Aphrodite is the only level headed and responsible sibling in the Herrington family. Of the ones in the novel she’s got one sister who is a mindless flirt, another constantly wearing revealing clothing, and to round it out a mischievous younger brother always playing pranks. The story develops as Aphrodite realizes that she’s not as prim and proper as she believes herself to be, and she might just be more like her family than she ever thought possible.
I’ll start right off with saying that the plot is incredibly predictable and the characters grating. The other three siblings “mature” and develop when they find their balance, but I just find this laughable. It took a stern lecture from mom and pop to make them straighten up. The only character with any form of development is Aphrodite, and even with her it just made me roll my eyes. The last two chapters had some pseudo drama to cover her transformation from a proper lady into a passionate woman, the drama was just so pointless. It is obvious by the end that the author is making commentary on the importance of finding passion over worrying about what is proper. This is certainly some very modern thinking that does not quite fit with the regency romance genre.
“Polite society gaped politely, of course, behind fans and over padded shoulders, but, nonetheless, they gaped.”
While on that subject too, everything about this book is a far cry from a traditional regency romance, so much that it’s difficult for me to even tag it as one on this review. While yes, I expected the Herringtons to act outside of the acceptable norms of the time, it seems that every character is breaking all the rules as well.
One of the major defining features of a traditional regency romance are intelligent, fast paced dialogue and very little discussion of sex. The Mad Herringtons lacks the former and is bursting at the seams with the latter. There was no even remotely intellectual dialogue going on in this story, not by a long shot. The story makes a pretty big deal about Athena being empty headed, but it seemed most characters were not much better. Frederick instantly mentions fertility to Aphrodite, and one of the major plot points is his mother’s obsession with having a gaggle of grandchildren. In fact, Ms. Horne makes so many references to Aphrodite’s fertility and sex that it made me feel kind of disgusted. Men left and right were ogling Terpsichore. All of the women, including Aphrodite, were constantly fantasizing about being “passionate” with men.
That’s the other thing too – where are the chaperones? The whole reason for Terpsichore and Athena even tagging along with Aphrodite to the house party was because she needed a chaperone. Yet, she went by herself first, completely unattended. Athena is apparently so notorious for sneaking off and kissing men that it’s a wonder if anyone keeps an eye on her. Terpsichore lives by herself, hanging around authors and flaunting her body in sheer clothing, of course under the excuse that the parents trust her. Yet at the end of the story the parents, who let their children have so many liberties, lecture Terpsi for wearing such revealing clothing? What a sudden change in character! Suddenly they care about being proper and making sure their children don’t ruin their reputations? Give me a break.
The characters are extremely shallow and the writing is rather stiff. Characters that were not the main cast barely had any personality and were poorly developed. This book was sadly more of a comedy than it was an actual regency romance. While at times funny and the story was interesting enough for me to finish it, I just can’t get over the fact that this book is sold as a regency novel. It is a modern romance in a historical setting. I’ll give it points for the writing being clean and for some legitimately funny moments, but I have to say that in the end I felt misled.
Title: The Mad Herringtons
Series: Classic Regency Romances #8
Author: Jane Myers Perrine
Publisher: Beyond the Page
Publication Date: April 1, 2002
Aphrodite Herrington has always been the prim and sensible member of an otherwise outrageous family—her parents frequently display an unseemly amount of public affection, while her siblings must forever be rescued from their own compromising situations. And as much as she loves them, she’s grown weary of being their keeper and wishes only to find a steady man with whom she can have a calm and quiet marriage. Thankfully, the very staid and predictable Frederick Horne has made just such a proposal to her.
Thomas, Viscount Warwick, is everything Frederick is not. As one of society’s most scandalous rakes, Warwick has a reputation for openly moving from one flirt to another without a care for their well-being. With a bemused smirk he’s vowed never to fall in love himself, but happily joins his cousin Frederick at their family estate to celebrate the forthcoming announcement of Frederick’s betrothal to Aphrodite.
But Warwick and Aphrodite share a secret from their past, a chaste yet meaningful kiss that broke her heart and left him wanting more. As Aphrodite’s family descends on the estate in their usual chaotic fashion and all the partygoers strike up new and surprising liaisons, a suddenly love-struck Warwick and passionately awakened Aphrodite must decide whether to throw caution and common sense to the wind to embrace the promise of a true love they’ve found in each other.