Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca (December 1, 2009)
Review copy from the publisher
The Burton Review Rating:
“A wild west heiress, Summer Wine Lee knows that she’s not an acceptable bride for her fiance’s knickerbocker family. She grew up in an Arizona mining town, cares more for critters than people, carries a knife under her skirts, and, worst of all, she has a highly improper secret from her past. But she also has high hopes that a real English Duke can teach her how to be a lady…
Were it not for his father’s gambling debts, the Duke of Monchester would never have stooped to civilize Summer. But the more time he spends with her, and the more social scrapes he has to rescue her from, the more he finds it impossible to change her into a proper lady. How could he, when he’s falling in love with her just the way she is?”
Remember that story “My Fair Lady” with Eliza Doolittle and Henry Higgins? This is the same concept with a blend of both America and England and a larger dash of a southern accent.This novel features Summer Wine Lee… a name that makes you blink.. as it did to the snooty English people she met. Immediately we are transported with her to England to fetch herself some manners, as I had no idea that Americans just didn’t have any in those days. Summer’s rich father was too busy to teach her any apparently, so she goes gallivanting to England to become the Duke of Monchester’s protege of sorts. The book’s cover features the mini blurb: “Who says a proper lady can’t carry a knife?” and it is with this southern attitude that Summer Lee intrigued me as a reader. The Duke is utterly disgusted and yet thrilled by her odd ways, and I was laughing to myself during certain outrageous scenes that were chock full of mirth, knives, chihuahuas, monkeys, and fox pups. Yes, you’ll find the word ‘critters’ more often then you would prefer to, but it added to the charm of Summer and her odd female companion as well.
Summer had her heart set on some old coot in New York, who in reality could care less if she returned to the States or not, and that was the frustration factor for me as a reader. Wake up, Summer! If that snobby Monte doesn’t want you, throw him to the curb! Yet throughout the novel she continues to hold him up on a pedestal and repeats to herself “Monte Monte Monte” so that she remembers the purpose of her travels in England. She is deeply attracted to her instructor, the Duke, but refuses to admit to herself that he could possibly feel the same way. She is not the smartest apple in the basket, but still manages to figure out that there are murderers in their midst before the Duke admits to it himself. There was a small dose of a mystery with the attempts on their life that the two frequently encountered, but the author did not overly dramatize that fact which made the read a bit more satisfying. Instead it just felt like another day in Summer’s world and I enjoyed learning more and more about her as the story progressed. Byron, aka the Duke, was also a pleasurable character and I knew from the start that he would fall in love with her just for the fact that she wasn’t after him. Apparently the Duke was the toast of the town and was tired of being a sought after Duke. But he was a sensitive guy underneath it all, and somewhat close to perfect except for being a bit shorter than one would expect a handsome guy to be.
This is another romance issue from Sourcebooks Casablanca that I enjoyed although perhaps a bit predictable as romances normally are. It was a quick read that didn’t have many sluggish moments and although you knew eventually the two main protagonists would come around and see the light (i.e. fall in love and live happily ever after) I had a lot of fun watching the charades. At 384 pages, I felt it was just the right length so that it wasn’t drawn out and it wasn’t just another stunted effort. I enjoyed the many events that occured along the way, and there were many.. I don’t want to add spoilers but I must say there was more sexual content than was expected, so I feel I must warn you this should have a NC-17 rating. Although I am not used to that much ‘imagination’, I still enjoyed this one and you need to come back later this week (11/18/2009) to the blog to read the author Kathryne Kennedy’s guest post titled “Why I write historical romance…or, why I love it!” and be entered for a giveaway of this new book.