Cari Hislop: A Hired Wife

A Regency take on Beauty and the Beast (yes, the hero is tauntingly referred to as Lord Beast and while the heroine is not beautiful, she is seen as “magical” by men) is about a long unloved hero, tormented by his near deafness and a down on her luck parson’s daughter who is desperate, starving and willing to agree to a marriage of convenience.

So, I really liked the idea of the characters and their scenes were really sweet.

Here is what I didn’t like:

  • The acerbic, biting dialogue was totally out of place in a Reg. Rom.  More suited to Georgian witty, snarky banter it was overtop and distracting.  It also didn’t do much to advance the plot.
  • Lots of dialogue without description.  There is a happy medium, and I think Hislop may have been overcompensating.
  • The villian.  I get he is an old roue who probably has the “pox”, but his bluebeard-ish tendencies were just too much for me to swallow.
  • Incessant poetry quoting.  A little bit is fine, a lot is just lazy.
  • The cover.  I get she is trying to brand herself, but ack!  Spend a little bit of your earnings on some good cover art.

Here is what I did like:

  • The underdog hero and heroine love story was really romantic.  I wish Hislop had not gotten distracted by throwing in too much action and spent more time with these two, especially in the beginning as they navigated their relationship.  I thought the heroine’s witty repartee with the tempermental beast was sweet and endearing, and more exploration of this would have rocked.
  • Some of the external characters were really funny, like the Smirkes and “the Rabbit”.  I thought they added a lot of levity to what could have turned out to be a dour read.

The good news is, as a self-published novel, Hislop has more flexibility to go back and edit.  Hopefully, she will, because this is a story worth a little additional love.

Without that extra TLC, I don’t recommend a purchase, for while I was entertained enough to stick with it until the end I also don’t think it lands clearly enough in vanilla or chocolate to satisfy.

 (Light intimacy, but lots of talk about STDS, violence and other adult subject matter).

 

 (2.75 out of 5 Over the top, mean dialogue coupled with excessive poetry quoting make this a cringe filled read.  Redeemed only by interesting hero and heroine and likable love story).

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