Saturday, February 29, 2020

Review - A Suitable Wife

Original Title: A Suitable Wife
Series: Ladies in Waiting, #2
Author: Louise M. Gouge
Published: November 27th 2012

Publisher: Love Inspired Historicals

I was pleasantly surprised by this book. But, although it’s better than the previous one, it’s still brain candy, and I was not expecting a lot from it. It’s a solid three-star book, and as such, I have both good and bad things to say about it. Even though the cover already tells the general tone of the book, it did become fully realistic at some parts, and had elements that I was not expecting to find in a Love Inspired book, like a murder and a hanging.

The protagonist, Lady Beatrice Gregory, was a good character. I liked her general attitude and responses, and how, for a woman in Regency England, took the reins of her household, understanding that she couldn’t rely on others, especially on the ones that supposedly should be responsible for her, like her wastrel brother. She only had herself, and so she acted, having a certain rebellious streak –not very strong, but there nonetheless–, in moments like this:

They had come to be entertained by actors, but they themselves were performing roles neither wished to play. But as the daughter of an earl, she deserved courtesy and would demand it. If she must perform, at least she could write her own lines.

Beatrice understood long ago that she had to find her own path and her own solutions to her problems, and that she couldn’t count on others for that. But not because of any personal conviction, but because she has already assumed that she will never marry, because of her brother’s reputation. She has no further plans for her future, and that was rather sad, considering the potential she had to be her own person.

Something that really bothered me, was this:

Still, her sense of injustice cried out that any man who did not see how different she was from Melton did not deserve her notice or her heart.

This is Beatrice in Chapter ONE!! She and Lord Greystone haven’t had a proper conversation yet, and she’s already thinking of him as husband material! But, of course, by then he is already utterly enchanted. Their attraction is based on outer beauty, instead of personality, and in general, their whole romance is a bad case of insta-love, tinged because she wants him to see she is not like her brother… which he does! But instantly. And instant romance… not my thing. Definitely.

A good thing between them is that they can always be honest with each other, from day one. And they obviously feel attracted to one another. But, as it had to be, they are constantly scolding or stopping themselves when they think of each other, constantly repeating that the other is not interested (which is never true). Like when Beatrice thinks this:

It seemed that every five minutes she needed to remind herself that the viscount had no interest in her, and she must not permit herself to be wounded by his aloofness.

You said it, not me. And you don’t have to tell me every five minutes that you do that, every five minutes. But, again, there’s too much repeating that nothing should happen between them! I ended up almost yelling at my book “we get it! Please move on!”. And then, again:

She must forget the pleasant shivers that swept through her at his touch, must forget the way her heart leaped when he turned those blue eyes in her direction, whether accompanied by a smile or a frown.

It’s like the author is constantly reminding you that they are meant to fall in love, and hence, end up together (like the cover itself isn’t enough). Although, as I said in my review of my previous book, it’s entirely my fault, I knew where I was getting into when I picked up this trilogy. And the repetitiveness continues, especially with Lady Beatrice. Like, at one point, upon entering the ballroom, she’s looking for Lord Greystone, who is not there, and she thinks:

Lord Greystone, the gentleman who owned her heart, had not attended the Drawing Room.

Is it necessary to clarify it again? It’s not like we can forget it. And later:

But she really must cease all this thinking about a gentleman who clearly had no thought for her.

Oh my God, the unnecessary drama! Bear in mind that she thinks this after they have already talked about their feelings, and said that they have an understanding and want to make their relationship official. It bothered me that she thought that way, after he told her that he did care for her. Trust him a little more!

Another thing I noticed is that Beatrice constantly compares Greystone with her brother and father. Both appear to have neglecting parents in common, and in her case, also a brother who wants to marry her off to a horrible man named Rumbold, to settle his gambling debts. We are talking about the same spineless brother who supposedly is the earl and owns Melton Gardens, a state Beatrice herself had to manage because of his incapability, and whose reputation prevents any respectable bachelor from forming an attachment with her. He is, from every point of view, a negative figure. But something that almost made me laugh came when he told her that this Rumbold guy was in love with her, and she wonders:

But how could a gentleman form an attachment with a lady whom he had never met and had seen only briefly across a room?

How funny that she says so about the villain, when Lord Greystone himself did the exact same thing, and they felt attracted to each other in an instant. How come that it’s wrong with one guy, and right with the other?

