Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Review: Seducing Mr. Knightly by Maya Rodale

Dear Annabelle has helped London's helpless and hopeless with her sensible and practical advice for more than three years. But Annabelle's own life has problems that she hasn't been able to solve: there's here living situation with her brother's family; there's her secret job as a Writing Girl -- but these problems pale to the last one: Annabelle has been in love with her boss, Derek Knightly from the moment he hired her.

So what does Dear Annabelle do? She uses her own advice column to ask for help -- and help she gets! Letters from all over England come pouring in, offering suggestions on how Annabelle could get Mr. Knightly to notice her -- and sensible, practical Annabelle decides to apply some of them.

But Derek Knightly is too busy to notice (the nodcock)! London presses are buzzing over Lord Marsden's inquest into the questionable practices of the press in order to get their stories. And The London Weekly is one of the main targets -- unless Derek Knightly agrees to Marsden's proposal.

When Derek finally notices, he also wonders who his Dear Annabelle has been yearning for all these years. Is it him? Is he her nodcock? Or someone else?

I have mixed feelings about this book and it has to do with how the heroine won herself her hero -- Annabelle admits it, she used "parlor tricks"* -- she manipulated and pulled at strings -- to get Derek Knightly to notice her.

I didn't think Annabelle's transformation had depth. It was all very cosmetic (the lowered bodice, the new hairstyle, etc.)

And I worried for her: Was Annabelle becoming her true/authentic self as she applied the advice her readers were sending to her? How would she know, eventually, if what Derek felt for her was sincere?

But I appreciate what Maya Rodale has done: she has turned the tables on the heroes and had the heroines do the seducing for once. And this seems to be a main theme in this story: turning the world on its head: the advice writer seeking and heeding advice from her readers/advice seekers, the seducer becoming the seduced -- and turning her characters upside-down, emptying their pockets and releasing them from everything that seemed to weigh them down.

Derek's first love has always been his newspaper (those who have followed Rodale's Writing Girls series know this). He lived and breathed it -- but, when Annabelle decided that she's done sighing over and pining for him and will now begin a campaign to win him over, Derek becomes undone.

Then there is the inquest that Lord Marsden is leading that threatens Derek's livelihood, the very existence of Derek's newspaper and press freedom in London.

Without his newspaper and his precious tenets (one of them being, "Drama is for the Page") -- what is there left of Derek? With his heart and mind finally free to see beyond his precious paper?

So why mixed feelings? I didn't enjoy very much Annabelle's part of the story but I enjoyed very, very much Derek's --

His journey and transformation were more natural and convincing. It really took him awhile to appreciate Annabelle but, when he did, it hit him right there, in that soft place hiding behind his sternum.

Seducing Mr. Knightly is the last book (?) in Maya Rodale's Writing Girls series.

Book 1: A Groom of One's Own
Book 2: A Tale of Two Lovers
Book 3: The Tattooed Duke
Book 4: Seducing Mr. Knightly

Maya Rodale recently released a novella, Three Schemes and a Scandal, which is also part of the Writing Girls series.

To find out more about Maya Rodale and her books, visit her website. She's also on Facebook.

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