Avon, $6.99, ISBN 0-06-059320-2
Historical Romance, 2005
Victoria Alexander’s Let It Be Love is like a parody of a Avon historical romance, only somehow it is not aware that it is a parody. Perhaps you share the same feelings that I do about how it does seem as if adherence to a set of acceptable heroine behavior (the formula, let’s just call it) takes precedence over actual coherence and logic in the plot? If that is the case, Let It Be Love seems to be trying to prove you right about the wrongness of the state of things.
For example, Fiona Fairchild (twenty-five, doesn’t want a husband, and it’s all the same old things from there) is required by her father’s will to marry or she will lose all her money. Okay, that doesn’t sound so bad, since we all know such romance heroines can survive only on self-righteousness. However, failure to marry will also means that the dowries of her three sisters will be forfeit as well. Oh no! That will not be. Her father also states a suitor from America whom she has never seen, which doesn’t serve much purpose in this story other than to send Fiona into a tizzy – she must marry now or she will not be able to buy new ballroom shoes for her sisters!
So, this leads to her babbling about her predicament to Jonathan Effington who isn’t sure whether he wants to get married and asking him to marry her while attending a masked ball. You see, it’s better to ask some guy out of the blue to marry her than to marry a guy she doesn’t know- something about controlling your destiny and buying new slippers for the sisters, I suppose. Jonathan thinks that this charming woman must be an actress who just wants to get her hands onto his… er, heart, so when he realizes that the “actress” in question is actually the cousin of his friend Oliver Leighton (don’t worry – he’ll no doubt get his book next so you don’t need to remember his name so hard) and she’s very serious about wanting to marry him.
The rest of the story makes no sense as everyone bends over backwards to ensure that Fiona feels happy that she gets to believe she’s still has her pride and independence. I mean, she has a strong family network in London with them more than happy to provide for her and her sisters but Fiona of course wants to prove to all that she’s a woman of independence. Or something. Because Fiona has a knack for drawing erotic pictures (don’t ask), Jonathan decides to pen a lurid tale to accompany Fiona’s artwork to the equivalent of Ellora’s Cave masterpiece in that tale. Don’t ask me why Fiona, a Woman of Independent Means and Brilliant Mind, can’t pen the story herself. The whole This Woman Is Independent set-up is not taken seriously by Jonathan or the author since it’s clear to all but Fiona that her schemes won’t work and Jonathan will have to secretly make things right with his money, so ultimately I don’t know what to make of this story.
Let It Be Love, therefore, is very little more than a threadbare affair consisting of formulaic scenes that don’t make sense when put together. The will is to force Fiona to marry ASAP. The masked ball is a common setting for the author to spin off a new series revolving around Jonathan and his friends. Jonathan and Fiona penning their future Ellora’s Cave bestseller is nothing more than an excuse to get them to do some heavy breathing together. And on and on it goes, really. This book is like a Lego toy where the author fits all the formulaic plot devices and scenes that she can think of together without really concerned about how the overall big picture will look.