One Night In London might have the WTF cover of the year. From the pearls draped just so in her cleavage to the frankly awkward pose, this is a cover Anonymous would use. Perhaps we should have a contest – what activity is our heroine engaged in? It’s obviously less than enjoyable – look at her face. She’s not quite certain she wants to move forward with whatever it she’s doing. I tried the pose and considered the options. It wasn’t an enticing assortment.
One Night In London was my first Caroline Linden read, or at least the first that I can recall. This one is definitely a Mixed Bag, but the book has good bones. (Courtney Milan did the bigamous father better.) Linden is stretching her resolution over several books, a tactic I find annoying. Story points arcing through several books is fine, but there has to be enough advancement for reader satisfaction. Alternatively, the heroine’s custody plot is exceptionally well done and fully resolved.
I like Francesca. She’s a bit of a user, but that’s ok. Francesca has a friend without benefits. She leans on him heavily, hangs with him constantly, then gets irritated that he loves her. She’s got a serious temper and flirts with social ruin (A woman planning a custody fight!) but she’s fair. Her frustration in the face of the twin obstacles of social class and gender are understandable. Anyone who has ever been helpless in a custodial situation would relate. Edward is the family fixer. You know the one, thinks he controls it all, pretends his ducks are neatly aligned, the whole time frantic not to drop any of the things he’s juggling. His older brother is the drunken party animal, his younger the man of action type. Edward makes sure the bills are covered. He is all about understanding, until his fiancee defies his comprehension. I liked him too.
So here we have sympathetic adult characters engaged in high stakes situations (gaining custody of a child, proving their legitimacy and saving their family home) but ultimately end up with a hot and cold read. I’m pretty open about being a skimmer. It’s a rare sex scene I will read. One Night In London is not weighed down with sex, but when it arrives it’s a story stopper. They thud onto the page and seem to last forever. I was thrown out of the story wondering how much longer they’d be going at it. This wasn’t the rare book I read every page of, but I’d expected it to be. I still think One Night In London is worth the time, but the twin flaws of extended climaxes and lack of primary plot satisfaction keep me from loving it. My TBR Lindens have moved to the front of the stack, I like her willingness to embrace flawed heroines.