Book: The Slightest Provocation

Title: The Slightest Provocation
Author: Pam Rosenthal
Genre: Historical Romance
Length: 352 pgs

Summary: In the tradition of Romeo and Juliet, Mary Penley and Kit Stansell of the Regency feuding Penley and Stansell families elope, after nourishing a secret friendship from their early teens. Their first year of marriage is one long honeymoon night, if you get my drift, but when Kit is teased by his club friends for only lusting after his wife (how provincial!!), he dallies with an actress and catches a disease such that he can’t go to bed with Mary for a year. This doesn’t stop him from going to other actresses, however, and to get back at him, Mary allows Kit’s best friend to seduce her. Of course, Kit walks in on them, and that’s just the backstory.

When the book actually starts, Kit and Mary have been separated for nine years, during the Napoleonic Wars. Napoleon is finally defeated, and Kit and Mary are returning to England, worried by rumors that there is an insurgency threatening their homeland.

Why should you read this book?
I can see what Rosenthal was trying to do with this book, partially because I read her group blog, History Hoydens. She took an actual event from history, threw in her own fictional characters who would have access to the people involved, and went from there. Rosenthal is completely correct in the debauchery of married Regency couples, so I guess I can’t complain on that aspect, except that, in reading this book, I kind of felt like the plot was completely secondary to Kit and Mary’s lust for one another, which apparently never died even after nine years of separation. Sure, we’re reading about English countryside intrigue, and we’re also learning about Kit and Mary through their memories of one another. Their realization that they got married much too young is apparent, and that they’re trying to work through their history is admirable. I don’t know. I have mixed feelings, but I’m primarily disappointed. The cover is just so pretty, I hoped to read something that would both impress and touch me, but instead, I found myself just making sure I was reading it alone because it felt… naughty haha.

The novel is well-written, but I didn’t read anything that particularly spoke to me, or made me want to write it down as a quote, which is why there aren’t any excerpts with this book. So, I would say this book left me with an “eh” sort of feeling once I finished. Also, why were we paying attention to the lovelife of Mary’s servant? It didn’t really add anything to the story except that it made the character a little more 3D. Take it or leave it, this book probably isn’t meant for my demographic.