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Heidi Hart

By day, I'm a domestic violence prosecutor. By night, I read romance to restore my faith in love, relationships, and humanity in general. 

Mean Girls, the Regency Version

The Most Improper Miss Sophie Valentine - Jayne Fresina

I got about a third of the way through this book before giving up and tossing it on the DNF pile. My complaints are many. First, the writing style is weirdly florid and pretentious, full of rambling metaphors that serve no purpose. 

 

The sun, like a playwright with all the winding threads of his imagination exhausted, put down his quill and dipped his weary head to rest. Long shadows slowly crept across the ground, the bronzed fingers of sunset stretching to ease the cramp of a long day's writing.

 

p.79 I don't mind descriptive language, but this is one of no fewer than five paragraphs that establish that it's getting dark. Enough already!

 

Second, the plot, like the writing style, is unnecessarily convoluted. The story keeps hinting about shadowy details in the hero's past, but I lost patience long before we learned anything useful. Likewise, we learn early on that the heroine was scarred in the aftermath of an "accident" that occurs in the prologue, but I lost interest before we were told the details of her injuries and their aftermath.

 

Third, and this is what frustrated me so much I gave up on the book, I think Jayne Fresina (or at least the omnipotent third-person narrator of this story) must be a Mean Girl. All of the descriptions of the female characters other than Sophie, the heroine, are just meanspirited and ugly. Sophie's sister in law is portrayed as evil, ugly, lazy, and stupid -- mostly illustrated by lengthy descriptions of how fat and piggish she is, all of which feed in to the worst kind of fat-shaming and stereotyping. Other rivals for the heroes attentions are described (repeatedly) as horsefaced (Ms. Osborne), having "the features of a squirrel with rather too many nuts in its cheeks" (Amy Dawkins, p. 124), as a nose-picker (Amy Dawkin's sister, p. 124), and grasping (the widow Finchley). I don't think it's necessary to illustrate the rightness of the heroine's pursuit of the hero (though actually she's not even that interested in him) by turning all of the other women in town into ugly, unmannered shrews.

 

This is the first in a series of four. I'm going to pass.