Book Review

The Scandalous Adventures of the Sister of the Bride by Victoria Alexander

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Title: The Scandalous Adventures of the Sister of the Bride
Author: Victoria Alexander
Publication Info: Kensington May 2014
ISBN: 978-1420132243
Genre: Historical: European

Book The Scandalous Adventures of the Sister of the Bride Every so often you get a book that has an interesting premise, interesting characters, a good repartee between the hero and heroine…. And then it falls apart on the execution so hard that you end up finishing the book out of spite.

It’s possible my spite and your spite don’t work the same way.

Look, it’s like this:  Delilah is one of three sisters who all had boring first marriages with rich, titled husbands who politely died while all three sisters were still young and hot.  Her older sister, Camille, is getting married to her first love with awkward back story that was explored in the previous book.  Before the wedding, Delilah accompanies her sister and the fiancé to a trip to New York and meets one of the fiancé’s BFF’s, has a torrid one night stand, and then tells the BFF that she never wants to see him again ever. 

So, naturally, the BFF, Samuel, shows up two weeks before the wedding.  Sparks fly, neither of them can stop thinking about each other’s hair and other parts, dammit.  But even though he is all about wanting her, she says she doesn’t want him because she’s got a plan and it’s a good plan- she’s going to marry someone with a higher rank than her poor dead husband (because one doesn’t marry DOWN, of course).   An American does not mean marrying up. 

But they bicker over what is now pretty typical American/British things- progress versus tradition! Coffee versus tea!  (Oh, that reminds me, I got a new TARDIS teapot for Christmas and I need some tea.  Hold on, I’ll be right back.)  (I’m back)  There’s really nothing here that’s new if you watch Downton Abbey

So before we get to the things that completely blew this book off the rails for me, I want to talk about what I liked.  It takes place in 1887, with the whole rapid change of society and Samuel is trying to bring automobiles to the aristocracy of England (with a pretty good business plan, actually- get the aristocracy interested in cars, which will get insecure rich Americans buying cars and BOOM EVERYONE WILL WANT CARS).   Delilah and Sam have very different (if predictable) position on progress (but not really). 

There is an actual reason for Delilah’s reluctance to get with Sam!  It’s not really well executed, but it exists and it’s not a stupid reason.

I felt like there were a few too many people, and keeping them all straight was not easy.  But I did like the skeleton of the book- Delilah has a Plan.  A mistake made at a masquerade in New York City was not part of the Plan.  She has her reasons for her Plan.  And then best laid Plans and all…

But here’s where things fall apart: Y’all know I like historical accuracy, right?  The reason Delilah is looking for a new, higher-ranked, rich husband is because her funds have been frozen.  Why? Because, 3 years after the death of her viscount husband, a possible heir has appeared on the scene, thus freezing the estate, which presumably includes the entailed property, and leaving her with nothing. 

I mean.  Okay, look, it’s possible that an heir would pop up at this point, maybe.  But I am pretty sure that the entailed property and money would go back to the crown if there really was no heir (Okay, I checked on Twitter, and that’s what everyone agreed).  

So…. Delilah should have gotten a dower portion after her husband died and maybe there would be some non-entialed things that maybe should have gone to his heir that she’d get…. EITHER WAY, that is a badly researched complication.

Even worse is the way the entire issue (snort) of the heir resolved.  It’s resolved by a friend of her dead husband going, “Oh, there’s no way he could have a mystery heir.  He couldn’t have children.”  AND THAT’S IT.  Um, no?  He was not married before- it was a huge thing that he’d not been married before her.  But even if he’d had an illegitimate child, that child would not be a legitimate heir.   THAT IS NOT HOW IT WORKS.  And this whole thing took me so far out of the book, that I kept reading it to see if this blatant mistake is corrected, and it’s not.  It’s just “Oh, his balls didn’t work” and PROBLEM SOLVED.  His ability or inability to have children is completely irrelevant. If he'd had an illegitimate son, it wouldn't matter because of the illegitimate part.  This random mystery heir isn't claiming the husband had been married to his mother, so this is sturm und drang for no reason. Ridiculous.

Everybody just says “this heir showed up!” and the nature of the relationship isn't discussed at ALL until the husband's buddy shows up and says “this heir is totally a fake because your husband couldn't have children.”  And everyone goes “Well, thank god that's sorted out!” and moves on with piles of money.

This is a textbook example of how accuracy in primary plot points can make or break a book.  This isn’t Potato Rage- whether a potato makes it into a Viking era stew doesn’t have an effect on the plot (or, rather, it shouldn’t… if your plot hinges on a potato…. We can discuss that when you get there).  This is a major plot point! This is an easily researched major plot point!  It just made me SO MAD. 


Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Faellie says:

    Love the Tardis Teapot.

    I used to be a lawyer, and studied succession (the law of inheritance) as part of my degree. 

    It’s a major reason why I stopped reading historicals.  At all.  Ever.  But I do enjoy reading RedHeadedGirl’s reviews of them.

  2. 2
    Shem says:

    Urgh!

    That would drive me bananas. As does the misuse of titles. I mean I’m not an expert but half the mistakes I see are things it would take 2 seconds to google.

    I once read a book where the Son’s of a duke were respectively: a Marquess, an Earl and a Viscount.

