The Debutante’s Dilemma


Author: Elyse Mady

Publisher: Carina Press

Date: 2010

Hero: Lord Jeremy Battersley, sixth Earl of Henley and His Grace Richard Huxley, fourteenth Duke of Wexford. Or Lords Henley and Wexford. Can I just say how much it irritates me when people use titles inappropriately? Thanks. Right, well Henley and Huxley are childhood friends, who have indistinguishable country seats, enormous fortunes and impeccable manners. And if you haven’t guessed where this story is going yet, then I should perhaps mention that it is tagged ‘menage’ on the Carina website. I didn’t notice this when I downloaded it, but it was blindingly obvious even to me from the first chapter.

Heroine: Mary Sue Cecilia Hastings. A tall, even figure (I have no idea what that means but I suppose it’s better than an odd figure), smooth throat, milk-white skin, grey eyes and long chestnut hair. Give me strength. Neither missish nor imperious. Blah blah blah. Dances, sings, recites Italian, heals the sick, raises the dead. And so on. I have no interest and less sympathy for this woman’s ‘dilemma’. To have to choose between the two most eligible bachelors in London. Oh, the hardship. Let me fetch your smelling salts.

Other: A cheeky, cheery prostitute. Actually, I have a question about this. Does anyone know if all 19th century prostitutes refused to kiss on the mouth, or only the ones who’ve seen Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman?

Marriage: Yes. In the most irritating manner possible, we are not told whom.

Enjoyment factor: Look, I’m sure there is a market for this sort of book. And if you think that might be you, it’s free right now with the code DEBUTANTEFREE, so go and try it. It’s only a 22,000 word novella, so it won’t even require much of a time commitment.

But for me, the prose was unbearably laborious, giving me little patience to bear with the Americanisms and anachronisms. Also there was a worrying moment when I thought we were straying into Barbara Cartland territory with seven single-sentence paragraphs in a row. The smut was, well, smuttier than I like to read (in fact, I went back to check if it had been labelled erotic romance, but it wasn’t. I think it should have been). Also, I don’t know whether this is a feature of this particular author or threesomes in general, but there was an awful lot of the logistics of the sex which was very tedious. Especially since I couldn’t ever remember which guy was which.

Epilogue: Yes. I hated this epilogue with a passion. If you had asked me to write the epilogue for this story after only having read the first ten pages of the book, this is the epilogue I would have written. By the end of the book I expected a few more details. Also, I would really like there to have been some recognition that this was a book set in the early nineteenth century when issues of inheritance really, really mattered. I just don’t believe this ending could ever have been as happy as we were supposed to believe.

2 Responses to “The Debutante’s Dilemma”

  1. Rosie has just introduced me to your blog… we have very different tastes in books, I think, but your reviews are hilarious!

    • Hi Simon. I’m glad you enjoy the reviews, even if you wouldn’t enjoy the books!


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