RITA Reader Challenge Review

RITA Reader Challenge: When Harry Met Molly by Kieran Kramer


Title: When Harry Met Molly
Author: Kieran Kramer
Publication Info: St. Martin's 2010
ISBN: 9780312611644
Genre: Historical: European

RITA®, and the RITA statuette are service marks of Romance Writers of America, Inc.DonnaM picked this historical novel for the RITA® Reader Challenge. This book has been nominated for best Regency Historical and for Best First Book.

<img data-cke-saved-src=”http://images.amazon.com/images/P/0312611641.01.MZZZZZZZ.jpg” src=”http://images.amazon.com/images/P/0312611641.01.MZZZZZZZ.jpg” alt=”When Harry Met Molly=” 10″=”” hspace=”10″ align=”left”>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.

This book is available from Amazon | Kindle | BN & nook | Book Depository | WORD Brooklyn’s eBookstore

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Mags says:

    I feel so much better after reading this review.  This book really annoyed me and I couldn’t understand why there was so much good buzz about it.  It’s the kind of book that makes me not want to read historical romance any more.

  2. 2
    Carly M. says:

    Not to circle the wagons, but I actually did DNF this one (or rather, I skipped the entire middle, was so horrified by the end that I never bothered to return to finish the parts I skipped). There was so much buzz from reviewers I respect, but if it hadn’t been on my ereader I would have thrown the book across the room. The mistress contest, Prinny popping out of hidden walls, etc. I wanted to love it but struggled against the “light-hearted humor” because it seemed so downright silly.  I’ve pretty much resigned myself to the fact that what I’m looking for and what the RITA judges are looking for rarely intersect.

  3. 3
    KimMarie says:

    You wrote the review that I’ve written in my head many times.  I have an addition to the most annoying plot points in this book.  Ok, the 2 most annoying and illogical, among many.  Harry constantly puts Molly in terrible and humiliating situations (for a regency virgin) – like the kissing closet and being judged for her bouncing boobs.  She helps herself, he never helps her.  And yet, he’s supposed to be so honorable??  …and he’s angry because she doesn’t trust him?

    ***Spoiler ahead, in case you should care ***
    And then there’s the reason for his humiliation in the army – the reason he’s protecting the captain’s wife – – makes no sense whatsoever.  None.  It’s better to be having an affair than almost getting raped??!??

    I was truly amazed that this book was getting so much hype – like the plot of this book – it makes no sense.

  4. 4
    SB Sarah says:

    I don’t know what the hell happened to the formatting of this review- but holy crap is that hard to read. Lemme fix – sorry y’all.

  5. 5
    SB Sarah says:

    Ok. Much better. Sorry about that.

  6. 6
    Aubrey says:

    Couldn’t agree more, I seriously disliked this book. I picked it up randomly at my library, looking for a new romance. But it made me uncomfortable so many times, especially the scene mentioned by KimMarie – bouncing boobies/sack race. For Harry to put Molly in that position (over and over again) disgusted me. Well, actually, most of the book disgusted me.

  7. 7
    Lori says:

    This book sounds awful.  Out of curiosity, why did you grade it a C?  What kept it out of F/DNF territory?

  8. 8
    mary frances says:

    what exactly is ‘slut empowerment’? I don’t thin I approve of that term…

  9. 9
    lorelai says:

    This review makes me glad I never actually started reading the book. I heard good buzz about it so I downloaded a sample on my Nook – ugh. So. Bad. That whole scene in the beginning of the book where the prince just comes in and makes a declaration about “well now we have to have a Best Mistress contest!” or some such nonsense just really made me want to throw the thing across the room. It’s so incredibly implausible. I’m really good at suspending reality when reading because sometimes you have to but I just couldn’t get past that for some reason.

    I was going to get it from the library but now I doubt I’ll even do that.

    @Lori – I’m curious to as to why the review received a C. Not that I disagree but for that grade, there must have been some sort of redeeming quality?

