I was a bit surprised as I read A Little Thing Called Love by Cathy Maxwell. Nothing much seemed to be happening. It wasn’t until I got to the end and started reading the excerpt of Maxwell’s next work, The Match of the Century, that I realized that this one is merely a prequel.
Jennifer is the beauty on whom falls the task of rescuing her family from the specter of the poorhouse by marrying up. She loves to read, but gentlemen only want her as arm candy. She and Fyclan fall in love by exchanging notes hidden in lending library books. Finally, someone has realized she has a brain.
Jenny’s family was one of the least attractive I’ve encountered. Her father is a bully, her mother a weakling, and her two sisters stepped right out of Cinderella. Fortunately, Fyclan has a lot of money he doesn’t mind using to buy them off.
The couple run off to Gretna Green, and neither family nor rejected suitors bother to follow. The happily ever after is kind of hollow. The lovers didn’t have to overcome any obstacles to get there. Even Jenny’s heart problem vanishes.
I wouldn’t expect a novella-length work to have a terribly complicated plot, but this one could have used a few complications.
Do you read novellas or just full length works?
Here’s an excerpt:
Most gently bred young ladies of her age would be just finishing the morning toilettes after a night of balls and routs. Not this one. Crossing the street ahead of Fyclan, she walked with purpose. She glanced at her scrap of paper repeatedly as if searching for an address. Her maid had to scamper to keep up with her. Her aggrieved footman held out his arm to protect her from the heavy traffic and unwarranted advances.
Fyclan crossed the street as well, wanting to keep her in his sights.
He didn’t quite know how he would approach her or gain an introduction, but reach her he would—
His friend Bishard laid both hands on his arm and swung him around. He kept hold of Fyclan’s jacket as he waved his hand in front of his face. “Are you not listening to me? Damn it all, Morris, I’ve never seen you chase a woman before, and now you charge off like a hound on the trace of a scent.”
Fyclan laughed. “Only yesterday you chastised me for not being more aware of the fair sex. Well, now I am aware. Very aware. And I’m about to lose her, so excuse me—”
Bishard held fast. “She’s not for you.”
Those were fighting words. “And why not?”
His friend glanced around as if those on the pavement around them would be keenly interested in what he was about to say. His voice lowered. “Stowe has spoken for her.”
He referred to the marquess of Stowe, one of the wealthiest men in London. The directors of the Company were keenly interested in him. Not only did they want his money for investment, they also needed his political patronage.
Bishard’s warning did give Fyclan pause. He looked in the direction of his goddess. She was moving steadily away, a bright blue gem weaving in and out amongst a sea of drab, hard working men and women, people whose lives held no room for such a lively color.
And he knew he must not lose her. “Who is Stowe to me?” he said and would have charged off again in pursuit but his friend held on.
“She is also Miss Jennifer Tarleton, Colonel Russell Tarleton’s daughter.”
“The fool who cost us Konkan?” Fyclan referred to the battle the Company had fought against the Maratha rulers over the northern provinces. Fyclan had been the Company officer in charge and had removed the man from his command. Fyclan had lead the counter offensive himself, barely saving the Company from a humiliating defeat.
“The same. And still just as foolish. From what I understand, he is in dun territory. His only hope is to marry his daughter to a trunk full of gold. Trust me, Morris, you don’t want this one.”
“I have money.”
“But not as much as Stowe,” Bishard answered.