on 29 August 2008
The Mayfair Ladies are under attack from an Earl who cites their magazine for libelous damage to his reputation. Convinced of their own just cause Prudence, Chastity and Constance Duncan employ all of their resources to hire the finest legal counsel in town, Sir Gideon Malvern.
Prudence is elected spokesperson for the three sisters and as such must tackle Gideon. Unable to pay him she offers a compromise - they win the case and she will find him a bride.
The novel itself is part of a trilogy, having not read either of its partners I can't comment on how this compares - I chose it because I liked the sound of the heroine. Prudence is strong, dashing and intelligent; all unusual characteristics for the genre. One of the most important things I felt that Feather did with Prue was to construct a character that bucked the trend. Essentially she is a bluestocking but there's an element of power about her that is well construed.
Setting the novel in the Edwardian era was a success - in doing this the author escapes the constrictions of the Victorians and the tweeness of the Regency period. It is also a period not much seen in Romance novels and therefore very refreshing to read about. Gideon, the hero, is the libel lawyer that Prue and her sisters have hired to defend them and their magazine after they are accused of writing falsehoods about a peer of the realm. Again the Edwardian setting plays a role in the success of his character, he is a divorced, single father who is highly successful in his profession. A self made man that we would rarely see in other period of history.
However, the few likeable things that I have listed above are far outweighed by the negative points. The writing is in parts formulaic - Feather repeats words and phrases throughout and this becomes irritating after a while. Gideon is an interesting character but there are certain character faults that were highlighted but never actually dealt with. He, for instance, never really believes in the sisters' cause and while he defends them it is clear that he doesn't really support them. Neither does he believe in the right of women to freedom of speech - his acceptance of Prue is apparently supposed to appease us but I ended the book not entirely sure that I liked him.
More than this is the fact that there is far too much happening and not enough resolution. I never really felt that there was any commitment in the writing - merely a resolve to get from point A to B without much emotional detail. In the past I have enjoyed this author's writing not least for the fact that there was depth to her plotlines and often a sense that she was an original writer in what can sometimes be a genre of stereotypes.
Finally there was the title, a more misleading epithet I have never seen. There is little hunting for brides here, other than a few scant sentences scattered throughout very little is made of what one would assume to be an important part of the novel. By the end I was left thinking that either the book was severely edited and a new title forgotten or it took a different course than it was meant to, either way it irritated me.
I truly enjoyed the first in this series - "The Bachelor Hunt", the story of the Duncan sisters and their practical approach to love, romance and marriage. But this one was even better.
The sisters are trying to hold their family out of poverty by running a matchmaking service in 19th London, while producing a strongly suffragist scandal sheet called "The Mayfair Lady". Sister Prudence must retain Sir Gideon Malvern when the paper is sued for libel. Of course Gideon and Prudence immediately set sparks off each other, but he feels his romantic suit will come to cropper because the civil suit is hopeless. Prudence cannot pay his solicitor's fees, so she talked Gideon in to accept the matchmaking services instead. Of course, romance will ensue!
It's amusing, witty and utterly delightful. Refreshing period for hitorical romance going against the long (and ridiculous) thought that this more "modern" historical turns off readers.