  10. 10
    cayenne says:

    I’m so glad it wasn’t just me – thanks, DonnaM, though I would probably have graded it F, not C.  I honestly thought this was one of the worst books I read last year, and like much of the Bitchery, I read tons.  I couldn’t believe that this dreck was nominated for anything “Best”, and when I saw that, I thought a) what was the nomination committee smoking, and b) the qualifying field must have been minuscule for this one to make it in.  Feh.

    Incidentally, I would really like it if this current habit of “cleverly” re-purposing movie titles into punny historical book titles would end IMMEDIATELY.  Kramer is one of the most egregious offenders – although 2 of my top-10 must-buys, Julia Quinn and Caroline Linden, are guilty, but at least their books are excellent – and a cutesy title (like a Richard Armitage cover photo) does not make up for crap inside.  Stop now.  Please.

  11. 11
    Jilli-Bean says:

    Vindication! I didn’t like

    When Harry Met Molly

    and it was a DNF, but I also wondered if I was missing something since it kept popping up in my recommendations. I made it about as far as the scene where Molly first meets the other delectable companions and they’re all focused on tearing her down because she’s obviously the least likely winner in the room.

    I think what stood out most to me was the scene in which Harry describes the ‘perfect’ female companion. And by stands out, I mean makes me wanna puke a little.

    Like the reviewer, I believe I followed this one up with ‘Nine Rules to Break…’, at the recommendation of SBTB. Much better book.

    I have read the other two ‘Bachelors’ books. I liked them better than this one by far.

  12. 12
    IvoryTower says:

    The remark about fainting made me add in one more: discovering that you’ve totally fucked up in the name of Science! and the writer can’t figure out how to get you out of it… faint, and wake up to a new scene!

    (Or maybe that’s just Victor Frankenstein. Man, I hated that book.)

  13. 13
    Morningstar says:

    I am glad I got to read this review and that I am in the same boat as a lot of people. I read half of the book and did not finish it and now it is sitting on my nightstand gathering dust.

  14. 14
    Leah says:

    One thing about these three books that bothered me is that, in every one, there is some awful/annoying character that the main characters put up with for no good reason. They will be rude, stupid and obnoxiously in the way the entire time.  I think they are supposed to provide some comic relief but they were’ funny.  They will annoy me for the entire book and then suddenly they get their ass handed to them in the end but it’s never in a satisfying way. Argh.

  15. 15
    Jilli-Bean says:


    I didn’t make it so far for the annoying rude character to be made beyond-a-shadow-of-a-doubt clear to me in this one. Was it one of the other ‘companions?’ Or was it the gross guy who tried to take advantage of Molly when she was wandering around the house getting her bearings and he demanded to know ‘what kind of lightskirt are you?’

    Either way, in Kramer’s books, I’ve noticed that the abominably rude party is often one who wants the hero’s affections and thinks that something physical, like looks or money, makes her better than the heroine. I know that you can mention on in ‘Cloudy With a Chance…’ who doesn’t fit this bill though.

    Did this person fit one of that standard of essentially wanting something that the ‘heroine’ had? That’s how she seems to do it.

  16. 16
    Donna says:

    This book sounds awful.  Out of curiosity, why did you grade it a C?  What kept it out of F/DNF territory?

    @Lori & Lorilei, I knew this question was coming… She wrote in complete grammatically correct sentences. It had a beginning, a middle and an end. That’s more than I can manage. I also live by the “Swiss Family Robinson” theory. No matter how bad a book starts out, you never know when a pirate ship will appear. Also, I’ve read worse.

    @KimMarie, yes, this! I didn’t want to write the particulars in the review because, well, spoiler, but YES!! Her husband would rather believe she & Harry were doing it while everyone was fighting for their lives? How does this make sense? Harry’s father would let the world believe this about his son when he has the position, the power and the truth in his hands? No wonder Harry thinks his father doesn’t love him.

    And can I just say: SQUEEEEEEEE!! It’s MY reveiw!! and thank goodness I’m not the only one who felt this way!!

