Sunday, June 21, 2009

LAUGHTER REVIEWS #26: Compromised

by Kate Noble

Historical Romance

Two sisters are caught in the trap of strict upper-class social rules forcing specific actions and reactions.

Follows the current trend showing lower half of face only. Cover lady wearing a yellow gown whose color is relevant to the story, whose style looks oddly non-historical apart from length, and whose lines impart a nice sense of movement. Raised magenta lettering does not work for this reader, but one-word title that captures the content does.

What Works
Cover quotes contain the words 'effervescent' and 'sparkling'; they are justified. This is no dramatic tale with a deep social issue woven in, there is not one 'tortured' character, there are no true villains of the across-the-book, wishing-evil-upon type. This is what used to be called a comedy of manners, and Apprentice Writer found it delightful and refreshing - especially given her recent dabbling in end-of-the-world, bodies-strewn-about urban fantasy and paranormal. Despite the way that couples are paired up at the beginning of the story, the reader has no doubt what the final pairing shall be. The entertainment lies not in who ends up with whom, but how they get there.

What Doesn't
There were a number of descriptions that mystified Apprentice Writer. Are 'crystalline candles' see-through? If someone's eyes 'turn the color of fire', shouldn't that be interpreted as a sign of Ebola outbreak or demonic possession rather than philosophical passion? Did the Regency vocabulary truly encompass the phrase 'So what?' Is AW the only one who worries about epileptic seizure at the information '...his shoulders worked furiously'?

And, a most pet of peeves: why must faithful readers suffer through horrid spellings to convey a foreign accent? Isn't it enough to mention the fact that a character speaks in a way that shows English is not their first language (or even if it is; Scottish highlands ahoy), and leave it at that? It was especially puzzling that this issue was so harped on, given that the heroine is a diplomat's daughter and has spent her life interacting with people who are trying to do her the courtesy of conversing in her native language rather than force her to stumble in theirs or simply consign her to non-understanding/boredom during the endless social affairs involved in such a life. One more dipolmat in a long line of people with an accent should have been water off a duck's back, and not worth the point of making the foreign character sound slightly foolish.

A lovely debut. AW shall certainly look out for future titles from this author, including the recently released 'Revealed'.

But does it make you laugh? YES!
AW is very pleased to report that the humor worked on several levels - the conversations, the scenarios, the actions/reactions - all very nicely done. Fast forward a century or so and it could easily be imagined as one of those classic, black-and-white screwball comedies that Cary Grant so excelled at. Here a little taste of banter:

"Leaving?" she squeaked (as he) opened her wardrobe. "You're abducting me?"
"Eloping. Eloping involves hurried packing. Abducting involves masked men and a burlap sack."

And here an example of opposite-of-expected, so dear to AW's heart:

"He had (his proposal) all planned, too. He would take (her) down to the lake where they first met, unceremoniously throw her in, and then, while she sputtered and raved, he would sink to one knee in the muck and beg for her hand."

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