Pocket, $7.99, ISBN 978-1-4767-8604-9
Historical Romance, 2015
Romance heroines are Sabrina Jeffries’s Achilles heel – on a bad day, these heroines exhibit a combo of being stupid, being judgmental for no good season, being hypocritical, acting shrill, and coming off all around as annoying as hell. Jane Vernon, the heroine in If the Viscount Falls, is one of the most annoying ones I’ve come across from this author, so you can imagine how painful reading this book can be to me.
This is the last book in the author’s The Duke’s Men series, but it can stand alone as there is enough background information here to help new readers catch up. However, this book contains major spoilers for the previous book, and this review, in fact, allows folks to deduce easily what that spoiler in question is all about. So, if you want to read the previous book one day and don’t want to be spoiled, don’t read this book first and don’t read this review as well. You’ve been warned!
So, anyway, twelve years ago, Dominick Manton was engaged to Jane, but when George Manton, Dom’s brother, engineered things so that George would get the title when Dom would get a pitiful stipend, he realized that he had to ditch Jane. For her own good, naturally. Of course, no one seek Jane’s opinion in this, although judging from Jane’s behavior in this story, that may actually be a wise course of action. So, because he knew that Jane would never break it off with him as he knew just how much she loved him – and sadly, this is true – he decided to let her catch him in a naughty scene with her BFF. Jane was like, oh, love is a lie so it’s… a lie!
So, today. Dom is wealthy, George is out of the picture, but Jane is back in the picture when she needs Dom’s help to locate the missing BFF. Jane knows from her BFF that Dom engineered the scene twelve years back, but that’s okay, she’s so over him now. Right? They can work together and locate Nancy, and then they can go their separate lives – her to her new fiancé, and he to whatever dishonorable life he leads. After all, she knows that he’s an immoral wretch, unlike her, a virtuous damsel who… kisses Dom when she’s an engaged woman, sleeps with him too, but I guess that’s different somehow. Since she’s virtuous and she’s also a self-appointed expert in men, she knows that Dom is a dishonorable wretch and tells him so, all the whole scolding and berating elderly women who dare to say something even a little negative about Dom. The author also tags adjectives like “sharply” to sentences in which Jane opens her mouth, making Jane seem like an especially annoying type of shrew who is begging for someone to push a pillow over her face and sit on it until she stops moving.
Dom is a standard hero by this author – he won’t love, he has been hurt before, the same old story. Still, he has a good reason to break things off the last time around, so it’s not like he’s the complete wretch that Jane thinks he is. His method could have been more… refined, but Jane has shown that she has no common sense, so I don’t know what else he could have done.
The mystery could have been interesting, but it ends up being pretty dull as it sees the two main characters go from one point to another, with Dom and Jane bickering all the time.
If the Viscount Falls is a story that is singularly lacking in charm and likability. The whole experience is like rubbing a cheese grater against my face, and much of the pain comes from the heroine who behaves like she’s a petulant child who has never grown up even a little in the past twelve years. Lots of hyperbole and broad generalizations are passed off as conflict – all men are bastards, all women are heartbreakers, et cetera – making me feel like I’m reading “relationship advice” from Tumblr princes and princesses who, in real life, have never actually touched another human being before. We should set a rule where only people with over a certain amount of brainpower are allowed to fall in love in romance novels.