Avon Impulse, $4.99, ISBN 978-0-06-231575-5
Historical Romance, 2014
False engagement stories are pretty much a staple of the historical romance genre. Everyone wants to be part of one, and every author wants to write one, or maybe six. In Daring Miss Danvers, our hero Oliver Goswick (not Grosswick), Viscount Rathburn, needs money to start up a training school for healthcare professionals to specialize in treating burn patients. However, his inheritance is controlled by his grandmother, and she would only release the dough to him if he marries first. So, Oliver decides to hit up his best friend’s sister, Emma Danvers, for the fake fiancée gig. It’s no big deal. In nineteenth century, it’s very easy to get an engagement dissolved with no impact on the social standings of the hero or the heroine – people do it all the time, especially on Sundays!
Emma is sure that this Season would be her last, before she resigns herself to a life on the shelf. You see, her father deliberately sets a low dowry on her, and she agrees with this move because this would ensure that any man who proposes to her really loves her. You know how it should be – marriage is love or death, but sleeping with a guy without any commitment on his part on making the relationship permanent is beautiful because the leg spread is done in the name of true love.
The first problem of Daring Miss Danvers is how Emma doesn’t really have a good reason to go along with Oliver’s plan. She only knows about his plans much later, so she basically risks her reputation just because the story has to go on. This doesn’t reflect well on her intelligence, naturally. She knows what she is getting into, and yet, later in the story, she’s all about the boo-hoo-hoo (really, just count the moments when she cries) because the guy marries her out of convenience, for his inheritance. She made the bed, and now she’s crying because she has to sleep on it. I don’t know, am I supposed to feel sorry for her? Maybe I would, if she doesn’t get fixated on a most bizarre premise: she loves Oliver, so she must end the sham engagement so that he gets his inheritance.
Considering that his receiving his inheritance is conditional on him getting married, I don’t know why she feels that she has to end it. Perhaps she thinks that she has to free him so that he can marry for love? That would make her the biggest idiot since the last heroine in Mary Balogh’s most recent book, right, as she’d given away her virtue, reputation, and more so that her true love can get his money and have fun without her?
Oliver does want to marry Emma, but of course he can’t tell her, so she goes around finding excuses to insist that she must end the engagement. He naturally takes this as a sign that he must let her go, as he is clearly not good enough for her. But that’s okay, he’d pork her anyway because, you know, true love and passion and the editor needs some love scenes in this story, so yes, taking everything from a moron and leaving her with nothing but a ruined reputation is what every nice guy does for the woman he loves.
I also never understand why all these fake-engaged people never seem to realize that ending it as soon as the hero gets what he wants is a tell-tale sign that the whole thing is a sham. Do they think his grandmother is a complete idiot? Well, they’re idiots, so maybe the answer is yes.
Anyway, Daring Miss Danvers showcases some bouncy narrative and jovial humor on the author’s part. It’s an easy read, and the main characters have some chemistry. This is the only reason why I toss another oogie into its final rating – when it comes to everything else about the story, Vivienne Lorret pretty much tells me that one plus one is seven and leaves me scrambling to figure out how she came to that conclusion. And the only reason I can think of is that the main characters are morons and the author has made a big mistake.