When It's Perfect, by Adele Ashworth

>> Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Adele Ashworth wrote one of my top favourite romance novels ever, the wonderful, wonderful Winter Garden. The last one I read, though not bad, wasn't nearly as good. Unfortunately, neither was When It's Perfect (excerpt).

When the mesmerizing Marcus Longfellow, theEarl of Renn, comes striding into Miss Mary Marsh's life,her world is set spinning. The ladies of London's ton clamor for the lacy confections Mary creates, but the earl is seeking something more from her. And he is very persuasive in his pursuit. Gentle, quiet Mary has always avoided romance, but her strong attraction to theadventurous nobleman is immediate and irresistible.Dare she trust the dashing lord with her secrets?

She is hiding something -- Marcus is certain of it -- a clue, perhaps, to explain his sister's untimely death. A sensuous seduction will surely loosen young Mary's tongue,and the determined earl is eager to oblige -- for in all his world travels, Marcus has found no treasure moreexquisite than she. But is his growing passion for herinterfering with his search for the truth?
I wanted to love it, I really did! But though it was at least readable, and there were certain things I liked, it ultimately didn't really work for me. A C+.

Ok, I liked that mixed with the romance we had a mystery (definitely not a suspense subplot, but a bonafide mystery), and one with Gothic undertones, to boot. It was a cross between a cozy mystery and a gothic, actually, and this is a combination I love. But I didn't think it was developed well, I'm afraid. The investigation felt a little slap-dash, and almost too easy. They kept ignoring it, and neglecting to take the most obvious steps, and then it was all revealed by speaking to a person they should have spoken to right in the beginning.

As for the protagonists, I did like Marcus and understand him, but Mary... I found myself very distant from Mary. I never got to understand her and what made her tick, I'm afraid. Why had she felt drawn to design sexy lingerie? Why did she feel the need to work? Why had she done what she did in Simply Irresistible? Why did she finally decide to give in to her attraction to Marcus? And near the end of the book, why did she refuse Marcus? I haven't a clue.

And then the ending wasn't very good. First, I wanted more info about what the hell had happened to Mary. The way she revealed it to Marcus just didn't cut it for me, and I ended up with no idea of how it had affected her. And second, even though it was probably very realistic, what had happened to Christine left me with a bad taste in the mouth. I simply didn't feel the villain (and a certain someone who had known what had happened) got punished enough.

All in all, not too good.


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