Shall We Dance?
by Judith A Lansdowne, historical (2002)
Zebra, $5.99, ISBN 0-8217-7018-7


Shall We Dance? - what a simple yet lovely title, isn't it? - is best retitled Shall We Babble?. Not that I'm complaining - okay, maybe a little, but damn, the characters in this book sure know how to babble. Here's a trivia: I actually counted 98 words in an impromptu speech launched by the heroine at one point, and it's not the world record. One of the hero's more remarkable speech has a staggering 126 words.

You know what this book reminds me of? All those old traditional Regency books a friend left me before she left to emmigrate overseas. I never could finish those, because the people talk so much, it's exhausting trying to follow them when I have a schedule to rush after. I did finish Shall We Dance?, because the main characters exude an irresistible charm, but I'm also quite drained at the end of the day.

The amount of saliva these people use can sure flood half the world.

Josiah Elliot is not your usual hero. He's an ex-soldier, true, but he's also an ex-highwayman now playing as a valet to Lady Miranda Wesley. How scandalous. Even more scandalous is how Elliot is utterly, completely, irrevocably devoted and besotted with Miranda. But a valet and a lady is not quite the thing, so when this book starts, Elliot is in London trying to find proof of some ancient duke somewhere in his family tree.

Miranda is quite vexed. How dare her faithful admirer vanish just like that? She wants him back, and she will descend into London to claim her faithful servant back. In London, however, an enemy will try to kill her (what else is new), and Elliot will get the chance to flex his manly muscles and prove his worth. Thing is, Elliot has secrets of his own that Miranda may not like to hear. Oh dear.

It's sweet. Those two people are very cute and endearing. Elliot is witty, carefree yet so serious when his woman is concerned, and he is just so precious sometimes. Miranda is quite charming too as the woman who is so proper yet at the same time knows what she wants in life. Readers unfamiliar with the author's previous book My Fair Quiggley better read the author's afterword first though, because chances are the readers may be lost (and the author knows it).

But really, these people! Talk, talk, talk. When it's not Miranda and Elliot talking, it's secondary characters babbling to each other. They talk about everything and anything. Miranda's close brush with death is described in, oh, two or three paragraphs, but the people - everybody - spends pages and pages and pages poring over evey detail of that accident in enough speech bubbles to float a continent into outer space. There are enough open and close double inverted commas to feed all the books in a library. Frankly, I am dazed by the endless stamina of these chatterboxes. Don't they get locked jaws or something?

Still, I like Elliot and Miranda. They're so adorable together so okay, this book gets a two thumbs up from me. Even if I wouldn't even want to go near these people without an umbrella at hand.

Rating: 82


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