Going into this book, I had been expecting something similar to Downton Abbey only much more light-hearted. I’ve heard of Connie’s books before, mainly a book entitled As You Desire, and wanted to see whether her style of writing peaked my interest. While she’s a good writer, her characters angered me to such heights that I can fairly say her work isn’t for me.
The main reasons this book was hell for me:
1. The damsel in distress who makes ridiculously bad decisions.
2. The hero’s name is Ptolemy.
3. The hero’s disillusionment
4. The part where the characters fall in love was missing.
5. The hero’s name is Ptolemy.
6. The heroine was inconsistent to her character
7. The hero rescues slews of damsels.
Okay, so maybe listing the hero’s name isn’t a real reason for not liking this book. But seriously, his name is Ptolemy. However I was really thankful that I didn’t have to go through the entire book reading “Ptolmy, Ptolemy, Ptolemy I love you.” That would have been terrible. No, the heroine calls him Archie, for Ptolemy Archibald Grant.
That’s a handful isn’t it? Archibald. Archie.
Okay so, basically the story is about Archie and Lucy: a love story. Lucy Eastlake is an orphan. When she was a young girl her great aunt’s took her in. She doesn’t consider herself a lady, for she’s not. She’s an actress of the theatre. She loves the audience. The applause. But within the home of her aunt’s comes exciting news, news of rubies. Of past love. Of money they will inherit. So Lucy takes her great aunt’s overseas to France. They think she’s completely and utterly fluent in French. She’s not, but she assumes she can get around France. How hard could it be?
But Lucy gets separated from her aunts and has to take a different ferry. Then sweet and handsome Archibald comes along. They take the trip together. They trail behind Lucy’s aunts. But there’s always something in their way: love, storms, Gypsy’s, and even the police.
The biggest issue I had with this romance novel was Lucy’s decisions and her inconsistency
I wanted to like Lucy. I thought that a character who works in theatre and who isn’t part of the aristocracy would be cool to read about.
Despite the fact that she grew up with a hard life and how people treated her, she failed to realize the reality of life. Not everything is rainbows and fucking sunshine out the wah-zoo. She failed to realize that a stranger wouldn’t just hand them money because they’d fairly earned it, without them making a deal. She failed to realize that love comes from trust and you have to earn that trust. You can’t just prolong your time together just so they’ll stay with you. It doesn’t work that way in real life.
Lucy also seemed inconsistent to her character. Here’s why:
1. She’s scared of getting sick yet she believes: I am quite within my rights to assume I could enjoy your island despite a few bugs and the straw pallet.”
2. She’ll be proud of herself as a woman one moment and then act like a damsel in distress the next: She liked that he’d leapt to her aid. It made her feel like a damsel in distress. And he played knight-errant so naturally…a tad crabbily, true, but naturally nonetheless, as though he’d rescued slews of damsels…
As for Archie, Ptolemy, Archibald whatever you want to call him, really:
I love the sweet guys, the guys that don’t get a lot of attention, the guy that doesn’t act like an ass. He’s geeky, he’s somewhat clumsy, and sometimes he stutters when he’s embarrassed. I found it cute. However, I felt like some things about his character were odd:
Interviewing indigenous people was an art.
Due to generations of systematic oppression, the Romani’s distrust of outsiders was legionary and impenetrable. He would have loved the chance to interview them.
I get that he’s an anthropologist and sometimes forgets what he’s saying, but this I had a hard time deciphering. At first glance, I wanted to punch him in the nuts. But, I don’t want to make presumptions and say that his character is ignorant of those people. The way it’s phrased makes it seem as if he only looks at those people as studies, kind of like they aren’t even real people. But then again, the attitude of the Edwardian era toward people of different cultures such as the Romani was…. not kind. I don’t think this was the author’s intent, but I do think the author could have left this out.
But then there’s the part of the novel where you’re reading along, you’re reading…and Holy fuck! They’re in love? When did that happen? Did I miss something? Where was the development? There wasn’t even a kiss at this point or gazes. You know the kind of gazing I’m talking about. The ones where the author will describe their eyes for an entire page. Yeah. No chemistry buildup. Nothing. It’s not like I expected extra-horny pants or anything. I just expected relationship development. I could see friendship, but nothing romantic. So I didn’t see where it came from. It just slapped me in the face.
Connie Brockway is actually a pretty decent writer; it’s just that her characters didn’t appeal to me. There are certain quotes that I loved:
“And as for love? Love doesn’t pounce on you like some overly friendly puppy or catch you unsuspecting when your resistance is down like a bad head cold. It’s a process. It comes from a slow discovery, from the security of knowing how someone is going to react or what they are going to say, to shared ambitions and a common base of experiences. And from trust. Trust, Lucy. As in not lying to another person or manipulation them or playing havoc with their lives…”
I loved that Archie said this. It’s a great quote and I completely agree with him.
Often I see writers will write entire chapters wherein the characters do absolutely fucking nothing. In reality, I realize authors may think that it’s part of the plot when they write character’s thinking about love, life, death, and whatever insane decision they’re going to make next. But, it’s not plot. It’s information. It’s the character thinking. It doesn’t matter if it’s character development, the fact is that thinking about love on a train is still going to be the character taking a train ride to insert destination here. I don’t mean to be a pest about this, but it happens so much! As a reader, it’s really frustrating to read one book after the next where the author write chapters and chapter where nothing actually happens but the character thinking about their decisions they are to make in the chapters forthcoming.
While I can see why many others absolutely adore Brockway’s books, she just didn’t work within my taste for romance. However I will say that if you like Downton Abbey, if you like travel romances, if you like unconventional heroines, and if you like geeky heroes you might love this book.
ARC provided through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review