The Viscount Who Lived Down the Lane by Elizabeth Boyle
Avon, October 28, 2014 (Historical Romance)*
My rating: Beach vacation (3/5)
I haven’t read many historical romances by Elizabeth Boyle, but this one certainly makes me want to read many more. The Viscount Who Lived Down the Lane is the fourth book in the Rhymes with Love series. This one was funny and lighthearted and exactly what I was looking for when I picked up the book.
Louisa Tempest and her twin sister, Lavinia, have both come to town at the behest of their late godmother. Louisa could have done without a season in the ton as she has no illusions that she will be anything other than a spinster. Louisa finds herself along for the ride because of her determined sister, but Louisa is equally determined not to tell Lavinia why it is unlikely that either one of them will find someone suitable to marry. Fortunately for Louisa, she soon finds a project for herself that will fill her time since she has very little interest in shopping or the other virtues of the ton lifestyle. It’s too bad that her project, Viscount Wakefield, is an unwilling participant.
Viscount Wakefield has returned from the war wounded and is quite content to spend the rest of his days closed up in his house, drinking to excess and mourning the death of one of his closest friends. When Louisa bustles into his life and starts assuming management, he’s not exactly pleased, but he reluctantly finds himself charmed.
The romance in this one was slow. Wakefield legitimately does not like Louisa when they first meet; he does not want to deal with life and would much rather wallow in his sorrow. He’s not only lost his close friend, but also his fiancé who abandoned him when he returned wounded after being shot in the war. So Wakefield isn’t pleased when Louisa’s pet cat, Hannibal, brazenly interrupts his wallowing:
“What the devil,” he muttered as the creature, the one as yet to be determined if it was a cat, began to wind around his legs, its tattered coat brushing against him.
Then the animal had the audacity to roll around in front of him as if it was his – the viscount’s – duty to pet him.
Of course, Louisa pays no mind to Wakefield’s blustering and is quite happy to argue right back with Wakefield. She soon sets to work righting his household, often with hilarious results. It can be a challenge to hire people for a viscount that doesn’t actually want staff, and it can be even more complicated when the help mistake the viscount for another servant:
“Be useful, you shiftless vagrant. Go fetch some coal and a bit of kindling from out back so Bob can get that stove going – something you might have thought of doing afore I arrived.”
She poked him once again with the bucket until he truly had no choice but to take it. For one wild feeling moment, he thought she meant to clout him with if she had to “ask” one more time.
“Don’t gape at me like a mackerel, get moving,” she told him as she shooed him out the door. “I’ve got His Lordship’s breakfast to make and not much to do it with from the looks of things.”
As the woman continued to order her troops about, Pierson Stratton, the fifth Viscount Wakefield, backed down the steps and found himself in his own gardens, having been routed from his house.
More to his shame, he’d raised barely a defense. Flanked and defeated before he could fire a shot.
It was moments like these that made this a brilliant book. These humourous scenarios were so much fun to read about and helped not to bog down the pacing of the book. In fact, I could almost argue that the humour was a stronger attraction for me than the actual romance between Louisa and Wakefield. Like I said, it took a bit for the actual romance to actually progress past arguing and because of that both Louisa and Wakefield seemed to develop feelings for the other perhaps a touch too quickly. That said, the end of this novel had a couple of heartfelt scenes between the two, which went a long way to solidifying the happily ever after for these two.
The Viscount Who Lived Down the Lane is a fun read that takes a nice departure from reality. Boyle doesn’t tie up all of the plot points by the end of the novel, but the stage is nicely set for the next book featuring Louisa’s sister, Lavinia. And I cannot wait to see what antics Lavinia gets up to. There are so many questions I have about certain characters and events, I have no other choice but to come back for Lavinia’s story, which I can’t say that I’m upset about.
*Review copy provided by the publisher via Edelweiss.
For a more serious take on the returned-from-war theme, it is essential to read Mary Balogh’s The Arrangement. Like Louisa, Sophia has somewhat of a managing personality, but she only finds the ability to express her suggestions once she’s out from under the thumb of her relatives. There’s not much humour here, but it’s so emotional and lovely, and I think it’s my favourite book by Balogh to date.
For a lighter romp, Manda Collins’ How to Dance with a Duke is another good choice. If you were a fan of Louisa’s more forceful personality, the heroine in this one will appeal, as will her reluctant hero. It’s also a read that’s on the sweeter side of romance, much like Boyle’s novel.