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.