Friday, July 27, 2012

Review: Miss Francie's Folly by Fran Baker (3 stars, traditional)

Full Description: Amazon

Rating: 3 out of 5

Thoughts After Reading:
For the most part, I avoid "second chance" romance storylines like the plague. I refer to where the characters have had feelings for each other in the past, are separated (invariably due to a misunderstanding), and get back together over the course of the book. My reasoning is that the protagonists are already in love before the book begins, and the storylines often give new meaning to the word "angst". I also dislike that there is frequently a very thin line between passion and anger in these books. Now Fran Baker's Miss Francie's Folly is exactly this type of theme, but I thought I'd give it a shot since it is a traditional regency. I figured that the style of writing would force the angst to be tempered down, and maybe make for a more enjoyable read. And I was correct, to an extent - the angst was mostly limited to heated discussion, and the constant romantic conflict did keep me engaged in the story. I still didn't find the angst enjoyable, however, and as the storyline progressed the absurdness of the main characters stopped me from feeling much sympathy for either of them.

Three years before the Miss Francie's Folly opens, the hero and heroine were in love and ready to be engaged. On the day of their engagement ball, the heroine sees the hero with his old mistress. Both protagonists have very short tempers, and when she confronts him about it at the engagement ball, the hero gets angry instead of alleviating her concern with an explanation. Believing her worst fears to be confirmed (that the hero plans to be unfaithful), the heroine publicly humiliates the hero by throwing down her ring and storming out of the ball. Fast forward three years, during which the heroine has been working as a teacher. The heroine finds out that her family has gambled their way into debt, and that her sister has accepted a marriage proposal from the hero in order to pay the loans. The heroine rushes back home, and the drama begins. As the reader quickly comes to suspect, the whole thing was plotted by the hero in order to try to win back the heroine. In fact both the hero and heroine are very prone to machinations, ranging from trying to incite jealousy in the other to one point in which the heroine asks to borrow twenty thousand pounds from one of her admirers, right after she turns down his marriage proposal. The heroine's sister has her own secret love interest, so what's the heroine's solution? Flirt with her sister's love, of course - after all the jealousy angle is working so well for her own relationship (insert sarcasm). There's no way in hell the neatly tied up ending is remotely plausible, when you consider all the ridiculousness that has occurred. The personalities of the hero and heroine are almost as bad. Because of their anger problems, they are always arguing or glaring contemptuously at each other or crying or throwing things or getting drunk or screwing up the lives of their friends... Where's the romance in that?

I had hoped that Miss Francie's Folly would improve my view of "second chance" romance stories. However, all it ended up doing was reminding me of the very aspects that I hate. Even worse, the hero and heroine annoyed me to the point that I really didn't care if they had their HEA or not. It was a rather disappointing read.


  1. Some of my favorite stories that feature second chances:
    Private Arrangements by Sherry Thomas (also Not Quite a Husband)
    The Book of Scandal by Julia London
    Almost Heaven by Judith McNaught (also Something Wonderful)
    The Black Hawk by Joanna Bourne

    I understand the concern over the "angst" (which I like) -- and I've only now realized it when you pointed it out:

    "I also dislike that there is frequently a very thin line between passion and anger"

    It does make this sort of story formulaic -- and I wonder if there is a way authors can "re-fresh" this type of story. What I, personally, like about second-chance story is that it gives us a glimpse of what comes after the HEA. ^_^

    Another great review, btw.

    1. Yea, not only is it somewhat formulaic but it makes the romance feel less genuine to me.

      Anyway, thank you for providing a list of your favorite second chance novels :). I'll be sure to look up each one, and see if there are any that catch my eye.


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