Review by Katie
She knew, then, what had come of reading too many Georgette Heyer novels.
Though I love Dr. Who and Back to the Future, I usually avoid time traveling romance books like they are loaded with transfats and over processed sugars. They cannot end satisfactorily for me. Someone in the timeline is going to suffer, even if it isn't the romantic couple, it is family or others left behind at one end of the time stream or another. When I want to read about paradoxes and continuums of historical necessity, I read science fiction. I can't take that kind of angst in a romance unless it is in the past or middle. I read romance for happily ever after. However, this book made me giggle like a debutante at the end.
Devorah is on the cusp of becoming a Special Case. Over thirty and unmarried, her cultural expectations aligned with her own [yeah! What a wonderful difference] but she wasn't willing to settle for less than her soul mate. So, when her best friend mentions a visiting cousin of her husband, Devorah is willing to take another chance he won't be more of a Special Case than she is. However, things don't go quite as planned.
Ms. Schaefer sneakily draws you in with four chapters of charming introduction to characters that presumably have little to do with the story. It reads like a resume of the Intelligentsia meets My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Still, I did feel the appropriate sympathetic connections intended by the prose and it was perfectly paced. Just as I was at the point of saying, what the heck has this got to do with- Devorah fell off a chair, smacked her head and everything went black. When she regains consciousness, it is March, 1815 and she's been discovered by a Duke.
“My dear child, you have met with a deplorable, unexplained accident, but you are now safe,” he explained in dramatic tones. “Fortunately, you have been rescued by his grace, the Duke of Ravenscroft. He has conveyed you back to his ducal seat at Ravenscourt, where you now find yourself. It is the Duke’s intention, I believe, for you to remain here under his protection until you have recovered sufficiently to return to your own home.”
I am not a member of the Intelligentsia. It was work for me to shift gears from loving friends and family to another place and time, complete with new characters and Important Statements. Needless to say, I survived. And before the middle of the chapter I was hooked. The characters were loving compilations of romance stories through the ages. The contrast of utterly familiar and completely unique conflicts and dilemmas tossed about by time displacement was a marvelous surprise from the expected complaints about hygiene, class conundrums, and feminist affronts. Devorah's sensibilities were so composed I was in awe from the very beginning of her alternate reality.
“Well, this is only conjecture,” she said baldly, “but apparently I fell off a chair and landed in the wrong century."
The writing was perfectly pitched for each time period. Dialog was period consistent, description just enough over the usual reader expectation to convince you Devorah is confronting the past with a future eye. Though it is work, she is able to fit in and present herself to all and sundry as if she belongs. Devorah making vermicelli and meatballs when the cook breaks her leg is a moment I will never, ever forget! And the joy here is how subtly it is all done. Devorah is constantly on alert for mistakes she might make even as she wows the evening's entertainment with her skill on the pianoforte and the ladies with her needlework. [If only all new writers of historical romance were as careful as Devorah]
Everyone falls in and out of infatuation just as they should. Though I fretted at several points, anticipating the end and that wail of, "Noooo," I'd be embarrassing myself with, the transitions and resolutions gentled my fears like a loving nanny, or they tried to. Ms. Schaefer kept just the right amount of tension going, at least for me. Younger brothers Robert and Theo were exceedingly well done; even the Duchess-desperate-to-be-a-Dowager made her way in to my heart.
I didn't think much of the expedient Duke and his usage of people to satisfy his sense of humor, no matter how convenient it was for those in need. But I have every hope that his future duchess will turn that table on him; more than adequately tempering his arrogance. Strangely, Albinia, the obligatory insipid miss, eventually obtained my sympathy. After all, she's destined to endure life - well, never mind, that would be a spoiler. My point is, the people in the alternate reality became as tangible as those in the family and friends in the beginning.
I did think the end was too abrupt. I wanted a bit more than a wink and I wanted much more of Mr. W [both incarnations of him] than we received. Otherwise, Ms. Schaefer certainly surprised me in a good way. I am so glad I was given the opportunity to read Me & Georgette. Totally recommend this book for an afternoon's escape or an evening's relaxation. It will make you laugh and sigh and grin. Best Part? No one gets left behind at the end. Promise!
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