Monday 16 July 2018
#CBR10 Book 55: "Wilde in Love" by Eloisa James
Rating: 2.5 stars
Lord Alaric Wilde is the third son of the Duke of Lindow (although the eldest died in a tragic accident a few years back). He's been travelling the world for years, having adventures and while he was gone, the books about his travels have become hugely popular, particularly because of a wildly successful play, portraying him as a tragic romantic hero. Alaric is rather taken aback by his overwhelming fame when he returns home.
At a house party at his father's, there are masses of young ladies who want to meet the tragic hero of Wilde in Love (where Lord Wilde's missionary daughter love interest is eaten by missionaries), but Alaric finds himself drawn to the only woman who is completely unimpressed by him (natch!). She's never read a single one of his books, although she has listened to her best friend rave about her crush for Alaric for several years. Miss Willa Ffynch was one of the most popular young ladies of the season and has turned down countless proposals. She's a very private person and wants nothing to do with a man whose face appears on posters and exploits are written about in the newspapers. Nevertheless, she can't help but be charmed by the charismatic explorer.
When a rather unhinged young lady appears at the duke's residence, claiming to be the author of Wilde in Love, not to mention Lord Alaric's one true love, Willa is persuaded to pose as Alaric's fiancee until the madwoman can be convinced that Alaric has never had, and never will have any feeling for her. Will pretending to be Alaric's intended convince Willa that he's really the man for her?
I usually find Eloisa James' novels at least vaguely entertaining, but this book was a total slog. I pretty much just finished it out of stubbornness. I just really didn't care about the protagonists at all and their romance developed far too quickly. Alaric pretty much falls for Willa at first sight, and they barely spend a week together before she, despite her reservations has fallen for him. There's all manner of strange plot points - he gives her a baby skunk as a gift (because random peddlers in late 18th Century England totally had baby skunks in their wagons), there's his deranged, super religious stalker who they have to deal with.
As the first book in a series, it's also pretty heavily setting up sequels. There's Alaric's older brother North, who because their eldest brother died is the heir to the dukedom. Throughout the book, it's clear that his intended, Diana, has no wish to marry him and only agreed because her mother pressured her into it. She runs away in the end, but is confronted by him in one of the final chapters (just as he's about to go to America to fight in the Revolutionary War - there's NO WAY a duke's heir would have been allowed to join the armed forces and go off to the Colonies to fight a war). I know their book is the next one, and based on their interactions in this book, I'm really not particularly bothered to find out how they eventually find their happy ending.
A couple whose book I may check out, even if I found this book tremendously underwhelming (it wasn't even so bad it's good, just completely meh) is Willa's best friend, Lady Lavinia, who spends most of this book sniping at Alaric's best friend, a super wealthy businessman. I am a sucker for a good enemies to lovers story, and have hopes that it may be more to my tastes than this rather forgettable tale. It's out at the end of July, and if that's a dud too, I think Eloisa James is off my "to read" list. I don't know why so many of my old go-to authors are letting me down at the moment. It makes me sad. At least I got this one on sale, it certainly was not worth full price.
Judging a book by its cover: Points to the cover designer for including a scene that is actually in the book, where Lord Alaric ends up in a pond (for reasons I don't actually remember anymore). Also, way to tap into that Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy in a wet clingy shirt vibe. Points deducted for using a cover model who looks uncannily like a younger version of Rob Brydon, who while frequently very funny, isn't really anyone's idea of a romance hero, as far as I know.
Crossposted on Cannonball Read.