Tallie's Knight
by Anne Gracie, regency (1997)
Harlequin, $4.50, ISBN 0-373-51137-X

Everyone I know or read online is trying to outdo each other praising Anne Gracie to the stars. Hmmm. Maybe it's just me and the traditional Regency genre not getting along well (the feeling's mutual, I know), but I can't see what the fuss is all about.

Tallie's Knight. Hmmmph. How can you tell whether a woman is a Regency heroine or not? Well, that's an easy one. She is probably introduced doing something important - like writing - instead of doing all those evil frivolous nonsense like dancing or worrying about dresses. Hi Tallie. She's writing in a journal when I first see her. Bingo. She's also being so nice to an annoying cousin. Bingo deux. Regency heroines don't do the standing-up-for-oneself thing, you know. We Regency damsels let the men do that for us.

How do I know whether a man is a hero or not? This is trickier. All men in the Regency Ton don't want to get married. But Magnus is good-looking and rich. Bingo. (Bad rakes are just good-looking, never rich.) He asks his cousin to find him a wife with, among other things, good teeth and breeding. His cousin actually tells him that he may as well be looking for a "brood mare". Now that is an original scene indeed. Brood mare - what a refreshing turn of phrasing.

He decides to propose to Tallie. Why? Tallie is a Good Mother for his kids. She is just what he needs - docile, calm, motherly, and will never ever ever demand anything from him. I guess this book intends to tell me that Tallie will prove him wrong. I still think it proves me right. Marcus did get what he wants: an undemanding dull cow.

Tallie doesn't want to marry him. She wants - get this - to Marry For Love! But her happy, giving, unself-serving, "Yes sir, whatever you want, sir, up or down, whatever you want, sir!" nature will soon restore Magnus' belief that women are good creatures. Not all women want money and shopping. Some, like Tallie, will be happy as long as you pump 'em often, let them play with your kids, and buy 'em some books.

Am I being sarcastic here? Sorry. But I'm bored by this story. Technically, this story is pretty much above average. But this story is so dire in its predictability that I find myself reading with only half the brain on full alert. I find myself diverted more by Tallie's amazing stammer when she is in Magnus' company. "But... I... marriage?!!" Now that's a sign of a good wife. The husband will die of old age before the wife finishes a sentence.

Most of the glowing reviews of this book that I read admit that the story is old but the characters are what make the world go round. Maybe that's it. This book will do well with people who like this sort of thing. Full time traditional Regency readers, if you will. People who are immune to the tidal onslaught of undemanding, docile bluestockings and cynical, arrogant Colonel Von Trapps. Don't forget the kiddies. We all love heroines who are good with kiddies. But I find even the characters' psychology predictable and dull, right down to usual double standards and lauding of feminine bluestocking-dom, docility, and charity.

Whatever. I wish I haven't paid extra for Borders to import a copy of Gallant Waif for me now: I have a feeling it'll be pretty much like Tallie's Knight. Still, what's done is done. When that book arrives, I'll see if it works any better with me than this one. Tallie's Knight... hah. How about Magnus' Spaniel?

Rating: 64

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