Follow My Lead by Kate Noble

5 Jul

Has it really been two weeks since I posted last? How can this possibly be? I feel like I just took a few days off of the blog and then, BOOM. Two weeks, baby. So, apologies for that.

Ok, time to attack my already-read pile and get another review done! This time it’s Kate Noble’s Follow My Lead, which I picked up at my favorite paperback store. I always squee a little when one of my favorite, not-so-readily-available authors has a book in this particular store, as this place is VERY popular with the local bibliophiles and things get snapped up quick. Kate Noble is one of these authors – she’s newer and has a lot of buzz, so to find Follow My Lead was nothing short of amazing. The gods of romance reading were smiling down on me that day. I’d already read Summer of You and Compromised (which I don’t think I reviewed) and so was excited to start another of Noble’s romances.

I love, love, love stories about female scholars. That mix of bluestocking charm and tidbits about Egyptology/art history/whatever subject the particular lady scholar is into are so entertaining to me. Winifred Crane is quite an accomplished art historian, but nobody knows it – that’s because she’s published her papers under a false, male name. When she decides to approach London’s tony (and female-unfriendly) Historical Society for membership, she is rebuffed and good. Not aiding her at all is a particularly odious cousin who intends to marry her and is of that ever-so-irritating opinion that women should be polite, quiet, and contain their efforts to child-rearing and attending their husbands. Charming, no? Also present at Winifred’s rejection by the Historical Society is Jason Cummings, Duke of Rayne, who appeared as the extremely irritating brother in Summer of You. Full disclosure: I loathed Jason in that book, but I tried not to let that color my opinion of him in this one. Jason is very busy with his dukedom, very proper, and actually wants to get married to Sarah Forrester, a perfectly charming young lady of the ton. (I loved that Noble made Winn’s rival completely and totally lovable and worthy – it felt very realistic to have Jason torn between the two women, and I’m looking forward to reading her story in If I Fall, released this past April.) Through chivalry, curiosity, and a little bit of boredom, Jason agrees to a far-fetched plan to allow Winn to prove her claims to the Historical Society by determining the origin of a contested painting. This plan leads to hidden identities, double crossings, madcap chases across Europe, and of course, love.

There were parts of this book I very much liked, and others that either tested my suspension of disbelief or just weren’t my bag. I really liked Winn – what a resourceful, strong, and brave heroine. But, and this is a big but, her attitude/relationship with her cousin was completely beyond my understanding. The man is a twerp of the worst kind, constantly belittling her ambitions and trying to keep her in the little box he’s decided she should be in. For such an intelligent and, frankly, independent woman to put up with this for reasons that I felt were unworthy of her really tested my patience. I don’t always have to like my heroines, but I do prefer to understand them, and in this respect, I just thought she was cray cray. I mentioned above my dislike of the hero due to his role in another book, but I thought he came off well here. It’s been a few years, and he’s not only mended his relationship with his sister, but he’s owned up to his responsibilities and no longer runs away or buries his head in the sand in the face of unpleasantness. That being said, for all his nice qualities, I didn’t get much oomph from him. He is very kind, even when Winn demonstrates an aggravating ability to ditch him, but he was pretty beta. Winn and Jason’s relationship develops nice and slowly, giving themselves, and us by extension, a good amount of time to get to know them, but I never felt any real heat. They seemed like fantastic companions, best friends even, but I didn’t get that “true love” vibe. Actually, maybe that’s a nice change-up – these two characters would probably get on very well together, having a lot of adventures and supporting each other. Maybe I’m just jaded that these nice, mellow relationships don’t thrill me as much as the more angsty ones? I do want to say that the ending is just lovely, so sweet and well-written. I do love me some Kate Noble – she’s a fantastic writer and able to keep my engrossed even when I’m not completely on board with the characters. I’m really looking forward to the next one.

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