Avon, $7.99, ISBN 978-0-06-228398-6
Historical Romance, 2017
I have only resumed reading Elizabeth Boyle’s books recently, which means I’ve missed out on a huge chunk of her Rhymes with Love series. This is an issue because Six Impossible Things has so many off-hand references to events and appearances of characters from previous books that I have no clue what is going on here most of the time. Therefore, please don’t hurt me if I get things wrong in the synopsis of this story, I can only buy and read so many books after all.
Roselie Stratton is some kind of… undercover agent for the Home Office, I guess. I am guessing because the synopsis in the back cover says that she’s affiliated with the Home Office, but for the most part, our heroine seems to be working entirely on her own whim. Maybe in a previous book, her orders were to go wild? At any rate, she wears her sexy persona, Asteria, to do typical heroine-on-a-mission things in dark alleys because of… Poldie? Who’s that again? I personally find it hard to reconcile how Roselie, who grits her teeth each time she has to mingle in society, can manage to pull off this Asteria the Sexy act because she seems more like a typical socially awkward heroine than some femme fatale. Don’t expect to see her being too competent here anyway. Every time she goes all Asteria the Sexy, she either ends up getting mauled by our hero Bradwell “Brody” Garrick, Baron Rimswell (not dirty… I think), or getting into all kinds of “Oops!” mishaps like losing her gold or whatever so that she will never be able to come off as competent or smart. We don’t want her to overshadow Brody, after all.
Brody is… Roselie’s childhood BFF turned nemesis? Those two have issues rising from this Poldie thing. He is also a spy with the Home Office, although he’s about to retire. He met Asteria before in the past, and is somehow intrigued by Roselie at the same time, so ooh, Good thing that he doesn’t have to do much work stalking her or trying to deduce things, because Roselie keeps getting into all kinds of trouble here that he will have plenty of time to examine her close up while doing that manly dude to the rescue thing of his.
I’m not even going to touch into the nature of the intrigue subplot because, as I’ve said, I have not followed the series from the first book so I have no idea what is happening here. But from what I sort of get, this is another standard tale of a heroine who somehow manages to become a spy and lasts this long on the streets when all I am given to see of her in action is a marathon show of mishaps and incompetence coupled to a lack of backup plans should things go wrong. The hero is a more capable fellow, but he has to be, as someone needs to keep extricating Roselie out of the messes she gets herself in, after all. But he’s still a bit dim, though, as often he can’t see the obvious for such a supposedly capable spy. Ah, but were he and Roselie better spies, this story would probably need to be only a third of its current length.
Various secondary characters pop in and make allusions and references to what seems like events in previous books before popping out again. To make things murkier, the author has a habit of including three subplots and six twists when one of each will do. And then we have unnecessary gimmicky narration such as weaving the story between the present and flashbacks, when a more linear, standard in-chronological-order style would have helped made this story easier to follow by readers like me who are unfamiliar with the series.
Readers who are familiar with the series may enjoy this one more than I did, so take my two-oogie rating with a grain of salt. Even so, some fundamental aspects of the story – such as the heroine, who seems to be made incompetent just to accommodate some kind of “the hero must rescue the heroine” theme – annoy me enough to have me thinking that I probably won’t like this one much even if I have followed the series.