The Viscount Who Lived Down the Lane, by Elizabeth Boyle

tvwldtlTitle: The Viscount Who Lived Down the Lane

Author: Boyle, Elizabeth (Author’s Website)

Genre: Romance, historical romance

Bibliographic: Avon, 384 pages, Mass Market Paperback List Price $7.99, Audiobook List Price $23.61, Audiobook CD List Price $39.99, ISBNs 9780062283818, 9781410489234, 9780062283825

Publication Date: October 28, 2014

Rating: ★★★☆☆/♥♥♡♡♡ (The rating scale is here).

Appeal Factors: Regency romance, fast-faced, engaging, steamy, amusing

Why I picked it up: I’ve had a copy lying around for quite awhile, and I don’t really remember how I got it. I figured it was time to read it and get it out of my apartment.

S.I.A.S.: Louisa was only following her cat into Viscount Wakefield’s home, but she can’t seem to leave.

Summary: Louisa Tempest and her twin sister Lavinia were fairly sure they would never get to come to London for a proper season, so they are surprised and pleased when they are invited to stay in the home of their godmother while they make their debut. When they arrive, Louisa’s cat Hannibal (who hates traveling) does his best to escape, and winds up in the house next door to their destination. Louisa unthinkingly follows Hannibal into the house, where she is confronted by an unkempt and partially-dressed man who turns out to be none other than Pierson Stratton, Viscount Wakefield — the house’s owner, who is less than pleased to find a cat and a young lady darkening his doorstep.  When Louisa breaks a vase and Hannibal vomits on his rug, Louisa decides to make things right. The next day she comes back to help clean his house, and she hears the cook discussing his plans to rob Wakefield blind, so she fires him and makes Wakefield’s breakfast herself. The next day, Wakefield wakes up to find a strange women and two children in his kitchen. They were hired by Louisa, to fill the void left by his previous cook.

As Wakefield adjusts to the changes Louisa is making in his life, he finds himself less and less annoyed when in her presence. Louisa, meanwhile is struggling to get her sister happily married while harboring no such ambitions for herself. She is aware that most of the ton will view the Tempest sisters with suspicion, as their mother was notoriously unfaithful as a wife. Louisa is therefore completely surprised to find Wakefield defending her honor, and even more shocked to find herself falling in love with him.

Evaluation:  This is the first book I’ve read by Elizabeth Boyle, and while I certainly won’t make a point of never reading her work again, I doubt I would deliberately seek her out, either. I thought this book was entirely forgettable.

Wakefield, as a character, is well-written, even if you never do find out exactly what he experienced in the army that made him so reclusive and misanthropic. I thought his character development was mostly believable; after all, sometimes all you need to realize you’re behaving badly is someone around who isn’t. That said, I didn’t really see how he came to fall in love with Louisa. At first he found her annoying, but then got over it entirely through physical attraction, I guess? And that became love? I don’t buy their chances for a happy-ever-after.

I was also annoyed when Lord Charleton summoned Louisa and Wakefield to his study and left them there. It seemed thoroughly out of sync with the rest of his actions throughout the book, and it obviously flies in the face of propriety. It was too close to being a deus ex machina ending, and I would very much have preferred to see the main characters work things out on their own. I also wasn’t thrilled with Louisa’s uncertainty about Wakefield’s intentions. In this type of romance novel, the reader already knows that there is going to be a happy ending, and the author’s choice to make Louisa wonder about his intentions was jarring in an otherwise happy scenario.

I wouldn’t have any hesitation recommending this book to readers who are already established fans of romance, especially fans who are already fond of the Regency. I probably wouldn’t recommend it to people who want to try romance for the first time or who usually read contemporaries and want to experiment with historicals or with regencies. I just think that there are better examples of the genre that will compel people to stick with it better than this one does.

Significance: This is the fourth of six books in the Rhymes with Love series.

Readalikes: The Once and Future Duchess, by Sophia Nash. Romancing the Duke, by Tessa Dare. How the Duke Was Won, by Lenora Bell.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Louisa and Lavinia are both trying, in their own way, to overcome their mother’s reputation and make respectable lives for themselves. How are their strategies different? Why do they keep the secret of their mother’s past from each other?
  2. A brooding hero being redeemed by a woman is a fairly common trope in this genre. Is this something that can happen in real life? Is the trope handled well in The Viscount Who Lived Down the Lane?
  3. Does Wakefield fully come to terms with his past? Why does he want to burn the letters, at first?
  4. There are two separate side romances in this book. Did you find them believable? Will you read the other books in the series?
  5. How are Tuck and Wakefield different? How are they similar? What purpose does Tuck serve in this story?

Lists and Awards:  Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Awards — Best Historical: Love & Laughter (2014).

Professional Reviews: RT Book Reviews. Historical Novel Society. Open Letters Monthly. Smart Bitches Trashy Books.

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