The Baron Next Door
A Prelude to a Kiss Novel
Mass Market Paperback/e-book/336 Pages
3 Jun 2014
Book provided by publisher for review. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinion presented herein is my own except as noted.
Charity Effington learned two valuable lessons from her first betrothal:
1) When one loses the attention of an earl, one gains the attention of every gossip in London.
2) Despite the lingering scandal, she’s not prepared to marry for anything less than love.
After an exhausting Season, Bath’s first annual music festival offers Charity the perfect escape. Between her newly formed trio and her music-loving grandmother, Charity is free to play the pianoforte to her heart’s content. That is, until their insufferably rude, though undeniably handsome, neighbor tells her to keep the “infernal racket” to a minimum.
Hugh Danby, Baron Cadgwith, may think he’s put an end to the noise, but he has no idea what he’s begun. Though the waters of Bath provide relief from the suffering of his war injuries, he finds his new neighbor bothersome, vexing, and…inexplicably enchanting. Before long, Hugh suspects that even if his body heals, it’s his heart that might end up broken.
This story really goes for edgy with outlandish plot devices, like a blonde-haired, blue-eyed half Chinese woman (I think, although I guess she might just have grown up totally in the environment), a beautiful musical savant, and an inexplicable attraction of the two main characters that just didn’t gel for me. I feel the character who is heavily influenced by Chinese roots is half Chinese because her name is Meili and she refers to the English as separate from herself. The character’s inclusion is a way pf justifying the use of Chinese medicine. But it feels rather contrived.
I thought the interactions between friends were sometimes natural, but usually didn’t offer time of depth for real feeling to develop.
I also had an issue with a historical bobble. It is set firmly in 1821 to 1822 – five years after the Battle of Waterloo when Hugh, Baron Cadgewith, is injured. Allergies are mentioned a doctor explaining a sudden allergy as having caused a death. But the word “allergy” was first coined in 1906 and the medical concept was not put forth until then. Before that time, people recognized that some foods caused illness in one person, but the concept of it being an immune response simply had not developed at that time. It really was a single sentence, but I really get my head stuck on something like that. And, I was reading a galley so there is a slight chance it was edited out and the person’s death is otherwise explained. I think the writer is using it in a general, rather than a specific way.
I do think it is sad to see, and it has been shown in other books, how there was little done for veterans after initial recuperation at the time. He is injured, and thinks himself less of a man for his debility and because many of his men died in battle. Of course, a lot of men died in that battle, so it is plain that his logic is somewhat flawed. I imagine there wasn’t much in the way of “veteran admininstration” at the time.
I did like the portrayal of life in Bath at rented townhouses, with dinners and parties. It seems so different than how we entertain and are entertained today. And, I enjoyed the relationship between Charity and her Grandmother, who is wise and almost seems like a fairy godmother.
It’s pretty clean, with butterflies in the belly, but the most scandalous things that happen are kisses and Charity putting wet cloths on his head when he is ill. There are some interesting twists and turns and dutiful daughter decisions must be made.
In short it is somewhat light book; I didn’t really connect with the characters and didn’t believe their attraction. Other characters were too contrived. But it was an easy read and pretty “clean.”