Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Unmanageable Miss Marlowe - Emma Lange

Miss Sarah Marlowe was far too beautiful and bold for her own good name. She dared test her gambling skill against the notorious Captain Charles Kendall, with far more than money at stake. She dared stir in the haughty Marquess of Lisle a desire that demanded satisfaction. And she dared court the wrath of the domineering Lord Dominic Ravensby, who vowed to teach this insolent innocent the folly of her ways.

Miss Marlowe's unblushing beauty was most certainlyl bringing her to the brink of ruin. The only question was: might it possibly lead her to love?

I have tried Emma Lange before with mixed results. Some books were quite good, others did not work for me. The Unmanageable Miss Marlowe fell somewhere in the middle. I actually started the book some time ago and read the first couple of chapters. Sarah Marlowe, in London for the season along with a cousin, goes out riding, but as she has not much experience with horses and a passerby (Lord Ravensby) has to save her when her horse runs away with her. The heroine having to be saved did not engender much admiration from me, and she gave me the impression of the helpless, sparkless heroine with not much to recommend her apart from her beauty. The hero seemed struck by her great looks, and although he read her a lecture, seemed positively disposed towards the helpless female who needs saving (who is also very beautiful, as we are repeatedly told). So there is immediately mutual liking for the most superficial reasons. This was not an auspicious beginning for me – I was pretty bored, put the book down and looked for something more interesting to read.

A couple of weeks later, having run out of things to read, I picked the book up again, foreseeing that I would be just skimming through it, to confirm it is not worth reading properly. Surprisingly though after that unpromising beginning the hero and heroine began to improve greatly. The heroine started to show some backbone, good sense, confidence and an outgoing personality, which was a marked improvement to the colourless shy innocent I thought her to be. Ravensby follows her around disapproving and reading her lectures most of the time. Supposedly he feels responsible for her after saving her and feels he ought to point out to her not to go unchaperoned, and not to be flirtatious with gentlemen she should keep at a distance (it is obvious to the reader though he is just jealous).

I really liked this middle part of the book, where Sarah and Ravensby get to know each other better, and start falling in love. But unfortunately the book started deteriorating again... You see some time ago, Captain Kendall (the villain) had won in a game of cards a valuable diamond necklace from Sarah’s childhood friend Tom Woodward. Tom had drunk too much during the game and that may be a factor as to why he lost. He is sent by his father to India, and he does not like it there, and is whining and complaining to go home, away from that hot climate and the dangers of fevers. Have you ever met a more spineless young man ???!!! (I haven’t, not in Regency Romanceland). Sarah thinks she has to save him from that dreadful fate (being in India) and to do that she means to get back the necklace from Kendall, ie steal it. Yes, you read that right ! She thinks Tom is young and Kendall should not have played with him, or should have discouraged him from drinking too much ! (Who made Kendall Tom’s keeper I wonder?) So according to Sarah, Tom lost unfairly, so it is ok to get back the necklace because Kendall should not have it. I thought this was very unprincipled of Sarah. On top of that, at a ball at Kendall’s house Sarah searches his rooms for the necklace (unsuccessfully) but is caught by the hero, who thinks she had a tryst with Kendall and is furious with her and basically calls her a whore. After this episode the relationship between Sarah and Ravensby is obviously somewhat strained, but there is a happy ending after all (and of course the necklace is recovered as well).

So although the middle part of the book was very nice, I can not easily forgive Sarah thinking it is ok to steal things, or Ravensby’s behaviour when she thought she was meeting someone else. For him to be jealous or disappointed it would be ok, but what right does he have to censor her behaviour and saying some very rude things ?

Another of my problems was that some people are addressed wrongly and that was very annoying as well as confusing. This happens in many books, but since this is the latest I read, I am going to wend my frustrations on this one. A rival of Sarah’s for Ravensby affections is Lady Sophia. Imagine my surprise when we are later told she is a widow, when I knew her to be an unmarried lady. (Lady Sophia can not be a widow, unless there are particular circumstances, which is not the case here). Her father, who needed to be an earl upward for daughter Sophia to be Lady Sophia to begin with (and not get married) is mistakenly referred to interchangeably as Lord Matthew, Lord Beresford and also Lord Matthew Beresford). Arrghh! So we have no idea if the author meant for him to be a peer or what, we just know that such a person as referred to above can not exist. Such mistakes are annoying for their own sake, but additionally they create problems when the reader is trying to understand who is who and what their relationship to other people in the book is. Because Lady Sophia can not be the daughter of a ‘Lord Matthew’ and hence she is someone else’s daughter, I spent half an hour in confusion trying to understand what was going on when the hero was invited to "Lady Sophia’s father’s house" for the evening. So when that evening we find him at a Lord Matthew’s, I thought “hey, you are supposed to be at Lady Sophia’s dad!”. And also “who is this new guy Lord Beresford, out of nowhere? Are we supposed to know him?” Then later ‘Lord Matthew Beresford’ was mentioned as well and it finally dawned on me what was going on.

All in all, the middle part of the book is really worth reading. My overall objections are: the riding accident in the beginning, Sarah thinking it is ok to steal other people's necklaces, Revensby thinking that a lady having a tryst with a gentleman is beyond contempt, and the errors with how people were addressed. If one does not mind the above as much as I did, then this could be a very good book from beginning to end.

Grade 3/5


Ioana January 8, 2009 at 8:45 AM  

I suppose after reading your review I will only want to read this book if it fell somehow, accidently, into my hands, because I have not the least intention of trying to find it on my own! So, since chances are very slim of that happening, I will have to content myself with your review after all! :)
On the other hand, I've never tryied any Emma Lange before, maybe it is time...
Oh, and confusing titles are so annoying. I wonder if this happened only in earlier year, or publishers still don't pay attention to such details...

Ana T. January 8, 2009 at 8:46 AM  

I've read several Lange's already but not this one. As for you some worked some didn't and after reading your review I think I'll skip this one. :-)



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