Wednesday, July 07, 2010

The Hazards of Hunting a Duke by Julia London

I remember first reading Julia London's "The Rogues of Regent Street" series in college, when they were first published in 2000. I really liked those books, so I moved on to the "Highland Lockhart Family" series, which I liked, but not as much. (I have issues with the heavy-handed use of the Scottish accent, as if I couldn't figure out they were Scottish without it.) Then London moved into contemporary fiction, and I moved on to other authors.

So, when I was at the bookstore looking for something to read--and having read through the new releases I had wanted--I turned to an old favorite to see if I would like her new series, "The Desperate Debutantes." The name of the series itself should have told me, "run away!" because who wants to be around someone desperate? And that there's more than one desperate debutante as well!

In fact, the book is filled with desperation. Ava Fairchild is desperate to find a husband after her mother's death leaves her and her sister destitute. The Marquis of Middleton is desperate for a wife that isn't the one his father chose for him. His father, the duke, is desperate for his son to man up and have an heir for the dukedom that will one day be his.

London attempts to bring humor into the book, but it falls a bit flat and slapstick. In a bid to get a suitable husband on a shoestring, Ava and her sister need to run a household with cheap servants. They go to the poor house to find servants whom they can't pay but are willing to house. Case in point, p. 67:
They had also managed to retain Mr. William Pell and his son, Mr. Samuel Pell, who had both been injured in a horrible carriage accident. Mr Pell the senior had lost a leg and therefore could no longer light lamps, as was his profession. HIs son, an apprentice, had a mangled arm that hung at a strange angle on his left side. But between the two of them, they managed to make one fairly decent footman.
Not only is the description lackluster, but the last line fell flat.

Both Ava and the Marquis enter their union knowing that the marriage was one of convenience. But, as this is a romance novel, feelings change and this is the plot that carries the book. The book is full of misunderstandings, not just between Ava and her new husband, but between her husband and his father.

Desperation, Misunderstandings, and Daddy Issues give this book a C.

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