This book was just not for me. The MC’s views were too old-fashioned, and the tone of the novel was inconsistent. The first half was comedy, witty banter, and overall silliness. There were some hints of darkness, but they were weren’t fully developed. The dialogue was shallow in comparison to the complex feelings in the second half of the book.
I was irritated by the way the male hero Ripley defined his masculinity. He kept saying to himself that he was a man, and as a man he couldn’t help looking up the heroine Olympia’s skirts or being attracted to her female shape and scent, because that’s how men are. Well, in real life, not all men are attracted to women and men don’t have to be attracted to women to be men. I realize his inner thoughts are supposed to be funny. To me, they were juvenile.
The second half took on a darker and more serious tone, melodramatic even and a little emotionally manipulative, manufacturing emotion that made me feel like I’d been tricked. Aside from the twist in the end, I thought the second half was definitely better than the first and more emotionally satisfying. I liked the idea that men like him and his fellow Dis-Graces, who had never been properly loved or seen, would be attracted to women who were kind.
The moment when Ripley and Olympia finally made love was especially poignant and romantic. I loved how Ripley was able to put a name to his feelings, that new feeling that he would have died for, and to totally surrender his heart.
It’s a good story, I just didn’t enjoy the way it was overall told. I’m interested in the other dukes’s stories, especially Ashmont’s, but I hope they’re not more of the same but dig deeper and more satisfyingly at the heart of the story.
*ARC received from Edelweiss.