Dear Ms. Callen:
When I first picked up your book, The Viscount in Her Bedroom, I was certain I knew exactly what would be inside. Just another Avon Regency historical. Ho hum. The back cover blurb doesn’t do much to differentiate the book from the rest of the pack. The truth, though, is that there is a very sweet and somewhat original love story between the covers.
Simon, Lord Wade, was once one of London’s most eligible bachelors until a riding incident rendered him blind. He retired from society and sought refuge at his grandmother’s estate. Simon was not one to bemoan his change of circumstances, but quietly and, with dignity, began his recovery. Only his sight never returned and while he could function at his grandmother’s estate and oversee his properties there was much that was closed to him. He could not flirt, dance, or mingle. His social circle consisted of his young sister, his grandmother and the estate employees. For a man who was at the center of attention and the object of many a society lady’s affection, Simon found himself on the outside.
Georgie, Simon’s sister, has always taken up residence with her grandmother. It’s like Lady Wade is the home for the socially dysfunctional. Georgie had a disastrous first season complete with a botched court appearance and the tripping of a young duke at a ball. Simon becomes more withdrawn as his disability separates him from his family and nearly all his former friends. Lady Wade takes it upon herself to bring another social outcast to their home in the guise of hiring a companion, Miss Louisa Shelby.
Louisa, like Simon, had once enjoyed societies’ attentions, albeit in a lower tier of society. Her father was a rich merchant and his three daughters were granted entree to London based upon their fortune. When her father dies, it is discovered that they are penniless and Louisa realizes that her friends were all purchased with her daddy’s money.
Both Louisa and Simon were very likeable. Simon rarely pitied himself or his circumstances. He definitely tried to make the best of his circumstances. Louisa helped to him to see that the boundaries he set for himself could be overcome with ingenuity and swallowing a bit of pride. There were touching moments when Simon was treated to ignorants who shouted to him as if his blindness rendered him deaf; or avoided him as if his blindness were contagious.
Louisa was not drawn as well. You described her as a carefree flirt and yet she was a subdued character with very little vivacity. She was sweet but lacked the “vivacious, witty and spirited” nature that had been ascribed to her.
Probably the biggest failing of the writing was your tendency to tell us things. At least three times you described Simon as “the entertainer” (with the quotation marks). You do such a good job of showing us the emotions of characters through dialogue and interaction that when you provided summations by the characters of their traits or of an emotional situation, it was almost pedantic. I thought the writing would have been so much more elegant without the telling. For example, both Louisa and Simon had difficult parents but they are both more alike their parents than not. We could see that in Simon’s fear of letting go and Louisa’s equating money with happiness. We didn’t need several passages telling us that Simon and Louisa were just like their parents.
This it the last book in the Willow Sisters Trilogy. I’ve not read the other two and I don’t think a reader needs to in order to enjoy the story. I actually found the insertions of the sisters appearances as bookends (the beginning and end) to be almost unbearably schmaltzy.
Overall, this story of a blind man and his search for happiness was lovely surprise and I did enjoy it. Next time I read you, I hope there is the same good showing but less of the telling. C+