Bitchin' Blog Posts
Title: When Harry Met Molly
Author: Kieran Kramer
Publication Info: St. Martin's 2010
Genre: Historical: European
DonnaM picked this historical novel for the RITA® Reader Challenge. This book has been nominated for best Regency Historical and for Best First Book.
The plot summary: Dashing Lord Harry Traemore is perfectly content to live out his days in the pursuit of pleasure. But when he’s named by the Prince Regent as one of society’s “Impossible Bachelors,” Harry is drafted into a ribald romantic wager. The rules of engagement are scandalously simple: The bachelor whose mistress wins the title of “Most Delectable Companion” gets to remain unmarried. Harry is utterly unconcerned about his status…until his latest lightskirt abandons him.
Enter Lady Molly Fairbanks. Harry’s childhood friend—actually, “foe” is more like it—is the most unlikely companion of all. She’s attractive but hot-headed, and in no mood for games. Besides, what could the self-indulgent Harry possibly know about what makes a woman delectable? It’s time for Molly to teach him a lesson once and for all…but will it lead to “happily ever after?”
And now, DonnaM’s review:
I seriously don’t know how this ended up on a Best Of list. It was barely average bordering on DNF territory. The fact that I immediately followed it up with Sarah MacLean’s “Nine Rules…..” really made it suffer by comparison. Both books deal with a similar theme: spinsterhood. I was touched by Callie’s circumstances; Molly was pathetic.
Molly does something foolish and embarassing as a child, and apparently everyone, including Molly, believes she should be punished FOR THE REST OF HER LIFE. If the perfect loving sister she so harmed (Penelope was so devasted she still married the man of her dreams & commenced to procreating like a rabbit, it’s AWFUL!) is so perfect, why didn’t she make sure Molly had a season or two to find a man of her dreams? That is the duty of the older married sister of a motherless girl, isn’t it? I’m sure I’ve read that somewhere.
Molly’s been told she’s too high spirited for polite society. Then why not get off her high spirited ass, & tell her self involved old man that, being rich as Croesus and all, he should buy her a few new frocks and take her husband hunting? Towards the end of the book her father, unaware she already tried this, proposes she should marry his cretinous assistant so she can keep on taking care of him & his decrepitating aunt. Because Molly wouldn’t expect better, right? What kind of man wants his daughter to marry a cretin? He does understand she’d have to actually have sex with it, right?
We meet the adult Molly as she’s running off to Gretna Green with aforementioned cretin because she’s sure marriage will improve her lot in life. She bemoans her romanticism giving as example her many many readings of “Pride and Prejudice.” Really, Molly read P&P in which Lizzie jeopardizes her family’s future by refusing to marry a cretin, and doesn’t get the irony of what she’s doing…. Romantic AND obtuse. And this is where I had to start arguing myself into finishing the book.
Harry’s situation is equally stupidly conceived. He’s the only person actually hurt by Molly’s childhood faux pas. He stole a kiss and ended up shipped off to the Napoleonic Wars. Now there’s the person owed an apology! He ends up getting caught up in the most idiotic competition by royal degree ever contrived. When his entry in the Best Mistress portion of the competition takes off with Molly’s cretin, he talks her into posing as his mistress (in name only, of course) promising to find her a decent husband if she helps him. They’re sure it’ll work because, as we all know: a little powder a little paint helps to make you what you ain’t. No really, none of my friends recognize me when I show up wearing cosmetics.
I spent the next 100 pages of snipping, conspiring, seduction, drinking, skinny dipping, slut empowerment, flirting and mutual masterbation desperately trying not to throw the thing in the garbage, especially since it belonged to the GBPL. When they part company, Harry resolves to find Molly a husband worthy of her. Never occurs to either of them that they should marry each other. They’re sexually compatible, they’re in love, their families are already joined by the marriage of Harry’s brother and Molly’s sister, they have no other obligations, why would they do the intelligent thing?
The final denouements at the end are beyond ridiculous. Harry’s father has known all along that he isn’t the honorless bounder rumor has made him. In fact, he’s been hiding the one person who could clear him for FIVE YEARS. How about a little “Son I’m proud of you, and I’m going to make sure the truth is heard by all.”? He also admits he probably should have stepped in when Harry was forced into the contest by royal decree. Gee, thanks Dad.
Then there’s the females fainting all over the place. Molly’s all frantic that Penelope might be losing her baby because she, along with Harry’s mother, faints after hearing a little indelicate information. Yes, finding out your little sister is an adventuress is a surefire miscarriage inducer. There are few tropes I despise more than the female fainting in the face of bad news. No one does that. Fainting from being overheated, done it. Fainting from a blood pressure imbalance, done it. Fainting from pain, not quite, but close. Fainting because I heard something scandalous, even devasting? Not hardly.
And it turns out the whole exercise was a colossal waste of time, as the woman Harry must marry when he has to forfeit the idiotic “Impossilbe Bachelors” competion won’t have him on a stick. She’s the only person with a fully functioning upper brain stem and a backbone in the whole book.
I imagine the other “Impossible Bachelors” are in the warm up circle. I won’t be reading about them.