Friday, June 28, 2013

What I've Read This Week

What I've Read This Week . . .

Escapade by Joan Smith -- Regency Romance

In her first Season, Miss Puella Fairmont failed to make a splash. She was just a bit too plain and shy to take, but no matter, her aunt, Lady Sara, is willing to take her again next Season. By the time Ella returns to London, she wants nothing to do with Society and is writing a satirical novel skewering the haut ton. Lady Sara tricks Ella into joining in the social whirl by getting the girl a job as a gossip columnist for the Morning Observer. In their column, Ella, Aunt Sara and Grandmama, collectively known as Miss Prattle, point out the utter immorality and failings of the ton. Ella's biggest target is the Duke of Clare, a handsome young man whom she believes is arrogant and rude. Patrick, the young Duke, has had ladies throwing themselves at him for the last several years and he isn't interested in a one. Not knowing how to give them a good set down, he contents himself with poking gentle fun at the vanities of his acquaintances. He isn't too upset about Miss Prattle, but he's determined to put a stop to "it" in a rational manner. Meanwhile, he has a house party to attend, made up of unwanted guests such as Lady Honor, the witless daughter of a Marquess; Miss Sherridan, who thinks only of bonnets and dresses and Belle Prentiss, brainy but vain. Joining the party are a few male friends as well. Lady Sara wrangles an invitation for herself and Ella to get a first-hand look at the Duke's party. At Clare Palace, Ella finds herself overwhelmed at first, but soon inner Miss Prattle comes out and the battle of wits begins. As Ella and Patrick come to know each other as friends, Ella feels bad about her column but her pride and his arrogance may get in the way of true love.

 This is a cute take on Pride and Prejudice and Georgette Heyer's Sylvester. Ella is a heroine I can really relate to. She's shy in public like me, but sharp tongued and condemning in private. She takes some getting to know before anyone can really be friends with her. Since she's just like me, I really liked her. Others may find her snippy and just as bad as those she derides for their behavior. I liked Patrick a lot. He's a very charming, honorable gentleman who takes some getting used to. I loved his witty comments but sometimes I wished he'd just be straight with the ladies and tell him he's not interested and to please leave him alone. Mr. Darcy had no problems giving scathing set downs with a LOOK, but Patrick is more gentle and kindhearted. The other ladies are all two-dimensional stereotypes. I liked Belle until she turned catty. Honor made me giggle with her nonsequitors. The dialogue in the story is sparkling and witty; though not quite Heyeresque,  still very good. The plot moves along a little too slowly. There's a very long description of a frog jumping contest that should have been trimmed a lot. Similarly, a jousting scene could have been shortened. As a result, the romance gets pushed aside. I liked that Ella and Patrick develop a close friendship and a similarity of minds but a little more wooing at the end and recognition of what he did wrong would have been nice. Since Pride and Prejudice is Ella's favorite book, I was hoping Patrick would read it and recognize what he did wrong. He never actually says I love you, but his actions do speak for him. There's a kiss at the end and a little more of a solid ending than Georgette Heyer but not much more. My only other complaint is that some of the dialogue seems too modern. I don't think a Duke's friends would call him by his first name, let alone a nickname publicly. He and Miss Fairmont would also not be on a first name basis and Jane Austen published anonymously and not under her own name. High stickers can nit pick this one but for me, the enjoyable story made up for any inaccuracies. Fans of Ms. Heyer will probably enjoy this one. I really liked it and plan to read it again.

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