2 / 5 stars
Read in February 2021
Book #1 in The Perks of Being an Heiress series
When I requested Bewitched by the Bluestocking on NetGalley, I was hoping for a quick, fun read to kickoff a new historical romance series. Although I did enjoy several side characters, overall I did not enjoy this book and therefore I don’t think I’ll continue with the series.
The structure of this book, especially compared to other historical romances, struck me as odd. While I’m all for deviating from the norm, several elements just did not work for me. After the meet-cute in the opening chapter, the remaining first quarter of the book consists of flashbacks to the heroine’s life in Boston and the events that led to her journey to London. While I loved seeing Joanna’s relationships with her younger sisters and grandmother, the time jump did not seem necessary in advancing the plot. I would have preferred to remain in the present developing the romance and revealing details on Joanna’s past as the story progressed. Although this book is set up as a romance mystery, the whodunnit-treasure-hunt subplot goes mostly underutilized, falling into the background until it’s easily unraveled (though not completely resolved…) in the end. The romance also felt rushed, as the entire story takes place over the course of one week.
In addition, a side character who is not introduced until halfway through the book has his own POV chapter. This might have made sense as the final chapter or epilogue, since the set up implies he will be the hero in the next book; however, it was thrown in among chapters from the main characters’ POVs. Jarring and, again, unnecessary.
Certain aspects of this book simply rubbed me the wrong way. The hero and his best friend (who will probably get his own book, too, which is unfortunate as I did not care for him at all) had multiple conversations riddled with internalized misogyny that were never challenged or corrected. The heroine complains about the many men who proposed to her in Boston and judges them all for reasons I found to be petty, including one man who had the audacity to be shorter in stature and wear salmon-colored pants. While I understood many of her suitors weren’t looking for a love match like she was, Joanna didn’t need to stoop to mocking their appearance in her reasons for not marrying them. I also could have done without her physically assaulting the femme fatale who once broke Kincaid’s heart…I get that she’s the story’s villain, but the violence was not needed.
As an American who has lived in Europe, I can say without a doubt that Joanna would be one of those obnoxious American tourists you can spot a mile away who give Americans a bad name. She is loud, abrasive, and frequently ignores the customs and advice of Londoners while justifying it with “I’m an American!”. Bulldozing over the culture and expectations of the country you’re visiting while shouting about your own isn’t cute, it’s arrogant and disrespectful and made me roll my eyes on more than one occasion.
The only reason I rated this book 2 stars is because I did enjoy the side characters, especially Evie, Claire, Rosemary, and Brynne, as well as Kincaid’s feline companions, Jack and Jane. I also appreciated the mystery and American/British dynamics, even if neither was executed nearly as well as they could have been.
Instead of this book, try the Isle of Synne series by Christina Britton for an underrated historical romance series with a tenacious grandmother figure; or, if you’re looking for a historical romance series about three lovable American sisters, try Uptown Girls by Joanna Shupe.
Thank you to Dragonblade Publishing via Netgalley for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.