SuperWendy’s TBR Challenge for June: Lady Polly

by Sunita

I read this in time for the June 19 deadline but I didn’t get it written up before we left for Wales and then I was occupied with walking and writing about walking. But it’s still June, so at least I made the month.

The prompt challenge for June was historical, of which I have many in the TBR. As usual I chose from my Harlequin TBR and I decided to go with a favorite author. Cornick wrote a bunch of trads before she switched to single-title historicals and I’ve been reading through the new-to-me ones over the last couple of years. They are in the vein of the old Signet Regencies and she knows her historical material so they hit my comfort-read sweet spot. Lady Polly is no different; while I didn’t love every aspect of it, I found it an enjoyable read with a wonderful hero.

The book is part of a series, but while there are clearly characters who starred in an earlier installment, you don’t need to have read it for this story to make sense (I know I’ve read the previous one but I didn’t remember much about it and it didn’t matter).

Lady Polly Seagrave and Lord Henry Marchnight were in love with each other but he became embroiled in a scandal and was considered off-limits by her family. When Lord Henry asked Lady Polly to flout convention and elope, she hesitated and Lord Henry told her that was the end of them forever. Five years later, Polly is still single, refusing every eligible offer she gets. Lord Henry returns from wherever he’s been (somewhere debauching, everyone thinks) and resumes contact with her. Slowly they reestablish trust and admit they still have feelings for each other. But Henry is considered to be too dissolute etc. to be a proper match for Polly. What to do.

Their romantic storyline is embedded in the larger context of Polly’s immediate and extended families, which complicate their relationship repeatedly. Henry is seen with a dashing, unpleasant, and socially unacceptable widow (who is the sister of Polly’s very sweet sister-in-law), there are dreadful neighbors who worm their way into every social situation and can’t be got rid of, and there is a subplot involving a criminal and deep doings. It’s a bit complicated, but I liked it because it established a realistic social environment, in contrast to more recent novels where the main characters sometimes operate in a social vacuum.

Lady Polly is kind of annoying at times. For a young woman in her early twenties who has been out for five or six years, she can be pretty gullible, and she dithers too often for my liking. There are some misunderstandings that propel the plot but aren’t that credible. And the Big Mis toward the end really seemed designed to make the book last longer; I could kind of see how it happened, textually, but it was just one too many.

However, I forgave these weaknesses because Lord Henry is the most luscious hero. He’s smart, funny, interesting, and you want to eat him up with a spoon. I’m not the most hero-centric reader, but I would reread the book right now just for him. So I count this month’s challenge a Win.

HarlequinTBR Count Update

I went through and looked at the blurbs and first pages of a number of books in the TBR, because I was pretty sure I’d read more than I deleted in my initial cull of the 620+ I downloaded from eHarlequin. I was able to knock off 40 more books. That means that this month’s challenge book is #468. Woo hoo.