This is what I get for choosing a book based on its title; I guess I mistakenly assumed that the ability to craft an amusing title meant that the author also had to ability to write a good book. Boy was I wrong. I got about 60 pages into this before I finally decided that I couldn’t get any further, which sucks because this book had a pretty good premise:
Most women would not be pleased to be labeled a spinster. But Lady Poppy Smith-Barnes isn’t most women. In fact, Poppy has invented an imaginary fiancé, the Duke of Drummond, to deter unwanted suitors. A very useful fellow, this duke, until the real Drummond turns up and uses Poppy’s ploy to trap her in a betrothal.
A good spy flies below the radar. Which is why being named one of the Prince Regent’s “Impossible Bachelors” is so inconvenient for Nicholas Staunton. Every society female will be out to ensnare him. Nicholas needs a fiancée—and Poppy’s ruse is the answer. How could he have known she’d be a brazen, sensual siren with an irresistible taste for adventure? Now nothing less will do than to convince his fiery Poppy to revoke her spinster status…for good.
As I mentioned last week, I really like spy novels, so when I saw this at the library I thought I had hit the jackpot: a cute title AND Regency spies! What could go wrong? Apparently, a lot.
First, there is the idea that Poppy likes being a spinster. She and two of her friends have decided that unless they can marry for love they are not going to marry. Okay, that’s a nice thought, but in Regency England? I don’t buy it. What woman in her right mind would have chosen to stay unmarried in a time when being a wife and mother was the only thing most women could aspire to? Second, which is really a corollary to the first, is that when Poppy is presented with an engagement and her father threatens to cut her off if she doesn’t marry Nicholas, she claims to be alright with it. What? In what universe would a well-bred young lady be fine with being left penniless and alone? Hell, that was the main reason for Miss Gwen’s decision to become Jane’s chaperone in the Pink Carnation series.
Then, there’s Nick. We first encounter him being awoken by a Russian princess named Natasha, who has a corgi named Boris (I guess Ms. Kramer is a Rocky and Bulwinkle fan). It seems that Nick has spent the night with Natasha and needs to leave immediately because if he is found there he would be forced to marry her, and marriage is not something he wants. As a matter of fact, it is so not what he wants that he begins to question why he ever stayed with Natasha since he doesn’t usually go in for that type of thing. That’s when he notices the glass of Brandy and begins to wonder if he’s been drugged, which upon asking Natasha, he finds out is her thing. (A Russian princess that likes to date rape guys? Lovely.)
Anyway, Nick doesn’t have a very high opinion of women. When he finally meets Poppy, he thinks:
He’d marry her, ship her off to Seaward Hall, and give her what every woman wanted–babies and the occasional bauble to keep her happy. He’d even bring her to town once a year to satisfy that yearning that every woman seemed to have for socializing (37).
Right, so all woman must want babies, baubles, and balls. Tell me again why you’re good enough for Poppy (who alright isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed, turning down 12 proposals in the hopes of marrying a Russian prince (Natasha’s brother Sergei), but she still deserves better)?
A few pages later, after proposing to Poppy in front of her friend the Russian prince as well as everyone else at the ball, Nick doesn’t hesitate in telling Poppy that she must marry him and that she has no choice in the matter. What?! Is this supposed to be romantic? He even tells her that the only reason he plans to marry her is so that he can get on with his life and collect some monetary award–not that Poppy understands a word he is saying as he’s speaking in spy jargon. This is all very ironic as Nick fears becoming involved with the wrong woman, one who would drain his savings (of which he has none). I find it extremely interesting that he is a gold digger that fears gold diggers. Whatever.
Last, there is the fact that everyone but Poppy knows what is going on–Nick’s boss maneuvers to get them engaged, going so far as to talk to her father, explaining to him about Nick being a spy. Let me get this straight, Poppy’s father is allowed to know that Nick is a spy, but Poppy isn’t? In what universe does this make sense? Shouldn’t the woman being shanghaied into marriage at least know why she is being shanghaied? I guess not.
It was at the point where Nick manhandles Poppy after telling her that she will marry him no matter what she wants that I stopped reading. There are much better books out there for me to waste my time reading something this offensive.