August 2, 2012

Nicola and the Viscount

NICOLA AND THE VISCOUNT by Meg Cabot (Harper Teen, 2004)
GENRE: Romance - Historical

REVIEW: Beguiling 16-year-old orphan, Nicola Sparks, is everything a young marriageable young lady in Regency England should be - lovely, charming and just a bit silly. When the young Viscount Farnsworth, (whom Nicola thinks of habitually as "the God"), suddenly proposes marriage, she immediately accepts. The rest of the book is taken up with Nicola's slow realization that her intended, though handsome and superficially charming, may not be all he seems. Cabot treads well-worn ground here, so much so that Nicola and the Viscount, which is obviously intended to read like Jane Austen lite, reads a bit more like a junior Harlequin Regency romance. Not that there's anything wrong with this. Though formulaic in the extreme, the story still follows a winning, time-tested formula, with the heroine caught between two men in a romance peppered with social witticisms. Though Cabot's prose feels awkward, as if she's wearing a dress that doesn't quite fit, the tone is perfect for a light period romance. Even though it's obvious where the story is going from the start, the journey is fun for all it's romantically silly glory.

OPINION: Nicola and the Viscount is a nice alternative to the darker, more fraught passions of paranormal romance. Completely devoid of vampires, demons, werewolves, fallen angels or even run-of-the-mill seriousness, it's a classic sort of romance driven by just enough drama to keep the pages turning. All of the characters, though typical of Regency romances, are charming and fun. The overall effect is of a light little bon bon that's ever-so-easy to gobble up.

IDEAS: With romance that springs from interpersonal tensions rather than blatant physical desire, this is a great read for girls who are ready for more than holding hands at a dance, but not quite ready for Twilight. Also a good suggestion for fans of the film versions of Pride and Prejudice or Emma.

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