Title: Chasing the Heiress
Author: Rachael Miles
Series: The Muses Salon #2
Genre: Regency Romance
Lady Arabella Lucia Fairborne has no need of a husband. She has a fine inheritance for the taking, a perfectly capable mind, and a resolve as tough as nails. But what she doesn’t have is the freedom to defy her cousin’s will–and his will is to see her married immediately to the husband of his choosing. So is it any wonder that she dresses herself as a scullery maid and bolts into the night?
Colin Somerville’s current mission for the home office is going poorly. Who would have expected otherwise for a rakish spy tasked with transporting a baby to the care of the royal palace. But when, injured and out of ideas, Colin stumbles upon a beautiful maid who knows her way around a sickroom, it seems salvation has arrived. Until he realizes that though Lucy may be able to help him survive his expedition, he may not escape this ordeal with his heart intact…
Source: ARC from Kensington Zebra via NetGalley
I’m probably being a bit mean when I only give this two stars, because at times I found it an engaging, enjoyable read. The problem is I also found it really long, was irritated by little details and got fed up of the plot switching off the romance to deal with the suspense, then switching off the suspense to deal with the romance, with some dull interludes in between. It also had a habit of abandoning plot threads as unresolved the moment they finished their narrative purpose for this story, and so, while at times I enjoyed this, there were plenty of other moments when I didn’t.
Colin and Lucy are okay characters. I liked how competent Lucy was at the start, using her battlefield training to excellent effect. She also shows strength and resilience at other points, which makes her admirable too. However, there’s a trust issue that got right on my nerves. It was a case of, “Oh! How can you not trust me when I’ve shown that I don’t trust you either, you horrible person. That makes me so glad I never trusted you. Now I must flounce off into danger. Take that!” Yes, it serves a convenient narrative point, but it does it in a really annoying way. It would have been far better for Em not to have noticed Lucy and let her keep thinking the wrong thing.
There is a lot going on in this novel. It opens with Colin on a mission that goes very badly wrong, which provides excellent opportunity for him to both meet Lucy and for her to show off her skills. It also means they have to spend lots of time together and continue to do so for a good portion of the novel. This would have been fine, if that plot hadn’t then been abandoned because, first, Romance! Then, Lucy Problems! It made all the fuss and bother seem pointless, and quite frankly, didn’t do poor Marietta much justice.
As for Lucy’s troubles, as interesting as they were (and unexpectedly dark at times), they dragged on rather a bit. Especially when you think they’re over, but no! Like a pantomime villain, they return when you least expect! (Except you do expect, because the characters do something stupidly out of character so you know it’s going to go wrong.) Add in the really rushed ending, and you may begin to understand my frustrations. There’s also a lot of build up around Em’s character, none of which is expanded upon or explained – such as what on earth was all that about Adam? And what happened with Bess? You can’t throw all that emotion into the mix and then just forget about it!
Then there are the little details – the frequent mentions of Colin wearing pants (and even leggings), the idea that the baby has the lungs of a moose (not very 19th century England), and holding a poker like a cricket bat is only scary if you’re aiming for someone’s knees or fighting off a horde of Borrowers. A cricket bat is not the same as a baseball bat, because cricket is not the same as baseball.
Oh, and titles. Why are the titles wrong? There’s clearly been so much research put into this book, about many different things like word puzzles, ways to drug people or kill them slowly over time, and nefarious shipping schemes, but not courtesy titles apparently. It’s not that hard to grasp, it really isn’t. Precedent is the tricky thing, but titles are easy. Except not in this book. Colin, the younger son of a duke, is referred to as Lord Somerville and Mr Somerville, but never once correctly as Lord Colin, nor are his brothers given their correct courtesy titles either. And I’m totally confused about Em. I don’t even know what title her father holds, but I’ll give the author the benefit of the doubt and say he’s an earl or higher, in which case Lady Em is fine, but Lady Whateveritwas isn’t, because her father is still alive. I’m pretty sure Lucy shouldn’t have a title either, unless there’s another family title floating around that is passed down the female line, since there’s all the fuss about her aunt’s estate and her cousin is a lord.
So, in all, a rather frustrating read. There’s plenty going on if you like suspense in your historicals, and there is a sweetish romance buried amongst it all at first, but to be honest it irritated me too often for me to enjoy it. Over long, with too many tangled threads that were rarely tied up, I found the first third much more engaging than the rest, while the rushed ending left me feeling largely unsatisfied. I might be interested in reading more about Em sometime, but so many things were left unresolved and hanging that I’m kind of too annoyed to find out more.
Chasing the Heiress is Out Now.
Visit Rachael Miles for more details.