An Offer From A Gentleman: ugh or ooh?

February 4, 2021 at 6:44 pm (Uncategorized)

I was disappointed to note that this book is about Benedict, because I’m hanging out to read Eloise’s story (mainly because she doesn’t want to marry and does want to go to university and I’m terrified to see her spirit crushed into the “hetero marriage and many many babies” mould… I’m desperately hoping I don’t hate her story even more than I hated the second book in the series).

On to Book 3!

Spoilers, darling!

Benedict is the artist of the family. It’s a little ironic that he’s a tad depressed at being largely interchangeable with his brothers, when the characters of the brothers tend to be largely interchangeable within the text too. (I’m being a little mean, there’s at least one adjective that sets each brother apart: The oldest is the oldest; Benedict is an artist; Colin is funny—ooh, and he likes to travel. That’s two things.

Book 3 is 100% a Cinderella story, and it adapts very well into the Regency setting. Also, Benedict is attracted to the heroine because of her joy.

Thus, the entire first half of the book is genuinely good.

The author even manages to refrain from describing vigorous sex with the phrase “ancient rhythm” (although I’ll certainly report any further uses of that phrase, as she’s still using it an average of once per book). It felt sufficiently different to the first two books that it was worth bothering to read—mainly because the heroine was in a VERY different class, which meant all their interactions were a lot freer than in the other books.

Except… in their very first interaction, Benedict believed the heroine was of the same class as him, and he took her to a private balcony and kissed her which…. huh? We’ve spent two books talking about how women of that class will be ruined forever if they’re alone in a room with a man. So either Benedict is a right a-hole, or the author got a bit bored of intense glances across a ballroom and decided to rush into the hanky panky this time. Which, for the sake of novelty, I shall forgive. None of us are actually living in Regency times, and we’re not in this for the historical accuracy.

No one got accidentally OR accidentally-on-purpose forced into marriage, which was nice for a change. They even had sex before marriage, which—again, for the sake of variety, I would forgive (especially since she actually bled slightly, so points for realism there). . .

except

once again, things got rapey.

*sigh*

The ‘offer’ of the title seems to be Benedict’s offer to graciously invite the heroine to become his mistress.

What a . . . gentleman.

The heroine vehemently refuses him, many many times (he’s all like, “But… so much MONEY?!?! Don’t you GET IT? Are you just stupid?”) She is not at all being coy. Yes, she’s a virgin. She’s also a bastard, which is 100% why her life sucks. She is determined not to do that to her own kids.

And, although it’s not spelled out in the text, a mistress is in an extremely precarious position. She’s wealthy only so long as the man who likes having on-tap sex continues to find her convenient. So if she gets old, or sick, or he marries… she’s suddenly lost everything. Being wealthy and dependent on a fickle man is better than having nothing at all, but it IS basically a step above high-class prostitute. Which is fine if that’s your choice. It very clearly isn’t hers.

But Benedict picks at her and picks at her, cajoles her and threatens her. He refuses to let her find her own employment, and instead literally forces her into his mother’s household. Yes, it’s a fantastic workplace… except he lives on the same street and actively stalks her around the house, waiting for her in dark corners and popping up the second she’s alone, etc.

You know, like the slimy and awful male progeny of all the worse households of this era (and this specific book). He is physically strong, wealthy, influential… she is completely at his mercy, and even though she tries over and over and over and over again to avoid him (and anyplace he might show up) he makes himself impossible to avoid.

So he doesn’t technically assault her, but he 100% definitely harasses her, traps her, stalks her, and makes her entire life a misery.

(She also gets nearly gang-raped by a previous master and his friends, which HE KNOWS but does not connect to his own lecherous behaviour in any way.)

It works out in the end, he marries her, and I forgive him. It’s not his fault he’s badly written.

But I don’t forgive the author. Did she even read this book? Does she understand what women are like?

There’s some punching-style violence by the two main characters, again. Maybe the author should be writing action heroes instead? (Witty ones; she certainly is witty.)

Girl, I get the fantasy of a wealthy man who happens to be handsome and funny and so on. No one minds getting true love and worldly riches at the same time. But when you have super powerful men constantly forcing your very innocent and powerless heroines to do what they want… that’s a rape fantasy, not a romance.

Please stop.

And don’t you dare do awful things to Eloise.

I love her, and I shudder to think what you’re going to do to her.

In all fairness to Julia Quinn, CLEARLY I’m devouring all her books so she can’t be that bad an author, can she?

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