2 stars

Historical Romance Review: Tangled Web by Janice Bennett

Tangled Web, Janice Bennett, Zebra, 1988, cover artist TBD

Spoiler Free Review 🙂

1 star

Rating: 1 out of 5.

This review is of Tangled Web a Zebra Regency romance by Janice Bennett.

The story:

At the beginning of the book, Miss Celia Marcombe, the heroine, is informed by her grandfather, Roderick, that he has arranged a marriage between Celia and his godson, Lord Trevor Ryde, the hero of Tangled Web. Suffice it to say, Celia is less than thrilled with this prospect and tries to get out of it by claiming she already is betrothed to her brother’s best friend, Jonathon Edelston. Celia is even less enthused about the impending nuptials when she visits Trevor’s home and realizes the state of dishabille it’s in.

Despite that disappointment, Celia does begin to develop a romantic tendre for Trevor, which is somewhat broken when she discovers he’s keeping a woman at his home. (The woman in question–Therese de Bourgerre–later becomes the heroine of another book, An Intriguing Desire by Ms. Bennett.) The reasons Trevor is keeping Mademoiselle de Bourgerre in London later come to light, leading to intrigue and danger. Eventually, most of the mysteries are solved, Celia and Trevor realize they love each other, Jonathon finds his true love–Celia’s companion Elizabeth–and the two couples have their Happily Ever After.

Upside:

It’s a Regency romance. I learned a few new phrases. (I do love Regency phrases. Sometimes they are so much more descriptive than American phrases.)

Downside:

I found both Celia and Trevor to be unlikeable. While I understood Celia’s desire not to be forced into marriage with Trevor, the way she goes about expressing that displeasure was, to me, immature and childish (in her defense, she is 19 years of age.) Trevor, on the other hand, is an arrogant, stiff, unfeeling boor for the majority of the book. I found the “romance” between them to be both unromantic and unbelievable. Toward the end of the book, Trevor threatens to kill Celia and spanks her; yet, despite this, she agrees to marry him!

Sex:

Other than a few kisses, there is no sexual content.

Violence:

Shootings, killings, and a swordfight. None of the violence is graphic.

Bottom Line:

I really wanted to like Tangled Web, as I currently own four of Ms. Bennett’s books and have many more on my TBR lists, but this was a seriously disappointing book. My hope is that Ms. Bennett’s future books will be better; they can’t be much worse.

Reviewed by: Blue Falcon

5 replies »

  1. Thanks, Blue Falcon. I think now would be a good time to mention that I refuse to read romances that revolve around arranged marriages. For many reasons. Don’t worry, I won’t list them here.

    Nowadays they’re much more common than a generation or two ago. Not just in historical romances, where one can expect them. Also contemporary romances, for crying out loud. I’m not talking about societies where arranged marriages are still the norm. I mean our society.

    I think I can see why this trope is so popular. But I don’t think it’s romantic.

    Typically I try to find something nice to say about a book. I haven’t read this one, and it’s obviously not my kind of read. But I dig the cover art. Notice the open book face-down on the bench. Evidently the heroine has gone from reading about love to experiencing it!

      • I fixed the name attribution for the comment, but can’t replace the Gravatar image. Hope that’s ok.

        I agree with you, Mary Anne, the cover for this book is divine, but the book sounds like a dud!

        Hold on to that thought about not liking arranged marriage tropes, because we’re going to revisit the issue about pet-peeves & deal breakers for an article soon to come.

        Hope your day is going well. I’m catching up on communication today!

    • HI, Mary Anne.

      You may wish to visit a post Jacqueline wrote here called “Pet Peeves and Deal Breakers in Romance”. If you wished to, I would love to hear why you’re not in love with arranged marriages, and any other tropes that don’t work for you.

      Getting back to “Tangled Web”, this was a review I wrote four years ago for another site (Jacqueline is cross-posting all of my reviews of books that fit the time frame focused on here at SSF). I wanted to like the book more than I did, but I found it very stiff and too inflexible to truly like.

      • Hello Blue Falcon,

        Hope you are off to a pleasant start today.

        I addressed the “pet peeve” issue with Mary Anne and think we have plenty of ideas to write another article about hated tropes in romance. Right now, I’m working on a blog post on how old-book lovers like us can obtain books, especially the out-of-print variety. If you have any tips, they’re always appreciated.

        I thought your review was a nice change of pace, as we don’t review too many Regencies around here. Even if the book didn’t work out, it provides ample room for discussion. My experience with Zebra regencies is bad to ok, then I’m again, I’m not much a fan of the Regency period. Ironic that my work-in-progress is set in the Regency era, but my work is more Rosemary Rogers-inspired than Georgette Heyer, so we’ll see how that goes.

        Best to you!

        Jacqueline

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