THERE’S MANY A SLIP…
He’d been warned that Lady Clarissa Crambray was dangerous. Stomping on toes and burning piffles, the chestnut haired beauty was clearly a force with which to be reckoned. But for Adrian Montfort, Earl of Mowbray, veteran of the Napoleonic wars, this was just the challenge he needed. He could handle one woman and her “unfortunate past”. Could any woman handle him?
‘TWIXT THE CHIT & HIS LIPS
Lady Clarissa Crambray wanted a husband, but maybe not as much as her mother wanted tone for her. Really! Doffing her spectacles might make a girl prettier, but how would she see? She’d already caused enough mayhem to earn a rather horrible nickname. Yet, as all other suitors seemed to shy away in terror, there came a man to lead her to the dance floor. A dark, handsome blur of a man.
My principal reason for picking up this book was that I needed to read something by a “new-to-me author” for this month’s Multi-Blog TBR challenge. I’ve had this one on the pile of paperbacks by the bed for a while, and, being visually challenged myself, liked the idea behind the story.
Reading Love is Blind was like indulging in a guilty pleasure. I’m usually a bit of a stickler when it comes to historical romance, as I do like there to be a reasonable amount of – if not actual history, then at least historical accuracy in the books I read. But occasionally, I find myself being able to relax my usual requirements a bit, go with the flow and read something for the hell of it. That said, even with a “wallpaper historical” like this one, there still have to be a number of redeeming features in order for me to enjoy it, and fortunately that was the case here.
Although there’s nothing in the book to suggest when it is set, references to certain styles of clothing and events place it firmly in the early part of the 19th century. But there’s a very modern feel to much of the dialogue; and the use of a number of anachronistic expressions, not least of which is “okay”, do stick out like the proverbial sore thumbs. But the thing is, I found the two principal characters to be rather charming, I liked the story – even though parts of it were a bit daft – and the underlying theme of two people whose insecurities have held them back from living their lives and finding love. The book is pure mental candyfloss, but in a good way – light, fluffy and fun, but fortunately not sweet enough to rot one’s teeth!
I am also blind as a bat without my glasses and have been for thirty years or more. While I may not be quite as bad as Clarissa, (the heroine of this book) when it comes to falling over and bumping into things, and I can manage to find my way around the house without needing an escort, I still sympathised with her enormously when she was without her spectacles and unable to see anything clearly.
Lady Clarissa Cambray is currently “doing the Season” in London under the chaperonage of her step-mother, Lydia, who is, not to put too fine a point on it, a total bitch. She has forbidden Clarissa – who is very short-sighted – to wear her spectacles in public because (she says) they make her look ugly and she will never attract a man while she wears them. Clarissa actually believes this – and while she is miserable because she can’t to see very much, she doesn’t attempt to contradict Lydia or to get herself another pair of specs.
Adrian Montfort, Earl of Mowbray, has been living a reclusive existence for the past ten years, following his return from the Peninsula horribly scarred. Formerly regarded as one of the handsomest men of the ton, Adrian returned to society after the war only to discover that the scar marring his features had made him so unattractive as to make young women swoon in horror. Fortunately, however, he’s the hero, so it’s a good bet that the scar isn’t really all that bad and that he’s just as gorgeous with it as he was without it.
On a rare visit to the capital, Adrian attends a ball with his cousin, Reggie, who warns him off Clarissa when he expresses an interest. Reggie tells him how clumsy Clarissa is, and how vain for not wanting to wear her glasses, but Adrian isn’t convinced, seeing a wistfulness in the young woman that others appear to have missed. He also thinks that her “blindness” will work in his favour, because it means she will not be able to see his face clearly enough to be horrified by his scar.
So Adrian approaches Clarissa, talks to her and dances with her. They enjoy each other’s company and there’s an immediate rapport between them, although I thought that Clarissa was rather too candid for a young lady of that time. That said, her unaffectedness is one of the things about her that Adrian finds most endearing.
In any case, they are both very much attracted to each other and are eager to meet again, which, with a little help from Adrian’s mother and sister, they manage to do.
Strangely, despite Lydia’s continual moaning at Clarissa about how she will never attract a man while wearing her glasses, she is not at all pleased to discover of the budding attachment between her step-daughter and a wealthy earl, and does her damndest to prevent their seeing each other again.
During the course of their few meetings, Adrian has become aware that Clarissa has been subject to rather a large number of accidents while she has been deprived of her spectacles. She’s fallen down the stairs and been pushed into the path of an on-coming carriage, to name but two incidents, and when he discovers that someone has quite possibly tried to do her physical harm in her own back garden, becomes convinced that someone is targeting her – although he can’t, for the life of him, figure out why.
Another “mishap” results in the pair being caught in a compromising situation – although Adrian finds himself all too pleased to offer marriage to the lady, and they are altar-bound shortly afterwards.
Once married, the fact that they can’t keep their hands off one another doesn’t serve to convince either of them that the other will love them regardless of whether they’re sporting an ugly scar or pair of spectacles. An over-obvious and unguarded remark made by Adrian’s mother serves to make Clarissa think he will be crippled with disgust when he sees her with her glasses on, and he struggles with guilt at the fact that he is prepared to let her go for a little longer without being able to see clearly if it means she can’t see his face properly.
Love is Blind isn’t complicated or overly-angsty and it rattles along at a good pace. The mystery side of the plot is well done and I didn’t guess the identity of the villain of the piece until quite late on. But as I’ve said before, I’m not a great reader of mysteries, so I often miss the subtler clues! Clarissa and Adrian were cute both individually and together, and they were really what made the book so enjoyable, in spite of the anachronisms and the silliness of the main plot. The chemistry between them was terrific, there was plenty of humour and the whole thing was a piece of good-natured fluff, which isn’t as easy to pull off as one might think.