St. Martin's Press
Jan 8, 2013
The Husband List by the team of Janet Evanovich and Dorien Kelly is an amazing book in several ways. It is a regency romance full of titled gentlemen, the idle rich partying and beautiful gowns. Unlike some historicals that can be heavy on description going on about what each person wore, the draperies, and the imported oriental screens, this book doesn’t. Instead, the spunky American heroine Caroline carries the tale, resisting her mother’s desire to marry her to a nobleman. How good is the book?
I resisted buying it because I didn't want to pay the hardback price. My loving husband bought it, presented it to me Friday night. I finished it on Saturday. I read long into the night using a penlight to illuminate the words. Slumber eventually forced me to take a break, but I found every excuse I could to take the book with me. Reading ten minutes before I walked into exercise class, reading it in the bathtub, the book rode in the car with me just in case a moment presented itself. Twenty-four hours later, I finished the book.
My gluttony caused me to gobble the book in huge choking gulps racing through it. Sigh, it was no more. Sometimes as writers, we analyze books as we read. A good book draws you in and takes you on a journey never allowing you time to think about the writing. The Husband List did just this.
Why is it so much better than other historicals? It has more of a contemporary romance feel about it. No narrators are busy educating me about the do’s and don’ts of the time. The writers assumed most regency fans understand the period. While gowns or jewels are mentioned, there is no lengthy recital of every article of clothing the women wore. The tale focuses on Caroline, an American heiress, whose social climbing mother is determined to marry her to nobility. Caroline would rather have adventures the way her brother and his friend, Jack, do as opposed to going her mother's route. In fact, she'll do almost anything not to marry, and she's done it before. Which is why a nobleman hellbent on marrying her is surprising and definitely suspicious. It raises the hackles of both her brother Eddie and his friend Jack. I appreciate the story was not a history lesson, but a romantic tale about a love that wasn’t supposed to be. There was also a sub plot of love missed by a pair of mature characters. Overall, the combination of streamlined tale without the heaviness of a history lesson, a forbidden romance, and a very evil villain was a delight.
My only hope is Janet and Dorien will pair up for another tale, perhaps, The Wife List.