Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Courtship Dance

The Courtship Dance by Candace Camp

The Courtship Dance is the fourth and final book in Candace Camp's Matchmaker series, pitting the "matchmaker" of the previous three books, Lady Francesca Haughston, with her cohert Lord Sinclair Rochford. Fifteen years previously Francesca and Rochford had been secretly engaged until Francesca was tricked into believed Rochford was carrying on an affair. She called off the engagement, married a wastrel who wasted all their money and left Francesca a penniless widow, and Francesca eventually discovered their had been no affair at all. So Francesca dedicates herself to finding a bride for Rochford to make up for blowing him off fifteen years ago. All of this had been disclosed in the previous book in the series, but a good job is done of regoing over everything lightly so a newbie won't be totally confused and a veteran won't be totally bored.

The side-ish plot of this story involves a friend of Francesca's former husband who comes home to England once he no longer fears prosecution over killing a man in a duel. He carries a paper claiming that Haughston gambled away the house Francesca lives in and it now belongs to him. Like most Camp books the side plot is cute, short, interesting and provides some interesting scenes without getting in the way. There were no fully developed secondary characters though; a few people from the previous books were brought in, some potential wives for Rochford, and of course the villian, but no "real" secondary characters at all. The side plot drags on longer than it has to though when Francesca refuses to go straight to Rochford for help, although when she finally does his first attempt to right things is rather pathetic and even I could tell that it wasn't going to work.

My complaints about the book include a lateness of the sex scenes although I will admit that they are steamy and last a good long while. I also am partial to books that spend more time on the heroes P.O.V. and this book is sadly lacking. While Francesca is an incredibly likable character and I will admit I have been looking forward to reading her romance with Rochford- which I could foretell in the first book in this series- I did want more from Rochford. His character is barely developed at all, he just remains this strong, dark, rather silent mystery man who our very likable heroine falls in love with. He has perhaps 30 pages told from his POV which is unusual in Camp books so I wonder why she went down this route.

I am normally not a sucker for kidnapping plots but I particularly liked this one- I don't consider this a spoiler as when there's a villian in the book a small, easily- wrapped up kidnapping should be expected. Francesca struggles admirably well including a great part where she gets out of the carriage and goes running through the market place. Even if no one responds it was still great that she didn't just jerk against her bonds and wait for Rochford. And although we didn't get anything from Rochford, I loved Francesca. She is, as I said above, completely likeable. She's survived on her own by helping people move through society and her emotions are so dead on as she struggles to cope with her feelings for Rochford while sure that he will never forgive her for her spurning of him 15 years ago.

Rating: Probably deserves a 3 1/2 but will give it a 3 because I really would have loved more for Rochford so I could understand exactly why she fell in love with him.

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