27/04/2012

The Lady Most Likely (by Julia Quinn, Connie Brockway and Eloisa James)

I've enjoyed the Regency Romance style of light historical novel for many years. So although I had never heard of the three authors of this book (Julia Quinn, Connie Brockway and Eloisa James) I thought I'd offer to review it when I saw it sitting on the 'Bookbag' site shelves. The cover is appealing, and the blurb on Amazon sounded as if it would make a good story.

'The lady most likely' is a three-part novel set in 1817. It's really three connected novellas written respectively by the three different authors, with a joint introduction and ending. The main plot concept is that Hugh, the Earl of Briarly, has decided to get married. Not being terribly sociable, he asks his sister to produce a list of eligible young ladies; she does so, and then organises a house party to which they and various other friends are invited.  The three novellas then take place during the house party.

The first two parts of the book feature two of these young ladies and their developing relationships with other men - not that Hugh seems to mind in the slightest. Then the final part features Hugh getting together with the lady with whom it was obvious in the first chapter that he was going to end up marrying, although she was not on his list.  Somewhat predictable, but that's not a problem - this genre of romantic story usually is.

Unfortunately, the storylines are thin, almost devoid of conflict, and the characterisation rather poor. The first part was written in a confusion of modern and 19th century language, and did not feel very authentic; the second part worked better from that point of view, and was my favourite of the three sections. The final part also is also written well, until the last part when there is a lengthy and extremely raunchy scene which adds nothing to the novel, and which is so entirely out of character for the people concerned that it didn't work at all.

Then there are rather an annoying number of anachronisms. Worse still, there are a few jarring Americanisms which wouldn't have been a problem for a contemporary novel, but feel totally out of place in an early 19th century stately home in the UK. I didn't mind the many American spellings - the book was published in the US, and evidently the publishers didn't feel it worthwhile producing a British  edition - but I don't like being jolted out of a storyline by something quite inappropriate (a 'darling' hat, for instance). So, overall, I really wasn't very impressed. I thought the idea of the collaboration by three authors was intriguing, but the final result, three rather dull novellas, was something of a disappointment.

Still, it would probably make good holiday reading as it's fluffy and undemanding.

You can also read my longer review of 'The Lady Most Likely' at the Bookbag site. 

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