Fiction: “Lady in Waiting” by Nicole Byrd

lady in waitingWhat’s this? Two reviews in as many days? And a state-sponsored holiday tomorrow wherein I can get my car inspected AND post a third review? What’s happening? Have I fallen down a wormhole where I actually finish tasks that I assign to myself? Will tomorrow be the day I finally clean my kitchen?!

No. Tomorrow’s not that day. I’m telling you that right now. It’ll happen – it has to happen, and soon – but tomorrow, even more than my inspection appointment and anything else I might decide to do, my number one A-plus top priority is: SLEEP. IN.

Forget Mulder/Scully, Luke/Lorelai, or even Hannibal/Will Graham; my number one ship that I ship — my one true pairing, if you will — is me/my bed.

Speaking of ships and pairings and romantic notions and shit like that, let’s talk about this silly little romance novel that I read over the course of six months!

Okay, so, apparently, the first romance novel I ever read to review for this site was A Lady of Scandal, also by Nicole Byrd. (“Nicole Byrd” is also a pseudonym for a mother-daughter writing team made up of Cheryl Zach and Michelle Place; for ease of use, I’ll be referring to the team as a singular person.) Ms. Byrd uses a lot of the same tropes, and now that I’ve read two books by her, I’m slightly interested to see if these are things that carry through the rest of her novels. (True confession: after reading A Lady of Scandal, I did find a whole bunch of Ms. Byrd’s novels in a used bookstore. This … this is the first one I’ve pulled out of my romance bookcase. In almost six years. No, wait – in precisely six years. Jeezum, six years?! And now Sydney, my Trusty Laptop, is playing “Pride and Joy” by Stevie Ray Vaughn, and according to the “Last Played” column in iTunes, I haven’t heard that song since 2009 either?! WHAT IS HAPPENING)

ANYWAY. Like in Lady of Scandal, the main heroine has a sister, and they both have rather ostentatious names; Scandal‘s names were taken from Shakespeare’s tragic heroines Ophelia and Cordelia (appropriate, since that book deals with a supposedly-unsavory career in the theater); in Lady in Waiting, the names are Circe and Psyche. And apparently, I read that entire book without looking up who exactly Circe was in Greek mythology. Here I thought she was one of the Sirens; nope, Circe was the one who turned Odysseus’s soldiers into pigs. (Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m getting a serious feeling of nostalgia — wasn’t that an episode of Ducktales or something?! With Magica De Spell? HOLY SHIT YOU GUYS I WAS RIGHT)

Man, that Ducktales!Circe only knew two spells. She’s not a very good witch.

SO ANYWAY, AGAIN, the main characters in Lady in Waiting are Circe and Psyche. Psyche is married and expecting her first child; Circe, just 19, has returned to England from a few years abroad studying art and painting. Circe’s eccentricity is a desire to be an artist of note, which isn’t really a career for a woman in Regency Britain. As a tender young girl of 19, she should be enjoying her first Season – as in, Husband Hunting Season. Because that’s all girls did after they reached their majority – marry. And because Circe wasn’t brought up a proper young lady, she has to be careful about how she acts and reacts to certain situations. She’s bolder than the typical Regency miss, and tends to stand out in a crowd.

Circe attracts a few different men – there’s the sinister Count von Freistadt, who definitely has ulterior motives (spoiler alert! It’s stealing a lost Titian painting); there’s Sir John, a shy botanist who I kept imagining as Archie from Once Upon a Time, for some reason; and then there’s her childhood friend, David. David doesn’t have any feelings for Circe aside from the familial at the beginning of the book, but after he asks her to pretend to be courted by him so he can keep his mother off his back (read: actually keep himself unattached so as to better investigate Count von Freistadt’s shady dealings, without telling Circe what he’s doing), he starts to realize that he does love her, even as she frustrates him with her eccentricities.

Another thing that carries forward into this novel from A Lady of Scandal is that there are two romances; the main one between Circe and David, and the second one is between Sir John and Psyche’s friend Sally. Sally and Sir John are both older than Circe and David, so I suspect that plotline might belong to the mother of the mother-daughter writing team.

I … really don’t have anything else to say about it. Circe is plucky and caring, getting involved in things she shouldn’t be, but doesn’t let David boss her around or keep her from putting her nose in those aforementioned things. Overall, this is a very sedate romance novel; not too much hanky-panky to be found, so if that’s what you’re looking for, you will most likely want to look elsewhere. If you like sweet stories that don’t require a lot of thought or effort to follow pretty staid plotlines? Then, this one is for you.

Not gonna lie, I’ve been sitting here for thirty minutes trying to find a last random thing to throw into this, and … I just can’t. So instead, I’m gonna hit ‘post,’ go get into my jam-jams, and pop open a bottle of white wine and watch Casino Royale, because WHY NOT, I don’t have to work tomorrow!

PS THANK YOU SYDNEY FOR DECIDING TO PLAY ME OUT WITH THE BEST BOND THEME SONG OF ALL TIME

OH DO YOU HAVE A DIFFERENT OPINION

I REGRET TO INFORM YOU THAT YOU ARE WRONG

WHAT YOU’VE JUST SAID IS ONE OF THE MOST INSANELY IDIOTIC THINGS I HAVE EVER HEARD

I AWARD YOU NO POINTS

AND MAY GOD HAVE MERCY ON YOUR SOUL

NO DON’T DOUBT ME

DON’T DOUBT ME ABOUT THIS

I WILL FIGHT YOU

I NOW HAVE A WINE BOTTLE AND I KNOW HOW TO SMASH IT

I HAVE ARMED MYSELF BECAUSE NO ONE ELSE HERE WILL SAVE ME

CLEARLY I HAVE A LOT OF FEELINGS ABOUT CASINO ROYALE AND ITS THEME SONG AND I WILL WRITE ABOUT THEM AT ANOTHER TIME

BUT THE DESIRE TO FIGHT IS STRONG IN THIS ONE

“THIS ONE” BEING ME

… I really needed this day off, you guys.

Grade for Lady in Waiting: 1.5 stars

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