Tuesday 15 May 2018

#CBR10 Book 40: "Once Upon a Marquess" by Courtney Milan

Page count: 372 pages
Rating: 3.5 stars

This is a re-read. My original review of the book can be found here.

This book was such a disappointment to me when it came out, and as I mention in my original review, it was not an easy book for Ms. Milan to write, and felt a bit cobbled together and nothing really worked all that well as a result.

With the next volume in the series just around the corner, I found myself barely remembering anything about this book and wanted to re-read it. I'm glad I did, because I had forgotten pretty much everything but the major plot-beats (and that I hated Theresa, the youngest Worth sister). One thing that changed between my first read and this re-read is that I read a short story (given away as a freebie to Courtney Milan newsletter subscribers) about Theresa, set some time after this book, and it gave me more insight into her character. With hindsight, knowing how much Ms Milan struggled to get this whole novel to work, I suspect Theresa and her neuro-atypical outlook at the world, let alone her completely different life goals from Judith got short shrift in the book and she came across as rather more insufferable than the author intended. And I had forgotten just how much I enjoyed her adventures in bread-baking in the latter part of the book.

Re-reading the book with lowered expectations absolutely helped, but I didn't find myself able to adjust the rating, as there are just too many story lines battling for space in the book and Christian and Judith's romance really gets lost. While I'm sure it was supposed to be cute and quirky, I also found myself rather annoyed by Judith's tendency to use water fowl terminology to swear. Can't really blame the woman for her love of bread and sandwiches though. The description of her gorging herself on freshly baked bread and butter when visiting Christian made me really hungry.

As part one of a long (and I suspect rather sprawling) series, I think this is probably a good book. It does a good job of introducing all the characters in the Worth family, even if Anthony and Camilla are mostly talked about, rather than appearing in person. It's just not a very satisfying romance, as too many other things and characters fight for the reader's attention throughout the book.

Judging a book by its cover: Another Courtney Milan, another photo-shopped wedding dress, this one with one of the seemingly endless skirts that can be found on so many romance covers. I'm not a big fan of the muted brown countryside in the background, although the sky is pleasant. Since Judith and her siblings live in the city, I would have much preferred an urban backdrop rather than pastoral fields.

Crossposted on Cannonball Read.

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