The Indiscretion
by Judith Ivory, historical (2001)
Avon, $6.50, ISBN 0-380-81296-7


It's all you people who don't rush out and buy Beast and Sleeping Beauty that are to blame! Thanks to you, you have given the Corporate Scum ammunition to mutate "The Author Formerly Known as Goddess Ivory" into... into - "The Author Who Still Writes Well But Where's The Identity?" Now go out and buy ten copies of Sleeping Beauty. Now.

Okay, so maybe this is just one miss from this author who has a perfect track record with me so far, and I'm overreacting a lot. But picture this: on page one of The Indiscretion, I go "Oooh! This is going to be good!" By page 30, I have my chin resting on my hand as I bit back a yawn. By page 128, I have my chin on the table and turning the pages, stumped that I am feeling bored out of my wits. I wake up an hour later to find myself drooling onto page 201.

I can pinpoint when my attention finally sticks. It's at page 332. All the way from pages 332 to 367, I am finally reading, my attention riveted, and I want to scream when the story ends then because I am just starting to get into the story.

That's not to say The Indiscretion is bad. It's not. It just sort of wanders around in a piffling yarn of My Survivor Adventures with An American Billionaire (Part 1) and endless teas, teacups, and decorum (Part 2). All the while there's little emotional depths or deep thoughts. Think of The Inidscretion as Judith Ivory going light and fluffy. Not that it's a bad thing - isn't The Proposition marvelous? Take out all the deep characterization of the The Proposition and you will get The Indiscretion.

Right, right, the story. Proper Lady Lydia Bedford-Browne decides to go on an adventure while she is on her way to her maid Rose's wedding. She ends up in the same carriage as Sam Cody, an American billionaire of 1899 who has just been dumped at the altar. When the carriage tips over into the moors of Dartmoor, Sam and Lydia embarks on a Survivor showcase tour that mixes red suspenders with inter-peeing banters. It's delightful, it's charming, and it's, er, nice.

Sam is all charming but there's little substance in him. Never mind - it's still early. I don't know him yet, I tell myself. Lydia is much better fleshed, and her mix of innocence and womanly guile is charming. And no matter what, Sam and Lydia are two of the best characters I've read in this dreary month of bad romances. When it comes to characters, this author is a virtuoso - even when she's creating lightweight fluffs.

I am relieved when these two get rescued. Maybe now we can get some hard emotional scenes. But alas, the whole affair soon peters into what must be a sagging middle. They meet, misjudge the other's motivations, part, tell themselves never to see the other again, repeat and rinse. Alright, who kidnapped Ms Ivory and substituted a mediocre traditional Regency romance author in here? Even that archery competition for her knickers doesn't actually catch my attention, although I confess I perk up when they start rolling on the grass. Only on the glory that is page 332 when Lydia says, "I'm just me" to herself, I finally sit up and take closer notice of the story.

From 332 onwards, the story starts to sing. The elegant writing that Ms Ivory should bloody well patent comes this close to poetry. Here, The Indiscretion becomes a beautiful story of two people learning that the other means more to him or her then each suspected. There's this beautiful proposal/self discovery scene in an archery range that throws me into a fix - I don't know whether to laugh or cry.

But the story ends too soon after, and I feel cheated. So cheated that I want to scream. It's so cruel, really. This book keeps me bored for so long, only to reel me into wanting more and more by the last thirty pages. Light and free from angst and, unfortunately, fluffy and lightweight in the character department, The Indiscretion reads like something the author cooks up while sitting on the toilet, musing about who is the next to go on Survivor.

I know, it's not fair to hold an author to the standards she set in the past. I think. But were not for pages 332 onwards, I would have dismissed this book as a fluke and move on. But those 30 pages are so beautifully written that it makes me even more disappointed with this book. It could have been so much more, really.

Mark this book as an indiscretion on the author's part to reel in more readers. Alright, you new readers - you're now hooked on Judith Ivory, right? Right. Go buy Sleeping Beauty now to tell this author (and her publisher) that it is okay to write deep, complex stories and that romance readers aren't stupid mumus so frustrated with their lives that any hint of deeper emotions and plots would send them screaming back to their uncomplicated Stephanie Laurens books. Save Judith Ivory!

Rating: 80


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