I’ve never been shy about my penchant for romance novels. I’ve covered it many times on this blog before. After interviewing Eloisa James for two different articles, I got into her books, which surprised me since historical weren’t really my thing.
It took me a few years, but I finally worked through her entire catalogue. In December, she released The Lady Most Willingalong with Julia Quinn and Connie Brockway. As the title says, it’s a “novel in three parts,” and each writer took over the duties of writing a third of the book.
In the novel, Taran Ferguson, a Scottish laird, decides that his nephews have taken far too long to get married, so he kidnaps a few women from a local ball, tosses them into a carriage, and drives them up to his castle with the intention of trapping everyone inside during a snow storm and hoping the nephews would each pick a wife from the bunch.
This being a romance, of course that happens. Each author took one couple, and by the end of the book, there’s a group wedding and, we assume, everyone lives happily ever after.
My problem with The Lady Most Willing is that it requires EXTREME suspension of disbelief. All of these couples fall in love within days – in one case, in one day. In James’ other books, the soon to be happy couple has some time to meet, have a conflict, and then get married. Here, those timelines are compressed into a matter of days. It seems a bit ridiculous to me, even within the context of a romance.
Example: “She, Fiona, was finally not alone any longer. Even though they’d known each other for no time at all, she knew it with a certainty that flooded her whole body.”
Of course, the fault may be in more of the timing than the book. Given I just went through a break up with someone who I felt this way about at one time, I’m not able to believe these rush of feelings on behalf of these characters. Because sometimes you can feel like this, and it all goes to shit.
If not for this Book a Week series, I’d have bought this as an ebook and read the three sections when I was between books, but I buy physical copies of books for this project so I can line them up on a shelf.
Another note about reading these historical novels: it’s made understanding the society rules unravelling in Downton Abby much easier to understand. I knew all about entailments, lords and ladies, and marriage matching within classes before I watched the show. So thanks, romance writers.