I no longer know how to start things without sounding like I’m opening an email, so “Hi all,” etc.
I’m in the middle of a lot of different things right now, so I decided to just talk about 2 romance novels I’ve recently finished, both of which I have some level of frustration with (and not the good kind), so….buckle in I guess. Both are written by goddesses of Romancelandia, which I still feel like I’ve barely tipped my toes in, so if you’re a romance aficionado please bear with me!
Devil in Spring – Lisa Kleypas
Though this is only the second Kleypas book I’ve read, she has a special place in my heart, as Married by Morning was one of the first I read when I started realllllly getting into the genre. Though I feel skeptical about how many upperclass society young ladies in the Regency period (or….ever?) were named Pandora, I had a lot of fun with this book. The whimsically named heroine has set herself firmly against marriage, as she knows it will interfere with her entrepreneurial ambitions. Unfortunately, she’s caught in a compromising misunderstanding with Gabriel, Lord St. Vincent, who just so happens to be an eligible bachelor with a reputation for being a rake (I don’t think I’ve met a single non-rake hero in these books and you know what I am COOL WITH IT.)
There’s a reasonable amount of push-pull between them, helped along by some intense chemistry, but [spoiler] when they do get married about halfway through the book, I felt a bit let down by the way the conflict took a SHARP left turn into action and intrigue. Pandora’s reasoning for not getting married was thoroughly thought-out, and she emphasized that even marrying a really really nice, supportive guy was going to hold her back as a Regency woman in ways that being single wouldn’t, and the second half of the book didn’t really deal with that. All in all though, a fun time was had by me, and that’s what really counts.
The Duke and I – Julia Quinn
Okay so I was really really prepared to love this book. I EXPECTED to love this book. I bumped it up to the top of my list because it’s the first in Quinn’s 8-part “Bridgerton Series,” which is coming to Netflix as an 8-part adaptation, produced by Shonda Rhimes! Which is very exciting! And I really liked…..a lot of it. But something happens in the last third that threw me so off that I have a sour taste in my mouth about the whole thing.
Trigger warning for discussions of sexual assault ahead.
This is about the 4th Bridgerton child, the eldest girl, Daphne, who’s been having a spot of trouble getting one of her many pleasant and eligible male acquaintances to see her as marriage material. She thinks it’s some combination of her personality (which seems fine to me, but whatever) and her three large brothers (she actually has four brothers, a fact which she mentions, I swear to god, two or three times a chapter, but the fourth is only 11 so he’s not a hurdle here). Enter Duke Simon Hastings, whose stormy relationship with his recently-deceased father has caused him to swear off marriage and children forever, but who is nevertheless besieged by the mothers of the many eligible young women of the ton, including Daphne’s mother. Daphne and Simon decide to work together and pretend to be in a relationship, which of course becomes a relationship and things for the most part work themselves out from there.
Though the book was enjoyable, I was already a little uneasy about an aspect of the book that seemed to dance on the edge (and perhaps over the edge) of ableism. NOW I get that most people’s attitudes about disabilities in the Regency era were pretty fucking bad, but a lot of people’s attitudes about disabilities TODAY are also pretty fucking bad and if the [able-bodied] author wants to use that card, they should be extremely clear about where their attitudes differ from the time period they’re writing about.
AND ALSO…….so as I mentioned at the top of this section, there’s an instance in this book that just about made the whole thing fall apart for me. As an attempt to get pregnant despite Simon’s efforts, Daphne takes advantage of him when he’s drunk and half-asleep, which is just! so! not!! okay!!!!! The whole scene I was screaming “NO! WHAT??? NO!!!!” And I mean….later on they address what a “breach of trust” it was, but! it was assault!!! I really really hope the Netflix series goes in a different direction because holy hell. Nope.
Despite all of this…….I probably will read the other books in the series, or at least one more. I’m curious to see how the rest of the family fares, and I’m curious to see how the Netflix adaptation handles this stuff. But like….hopefully in the future I can tell you to go ahead and skip this one and start with book 2 in the series.
Whew okay that went on for way longer than I thought it would and I’m just going to leave it here on that double entendre. Bye!