Friday, July 17, 2015

Lord Fenton's Folly

by Josi S. Kilpack

Summary from GoodReads

Lord Fenton is a gambler, a dandy, and a flirt—and he must marry or else he will be disinherited, stripped of his wealth and his position. He chooses Alice Stanbridge for two simple reasons: he once knew her as a young girl, and she is the least objectionable option available to him.

However, Alice has harbored feelings for Fenton since their first meeting ten years ago, and she believes his proposal is real. When she discovers it is not, she is embarrassed and hurt. However, a match with the most-eligible bachelor in London would secure not only her future but that of her family as well.

Determined to protect herself from making a fool of herself a second time, Alice matches Lord Fenton wit for wit and insult for insult as they move toward a marriage of convenience that is anything but a happy union. Only when faced with family secrets that have shaped Fenton’s life does he let down his guard enough to find room in his heart for Alice. But can Alice risk her heart a second time?

Thoughts on the Book

I love a good romance novel.  Sadly it seems like a lot of them these days are all about the smut.  Which is fine, if that's what you're looking for in a book, but sometimes you just really want to read a romance that is actual about romance: two people falling in love with each other, and that actually has a plot.  At BEA Shadow Mountain publishers gave me this book to review and told me that this was what they call a proper romance (meaning a romance without the X-rated frivolity), so needless to say I was intrigued.  Especially when I got home and looked at the cover, it looks like a book full of heaving bosoms and loosening corset strings with no plot other than said corset coming off.  I was happy to find that the book did live up to its proper romance status.

My Review

This book is about a young man, Lord Fenton, who is over the top and ridiculous whilst discontent with his life.  His home life isn't ideal, his father is a jerk, but his mother is a wonderful person whom he loves greatly.  Lord Fenton ends up marrying Alice Stanbridge, a girl six years his junior and an old family friend.  The story is about why they marry and how they navigate said marriage.

Lord Fenton can be off-putting, he has this persona of a stupid careless boy who loves to dress in the most offensive manner (I cringed just reading the descriptions of his clothing, embroidered humming birds on his waistcoat, really?).  He's extremely unlikable when he's acting like this, but the first time you see him this way  you see how much he hates his persona and how sick he is with that part of society.  The shifting perspectives from Alice to Fenton is the only way that Kilpack could write him that made him even remotely likable.  By being able to understand his feelings and have access to his thoughts you were able to sympathize (or maybe even empathize) with him.  I definitely pitied him towards the end of the book

Alice on the other hand was awesome.  She stood up for herself, and while her curt responses to Fenton seemed improper for a girl of her standing, she did remarkably well keeping her socialite persona in place.  To anyone but Fenton she played the perfect demure high society girl.  She paid the correct amount of attention to the correct people, said the correct things at the correct time.  She even had all of the desired qualities of girls at that time, she sewed, she played the piano, and she sang.  The perfect British noble-woman.  However, it was away from society that Alice really stood out and shone.  Like Fenton that was just her persona for London, in reality she was just as caring and genuine, but she was a gardener, that was her passion.  She wanted, more than anything, to be elbows-deep in dirt planting things.  She also refused to be bossed around and told what to do by her husband.  She stood up to him and fought until she had her way, much to Fenton's chagrin.

This book was really character driven, I love the growth of Fenton, or perhaps the regression of Fenton back to what he was like at sixteen before he was exposed to the negative aspects of his family.  The other characters in the story didn't change much.  Alice just grew up, her childhood crush turned into more genuine feelings for Fenton and less romantic feelings for the idea of him.  But it was Alice which spurred Fenton into becoming the best version of himself

Towards the end of the novel things got a little predictable for me, but not completely.  There was still a surprise or two, mostly because I had forgotten a seemingly insignificant sentence from earlier in the book.  But the ending was perfect, all of it.  Fenton and his father, Fenton and Alice.  It was great.

I give this book a 8/10.  It was such a fun quick read with great characters.  I couldn't put it down!  There were some characters, like Alice's family, that should have made a reappearance at the end of the book, it felt weird that they weren't there.  And the end was a little too predictable for my taste.

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