Friday, January 6, 2012

Is Marriage About Love or About Money? "Winning the Wallflower" by Eloisa James

It could only happen in a fairy tale.
Lady Lucy Towerton:
Plain and tall. (According to the lady herself.)
Titled and irreproachably proper. (According to her fiancÉ.)
Until, overnight, she becomes
Lady Lucy Towerton:
Heiress. (Thanks to an aged aunt’s bequest.)
Belle of the ball. (So say the fortune hunters of the ton.)
In charge of her own destiny (finally!), Lucy breaks her engagement and makes up her mind never to be proper again…
There is little doubt that Eloisa James is one of the giants of romance fiction and particularly historical romance. It was the genre that first captured my reading interest many years ago and I keep coming back, especially when a freebie becomes available and it is by an author that can be trusted to have created a tale that will be fun and engaging. So it is with Winning the Wallflower. It is a novella that is intended to come as a literary interlude between two full-length novels, one of which was released just before the end of 2011.
This is not a complicated story at all. Rather, it captures the essence of a young lady who is now betrothed to a man who has exhibited little if any personal interest in her as a woman and perspective bride. Cyrus is a man who is the "poor relation" to the Duke of Pole and who has secretly always resented his mother's seeming impulse to marry the love of her heart, a commoner, a solicitor who has now continued to call attention to their family by being one of the best criminal attorneys in England. Cyrus has made his own fortune, has determined to marry into the aristocracy, and has determined to get a bride for himself who will be no trouble. Lucy seems to fit the plan. That is, until her erstwhile aunt goes and bequests her fortune to her only niece and voila! Lucy is an heiress and the talk of the ton.
This novella is indeed about the politics of marriage, especially the influence that money brings to bear on choices of spouses. It is also about the politics of marriage that can crush a creative spirit or which can be shoved aside when determined, wealthy and very intelligent women decide to call the shots about their own future. One aspect of Lucy's personality that is highlighted and which is totally delightful is her inherent honesty. She demands that anyone who is interested in marrying her has to be able to see HER for who she is and not for her rank or her fortune. Destined to drive her mother to drink, Lucy sees herself as a plain Jane, but when she takes the reins of her life into her own hands, others begin to see her differently. Not the least of those persons is Cyrus himself.
It is a delightful story and while it is specifically about Lucy and Cyrus, it is also a bridge into Olivia's story which is featured in The Duke is Mine. Readers will most assuredly fall in love with Olivia who is a plain-spoken, strong-minded young woman who loves ribald humor. Some of the anecdotes are a hoot! Together, Olivia and Lucy--best friends since childhood--give the spice to the story and I have to admit, made me determined to read the next episode in this fascinating saga of these young women.
Historical romance fans will find this an easy read but don't let that fool you. It is quintessential Eloisa James and thus, will be a delight to her fans as well. I contrary to my usual practice of scoring short stories or novellas a bit low because their length irritates me a lot, I give this story a rating of 4 out of 5.
This novella was released by Avon Impulse publications in December, 2011.

1 comment:

The Brunette Librarian said...

Wasn't that the cutest story? I love Eloisa James so much...what she can do with words is just wonderful. The length is really the only thing that bothered me too, wish it had been longer. :) Great review!