Friday, July 1, 2011

A Gentleman Never Tells by Amelia Grey

Beautiful, clever and courageous Lady Gabrielle discovers her fiancĂ© in the arms of her younger sister and although she isn’t in love with him, she is envious of their obvious attraction. Instead of confronting either of them, however, Gabrielle takes her dog on an early morning walk in the park, spots a handsome stranger and – kisses him.

This impulse ends in disaster when her father and prospective father-in-law find them and set about attacking the unfortunate Viscount Brentwood, whose only crime was to accept, and enjoy a kiss from a beautiful woman.  Gabrielle’s father insists she now marry Lord Brentwood, a situation Gabrielle is determined extricate herself from, despite the fact Brentwood seems perfectly happy with the arrangement.

Gabrielle is a well drawn character with a mind of her own, although she says from the beginning that being a Duke’s daughter meant her choice of marriage partner was never hers, then contradicts herself by saying she will not marry a man of her father’s choice. Brentwood’s physical perfection is beautifully described, so Gabrielle was doomed from the start and stood no chance of rejecting him with any sincerity.

Brentwood’s twin half-brothers are the result of an affair their mother had with another influential member of society which Brentwood worsens by threatening their father not to reveal the boys’ parentage. This, despite the fact they are adults and their natural father has shown no interest in them up to this point, much less revealing an affair with their mother. This action too seems out of period as I doubt such indiscretions, even if known, would ever be brought up in polite conversation.

There is a confusing section concerning dogs stolen by a ghost, which made little sense although the real culprit is eventually revealed. I felt this story hung together by a tenuous, oft repeated thread. i.e. Brentwood’s determination to marry Gabrielle and her equally strong insistence she doesn’t want to by the employment of strange antics to discourage him that never work.  The author keeps this theme going for 351 pages, which for me, got tedious after the first hundred or so.

Amelia Grey writes very eloquently, and her sense of romance is well defined. Her main characters experience deep sensual attraction for each other from the start so the reader is left in no doubt that there will be a happy ending for them both.

The setting for the novel is less clear: Gabrielle’s father – a Duke who is addressed as ‘Duke’ throughout the book when the correct form should be ‘your grace’, ‘my lord’ or even ‘sir’. He is described as an advisor to ‘the Prince’, whom I assume is the Prince Regent but this is not explained.

The narrative is also peppered with modern Americanisms, such as ‘I’m through’, ’Okay’, and ‘what sort of stunt is that?’ which jarred with me and didn’t help convey a sense of period. However, being an historical fiction author myself this may be because I am particularly sensitive to such things, many readers and fans of Ms Grey may not even notice them.

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