Monday, January 9, 2012

An Heir to Spare by Lisa Cooke (3 stars, historical)

Full Description: Amazon

Rating: 3 out of 5

Thoughts After Reading:
An Heir to Spare started out really well for me. Far removed from typical regencies, the author attempted a blend of adventure, intrigue, and romance. The heroine particularly shines as being dedicated and intelligent. She has spent the last seven years of her life trying to appear ugly and ungainly, so that she can respectfully retire as a spinster and collect her inheritance from her mother. After hearing tales about her aunt's adventuring, she longs to be an adventuress herself and be free of any ties like marriage (especially since her mother wasn't treated especially well by her father). The hero is comparably a little bland; but he seems like a fairly typical (handsome) gentleman who will do about anything to get his family back. The hero and heroine also grew up together as children.

The heroine gets her first adventure when she accidentally stows away on the hero's ship to America. Not completely implausible, since the heroine had been helping the hero with the mystery and boards the ship to talk with him. She disguises herself as a cabin boy, but the hero figures it out after a while and helps keep an eye on her. Their adventure continues in America and they eventually make it back on the ship to London. Up til now, the leads have developed a strong attraction to each other as well as a sort of companionship. At this point in the novel, unfortunately, the romance starts to unravel. The hero realizes they love(?) each other, but the heroine isn't convinced and is adamant about not marrying. The characters are at odds about this pretty much the rest of the book, all while the intrigue plotline carries on at full force. There's a quick love scene, the hero tricks the heroine into marriage, she mopes around the house for a few weeks... Finally, he offers an annulment and dejectedly plans to sail off to India (forced drama, anyone?). And then of course the heroine goes with him, conflict resolved. But it wasn't really. The hero never fully understood why the heroine was so unhappy at being pressured into marriage, and most importantly: I never felt much for the characters towards the end; the romance conflict and resolution was BORING.

I thought the adventure and intrigue elements of the book were very well done. But the book is first and foremost a romance novel, and that's where An Heir to Spare fails. The romance is built up nicely towards the beginning of the book, but then seem to be pushed aside later on. As a result, there was no great feeling of happiness or contentment when I turned the last page, only relief that the story was over.

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