REVIEW: One Forbidden Evening by Jo Goodman
Dear Ms. Goodman:
I love your writing. If every historical was written with the depth, emotion and passion of your stories, I don’t think the historical genre would be faltering. The pacing and the absurd ending is the only thing that keeps me from giving this book an A.
One Forbidden Evening features the sister of the hero of a Season to Be Sinful. While I remember reading and enjoying STBS, I can’t honestly recall much about the plot. There is nothing in the previous story which greatly impacts OFE so I think it is safe to say that it stands alone. Cybelline Caldwell, the daughter of a viscount and the widow of a scholar. Nicholas Caldwell killed himself, quite unexpectedly two years ago. Cybelline hasn’t quite recovered from her husband’s suicide.
Cybelline is having erotic dreams and it shames her. Her body longs for another and to appease the longing, she sets out to seduce a known rake, Earl of Ferrin. Ferrin is the midst of marrying off one of his many stepsiblings. He holds a masquerade ball and Cybelline appears, disguised, and Cybelline and Ferrin engage in spicy flirtation which ends in a coupling on the servants’ stairs. Cybelline extracts a promise from Ferrin that this night is the only night for them and like Cinderella, she flees. Ferrin, of course, is intrigued and decides that he must find Cybelline. When he ultimately finds Cybelline, he falls for her but she resists because of the ghosts of her past marriage. The second half of the story involves the unraveling of a mystery and the growth of Cybelline and Ferrin’s love.
Your dialogue is probably what sets you apart from so many other authors out there. The tone is smart and clever and most importantly, in keeping with the period. The dialogue helps to immerse the reader fully into the time period in which the characters live. It’s a remarkable way of showing the reader all about the characters: what type of personality they have, what their station is in life, the period in which they live.
“A pistol, Wellsley?”
“Part of the costume.”
“What part? I don’t recognize your intent. Save for that much abused hat you are wearing, you are dressed as you always are.”
“I’m a highwayman. You did not notice the disrep utable twist of my neckcloth?”
“Disreputable? I do not think it can properly be called that when your valet has merely failed to tie the mathe matical.”
Wellsley started to take a step forward, but Ferrin man aged to rise and insert himself directly in his friend’s path. “You do not even like redheads,” Wellsley whis pered from behind.
Over his shoulder, Ferrin said, “I am prepared to reevaluate. One must, you know, when presented with new evidence. It is in the nature of scientific inquiry. Do you know her?”
As an aside, this manuever is known amongst the male circles as the “cock block.” :)
” . . . Wellsley was struck dumb.”
“I tried to warn him.”
“I felt I must. The very same happened to me.”
“You never told me that.”
“That is the very essence of being struck dumb,” he said. “I have only now found words.”
“And you, Mr. Wellsley, you are of an eligible age, are you not? Well past it, I should think. As is Ferrin. Do not squander your inheritance in one sitting at the card table with my son when there are so many young women in the next room willing to relieve you of it over the course of a lifetime.”
“She said she likes me well enough, so that is something, I suppose.”
“Well, of course she likes you. Why wouldn’t she? You have £12,000 per annum, a townhouse in London, an estate in the North, a family with as few rascals as one can properly hope for, and a countenance that does not stop clocks. God’s truth, Wellsley, I can’t think why I haven’t proposed.”
Is that not the perfect way to tell us that Wellsley is well set and well favored? Instead of telling us that he is well set and well favored? You perfectly avoid the “As you know, Bob ” dialogue traps.
The dialogue throughout the book has that same feel. The language is formal, but the tone is sweet, teasing and smart. The middle part of the story faltered a bit and the ending was far fetched. I felt was not in keeping with the tone of the book and rather slapdash in its telling. However, despite that problem, I truly loved the courtship between Cybelline and Ferrin and the wonderful witty exchanges between the two of them. B+.
This book is available in an ebook format so if you readers can’t wait, instant gratification can be had here.