Friday, May 3, 2013

The Heir by Grace Burrowes

Skeptic scale: ♥♥♥

Q: How many dukes were there during the Regency period? 
A: Around 25

Q: How many books are there about a dashingly handsome duke set in the Regency period?
A: 862,657; "The Heir" is one of them.*
*Actually, he's "only" an earl right now, but he's heir to the dukedom, which is almost as good as the real thing.

Q: What gives?
A: We obviously like our men to be on top of the food chain.

I mean, given a choice would you rather get with a magnificent tawny lion, apex predator, Lord of the Jungle, or are you going to waste your time with a fribble of a Western Honey Badger? Both are predators, sure, but we know who's playing in the bush leagues here... 

Bring on the lions!

He: Gayle Windham, Earl of Westhaven, heir to the Duchy of Moreland is trying to evade matrimony - especially because his father has slyly been playing matchmaker behind his back in the hopes of forcing him to produce some grandchildren and secure the Moreland line of succession. He's described as serious, hardworking and kind. 

She: Anna Seaton is the housekeeper of the earl's bachelor townhouse in London. But she's obviously better educated and more refined than your typical housekeeper so you know she's got a back story. She's a babe (obviously), but also competent and sensible.

Conflict: Same one as always - different classes, different social circumstances. Except in this book, strangely, the fact that she was basically a maid in his employ didn't seem to faze the characters - even the earl's father, the duke who you would expect would have some objections there. You'd expect someone to say something about it. But this version of British upper crust society seems to have a rather more open minded picture of what constituted an acceptable consort for an earl. Anyway, the conflict ends up being this terrible secret she's withholding from him and repeatedly refuses to tell him about. 

The goods:
1) The writing really had some killer Regency authenticity! GB didn't break character with Americanisms (as authors, frustratingly, often do - "kid" was not a word used in 1800s. Neither was "I guess so.") I was reminded of that Grande Dame of the period, Georgette Heyer and that was just super.

2) Her characters were likable and "spoke" often enough that we got a sense of their voice and personality.

The mehs:
1) Not much really happened in the story. I guess a lot happened between the H & h, but apart from a few scenes at the end when her secret gets out, there is very little in the way of "action"

2) Speaking about action... I can't believe I'm going to put this in the "mehs" category - the sexy bits were numerous but absurdly clinical. There is a lot of calm, unruffled reference to his "genitals" and him getting himself off and whatnot. It was well-written, but I was just thrown a little by how medical it all sounded. Even with all the padding around those scenes describing how much they longed for each other, I just couldn't escape feeling like I had just been given a tutorial of the proceedings as narrated by some plummy British lady from a BBC nature program.

3) The end sort of dragged on and made me annoyed with the heroine. I didn't exactly agree with her reasons for keeping herself apart from him and it just went on too long.

All in all, a decent read in spite of the story being a little bit blah. The perfect language really did it for me. She obviously did tons of great research on idiomatic expressions and the customs of the times and it played well while reading the story. GB is on my list.

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