This book isn’t usually the Regency romance we get, but it is absolutely one we deserve. I giggled so much while reading this delightful story that the spouse thought I was losing my mind. As usual, Hall’s excellent use of language in both the narrative and dialogue of this tale elevated it from potential massive cliché to self-aware use of genre and tropes in the best way possible. If anyone with less of that ability had written this, I probably wouldn’t like this book nearly as much. Almost every character is a study in extremes, which I recognize adds to the intentional melodrama of the story. Unfortunately, sometimes the manner in which Bonny and Belle dictate their views of how the world (and people) should be diminished the depth of character portrayed by Valentine.
Alas, poor Valentine. He’s the typical grumpy character to Bonny’s sharp-edged sunshine, with bonus demisexual representation. I think he was rather traumatized by the profligate expression of feelings portrayed by Bonny and Belle, which made his character development both intriguing and occasionally unnecessarily painful. On the other hand, I was delighted by how Valentine jumps straight into the deep end of exploring said “feelings” with Bonny, which was both some steamy fun and added another layer to how Hall styled this entire story.
While I didn’t necessarily love this book, I always adore Hall’s writing. It isn’t easy to balance highlighting particular passages in my Kindle with ending up highlighting the entire text. My favorite aspect of this story is how Hall delivers important details about each character while Valentine remains completely oblivious due to his limited knowledge of the possibility, even though everything is from his point of view. That line is always tricky to manage, and Hall presents a master class of the technique here.
I recommend this novel specifically to other fans of Hall’s writing. Join me in imagining Bonny as an ancestor of Arden St. Ives; stay for the moments of sweetness and hilarity that Hall crafts so well.