Published by Zebra Books on October 28, 2014
Genres: Historical Romance
The bride and groom cordially request your presence for a wedding at Millworth Manor. . .
Guests will include Jackson Quincy Graham Channing, New York City banker, and Lady Theodosia "Teddy" Winslow, wedding planner to the finest families in England.
Introductions shall be followed by light conversation, dancing, flirtation, arguing, reconciliation, and an impulsive kiss that both parties are quite certain they will never repeat.
Until they do.
A mutually beneficial fake engagement will be accompanied by all manner of very real complications, scandalous revelations, nefarious schemes, and one inescapable conclusion:
That true love--unlike the perfect wedding--is impossible to plan. . .
Poorly plotted, inconsistent characterization, and boring. I did not like this book AT. ALL.
Is this a romance novel or a soap opera? The dialogue sounds like it was ripped from a poor-man’s version of Downton Abbey, infused with a bit of British stereotyping, and then beat over the head with a rough attempt at humor. It’s forced, stilted, and unnatural. The first two chapters cover a single conversation that felt as if it lasted for 10 chapters. Characters are unnecessarily cryptic or coy, thoughts were inconsistent with what the character later said, and it seems as if every character in the scene has to thrown in their two cents, even when it is (frequently) rehashing what another characters has just said. And there are lengthy conversations telling the reader information that both characters also know. Don’t tell the reader what is happening – Show us! Also, if I have to hear anymore variations of the phrase “adventurer,” “man of adventure,” or “you are an adventure,” I will scream. There is an astonishing (read: annoying and completely unnecessary) amount of characters muttering, mumbling, or otherwise talking under their breath to inject their snarky comments into the scene. Not only are these interjections not funny, the interruptions take focus away from whatever is going on and comes across as painfully modern and often childish.
Even as far into the book as chapter 11, there is no real conflict in the story – No, I’m not counting Jackson’s dilemma of “do I go back to New York and continue my life as a successful Bank Vice President or do I stay in England and take over the Earldom” as a legitimate and viable “conflict.” Everyone is super positive and understanding of whatever issue the focal character is facing. There’s no tension, no stakes.
Take, for example, the romance between Theodosia and Jackson. They are immediately attracted to each other, Jackson’s family tries to set them up right from his first mention of her, and they even acknowledge their mutual attraction to one another in chapter 11. And yet for no real reason whatsoever, Jackson and Theodosia resist that attraction and their fake engagement
It’s the inconsistent characterization that really gets to me. The characters change to suit the “plot” of the moment. In one breath, Theodosia is the refined daughter of a nobleman with all the beliefs and prejudices that go along with such an upbringing. In the next breath, she is a shrewd, liberal businesswoman who eschews the ideals and entitlements of the aristocracy. Likewise, Jackson can’t make up his mind from one scene to the next and also suffers from a terrible case of Purple Prose. Think of the cheesiest, most flowery pick-up line you’ve ever heard, multiply that by three, and you’ll have a decent understanding of how Jackson talks to Theodosia. As for some of the other characters: Lucy was so damn unnecessary and annoying that I wanted to throw the book across the room. I found myself saying “Oh my god, shut up!” frequently. Cyril is one-dimensional and comes across as one of those cartoon villains from the 80s and Jackson’s mother is a nagging, whiny shrew playing the part of the victim.
Let’s take just a few examples of some of the above-mentioned problems from chapter 20:
— “Cyril is dangerous.” Of really? How so? Because there is nothing in the narrative this far (chapter 20, mind you!) to support that statement aside from his nasty personality. How is he a danger? What are those resources and how could he put those to work? — “Scandal will be enormous.” Why? What would the scandal do? What IS the scandal? The details of the situation and its consequences are scarce to none.
— “I’ve never seen this side of your mother.” “No one has, dear.” Yes, that’s exactly the problem. Where is all this spunk and protectiveness coming from? Theodosia’s mother’s words and actions are inconsistent with what the reader has already seen, so it is less believable that she would act this way and comes across more like a convenient change of heart simply to serve the current plot’s purpose.
— And while we’re speaking about convenient plot points, the book is riddled with them! Convenient details brought up to serve the plot of the moment. For example, in chapter 20 Theodosia needs evidence to counter Cyril’s threat of blackmail (which she accepts at face value and doesn’t even THINK about questioning!). Well, lucky for her Theo’s father just so happens to be a collector of documents who refused to throw anything out. It’s details like this that would be far more believable and less eye-roll-inducing if hints of those details had been mentioned in the earlier narrative in order to support this convenient plot point.
I could go on, but I think I will just leave it at this: SKIP IT.