A Willful Woman…

Thoughts about books from a romance addict.

TBR Challenge: Married to the Viscount by Sabrina Jeffries

on July 19, 2017

The theme: Series catch-up.

Why this one: I’ve owned it forever and got tired of looking at it. And it’s the last of the series, so it feels more like accomplishing something.

(Edited to add: I’ve discovered that I actually still have the previous book of the series in the TBR. How annoying is that!)

If I had to choose one phrase to sum up this book, I’d be torn between “kind of a downer” and “five pounds of plot in a ten pound sack.” The basic premise is that Abby, an American whose father recently died, arrives in London to join the charming Englishman she married by proxy. She’s horrified to realize that not only is he a pompous, controlling jerk at home, but he didn’t agree to their marriage and doesn’t want her at all. (Except for how much he wants her, of course.) But even though he’s obnoxious, he’s got that hot broody thing going on, so Abby sets out to make Spencer realize she should be his wife in truth.

There’s actually a fair bit going on in the book — de rigeur dumb mystery, Abby’s plans for her father’s medicinal business, Spencer’s tragic backstory — and yet it finds time to be dully repetitious. The interactions between Abby and Spencer never seem to get anywhere, except occasionally to making out. Which is fun to read — until Spencer uses it as a weapon. (Admittedly, Abby behaves badly too, in trying to manipulate him.) And the rest of the book is Abby being comforted and advised about Spencer by her women friends. No Bechdel test passing here.

It’s probably not as bad as I’m making it sound, for readers who enjoy wallpaper historicals. (I guess this is Georgian, but only because King George makes an appearance.) But… kind of a downer. Abby tries so hard, and continually feels so bad about herself, because Spencer refuses to tell her the real reason he won’t keep her as his wife. (He thinks he can’t have children, and his father’s refusal to have more drove his stepmother away.) The conflict is resolved rather sweetly, and though of course there’s a baby epilogue, it’s a reasonable one.

I should probably mention that Abby is half Native American. The story doesn’t do much with this, but I don’t think it’s overtly offensive either, except when Spencer makes a comment about the supposed extra sensuality of dark-skinned women.


4 responses to “TBR Challenge: Married to the Viscount by Sabrina Jeffries

  1. KeiraSoleore says:

    The Native American part seems to be a nod towards diversity rather than anything inherently important to the character and the relationship.

    It annoys me how much female characters in a historical or a contemporary fail the Bechdel Test. I would love for them to discuss anything else other than men. Why not? Why can’t, for example, two FBI agent partners be both women without there being a f/f love interest between them? Or why can’t they be friends who discuss their cases? Why can’t historical women talk about, gosh, embroidering or taking care of their tenants, or ??

    • willaful says:

      There is some interesting stuff here about her medicinals, and come to think of it, I think she and another woman do discuss commerce! So I was unfair to the book.

  2. Dorine says:

    I understand the forever in the pile thing because the book I read was from a discussion you and I were in 4 years ago. My problem is I forget if they’re on my Nook or Kindle, which is why I started marking them on GR.

    I’ve never thought about the Bechdel test before but that could be why I get so annoyed with some books. I learn something new every time we do these challenges. 🙂

    Good review!

    • willaful says:

      I forget about my oldies too. I hoped to catch up on some on my recent vacation, but I think I read all recent library books instead. Ooops. Oh well, if the libraries lose all their funding, I’ll have something to fall back on….

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