Pros: Readers who wanted something different from the last story have gotten their wish!
Cons: Readers who want clear scientific basis/explanations of events are going to be rather disappointed.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Review book courtesy of Penguin Group
Queen Victoria has found herself in a bit of a situation. A stone with unique properties has gone missing, and she’s desperate to get it back before its absence is noticed. She calls upon Ivy Sutherland to reclaim it. Ivy finds herself rechristened Ned Ivers, beginning science student at Oxford. It’s the perfect way to get to know Simon de Burgh, the Marquess of Harrow, who is rumored to be in possession of the stone. She’s going to have to find a way to work her way into his confidence, and even if she does he can’t find out the truth about her or her mission. Yet the closer that Ivy gets to the truth, the more danger she finds herself in. Will she be able to recover the stone for Victoria?
After I finished reading Most Eagerly Yours by Allison Chase, I absolutely couldn’t wait for the sequel, Outrageously Yours, to come out. After all, what’s not to love about humor, espionage, wit and love all blended together into a fun romp of a story? Yet as I got further into the story of Ivy and Simon, there was one fairly significant element that distracted me from their story: the science. At first, it felt as if I was reading a story mixing intrigue and the beginning of the electrical age, but when I found out the secret experiment that Simon is trying to carry out, my jaw hit the floor. The story had just crossed the line from historical to fantasy. (Now I don’t claim to be an expert in the field of electrical theory, so it’s entirely possible that there is a sound theoretical basis for the events in the book; since I’m not aware of anything like this my suspension of disbelief was entirely ruined.)
I think that part of the reason that the story wound up like this for me was that Ms. Chase seems to have been going for a Gothic/Mary Shelley-inspired feel. To do that requires elements of fantasy (as well as elements that felt almost steampunk, which was also slightly odd for me) that leave the reader wondering where the reality of the story crosses the line into fantasy. That’s what actually kept me reading; I was trying to figure out whether or not Simon’s experiment would actually work the way that I hoped it would.
I generally don’t mind fantasy elements in a romance, but there were two reasons that it didn’t work for me in this instance. Nothing about the cover or the cover copy hinted at these elements, and there’s NOTHING in Most Eagerly Yours even remotely like this. It was a straightforward historical. That set up expectations in my head that were completely different from what I found in this book. I’m sure that some readers won’t mind, but I would have appreciated some sort of warning!
The dynamic between Ivy and Simon is still a lot of fun to watch, with the two of them trading both knowledge and witticisms, and I was very pleased to see that Ms. Chase neatly avoided a few cheap fights that the two of them could have picked. It’s always nice to see consenting adults acting like adults! Even the secondary characters are fun to watch, especially since the cast is nearly entirely male, and Simon becomes rather possessive of Ivy. It reminded me of a few guys that I know, so I got several good chuckles out of it.
I didn’t manage to figure out the mystery of the book, but I suspect that says more about how much I was focusing on the scientific elements than anything else. The science portrayed in this book was such a change from the first book that it was a huge distraction for me for the rest of the book, especially since the ending felt too easy and also too neat. If you like the influence of Mary Shelley and you don’t mind letting a little fantasy into your historical fiction, you may want to give this book a shot. If, however, you read Ms. Chase’s first book in this series and you’re looking for more of the same it might be worth waiting for book three. The more fantastic elements of the story may leave you just as distracted as I was. I certainly hope that book three fits more cohesively with book one!