Monday, April 20, 2009

The Secret Wedding

Apparently I'm not a typical romance reader. In the past few days I've finished one romance and got about a chapter and a half into another before giving up in frustration. I won't name the book I gave up on. As someone who blogs as an aspiring writer rather than as a hard-core reviewer, I have a policy of only reviewing books I can give at least a qualified recommendation to. But I think I can say why the book failed for me without giving away identifying information: the set-up for the hero and heroine's first meeting was one I'd seen too many times, and I didn't like the way the author used the language. There were some misused words, and the word choice altered between overly forsoothly here-we-are-in-Days-of-Yore speech and anachronistic like-whatEVer phrasings. I can accept either style, depending on the overall tone of the work and even when it's set, but veering between the extremes gives me whiplash. But that book gets rave reviews on Amazon and elsewhere, including praise of the author's style and voice. Huh. No accounting for taste, I guess.

However, I thoroughly enjoyed The Secret Wedding (Jo Beverley, 2009). The characters are believable and interesting, the plot moves along at a good clip, and the setting is believable for its time and place (mid-18th century England). But when I look at its online reviews, they're all over the map and tending toward negative. A lot of readers seem to dislike Caro, the heroine, considering her selfish and cold for being so concerned about protecting the property she inherited even though she didn't have relatives or tenants depending on her. And I just can't see it. I feel like those readers are missing the point that unless a woman entered marriage with a specific legally binding agreement to the contrary, every scrap of property she owned became entirely her husband's. I can't blame a woman for wanting some protection--if nothing else, if her husband died and left all his property that was once her property to, say, his brother, she could go from wealthy heiress to penniless widow overnight. And while I'm not generally a fan of insta-sex between the hero and heroine, in this case Beverley made it work. So this one I do recommend.

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