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REVIEW: Ridiculous by D. L. Carter

Ridiculous D.L. Carter

Dear Ms. Carter,

 

I’ll admit it – I was very skeptical at first about the concept of Ridiculous, a book set against the backdrop of very proper Regency-era London.  Millicent Boarder, her mother and two sisters, all distant relations of an earl, are forced to serve as unpaid servants for a single male cousin after their father (and husband) dies.  When said cousin dies, and under the spectre of being tossed out of yet another house into the streets, Millicent hits upon the perfect solution – she’ll become her male cousin, putting the word out that it was she, Millicent, who died instead, and will ensure that her mother and sisters are able to live well on their reclusive, skinflint cousin’s seemingly large wealth.  What could go wrong with this, you might ask.  I was certain that I’d end up reading the typical wailing and gnashing of teeth that comes from a Shakespearean twist such as this one – but I was more than pleasantly surprised.

Not only does Millicent flourish as the infamous Mr. North, but she’s able to bring her sisters out in the height of fashion, despite their low station and lack of title.  Of course – she has a little help from a handsome Duke and his sister she just so happened to meet on a country road, a pair she just so happened to rescue.  The pair are so taken with the pleasantly jester-like Mr. North that a fast friendship quickly forms and they offer their assistance in introducing the family to London.  Millicent’s sharp wit and self-effacing ways make her a fast favorite in the drawing rooms and ballrooms of the ton, while her intelligence and humor make her a favorite of the Duke’s.  That is, until the rumors start flying.

On one hand, I truly was enamored with the fresh look at Regency London through the eyes of a woman who was posing as a man.  Quite a bit was made about the fact Millicent could move much more freely about the city and among society than she could as a female.  There were many more freedoms – but also a few pitfalls.  For example, how could she explain her bound breasts to a tailor who would be fitting her for men’s clothes?  I was utterly fascinated by the friendship between Millicent/North and the Duke – simply because many historical romances don’t focus all that much on the hero and his development outside of the romantic entanglement.

On the other hand, I found some of the characters a little too much to take – they were cloying.  Millicent’s mother, Mrs. Boarder, is a good example.  There were several times I wanted to shove her in a very small box, close the lid, and toss the whole thing into the Thames.  The Dowager Duchess was another character who seemed a little too over the top, almost a caricature of evil rather than a powerful character in her own right.  And while the cross-dressing Millicent was a novelty I’d not seen before, it felt a little too artificial at times – as if she adjusted to her new role way too quickly and with many fewer problems than one might have expected.  I know that sounds a little contradictory, but there were times when the story could have been bolstered by a touch more realism.  We didn’t really get to see inside Millicent’s mind to understand what she was thinking and going through with regards to her transformation.  There were no questions of losing her femininity, no moral dilemmas regarding her becoming Mr. North, no real second thoughts at all.  While she’s, admittedly, a very strong female character, I was a little disappointed in her when she finally did shed the male attire, and the reason for her throwing it off.

On the whole, I found the book to be a thoroughly enjoyable read.  The dialog sparkled with wit, and I absolutely adored some of the scrapes Millicent found herself in.  I mean, comparing the language of the fan to the language of a cat’s tail?  That’s absolutely brilliant and it made for several laugh out loud moments.  This is the type of book you grab along with a cup of tea or glass of wine on a cold night, when you can cuddle in and simply let yourself be carried away to another time and another place.  Thank you for giving us something a little bit new and different!  B-

 Mary Kate

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14 Comments

  1. Carolyne
    Apr 04, 2014 @ 11:48:44

    I pretty much stopped reading after “Millicent hits upon the perfect solution – she’ll become her male cousin,” just skimming down to “On the whole, I found the book to be a thoroughly enjoyable read.” This book seems pretty much tailored to me, and a B- but cuddly read can be a nice escape at the end of a not-so-nice week.

  2. Carolyne
    Apr 04, 2014 @ 11:53:13

    @Carolyne: …er, by which I mean, once I know I want to read something, I try to stay utterly unspoiled and read the reviews after. I didn’t mean to discount the hard work of writing a review. I’m just weird that way :)

  3. Rebecca (Another one)
    Apr 04, 2014 @ 12:00:08

    @Carolyne: You’re not the only one, and it sounds good to me.

  4. Andrea D
    Apr 04, 2014 @ 14:15:42

    I know I’ve read this even though I didn’t initially recognize the title or author (hard to forget the premise!). For some reason I can’t find it in any of my ebook libraries, though. I see that it is available as a free borrow for Amazon Prime members, so I might have read it that way and deleted it later. Anyway, I agree on the grade. As I recall, I liked it somewhat better than I thought I would.

  5. Divya
    Apr 04, 2014 @ 18:27:38

    Okay, the premise sounds really cool. But why is the book called Ridiculous? Is it just because what the heroine is doing is “ridiculous” or for some other reason?

  6. Sandra
    Apr 04, 2014 @ 18:35:37

    That cover looks an awful lot like Ann Herendeen’s Phyllida and the Brotherhood of Philander…

  7. cleo
    Apr 04, 2014 @ 18:37:25

    @Sandra: I had the same thought.

  8. Carolyne
    Apr 04, 2014 @ 20:11:11

    @Sandra: Right! That’s why it looks familiar. That book was a DNF for me, alas.

  9. hapax
    Apr 04, 2014 @ 20:57:30

    FWIW, the commonest complaint in the negative Amazon reviews seems to be that the book is “dirty”, “immoral”, and “contains far too much explicit sex.”

    Consider yourselves warned.

  10. Kaetrin
    Apr 05, 2014 @ 04:24:24

    @Mary Kate is the story a romance?

  11. Sirius
    Apr 05, 2014 @ 09:39:47

    @hapax: LOL! am duly warned :).

    Mary Kate, I love the books with cross-dressing, sold!

  12. carmen webster buxton
    Apr 06, 2014 @ 12:34:27

    The reviewer’s dilemma is how much of the plot to give away, balancing telling readers enough to know whether they would like a book with telling them too much. Seems to me this review did a pretty good job; I expect the jacket copy probably said almost as much about the plot itself. And the best reviews (from a reader’s viewpoint, anyway) are those that give specific reasons for liking or not liking a book, because that tells the reader whether or not they would agree with the review. I also think it shouldn’t be too easy for the heroine to pretend to be a man, especially in that era. I adore Georgette Heyer’s books but the cross-dressing ones do seem to skim over that.

  13. Mary Kate
    Apr 08, 2014 @ 20:29:59

    @Kaetrin – it is, believe it or not, a romance. :)

  14. Kaetrin
    Apr 08, 2014 @ 21:08:56

    @Mary Kate: :D

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