by Sabrina Jeffries, historical (2011)
Pocket, $7.99, ISBN 978-1-4391-6755-7
Lady Minerva Sharpe is pretty much ordered by her grandmother to marry or lose her inheritance. Minerva writes Gothic novels using her real name, and all she wants in life is to get a cottage somewhere to write some more. I always wonder why these idiot heroines all share the same dream of a cottage in a backwater podunk area. Why not a house staffed with a maid?
At any rate, Minerva's grand idea to get out of her current predicament is to publicly announce in a tabloid that she will be interviewing any interested gentleman at her family house to fill in the position of her husband. Of course, she then neglects to peek outside the window to see whether those gentlemen in question have shown up. And before you ask, this is a story where the heroine can do anything without genuinely paying the price for the ruination of her reputation. Lip service is paid to guarding her reputation now and then, but nothing really holds Minerva back from doing plenty of stupid things here.
Giles Masters, barrister and obligatory rake, shows up. Naturally, he's the best friend of her brother and she has been in love with him since forever. Giles is not happy with Minerva because she bases the villain of her bestselling books off him. She had caught him in the midst of an action of, uh, dubious legality a while back and he is concerned that she would include that scene in her book, thus casting suspicion on him and ruining his chances of being a King's counsel. Marrying her doesn't seem like a bad idea: he can control her and he'd also like to boink her. What's the big deal? Well, he doesn't count on Minerva being a stupid woman who has no idea what she wants in life.
How To Woo A Reluctant Lady is a very boring story. It is missing a compelling plot. Instead, the author has her characters going through a series of plodding events, so for a long time, the story is not going anywhere, at least not in an interesting direction. Perhaps this will still be fine if the author had created a created a compelling romance. But Giles is a boring stereotype of a man who doesn't believe in love, while Minerva is a dense shrew who thinks nothing of accusing Giles of all kinds of nonsense but acting like a wounded dove when someone rightfully calls her on her stupid antics in this story.
Minerva clearly has no idea what she wants in life, but that doesn't stop her from protesting that Giles is not the right man for her. She thinks she's too notorious for any respectable man, but she doesn't want a man who will break her heart either. So what does she want? She has no clue either, but that doesn't stop her from loudly and shrilly casting aspersions on Giles even as she allows him all kinds of liberty on her body. To make things worse, she comes up with all these stupid plans that everyone can see through, and then blinks like a befuddled goldfish when Giles gets the upper hand yet again over her. While Giles's biggest crime is being a boring doofus, Minerva is as dumb as a doorknob, shrewish and judgmental for no reason, and is as loud as a boiling kettle in the process.
How To Woo A Reluctant Lady is what you get when you remove everything fun from this author's books, leaving behind only the dull and unlikable bits. The book doesn't seem to be going anywhere for a long time, so it is very easy for me to put it down. The unlikable heroine and the bland hero make it easy to forget why I should even bother picking it back up again.
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