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Posts Tagged ‘romance’

The Girl in the Painting

Posted by Tracy Poff on September 2, 2011

Carla is the new girl at school, and somehow she’s been voted to be in the auction for the Fall Ball. The rumor is that it must be a joke being played on her by Troy Lester and his friends, and Carla agrees. After all, she’s no prize, or so she imagines. But when Troy bids on her–and wins–at the auction, she’s not sure what to do.

Though my last experience with romance novels was somewhat less than satisfactory, I thought I’d give them another shot, though I didn’t want to commit too much time to being so fair-minded. So, I read The Girl in the Painting by Eve Bunting, a “Fastback Romance.” Despite being bound as a single book, it’s really more of a short story–a little more than five thousand words, I guess.

The story was written in 1978, and I don’t know if it’s just me, or that time marches on, but the way the girls were talking about being sold in the auction, and fetching a good price, was distinctly creepy to me. It was also weird that Carla skipped a class to go home and do housework while she tried to decide what to do. Okay, sure, I might clean a room when I’ve got something on my mind, too, but frankly, after all the talk of selling the girls, it just struck me as having unfortunate implications.

These things aside, though, the story isn’t bad. Bunting manages to fit in a little moral ambiguity in the 37 pages of The Girl in the Painting: as it turns out, initially, Troy did have Carla voted into the auction as a joke, but he came to see that she was an interesting person, and ‘bought’ her because he really wanted to go to the ball with her. There’s complication, provided by Lorraine, and the resolution is fairly satisfying.

One further note, regarding the cover. The two people on the cover don’t match Carla and Troy (who I suppose they’re meant to be) at all. Neither is wearing glasses, and, frankly, there’s no way the girl on the cover could be mistaken for being unattractive. I suppose they wanted the cover to be appealing, to sell the book, but it’s a shame, given that the message of the book is that it’s what’s below the surface that counts.

The Girl in the Painting is a decent, quick read, if you can find it, though I wouldn’t go out of my way to get a copy. It reminds me of the short stories that filled the anthologies we used in English classes in middle school–not a bad thing, but nothing worth writing home about, either.

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Lady Folbroke’s Delicious Deception

Posted by Tracy Poff on August 28, 2011

Lady Emily Longesley married the man she had loved all her life, Adrian, and hoped for a happy marriage. Only several days after they were married, however, he removed to London, and she hasn’t seen him in the three years since.

Discontent with the state of her marriage, Emily goes to London to meet with her errant husband, and bring some kind of resolution to her situation. When she arrives, though, she finds that he is blind, and does not know her voice. So, she schemes to hide her identity, and trick her husband into falling for her, while he believes that he has found an irresistible mistress.

Lady Folbroke’s Delicious Deception by Christine Merrill is a regency romance, heavy on sensuality and light on plot.

Not being a regular reader of romance, I was a little shocked at the bluntness of it–scarcely thirty pages in, Merrill casually writes that Adrian “sagged against [Emily] so that he could suck and bite at the tops of her breasts . . . as though he could not wait a moment longer to bare them, and take the nipples between his lips.” This sets the tone for the whole book, which is a series of such scenes, interspersed with some development of the characters or the plot.

The character development is, until the end, fairly good. Emily is swept up in her scheme and Adrian, all unknowing, falls for it completely, in a very believable progression. There is perhaps an anachronistic degree of modern sensibilities toward the treatment of the blind, but that is easily forgiven. Sadly, Adrian’s realization (or, perhaps, revelation) that he loves Emily, who he does not realize is the same woman as his new mistress, is not so believable. If we are to judge the man by his actions, he has given little indication of such feelings, and we have not been sufficiently privy to his thoughts to learn of his feelings in that way.

The plot is very thin–the summary I gave earlier is essentially complete, save for a few events and minor details. Emily masquerades as a nameless married woman, seeking to have an affair with Adrian since her own husband is inattentive. The bulk of the remaining events are either the two of them meeting or arranging to meet. It is not a plot worthy of either the characters it contains or the three hundred pages that contain it.

Despite the weakness of its plot, Lady Folbroke’s Delicious Deception is a fairly entertaining read. It seems that the Kindle edition is only available outside the United States, so the rest of us will have to get the paperback edition, instead. Read it if the premise interests you, but otherwise, give it a miss.

Disclosure: This review is based on a copy acquired free in a promotional giveaway.

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