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Posted May 22, 2014
This is yet another charming and very funny novella by Maya Roda
This is yet another charming and very funny novella by Maya Rodale, one of my auto-read authors. I first read this book last year but recently also read the new revised edition.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
I must first add a disclaimer that I am completely unfamiliar with pop star Beyoncé, her career, or her music, which inspired Rodale to write this novella, so all allusions are lost on me; I’m sure it would be lots of fun for Beyoncé fans and all chapter titles are song titles.
Personally, I didn’t find anything lacking in the original version as I love Rodale’s writing voice and the original (and funny) stories she weaves. In fact, I was surprised to hear she revised it. To me, it just means even more fun writing to enjoy.
In the revised version, there is a prologue which gives some very amusing background into Susannah and Damien’s childhoods, their impressions of each other growing up, and their experiences while apart that lead them to where they are now: Damien, long thought dead, shows up at a ball seeking to find Susannah and finally marry her. For her part, Susannah is having the time of her life enjoying her freedom and her wealth, after years under the thumb of parents and obnoxious relations.
“No one asked Stanford if he thought it was time to take a wife. But a woman…her whole life was a quest to snare a husband. And then what? No more flirtations, no more intrigues, no more possibilities.”
The premise of the hero indulging the heroine in her desire to enjoy freedom and break the rules brought to mind Calpurnia Hartwell from Sarah MacLean’s Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake. It is the way to Susannah’s heart and it is very smart of Damien to realize this.
Damien and Susannah have been promised to one another since childhood and, growing up, Damien, Viscount Bedford, had felt little attraction to her. And she was plain. After university, he hightailed it to the continent for his Grand Tour (and lots of fun) and left her dangling, expecting her to wait for him…for NINE YEARS. After his father’s death however, something changed in him and he realized he had responsibilities to face up to.
"Finally, he would be the son his father always wanted to have. Starting with the fiancé he left behind.” (p17)
Of course, Susannah gave up waiting around for him despite her attraction to him and, when she comes into her inheritance, decides against marriage and is even thinking of taking a lover when Damien waltzes back into her life, thinking she will simply fall into his arms.
”’Let me guess. You have tired of your rake hell ways and have come to reform, in honor of the memory of your father. The first thing, of course, is to marry that plain, pesky girl to whom you’ve been betrothed since forever.’” (p33)
But eventually, of course, Susannah comes to see otherwise.
“She was determined to refuse and resist him. She would not lose her freedom over some fleeting bout of lust. But it was complicated by the fact that he alone knew her wishes and he alone was considerate enough to honor them.” (p104)
What I love most about Rodale’s writing style and voice is her humor. She simply makes me laugh out loud and I especially like how she capitalizes words for emphasis; so exaggeratedly dramatic:
“He wasn’t Damien the Debauched but Bedford the Behaved.” (p26)
“Of course, news of Damien’s return traveled fast and the ton would be expecting A Scene.” (p47)
“All of it declared she was A Person of Consequence.” (p109)
Despite Damien’s initial arrogance in assuming that Susannah will fall at his feet, I can’t help but like him. Once he realizes his mistakes, he vows to make her fall in love with him and the lengths he goes to to win her are charming. And, oh, the tea set scene!
“He put her in mind of one of the naked Roman statues she occasionally stared at for longer than was seemly (and really, ‘twas the only reason to visit the British Museum).”
The London Weekly, a scandal sheet, makes its appearance once again here as it has in most of the Rodale’s other works, reporting on all the salacious rumors and gossip of Polite Society.
I like to find any Jane Austen references and I wonder if Rodale found the name Miss Grey from Sense and Sensibility, Willoughby’s rich and sophisticated wife?
“His plans, gone up in smoke. His wits, dissolved. His desire, inflamed.” (p29)
“‘It’s more than that Damien,’ she said impatiently. ‘I want to enjoy my freedom. I want to…roll out of bed in the morning and dress and have adventures. Think of all the adventures you have had—drinking beer with your mates, chasing after girls, doing whatever you wanted, and never being confronted for it.’ She had summed up his pas nine years so perfectly that she also summed up her own: bound by propriety, the wills of others, long bleak days of nothing.” (p77)
“Freedom! Liberty! Mistress to herself and no one else!” (p126)
Hilarious, saucy, and always sparkling, this story is just plain fun.
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