On the other hand, I liked that we got to know a little more about the eldest Greystone brother in this book. As he is the only sibling that remembers their father, and how violent he was, his story is different from the others’. But there seems to be a problem with fathers in this book, in general. One the one hand you have Beatrice, who doesn’t want to marry a man who could be neglecting the way her father was, and on the other, you have Greystone torn between wanting to find a wife, and at the same time, scared to become a man like his father. It’s a realistic kind of fear, though. I’ve seen it happening in real life, so it’s not something I fully criticize. But, my point is, even with all his insecurities and fears, Greystone falls head over heels for Beatrice, based on her beauty, and at one moment, he says:

Like a smitten schoolboy, he had fallen wildly in love with her outward beauty and graciousness. But were there hidden faults beneath that exquisite face, that flawless deportment?

Duh, Greystone. If you don’t know by this stage of your life that every single person has faults, no matter how beautiful they are on the outside, I can’t help you. Sorry.

But that’s not the only moment in which it happens. Like when he’s worried that Beatrice may prefer his rival, Winston, and thinks:

Greystone had known her for such a short time and had no idea whether or not she was at all fickle.

You don’t know that, and yet, you say to love her? Really?

Ok, enough about that.

The other characters were interesting, and I liked most of them, especially Mrs. Parton, who hires Beatrice as her companion, but still treats her as the lady she is, being an earl’s daughter, and was smart enough as to consider her as her own person, disconnected from her brother’s ways. She even protects her from him, and is the first person who tries to match her with Greystone, knowing love when she sees it. And she’s kind, generous and funny. A lovable character. As for Greystone’s mother, the woman that in the previous book was a robot, we finally get some glimpse into her past that justifies her attitude! And it is perfectly understandable. Knowing a little more about her husband finally explains her bitterness, and it’s possible to see how she is like that. I liked that, even though she’s cold and ruled by duty, she was strong enough to never give up on their children, who grew up to be respectable men, in despite that being married to such a violent man would have cost her life. That is a strong woman for me. And it’s a shame that she can’t marry Uncle Grenville because of the law; they should definitely take Edmond’s advice and go to Gretna Green, because, at this stage of their lives, they should care very little about what others would think, and a lot for their overdue happiness.

As for the storyline about Melly and his bad habits, I thought it was well done. The Christian aspect is amazingly done, in the sense that I didn’t expect this book to get so raw and realistic. Melly was the cause of everything wrong in his sister’s life, gambling away her dowry, and wasting the family’s fortune, to the point of using her as means to an end, to pay his enormous gambling debts. And it was a little shocking that it took no less than a murder for him to notice what he was doing, because seeing Rumbold’s mistress laying on the floor hit him with the fact that the one ending like that could very well be his sister. I never saw that coming in one of this Love Inspired books, but it definitely has a good way of showing how God is in true repentance, that He always loves us, and seeks us, no matter how far we go. When he surrendered himself to God and asked for His help out of despair and honesty in his heart, he found a way. His story shows how God can use even the most difficult situations as the door that leads to something good.

As for the plot around the two little chimney-sweep boys, I didn’t really care a lot about it, and much less about the stolen necklace subplot. It was more than obvious that Lucy was responsible for it, there was no mystery there. Even though I wasn’t exactly eager to read about both side storylines, I saw how the author used both situations for Beatrice and Greystone to know one another in moments in which they were not in society and could be utterly themselves. Not bad. But I thought that Greystone and Beatrice would end up adopting the boys as their children instead of just sending them to school.

As for Winston, Greystone’s rival, I think he proved to be made of a harder paste than everyone thought, facing the thugs in the Thames alone, after rescuing the boys. I honestly laughed out loud when he said:

I say, Greystone, do you have any more brothers, or may I proceed in my search for a wife without further interruptions from your family?

Haha, poor thing! But still, both this book and the previous one, have subtle introductions to the protagonist of the next one. In A Proper Companion, Mrs. Parton said she had hired a prestigious lady to be her companion, but her name was never mentioned, and now, this Miss Hart, Lady Blakemore’s companion, is going to be the protagonist in the next book. And with Winston! No Greystone brothers on the way, luckily for him.

So, in short, this is a book that it wasn’t exactly bad, but it could have been so much better! Especially if both Beatrice and Greystone would have talked more before surrendering their hearts. A witty banter between them would have been a lot more fun to read.

There’s one book left, and I don’t have a lot of expectations on it, but I’m definitely open for more brain candy. Hope it’s good!


Post a Comment