Thursday, March 27, 2014

#19 [2014/CBR6] "How the Marquess Was Won" by Julie Anne Long

I'm not sure if it was my mood or the unusually long gap between romance novels, but I really, really liked How the Marquess Was Won (2011) by Julie Anne Long. After almost giving up on Long entirely because of some extreme typo issues, she's become one of my favorite historical romance novelists. I already have a couple more of hers on my kindle, which I'm saving for my vacation. Now, there were some major typo issues in this book as well, but it wasn't nearly as bad as some of Long's books. Fortunately, Long had better editors for the beginning of the book, so I was good and into it before I started getting distracted by nonsense sentences.

Phoebe Vale was on orphan on the streets of London. She managed, with some luck, to pull herself up by her bootstraps and become a respected teacher at a girl's school outside of the city. While chaperoning for a past student at a house party, Phoebe gets to know Julian Spencer, the Marquess Dryden. The two immediately find a connection, but their drastically different social standings keep Phoebe from ever being a real romantic possibility in Dryden's mind. Instead, Dryden is at the party to woo and marry Phoebe's student.

This plot set up isn't something I would normally jump all over. Poor Phoebe seems to be at a huge disadvantage, and there doesn't sound like there's much action or adventure. Which is true, but I still really liked this book. First, I liked the dialogue and tension between the two characters. They really seemed to have a common understanding and connect on a deeper level than just physical attraction. I also liked that the attraction and physicality came slowly, as they got to know each other. The simple act of Dryden starting to take off his jacket and stopping in the courtyard almost killed me and was so much better than an unrealistic, smoldering kiss between strangers. I also really appreciated the comedy and the fact that Long was willing to make her hero look ridiculous. Dryden ends up crawling on his stomach through bushes and falling to his knees on the dance floor. The two funniest scenes that come to mind were when Dryden and Phoebe are almost found in the clearing and Dryden dealing with Phoebe's cat. The cat scene was especially funny and had the added bonus of being emotionally meaningful. I loved it.

There were a couple things that kept this book from being perfect for me. I've already whined about the typos, but I figured I'd reiterate it just in case Long's publishing team is looking to hire a new editor. Every once in a while Long would throw something in that didn't fit or didn't seem right. For instance, Long made it clear that Phoebe had run out of time and had not been able to fetch her shawl, but the next page, Phoebe wrapped her shawl around her shoulders. More major issues included statements such as, "If the Ton finds out, she'll be ruined." But Phoebe is a school teacher and was never going to be accepted by the Ton anyway. That's the reason Dryden can't be with her. Why would that suddenly be an issue? Finally, I wasn't sold on their first sex scene. The build up of their relationship was wonderful, but then I was left thinking, "huh," near the end. Anyway, the positives more than made up for these minor issues I had. This was a funny, romantic read that I enjoyed more than I was expecting.

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