Sonya Heaney's Reviews > How to Ruin Your Reputation in Ten Days

How to Ruin Your Reputation in Ten Days by Harmony Williams
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bookshelves: historical-romance, regency-era

There are some rules in genre fiction that just are . E.g. if you write a murder mystery, solve it before the end of the book. Don’t kill off your romance hero or heroine.

Then there are the unwritten rules, and somewhere near the top of that list has to be: *don’t* write historical romance in the first person.

I almost felt like How To Ruin Your Reputation in 10 Days should come with a warning on it about this odd style choice, but then I realised it wasn’t actually a *rule*. It is, however, something many readers (myself included) dislike. First person perspective is used in young and new adult fiction more often than not, and it works there for the exact reasons it doesn’t in HR:

#1 It is immediate and intimate, and makes you feel like you’re in the present. Exactly what you want for books about the under-21s of today, and not *at all* what you want in a book set two centuries ago.

#2 Every mistake, be it an Americanism or a serious behavioural error, seems much worse when we’re in the heroine’s thoughts. She’s thinking in the wrong language, and she’s thinking incorrect things about the society she lives in. It makes every mistake that much worse, and pulls you that much more out of the era she’s allegedly in.

(However, young ladies standing in the middle of a ball and lecturing about the objectification of women, and heroines who slap people’s faces at that ball, aren’t going to pass for historically accurate in any situation.)

#3 Many historical romance heroines are young. However, we attribute them with a sort of olde-worlde maturity we don’t expect from young people today. The moment the historical romance heroine starts talking directly to us, she comes across as a little self-absorbed, and a lot like a teenager.

I could have done without the random comment about “savages” in the Americas, too…

Because of this, I decided not to finish the book. There was nothing to be gained from reading something that wasn’t working for me. The author clearly feels more comfortable writing in this style, but it is almost universally hated by adult romance readers, and I’d suggest she try third person in the future.


Review copy provided by NetGalley.
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Reading Progress

May 14, 2017 – Started Reading
May 14, 2017 – Shelved
May 14, 2017 –
1.0% "This is written in first person..."
May 16, 2017 – Shelved as: historical-romance
May 16, 2017 – Shelved as: regency-era
May 16, 2017 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-8 of 8 (8 new)

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message 1: by Caz (new)

Caz Okay, I think that has pretty much guaranteed I'm going to pass!


message 2: by Sonya (new) - added it

Sonya Heaney Caz wrote: "Okay, I think that has pretty much guaranteed I'm going to pass!"

That seems to be a common reaction... Unfortunate for the author, but it does not come across as even *remotely* historical to me in the first person.


Steelwhisper Is it that bad? I'm interested just because, now :)


message 4: by Sonya (last edited May 17, 2017 12:48AM) (new) - added it

Sonya Heaney Steelwhisper wrote: "Is it that bad? I'm interested just because, now :)"

I’m going to write a review soon, and put some quotes in it, but I could not believe this was Regency England. I felt like I was inside the head of a 21st-century teenager.

I do want to at least keep reading to find out why an aristocratic young lady would be going to a convent (because that makes no sense to me), but I don’t know if I’ll get far enough into the book.


Steelwhisper Thanks! Ping me when you review it, please?


message 6: by Amy (new) - rated it 2 stars

Amy Agree, 1st person POV is hard to get past. I did manage to finish the book, but not sure I'll pick up any others in this series.


message 7: by Sonya (new) - added it

Sonya Heaney Whoops- I completely forgot about this book! I was hoping I might read a little more before reviewing, but I can't find the motivation...


Steelwhisper I think this book is an example of "meant well". It's not exactly the first POV that is jarring, it is the first POV written as if it belonged to a modern day heroine.

Counter example: "Dracula" by Stoker, which - though no romance - certainly is one of the most Victorian sounding books I've ever read, and the first POV letters by Harker would work in a romance as well. But Stoker was of his era, this author clearly hasn't done her research to be so.


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