Montlake Romance, $12.95, ISBN 978-1-477-80858-0
Historical Romance, 2013
No Place for a Dame is a sequel to All through the Night, released 17 years after the publication of that book, although this one stands alone considerably in that the plot of this story mostly has nothing to do with the plot of the previous book. Giles Dalton, Lord Strand, however, is a recurring character in the previous two books of this series and he makes an effort to locate Jack Seward, the hero of All through the Night who has gone MIA with Jack’s wife. I do recommend reading, at the very least, Jack’s story as it is one of my all-time favorite romances.
And that’s the trouble with this book in a nutshell: it is a follow-up to one of my all-time favorite romances.
You see, some books end on such a perfect note, there is really no need for a sequel. In fact, sequels often ruin everything. All through the Night ended in what I feel is the most perfect way possible for that story: the two main characters found their happy ending and simply vanished into the night, leaving behind their past lives. What happens to them is up to my imagination. They could die in a blaze of glory or grow old together in some distant corner of the world. I don’t care. Their love story is grand and larger than life, to the point that see them have a happy ending that could very well be too optimistic or sentimental would have ruined everything.
So, that is one strike against this book: I don’t give a damn whether Giles succeeds in locating Jack or not. In fact, I don’t want him to succeed. A story where I don’t have emotional interest in seeing the hero succeed is not exactly what I’d consider an engaging read.
Another problem is this: Giles in All through the Night had become so jaded and cynical that he ended up in a relationship with Sophia North, basically his female counterpart. I loved this coupling, because it was so screwed up that it just might worked very well. In No Place for a Dame, however, the first chapter reduces Sophia, who was built up to be a two-dimensional character in the previous book, into a standard caricature of a scheming, money-hungry, dim-witted dolt who is also shrill and shrewish to boot. She gets her humiliating boot in the by the third chapter of this book, and her character never recovers.
Worse, her boot is engineered by our heroine, Avery Quinn, the standard “bookworm miss with ambitions, held back by her gender, and the neighbor who has had a thing for the hero all along” character, solely because she has read about Sophia in the papers and knows that Giles is too good for her. The implication here is unfortunate: no matter how disreputable or sordid a gentleman can be, he is still too good for any woman who isn’t the romance heroine. Giles, of course, is glad to be rid of the fiancée (one that he proposed to in the first place, mind you) because she’s become tedious and tiresome, so he feels obliged to help Avery in return.
Avery fancies herself an astronomer, you see, and she wants to be a member of the Royal Astronomical Society, but she lacks the correct dangling bits between her legs to qualify for entry. She’d dress up as a boy, and Giles would sponsor her by passing her off as his prodigy. This charade would also give him an alibi to be in London as he looks for Jack.
Oh boy, where do I start? How about Giles being forcefully morphed into the standard “damaged and misunderstood bloke who is alright because he has an old run-down property he is fond of and he also has some hidden bookish passion” guy? He is still capable of violence here, but he is paired off with a wide-eyed ninny who barely knows who he really is by the last page of this story. Avery is too much of a stock ninny with more enthusiasm than common sense to be believably passed off as girlfriend material for someone like Giles. Sure, opposites attract, but he’s probably too jaded and worldly to have much in common with Avery once the novelty of shagging an innocent twit, who is everything unlike the woman he lost to Jack, fades.
I tried really hard to pretend that this story is not related in any way to other books, as it’s probably the only way for me to halfway enjoy it, but it’s impossible when Giles is looking for Jack and these characters’ degeneration into standard romance novel characters are at my face every time I turn the page. It’s painful. I wished the author had used this plot for an entirely unrelated book with brand new characters. But with it being what it is, I’ll just put this book aside and pretend that it doesn’t exist and, therefore, my fond memories of All through the Night remain untainted by unnecessary sequels.