Series: Rhymes with Love #1
Genres: Historical Romance
Published by Avon on 29 May 2012
Reading Challenges: 2015 TBR Pile Reading Challenge
Tabitha’s life might closely resemble that of Cinderella but she doesn’t need a Prince, let alone a duke, to sweep her off her feet. Tabitha, you see, is from a village where no couple has ever been happily wed. The single women, of which there are many, have resigned themselves to their fate. An unexpected inheritance and a chance meeting with an arrogant but exceedingly good looking man (Preston) send her hurtling down a different path.
Things would have gone much more smoothly for our lust-struck pair if they had only listened to advice from their devoted friends. Tabitha spends much of the novel thinking that Preston is a mere commoner while he thinks that marriage and respectability are beneath him.
The good bits
Boyle’s dialogue was a trifle uneven but when it was good, it fairly sparkled off the page. Preston frequently got the best lines and some of the conversations had me chuckling out loud. Mind you, the verbal interactions needed to succeed as there wasn’t much in the way of physical interaction between Preston and Tabitha.
The minor characters were fairly amusing as a whole but the dog and Roxley stole every scene they were in.
The not so good bits
This is your standard paint by numbers historical romance. We have the saucy spinster determined not to wed, a rakish hero with a tragic past, staunch friends, a grand inheritance and an unsuitable suitor with mummy issues. I couldn’t decide whether Boyle was trying to parody the genre or if she was writing seriously so while the onslaught of tropes was initially amusing, the unrelenting nature of them eventually irritated me.
Unfortunately there isn’t a lot of depth to the characters which made the romance harder to buy. I also found their behaviour a bit inconsistent with their attitudes – our plucky heroine endures horrible treatment from her aunt and uncle even though she clearly has a brain and has been offered multiple opportunities to escape servitude. Considering her passivity in this regard, I don’t see why she would be so free with her opinions when facing Preston.
This isn’t really the novel to read if you want historical accuracy. Some phrases and attitudes seem bang on while others clearly miss the mark. Preston, for example, found himself reviled by society because he courted scandal and ruined another man by winning a wager. In reality his rank would have protected him from public humiliation as people would have been far more likely to toady up to him. It also didn’t make sense for Tabitha’s relatives to insist on a marriage to Barkworth when a wealthy duke wanted her.
Reminds me of…
Tessa Dare’s Spindle Cove series – this novel also features a horde/bevy/mob of spinsters (sorry, I don’t know what they are called) who feel they don’t need men but are slowly rehabilitated when Mr Right comes along.
I don’t want to leave you with the impression that this book is horrible because it isn’t. It is a very light and fluffy novel that is the equivalent of a fast food meal. It temporarily fills you up but you run into problems when you look at the ingredients closely. If you can avoid cliché counting then it isn’t that bad. The series has the potential to be enjoyable so I’m happy to stick around a bit longer.