Wednesday, May 25

The Perfect Mistress by Victoria Alexander

May end up as part of a trilogy – stay tuned!!!

Alexander’s wit and charm cannot be missed, especially in her characters. All of the characters – both our main couple (Julia and Harrison) and their friends and family – possessed extraordinary sarcastic wits. It made for some of the most amusing dialogue I’ve read in a very long time (although Bewitching by Jill Barnett is another book with the same sarcastic humor). Each scene was delightfully funny as the characters bantered with dry intelligence and sharp tongues. And there was a lot of bantering, dear reader, because this book had a TON of dialogue. I think, despite the sheer amount of chit-chat that occurred, the book was enhanced by the extensive dialogue rather than hindered.

Our heroine, the young widow Lady Julia Winterset, is considering publishing her great-grandmother’s scandalous memoirs. She knows they will fetch a decent amount (“scandal sells books”) and needs the money to get by financially for the next few years as her husband did not leave her well off, or even decently provided for. Our hero, Lord Harrison Landingham, the Earl of Mountdale and future Marquess of Kingsbury, is an uptight, pretentious, sanctimonious prig at first glance (and second and third, actually). He discovers that the memoirs, which include a mention of his very alive father, are to be published and offers Julia money to keep them from being published. She refuses – and the plot revolves around his various ‘brilliant’ plans to get the memoirs from her and save his family from scandal.

This book contains some really amusing scenes (one with a man named Ellsworth in a library) which would make me recommend this book simply because it’s hysterically funny. The plot overall was rather weak and the characters could have used a bit more fleshing out (though they were far from bare-bones). Harrison rubbed me the wrong way for the entire book because of his attitude towards women, though it would’ve been a very typical view for a man of the day. I suppose I can be faulted for liking some contemporary qualities in my historical heroes, but his disrespectful attitude towards women and their ‘lesser intelligence’ never really changed throughout the book, even after being bested by Julia several times. I could never understand why, when he did all sorts of other changing, Alexander kept his attitude towards women the same. 

Julia, her friend Veronica, and the ghost of her great-grandmother Hermione (yes, there is a ghost in this historical romance. But she’s not all eerie-spooky-creepy, so I went with it) were really spunky. Like I’ve mentioned, they each had that sarcastic wit. They were fun to be around and I truly enjoyed their company. I was even sad when Hermione had to go at the end. Speaking of the end, there were some loose ends left flapping that I wasn’t sure I didn’t want tied (like what happened with Cadwallender? He dropped off the face of the earth! I hate that). Alexander ultimately writes a good book, and I would recommend The Perfect Mistress for the humor alone. Have a laugh.

Favorite quotes:

 “I do hope your friend is not as annoying as you are.” (Harrison)
“Goodness, why on earth would I have a friend who wasn’t?” (Victoria)

 “She’s as sane as I am.” (Mrs. Philpot)
“Oh, that’s a ringing endorsement.” (Eleanor)

“In addition, I have legions of admirers who would not take your running me through at all well.” (Ellsworth)
Harrison raised a brow. “Public outcry, you think?”
“I should hope so.” Ellsworth huffed.
“I should think there would be legions of women who would applaud him and wish they’d done the deed themselves!” Julia’s voice rang with outrage.
“Again, Lady Winterset” – Ellsworth grinned in an unrepentant manner – “I should hope so.”
 “Sexy”ness rating: Pretty hot.
Overall Rating: B-

Bottom Line: The hero was rather annoying – I found myself not at all charmed by him throughout the book. However, the wit and humor of our heroine and the other characters really won me over, and they were indeed quite charming. This book has some serious humor.

Pages: 352
Published: February 2011
Genre: Historical

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