The Real Duchesses of London: Annabelle the American by Lavinia Kent
Publisher: Avon Impulse/Harper Collins
genre: Historical, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Short Story (144 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 3 books
Reviewed by Water Lily
Annabelle and the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad rumor
Annabelle, Marchioness of Tattingstong, always thought she was a good wife. She’s put up with all the titters and stares in the ballroom that go along with being a rich American married only for her wealth and looks. But, when it’s rumored that her husband has a secret family, one he is using her money to keep, Annabelle may have finally had enough. A proper English wife would grin and bear it, but playing by society’s rules hasn’t worked for her so far. Will revenge be as sweet as American pie?
Annabelle, Lady Tattingstong, was delightful from the start. It’s clear she loves her husband despite the list of reasons why she doesn’t. Her humor shows through in her thoughts.
Thomas, her husband, isn’t quite as charming. Handsome, yes, but it’s not terribly attractive that he freely admits he married Annabelle for her money and maybe her breasts especially since he’s never told her he finds her beautiful. However, there’s an intellectual honesty I couldn’t help but admire in him. And he means well.
The writing was light and fun. The tension within Annabelle the American kept me turning pages. I also wanted to know the history behind Thomas’ family. I wanted to meet them. I wanted to solve the mystery behind the cartoons. Ms. Kent does a good job setting up questions and withholding answers to raise tension. Maybe too good a job. I ran out of book long before I ran out of questions. This made the book feel unfinished. I was surprised to reach the end of the document. There could easily have been another hundred pages resolving the issues raised concerning Thomas’ other family and the origins and motivations behind the cartoons. Why did Mr. Swatts buy and publish the cartoons? Did he draw the really scandalous ones himself? His motivation was skimmed over and didn’t ring true. I couldn’t figure out how he discovered Thomas’ secret in the first place, what benefit he received by revealing that secret, or why the newspaper would publish the cartoons in the first place. The host of unresolved issues was disappointing. It had been a very fun read up until the unresolved ending.
The blurb was also bit deceiving. When Annabelle discovers her husband’s second family, she doesn’t consider revenge. Annabelle’s emotions don’t ring true. If I’d just found out my husband had a second family, I wouldn't be trading him sexual favors for information, I’d be too hurt, too interested in the truth, and too invested in my anger to even consider sex. Also, despite the blurb, Annabelle apparently hadn’t been invited to many balls/social events and that caused her more distress than the titters mentioned in the blurb.
This title appears to be the third in The Real Duchesses of London series. Perhaps that explains the chapters entitled “The Maids.” Having not read the other titles in the series, those chapters confused things rather than added to the story. Perhaps it would have been different had I read the series from its beginning.
Despite the difficulties, I enjoyed the style, humor, setting, and feel of The Real Duchesses of London ~ Annabelle the American. I liked Ms. Kent’s voice and am glad I got the chance to read Annabelle the American. In the end, I simply wanted more. I have no doubt that the talented Ms. Kent is capable of delivering. I'll have to check out one of her longer works and see if I'm correct!