Saturday, March 1, 2014

Review: Nicola and the Viscount by Meg Cabot

Meg Cabot is my go-to writer when I want something light-hearted and fun. Yeah, I know that her books are cheesy, not particularly well-written and her heroines are all the same: the names and looks may change, but it's always the same pretty-but-not-gorgeous, slightly dorky chick, who doesn't let people walk all over her and has a special talent. I don't care. I like her formula. In fact, all the times she has tried to break it and write something different, I have ended up being bored by the novel. 
So, when a talk with a friend had left me craving for an historical romance book, and the one my friend was reading was so boring I almost wanted to tear my own hair out in frustration (it was "Almost Heaven" in case you're wondering, and from the reviews I read on Goodreads, I am one of the very few people who hated it), the solution seemed obvious. 
Did I get what I wanted? Hell, yeah!
The main character, Nicola, is an orphan. Seeing how she has never met her parents, though, she doesn't particularly miss them and feels really lucky. She's sixteen and will spend her debut season at a friends' house in London. The reason she accepted that particular friend's invitation is not because she likes her all that much, but because she is in love on her friend's older brother, Lord Sebastian Bartholomew. 
Why is she in love with him? Because he's hot, and after a few minutes of conversation, she has come to the conclusion that he must love poetry as much as she does.
Now, where this premise starts to differ from countless badly written YA (and non) novels, is that the fact that Nicola is in love with an idea is something that is acknowledge throughout the story, and that the real lord Sebastian is very different from the character Nicky has created in her head. 
In fact, he's not the guy Nicola ends up with at the end of the novel (it's not a spoiler, if you've read at least one nondescript chick-lit book in your life you'd predict this by the first page), but rather with a guy a lot better suited to her, whom she actually knows and with whom she is friends first.
Nicola is immature. She's immature and she does stupid, self-centered stuff throughout the novel and though she does grow up by the end, she's not a terribly mature person when the story is over. 
For example, (slightly spoilery, I warn you) at one point she's told her life might be in danger. So she should be extra careful, right? 
Then she gets a note from a friend's fiancé, asking her to meet him at a shop near the house where she's staying, because he wants to buy a present for his and her friend's one-month anniversary. The present in question is something that would be considered to forward in their society, and asking a girl to meet him alone, even in a public place, is the height of impropriety. He also asks her not to tell anyone where she is going. Sounds suspicious, right? Especially in the light of what she has just found out.
But nope! Her reaction is something along the lines of "Oh, how romantic! I must go at once and lie to the people I know and trust about my whereabouts!" Of course she gets kidnapped. 
I mean, she does suffer consequences from the things she does, but still! What the hell is wrong with you! 
Thankfully, there were other aspects of her character which I liked a lot: she's brave, she's optimistic, she's ready to face a scandal to get out of a situation she finds insufferable, but which her peers would have endured, she won't let fear rule her life.
Her best friend and the love interest are also very likable characters, though don't really have a hidden depth or anything. I actually liked Nicola's cousin, a guy she treats badly and makes fun of for the whole novel, much more interesting than the two of them, and who grew a lot during the novel, much more than Nicola did. 
The humor is at times pretty funny, though the plot felt a bit contrived and was needlessly complicated. I mean, I was in it for the light-hearted romance and the balls and the pretty dresses much more than I was in it for the plot itself. Thankfully, Cabot seems to know what parts of her novel people are going to be interested in, so we do get a lot of balls and dresses and flirtations. 
This novel is cute, fluffy and utterly forgettable. I read it in a couple of hours, about a couple of weeks ago, and I had already forgotten all the characters' names and the title.
I do recommend it if you want to read a clean, fluffy historical romance novel. 


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