: I loved it. Isn’t it obvious? There were little issues – no novel is perfect – but I really enjoyed this read. My favourite scene was actually the Godmother’s first experience with her drunk son. He passes out at her feet after spewing on himself. Her insistence that it must be due to oyster poisoning is worth a giggle. Good job Sarah, you made me laugh and you made me mad. I like it.