04 February, 2012

Review: The Summer Of You by Kate Noble

I've been in a bit of a book slump lately so I thought I'd take the suggestions of others and try Kate Noble. I bought The Summer of You when it first came out as a trade paperback and it has been languishing on my TBR pile ever since. I can completely appreciate The Summer of You even as I discard it. (Perhaps I should call this Grant Syndrome in honor of A Lady Awakened?)

The Summer of You does have strong characters and a fresher setting. While a Duke is present, we're not playing Duke, Duke, Groom as the only Duke present is the heroine's ailing father. The characterization was good, the relationship between our heroine and her drunken immature brother was one of the more realistic sibling pairings I've read and yet... There was something far too modern about this read. I'm all for updating the standard hero and heroine to a more realistic level. Times change, people don't. Yet people are still a product of their times. Did I buy these people in these times reacting in these ways? I'm not sure I did. The townspeople were stronger than the leads, never a good sign for me. There was another pet problem of mine, one I don't have a snappy name for. Participant Peril? Heroine Harm? I don't know. We've got a war hero with a bad leg saving a drowning child with a concussion so I thought we'd gotten our brush with death out of the way, but it was not to be.

The subplot of our disgruntled heroine stranded in the suburbs with her forgetful father and drunken brother meets mysterious and reclusive neighbor story is that the town has decided he's a highwayman. Apparently a series of non violent crimes have coincided with his arrival and he is just unfriendly enough to convince all he must be the villain. This (oh, it is probably way too late for a spoiler tag isn't it? It's not a new release, you'll just have to forgive me.) of course leads to a few near arrests, an actual arrest and a grand proclaiming that the heroine was twisting the sheets with the hero on a night in question. Really, who does that? Who alibis someone in the middle of a house party? I suppose she does. Because she has to in order to flee into the night where she might as well end up feverish in a chicken coop for all the pointless disaster that befalls her.

While escaping from the scandal of her own making, and at the command of the brother she has (up to now) largely ignored, she is set upon by the true highwayman. Luckily, many people figured out that dude's identity about five seconds before so help is one the way. Our highwayman has decided to move from profit to violence which makes almost no sense. He apparently knows she has cleared the hero, but he assumes she will be readily believed. By attacking her he cements the alibi and further complicates his own situation. Raping the heroine is much more awesome to him than living a comfortable life under the nose of those from whom his gain is ill-gotten so off he goes to pillage. She gets knocked silly, she gets rescued, he reveals he planned to frame our hero all along, but is thwarted by a surprise stowaway in the carriage.

What is the surprise stowaway even doing there? Earlier in the chapter we are asked to believe that a comfortably situated member of the minor gentry has decided to get away from it all by leaving her parents a note and slipping away with the disgraced ducal daughter. What? I mean, full stop, what? Why does she think said disgraced daughter either will or can fund her escapade? How would she return to live in the village after running off with the recently revealed tramp? It doesn't make any sense. Does she expect she can hitch a ride to her sister's home? Does she expect she can make a new life with what she's wearing and the goodwill of a neighbor she barely knows? Is there a thought in her head besides "Someone is going to have to reveal the villain in a few pages when he gets all villainy?" In a contemporary, yes. In a WW2 novel, yes. Heck, possibly even in a late Victorian. Maybe. But how is this girl planning to survive if everyone turns her out? She has not previously exhibited a lack of all brainpower. I couldn't go there. I can see why so many have suggested Kate Noble so strongly to me, but I don't think I'm in for another go. I'd like to read another book by her but not another historical. 

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