So a while back, I ended up reading a romance novel recommended by Kate Nepveu to prove a point about how men could very well like romance novels. And since (of course) I was right, I ended up liking the book, and bought another off Kate’s list of recommendations, Mary Balogh’s A Summer to Remember , which I’ve just gotten to reading now.
At the beginning, I was afraid this was going to be horrid. Set in Regency London, a roguish rake makes a bet that he can be married (which I take from context to mean “engaged”) to a prim and proper lady inside of a few weeks. It’s a contrived setup, and it features the would-be protagonists acting like jerks and suckers, so I was afraid this was going to be a book where I’m rooting for horrid unlikable people to get together for no earthly reason.
But no. It turns out that this is just a prologue-y bit to get things started. Apologies are tendered, the action moves to the country, and the characters stop acting like cardboard plot tokens and start acting like people — somewhat idealized people to be sure, but still people. Even better, there’s enough actual character development and familial relationship plot stuff that the rest of the book doesn’t feel like a series of contrived excuses to keep Our Heroes from realizing that they love each other; the relationship develops organically, and the ultimate resolution is satisfying.
Good stuff — I think better than the Quinn novel — and well worth reading if you’re not afraid of getting girl cooties.