In what is becoming a recurring theme of my reading pattern at the moment, Julia London is another author of historical romances who I first heard about over at The Book Smuggler's blog. I happened to see one of her books on the just returned trolley at my library and, in spite of the very 80's looking cover, thought it would be worth a try.
"Ava and Phoebe Fairchild and their cousin Greer, popular young ladies of the ton, discover they're destitute when their mother dies. Their stepfather has absconded to Paris with their mother's fortune, leaving them with a miserly stipend and under the watchful eye of his sister, an austere spinster. In order to maintain the lifestyle they are accustomed to Ava, the eldest girl, hunts down handsome Jared Broderick, the Earl of Middleton and heir to a dukedom, and marries him. Only after their passionate wedding night does Ava realize Jared had ulterior motives for marrying her. He intends for Ava to serve as his socially-acceptable wife so his very proper father will not disown him for pursuing a love affair with a beautiful, sophisticated widow."
This is the first in a trilogy of books featuring Ava, Phobe and Greer called the "Desperate Debutantes". Now I realise that there is a certain amount of freedom allowed to a book in a historical setting* given that the story needs to appeal to a modern audience but for me, this book could have been vastly improved with some decent research and the removal of several unnecessary Americanisms that jarred horribly.
A really simple example to illustrate what I mean - calling the hero Jared Broderick just felt wrong and as though he should be a cowboy rather than an Earl. I felt that neither him or Ava acted in a convincing way based on their places in society (or the ton as it was referred to far too often) and the social framework of the day. Frankly, Jared would have been more likely to make Ava his mistress than his wife and I wouldn't have blamed him and I'm not entirely sure what she could have done about it either. It is quite possible that I am over-thinking this one but I had to wonder why bother setting this book loosely in this era if you're not going to bother accurately applying research that I would presume did take place? I notice that the synopsis of the book featuring Greer (another odd choice of name) includes reference to the Prince of Powys. Suspect I'd better avoid that one if I want authentic history as a backdrop!
Perhaps I have read too many historical romances back to back now but I found myself a little disappointed in this one but to be fair only for the reasons above. The characters themselves were fine and the plot much as expected. Maybe I've not chosen the right Julia London book to read first, and am being overly picky, but I just didn't enjoy this book as much as I have the other books I've been reading recently so don't think I'll bother reading any more of hers unless I hear otherwise!
*For example, just how many Dukes and Earls did Great Britain have in the 1800s to feature as husband material in all the novels of this genre I've been recently reading?