REVIEW: Lady Myddleton’s Lover by Evangeline Holland

Sunday, July 7, 2013 0:00
Posted in category Review

Book CoverLynneC’s review of Lady Myddleton’s Lover by Evangeline Holland
Historical Romance published by Edwardian Parade 22 Aug 12

This book has a beautiful cover and I know Evangeline slightly, so I decided to download and read, even though I don’t particularly like the Edwardian era. However, a few issues kept me from totally enjoying the story.

The idea isn’t particularly new. The heroine is a widow, and after a suitable period of mourning she longs for physical contact, so her friends buy her a gigolo for her birthday.

The man who appears at her door isn’t the bought escort, but the heir to her late husband, and after she lets him suck her nipple for a while, he confesses to her who he is. Not surprisingly, she throws him out. They’re no sooner inside than he’s busy nipple sucking, which seems a bit odd. Not even a kiss on the lips or a prelude. “Hi, how are you? Oh, sorry, will speak later, my mouth’s full.”

The story is very similar to Lisa Kleypas’s story Suddenly You, where a woman who has hired an escort answers the door to a different man to the one she’s expecting, right down to the man being younger than the woman. However, Kleypas’s story is a novel and this is a novella, so character development and story are more limited. The sexual responses are cliché and expected. There’s very little to show why this particular couple are attracted to each other, what makes them so special.

What makes this book nearly unreadable is the horrible editing. Every single speech tag has a capital letter, instead of a comma and small case. In other words, you get things like this:

“I’m sorry,” He said abruptly, releasing her wrists and pulling away from her.

Every. Single. Time. As if the author thinks this is the accepted convention. No. It’s not.

“I’m sorry,” he said abruptly, releasing her wrists and pulling away from her.

Once or twice? Maybe. It happens. Every time? I find it really difficult to get used to, and was almost relieved when they stopped talking.

There are run-on sentences. Quite a lot of them. Best explained by quoting a small passage and pointing out the editing errors:

“I’m sorry,” He said abruptly, releasing her wrists and pulling away from her.
Her arms dropped heavily to her sides. The fugue of arousal and anticipation muddled her brain, and Aline shook her head to clear it. “I beg your pardon?”
“This was a simple mistake I should not have allowed to go this far,” He rose heavily from the couch and ran a hand through his rumpled hair.
“Wha-what is wrong?” She stammered, suddenly feeling exposed beneath his chary glance.  “Was it something I did?”
“No!” He hastily replied. “Aline—”
The sound of her name, and spoken in that extraordinary accent, startled her, and she felt the desire burning in her belly morphing into a cold, heavy lump of dread and embarrassment. Idira and Maureen promised a stranger!
“Who are you?” She managed to say, thankful for the flinty tone that masked her rapid pulse.

Now, I’m not the world’s greatest editor, but I’d have edited this to read:

“I’m sorry,” he said. He released her wrists and then pulled away from her. (note – he can’t do all those things at the same time. It’s best to leave the speech tag unadorned by adjectives).
Her arms dropped heavily to her sides (all on their own? Disembodied body parts). The fugue of arousal and anticipation muddled her brain. Aline shook her head to clear it (turned into two sentences to avoid a run-on). “I beg your pardon?”
“This was a simple mistake I should not have allowed to go this far.” He rose heavily from the couch and ran a hand through his rumpled hair.
“Wha-what is wrong?” she stammered, suddenly (unnecessary word) feeling exposed beneath his chary glance. “Was it something I did?”
“No!” He hastily replied. “Aline—”
The sound of her name, and spoken in that extraordinary accent, startled her, and she felt (too many “she felt” and “feeling” words. They’re not needed) the desire burning in her belly morphing into a cold, heavy lump of dread and embarrassment. Idira and Maureen promised a stranger!
“Who are you?” she managed to say, thankful for the flinty tone that masked her rapid pulse.

Okay. The copy edits, like capitalising after speech, aren’t excusable. I would advise Ms. Holland to complain to whoever edited it, get her money back and get the story re-edited, because it’s a shame to see a promising story wrecked that way. Some of the other points are content edits, like the overuse of “feeling,” something that tends to distance the reader and becomes repetitive after a while. In the second sentence in the original, he’s doing far too much all at the same time, something all the writers I know get dinged on one time or another. All through the story there are a lot of unnecessary words, words that can be cut without detracting from the meaning of the sentence, like the way “suddenly” is used above.

A few other points:

He’s described as being “over two meters tall.” In 1907? Nobody thought in meters then, it was all strictly Imperial. We didn’t go metric until the 1970’s.

“Mantle” instead of “mantel.”

After a chapter or two I stopped taking notes, but there are innumerable niggles that need sorting out.

As you can see from the passage I quoted, there is considerable promise here, but it’s wrecked by bad editing. There is a little too much description for my taste, and it reads as if from a distant point of view, as if described by an omniscient narrator. But that’s a matter of style, and another reader might love that part. Ms. Holland obviously knows her stuff, and she’s researched the period thoroughly, but a romance is more than its background, although it is a pleasure to read a story by someone who knows what they’re doing, history-wise. It is so frustrating to read a story that could be so good, wrecked by the abysmal editing. It’s good enough for a reputable publishing house to accept, and I hope she takes that path in the future, so she receives the edits she deserves.

LynneCs iconGrade: D

Summary:

An Edwardian historical romance novella (15,000 words) set in the time period made popular by Downton Abbey. If you’re in the mood for something short and steamy, but with a touch of humor, please enjoy!

Aline, Countess of Myddelton is a very proper widow whose friends feel she has mourned her husband long enough. Their surprise birthday gift of a secret lover backfires, for the man who appears to seduce the propriety out of her is her husband’s much younger and very tempting heir. But Richard, long in love with her, cannot stop with just one touch, or one kiss, and he vows to make Aline his by means fair or foul.

Read an excerpt.

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