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REVIEW: One Forbidden Evening by Jo Goodman

Dear Ms. Goodman:

One Forbidden EveningI 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.”
“You did?”
“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.”

Wellsley’s mother

“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.”

And then

“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+.

Best regards,

Jane

This book is available in an ebook format so if you readers can’t wait, instant gratification can be had here.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

11 Comments

  1. Robin
    Aug 02, 2006 @ 17:41:35

    I haven’t read this one yet, but I am a huge fan of Jo Goodman and am thrilled to see her reviewed so favorably here! Pacing is not always Goodman’s strong point (she also tends to over-explain some of her less obvious allusions), but I totally agree with you about the witty dialogue — it’s one of my favorite aspects of Goodman’s writing. I also really like the way she can take somewhat stereotypical plotlines and characters and breathe new life into them. Goodman is one of those authors who, IMO, anyway, demonstrates that even twice-told tales can be entertaining and satisfying in the hands of a talented storyteller.

  2. Kristie(J)
    Aug 02, 2006 @ 22:41:05

    Ahhh – most excellent review. I love Jo Goodman’s books too and she is an autobuy author. She writes such wonderful prose and I think her books are much richer than many historicals published these days. I have this one but haven’t gotten to it yet – it’s sitting in my next up pile.

  3. sybil
    Aug 03, 2006 @ 01:15:01

    You don’t even quote past the third chapter ;). The dialogue is amazingly fun and the book is worth a read for that alone.

    The courtship is grand and the h/h are wonderful characters. I loved StbS and was really happy this was just as good.

  4. Jane
    Aug 03, 2006 @ 06:33:00

    [quote comment="2704"]You don’t even quote past the third chapter ;). The dialogue is amazingly fun and the book is worth a read for that alone.[/quote]

    It is amazing. I think dialogue separates good writers from great writers. I know I’ll be re-reading parts of this book for years.

    [quote comment="2703"]she is an autobuy author. She writes such wonderful prose and I think her books are much richer than many historicals published these days. [/quote]

    She’s an autobuy for me too and her books are anything but costume dramas or wallpaper historicals.

    [quote comment="2702"] Goodman is one of those authors who, IMO, anyway, demonstrates that even twice-told tales can be entertaining and satisfying in the hands of a talented storyteller.[/quote]

    Yep, so true. A good writer can make you read almost anything.

  5. Tara Marie
    Aug 03, 2006 @ 09:44:43

    Okay, you, Sybil, Kristie and Robin have now convinced me to give this one a try. I’m normally hit or miss with Ms. Goodman, but I’ll add this one to my vacation reading list.

  6. Robin
    Aug 03, 2006 @ 09:55:23

    I’m normally hit or miss with Ms. Goodman, but I’ll add this one to my vacation reading list.

    Have you read her Thorne brothers trilogy — My Steadfast Heart, My Reckless Heart, and With All My Heart? My Reckless Heart is one of my all-time favorite Goodman books, but the trilogy is wonderful, IMO. Not only do you get three locations (England, post-bellum Boston, and San Francisco during the Gold Rush), but you get three very different heroes and heroines and some fabulous storytelling. I highly recommend this series (as well as the Compass Club, since I tend to really enjoy Goodman’s take on men). My sentimental favorite is Wild Sweet Ecstasy.

    What I like most about Goodman, specifically, thematically speaking, is the way her protagonists are self-made types. They are independent and, even when wounded, self-reliant. When they find their happiness in a relationship, they bond without losing their individuality. I dislike Romances in which love simply “fixes” a hero or heroine, or where happiness comes only from the relationship and not from inside the characters. In other words, I prefer emotional interdependence, rather than dependence, and I think Goodman really delivers that.

  7. Jane
    Aug 03, 2006 @ 10:02:30

    [quote comment="2708"]They are independent and, even when wounded, self-reliant. [/quote]

    Robin, this is a very illuminating statement for me because it pinpoints the problems that I have with so many heroines in books. They are not self-reliant. They seem to have no knowledge of self. No awareness of their power as an individual. No appreciation of themselves. Heroines seem to have such low self esteem and that drives me nuts.

  8. Jorrie Spencer
    Aug 03, 2006 @ 13:12:52

    Obviously I must try Jo Goodman!

  9. Robin
    Aug 04, 2006 @ 12:16:36

    Heroines seem to have such low self esteem and that drives me nuts.

    ITA, Jane, and what bothers me most about this element to so many characters is that the solution is so often found in the arms of the hero instead of the heart and mind of the heroine. It can, IMO, be extremely rewarding to read about a wounded person heal, especially when they get the support they need to discover their own inner strengths. But I HATE it when these heroines fnd their sense of worth in the fact that some guy finds them attractive or “worthy” or love.

    Connected to this topic, actually, is the way in which I find so many heroines having to “earn” the love of the hero through ridiculously high standards of virtue, from actual virginity to ‘save the world’ humanitarianism. It distresses me that there seems to be so little room for heroines to be imperfect, and, at the same time, they are finding their self-affirmation and purpose in these heroes who seem to be drawn to them because they’re so “beautiful” or “good” — it really frustsrates me, and I’ve seen it in both contemporary and historical Romance (and in Romantica).

  10. Jorrie Spencer
    Dec 26, 2007 @ 22:50:24

    Hey, finally read OFE, although I have enjoyed other Jo Goodmans before this one. She’s one of my fave historical authors now and I’ll have to read the rest of this trilogy.

    I didn’t much like the ending either. Didn’t quite fit. Even if she set up some of the elements, the ending felt like a bunch of ill-fitting pieces. I have to admit I’m not crazy over this type of villain, either, even when handled with some care.

    Now, if only Kinsale would get a new book published. Goodman gives me a hankering for more excellent historical romances.

  11. The Rake | Dear Author: Romance Novel Reviews, Industry News, and Commentary
    Nov 10, 2009 @ 04:01:41

    […] something dishonorable rather than attractive, a trait from which the hero must be redeemed.  In One Forbidden Evening, Cybelline seeks out Ferris because he has the reputation for being a rake.  She wants anonymous […]

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