Friday, January 16, 2009

Sweet and Twenty - Joan Smith

When the unexpected death of Sir Gerald Monteith placed his wife Melanie and daughter Sara in financial trouble, their only hope was to quickly find a husband for Sara. They thought it would be easy, for she was as beautiful as could be. They hoped her beauty would make up for her lack of brains. The problem was, they didn't know how to look for a man.

Then Aunt Martha and cousin Lillian swept into town and took over the search. Lillian, too, was available for marriage. Soon the crafty Aunt Martha discovered that the handsome and wealthy Anthony Fellows was running for Parliament.

None of them knew a Tory from a Whig. But that didn't stop Aunt Martha. Suddenly, the ladies were involved in a spirited campaign. With so many men around campaigning, they reasoned, husbands could not be far away ...

I usually start a Joan Smith book with high expectations. I was not disappointed with this one. On the contrary, it even surpassed my expectations. I can not remember when I have been so entertained by a book. By the way, do not be alarmed by the strange title. This is indeed a Regency Romance.

Joan Smith’s book are usually on the light side, being more romantic comedies rather than romances. So if you require lots of emotional upheavals and angst maybe her books are not for you. If on the other hand you like light, entertaining comedies with some romance thrown in, then you should definitely try this book!

Both our heroine Lillian and her very harebrained cousin Sara are in need of husbands according to Aunt Martha, who comes to lend a hand to her sister in law Lady Monteith after Sir Gerald’s death. Aunt Martha sees no problem is disposing of Sara creditably –she is a incredibly beautiful - and Mr Fellows, a very well off neighbour and the Whig candidate for the coming by election seems the perfect groom. Mr Fellows is pretty dumb himself, but next to Sara even he appears quite clever. Mr Hudson is the Whig party whip and is sent to Crocket to help their candidate get elected. It seems this is a Tory stronghold though, and no chance to get a Whig elected. That is why the party decided on Mr Fellows as their candidate, so as not too waste any capable and useful candidate who could win an election elsewhere. Still, Mr Hudson is determined to do his best.

In his efforts to accomplish the impossible he is ably assisted by Lillian, who is as different (ie much cleverer) from Sara as is Mr Hudson from Mr Fellows. Mr Alistair is the Tory candidate, who is only a slight improvement in mental powers from Mr Fellows, and Mr Reising is his campaign manager. Mr Hudson and Mr Reising each try to outdo the other in their efforts to get votes for their candidates. Our ladies, (Lillian, Aunt Martha, Lady Monteith and Sara), are doing all they can to assist Mr Hudson to get Mr Fellows to the Commons. (Apart from Sara that is, who does not know the difference between Whig and Tory, but does know that Mr Alistair is a very good looking gentleman.)

Sara is absolutely the most brainless ninny hammer you have ever met in any Romance, and frankly she is one of the reasons this book is so good. We have our nice, clever, witty heroine in Lillian, but Sara is so funny (without meaning to) I could not help laughing whenever she opened her mouth. Mr Fellows is also great entertaining value. Mr Hudson and Lillian are very nice as our hero and heroine, very likeable and very well suited to each other, and the romance between them believable and very enjoyable.

I could not put this book down after I had read the first page, and I spent the whole time with a huge smile on my face (apart from the times I was laughing out loud). I know I said in the beginning that if you want romance and angst rather than comedy then this isn’t the book for you, but I have changed my mind. I think this book is so funny that it is for everyone!

Grade 4.5/5




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