Did you see the movie Roman Holiday, with Audrey Hepburn? This book is totally Roman Holiday, only set in Regency England, and wackier, and with sex and a happy ending. Other reviews have pointed out how much of the dialogue and activities aren’t exactly period-appropriate, and I agree. This is not the book to read to learn about proper drawing room etiquette, because the drawing room scenes made even my easygoing head spin.
So, Amelia and her siblings grew up in America on a horse farm. Due to tragic deaths of long-lost relatives, her brother is now the Duke of Durham. He brings his three sisters to England, where they scandalize the ton with their crass, horse-breeding ways. Amelia is most prone to scandal, because she is just so tired of trying to mind her manners. One evening, at a ball, she removes her slippers because her feet hurt. Then she fake-faints to avoid a dance partner, which reveals her bare feet, and pearls are clutched. That night, her sister slips Amelia some laudanum to calm her down. In this drugged state, Amelia hears a gentleman singing outside, so she sneaks out of her house to meet him.
Alistair is the heir to a grouchy old Baron, and he’s been out of the country for six years. He’s been summoned home for some reason, but before he meets with his uncle, he gets drunk with his friends. Thus, he’s wandering the streets at night, singing loudly, when a ravishing young woman stumbles into his arms. She doesn’t know who or where she is, and Alistair decides that a true gentleman would take her home for the night so that she’s not accosted by ruffians.
In a convoluted way, Alistair discovers Amelia’s identity the next day. She tells him, though, that she’s a student at a finishing school, and Alistair goes along with it for the sake of her reputation. Then, Amelia decides to spend the day away from her family, because they can’t possibly get any angrier at her. Alistair accompanies her to various London landmarks, and it’s all very jolly.
This book teeters on the edge of being too meta. When they discuss kissing, Amelia says, “You’re supposed to stride across the room and sweep me into your arms and have your mouth crash down on mine.” Later, when Alistair is trying to win her over, she says, “Look at you with the devastatingly romantic line. Shall I swoon now or wait for your grand declaration of true love as you attempt to convince me that what we shared was unique and that we belong together forevermore?”
But if you go along with that, and the wacky chapter headings (“In which they are alone now and there doesn’t seem to be anyone around” — shoutout to Tiffany, the mall-singing wonder!), you can just sit back and enjoy the ride. Do things get very sticky when Amelia discovers that Alistair knew who she was the whole time? You bet. Is there groveling? Of course. Does Alistair say, “This is the part where I tell you about my secret pain”? Yep.
If you want a madcap Regency that barely feels historical, then give this a shot. You might hate yourself for laughing, but you will laugh.
Click to purchase: Amazon
Chasing Lady Amelia
by Maya Rodale
Release Date: June 28, 2016