A Ring for the Pregnant Debutante by Laura Martin

A Ring for the Pregnant Debutante by Laura Martin

Rosa Rothwell knows her pregnancy is scandalous. She will do anything to protect her baby, even staging a daring escape from her family’s Italian home. Rosa has no idea what the future holds–until a handsome but infuriating stranger offers his help.

Convinced his family is cursed, Lord Hunter believes he’s far better off alone. But the pregnant debutante’s sweet nature touches him deeply. Can he confront his demons at last, and give them both a new future…as husband and wife?

A Ring for the Pregnant Debutante by Laura Martin

I chose this book to review because Venice is on the cover, and I spent a month there earlier this year. Though a little over half the book takes place in Italy, the page time devoted to Venice is pretty brief.

A Ring for the Pregnant Debutante is a mixed bag, and in some ways (e.g. the naïve heroine and the high drama) makes this book seem like it was written a few decades ago. The structure of the story was too messy for me, with town, city AND country-hopping nonstop and a population of redundant characters disappearing before they seemed to serve a purpose.

I did like that there was some adventure, and that the author came up with some interesting places for her characters to travel to.

However, the pacing was strange, with big jumps in time, too many short scenes packed into each chapter, and a heroine who had a real talent for falling into TSTL situations involving all kinds of criminals and life-threatening dramas.

I don’t like it when historical fiction gives you no context. Judging by the technology (or lack thereof), transport options, and references to clothing, I’m placing this as a Regency-era read (1811-20), but you have to take a guess. What I know for certain is that the characters were more than a century away from the traffic bridge from mainland Italy to Venice being built; how did they arrive in horse-drawn carriages? Even *today* it takes about an hour to get there on a boat. No horse-drawn carriage was crossing that much sea two centuries ago!

Characters appear and disappear from the story – never to be seen again –just to introduce more dramatics and to push the plot ahead. And so many of those characters are stereotypes (especially the Italians, and the women in general); everyone was either evil or saintly.

There’re even a few characters discussed who never make it onto the page. They should have been edited out to give the plot a bit more clarity.

The time-jumps add to the confusion. Each chapter is made up of lots of little scenes, sometimes taking the story ahead weeks without any warning (or paragraph breaks!). At one particularly awkward point, we went from a sex scene to meeting the heroine’s father without any indication time had moved on.

When hero and heroine became victims of a shipwreck and conveniently – and immediately – wash up at their house even though they weren’t meant to be sailing to that location, I couldn’t suspend my disbelief anymore.

It is around this time the professions of love between the two leads begin, even though the heroine has spent more than a month travelling with the hero without saying a word to him. She’s angry with him, but this grudge doesn’t even seem *possible* to me, and certainly shouldn’t be the prelude to undying adoration.

What started out seeming like a great read quickly became confusing, overpopulated, and jumping from one massive drama to another without giving the characters a chance to recover.

A quick look through reviews of the author’s other books give the impression this is standard (even down to shipwrecks and sprained ankles being favourite plot devices). Unfortunately I don’t think I’ll be giving Martin’s work a second chance.


Review copy provided by NetGalley.

A Repost

I just wanted to share this again, in case you missed it last week:

Author Beverly Jenkins

Beverly Jenkins Launches GoFundMe to Bring Novel to the Big Screen

While Alice Walker’s “The Color Purple,” Zora Neale Hurston’s “Their Eyes Were Watching God,” Toni Morrison’s “Beloved” and more recently, Steve Harvey’s “Think Like A Man,” are books that have transitioned to successful feature films — this is an industry rarity. Many Black romance novels are bound by the paper and hardback covers they’re given and their stories are never told three dimensionally.

With a GoFundMe page, a goal of $100,000 and only 30 days to reach it, Jenkins and Bolling have called on fans for their support.

This Book!

In the past few months I’ve ordered the following things from The Book Depository: books by Lisa Kleypas, books by Joanna Shupe, and guidebooks for Iceland, Croatia, Italy and Spain.

So, Book Depository folks, WHY did this come up alongside historical romances and travel guides in my recommendations last week?!

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE that it did. But it is very odd.

I might even have to get myself a copy of it.

