Friday, August 19, 2011

The Viscount in Her Bedroom

The Viscount in Her Bedroom by Gayle Callen

Regency romance. I really wanted to like this book. It has a lot going for it: a heroine who is fairly intelligent and spirited, independent and not whiny, also without a history of abuse (thank god for that). Simon, the hero, is also a nice guy, not an aloof jerk, rather accepting of his blindness, not enraged like in many of these kinds of novels. And there is no "miracle cure" at the 11th hour. Simon's blindness is handled more or less realistically. A lot of the story revolves around Louisa helping Simon to adapt and regain his confidence in society.

And yet the book failed to move me. Part of the problem is that Simon and Louisa are both so nice, and so very very earnest, they end up being rather dull. And it's not clear exactly what is keeping them apart. They realize they both love each other fairly early on. So why can't they be together? There's some nonsense about Louisa having a "fast" reputation, and Simon thinking no woman would want to marry a blind man, but both issues get resolved so easily it's unclear why the novel isn't over sooner. The sparks just don't fly between these two perfectly considerate, self-effacing characters.

The other problem is that the writing is not great. The narrative is bald and pedestrian. The characters speak in a jarringly modern way, especially the servants. The tone of all the dialog is totally modern American, not convincing at all. In spite of the over-emphasis on propriety and worrying about one's reputation, the way the characters act also feels anachronistic. Romance novels don't have to be this amateurish! There are a lot of much better written historical romances out there.

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