First Lines: She was going to die here, crouched beneath a table on a dirty tavern room floor with bits and crumbs of food that predated the Magna Carta surrounding her. Glass shattered nearby, and she flinched, shrinking into herself as tiny shards sprayed her and the pungent scent of sweat, ale and wine soaked the air. If this was the be it, then it was an ignominious end.
As many of you know, I’m a big fan of historical romances and, obviously, YA. When I saw Sophie Jordan, who was a prolific historical romance career, was going to merge these two genres, I was so excited. Lucky for me, I got my hands on an ARC. (Release date is May 25, 2021.)
Primrose Ainsworth has just turned sixteen and so far, nothing is going right. Instead of having a party and being treated like an adult like she expected, she’s now being told by her parents that she may not come out for years, not until her older sister finds a beau. Frustrated and indignant, Prim sets out to celebrate her birthday in style. Except, well, nothing goes to plan…at least there’s a mysterious hero to get her out of the worst scrapes…
In this story, we’re introduced to Prim. She’s just turned 16 and literally no one in her family cares that it’s her birthday or that she’s supposed to be making a big come-out to mark the occasion and her entrance into society. Instead, she’s suddenly told she will still be a child in society’s eyes for at least another year–a year in which Prim will continue to be ignored, bored, and lonely. She decides that on this night, she needs to live. So she makes a break for Vauxhall with a friend.
Prim is kind of an interesting character. She’s the wild child of the family, the youngest of four in a moderately wealthy family. She’s intelligent and clever, something her family does not generally appreciate. She even calls herself the “black sheep” of the family at one point and that does fit pretty well. She’s headstrong and witty, which I did enjoy. But her rebelliousness, in many ways, did make her feel cliché.
The plot was a slog. Thankfully, the book is short. The real problem for me is that 80% of the story takes place in a single night. I tend to have trouble with that because of the unbelievability of how a relationship can develop in that time. A good 20-25% of the story is all set-up before we even get to Vauxhall as Prim moans about how terrible her family is. And then once she does get to Vauxhall, it’s just a comedy of errors and unfortunate events. I didn’t even feel like her friendship with Jacob was super duper. It had its moments, but mostly it was forgettable.
The way this is written as YA and a younger version of a historical romance really didn’t do justice to either genre. It felt like a clean historical romance more than anything, even if the heroine was just 16. All you really get that’s YA from this is Prim’s sense of powerlessness at being under her parents’ thumbs and her first taste of freedom. I’m really not sure how much of this actually worked by combining these genres. I think I would have liked it more if it had just gone wholly as a historical romance with a slightly older heroine.
All of that said, this book isn’t a complete wash. I knew I was getting fluff when I picked this up–and I was counting on that. It has been a stressful week and I knew this would be fun and easy to follow. And it was. There were times I did giggle to myself when Prim got into a spot of trouble. There were moments of sweetness between the characters. And yeah, I read the entire book in a day. It was fast.
I guess if this is something that sounds interesting to you, give it a try. But if you feel like it’s a stretch, that this isn’t something you’d normally read, maybe just pass.