So, about a week ago I gave my husband a grocery list, and the last thing I listed was “the cheapest novel novel with the most ridiculous cover you can find.” I was expecting something Sci-fi with a crazy alien cover. Husband brought me To Catch an Earl. I’ve never read a Harlequin Romance and had no real desire to explore the genre, but it was my first book date. So, I decided to give it a chance, and now I will try to give fair review without my personal biased against the genre.
The plot is pretty simple: Emmy is a thrift with a heart of gold. She and her family are trying to steal back the French royal jewels that were lost during the Napoleonic War and return them to France. Alex Harland is an Earl who served in the war, and who dabbles in detective work. He catches Emmy, but because this is a romance novel, he tries to seduce her rather than arrest her. Because she’s hot. Also, he’s hot. Most everybody in this novel is somehow hot, and they smell good despite it being set in a time period when bathing was optional.
What surprised me is that the prose was actually pretty good. Kate Bateman is a master of simile and double-entendres. Were some of this a little too on the nose for my prudish brain? Sure, but that’s my problem.
There’s no arguing that Bateman is a master of her craft, and I’ve been giving the Harlequin Romance genre some unnecessary hate. I honestly thought the writing would be garbage (probably because the only thing I’ve read in the hardcore Romance genre is the first two pages of Fifty Shades of Grey when I was hiding out in my grandmother’s bathroom at a family reunion), and shame on me for judging a genre I’d never even read.
I’m probably not going to read another one in this genre, not for any “moral high road” reason like that I think it perpetuates anti-feminist ideals (it doesn’t; Emmy is pretty darn fierce), but because I simply didn’t enjoy it.