The following is my first review for Preconceived Motions. Please note that in the Plot section I am going to outline the story and it will include spoilers. Also noteworthy is that I will not mention every event that took place (You’ll have to read the book yourself for that treat) so if you read through and notice things missing that is why. I hope that you’ll bear with me as I continue feeling my way around and feedback and suggestions are highly appreciated. Thank you!
Title: The Proposition – Well there is a proposition involved and it is kind of a driving force to the plot… But I really would’ve gone with “My Fair Laddie”.
Author: Judith Ivory – Ivory, like the priceless material that makes up an elephant’s tusks. Hmm.
Cover: The MAIN cover is kind of boring. Huge and pretty lettering for the title and author on a lace-covered pink background with a big red rose. Red roses were never really even mentioned in the story. Then there’s this cute little peek-a-boo cut out to the inside cover which is a note on a golden serving tray that says ‘Will You?’ with that rose next to it and an excerpt from the book about kissing. Okay, that scene never happened either, unless I had pages ripped out of my copy. What the heck? I mean yes it’s very pretty but it’s also misleading. And the note kind of bugs me. “Will You?”… Will I what? Will I marry you? Go dancing? Join you on a cow tipping-adventure? The quote is about kissing so are you sending me a gilded invitation to make out some more? Because I think I’m okay with that.
Summary/ Back Cover: Big loving praise for Judith Ivory at the top and an announcement for a two dollar rebate! I got this for two dollars at a used book shop. If I send the rebate in will I get my two dollars back? Free books are AWESOME.
“No man, gentleman or otherwise, has ever looked at Lady Edwina Bollash the way the brash, handsome man standing before her is doing now. Edwina has accepted the challenge to transform incorrigible Mick Tremore into a gentleman in just six weeks. And although the linguist is sure she can rise to the task, she isn’t at all certain she won’t swoon under his frankly sensuous gaze before her job is done.
Mick has lived outside of London society long enough to know that appearances can be deceiving. Edwina might look all buttoned up- the perfect English lady- but there is unleashed passion existing just below her placid facade (not to mention a great pair of legs!). And as she prepares him to take his place in society, Mick prepares Edwina to take her place in his heart… and in his bed.”
Anyway the summary is actually pretty good. It covered some of the main points, has a cute inside joke, and left some things to be a mystery. One issue though: Does the guy’s part always have to mention some part of “In his bed” every summary? It’s like when I was in high school and for a week it was suddenly hilarious to say “In bed” after everything. We get it, he want’s to do her. This is a romance novel, after all. No need to state the obvious so obviously (In bed).
Plot: (WARNING: Contains spoilers!)
So pretty much Mick Tremore is just doing his job as the go-to ratcatcher in London, currently working his magic in a dress shop while the ladies in the shop all freak out. He’s laying on his stomach on the floor looking for his quarry when he catches a glimpse of a pair of legs that will haunt him for a while, but he doesn’t see the face. He does his sacred duty and the patrons are ever-so-thankful, especially the young seamstress’ assistant.
In fact she’s so thankful she decides to take him into the back room and ‘fix his shirt’. Actually she kind of ruins his shirt, ripping buttons off in her quest to reward his heroism. Actually that’s kind of smart in my opinion. I mean if she messes it up that means she has to fix it, which means Mick has to stick around. I wonder if she’s done this kind of thing before…
Anyway they get caught in a compromising position and Mick has to run from the angry dress shop mob intent on preserving the young lady’s reputation. Um… She was attacking HIM… But I digress. He winds up in a tea shop where he and his pursuers make a huge mess and cause all kinds of trouble.
There might be less trouble if anyone could understand a word poor Mick was saying but his Cornish accent is so thick that the only person who could translate would have to be a cunning linguist. Enter Edwina Bollash!
Intrigued by the sounds erupting from Mick’s mouth she intervenes and saves the day with the help of twin gentleman who were amused by the whole display. Jeremy and Emile Lamont are slightly suspicious men with packed wallets who gamble for fun. Seeing a bit of sport in Mick they offer a proposition!
Ewina has six weeks to make Mick a gentleman. At the end of that time Mick will go to a ball hosted by Edwina’s cousin that took the family birthright when her father died and kind of treated her like crap. She gets a happy “In your face!” moment if she succeeds in Mick fooling all the guests of the ball into thinking he’s a viscount. Plus the lessons are paid for by the Lamonts. Mick, meanwhile, gets… Are you ready for this? A paid makeover, free gentleman lessons, and a whopping one hundred and twenty English pounds if he can pull it off.
So the bet is on and Mick gets to move into Edwina’s lovely home (that has electricity and hot water, score!). Nobody really cares because Edwina doesn’t really have any marriage prospects. Poor Edwina is twenty-nine and still a virgin because apparently she is too plain in the face for a gentleman to love. Mick, however, thinks she’s one hot momma and finds her prominent nose and flat chest quirky and endearing. What a guy.
