A Bride For Lord Brasleigh

A Bride For Lord Wickton

A Convenient Marriage

Lord Carlton's Courtship

Lord Mumford's Minx

Miss Frazer’s Adventure

A Proper Marriage

A Scandalous Marriage

The Valentine Wish

 
Some Like It Brazen
by Deborah Raleigh
(Zebra, $6.50, PG-13) ISBN 0-8212-7857-9
**
A likable hero and an insufferable heroine make Some Like It Brazen a mixed bag. Ultimately, it’s a book I was glad to finish.

Spoiled, petulant Lady Bianca Carstone is widely regarded as the toast of the ton. She’s gained the nickname “The Ice Princess” for her refusal to accept any suitor’s hand in marriage. Lady Bianca is wildly attracted to notorious rake Lord Aldron, and when we meet Bianca, her father has just refused to consider his offer for Bianca’s hand. Bianca is in the throes of a full-blown tantrum, including the throwing of china. Her father threatens her with an arranged marriage to the man of his choice if she can’t find a decent suitor, so Bianca decides to get back at him by encouraging the one man she knows her father won’t approve of - The Peasant Earl.

Edward Sinclair, the new Earl of Harrington, was raised as a gentleman farmer. Circumstances have led to his newly-titled status, but the ton refuses to accept the man they believe is little more than a glorified stablehand. The ladies, however, find his physique quite attractive. Edward spies Bianca at a ball and is instantly smitten. His friend, Lord Bidwell, warns him against Bianca. Edward, using typical male reasoning, is sure that this beautiful lady must have an equally beautiful personality.

Edward and Bianca are soon discovering the hidden depths to each other’s character, (or so the author tells us). When Bianca’s deception comes to light, Edward is heartbroken and pushes her away. Bianca, in order to get back into his good graces, presents herself at his estate and takes on the duties of housekeeper. Meanwhile, Lord Aldron is determined to get his hands on Bianca and her fortune.

Bianca is one of the most unlikable heroines I’ve read in months. Selfish, pouty, used to getting her own way, she’s absolutely nobody I’d want to spend five minutes with, let alone several hundred pages of a novel. The head-tossing, door-slamming, china-throwing business would have been ridiculous in a child of ten; to present it as merely high-spirited behavior in a grown woman was just obnoxious. Her character arc runs the gamut from “spoiled brat” to “somewhat slightly less spoiled brat,” and it’s not a pleasant journey. When, on page 15, she refuses to listen to her father’s reasoning because it would mean she had made a mistake about Lord Aldron, then laments that, “Damn and blast, but she was weary of being dictated to as if she were a mindless dolt,” it was laughable.

Edward was a nice guy, but his insistence that a woman as beautiful as Bianca must be a truly wonderful person inside drove me batty. It made him look as thick as a brick, especially when Bianca gives the reader absolutely no reason to believe. Too bad - he deserved much better.

The silly prose doesn’t help. Deborah Raleigh still hasn’t given up her clunky use of the word “maiden,” when virtually any other term would work better. Her characters often use dialogue that sounds modern, followed by overdone passages where a face is never a face, but a “countenance.” It’s uneven at best.

Some Like It Brazen is a book I didn’t like at all. Approach with caution.

--Cathy Sova


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