Wednesday 19 November 2014

#CBR6 Book 120: "The Season" by Sarah Maclean

Page count: 352 pages
Rating: 2.5 stars

Lady Alexandra Stafford is the only daughter of some nobleman or other (I can't be bothered to go back and check what her exact rank is). She has several tall and attractive brothers who delight in teasing her and generally try their best not to have to accompany her to society events during her first Season. She also has two best friends, Ella and Vivi. They were fairly interchangeable. All three are opinionated, bookish, not really all that interested in marriage and have known each other most of their lives.

Alexandra, annoyingly called Alex a lot of the book, has a mother determined to match make her and her brothers. They need good matches, but especially Alexandra, who finds dress fittings, balls and dinner parties dreary. When her brothers' best friend Gavin, who came into the title of Earl of Blackmoor when his father died suddenly, is convinced that there is foul play afoot and starts investigating his death, Alexandra and her friends insist on helping out. Alexandra also discovers that Gavin looks mighty fine in formal wear, and maybe balls aren't quite so dull if she can dance with him. How has she never noticed how attractive he is? Could it be that she's not as opposed to romantic love and marriage as she thought?

I love Sarah Maclean. I rate most of her historical romances very highly and am waiting with bated breath for the release of the final book in her Rules for Scoundrels series at the end of November. This young adult Regency romance was her first book and the only one I had yet to read. I'm sorry to say that I found it almost painfully dull in places. I'm amazed that only a year after she published The Season, which has uninteresting or plain non-existent characterisation, an incredibly predictable plot, heavy-handed exposition and a deeply uninspiring romance, there was Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake, the first volume in the Ralston trilogy, a book which seems as if it was written by a completely different person.

I can only assume that Maclean actually wrote The Season years before her other romances and spent some time honing her craft. I now consider her one of my very favourite historical romance writers and have re-read several of her books multiple times. This is not a book I will be re-reading. Frankly, it's a book I will try my very best to forget. I really wish I hadn't decided to be such a completist now. Still, having read this, her later romances are even more remarkable achievements. If this is what she started with, then I'm even more impressed with the skill she writes now.

Crossposted on Cannonball Read.

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