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Monday, June 4, 2012

Dinners With Mr. Danville by Kate Dolan

Dinners With Mr. Danville by Kate Dolan
Publisher: Ellora’s Cave
Genre: Historical
Length: Short Story (61 pages)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 3.5 stars
Review by: Camellia

Love is the delusion of fools. Helen has watched the illogical emotion turn her sister into a mindless mooncalf who ruins Christmas every year by descending on the household with her husband and an ever-growing menagerie of disruptive children. So when her sister has the nerve to suggest that Helen is in love with her neighbor, Mr. Danville, Helen sets out to prove her wrong. But Helen isn’t prepared for the truth—and, as it turns out, neither is Mr. Danville.

Deceit, even when done with the best of intentions, does not bode well for a happy outcome, as Helen Wright discovers.

The ‘almost-thirty-year-old’ Helen chafes at the restrictions placed on women of her time. She loves to do scientific experiments, but must disguise them as her featherbrained brother’s to get them noticed by their neighbor and weekly dinner guest, Mr. Danville. When he says her brother must be a genius to have such excellent understanding of science and do such creative experiments, Helen is elated at the praise.

The no-nonsense Helen does have her eccentricities. Orderliness in the house, even to the shelves being organized just so, are important to her. She has no understanding of the kind of outrageous demonstrative love her sister Lucia and her husband exhibit, seemingly more so every year when they come to visit. What's worse, their rambunctious children, who bring total chaos to the orderly household, drive her crazy.

The undercurrent of humor that runs through Dinners With Mr. Danville kept me smiling and even brought a giggle at times. To me, the brother Geoffrey, though funny, seems a little too much with some of his antics and Mr. Danville’s sister doesn’t seem to quite fit, but she does help reveal some of Mr. Danville’s attitudes toward women. The unique humor of Helen coping with the chaos the children cause and her first venture into “being in love” makes page-turning reading. Kate Dolan’s descriptions bring Helen to life in a delightful way. Moreover, the climax is rather a surprise.

Dinners With Mr. Danville entertains in a beautiful, concise style that takes the reader away from the mundane. Fun to read!