Publisher: Mira (Harlequin)
Pub Date: 2002
FTC: Purchased myself (no idea where or when)
This month's installment in the TBR Challenge hosted by Super Wendy was a bit of a disappointment.
I've had this book sitting in the TBR forever. I've never read Stella Cameron before, but when I had my online used bookstore, this book and the others in the series were consistent sellers.
After finishing it, I can say that I hadn't been missing much.
This isn't exactly an Ugly Duckling story in terms of traditional beauty, but Jenny McBride is a milliner's assistant. She's living in poverty, dressed in plain clothes that are carefully mended. And the fact that she's attracted Latimer's notice, a man of good family with a successful business, seems like a good thing. But Jenny is proud. And confused by Latimer's attentions. And she's also got a little bit of damsel in distress going on.
This book is weird. There, I said it. First, there's the weird first person narration of a ghost. He's busily trying to match-make in order to clear various people out of "his" house. And I can sympathize with him because there are entirely too many people in this story. Too much is going on, and it waters down the primary romance.
The rest of the story is told in the 3rd person. The main characters are...boring. And the characterization is very very weak. We don't see much of the inner workings of Jenny or Latimer's minds. Probably a good thing, since Latimer seems to think marrying Jenny because he's horny is a good enough reason. I didn't buy the romance at all, which naturally affected my enjoyment of the rest of the book.
There are also a few startlingly risque WTF moments buried in the run of the mill prose and plot. Like the fact that Jenny acting submissively gives Latimer an instant stiffy. Or the fact that Latimer is known throughout London as a man with a semi-hard erection ready at a moment's notice.
I wish I could say I liked this one, but I really didn't. It's entirely possible that this is one of those books that just didn't age well, but I'm inclined to believe it sucked eggs even back in 2002.
My Grade: C-/D+
Why would England's "Most Daring Lover" risk his reputation by falling madly in love with a nobody, a shabbily dressed milliner's assistant who lived in poverty - and was clearly in trouble? Because Latimer More of 7A Mayfair Square saw something in Jenny McBride, an orphaned Scottish lass, that nobody had: unsinkable optimism, a brave spirit and a face that haunted his dreams.
Jenny was amazed by Latimer's advances. He fascinated her, but surely he couldn't really be interested in her? Besides, she had more pressing concerns. She was fighting off the attentions of a cruel man who wanted to claim her in exchange for canceling her debts.
Jenny would not involve Latimer in the dangerous game that threatened her. But Latimer would not abandon Jenny. The result? A madcap race against time and danger, upheaval at Number 7, and an unlikely match that could not be more perfect - or challenging!