  17. 17
    Karin says:

    I’ve only read the second book in this series “Dukes to the Left of Me” etc, and I while did I finish it, and didn’t totally hate it, I would not bother reading anything else by this author-not even from the library. In its favor, it was not quite as bad as “The Devil in Disguise” by Stefanie Sloane, another overhyped new author.

  18. 18

    Thank you for taking one for the team. Now I never have to read this book or even think about reading this book.

  19. 19
    mia says:

    I’m kinda torn because I disliked the book for all the reasons mentioned, but when I was done reading the book I enjoyed it.  I liked the writing, there were some steamy scenes and Molly was a likeable character.  Her relationship w/ the other mistresses were the best parts of book.  I won’t be reading the other books in the series, but perhaps down the line I’ll read something else by Ms. Kramer because she’s got some good ideas.

  20. 20
    DianeN says:

    What’s really sad is that this book has been nominated for a supposedly prestigious award. I read maybe 20 pages of it before giving up in disgust, thoroughly pleased with myself that it was a library copy and not something I’d paid for! And I gotta ask, just how out of touch are the Ritas these days that stuff like this even gets nominated?

  21. 21
    Alyssa Cole says:

    Oh no, I loved this book! I even bought a copy for a friend. *sad*

  22. 22
    anna says:

    Yes! Great review. The thing that almost made me stop reading was that in one of the earliest scenes, Molly has Wedgwood blue eyes. For the rest of the book, they’re brown. Seriously!?! No one in the editing process caught that? Some things I can’t abide, and changing hair/eye color is one of them. Also, if the phrase “throws of passion” is used. Dude. No. “THROES.” Otherwise, I laugh like a loon and think you’re an idiot.

  23. 23
    jhinky says:

    Now I feel good that the plot synopsis and the OTT cutesy names totally put me off against all of Kramer’s books.  Thanks for a great review.  Now I don’t have to wonder if I should try it when Amazon pushes it hard on my recommended list!

  24. 24

    And I gotta ask, just how out of touch are the Ritas these days that stuff like this even gets nominated?

    I feel it necessary to point out that books are not “nominated” for the Rita. The author (or an author’s representative) pays a fee to enter the book in the contest. The book is then distributed to judges, who are published RWA authors. These judges score 6-8 books on a scale of 1-10, and the books with the highest overall scores in their category become finalists. The winner is then determined by another panel of judges, although I have to admit that I’m not 100% sure who those judges are.

    But this book didn’t get into the Rita finals because anyone “nominated” it, per se. The judges who read it simply liked it and gave it high enough scores to propel it to the finals. No one knows when judging and scoring Rita books whether that particular book will be a finalist or not.

  25. 25
    Donna says:

    I gotta say I’m having quite the week. Last night I met both Nalini Singh and Julie James, this morning I find my review online &  kindly received, and just now someone in the elevator complemented my toes!

  26. 26
    PattiR says:

    Thank you for taking on for the Team, Donna.  I was going to buy this title for my NOOK for beach/pool reading, but I will pass now. 

    And can I say, I love your review.  It made me laugh out loud several times.  This line made me giggle so much my dogs came over to see if I was ok:

    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.

  27. 27
    Theresa I says:

    Ditto on thanks for taking one for the team.  I was recommended this book by a few sites but just couldn’t buy it after I read the plot summary.  I was really turned off by the whole mistress plot line and couldn’t understand why the book was rated so highly in many places.  Definitely glad I didn’t pick this up!

  28. 28
    Bets says:

    Now THAT was a properly scathing review. Brava, Madame!

    captcha: followed76. I certainly hope that this book wasn’t followed by 76 shots—although a good chaser might have been a necessity.

  29. 29
    Susan says:

    There are different kinds of lightskirts?  Interesting.

    Also, I must admit, the phrase “throws of passion”  is giving me some interesting mental pictures…

  30. 30
    DianeN says:

    @Jackie Barbosa—I actually did know about the Rita entry fees. I guess what I should have said was that I was shocked this book scored high enough with the judges to be a finalist.

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