Avon, $7.99, ISBN 978-0-06-266667-3
Historical Romance, 2018
Ida, the youngest Howlett sister, finally gets shackled in The Lady Is Daring. Odd, if the previous books in this Duke’s Daughters series were anything to go by, I’d thought this one would be called Lady Be Daring. Oh well, who knows what marketing people are thinking these days. While the author makes the effort to let readers new to the series catch up on things, the books so far have a connecting arc revolving around a runaway sister, and the rather convoluted history of the main characters and the supporting ones here all suggest that those new readers may have a better time just reading the books in chronological order.
Anyway, our heroine was previously described as bookish and opinionated, and as a result, she is considered an unsuitable matrimonial prospect by most people in the Ton. I know, shocking indeed. At any rate, our heroine likes to talk about deep intellectual things, and her idea of a punchline is to make up cute phrases in bastardized Latin, which is so Standuppy inconsistensia and Eyerollingus snorticulli at times. She also wants to marry for love, claims to be looking for intellectual men, but at the end of the day, she still pants after the hottest boy in the room. I know, I know, a standard heroine of the times indeed.
Still, her infatuation with Bennett, Lord Carson, isn’t so vapid. He’s actually a bit of a typical romance novel heroine in that he too wants to marry for love. He is also the responsible one of his siblings, working hard to keep the money coming even as his useless father wastes the money as fast as it comes in. As a result, he needs to marry a wealthy woman, but alas, both previous women he had his eye set on ended up with other blokes (see here and here). It makes sense in a way to try one more time for another wealthy heiress from the same family, and third time is indeed the charm for Bennett. To be fair, while he initially assumed that there wasn’t much to Ida beyond snobby lecturing, over time his interactions with her had him coming around to realize that he likes her outspoken nature. He is also pleasantly delighted to discover how often they are on the same wavelength on many things.
The first quarter of this story is actually a pretty fun read, as Ida and Bennett take the time to talk, interact, and such. Bennett is a nice change from the usual brooding, jaded rake types that populate stories of this sort. While Ida can bleat a little too much about how much smarter she is compared everyone around her, she’s generally alright too. Mind you, while she may be book smart, she’s a hopeless zero in the street smart department, and this is played up for cute factor, so I have a feeling that some readers may find her more disagreeable than I do. She reminds me a bit of the snobby know-it-all I most likely were in my younger days, though, so hey, I can sort of relate to Ida. Don’t judge me, please.
Then, Ida decides to steal a carriage to run off and look for her runaway sister, without realizing that Bennett is inside the carriage, and the story breaks down spectacularly right after.
There are stories with sagging middle, and then there is this one, whose middle doesn’t sag as much as it completely craters out. Nothing interesting happens when things are supposed to get interesting, and the characters begin acting up and saying either childish or bewilderingly child-like things to one another. They go through the usual song and dance about whether the other person love them, and insist that they totally know the whole thing is doomed to fail without consulting with the other person in order to be certain first. It’s the same old song and dance that plagues every other formulaic Avon historical romance that tries too hard to convince readers that they are reading a Julia Quinn story, and the author’s efforts here feel especially rote and lackluster. Bennett and Ida go in circles more than they go places, and by the time I reach the last page, I can only wonder why the author couldn’t have come up with a more interesting story for her two otherwise likable characters.
So yes, this baby is boring. That’s a shame, as Ida and Bennett deserve better.