Every once in a while a mini-debate rages in Romance Bloglandia over C-graded books. Are these books pleasant, but average? Terrible? Good? What? Well for me, a C grade has always represented "mixed bag." While others will argue with me, a C grade for me can best be summed up as "I liked some parts, didn't like others, and everything came out in the wash." Using that as my measuring stick? My Unfair Lady, a new historical (no fantasy paranormal woo-woo) from Kathryne Kennedy would be Exhibit A.
Summer Wine Lee is an American heiress thanks to her driven Daddy who struck it rich with his silver mine. His need to be taken seriously by "old money" has rubbed off on Summer, who fancies herself in love with some character named Monte, who is somehow related to the Astor family. Needless to say, they take one look at the girl who was raised in Arizona, counted an Apache as one of her closest friends, carries a knife under her skirts and haughtily declare that she will not do. Besides, she's "new" money. Ick. So off Summer goes to London in the hopes of gaining an audience with the Queen and thereby making her acceptable to Monte's family. Her only hope? Hiring some blue blood to teach her to be a lady. Her blue blood of choice? The impoverished Duke of Monchester. One small problem though - Bryon, who is chummy with the Prince, has made it quite clear that he despises American heiresses.
No matter, the guy is really in a bind. Gentleman don't work (::shudder::), and he's been surviving thanks to the kindness of friends. Largely the Prince, who finds Byron's cutting remarks about society-types vastly amusing. Normally he'd turn Summer down flat, but dang he needs the cash and darn it all, the chit intrigues him. But he's got his work cut out for him.
I'll be honest. As I was reading this book I knew I shouldn't be enjoying it. At all. Summer has a maid who speaks in the vernacular (lots of "yore"s for instance), they rescue a damn monkey (and keep it as a pet), Summer rescues baby fox cubs (Cubs, right? Anyway, they become pets) and there's even a chihuahua (yes, another pet) thrown in for good measure. Oh and more than once Summer takes to wearing buckskin clothing. In England. And she keeps carrying her damn knife around with her.
Oh, and did I mention the small matter that our English Duke hero knows Kung Fu? Yeah, seriously. Kung Frickin' Fu.
The whole thing is patently absurd, but delightfully so. If you can "roll" with this eye-rolling stuff, the author has a really light and fluffy writing style that keeps you turning the pages, even though rationally you know that you should know better.
Where it all kind of slides for me is in the romance. Summer hangs on to her "I will become a lady and marry Monte" nonsense for way too long - especially after she practically throws herself at Bryon and molests him right out of his clothes. The girl's brazen (which frankly borders on wanton) behavior is easily explained by her background, but her continued instance of being with Monte was rather galling. I will say it was rather refreshing to read about this hero, who half the time comes off as a major asshole, but is really hiding a gooey marshmallow interior. And I really, really liked (despite my other issues with her) that Summer was capable of some intelligence - especially when it appears that someone is out to silence Bryon...permanently.
So what we have is yeah - a mixed bag. This is cute, light, fluffy, and not completely without charm. But there are elements here that will cause some readers to heavily roll their eyes (be careful, your face may freeze like that) and Summer's stubbornness about Monte is rather troublesome, especially since it hangs on for a long time.
If you like light? Yeah, read this. If you like this sort of fluff and humor? Yeah, read this. If the idea of a Kung Fu fighting Victorian Duke has you reaching for the nearest bottle of whiskey? Yeah, maybe skip this.
Final Grade = C+