Friday, November 7, 2014

A Christmas in Bath by Cheryl Bolen

The Brides of Bath, Book 6 
Length: 20,000 words (about 75 pages) 
Heat level: sweet 

All the characters from the first five Brides of Bath books will be serving up some Christmas cheer, while Glee Blankenship sharpens Cupid's arrow. 

Unbeknownst to scholarly Jonathan Blankenship, his sister-in-law Glee has decided this Christmas he needs a little push to make him see that his dear friend of four years, Miss Arbuckle, will make his perfect mate. 

Published & Release Date: Source Books, January 6, 2015

Time and setting: Regency England

Genre: Historical Romance

Heat Level: Sweet

Reviewer rating: 3 Gold Crowns

Reviewed by Vikki

Warning! May contain spoilers.

I really wanted to read this book and expected to love it. I've read the Brides of Bath series and loved all of the books in it, so when I saw this one, I pre-ordered the book. I looked forward to seeing what had happened in the character's life. Unfortunately, other than Glee, I did not get a view of their lives. Ms. Bolen touches on them and mentions children briefly, but that is all.

At 50% in, I was ready to set the book aside. I do not like doing that, so I went to check out the reviews to see what other readers had to say about this book. To my astonishment, it had almost all 5***** star reviews, and at that point, I would have struggled to give the book 2** stars. I decided that it must have a sterling second have and continued on with the story.  As I continued to read, it did get better, but not by much.

The book begins with a scene where Glee Blankenship is telling Miss Arbuckle that her brother is coming to visit for the Christmas season. She presents her plan to Miss Arbuckle to bring them together. Between Glee and her lady's maid, they give Mary a make-over. It turns out that Mary does have one outstanding attribute, a very generous bosom. Glee believes that if Jonathan sees Mary transformed and other men vying for her attention, he will be jealous and come up to scratch.

When Appleton, a notorious rake shows Mary favor, Jonathan is concerned to say the least, but he has to be practically hit of the head (figuratively speaking anyway) before it dawns on him that Mary would make the perfect wife for him. After all, Mary is his “dear friend”, now that his best male friend has married and never has any time to spend hours having philosophical discussions.

This is my problem with the story. The conflict between this pair is that Jonathan wants to remain a confirmed bachelor all his life. The reason for this is very weak to say the least, and not very interesting. Nothing has ever happened to turn him off to marriage, no traumatic childhood, and no woman who turned away from his advances, nothing of that nature. The only reason I could discover is his desire to be left alone to his intellectual pursuits, and he feels a wife would be a distraction. In essence, he is an intellectual prig, and an extremely uninspiring hero.

Mary on the other hand, believes she will remain an old maid, since she is so shy and unassuming on top of being plain. She has been friends with Jonathan for years and he has never shown any signs of an amorous attraction to her at all. He only sees her as an intellectual equal. She is his “dear friend”.  That theme is present throughout the book.

Now for the mechanics of the book, I found the dialogue stiff and the constant use of Miss Arbuckle did this, did that, said this, said that grating on my nerves. The author also used Jonathan's name over and over again. Miss Arbuckle has supposedly known several of the ladies from the series for years, having gone to a girl's school together, yet Glee and Mary address each other as Miss Arbuckle and Mrs. Blankenship. If they have known each other all that time, I am confident that even if they were that formal in front of servants, they would have used each other's given names when they were speaking privately. I found this constant use of proper names very distracting to say the least.  

Of course, if the personalities of the hero and heroine had been fascinating, I may not have noticed this issue, but this is the most boring couple I've ever read about. Firstly, they are both, the only way to say this—they are nerds in the first order. He is a true beta male in the extreme, and she is a bluestocking, plain and way too prime and proper. I have read other books with a beta male and quite enjoyed them. Mary Balogh does an outstanding job writing them. I also have enjoyed books where the heroine is a bluestocking and loved them. I think the problem with this pair is that there is absolutely no chemistry between Mary and Jonathan! There is no sexual tension at all in this story. Personally, one of the two needed something in their past to draw me in and get me vested in their story. That never happened.

I really wanted to like this story, but unfortunately I did not. This is only my opinion, others have enjoyed the book. It does have a decent “happily ever after”. I will leave up to you. If you decide to read it, I hope you enjoy it and are entertained. After all, that is why I read, and I am confident that is why you read as well. Happy reading!

No comments:

Post a Comment