Friday, July 31, 2009

Once Upon A Sofa - Myretta Robens


In a mad moment, Lady Isabel Ashby surrenders to a passionate kiss from the earl to whom she is betrothed. Then the door flies open and the rest of the party guests stumble in--and Isabel finds that she has kissed not the earl, but his brother! Major Sidney Chamberlayne is a dashing younger son without a feather to fly with, but he'll have to marry her now.

Still, it was an honest mistake and the room was very dark...can Isabel be blamed?...LEAD TO MAJOR HAPPINESS? Sidney is too much of a gentleman to do that--but they must marry in haste, though they know very little of each other.

Fortunately, his darling Isabel seems eager to learn everything she
can...especially when it comes to love...

I usually dislike cartoonish covers in books and I think that's why it took me so long to pick this one up. It just doesn't look like a traditional regency and I had never read Myretta Robens so it's been sitting there for a few months now.

I'm glad to say that overall it was a nice and funny story, definitely on the light side. Isabel Ashby doesn’t start as a very sympathetic character; in fact I had the idea that she might be a villainess being redeemed as she begins the story by planning to be caught in a compromising position with a man so as to force him to marry her. Things don't go according to plan because the man she entraps is not the one she wants but a penniless officer, albeit from a good family, that has just returned from the war.

I think the weakest part of the story is how they are forced to wed. Since Isabel is a widow it’s not like she is a virginal debutante with a reputation to maintain (especially as there are already rumours about her) and since Sydney doesn't hold a prominent place in society he doesn't really need to care about a scandal. And it is quite obvious to everyone that Isabel planned it so... why would he want to marry her? But so he does... it is unclear if he fell in love a little bit or if he feels it’s the gentlemanly thing to do or both but it seemed a bit too weak a motive for a life changing decision as is marriage.

Isabel accepts his proposal but only after her aunts convinces her that it is the best thing to do. She comes across as cold and selfish in the beginning and I was wondering where Robens would go with her character. In fact for much of the beginning of their marriage Sydney and Isabel remain strangers, and while his mother accepts her Sydney's brother is another matter altogether. As they spend more time together Isabel starts appreciating her husband's qualities and realising that she actually likes him and comparing him in a favourable light with the shallow youths she usually keeps company.

Unfortunately the past has a way of catching up with people and one of the fortune hunters that used to surround Isabel decides to pursue her sister-in-law which leads to trouble for Isabel. I didn't particularly like this part of the story and I felt the author had just introduced it to create conflict between the pair so has to bring them together. I really liked the parts just with Isabel and Sydney and so I think the HEA could have been achieved without (especially as Sydney's sister became a really annoying character) but in the end it didn't bother enough to keep me from enjoying the story.

Grade: 4/5




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