Saturday, May 23, 2015

Review: The Unlikely Lady by Valerie Bowman

I do enjoy my Regency-set historical romances, especially when the heroine is a bluestocking and the hero has a grand library. That makes me want to dive into the book and win the hero myself despite the fact that most likely I would have been the illiterate maid dusting the books if I had actually lived in this time. Valerie Bowman's third novel in her Playful Brides series, The Unlikely Lady, has the bluestocking, the hero's amazing library, and as an added bonus, it's an homage to Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing.

Jane Lowndes and Garrett Upton don't much like each other. Given that Jane is one of Garrett's cousin Lucy's best friends, they cannot avoid each other though. They meet again at the pre-wedding house party before Lucy and Jane's mutual friend Cassandra's long awaited wedding. They immediately start their customary sniping tossing pointed barbs at each other until they resolve to try and be civil to make Cassandra more comfortable. They still don't think much of each other though. An uneasy d├ętente is maintained until the beautiful but nasty and conniving widow of Garrett's friend arrives uninvited and imposes herself on the party in an effort to ensnare Garrett, who has been financially maintaining her and her children for years now thanks to his guilt over his friend's death.

One of the pre-wedding festivities is a masquerade ball. Jane agrees to forgo her usual frumpy clothing, leave her book behind in her room, and navigate without her glasses, despite her appallingly poor eyesight. Garrett spends much of the ball trying to politely avoid the widow and as a result ends up completely drunk. When a blind as a bat heroine looking for a little scandal to convince her parents she never wants to wed and a blind drunk hero end up together, they end up in each others' arms, not knowing who the other is, at least not at first. The scandal is that they find they like it and perhaps each other too. When Lucy and Cassandra come to almost the exactly right conclusion about Jane and Garrett's disappearance from the ball, they conspire to match these two up by telling each that the other is in love with them. Of course, with a determined widow lurking about, the path of love cannot run smoothly.

Both Jane and Garrett were engaging characters and if one overlooks the fact that their chemistry goes from dead annoyance to desire and love in zero flat after just one kiss, the story was a fun one. That Jane didn't change her interests one jot and that Garrett not only didn't want her to but also shared a mutual enjoyment of reading was definitely appealing. The resolution of the widow's plot line was a bit over the top but overall, this was an amusing and quick read for readers of historical romance.

1 comment:

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