This week’s selection comes on the suggestion of a fellow LBPH Librarian friend of mine, MW. I haven’t started cataloging this month’s selection of audio turds, so MW helpfully passed along this overly complicated Victorian Romance novel.
Untie My Heart by Judith Ivory is set in Victorian England and sounds like a room-temperature mess. I’ve heard that in England you can’t get cold water because they haven’t invented ice, or something, so everything is room temperature and all the food is boiled. So, this one is a room-temperature mess, not a fully “hot mess.” From the NLS annotation:
1890s. Returning to England to claim his inheritance, Stuart Aysgarth, the new viscount Mount Villiars,
accidentally runs over one of widow Emma Hotchkiss’s lambs. Emma schemes to recoup her loss while Stuart concocts his own plot involving revenge on a usurping uncle. Includes recipes. Some explicit descriptions of sex.
I count 4 periods in this annotation, but there are really only two sentences. Yet somehow, in these two sentences, this annotation manages to confuse the crap out of me. It seems to be mainly made up of just keywords: England, inheritance, viscount, widow, revenge. Add to that the following ridiculous words that really don’t need to be part of any romance novel: runs-over, lamb, schemes, recoup, concocts, usurping. But the most bizarre of all is the phrase: “includes recipes.” Recipes for what? Lamb? English food? How does this story, as I understand it from this annotation and the Publishers Weekley review found at Amazon.com, lend to effing recipes?
Then you’ve got these ridiculously named characters: Aysgarth and Hotchkiss. Have we run out of traditionally “English” names for romance novels? While people in the “real world” may be naming their kids “Haylee” and “Joarden” and “Tyffany” and even some “Apples, Suris, Bronxs”, et. al. I see no defendable reason to start giving the characters in books set prior to the 20th century these whacked-out, overly spelled and underly considered, monikers.
What may recommend the book more than the plot, run over lambs, and recipes(?) is the sex. All the sexy, sexy, sex. The PW review on Amazon makes reference to this “sensual tale,” a series of “sexual games,” some more “sexual interludes,” and an overall, “warmly spiced” atmosphere. No mention of food though. PW did mention that the heroine is found out to have “cooked his books” but I’m pretty sure that it isn’t a sex- or cooking reference.
PW does mention something that really grates on my nerves and I’m glad they did, because even if the stupidly described plot hadn’t been enough to warn me off, this did the trick. The reviewer mentions “expository and noticeably anachronistic prose” and I’m telling you, that burns me up like nothing else. Either keep your dialogue and exposition brief so you can’t funk it up, or LEARN TO SPEAK VICTORIAN ENGLISH. It isn’t difficult. Just read half a dozen actual Victorian novels. If you write your book fast enough after reading, you can’t help but achieve the proper lingo.
As usual, reading is not something to be taken lightly. Always use the proper safety restraints. Check your mirrors, and watch out for lambs.