Apr. 17th, 2006

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I adore Loretta Chase's books, and I've been enjoying the current Carsington brothers series quite a bit. Except for the last one, Lord Perfect. I thought maybe that it was just my reading slump this year, but other people have also posted that it fell flat for them. I was relieved that my taste was no longer severely in question, but not sure what to make of it.

Then I realized what the problem was: no real conflict. The reason Benedict and Bathsheba Cannot Ever Marry makes sense on the surface, but if you stop going with Regency Defaults and actually read, it's bogus. Yes, yes, I know marrying someone of Bad Family is a problem. Bathsheba is one of the bad branch of the DeLucy family tree, and therefore socially unacceptable, despite being herself virtuous, honest, beatiful, etc. etc.

But...why is it a problem for Benedict? He's rich, handsome, wealthy, noble, heir to a substantial title, of impeccable lineage and reputation: his credit could withstand any number of Dreadful DeLucys. If the problem is that he fears being pitied like her first husband, for being caught in the toils of a Fascinating Woman, then he isn't worthy, period, and who cares whether they marry? If his fear is that the damage to his reputation will damage his Good Works and Meaningful Life, well, he doesn't do anything in the book other than babysit his nephew and look perfect, so while it may be true it doesn't work for the story.

If he fears his father's disapproval -- well, the whole stern-patriarch-who-forces-son-into-dutiful-mold was pretty well shattered by the end of the book, so either Benedict is pathologically wrapped up in what he thinks his father ought to want but doesn't, or the characterization of the father is broken. Since Dad's pretty consistent in the previous books, it actually seems more like Perfect Benedict has some Issues that the author isn't noticing. He's stiff and all, and Bathsheba loosens him up, sure, but there's still a Big Misunderstanding. With his father. And, I'm sorry, he's old enough that that just strikes me as kind of pathetic.

Because of this, when Benedict makes his Big Decision to Give it All Up for Love, it's already clear that a) Dad will welcome her, so that's not a problem, and b) Society will follow Dad, so that's not a problem. Therefore: no real conflict, just a stupid Big Misunderstanding with a secondary character. This doesn't strike me as terribly romantic.

I've noticed that I'm not talking much about the heroine. I've considered this, and decide that she's, well, kind of perfect. Beautiful, sensible, practical, funny, charming, etc. etc. Since I, as a modern reader, do not care that she is from the rotten branch of the DeLucys, that wasn't really a strike against her. I found her interesting, but she didn't really have much to do. Except, well, maybe better.

The children were charming -- a bit too charming to be real, but a welcome distraction from the boring adults.

Hopefully, the next book will not depend on cliché. Or I'll be in a better mood. Or something.

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May 2012

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