Show Me the Romance

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Archive for the tag “regency romance”

Book Review: Wrapped

Wrapped
 By Jennifer Bradbury

Since I’m thinking about making my next project a YA Regency Romance (or YARR) (Mateys!) (Sorry, couldn’t resist), I’ve been trying to read every example of that genre I can get my hands on. The first one I read–The Season by Sarah MacLean–was so frustrating and condescending it made me wonder if the genre was fundamentally flawed, the casualty of tailoring a Regency Romance to fit YA expectations. Next, I whipped through a couple of chick-litty Regency YA novels by Meg Cabot that read well and didn’t reek of pandering to a younger reader (unlike The Season), but the tone wasn’t quite what I had in mind for my own novel.

Then I found Wrapped — a YA mystery regency romance with Egyptian themes. It’s pretty good, and suddenly I don’t think the YARR is so flawed after all. (YARR!)

The Premise

London, 1815. When Agnes Wilkins discovers a strange jackelheaded figurine in the wrappings of a mummy featured at a high society party, her first instinct is to hide the figurine as her own little secret. But then a series of robberies and murders begin to plague everyone who had contact with the mummy, and Agnes decides she isn’t about to wait around and let the so-called “curse” rifle through her wardrobe. She’s going to crack the secret herself . . . with the help of an attractive young Egyptologist who has a few secrets of his own.

The Pain

In addition to some historical inaccuracies and a suspiciously magical performance from an inanimate object (when the book’s world is a non-magical one), the book suffers from a slow start (I’m already seeing a YARR trend here  . . . starting the book with the heroine complaining about being fit for a gown) and doesn’t really get rolling until the first murder happens. But isn’t that par for the course in mysteries? Also, I knew who the villain was from the beginning, and I’m Ms. Oblivious. Whoops. Good thing this blog isn’t called “Show Me The Mystery”.

The Payoff

The hero isn’t a Duke! Or a Marquis, or an Earl, or even a Sir. Shocking, I know. As a museum assistant, aspiring Egyptologist Caedmon is decidedly below Agnes’s rank socially, but even if he’s a bit rough, he’s also capable and clever–and unlike most Regency Romance heroes, he hasn’t been under half the skirts in London. The romance isn’t all that strong, so I couldn’t bump this up to a four arrow. Still, Agnes and Caedmon are cute together, and combined with an ending I enjoyed (even if it was a *mite* improbable), I think I can safely say this one is a three-arrow grinner.
Rating:

3 out of 5 arrows

Friday Frivolity: Title Inflation in Regency Romances

What is up with the proliferation of dukes in the Regency romance genre?

This is a terribly unscientific observation, but it seems like the last few novels I’ve read in the genre have all featured dukes as heroes. I’m currently reading The Last Hellion by one of my favorite authors, Loretta Chase (hero: the Duke of Ainswood). I’m also halfway through YA Regency The Season by Sarah MacLean, which features the daughter of a duke. The count for other ducal characters in The Season is up to five, and I may yet find more. I just read another novel by Loretta Chase featuring a ducal hero, and another one of my favorite authors, Eloisa James, seems to make a good 75% of her heroes and heroines dukes, or duchesses, or both.

Okay, I get it. The power is attractive. But it’s horribly unrealistic when the rest of the aforementioned novels boast brilliant characters and bear the hallmarks of painstaking research.

Jane Austen knew that world better than any of us could. Mr. Darcy doesn’t need to be the Duke of Darcy to exude wealth and power. The highest ranking character mentioned in any of her novels is the Dowager Viscountess Dalrymple in Persuasion—and in the hierarchy of English ranks, a viscountess is a good three steps lower than a duke.

Dukes are supposed to be rare. That’s part of the reason people fawn all over them. Besides, isn’t a “Mr.” who is powerful and influential without an inflated title far more interesting?

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