01 March 2012

The Madison Sisters Trilogy

Well, Lynsay Sands may have just lost me as a reader.  I read The Countess and The Heiress back in November when I was working my way through her historicals.  Both are quick reads and overlap - once you've read The Countess, parts of The Heiress are a bit boring (you get the scenes-that-you-only-saw-the-tail-end-of-in-book-1).

But they are funny books.  The scenes where the the sisters are trying to conceal the death of Christiana's husband (who turns out to not quite be her husband in name because he's actually the evil twin brother...it makes sense in the book) followed by the attempts of Richard and Daniel to hide the dead body are hilarious.  Lots of opportunity for slapstick.

Sands also set up a good mystery - the three girls all have substantial inheritances, kept secret because the money would not become theirs until marriage.  Well, an unsavory character discovered the secret and that's what drives Christana's marriage to the fake-Richard followed by an attempt to trick Suzette into a hasty marriage (even though Daniel has already agreed to marry her).  (Note to self: never gamble with sketchy characters by yourself in London....the girls' father got drugged, gambled away most of the estate, and the bad dudes who want to marry the sisters are the holders of the vowels.)

So that's two books.  They were entertaining for a couple hours.  They made me laugh.  So I went ahead and pre-ordered the third book, The Husband Hunt, for my nook.  I felt like I ought to read Lisa's story given that I'd read the first two and, considering that her book is set a few years later, it wouldn't re-tread the same ground as the first two. In this one, Lisa - having crushed on the family neighbor for most of her life - is determined to marry him but for Robert's part, his parents having a spectacularly bad marriage, he's definitely gun-shy regarding getting hitched.

Oh, dear.  I was so, so wrong.  I hated this book, really, truly hated it.  It reminds me of all the reasons why I stopped reading romance novels in the first place: a heroine that is too stupid to live.  I would have DNF'd this book and returned it after 40 pages but I bought it on my nook...no returns possible.  So I finished it.  For lack of any other coherent thought about his book, here's the bulk of my Goodreads review (and spoilers will abound, so you're warned if you want to read this):

Things (the major ones) that rubbed me wrong:
1) Lisa (and the maid) not knowing that Mrs. Morgan (whom Lisa met in the village near her brother-in-law's house) doesn't have a respectable London address or noticing that something truly "hinky" was going on when they got there.  The ton ALWAYS knows where the better parts of London are and if they don't know the servants certainly do.
2) Lisa developing a strange attachment to the see-through lingerie she's forced into at the brothel after being essentially Roofied and almost raped. She wears it for Robert later...WTF?
3) Bad dude can be seen coming nearly a mile away. Lisa has two brothers-in-law who seem well-placed to investigate the man yet they seem to know nothing. (And considering that the bad guys in the previous two books admitted there was a plot to marry and then kill all three sisters for their money...that problem seems to have been entirely forgotten....gah)
4) Christiana and Suzette (the three girls in this family have almost laughable names) dress up as prostitutes to enter a house with a BDSM basement and distract servants used to abusing women...worst. plan. ever.
5) Lisa gets kidnapped/attempted kidnapped five times in this book. You'd think she'd learn about running off on her own to strange addresses....
6) Worst foreshadowing ever: the window in Lisa's room has a lock that doesn't work right...and how does the villain enter the house later? dum, dum, daaaaahhhh

Additionally, Robert's issues with marriage have to be the weakest arguements ever.  EVER.  His two friends obviously have good marriages so the comparison with his parents' is ridiculous.

I understand that romance novels require some suspension of disbelief to make the plots work sometimes.  Someone has to have a misunderstanding, or the note gets misplaced, or a long-standing grudge comes to an almost laughably easy resolution...but wow, I didn't expect the plotting and characters of The Husband Hunt to be this dense.  I'm definitely thinking twice about buying any new Sands historicals.  Definitely a case of read-first, buy-if-liked.

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