Joan Smith: Talk of the Town

Daphne Ingleside’s visit to her Aunt Effie in London was meant to add a little spark to her placid country life. And it did–once the two women decided to write Effie’s memoirs. For Effie, a faded divorcée, had been the beauty of London in her day, and many of the town feared their misbehavior would be disclosed. The Duke of St. Felix, misinterpreting their project as a means of blackmailing his family, antagonized the sharp-witted, beautiful Daphne to his peril.

If you love a bickering H/h, similar to Faro’s Daughter, you will love this book.  High in the instep, the Duke descends upon the shabbily genteel Aunt Effie’s, and is met with the quick wit (she can keep up with Brummel) of Daphne.

Effie has come out of isolation as a result of a publisher’s interest in her memoirs.  Afraid Effie is about to spill all their secrets, the tonnish friends and lovers who abused Effie’s kindness when she was well to grass have come out of the woodwork to keep her quiet with repayments of ancient loans and bribes.  Effie is sweet and fairly featherheaded, so she is overwhelmed by her friends “remembering” her and takes the overtures at face value, enjoying her increased visitations and entertainments.

The Duke is sent on a mission to hush up a family indiscretion, and is met with Effie’s niece, Daphne.  He is everything you expect in a Duke, starched up, cool, and often condescending.  Daphne, on the other hand, is a spitfire provincial who is amused and attracted to this haughty hot head.  She has lived fairly isolated under the thumb of an authoritarian father, so this little glimpse into Town and new people is both thrilling and a bit confusing.

As her, and Aunt Effie’s, credit begins to rise so does the Duke’s hackles.  Wonderful, spanking banter ensues.

Like most other Smiths, Talk of the Town is full of characters and more enjoyable for it.  She includes the Prince and Brummel, as well as other known Regency people and places, to give the real flavor of the era without it seeming over the top or far fetched.  Smith is no slouch, for sure, with the history.  The harkening back to the Georgian era, too, and many of the escapades were fun.  The little details are what make the comedy particularly engaging, and the romance sweet and full of tension of the will they/won’t they variety.  People who love that banter and wit will thoroughly embrace this book, 0thers will find the hero boorish and the heroine a bit stupid in love and hate it.  Depending on which side of the aisle will sit, you will either love or hate this book.

Its a short and not deep novel, but perfect for the busy holiday season when you have a lot going on and less time to read.

There are a fair amount of misunderstanding trope plot devices, so that brought its score down a bit.  However, it was all I was looking for in a funny, breezy Smith.  I also liked the Duke’s realization’s about his family and, thus, himself.  I was not expecting that type of insight and appreciate the way it was masterfully handled.

4 out of 6 Breezy, sharp tongue comedy that is short and sweet

Content Rating/Heat Index
Affairs, mistresses, and other scandals but tastefully hinted at
Not really
Good for most ages. Some themes may be too mature for younger readers.

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