I read this book on the recommendation of one of my friends. I had been telling her of my love for Vere from The Last Hellion, and she said I just had to try this. I'm so glad I did!
The book started out a little slow for me. I didn't really get absorbed into the story until Juliet and Lord Swale (or Ginger, as I can't help but think of him) have some heavy page time together. From that point on I was hooked.
I can't think of another hero I've read that's quite like Swale. The comparison to Vere that I mentioned above is accurate, but only to a point. Where Vere is obstinate and acts thick on purpose, Swale really is. He's not dumb by any means, but the man does not get subtlety and anything he doesn't have an interest in isn't worth caring about. Shakespeare, I'm referring to you. The biggest similarity between the two books is the witty sparring that the protagonists engage in. Their interactions are what made the book for me.
So, let's talk about Swale. He's young, only in his mid-twenties, and has a temper that flares with the least provocation. He doesn't seem to hold a grudge long, be he doesn't have a problem kicking the crap out of someone if they make him mad. He doesn't really care about society and because he gets over his temper quickly, he assumes that everyone does the same thing. He's frankly shocked to think that anyone doesn't like him. He's described as big and ugly with flaming red hair and giant sideburns. He also has a pug nose that doesn't look like it belongs on an aristocrat. This lack in his nose leads to hilarious high jinks to acquire a better one for the family.
Juliet is pretty, but nothing special. She's smart and rather hotheaded when riled. She knows she's a girl, but she constantly confounded by the scrapes she gets into. She's just trying to uphold the family honor like any of her brothers would, you know? Unfortunately for her, the rules for girls are different. It seems like every time she turns around she's broken another rule and in danger of being a pariah. When Swale comes to see her she pulls no punches. She nicknames him Ginger, taunts him, and throws yarn at him. She's prideful, so when she finds out her assumptions were wrong she doesn't apologize. She dances around it with "ifs" and "maybes" until Swale is ready to blow.
Every conversation between Juliet and Ginger has a new delight. The dinner scene was particularly hilarious. How can you not love a girl who lights a man's carrots on fire? The miscommunications and drama about the engagement killed me too. I also loved the back and forth over which room Ginger would stay in. I guess what I'm trying to say is I loved the whole book.
There were two points which, unfortunately, stood out for me. The first was the use of the phrase "make love." To me, that refers to sex. In this book it refers to courting or wooing. It was extremely startling to read about Juliet's family discussing Ginger's coming to "make love" to Juliet. It kept pulling me out of the story and making me do a double take until I remembered. The character used that phrase all the time. The other point was the sex. If you're looking for a book with a skilled, sensual lover you'll be out of luck here. It didn't detract from the story for me, but be aware that this is not the kind of book where the bumbling hero suddenly morphs into Don Juan.
Zebra brings in a good selection of romance authors and this book does not dissapoint. Set in Regency England.
excellent story line and humorous too. very enjoyable.