Thursday, March 29, 2007

"The Trouble with Harry" by Katie Macalister

It's not great, but it doesn't suck.

Sorry, that's pretty much my entire review of this book. It's a "historical" romance by KM, but you know right from the start it's not going to really stick to any true accuracy, as there is a bright yellow rubber ducky on the cover of the book. KM herself put in a little note about it before the novel begins, something about how even though she knows it's going to irritate people, that was not her intention at all; rather, it's there to "reflect the humorous, fun tone of this tale."


OK, basic plot is as follows: Two people are in desperate need of a spouse. They meet up after he places an ad in a local paper. She is the last candidate for the interviews, having lost her way once or twice. They know this is merely a marriage of convenience but are both attracted to each other immediately. Never mind that neither of them has an honest bone in their bodies. He has five children born of his first wife, children that he doesn't bother to tell his bride-to-be exist. He also has a previous occupation of spy, one that resulted in a scandal and arrest after false accusations. She is no better, having had a previous marriage that was never really a marriage, as her first "husband" was already betrothed to someone else. She was, of course, also ruined by her scandal, as the ton never believed the cad to be a bigot - she was a mistress and just embarrassed at being outed. Oh, and she has an even bigger secret to hide; that faux marriage resulted in enough sexual shenanigans for her to write and publish a book that sounds remarkably similar to The Joy of Sex (for Victorians, though......), something that will surely ruin her and her new husband forever if it were to come out.

Basically, this book is all about the crazy antics of both Harry and his wife Plum trying to hide their past problems from each other. Why anyone wouldn't run screaming from five unmentioned children is beyond me - they are not grown children, for Pete's sake! The youngest seems to be about 4-5, the oldest in her early teens. They first make their appearance when Harry and Plum are about to consummate their marriage, something else I would hardly find amusing. And yet, this book is cute in parts. You can sort of understand how Plum overlooks her new offspring, as it is made blatantly obvious that she wants to be a mother in the worst way. As Harry has a copy of the scandalous sex manual, it really should not be upsetting to him to find that his wife was the author. I mean, really, I just couldn't see why everyone was so worried. Then again, I didn't live back then, so I don't really understand the impact a scandal could have on one's future.

It was a fast read, even if the plot didn't always make sense. None of the characters were that well-rounded or interesting, with the exception of Plum's niece, Thom. Now she seemed to be an interesting sort of girl, right up until they introduce a young man who will obviously become a love interest for her down the road. Luckily, that doesn't happen in this particular title. I don't know if KM writes about her in a later book or not. It's cute, if you're not a strict Regency romance reader.

I still say "The Corset Diaries" is her best book to date. Go pick that one up and really have a good read!

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