Saturday, April 9, 2011

Review of When Harry Met Molly by Kieran Kramer

When Harry Met Molly by Kieran Kramer

For some reason, I had the mistaken impression that this book was a screwball comedy-style historical. Funny, snappy banter between the hero and heroine, etc. Some folks loved it, some found the characters irritating. Anyhoo, this was not what I was expecting. I started to read, and was waiting for it to get funny....waiting...still waiting. Finally I realized it was definitely NOT a screwball comedy. It was actually a sweet and very charming wallpaper historical romance.

(I don't actually think folks used the word "amazing" quite so frequently in 19th century England. But I could be wrong).

I like wallpaper historicals. I'm not one of those readers who requires copious amounts of back-breaking research for my historical romances. I'm also pretty laid back about plot problems. I do, however, expect a lot from the characters. Here's my take on this book....

1. The premise for the story was utterly ridiculous. There is no way in holy hell a gently reared lady would agree to pose as a courtesan for a week-long house party. No. Freakin. Way. Also, unless the hero was a real cad, he would not knowingly put her into a potentially disastrous situation like this. (I was especially uncomfortable with the "kissing closet"....Harry assured Molly the extent of her acting responsibilities would be kissing him in front of the others, and within several hours of arriving at the party she was forced into a dark closet with a stranger for three minutes. Harry wasn't really looking like hero material at this point in the game). Even though I am pretty damned easy about letting dumb stuff go in my romance novels, I had a bit of problem with this. But, I let it go. (Cause I'm easy).

2. In spite of #1, the beginning of the book was still very engaging. I couldn't stop reading it. There is a real charm to the story, and the heroine in particular is wonderful.

3. I LOVED LOVED LOVED how Molly won over the other mistresses. In fact, I found this part of the story more engaging than the romance. Kramer did a superb job with this storyline. The transformation of the haughty, isolated mistresses into a band of friends was simply wonderful.

4. So, here's my big problem. This book wasn't a comedy. It was plodding along nicely, with some sexy scenes and excellent female bonding, and then we hit the big kahuna-ballroom climax. If this book had been a comedy, then the farcical climatic scene at the ballroom probably would have worked. I personally love farce. Emily Bryan has a great farcical scene in A Christmas Ball, and Julia Quinn is also a master at this. However, this book wasn't a comedy and this scene was simply preposterous. (But not in a good way). The villain turns up. His long-lost sister turns up. Molly's father is there. Harry's father is there, who has been supporting the villain's sister who didn't really have an affair with Harry but actually was almost attacked by French soldiers, but her husband didn't believe her and divorced her and she was penniless and taken in by Harry's father, who actually realized he was a hero but never told him he knew, etc etc etc etc, and then the mistress who eloped with Molly's would-be husband showed up, and the would-be husband showed up, and then Harry proposed to some other chick, who turned out to be in love with some other dude, and then the villain says that Harry's brother has to fight a duel with Harry, and then.....oh, never mind.  I'm exhausted. I'm gonna stop now. You get the picture. Everybody but the butler turns up in this scene, and it's nutso. Molly and Harry's relationship grew in a slow and steady way. I would have liked a sweet moment between them as a resolution to the conflict instead of the farce-that-didn't-work.

5. Then, finally, we get the epilogue. After waiting patiently through the entire book for the hero and heroine to "hit a homer" "go all the way" "get down to business" "play hide the salami" etc etc etc, they finally do it. In the kitchen. During their wedding. O-kay. Miss Easy-Peasy Penelope who pretty much lets everything go finally hit the wall. My willing-suspension-of-disbelief had been tapped out already.

6. Concluding Remarks: Kramer is an excellent writer. This book was at times charming and lovely. The characters were, for the most part, very well done. I will definitely be reading more by this author. But even a wallpaper historical can jump the shark.

Grade: B/B-