How To Treat a Lady, by Karen Hawkins

>> Wednesday, June 16, 2004

I've read quite a few books by Karen Hawkins, including only one I've really loved, a short story in the first Lady Whistledown anthology. This one I loved so much, that the memory of it alone makes me keep buying her other books, hoping she can do it again.

The latest I've read is How To Treat a Lady (excerpt), which is book # 3 in the St. John Talisman Ring series, following Confessions of a Scoundrel and An Affair to Remember.

Does she dare?

To save her family from ruin, Harriet Ward invented a fiancé—a handsome, wealthy sea captain. But now the bank wants proof of the elusive captain's existence. Just as Harriet despairs, fate drops a mysterious stranger into her arms, a man she believes has no idea of his own identity...Does Harriet dare convince the disturbingly handsome stranger that he is her fiancé? And if she does, what will be the cost?

Will he win?

Chase St. John knows exactly who he is. While quitting London to protect his family from scandal, Chase is waylaid by footpads and left for dead. Awakening in the care of the enchanting Miss Harriet Ward, Chase is astonished when the tempting maid brazenly announces that he is her long-awaited betrothed. Chase, ever a rogue, decides to dally and play the part of adoring lover for a price—heated kisses and more. But the price is rich, indeed, when it might mean losing his own heart.
I don't know, maybe it was my mood, but I really detested this book. A D.

Basically, everything irritated me. Everything felt stupid and forced and NOT funny. Things like those little quotes at the beginning of chapters, or the plot device of the talisman ring, supposed to make the bearer find his true love. Previously, in the other books, I hadn't loved them, but they hadn't really bothered me. Here, they made me grate my teeth.

The romance bombed completely for me. I found the main characters unlikeable, especially Chase. The thick-headed idiot brought his problems on himself, drinking and driving, and I was very pissed off by the way he was let off so lightly, with that stupid revelation at the end of the book.

Plus, I didn't get what Hawkins was trying to do with him. Was he supposed to be a tortured character? Because I just didn't see that. He was supposed to have a problem with alcohol, and yet that was completely brushed aside by the time he got to the Wards' house. He took a drink or two, but the issue simply disappeared after that. And all that guilt about killing an innocent woman, he went on and on about at the beginning of the book, well, that didn't prevent him from forgetting all about it when he got to the Wards' and concentrating on fun and games.

I also hated how he was so casual about taking Harriet's virginity, the virginity of the young daughter of the house where he'd been sheltered when he'd needed shelter. Never gave it a thought, planned to leave the next morning all the while. That speaks of a complete lack of honour to me.

Which brings me to another problem with the romance, and that was the fact that Chase and Harriet had 0 chemistry together. None at all. There was no sensual tension whatsoever in their relationship and suddenly, out of the blue, they were rolling around in bed.

In other areas, I kind of liked some of the secondary characters, especially Harriet's family, but I felt an intense irritation whenever the St. Johns appeared. There's an element of girlishness in how they are described, how they are the bestest and richest and handsomest and coolest and more elegant men evah! They are sooo popular! All the women want them, all the men want to be like them. How dare that upstart Harry Annesley, not well-born at all (the horror! *gasp*) run with one of them? Doesn't he realize non-aristocrats don't deserve to even look at them?

Finally, the humour was not really to my taste, either. I smiled *once* (at the sheep sheared like poodles... that was funny, actually!), the rest of the time the humour felt forced and I mostly groaned and rolled my eyes.

I think this was the last Hawkins I'll read.


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