Desires of a Perfect Lady by Victoria Alexander

Posted July 31, 2010 by Meoskop in Book Reviews, Historical, Romance / 0 Comments

A blonde white woman in vaguely historical dress peers out at the viewer, from chest up.

An unintended effect of Agency Five pricing is that I tend to think about the cost of a book while I am reading it.

Ah, Victoria Alexander. I want to say it’s not me, but I don’t think it’s you either. The whole fiasco with the reissue of Believe being¬†priced twice MMP retail in e-book form means we’ve been on a break. I missed you while we were apart. I looked forward to our reunion. (Ok, I did wait until I had some Sony gift cards at 25% off so that our time together wouldn’t cost me the full eight dollars. I’m sorry. You know how I am. It’s hard for me to put myself out there like that.) Look at this cover. This is a cover that says we missed each other. It’s time to forget all those silly things of the past and move forward.

Just like Sterling and Olivia.

Granted, they were on a decade long break that involved a nasty dead husband, a second choice wife and a host of water under a very large bridge. We were just, like, busy. Somehow so much of Desires of a Perfect Lady felt perfunctory. (Has it been long enough that we can include some spoilers? I think it has. And if it hasn’t, well let this serve as the warning. Avast! Spoilers Ahoy! I know. There weren’t any pirates. I felt like saying Avast!) Everyone surrounding Olivia and Sterling is so darn well adjusted. Squeaky scrub cheeked clean even. Where are all their issues? Even when Olivia reveals she’s scarred from her experiences it is barely a hitch in anyone’s stride. It’s the reader who is supposed to roll her eyes at yet another scarred back, not the characters. The only event that promotes any emotional heat is Sterling admitting he sometimes gets behind in opening his mail. Two murder attempts barely register. A young man infatuated enough to propose marriage gets his hopes dashed. His response is to aid his rival. A father’s deep dark secret is exposed to a gasp from reader and hero alike. (I’m not sure what Sterling’s issue was. Mine was irritation.)

Olivia is embraced by Sterling’s mother, by his siblings, by her attorney. She is, in fact, perfect. So perfect that even she scolds a character for acting like another notch on some literary checklist, The Seductive Venetian. (Hm, I think I’ve read that book!) As luck would have it, Olivia herself has a checklist. Sleeping With Sterling is on it. After all she’s been through offstage, Olivia deserves some generic loving and she gets it. (I flipped ahead. Each time. Hanging out with those two in the bedroom wasn’t on my list.) After following Olivia as she solved three impossible tasks before and after breakfast I was primarily interested in who had tried to kill her. One of us should be. Certainly no one in the book was. If my abusive husband was murdered and then twice more (in two countries) someone came after me I might be a bit less eager to establish an independent household and forget all about it. But hey, I’m not perfect – Olivia is. Says so right in the title.

That’s the problem with series. They do love their cliffhangers. I have to tune in next time, and maybe all will be revealed. Or not. The important thing is that Olivia and Sterling get their second chance, Sterling’s mom gets to shake her moneymaker, and the wedding plans from the prior book roll on. I haven’t RSVP’d for the event yet. At five bucks, I’d definitely attend. For six, I’d still show up. Eight bucks? I think I feel a sore throat coming on. I’m going to lie down and see if it passes.

three-half-stars