A Child's First Book of Trump by Michael Ian Black

What do you do when you spot a wild Trump in the election season? New York Times bestselling author and comedian Michael Ian Black has some sage advice for children (and all the rest of us who are scratching our heads in disbelief) in this perfectly timely parody picture book intended for adults that would be hysterical if it wasn’t so true. The beasty is called an American Trump. Its skin is bright orange, its figure is plump. Its fur so complex you might get enveloped. Its hands though are, sadly, underdeveloped. The Trump is a curious creature, very often spotted in the wild, but confounding to our youngest citizens. A business mogul, reality TV host, and now…political candidate? Kids (and let’s be honest many adults) might have difficulty discerning just what this thing that’s been dominating news coverage the US election cycle is. Could he actually be real? Are those…words coming out of his mouth? Why are his hands so tiny? And perhaps most importantly, what on earth do you do when you encounter an American Trump? With his signature wit and a classic picture book style, comedian Michael Ian Black introduces those unfamiliar with the Americus Trumpus to his distinguishing features and his mystifying campaign for world domination…sorry…President of the United States.

Cover Love

Need I say anything? All my favourites: Victorian, London, 19th-century fashion, atmosphere!

Fun fact: I nearly ended up living and working in Belgravia, but to nineteen-year-old me, it didn’t seem like a great place to be. What an idiot I am; it’s full of rich Brits. 🙂

A Conspiracy in Belgravia (Lady Sherlock #2) by Sherry Thomas

On My Radar

Even though this book has a January 2018 release date, advance reader copies are already floating around, and the film rights have been sold.

Involving the CIA and Russian sleeper cells in the United States – something that really does still happen – this is *exactly* the type of book I want to read. (Blurb below.)

Need to Know by Karen Cleveland

In pursuit of a Russian sleeper cell on American soil, a CIA analyst uncovers a dangerous secret that will test her loyalty to the agency—and to her family.

What do you do when everything you trust might be a lie?

Vivian Miller is a dedicated CIA counterintelligence analyst assigned to uncover the leaders of Russian sleeper cells in the United States. On track for a much-needed promotion, she’s developed a system for identifying Russian agents, seemingly normal people living in plain sight.

After accessing the computer of a potential Russian operative, Vivian stumbles on a secret dossier of deep-cover agents within America’s borders. A few clicks later, everything that matters to her—her job, her husband, even her four children—are threatened.

Vivian has vowed to defend her country against all enemies, foreign and domestic. But now she’s facing impossible choices. Torn between loyalty and betrayal, allegiance and treason, love and suspicion, who can she trust?

The Week: 17th – 23rd July

Gorgeous Sunny Winter Afternoon Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney 17th July 2017 Garden Nature Gum Tree

Gorgeous Sunny Winter Afternoon Canberra Australia Sonya Heaney 17th July 2017 Garden Nature

Winter sunshine in Canberra on Monday afternoon.

This week marked the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death.

Three years since MH17 was shot down.

There was another major service at the Ukrainian Orthodox church in Canberra on Saturday, with more ambassadors attending than three years ago (now more countries are worried about the threat from Moscow).

Canberra MH17 Service 26th July 2014

Congratulations to Canberra cyclist Michael Matthews for continuing to win stages in the Tour de France. He is not only from this city, but also from my high school, as was Michael Rogers, former Tour star of my generation, as well as a world champion in the sport. Despite almost zero funding for our public high school from the Federal Government, Melrose High kids achieve things! I doubt there’s any other school in the world that has produced TWO Tour stars. Forgive me for my pride. 🙂 🙂

Devastating news about John McCain’s cancer diagnosis this week. US politics has become so polarised that both the far-left and the far-right are losing their minds, and in the midst of it all you had a decent man who stood up for a lot of things I believe in, even though I’m not on his side of politics. He is one of the ONLY Republicans to have ever stood up against Russian aggression and meddling, and for this alone he’d have had my respect. He stood up for Ukraine from the beginning of this horrific, current war the rest of his party no longer cares about, and has even gone to the frontlines to visit the troops. However, even before then he had my respect on most things, and had a decency to his politics that is sorely missing in the 2010s.

My review of The Day of the Duchess (Scandal & Scoundrel #3) by Sarah MacLean

Jane Austen around the world.

