Friday, November 26, 2010
Georgiana Hartley moves back to England after her father's death leaves her with no ties to Italy and an Uncle Ernest as her guardian. But Ernest has passed away and instead her cousin Charles is at the family manor, The Place, and he wastes no time drunkenly and clumsily trying to seduce her. Eventually Georgiana can take more of his advances and runs to Chandlewick Manor to seek the help of Lady Alton. Dominic Ridgely, Lord Alton, is not married so there is no Lady Alton but it does not take him long to realize that he wants to help out this young woman. He sends her to London to stay with his sister, Bella, Lady Winsmere, and tells her that Bella will help her find a job as a companion even while having no intention of doing so. Bella is determined to make her own way in the world and her attraction and deeper feelings for Dominic are complications she know have no chance of becoming something more. Dominic has his own problems with feelings for Georgiana that he is trying to suppress.
Georgiana takes the ton by storm by being herself, speaking her mind, and being so different from all the other young simpering misses. It isn't long before she is getting offers from many eligible bachelors but she turns them all down because she is in love with Dominic. Bella worries about her friend and asks Dominic to help her discover why Georgiana is turning down all her suitors. After a few evenings in her company Dominic knows that, despite their age difference and his history of avoiding commitment, he is going to marry Georgiana. But there are obstacles to overcome in the form of Charles, who is still trying to get Georgiana to marry him, and her insecurities and fears that Dominic does not love her. First she is worried that he is in love with someone else, then she worries that he is only marrying her to obtain possession of The Place, and finally she worries that he is only offering for her because it is too late for him to back down. Luckily, Dominic has enough confidence for both of them and since he has set his mind on marrying Georgiana, he is patient enough to work through all the obstacles in their path and prove that he really does love her.
While running away from a guardian who wants to sleep with his ward is nothing new, it at least serves as a means to get Dominic and Georgiana together, so I can overlook it. Georgiana is defined by her "different-ness" from the other young women, and while most romance novels make a point about how the heroine is set apart from the rest of the ton, I felt like in this book it was really all she had going for her. I think I'd be up for a romance where the heroine is one of those simpering and giggling ladies who wants a title- that would be truly different. At the same time that everyone, including Dominic, admired her for her strength and intelligence she would go off and do something incredibly stupid, like trust Charles and go off somewhere with him. Her insecurities became old very fast and she just kept throwing them up there and while they did make sense and all of them had a grounding in reality I felt like it was just there to take up space in the book. And with all the road blocks the one that wasn't brought up enough was the 14 year age difference between them, and it is one of my favorite differences and I like when age differences play a role.
Dominic was the uber- secure and confident romance novel hero who took everything in stride and magically knew how to handle al of Georgiana's problems. He was able to do exactly what was needed in every situation that Georgiana threw up and nothing really phased him. Even when something new was brought up he was able to discover what it was and knock it down in quick order. While it was nice that the problems weren't allowed to fester, I found it odd that he was this super hero of way-laing a young girls fears about marriage. This was different than more recent Laurens novels (this was originally published in 1994) as there was no sex! It made sense in the context of this book because she was a young innocent and he was doing something he'd never done with her by convincing her to marry him. However, I would have liked something more than just a few kisses that melted her knees, but definitely did not steam up the pages. There was a brief mention of his former mistress and I was kind of hoping that something scandalous would happen on that front, but alas- nothing. Bella was a decent sidekick; she could hold her own, but did not overwhelm and was only slightly better than bland.
Rating: A decent book that took me forever to go through as the relationship progressed incredibly slowly. I plan on sticking to her more recent books.