In 1814 London, England, a lady is defined as a demure, delicate flower. Miss Francine Annesley is not that lady. If men were like plants, she would have a garden of admirers to choose from instead of the thorn in her side since childhood, Julian Beckwith. But she would make an even worse nun than she does a lady, which will be her fate if she can’t dig up a husband before the Season ends. However, Julian is not an option.
With only ten short days left in the Season, Francine doesn’t have time to waste on petty squabbles or knee-weakening kisses, even if Julian’s offer to fulfill her every wish rouses her curiosity. It seems men are more complicated than plants. Too bad love bloomed at the most inconvenient of times…
There are some rules in genre fiction that just are. E.g. if you write a murder mystery, solve it before the end of the book. Don’t kill off your romance hero or heroine.
Then there are the unwritten rules, and somewhere near the top of that list has to be: *don’t* write historical romance in the first person.
I almost felt like How To Ruin Your Reputation in 10 Days should come with a warning on it about this odd style choice, but then I realised it wasn’t actually a *rule*. It is, however, something many readers (myself included) dislike. First person perspective is used in young and new adult fiction more often than not, and it works there for the exact reasons it doesn’t in HR:
#1 It is immediate and intimate, and makes you feel like you’re in the present. Exactly what you want for books about the under-21s of today, and not *at all* what you want in a book set two centuries ago.
#2 Every mistake, be it an Americanism or a serious behavioural error, seems much worse when we’re in the heroine’s thoughts. She’s thinking in the wrong language, and she’s thinking incorrect things about the society she lives in. It makes every mistake that much worse, and pulls you that much more out of the era she’s allegedly in.
(However, young ladies standing in the middle of a ball and lecturing about the objectification of women, and heroines who slap people’s faces at that ball, aren’t going to pass for historically accurate in any situation.)
#3 Many historical romance heroines are young. However, we attribute them with a sort of olde-worlde maturity we don’t expect from young people today. The moment the historical romance heroine starts talking directly to us, she comes across as a little self-absorbed, and a lot like a teenager.
I could have done without the random comment about “savages” in the Americas, too…
Because of this, I decided not to finish the book. There was nothing to be gained from reading something that wasn’t working for me. The author clearly feels more comfortable writing in this style, but it is almost universally hated by adult romance readers, and I’d suggest she try third person in the future.
Review copy provided by NetGalley.