Synopsis (from Goodreads):
She was unmarried, untouched and almost thirty, but novelist Amanda Briars wasn’t about to greet her next birthday without making love to a man. When he appeared at her door, she believed he was her gift to herself, hired for one night of passion. Unforgettably handsome, irresistibly virile, he tempted her in ways she never thought possible, but something stopped him from completely fulfilling her dream.
Jack Devlin’s determination to possess Amanda became greater when she discovered his true identity. But gently bred Amanda craved respectability more than she admitted, while Jack, the cast-off son of a nobleman and London’s most notorious businessman, refused to live by society’s rules. Yet when fate conspired for them to marry, their worlds collided with a passionate force neither had expected. . . but both soon craved.
My impressions (this time in a form of a devilish parable):
2006, somewhere in the USA. A successful female romance writer is sitting and pondering over her next novel. What to write: a contemporary or a historical romance? What will sell better? What will be more interesting for her audience? More challenging to write? Old or new? Contemporary or Victorian?
Unfortunately both options have their advantages and disadvantages (like everything else in life apart from chocolate perhaps). A contemporary heroine might be independent, more adventurous and creative in bed, fully indulging her every whim – what woman wouldn’t like to do the same? A Victorian lady has to be aware of many restrains limiting her appetites but her hairdo, clothes and jewellery would be such a joy to describe – what woman wouldn’t dream of donning such an attire to a ball like a proper princess? A contemporary chick? A Victorian miss? Or maybe…maybe…wait a moment… here’s an idea…a Victorian chick?
I don’t doubt (but, of course, I may be wrong) that at that precarious stage of planning a she-demon of failed romance novels (there is such a demon for sure) must have intervened, appearing out of the blackest pits of hell, lured to the Earth by too many pink and fluffy thoughts swirling around, the food she enjoys feasting on the most.
Whispering sweet nothings to the willing ear of the said writer the she-demon blurred the line between the common sense and utter pink rubbish with a clever spell. Then she was hissing and crooning in a voice which was black-chocolate-and-caramel-smooth: “Come on, no need to think so hard and make your head ache; I know the perfect solution. Let’s mix those two options together, keeping the best of both! With a liberal amount of steamy sex scenes your next book is bound to succeed anyway! Nobody will notice those itty-bitty discrepancies or even the bigger ones; as soon as you make your characters disrobe in a bedroom your readers will, in fact, forget their own names; steam is such a great way to cover any historical slip-ups and plot mistakes.”
A moment of weakness or laziness or both and here you go: the demon succeeded and “Suddenly You” was created. As you can guess such an influence didn’t pay off. No surprises here – demons rarely offer a good piece of advice; their intention is to destroy and to sow discord among readers and writers. The results?
The novel features one Amanda Briars a rather sheltered Victorian miss raised in the country who sold the family house and moved to London after the death of her parents – just like that. While enjoying her solitary life in the Big Smoke she launched out into writing, soon becoming a popular writer of romantic fiction. Drat, she’s been earning a decent living with the fees and royalties, no mean feat even in our times, let alone over one hundred years ago. What’s even less probable, she’s been publishing under her own name not a well-chosen male pseudonym (as it was usually the case at that era) and she has had no male agent to act in her behalf. Strange? No matter. Here starts the real deal.
Our sweet Amanda is a proper lady and a virgin and yet, and yet… one evening, after eating one plum pudding more, drinking a supernumerary glass of wine, crossing herself, she sighed and decided to arrange a visit of a male prostitute for her 30th birthday. You see, somehow she felt she had to get rid of that wretched hymen. Why such an idea came to her Victorian mind? How did she know male prostitutes existed at all? How did she find out where to go to hire one, without the Internet or tv? Nobody knows but our she-demon is laughing out loud and shakes her horn-adorned head with scorn, hearing such questions. Who cares about probability and other such inanities? A lady wants a stud and a stud she will receive. It’s a romance, she is a Victorian chick, it’s not about reality, right?
When the said cicisbeo (a word Amanda uses – also from the wrong era, at least one hundred years older, and with a different meaning but who cares) turns out to be a well-known publisher, masquerading for fun as a prostitute (don’t ask why – he doesn’t know why himself) I gasped – how come? Our heroine was such a popular author in London and the said publisher was doing so well in roughly the same business, still they didn’t known each other at least by sight? Strange. It gets even stranger, though.
After initial period of dithering they both decide that their tryst will last three months exactly. Amanda is embracing that idea with a really suspicious enthusiasm for a Victorian prude. Still she also wants to keep their affair in secret, now acting like a real Victorian. However, several dozen pages later, she doesn’t hesitate a moment when John (Jack) Devlin, the said publisher, invites her for a Christmas dinner to his house; mind you it is not a family dinner, rather a large party with plenty of people present, publishers, editors and authors, a social event. Can you imagine something more scandalous than that? Amanda, dear, you neglected your own family during Christmas for the sake of a man and you did it in public, it was almost as if you placed an announcement in all the main newspapers! Do you still think you can keep the whole affair ‘discreet’ and ‘private? Pigs can fly…
Apart from that the book spreads some really obnoxious romance cliches and their list I do not hesitate to include below (mind you some of them might be spoiler-ish):
- If you fall in love, you do so because a man you fancy is very handsome/ a woman you fancy is very pretty. No love for uglies.
- If you love someone you cannot help but have sex with them as soon as possible. A lot of sex.
- If the sex is good it always means you love each other very much.
- If you get pregnant, it’s ok not to inform your partner about it because, after all, it is your private business.
- You can lie about your age, your previous life, anything at all – if your partner truly loves you he/she will always forgive you, no matter what. Honesty? Trust? Confidence? What are these?
Ms Kleypas, some of your books are really good but this one disappointed me horribly. Maybe I would treat it less harshly and be less disappointed if my expectations weren’t set so high. Suddenly You wasn’t perhaps the most horrible romance novel I’ve ever read but I would most definitely position it in the bottom of my ‘meh’ reads.