Keeping Up With the Cavendishes, Book 2
Heat Factor: The sex serves the plot, not the characters
Character Chemistry: They repeatedly say they are meant for each other, but I’m not so sure
Plot: Roman Holiday, but without the bittersweet ending
Overall: I liked the first book in the series better
Chasing Lady Amelia follows Lady Amelia, an heiress who hates wearing shoes and corsets and therefore causes quite the scene among the ton, and Alistair, a fortune hunter. They meet by chance and spend a Perfect Day together, seeing the various sights of London.
The only problem is that they both lie about their identities when they first meet. Amelia is the sister of a duke, and she knows that she should go home, but doesn’t want to, so she pretends to be just a normal girl. Alistair’s lie is more egregious – he knows who Amelia is, but since he’s been called home specifically to court her for her money, figures that spending some time with her gives him the perfect opportunity to stand out from the crowd of fortune hunters.
Naturally, Amelia catches Alistair in his falsehood, and is exceedingly angry. But also, she loves him because the one day they had was so Perfect. Was it all a lie, or does he care for her too? What’s a girl to do? And how can Alistair prove his worth once his falsehood has been found out?
So that’s our premise. We’ve got a classic hoyden / rakish fortune hunter duo, having adventures and misunderstandings and whatnot.
In terms of the love story, there were two things that didn’t sit well with me. The first is Alistair’s main internal conflict: to wit, he feels that he’s a marginal member of society, because his mother was Indian. Now, that may be true, but…all of his best friends are lords. They all went to school together, and now they hang out at White’s and stuff. So it’s not like he’s actually that marginal; he has an incredible amount of privilege, and it seems like most of his position of “outsider” is in his head, rather than in reality. Plus, he harps on his feelings of not being good enough. It felt repetitive.
Second, and more importantly in terms of whether the story is a satisfying romance novel, were my doubts about the ending. Technically, Amelia has been compromised – this is not a spoiler, but is made quite clear from the book blurb. No one knows for sure, however, so it’s not like they are forced into getting married. But because of this, there was a weight hanging over the relationship. Rodale tries to alleviate this dynamic, but I felt like Amelia and Alistair didn’t really have a choice about getting together in the end. Not because this was a romance novel and that’s how romances work, but because of the specifics of the circumstances in which they found themselves. See: sex serving the plot, not the characters.
What makes this book unique is that, like Lady Bridget’s Diary, Chasing Lady Amelia is chock full of pop culture references. Most obvious are the explicit nods to Roman Holiday. Of course Lady Amelia smashes a musical instrument on someone’s head during a melee. (No one’s hand gets bitten off by a fountain, but you can’t have it all.)
My guess is that there are probably also references to Chasing Amy (I mean, right?), but I’ve never seen it, so I can neither confirm nor deny this hypothesis.
However, the intertextual stuff worked less well for me in this case than it did for the first book in the series. This could be because I’m less well-versed in the source material. But also – if there are references to Chasing Amy, it’s not like they can do double-duty, because there was nothing I could find that suggested that Chasing Amy was an homage to Roman Holiday in any way, much less in the explicit way that Bridget Jones draws on Pride and Prejudice.
I did appreciate that much of the action takes place concurrently to that of Lady Bridget’s Diary – it was fun reading the two books back to back. And even though this one was kind of a dud for me, the overlapping story is still intriguing enough that I want to read book 3 in the series.
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