Friday, June 26, 2009

Nothing by Chance by Renee Spencer

TITLE: Nothing by Chance
AUTHOR: Renee Spencer
PUBLISHER: Wild Rose Press
LENGTH: Novel (roughly 67k)
GENRE: Historical romance
COST: $6.00

Five years ago, Madeline and Oscar’s engagement was destroyed by a drunken dalliance. Now, each has attempted to move on, and they suddenly find themselves in each other’s circle with a gaggle of children apiece. Oscar’s six adopted boys are wreaking havoc on his already falling apart home, while Madeline’s school for young ladies is in desperate need of a new facility. The perfect house is only a lease away, but when the property’s owner demands a contest to see who should get it, Oscar and Madeline have no choice but to try and reconcile their current feelings with their past indiscretions…

The hardest reviews to write are the ones that are the middle of the road. It’s easy to criticize bad spelling or idiotic character actions or purple prose, and even easier to praise tense action, hot chemistry, or beautiful turns of phrase. But when you finish a story with a feeling of meh? It’s hard to articulate what exactly to say about it.

The first word to come to mind was nice. Which doesn’t help a whole lot. But, with its precocious kids and too-cute set-up of pitting the kids against each other – and thus, putting Oscar and Madeline in direct contact so the Lady Dudley can play matchmaker – the whole thing reeks of a historical Disney made-for-TV movie. There’s a whole feel-good vibe to all their shenanigans, and I could literally envision the entire thing with Disney channel actors as I read. That’s not to say it’s bad. In fact, those sections are the most entertaining in the entire story. It’s just so incredibly wholesome. It’s not helped by overdone dialogue on the part of the children, i.e., Hurry, Wady Madewine, we only have wone more item to find. But like I said, some of their antics are quite funny, and it helps to keep the story moving along when it stalls out in other sections.

Like the ends of the chapters. Half of those are comprised of letters Lady Dudley writes to her husband, detailing how her matchmaking is going. It’s ponderous, and repetitive, and does nothing to actually advance the story since it’s very obvious from the actual goings-on what she is doing. I also didn’t care for the subplot regarding the indiscretion that broke Oscar and Madeline up in the first place. It makes Madeline look judgmental and Oscar stupid, which doesn’t help at all. I would have much preferred just focusing on the Disney part of the story, and settled in for a sweet romance. It’s not like the kids themselves don’t provide enough conflict.

Maybe the word I’m looking for here is diversionary. I don’t regret the time reading it as time wasted, but I can’t really say that it resonated or will stick with me for any period of time.


7/10 – Unassuming and easy, but the use of letters at the end of the chapters to offer the outsider POV distracted too much


7/10 – Solid and dependable, if a little dim about his first predicament


5/10 – Too quick to judge and a tad too flighty

Entertainment value

5/10 – Mildly diverting

World building

7/10 – The details were there, but I never felt like I was a part of it



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