TV Adaptation for Sylvia Day

Beverly Jenkins Launches GoFundMe to Bring Novel to the Big Screen

The Day of the Duchess (Scandal & Scoundrel #3) by Sarah MacLean

The Day of the Duchess (Scandal & Scoundrel #3) by Sarah MacLean International Cover

The Day of the Duchess (Scandal & Scoundrel #3) by Sarah MacLean US American Cover

You have a choice of two covers: the 1990s-teen-with-messy-hair cover the rest of us get, or the half-naked dislocated-neck cover from the US!

The one woman he will never forget…

Malcolm Bevingstoke, Duke of Haven, has lived the last three years in self-imposed solitude, paying the price for a mistake he can never reverse and a love he lost forever. The dukedom does not wait, however, and Haven requires an heir, which means he must find himself a wife by summer’s end. There is only one problem—he already has one.

The one man she will never forgive…

After years in exile, Seraphina, Duchess of Haven, returns to London with a single goal—to reclaim the life she left and find happiness, unencumbered by the man who broke her heart. Haven offers her a deal; Sera can have her freedom, just as soon as she finds her replacement…which requires her to spend the summer in close quarters with the husband she does not want, but somehow cannot resist.

A love that neither can deny…

The duke has a single summer to woo his wife and convince her that, despite their broken past, he can give her forever, making every day…

The Day of the Duchess (Scandal & Scoundrel #3) by Sarah MacLean

This is no Regency romance: it’s set in the – uh – fashionably “interesting” 1830s, the ten years of the nineteenth century with some truly hilarious outfits! I enjoy an author brave enough to tackle that generation.

1830s Fashion

When I first heard about this series I was adamant I’d never read it. A whole historical romance series based on modern-day gossip magazine headlines? The Kardashians do pre-Victorian England? No thanks.

However: since I started hearing about The Day of the Duchess several months ago I thought there might be… something… that really appealed to me. The blurb made the story seem like it was written specifically for me, and so – despite not having read the others in the series, and having ZERO background information to understand the characters – I started The Day of the Duchess with *expectations*!

While I found the sisters in the family obscenely anachronistic (and gave up trying to tell them – and their near-identical names – apart), it’s nice to have a series where the women are portrayed as looking out for each other.

I say it all the time, but I do prefer reunion stories to pretty much any other trope, and so the author started this story a few points ahead. These are two characters who have gone through terrible things, and done (the hero in particular) terrible things, but I think they came out of it more mature, with a complex and fractured relationship, and it made for excellent angst.

I think missing the setup in the previous books worked in my favour in some ways, as it seems other readers went into this one already disliking the hero. I didn’t start with that bias. It made it easier for me to like him and believe his remorse.

The premise of the story is absurd, however. In her author’s notes, MacLean explains that the divorce itself isn’t too much of a stretch, but then there’s also that earldom won in a card game.

And what comes after that certainly is a stretch to believe. Once the couple agrees to divorce, the hero makes the heroine attend a house party to select his new wife. It was The Bachelor, circa 1836.

Only in a romance book…!!

I stayed on board with most of the insanity of the plot because I liked the two lead characters (and some of the side characters) enough to invest in all the insane directions they were going. However, some readers ARE (justifiably) going to be unhappy with the infertility plotline and the overly sweet epilogue.

I AM very confused why an author who surprised me with her beautiful, emotional writing, her use of interesting archaic words, and attempts Brit-speak (‘I’m rubbish at this.’ and ‘He’s proper horrid.’) messes up badly in one big way.

If you’ve ‘landed on your ass you’ve just fallen on your donkey. It is a phrase used numerous times throughout the book. The words ARSE and ASS have different meanings (one’s your derriere, the other is a farm animal) and aren’t even pronounced the same way; it’s just frustrating to see HR authors make this mistake at this point.

There were a few other stick-out-like-a-sore-thumb anachronisms and major Americanisms in the otherwise great writing. (Titled ladies saying ‘damn right’? ‘Sidekick’?) I’d heard this author uses a lot of modern, non-British language, and had been prepared for it, but it still grates.

The term “wallpaper romance” is used to describe books that all but do away with historical manners and historical accuracy, and this – my first Sarah MacLean read – definitely has those elements to it. However, trashy Kardashian themes aside, there was something more here. There was some serious emotion, and some serious themes in amongst the insanity. I am glad I gave this book a chance.


Review copy provided by NetGalley.