REVIEW: “Leigh LaValle’s THE MISBEHAVING MARQUESS: Ain’t Misbehaving”

These days, says Miss Bates, romance novellas are like samples at the Costco: a delectation of good things to come, if you’re willing to dish out for a lifetime supply of candied ginger. Thus, Miss Bates has come to feel manipulated by the novella (she’s got one more to review and then she’s swearing off … ), even LaValle’s Marquess, which she enjoyed. Now, Miss Bates does not want to detract from the review at hand, which is a fairly positive one, but the romance novella, such as it is, annoys her. Why can’t publishers stand behind a stand-alone? Why does every romance novel spawn a series? Why does every series have a novella launch, or bridge between two longer books, such as this one?

To start, this marquess hasn’t misbehaved; he has merely pouted … a lot. The marquess, Jamie Forster, has been in a snit for five years because he thought that his wife, Cat, betrayed him mere weeks after their marriage. Even though she’s sworn up and down that she did not, immaturity and hurt pride ensued nevertheless. He nursed his amour-propre in parts unknown until making his appearance in the opening chapter in the marchioness’s sitting-room.

For five years, Cat has been holed up on this country estate, atoning for her non-sin by saving widows and their children from the workhouse. She is renovating cottages in which to house them and building a lace factory to provide work. She’s grown up; she’s changed. Jamie has as well; though he still harbors some hurt, he recognizes that his actions were hasty and immature. He sets out to win his wife back. Cat rightly wavers. Even though she still loves him, can she forgive and trust him? Ah, the marquess eats humble pie to redeem himself. He also bears gifts from his travels that would warm any woman’s heart, or in this case, thaw it.

This story was quite enjoyable. The prose was fairly smooth, a trifle overly impassioned in places, but it read with relative ease. It didn’t break any moulds, or enthral Miss Bates, but it didn’t jar either. Jamie and Cat are likeable and their hurt feelings make sense. LaValle handled the perimeters of the novella’s shorter length well and made the romance front and centre, unlike Miss Bates’s previous read (see her review of Jackie Barbosa’s Hot Under the Collar). She conveyed Cat’s and Jamie’s hurt and love and anger convincingly. She also developped their growing desire to release the hurt and anger in order to forgive each other, love each other, and give their marriage a second-chance. Miss Bates loves a second-chance romance.

In the end, however (Miss Bates picks up the snark again), LaValle’s novella is serviceable. It tells a nice story about two likeable people learning to forgive each other their wrongs and admit their love. By all means, read it; it is a pleasant way to while away an hour. And an hour is about as long as you’ll remember it after you’re done. (LaValle’s novella previously appeared in the anthology Three Weddings And A Funeral.)

Miss Bates would read one of Ms LaValle’s romance novels on the basis of this sampling, but for this diminutive effort, she can only say, “Tolerable comfort.” Mansfield Park

This honest review is the result of an e-novella offered by Heart Bay Publishing via Netgalley.

2 thoughts on “REVIEW: “Leigh LaValle’s THE MISBEHAVING MARQUESS: Ain’t Misbehaving”

  1. Really? Miss Bates has another lovely review posted and I haven’t even had a spare minute to consider the vicar hero and how he fared! June is extremely hectic in both home and work spheres, so the blog sphere is suffering and I am a little cranky. I’m not sure why, but I just can’t read novellas. I need to be immersed in the story for longer. Sometimes will read one if I know it contains key information for a series I like, but mostly they just seem like shadows of a novel that either could have been, or should not be.

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    • You are oh-so-right about novellas … Just one more & Miss Bates will wash her hands of them. Except, like you, I’d hate to miss any tidbit of a series I love. I like to sink my teeth into a nice long novel always. Must be a leftover from my youth when I chose my books by heft! Miss Bates is sorry to hear that Pamela is experiencing hectic times. June is a crazy month for Miss Bates too ’cause she teaches school (what else would a Miss Bates do?) &, though the end is nigh, the reports, the exams, the grad ceremonies, the clearing of the bulletin boards, the retirement parties … But summer will arrive, hammocks will swing, books will be read (shudder, no novellas though) and posts will be posted. Besides, BadAssRomance has the laurels of the great UNTAMED post. It’ll keep us happy for at least a week! Looking forward to the next one! Hope your day tomorrow is a good one!

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