The two have several speech lessons and Mick struggles as he feels he is losing track of himself. He’s from a huge family (fourteen siblings, holy crap!) that he has to take care of since his mother died and there’s no father to speak of. It’s why he moved to London and took up the ratcatching trade. That and he loves animals! (Except rats. He kind of bashes their skulls in. What a guy!) He even has two faithful friends he keeps by his side: An elderly ferret named Frankie and a mutt terrier named Magic.
Still, he takes to mimicking accents well and catches on quick, having an irrepressible love for learning new words. In the meantime he and Edwina bond, learning more and more about each other each lesson and growing closer and closer. They even share a kiss in the middle of the night that Edwina tries to forget ever happened.
It’s sweet to read the conversations they have and their reactions to one another. Edwina had a pretty bad childhood that Mick can’t wrap his head around and he hates seeing the toll it’s taken on her soul. Her mother walked out on her and her neglectful father when she was a child and her governess was an abusive woman. Edwina blames herself for not being good enough to earn the love of her family.
One fine lesson Mick is being especially difficult and Edwina is having SERIOUS issues with his moustache. Mick is still miffed about losing himself and Edwina decides to play hard ball to get him to cooperate. Knowing he has a leg fetish she offers a trade: He can see her legs if he shaves off the flavor saver.
She doesn’t dream that Mick will take her up on it but he does and he makes her stand on the table for five minutes with her skirts bunched up at her waist while he stares in appreciation. SURPRISE! Edwina’s legs are the legs that he was ogling in the dress shop at the start of the story. When time is up they go to his bedroom and he shaves his stache and makes her finish her promise of five more minutes of leg and one touch.
Except he kind of gets carried away and dry humps her and feels her up. Most women would enjoy this but Edwina is completely new to this kind of thing and understandably upset. Mick feels like crap for going too far but thankfully they wind up powering through it and getting back to business. Still, the heavy sexual tension remains and it’s kind of driving Mick nuts (blue balls hurt, I’m told).
The twins come by and deliver money to Edwina, further coming across as having another motive to their game. They are pretty rude when they treat Mick like a freak show attraction and it turns out the money they handed over was counterfeit. Mick had experience in the counterfeiting business helping out a friend so he knows a fake when he sees it. Edwina refuses to buy it, even though she is unsettled by the matter.
The deadline comes closer and closer and our heroes realize they really don’t want to part after all is said and done but neither is willing to take the big step in admitting it. Instead Mick takes Edwina out to paint the town red and they go to The Bull and Tun, a dance hall and bar that Mick loves. Edwina had previously given him dance lessons and he realized she loves dancing. A sweet date if you ask me.
Edwina goes through a pleasant character evolution as she lets her hair down and gets a bit hammered. It’s enjoyable watching her let go of all of her insecurities and enjoy herself. Her prim shell is left behind as she makes some friends and dances the night away, flashing her legs and getting the male appreciation she’d been denied. Especially from Mick.
Mick had implored that if she wanted to be kissed she had to tell him but Edwina isn’t the type of girl to ask for such scandalous things, unless she’s been drinking. She manages to get the message across, however, and Mick happily escorts her into the alley behind the bar and has a grind session with her. I’m going to be very blunt here: He fingers her in an alley behind a bar. He’s able to stop himself from taking her right then and there when he remembers Edwina is a lady and a virgin: She deserves the best and he feels he isn’t capable of giving it.
Going back inside Edwina is hit on by a gentleman that was slumming it and he seems pretty sold on Mick’s girl. This does not go over well with our brave hero and after trying to be nice he goes caveman, decks the dude, and takes his lady back home. You’d think he’d drag her by the hair to his lair at this point but he’s still sulking that he’s not good enough and he leaves Edwina on the stairs to slink into his room alone.
‘Gypsy Edwina’ as her new personality has been dubbed, is having none of this. She wants and she’s going to get. She marches into Mick’s room and is finally able to articulate what she desires… In the crudest way imaginable. It’s actually hilarious how she bosses him into getting naked so she can get a good look and he gives her his own lesson in dialogue.
They make love that night and continues lessons again in the morning. Then they make love some more. And some more. Then again. And then some. These two are going at it so bad that the butler goes to stay with his sister and the cook takes the week off. Can you really blame them?
The dreaded deadline comes and it’s time to step up. Finally the true plot of the Lamont twins is unearthed! Apparently Edwina’s jerkhole cousin’s grandson was stolen out from under his nose and he’s put up a HUGE reward for finding him. The twins think to pass Mick off as the genuine article… Except it’s looking like Mick IS the genuine article (I think you see where this is going. I know I did).
