January 2005, European Historical Romance (Regency England)
Avon, $6.99, 384 pages, Amazon ASIN 0060732067 Part of a series
Much Ado About You is a sweet European Historical with
plenty of characters and plenty of action to keep the
reader interested. The multitude of
characters and plot twists, though, tend to detract from the hero and heroine at times.
When Raphael, Duke of Holbrook, suddenly
becomes ward to four females, he has no idea that
these little women are actually grown adults. Still,
even though Rafe is a bit of a slob and a drunk, he is
intent on being a good provider. He will not only give
the girls what they need materially, he will also find
them suitable husbands. But it is soon obvious that the Essex women
have their minds made up on pretty much everything,
and there is little Rafe can do to dissuade them.
The Essex girls grew up with a wastrel of a father.
It is no secret that dear old Dad cared more for his
horses and racing than he did for his daughters. But
now that their father is dead, it is up to Tess to
keep the headstrong and independent sisters under
control. Imogen is in love with a loser just like
their father and thinks only of him, Annabel flirts
with any man with money, and youngest daughter Josie
is much too independent and knowledgeable for her own
good. Poor, dear Rafe is going to have a heck of a
time keeping the girls under control. The best thing
that Tess can do is marry well so that her sisters can
find good husbands of their own.
But how is Tess supposed to find a husband when she
has three sisters to take care of? Fortunately, Rafe
has single, wealthy, male friends who happen to visit.
And there is one man in particular, Lucius Felton, who
greatly intrigues Tess. Unfortunately, Mr. Felton
seems to want nothing to do either with Tess or marriage since he has enough problems with his own family without
adding a nagging wife to the mix. But there is
definitely something about Tess that fascinates him.
When his friend Mayne takes a sudden interest in
Tess and they agree to marry, Lucius realizes just how
much he admires the woman. But he can't steal Tess
away from his friend, so he is left to stand by
and watch her slip away.
Even though Tess isn't sure her heart is into
marrying Mayne, she knows it is the best thing for her
family. Besides, she has other things to worry about since Josie is having a
difficult time accepting their father's death, Imogen
is intent on marrying a man who is already engaged, and Annabel is intent on seducing any man she sees worthy -
including Lucius. And, for some reason, the idea of
Lucius with any other woman is driving poor Tess to
By far the most interesting aspect of Much Ado
About You is the multitude of characters, in
particular the sisters and their relationships to each
other. No sister is perfect, each has her own
particular flaws and wants. The multiple storyline for
each character certainly keeps the book flowing and
the reader from becoming bored and the time period and
the sisterly relationships give the book a bit of a
Sense and Sensibility feel that I greatly
enjoyed. And, once Tess and Lucius start to interact, it
became rather sweet and romantic. The fact that these
are regular people with regular problems and no clear
bad guy, make this book a bit of a unique experience.
Unfortunately, the most interesting aspects of the
book are also the most problematic. The many
characters often take away from the story of the hero
and heroine and it takes much too long for the
relationship between Tess and Lucius to blossom. The
men are the least developed characters, although they
do gain more depth toward the end. Instead of having
one male who refuses to marry for some lame reason,
we have three in this novel. And the fact that Lucius
kept flirting and kissing Tess while she was engaged
to his friend did bother me.
Although the multiple characters and storylines
keep the reader from becoming too deeply involved in
any one character, the suspense, laughter and
relationships between the characters still make this
book worth the read.
-- Lori Sowell
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