Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Disgraceful Mr. Ravenhurst, by Louise Allen - Review

Follow Through!
A few months ago, I posted about how the cover of this book caught my eye. And it took me awhile, but I finally got around to acquiring and reading it. I have to say, I enjoyed it very much!

I'm not sure where I first encountered the idea of a low-conflict romance, vs. a high-conflict one, though I've seen it lately at Read React Review. I love the concept, and I'm finding that I really love a well-done low-conflict romance. I think there's just something about the "OMG I HATE YOU IT MUST BE LOVE" trope that I don't really buy on a fundamental level, although I can still enjoy those books.

So back to Disgraceful. I just loved these characters. While we get a bit of the transformed bluestocking cliche, the hero is also unconventional and an outsider and lonely, though they are both of the same social class. The author did a great job of developing a friendship that unfurled into love. On top of that, Allen has a knack for dialogue that is not only witty and amusing, but revealing of character-- and I love that. I just really enjoyed watching these two fall in love, all quiet and sweet.

Recently, Orannia at Walkabout posted about how your "headspace" of the moment affects the reading experience. While I fully enjoyed this book, I imagine in the wrong mood or more critical readers might find the melodramatic plot a bit eye-roll-y (or as the kids would say today: 9_9 ). I actually snickered when the hero and heroine "came to" chained to a wall in a dungeon. Hee. The plot reminded me pretty strongly of a Nancy Drew mystery. Stolen object, multiple suspects. Or maybe Agatha Christie, right down to the house party with all the suspects on the guest list. TRUST NO ONE!! I will say that I was surprised by the whodunit.

As for the character conflict, it falls squarely in the category of Big Mis, and particularly the "I jumped to the wrong conclusion and now I can never tell him/her that I really love her!" variety which is my least favorite of all. Really. I almost always hate that, and can't think of the last time a book with that plot didn't turn out to be a wall-banger for me. Just goes to show you, you can't judge a book by its trope.

You Kids Get Offa My Lawn!
Maybe I'm getting mellow in my old age or something, but in this particular case, the Big Misunderstanding really seemed plausible. The author wrote these characters in a way that every frustrating wrong-headed opportunity not taken seemed like the only way it could unfold. And made me want to hug them both and fix it. (Uh, yeah, I know about the unspecific pronouns there. Sorry.)

It's possible that I was influenced by a budding RL romance I've been reading about on a forum of friends. The protagonists in question were just getting some lift to their relationship, when the holidays hit and Our Hero had tons of family travel commitment. Cuteness in the form of "miss you" type texts ensued.

The Heroine took a risk and sent the Hero an email with just the slightest emotional hue of the "I like you" shade. When no reply came back immediately, the headf*ck began, with us forum members as audience and Greek chorus.

It turned out that he was pretty sick [external conflict!] and it looks like things are back on track, though of course the HEA is not guaranteed in this story (one can hope though!). Anyway, reading Disgraceful at the same time perhaps made the mental gymnastics that Allen's characters were performing more understandable.

And Bring Me My Cardigan!
It kinda made me feel old though. I had a bit of an "oooooh, aren't they cute" reaction which kind of surprised me.

I guess that's my headf*ck for the moment.


Carolyn Crane said...

LOL. A very entertaining post, granny, with RL examples!!! I couldn't agree more about that with some characters, the big mis really does work. I think they already have to have a certain chip on their shoulders, at least for me. I totally LOVE this book title, too.

Heloise said...

Like the title but what is with the 10 year old model? :) Love the RL story. Too funny.


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