I really loved this one. I had it in paperback and bought it on Kindle because right now it’s on sale for $.99.
What it is not: a serious, angst-filled historical romance.
What it is: a fun playful exploration of Cinderella theme against the backdrop of Aristocratic England.
I’m a big Eloisa James fan, meaning if she wrote a book, I’m very likely to love it, so please do take me with a grain of salt.
Kate Daltry is a granddaughter of an earl. Her mother passed away and then her father, who was not a model father and definitely not a model husband, also passed on, but not before he remarried, leaving everything he owned to his wife.
Contrary to what people believe, being an estate holder wasn’t a carefree hands-off position. An estate owner was a landlord to farmers and estate management required knowledge of economics, agriculture, and accounting. Sadly, Kate’s stepmother lacks that knowledge, but she is quite awesome at shopping, a habit which Kate, who is now dealing with managing the estate, has difficulty supporting.
Unlike her mother, Kate’s step-sister Victoria doesn’t have a mean bone in her body, but she is passive and easily influenced. Now Victoria is in trouble: she has been indiscreet and she must marry Angie, the father of her future child, asap. Angie is a great match, from a good family, and he loves Victoria, so all they have to do is to obtain approval of his uncle and they would be off to the wedding chapel. There is only one problem: Angie’s uncle is a prince and Victoria has managed to get an infected boil on her face. Now she and her mother talk Kate into pretending to be Victoria, just long enough for the prince to approve the wedding.
You can see where this carriage is going, right?
I thought it was fun, witty, and charming. Kate is a strong-willed heroine, with a bit of a martyr complex, but I thought it added to her character. The Prince is hot and well, princely. I loved Henrietta, the not so fairy godmother, and the little rat-dogs.
This being a comedy, there were a couple of nods to popular culture, but there is also a kind of timelessness to the characters, a sense that clothes and customs might change, but human nature is the same. I found it very reassuring. For example, at some point a plump older noble woman suffers a wardrobe malfunction, and the people’s reactions were hilarious. All men immediately jumped to their feet and looked elsewhere, scandalized, while women treated as just something that happens, in that practical way women deal with these things. At another point drunk young noblemen manage to capsize their boat, because if you put a bunch of young guys, alcohol, and a boat together, I don’t care if they are ancient Romans or twenty first century MIT students, somebody will end up in the water.
All in all, it was a lovely read. I started it around ten thirty at night and was done by two, and I was greatly entertained. If you never tried Eloisa James, definitely try this one – at 99 cents, it’s a gift.
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