It's been a very long time since I have read a romance novel that isn't Georgette Heyer's. Especially a Regency romance! And Tallie's Knight serves as a much needed reminder as to why I have been keeping off them. I admit to picking up this book (and another that came with it) because of the combined title they came under - Regency Rakes. When one has read every Georgette Heyer romance that there is one does hunger after more...and so I picked this deluxe book up.
At the outset, the story sounds rather promising. Lord d'Arenville has resolved never to marry, even though he is the last in a long string of Earls. But, a young toddler changes his mind when she snuggles up to him and falls asleep on his lap. Now he is determined to marry, not for the sake of an heir, but because he realises that he loves children and would like to have some of his own. All he needs is a wife to give birth to them and take care of them. His cousin lines up for him a whole batch of eligible, high society women. But it is Tallie Robinson, a poor relation of his cousin's, who catches his eye. They get married and their honeymoon turns out to be a long adventure shrouded in a bit of mystery from Tallie's past.
I really did like the way the story began. It sounded like something I wasn't going to regret picking up. But a few chapters in I began to wonder if I had made a mistake after all. I went on ahead making excuses for the author, and finally I continued reading because I didn't want to leave it unfinished.
I have come to the strong conclusion that there isn't a single author that can hold a match stick (leave alone a candle!) to Heyer's Regency Romances. I found it most annoying that every single high society damsel was a selfish, incorrigible twit; that Tallie was oh so innocent naive about certain social rules of etiquette (mind you, this young lady grew up in a school for girls of genteel birth); and I found her lack of knowledge on sex rather strange. I was under the impression that it was only women from the Victorian era who were always left in the dark about the process of child-birth. I also quite hated the way the author tries to make such a pathetic issue of Tallie's (and later, the Earl's) past. I find that this is an absolute favourite method used to gain the reader's sympathy by many of the historical romance authors. Most often than not both, or at least one of the main characters, come from a melancholy, familial background.
The explicit sex scenes (I found them so at least) were rather off-putting. But then again I've always been one for sweet romances where things are implied and not vividly described. The first leaves a lot more to the imagination and gives me a warm feeling of good will; the second merely annoys me.
The novel was not a complete disaster, though. I liked the writer's sense of humour which was intersperesed rather frequently throughout the novel. And the story wasn't bad...although I would have loved to have read something that was believable during that era. On the whole, this novel sounded like someone's wishful dream.