An Eccentric Engagement
Title: An Eccentric Engagement
Author: Donna Lea Simpson
Publisher: Beyond the Page
Publication Date: May 14, 2017
Sorrow Marchand has patiently endured the taunts of London society for her bold speech and curious ways, yet it was those very qualities of the sparkling young beauty that caught the eye of the Honorable Bertram Carlyle and ultimately elicited an offer of marriage from him. But the usually candid Sorrow has kept her ludicrously madcap family a well-hidden secret from her betrothed—and now he is coming to visit!
Bertram was an exceedingly suitable suitor, but for all his many fine traits he had been harshly schooled under the oppressive thumb of his father and had meekly embraced many of the man’s conventional attitudes. Upon meeting Sorrow’s family and becoming swept up in the endless swirl of silly chaos, he senses a conflict of epic proportions on the horizon—both within himself and with his father.
As Sorrow grows more concerned that her outrageous relatives will damn her only chance at happiness with a man she truly loves, Bertram must find the courage to defy his very traditional father and become part of a family that’s anything but—and become the man Sorrow always knew he could be.
“My only goal was to help people. Whoever needed it. But when I opened my eyes it was to see how terrible we are here in this country at looking after those who do not fit into our narrow strictures of proper behavior.”
So this was a bit of a non-traditional romance as it takes place after the courtship. Sorrow and Bertram are engaged to be married and the two return to Sorrow’s country home for the wedding. The two are very clearly in the early stages of excitement over a new relationship, stealing kissing and admiring each other — the “puppy love” stage. Neither of the two truly love each other but are already prepared for marriage. The actual romance was more told than shown and it unfortunately just didn’t work for me. The romantic aspect seemed to take a back seat to the other two major plot lines: Sorrow’s altruistic family and Bert’s difficult relationship with his overbearing father.
Both of these plot lines are actually really good, but I felt that they both needed more time to be developed and would have been better in a full length novel. All of the conflict was resolved in a few pages with barely any resistance and the discussion felt more like a lecture that was repeated multiple times. Not that the message was bad, I appreciated the way they approach discussing the mentally ill and the elderly, and I actually liked the Marchand’s way of life, but I think it could have been delivered better.
It also didn’t help that Sorrow kind of annoyed me. When she talks to other people to try and explain her views it again turns into a mildly pretentious lecture. Her insistence on absolute harmony and willingness to throw everything out of the window if she didn’t get her way was also extremely grating. Creating needless drama for the sake of drama is not a good way of filling up pages.
Overall its not bad, it’s a cute and clean love story that will appeal to folks with a strong sense of social justice. It was a fluffy and pleasant way to pass the time, but I didn’t feel much of anything while reading it.
Strengths: Sweet romance, good commentary about social justice
Weaknesses: Does more telling than showing, felt a little like I was being lectured
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A big thank you to NetGalley and Beyond the Page for the review copy!