Author: Laura Kinsale
Published: 1987, Avon
Category: Historical Romance
I picked up this book because everyone is always talking about Laura Kinsale like she's the most wonderful romance writer ever. I read Flowers from the Storm a while ago and had very conflicted feelings about it. It's beautifully written, but somehow I just didn't like it all that much. I'm still trying to figure out why. Anyway, I wanted to give her another shot, so I read this one.
And I'm kind of conflicted about this one, too.
Ransom Falconer, Duke of Damerell, travels to meet a man named Merlin Lambourne who is the inventor of a telephone-like device, which Ransom thinks could be used to help the British defeat Napoleon. Turns out that Merlin Lambourne is a woman, a beautiful young woman who is a genius. She's also very absent-minded professor-ish and naive. Ransom stays for dinner as he tries to talk Merlin into making some refinements to the speaking box, and accidently gets drugged with some kind of hallucinogen/aphrodisiac. He loses control and proceeds to seduce her into bed. And she's so naive that she's all, "Oh, what are you doing? Oh, what's that? Oh well, okay that feels good."
My favorite line:
"Oh, my," she said to the depths of his coat. "I do believe there was something in the salt."
It's certainly an original version of the innocent girl gets ravished scenario.
When Ransom comes back to sanity, he realizes that he's ruined the girl. So he takes her home with him and tries to talk her into marrying him. She, however, is working on inventing a flying machine and Ransom has this mortal fear of heights. This creates much tension as he tries to get her to give up the project as a lost cause.
It's got some really funny parts and I do think Kinsale's writing is very good. But somehow it was just okay for me. Like in Flowers from the Storm, the characters are interesting and complex, but sometimes really annoying. Merlin's naivete gets old pretty fast. And Ransom can be incredibly bossy and manipulative. Also like FftS, it's a story of two incredibly different people who fall in love. I think that's part of my problem with these books. I just don't see why these two people who have nothing at all in common fall so passionately in love. But it is waaaaay less angsty than FftS, which is a good thing in my opinion.
Anyone have any other Kinsale suggestions? Otherwise I might have to give her up as not my cup of tea.
BTW, isn't that cover classic?