They go to the ball at Edwina’s family home in Castle Uelle (pronounced ‘Yule’) and Mick charms everyone. Everyone buys that he is the Viscount Michael of Bartonreed (a name he got off the back of a spoon). Everyone except crotchety cousin old fart who knows those pesky kids on his lawn just want his money. Mick isn’t too fond of being used either and he boots the twins and confuses everyone when he inadvertently calls the mean old man “Poppy”. He really just wanted to explain he was the victim just as much but his slip of the tongue pisses off old man Xavier so bad that he has a fit and orders them gone.
As all this has been unravelling Edwina also managed to let Mick’s ferret (who looks to be on her last legs) loose in the palace and they leave feeling used and brokenhearted. Mick plans on getting a job as a butler since he can’t possibly give Edwina the life she deserves and she can’t come up with anything fitting. All hope seems lost.
The next day cousin Xavier’s young wife calls for Edwina and Mick to come visit. It turns out Xavier has had a heart attack and somehow experienced a moment of clarity where he realized that Mick is indeed his long lost grandson (that means Mick and Edwina are second cousins once removed, just fyi). He’s even found Mick’s ferret! Yaaaaaay!
Mick is acknowledged as Xavier’s heir and Xavier kind of makes amends with Edwina by admitting that his young wife never loved him (I don’t know. Just go with it, I guess). That same day the old man and Mick’s ferret pass away at the same time, making room for one hell of a happily ever after (deus ex machina, anyone?).
Edwina and Mick get married and move into castle Uelle while Mick lets his family move into the rest of his properties. Edwina is pregnant and she gets Mick a puppy that is Magic’s son (since Mick sold all his ratcatching stuff before the ball to buy Edwina a gown… AWWWWW). And they lived happily ever after.
Believe It Or Not: The relationship dynamic is plausible and the characters feel real but the plot feels like it was pulled from several popular stories.
Setting: Regency London. I’m not familiar enough with the timeline to know if this was historically accurate or not so I’m probably going to have to do some homework. Nobody was talking on cell phones and there weren’t any cars. I buy it.
Sensuality: I’ve never though moustaches were sexy but the first kissing scene was only made hotter by the upper lip caterpillar. The kissing scenes varied between dreamy and steamy. The scene that really threw me for a loop was Edwina showing off her legs. It seems like such a weird thing to be captivated by but as I was reading it I got chills. The sexual and empowering thrill Edwina got from being admired by Mick was contagious and after he shaved off his moustache and resumed his appraisal? Hot. Very, very hot. The love scene that actually got described was sweet and funny as well as sensual. The rest of the love scenes were kind of skimped on in favor of further plot but I didn’t mind. I’d say overall it was pretty spicy.
Hero: Mick is just a doll. I adore him. He’s hilarious and charming, like a big sexy puppy (That came out wrong). He’s so endearing with his cheeky attitude, earnest eager-to-please ways, and his honesty. He tries so hard to do right and make Edwina happy while struggling to grasp who he is. Normally I can’t stand nice guys but Mick in an exception I’m willing to make. Did I mention he’s a laugh riot? Because he is. The guy was put off by taking a hot bath because he thought it was the same as boiling vegetables. I’m halfway convinced he was concerned that his hostess was a cannibal. See? He’s adorable!
Heroine: Edwina is a bit tougher to grasp, especially at the beginning. She’s very proper and cool about everything, which is a cover for the fact that she’s neurotic. Sometimes she’s sweet and sometimes she’s bitchy and it’s this wishy-washy attitude that gave me a task in liking her. Eventually she won me over (Specifically at the Bull and Tun) when she began to be open and honest. She grew into herself as a character and became a fitting match for Mick.
Themes: Beauty and the Beast, Regency, Prim Heroine, Beta Hero, Historical, Victorian… I honestly need to find or make a list of common themes before I can do this correctly. I’ll get right on that when I can but the ones I have listed are the obvious. (I also used the tags on amazon.com)
Length: 355 pages. I think this was the perfect length for the story.
Overall: Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this book. As I said before, the plot feels like a mix of several popular stories. Mainly ‘Beauty and the Beast’, ‘My Fair Lady’, and ‘Anastasia’ came to mind as I read through. I halfway expected one speech exercise to be “The rain in Spain…” but it didn’t happen. That’s not to say it didn’t feel original. Mick especially happened to be a twist on what one expects of a romance hero. It was a funny and charming story that I recommend with gusto.
So there you have it: My very first review on this blog. I hope you found it enjoyable and possibly even consider picking up this novel for a look if you haven’t read it. Let me know what you think!
(The cover image is from amazon.com. I take no credit for the image or the book and cover itself. Please don’t sue me, I’m poor.)