    I spent the book waiting to hear the story of what amazeballs things the younger two sons had done to be given titles (ala the Duke of Wellington etc) but no that was just how the title’s got handed out… ruined my enjoyment of the book completely (and it was an author I usually adore)

  3. 3
    Persnickety says:

    Argh, I hate historical inaccuracy!  It’s smarmy fiancée from titanic syndrome.  That scene where billy Zane mocks Kate wins let for her ” avant grade” art choices in titanic (degas, Renoir etc).  What he should be mocking her for is for her boring and staid establishment art choices, because they were from Philadelphia, aka where Mary Cassatt got everyone to buy impressionists.

    So won’t be reading this book.  Thanks!

  4. 4

    Small question and, because of the Spoilerishness of it and my gross inability to work out how not to give things away, I’ll just whisper…

    How did anyone know?  About the thing about the husband?  If he’d not married before the heroine…then… how?  Did someone just peer really closely and declare ‘this doesn’t work?’

  5. 5

    If an unexpected heir appeared, he could claim the title from the Crown, but he’d have had to prove his legitimacy as well as proving he was who he said he was. It was enormously hard to do, and would be very expensive.
    The wife’s settlement would be separate from the estate. That was what the marriage settlement was for. But I can think of exceptions to that, for instance, where there was no settlement or there was some hanky-panky.
    Title errors for me are annoying because they’re repeated through the whole book. You can’t get away from them.
    Unusual for Victoria Alexander to make a mistake like that. She works hard to get her plots right. It wouldn’t stop me reading her other books, because she doesn’t usually do that.

  6. 6
    Laine says:

    I’m more interested in the medical explanation of how they knew. I can ignore mistakes in inheritance law and titles but I’m kind of wondering just how advanced medicine would have to be to know that.

    Trying to be vague to avoid spoilers here…

  7. 7
    redheadedgirl says:

    Honestly, I read this when the ARC showed up back just after Christmas (hence the mention of my new TARDIS teapot), and I don’t remember how they knew the dead husband had malfunctioning balls, and when flipping through the ARC yesterday, I couldn’t find the conversation, so…. I don’t remember the specifics. 

    It was damned disappointing.

  8. 8
    chacha1 says:

    I would have serious problems with the mystery-heir angle too.  For one thing, it seems totally unnecessary if, as I am inferring, Heroine is American and Hero is English; there is plenty of potential realistic conflict right there, starting with I don’t want to marry another Englishman, dammit.

    But more seriously … given that the entire premise is three American sisters who have all married wealthy titled Englishmen (have I got that right?) it is utterly unbelievable to me that THEIR FATHER, or his rep, would not have made sure they were amply provided for in the marriage contracts.

    The whole idea of good-looking, usually wealthy American girls marrying titles was to bag the title.  Almost never were these women without funds of their own, and their parents & legal reps would have made damn sure that the women *kept the money* regardless of what happened to the husband. 

    But the contract would have been even more important, and less likely to be disregarded, if the marryer-up was enriched solely by her good looks.  In those cases, the woman was literally a trophy wife, bought to ornament the title, and money definitely would have changed hands.

  9. 9
    redheadedgirl says:

    No, no, no, the HERO is American, the Heroine and all her sisters are English.  Her marrying an American would be trading down. 

    The issue with the marriage contracts and the dower portion still stands, however.

  10. 10
    LauraL says:

    I did not care for What Happens at Christmas, so I think I will skip this one.

     

  11. 11
    Carol says:

    Thanks, redheadedgirl. I’m with you! And with Shem on title errors. I just don’t understand these sort of f*ups, especially from established authors from established publishers. What do editors actually do these days (I know that’s a bit much, but I see this kind of thing so often). In Julie Anne Long’s What I Did for a Duke the duke gets addressed by his family surname (which is not the same as the title) by ******EVERYONE****** including servants for the whole book. Good story; I’ll never be able to read it again (and can hardly believe I got through it once what with getting thrown out every other paragraph)!!!

  12. 12
    BethSmash says:

    redheadedgirl:

    SPOILER:  The reason they knew that he wouldn’t have an heir, was because he was secretly gay, and was sleeping with his best friend (and definitely not other women).  But, they also had a doctor who knew that he had mumps when he was younger and could no longer have children… or something like that.  It’s been a while since I read the ARC too.  But, I’m pretty certain that’s why she didn’t want to love again.  She gave her heart to her husband, and he spurned it.  She thought his solicitous nature meant he was caring for her too, but really it was just him being nice.  Then she was trapped in a marriage where she loved him and knew he didn’t love her (awkward).

  13. 13
    mamx says:

    so why do author write bad historical stuff like that , is it to make a story possible or what. is the real historical laws , etc make for bad storywriting mm

  14. 14
    Emily A. says:

    @Jane Lovering
    A regency version of that scene from When You Were Sleeping…

  15. 15
    Divya says:

    Great review! I once experienced something similar to a potato rage when I read a book where there was a LIGHTBULB in the early 1800s. A little off tangent, but did Samuel happen to have hair that he was super sensitive about? And did Delilah happen to cut it? :P I kept on thinking about Samson and Delilah while reading this review!

  16. 16
    Stephanie says:

    This book was a total DNF for me – Delilah is a completely objectionable and unlikable human being.  Every page seemed to have another instance of her being rude, opinionated and just plain nasty.

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