Pub Date: June 5, 2012
Length: 325 pages (plus a novella in the back of the print version)
FTC: ARC courtesy of the publisher
Part of the magic of Sally MacKenzie's writing can be found in the details. Her humor is the kind that builds. There's the laugh-out-loud outrageousness, too, but it's the small touches that make her books a cut above the pack when it comes to funny historical romance.
In this case, the critical detail is a pilfering pussy cat named Reggie with a fondness for stealing red undergarments.
Miss Eleanor Bowman has been in love with Lord Edward (Ned) forever. Even as she watched him fall in love with and marry her best friend. After four years of mourning his wife, Ned still can't see Ellie as anything more than a friend, and Ellie is tired of waiting. So she turns to the Duchess of Love's house party as a way to meet new suitors and hopefully marry before it's too late. Even as she secretly hopes that Ned will finally look on her as more than just an old friend. But she has her work cut out for her.
"You must know I think of you as the sister I never had."After Ned finds Ellie's scandalous red drawers under his bed, where the family cat Reggie likes to hide his stolen treasures, he can't stop trying to reconcile his version of Ellie (solid, respectable, boring) with someone who would wear those alluring undergarments. Of course, Reggie keeps stealing the underwear, no matter how well Ellie tries to hide them. And every time Ned is forced to return them, he's reminded that Ellie isn't who he thought she was.
Ellie's eyes widened. She looked as if she might cast up her accounts all over his shoes.
He stepped back slightly.
"I am not your sister."
"Good God, don't shout." What the hell was the matter with her? Ellie was at heart a reasonable person; she must just be in an odd pet this evening.
While I love friends to lovers stories, or stories of childhood infatuation that grows into something more, it was Ned's parents' story that stole the spotlight in this book. The Duke and Duchess of Love are the ones who get nearly all of the steamy scenes. Which I found really refreshing. It's not often you get sex scenes for characters in their late 40s or 50s, especially in a historical romance. This book was filled with them. They were a *very* frisky couple.
There's very little tension in the book, and it proceeds pretty much as expected. It's still sweet, though, and I loved Reggie's antics. I just think it wasn't quite as balanced or as funny as the author's previous books. And Ned really annoyed me throughout the majority of the book. Obtuse doesn't even begin to cover it.
This is a cute, light historical that accomplishes what it sets out to do. It's just not as funny or original as her Naked series. Yes, Ms. MacKenzie gets marked down for failing to live up to her own standards.
My Grade: B-
Pleasure Is On Her Dance Card
Determined to find a husband, Miss Eleanor "Nell" Bowman attends a ball put on by the Duchess of Greycliffe, fondly referred to as the Duchess of Love. But she roundly dismisses the suitors the matchmaking hostess has invited on her behalf. For it's the duchess's dashing son Ned, Lord Edward, who long ago captured Nell's heart—and roused her desire. All it takes is a pair of conveniently misplaced silky red bloomers to set the handsome widower's gaze on this unusual girl who is clearly more than meets the eye...
After more than a year of mourning, Ned longs to finally start anew. At first glance, the birthday ball his mother has thrown in his honor is decidedly lacking in suitable mistresses. But he senses something unexpectedly alluring beneath the veil of Nell's plain exterior—something she's anxious to reveal, and the lonely Lord is incapable of denying...
I'm really disappointed in Kensington for putting a prequel novella in the print version, but making the ebook folks pay extra to get it. It's a cute little story, and after reading this book, readers will be curious about the The Duchess of Love's own HEA. I think the content should be the same, regardless of the format and am calling this out as bad form.