Hold on, Meljean, I'll write about Hot Spell in a sec, but I had to get this posted today or lose my train of thought.
I just finished Megan Frampton's A Singular Lady. Actually it was my bit of escapism over the Thanksgiving week when both my parents were staying with me.
I haven't read a classic Regency romance in years--mostly I've read Historical Romances set in the Regency period, which tend to have more sex, more plot twists, and more pages than the classic ones. Well, with A Singular Lady I can remember what it is I like about the Regency romances: snappy wit and great dialogue. Megan Frampton creates an intelligent, manipulative, flirtatious, and witty heroine, Titania. It is such a dangerous game to write a witty, spunky, heroine who is likeable, yet Megan brings it home. I really liked this heroine straight through from the start of the book to the end.
More on Titania in a minute, but I do have to get out of the way the two things which bothered me in A Singular Lady. First, I like Edwin, the broad-shouldered pugilist Lord who is the object of Titania's affections. But I don't feel as if the book is balanced between the two characters. I would have liked more exposition about him, or maybe more scenes from his point of view--he needed to be more developed. The second point is one I don't usually care about, but there's a historical detail here which bothered me. I am not a stickler for proper nomenclature, I usually don't remember where wars are taking place at any point in the Regency period, and I don't keep up with the fashions of the day well enough to care whether the waistline is accurate. However, Edwin keeps talking about having just come back from America. I think if he had just returned from anywhere else in the world I wouldn't have noticed, but America? 1813? Ehh.
(General Disclaimer: I had read a review of A Singular Lady before I read the book wherein the reviewer brought this point up. I was prepared to dismiss it when I read the author's explanation about his travel route being cut from the book, and so on. But even while I was trying to dismiss it while I read, and tried to substitute "Portugal" whenever I read "America", it still sprung up off the page at me. America just doesn't jibe with Napoleonic/Regency England.)
OK, enough of that.
Titania Stanhope comes to London as a penniless maiden who must marry for money or watch her uncle kick her and her brother from their estate. She decides to pretend to be wealthy so that eligible bachelors will not think she is trying to marry for money, even though she is. Edwin Worthington comes to London newly wealthy, but decides to pretend he's a pauper so that women will not be attracted to him solely for his wealth. Ah, the ironies of life.
Megan Frampton has characters lying to each other, and then telling the truth, and then lying again. What I found remarkable was that when a character, especially Titania, lied, I understood her motivation. When the plot turned to present the opportunity for truth-telling, I could understand the motivation for telling the truth. I've read so many romances where I'm left scratching my head at the timing of these decisions, but A Singular Lady flowed through these shifts smoothly.
And then there's wit. I can't describe humor, and I can't analyze wit, but I do enjoy it. I lapped up A Singular Lady in one afternoon, because it was just that enjoyable. Titania writes small "dispatches" from the battlefield of courtship which are great set pieces, but her true sparkle is on every page, as she's deciding what to wear, talking to Edwin or Alistair, or just describing her surroundings. I am always so prepared to hate a heroine who is too cute, too precious, or too perky, but I genuinely like Titania. I hope she and Edwin will be very happy together.