The Bad Bet
Surely no one had so little in common with Miranda Troy as did Charles Hastings despite their mother's maddening insistence that they should wed. Deliciously beautiful Miranda adored her sheltered life on her family's country estate, where she could enjoy her passion for landscape gardening. The only gardening that interested the handsome Mr. Hastings was sowing wild oats as a womanizer and as the premier gambler of the London sporting set.
Miranda did her best to resist parental pressure to join in wedlock with this unrepentant rake. But there was no defense against his subtle skill in drawing her into a game of dangerous deception. Still, Cupid would need to have a pack of surprises up his sleeve and turn mismatch into a love that could beat all the odds.
I had never tried this author before, so I had no idea what to expect. The start, the first paragraph even, was very promising! I liked the writing, our hero is Mr Charles Hastings (yes a plain mister for a change!), and he is playing cards. But he is not at all the ‘cardboard hero’ playing cards. He is fun, energetic, with a ‘bonny complexion and a ‘boyish face’. Rather than tall, dark, brooding, emanating authority by lifting a dark eyebrow and scaring people without opening his mouth, as is the typical hero. I quite liked this departure from the norm.
The heroine Miss Miranda Troy (daughter of Sir Bascomb Troy, baronet) is also somewhat unusual in that she has conceived a passion for landscaping, and is trying to learn more about it and then put her knowledge to practice on her father’s grounds. However she has started and abandoned quite a few unusual hobbies in the past, like studying physiognomy, writing a novel, and painting screens among others, so we are not sure how long this newest passion of hers is going to last.
The refreshingly unusual characters, the elegant writing, and the correct manner of addressing everyone mentioned, gave me a positive feeling. I thought this would be a quite nice book. And for the first half it was. Lady Troy and Mrs Hastings, being close friends would like to see their children married (to each other that is). Miss Troy and Mr Hastings are somewhat set against the idea of marriage in general but each agrees to meet the other. Charles is somewhat abrupt and offending when he meets Miranda because he does not want her to like him and get her hopes up. Miranda takes him in dislike since he is quite rude. Later that night some thugs attack Charles (sent by the villain, whom Charles had caught cheating at cards), and Miranda seeing the attack from her window, comes to assist him while the thugs run away. She hides him in the bedchamber for the next few days where they proceed to know (and like) each other better, and Charles teaches her piquet. So far the book was quite interesting. The rest of it though I found quite boring. Charles wants to outmanoeuvre/take revenge on the villain, I did not understand clearly how or why and the book starts to drag. He escapes his mother’s home (where Miranda is staying and was hiding him) disguised as a woman. He goes to the country, and starts some rumours (again I did not understand how this worked and what the purpose was). Miranda returns to the country, and he visits her there, having donned his female disguise again. I was not paying to much attention in this later part so I cannot tell you the why or how of it (it there was one, which is not certain).
Overall, the 2nd half of the book (ie after Charles leaves Miranda’s bedchamber ), was boring and could not keep my interest. The 1st part though was quite good. The book is quite unequal and difficult to judge as a whole. I think I will try Ms Sherrod again, hoping her next one consists of two equally good halves.