Review: One Night For Love

Rating:

I once chanced upon Mary Balogh's 'The Secret Pearl' a complicated tale of the relationship between a Duke and his child's governess and was instantly a fan.

In 'One Night for Love', Neville Wyatt, the Earl of Kilbourne, newly returned from the battlefront is getting ready to marry his childhood friend and longtime fiancee when a bedraggled woman enters the church disrupting the ceremony. This is Lily Doyle who Neville had married and then watched die in an ambush in Spain before being grievously injured himself. Lily survives however, but is taken prisoner and has only just stepped onto England's shores.

Neville and Lily, after the initial shock, start trying to get the semblance of a life together, but Lily is hopelessly out of her element as a countess. The daughter of Neville's Seargent, she is illiterate, has no accomplishments and no conversation with which to deal with her husband's guests and relatives. Fighting insecurity and low self-esteem Lily decides to leave Neville so that he can get his life back together with a woman from his own class, one who truly belongs by his side. But, there's one thing she has not counted upon - she is the love of Neville's life, and he of hers ....

As I finished reading this all I could think was, Mary, where did the magic go? The book should have been named the TwitCapades for the level of intelligence displayed by the lead characters.

Neville, who apparently doesnt believe in medical knowledge, takes one look at his wife and decides she is dead. Wishful thinking, maybe?

It's left to the French enemies to realise that she was just injured. And when she does come back all the sensitive Neville can do is mutter "Lily. You are dead." statements for the following 5 pages. Carrying on the tradition of sensitivity, Neville decides to marry 1 single, measly, year after he loses Lily, the apparent love of his life.

As for Lily, I've never come across a more exasperating heroine. You would think she had tons of spunk, following the army all her life, living abroad, being captured and surviving rape amongst other things and making her way back alone to England from Portugal. But, her actions and thinking do not equate with courage, physical or mental.

Now, I was prepared for a lot of internal navel-picking, Balogh's novels almost always follow the same format where we delve into the depths of her protagonists' feelings, but Lily was just an escapist. She comes across as a child running away from her problems and most of the times she survived, she probably did because no one thought such a twit was worthy of any attention.

The two twits have a scene of all-consuming passion (ho-hum, but what did you expect from this pair) and at the end of this, the sensitive twit says incredibly "I'm sorry." All I wished was that someone had put the idiot out of his misery a long time ago! Of course, twit two wasnt to be outdone and she responds, even more incredibly, by saying "Thank You." *cough, doormat*

Lily after articulating her insecurity over class differences and illiteracy doesnt get much support from Neville so sets out to educate herself with the help of Neville's enlightened aunt. Sensitive Neville when faced with the results of these endeavours treats Lily like an unintelligent child "Did you just read that verse, Lily?", "Did you play that elementary finger-exercise all by yourself, Lily", "Did you dance a country dance without trodding on your partner's feet, Lily?", "Did you just stab me in the larynx, Lily?" Oh, sorry, the last was just this papaya's wishful thinking !!!

By this point, the only reason I was still reading was because I wanted to plumb the depths of Balogh's awful writing. It did get worse, we suddenly came across a plot to have Lily killed. Of course, since these are the twitcapades, the villain is so inept as to try a couple of times so that even the twits were warned that not everyone was feeling the love and they ended up having a HEA.

But, by the time I came to the part devoted to murdering Lily, I realised why I was getting so antsy and irritated with the plot. As I've said repeatedly, Heyer has done almost every historical romance formula out there and done it exceedingly well. So this subject, marriage between the classes has been explored by her and in the brilliant historical romance 'These Old Shades' and the contemporary 'Barren Corn' that it makes me impatient when another author cannot handle the subject sensitively and actually borrows Heyer's plot elements to move her story forward.

Balogh doesnt offer much insight into the way the couple handles the myriad minefields surrounding their relationship - Neville's abandonment of Lily on the battlefield, her torture in captivity, her abandoning of him once she returns and instead spends a lot of time on Neville wondering how much he hurt his jilted bride. But, for a romance to work between the two principal characters the reader has to understand their motivations involving each other. Probably loss of potential is also what failed to warm me towards the story.

And I was thoroughly dissatisfied with the ending Balogh gives her piece. I resent that she went out of her way to get readers to identify with a woman who was struggling with the class issue and then immediately makes it a non-issue. It's as if Balogh wishes to say that a marriage between the classes is not possible and of course, messages like this always make my hackes rise. But then, many would point out I shouldnt be reading historical romances anyway!!!

Oh well, at least Heyer's novels are intelligent and dont make me want to slap every character soundly. I'll go back to reading Balogh when she writes her next novel with a disfigured hero and an oval-faced heroine since it seems that those are the ones she excels at. But what do I know, I've only read 3 of her novels so far, and this one ensures that it's back to my own bookshelf for the next historical romance I feel inclined to read.


8 comments:

S said...

Ohhh!!!! looks like the book was pathetic...You have bashed it in n out :D

As it is I never knew this author but now to I'll tay away from it....hehehe

Nice review :)

S

couchpapaya said...

S- it's v. difficult to find decent reads in the romance genre. anyways, this was a balogh and it still is far better than some of the rubbish flooding the market, so it got the extra half papaya :D

/p

avdi said...

Papaya.. its hard to find a decent, stirring romance these days. Even the M&B's are a bore. What is a girl to do?

couchpapaya said...

avdi - i know which author i can pick up for light re-reading .... and then there's always austen, thank god :D

/p

WhatsInAName said...

Oops looks like you had a tough time.
But you know if I find a book bad, I dump it immediately. I just cant go on. Have dumped 3 books of late!

couchpapaya said...

WIAN - but how wld i bash it if i dumped it :) which one's did u dump ??? so that i never have to pick them up .....

/p

Mama - Mia said...

i had such a luaght reading this P!!

god! the book really irritated the hell out of you!

well, you win some, you lose some!!

hope next one turns out to be perfect!!

cheers!

abha

couchpapaya said...

abha - the only good thing is that i'm able to get some decent reviews out of them :) am reading one which is thorouhgly enjoyable. stay tuned!

/p

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