Memoirs of a Scandalous Red Dress by Elizabeth Boyle
This book is the sequel to "Confessions of a Little Black Gown" and begins by taking up 23 years after the end of the book to continue Philippa, Pippin, Knolles, and Captain Thomash, Dash, Dashwell's ill-fated romance. When we last left our fated lovers Pippin had just agreed to marry the Viscount Gossett after finding herself pregnant when he agrees to see to Dash's freedom. Dash was furious and convinced that Pippin had betrayed him and needless to say they didn't part on the best of terms. Twenty-three years later Pippin is a widow with two very proper English children, John and Ginger, who dreams of her pirate while Dash has lost command of his ship to his son, Nate, and roams around in a drunken stupor. Nate comes to Pippin believing she is the only one who can bring his father back and Dash and Pippin are both conflicted when they see each other again. They're excited, nervous, a little heartbroken, and both feel a little betrayed and guilty over what happened.
Nate has left a note for Pippin's children and friends claiming that she has been kidnapped (although I can't exactly remember why it was important they believe this), but when Pippin's friends reveal their past both children are shocked and immediately decide to go after her. Meanwhile Dash has decided to give up alcohol (and having never known/ seen anyone recovering from a 20 year addiction I can't say whether or not it's accurate but given the fact that it takes about a week I have to say it's not) and Pippin is determined to find the Dash she knew all those years ago and holds him to his promise to give her pirate lessons. Apparently in the midst of these pirate lessons she is able to let go of the propriety that has guided her life the last 23 years and nowhere does she feel more free than when she's with Dash. Unfortunately little secrets from his past, and her's could come back to haunt them (they do but only very briefly) and when Pippin's son shows up the two need to take a leap of faith for each other.
I try not to read other reviews before I write my own but in this case I made an exception and I am certainly glad. Many reviewers were, like me, conflicted over how to review this book. I, like many, had been very much looking forward to reading this follow up because the two seemed like such a fun romantic pair. But maybe it was the immense time elapse or I was just plain expecting to much, but the book didn't live up to my expectations. The first thing I noticed was the inordinate amount of flashbacks contained in this book. The first 200 pages seemed to be half flashbacks! While I understood that there were destined to be a lot of them because Pippin and Dash have a history I wanted more of the two of them re-falling in love now. The only good part of the flashbacks was it made it unnecessary for me to have read the other two books or to refer back to them. And I had a very difficult time trying to make alcoholism into a romantic notion; getting drunk for a night or two, maybe a week, because of a lost love makes sense, but for 23 years (ish)? No. Also those problems from their past (and in my opinion they're pretty big ones) were solved far too quickly.
In a way this book was more satisfying than "Confessions" because it didn't have that ENORMOUS and completely overwhelming sideplot, which funnily enough involves this books characters- almost like Pippin and Dash have two books. I enjoyed the fact that our protagonists were older than the usual romance novel fare (why do all heroines have to be 20?) I almost felt like the author herself was confused as to what to do with two mid-fortyish people. She seemed to make up for this by having a ton of flashbacks and shoving their one present-tense steamy scene into the way end of the book (word of warning: unfortunately that steamy scene includes a little interlude where Dash licks between her toes). I liked the historical references to the War of 1812 and how neither side was exactly "right" and to the ways Queen Victoria turned England into quite the puritanical society.
Rating: I give three hearts to those books I enjoyed and found at least entertaining and sweet but despite liking this more than "Confessions" I didn't really enjoy it.