Book review: Rags-to-Riches Bride by Mary Nichols (Mills & Boon, 2008)
Secrets and Scandals!
Impoverished beauty Diana Bywater must keep her circumstances secret – her job at Harecrofts depends on it! Then an unwanted marriage proposal from the younger Harecroft son threatens everything…
No stranger to secrets himself, Captain Richard Harecroft is suspicious of this obviously gently reared girl who has turned his brother’s head. He is determined to discover if she is a gold-digger out to exploit the family. But the closer he gets, the more the mystery of Diana deepens – and the more he desires her as his bride!
It’s 1837 in London. Diana Bywater has lost her mother and her one-armed father (war wound) has a drinking problem. From having lived a decent life in Islington, they now live in the slums (more or less) in Southwark, struggling to get by. Diana manages to get herself a job as a clerk (a female clerk? Unheard of!) at Harecroft’s import shop. And then she gets herself entangled in the Harecroft family, as specified above.
I’m about to fall asleep on the spot, so I’ll try and be brief (yeah, because that normally works out…) with this.
I wasn’t too taken by this story. The main problem being that the conflict is a bit meh. A lot of things could very easily be settled if the characters only spoke to one another, and you need something bigger than that. It’s one of the points Kate Walker brings up in her book 12 Point Guide to Writing Romance. If the problem can be solved by the main characters just talking to each other, it’s not engaging enough and you end up wondering why the characters are so blindingly stupid.
Also, the “big secret” was so blatantly obvious you would’ve thought the heroine took a time-out from her incessant brooding to think, even for a second, that maybe, just maybe, she’d jumped to conclusions. But no. She goes through at least half the book being angsty about something she could have easily just bloody asked the hero about. Not buying the “but she’s a woman in the 19th century” thing, because Diana stands up for herself and it would fit quite well with her character to ask that type of question. But she doesn’t, and it just becomes grating.
The hero’s lush, though. Called Richard. We like men by that name. Actually, I just remembered I work for a couple of Richards and I really don’t fancy either of them. 😉 So let me re-phrase that: we like a man by that name, namely Mr. Armitage – there, that’s better. And the man’s a ginger! And so is she, but I’m beginning to see a certain pattern when it comes to Mills & Boon heroines: most of them have red hair. And the fact that she’s as red-haired as the Harecrofts and oooh is that a coincidence? Well, what a shocker that turned out to be in the end. Didn’t see it coming a mile off …
The title really does what it says on the tin. Not the most imaginative one, it has to be said. “Rags-to-riches” and “bride”. Oh, what’s it about? “Well, it’s a rags-to-riches story … heyyy that’s a great title!”
It’s not a bad book by any means, just not very memorable. 2.5 out of 5 secrets.