RITA Reader Challenge Review

RITA Reader Challenge: Sonata for a Scoundrel by Anthea Lawson

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Title: Sonata for a Scoundrel
Author: Anthea Lawson
Publication Info: Fiddlehead Press October 2013
ISBN: 978-0615885940
Genre: Historical: European

Book Sonata for a Scoundrel This RITA® Reader Challenge 2014 review was written by TheoLibrarian. This story was nominated for the RITA® in the Historical Romance category.

The summary:

The Muse…

Clara Becker is a supremely gifted composer—a talent of little to use to a woman in 1830s Europe. Her compositions only have worth when they are published under her brother’s name, yet this deception barely enables them to scrape out a living in the poorest quarter of London.

Meets the Master…

Darien Reynard, the most celebrated musician in Europe, pursues success with a single-minded intensity. When he comes across Becker’s compositions, he knows that this music will secure his place in history. Darien tracks the composer down and, with some difficulty, convinces the man to tour with him. Mr. Becker agrees, but with the most unusual condition that he bring along his sister…

And here is TheoLibrarian's review:

Sonata for the Scoundrel is a book with so much potential.  The set-up of the musician hero and heroine in a historical is a step away from the typical “Oh look, another sexy duke” plot.  The conflict of the heroine not being able to share her secret is actually plausible. The characters include a famous violinist desperate not to lose it all, a woman who supports her family by composing music, the brother who publishes the compositions in his name so as not to cause a scandal, and the father who is facing the possibility of debtors prison but does nothing to save himself or his family from absolute ruin.  Unfortunately, Sonata never actually lives up to its potential.

The set-up is fantastic. A woman has been supporting her family for some time by composing music but she cannot publish the compositions in her own name because women just did not publish music in the 1830's. Instead, her brother must publish the music for her.  The hero, a master violinist, discovers one of her pieces and decides he must work with this composer. After  much convincing, the heroine and her brother tour around Europe with the hero while also preparing for a musical duel with the hero's rival. Unfortunately, the characters and the plot make the story fall short.

The characters did not live up to their potential at all.  Clara, the heroine, was not a well fleshed out character.  She had been supporting her family single handedly for years, but never receiving her due.  She was never really bothered by being made to give all the credit to her brother or the fact that her father never seemed to be doing anything but lying to them about the state of their finances.  Dare, the hero, had some mysterious past that was never explored.  He often worries about the future of his career and money if he does not win this duel, yet he spends money like crazy.  Neither the hero, nor the heroine made much sense to me. 

The secondary characters also had so much potential that was never explored.  Clara's brother, Nicholas, was formerly a music teacher until he suffered from depression.  His whole life had become publishing Clara's compositions in his own name.  He starts to slide back into depression while he is on tour but seems miraculously recovered when Dare declared his love for Clara.

Overall, I was disappointed in this book.  I had such high expectations and it didn't meet any of them.  If you enjoy reading about music and the life of a musician from this period, you might enjoy this book.  The emphasis of the story is placed heavily on the music and most of the major plot turns in Clara and Dare's relationship happen because of the music.  I enjoyed the peek into the lives of musicians traveling through Europe but ultimately, the book did not satisfy.


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Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Elinor Aspen says:

    What is up with that cover? The woman’s gown looks like no 1830s fashion that I have ever seen. It looks more like steampunk day at the renfair. That would be fine for a steampunk romance, but not so much for an historical set in the 1830s.

  2. 2
    Samanda says:

    The whole cover looks like a cut and paste job.  She appears to be incredibly long-waisted and the dress looks like lingerie on top with the skirt from an evening dress stuck on the bottom. 

    He doesn’t look like he originally belonged in that picture.  Why does he appear to be punching her on her left shoulder?  And why does his right hand appear deformed?  The back of it looks like it might have scales and it’s about the same size as hers.

  3. 3
    Elinor Aspen says:

    You’re right about the weird cut-and-paste on his right hand. It looks to me like an ape’s hand (look at the position of the thumb).

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