Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Kay Springsteen, Kim Bowman - A Lot Like a Lady

Ladies’ maid, Juliet Baines has gotten herself into a pickle by agreeing to go to London and taking the place of her mistress and best friend, Annabella Price, stepsister to the Duke of Wyndham. After all, what does a servant know about being a lady? But Juliet soon finds that pretending to be a lady isn’t nearly as hard as guarding her heart against the folly of wanting a man who’s completely out of reach.
Graeme "Grey" Roland Dominick Markwythe, Sixth Duke of Wyndham, approaches his duties as a nobleman with great dedication and meticulous care. And he’s a man who is not easily fooled...except when he tries to convince himself he's not utterly and madly in love with the beautiful imposter who has turned his life upside down. Will society and his responsibilities to his noble status keep him from opening his heart to the woman he loves?

Comment: I decided to add this book to my TBR last year because it promised a story featuring a exchange of roles between a maid and a lady and I usually like these sort of stories especially if the outcome has a little angst and a sweet romance at the same time.

In this switch of roles novel, maid Juliet goes to London to act as Annabelle, the daughter of a duchess and her close friend. Annabelle is supposed to go to London for social engagements but she is still not very fond of her stepbrother, the current duke. In her place goes Juliet who has not much knowledge of being a lady but who will try her best to convince others she is Annabelle and still enjoying something that wouldn't be in her reach.
The duke of Wyndham, Grey, initially is doubtful but quickly realizes the young lady now in his house is not his stepsister. Trying to see how far the imposter goes, he says nothing but quickly sees himself in a complicated situation, since the "lady" is everything he has ever wanted and his feelings are stronger than he could imagine...

I liked this story for the most part. It was cute, it had cute scenes (while suspending disbelief quite a lot regarding social rules) and the HEA romantic. I liked how the story developed and how the situations were played to enhance certain feelings in the characters. Of course the main issues are precisely the way things happen, it's just too unlikely but if one can put that aside, this can feel like a very sweet story.

The plot is what we would expect from this type of trope where people from different stations trade places. The conflicts arising from Juliet not knowing how to properly behave among aristocrats or in specific situations  are something we still would want to see but of course she manages to add her personality to mix and everything is suddenly funny or excusable. This detail can make or break this type of story but thankfully Juliet was a very sweet girl.
I just think the plot had to rely a lot on expectations and unlikely behaviors of certain people in positions to challenge everything (like Grey), otherwise it wouldn't work.

The romance is a mix of romantic scenes and complicated situation which are supposed to show us how opposed the protagonists are but how well matched they also are. There are moments where it does feel a little too obvious but in the end it works pretty well.
There are some conflicts between them, which only brings their romance to a point where it could only go one way. The angst amps up too but I think some scenes between the moment the characters reach the peak of the scheme and the HEA drag something and that could have easily been avoided. I understand why this tactic was used but... not that necessary.

There's a whole cast of secondary characters and some play an interesting part and add to the impact of the situation. But some are obviously there to just fit a role and I think some scenes are exaggerated. There's also a slight comedy side to a certain group but I can't say I always thought that. I suppose the authors had to create situations that wouldn't just explain and simplify what is obviously a case of lack of conversation stopping the story from being quickly solved.

The story still leaves a little detail to be explained but I assume it's concluded in the following story. I'm not certain I would want to read it though, since it features a character not very likable in this one.
I must wonder about the lack of highlights on the social status since it's an obvious theme here. There are mentioning, inner monologues about it but except one or two moments, it's barely a thing. I would have liked it to be a little more discussed overall.

All things considered, this was not such a bad story, I had fun reading and I cared about what was happening tot he characters but after imagining a stronger story I think this wasn't as great as my imagination. Still, a cute story and mostly likable characters too.
Grade: 7/10

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