16 July, 2017

The Mannequin: A Victorian Romance by Suzanne G. Rogers #Review



Pages -  226 
Publisher -  Idunn Court Publishing
Published -  September 3, 2015
Sold by -  Amazon Digital
Genre -  Teen & YA, Historical  Romance, Victorian
Narrative -  3rd P Interchangeable
Language -  0/5
Sexual Content -  0/5







When she was a poor country girl in a hand-me-down dress, Rosamund saved the Duke of Swanhaven from the brink of despair…only to fall in love with him. Now a celebrated mannequin for an exclusive London dressmaker, her glamorous life is empty without the man to whom she gave her heart. Can a beastly duke and a beautiful mannequin ever find a fairy-tale ending?





I liked it.

And, it was a Fairy Tale rewrite!

And, it is flawed.

Still, I thought the author's style was pleasant, which made for an easy and somewhat enjoyable read and why I gave it a bit higher rating for this review.

Hardly anything in the way of GPS issues, although there were two I will harp on a bit later.

As the synopsis implies, this is a Fairy Tale type novel (written for YA pre-teens) about a young, oppressed woman living with her cruel aunt, a useless uncle, and 3 female cousins, 2 of whom are especially cruel (like their mother).

Cinderella 


They are set to leave for London and aren't going to take Rosamund with them, but by pure luck, her uncle tells her to go visit with the parish vicar, who offers her a position at the local Dukedom.

Everyone in the countryside knows the Dowager Duchess has a ridiculously handsome son who lost his parents and little sister in a shipwreck, and that the Duke is 'away touring the continent' when we discover otherwise... and the real reason why Rosamund is needed.

And the PURE LUCK aspect tends to be featured throughout the novel.

Beauty and the Beast 


The Duke is suffering terribly, and his grandmother is desperate to help him, thus Rosamund's main reason for 'being alive' as it were.

Rosamund accomplishes her task and accompanies the Duchess to London, where she is to be presented that season as the grandchild of a Viscount (her late mother's father), a man who had disowned his daughter when she married beneath her station.

After Rosamund discovers the truth about her birth, she does the noble thing and runs away, ending up at the same dressmaker who had outfitted her for this failed Season of hers.

On the verge of becoming destitute, Rosamund is fortunate to be beautiful enough to hire in as the dressmaker's newest Mannequin, where she accompanies the woman around town wearing her latest creations in order to drum up more business.

Which I thought was a very clever and unique form of occupation for the time but more so as a different twist on an old story.

Unlike most of the negative reviewers at Amazon, I happened to like this part of the story a bit more than the first part.

The first part was too Fairy Tale for me and read entirely too much like Cinderella AND Beauty and the Beast, which is never a selling point with me.

The second part of the story took place in London, with fashionable people gaping at a fashionable pair of women (usually on horseback), and I found it to be refreshing.

Now for the third quarter of the story... when a whole lot of nonsense enters the picture (as a way to placate the YA reader fan base).

The quickly newly recovered Duke is informed by Rosamund's old friend, the very handsome and highly educated Groomsman's Son, John, that Rosamund has disappeared from the Duchess's care.

Johnny wasn't a bad antagonist, and I kind of liked the guy despite his faults (all of which I blame on the author and not fickle Johnny).

The two men are both attracted to Rosamund and jockey for position in a mildly tame bit of Alpha banter.

Both men feel overly confident that they will win the heart of fair maiden, so there isn't much for either young man to get steamed about or jealous over.

To avoid this becoming SPOILER ALERT material, let me proceed with my overall review now.

THE DOWN SIDE


My biggest pet peeve had to do with the author's constant insertion of the disgustingly stupid modern use of  'erm'  for  'um'



I can think of a number of childish things that get my goat, and this is definitely one of them.

And such a shame, too, as it worked to toss me right out of the story every time it appeared.

However, and according to the author, this was written for pre-teens or a YA audience... which I will hazard a guess means NOT for someone like me, who is older and maybe still interested in reading 'whatever' from time to time?

Anyway...

The second issue had to do with the author's constant use of MOMENT for MINUTE

Which, I am fully aware is a 'thing' now among so many writers within the past few months.

It is virtually everywhere you read, and I, for one, cannot abide by it.

In fact, I intend to devote a blog post to the topic, so be on the lookout!

Moving right along

I'll admit that the author appeared to know enough about Victorian England to convince me she did a bit of homework prior to writing this novel, but hold up just one second please.

Semi-Quoting an Amazon reviewer, who happens to share my exact sentiments:

A gentleman does not reveal his intentions (to) the world before he has had (a) private audience with the young lady.
An elderly viscount does not receive visitors at night, then rush to another house without invitation (to) rectify what he considers a wrong: He waits until the next morning.
A young man does not volunteer (his) love (for) someone (unless it's dragged out of him). 

And add these as well...

In no way, shape, or form will a Dowager Duchess receive a commoner w/out an appointment, and she most certain won't tolerate his losing his temper by threatening to harm her own grandson.

A Duke, mind you.

Pretty sure that is grounds for hanging back in the day, but I might be exaggerating just slightly... nah, I don't think so. I think she would have him drawn and quartered first, THEN deliver him to the nearest jail cell.

Under zero circumstances would a titled family DARE permit their 3 virgin daughters to attend a ball unchaperoned (and I doubt highly that the family throwing the soiree would permit the ladies to enter unaccompanied by an adult chaperone).

According to the author, the mother was ill and the father was tired, so the 3 sisters attended the ball 'together'.

~~ erm...

And, about the drama-laden theatrics that occurred at the ball.

I DID like the plot twist, just not the way the author chose to handle the situation, if that makes any sense.

It was an unusual way to throw a monkey wrench into the works just as Rosamund was starting to feel like a somebody again, but...

No, sorry but no, it just wouldn't occur the way the author wrote that scene.

As much as I can now see how a YA reader would leap up and cheer, a seasoned vet like me can do no more than groan, shake her head in dismay, and wonder why the author chose to stray that far off the Victorian path of behavior just to satisfy a clueless group of pre-teens.

And, sure, it might be the way a majority of actual Victorian folk felt back in the day if and when something of that magnitude were to occur, but... sorry!

YA readers need to get a backbone, maybe.

Man up and accept the fact that life sucks, people are cruel, and that learning how to deal with injustice is a far nobler thing to do than bellyache about every little thing that goes wrong in life.

It's called Fortitude and happens to be one of the 7 Virtues, which is a good thing in my book.

Lastly, I'd like to say that this is another novel that tossed a few bones at the reader before quickly and neatly wrapping them in a pretty bow just a few pages later.

Nothing ever lasted long enough to affect any one character mentally or physically... including a surprising end to a surprising engagement.

Which is probably why some of the negative reviews said that this felt rushed.

AGAIN

Regardless of the above-mentioned issues, I still enjoyed this read and think that you will too, if you are looking for a quick read to pass a few hours' time or are in desperate need of a complete escape from reality and anything on your Kindle will do.

The story ends at roughly 80% before you are given a few chapters of the next installment, which I haven't read yet but intend to do tonight.

I am also thinking about purchasing that second novel because, as mentioned, despite the childishness and make-believe rewrite aspects, I enjoyed the author's style and wouldn't mind reading more of her work.





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