Review: The Proposition

The PropositionThe Proposition by Judith Ivory

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Description: No man, gentleman or otherwise, has ever looked at Lady Edwina Bollash the way the brash, handsome man standing before her is doing now. Edwina has accepted the challenge to transform incorrigible Mick Tremore into a gentleman in just six weeks. And although the linguist is sure she can rise to the task, she isn't at all certain she won't swoon under his frankly sensuous gaze before her job is done.
Mick has lived outside of London society long enough to know that appearances can be deceiving. Edwina might look all buttoned up-the perfect English lady-but there is unleashed passion existing just below her placid facade (not to mention a great pair of legs!). And as she prepares him to take his place in society, Mick prepares Edwina to take her place in his heart...and in his bed.
Pygmalion (film or play). My Fair Lady. She's All That. If you've seen any of these pieces, you'll know the general premise of this book. All are based on the Pygmalion myth of Greek origin in which a sculptor falls in love with his work of art. This book makes a slight alteration by switching the roles of the male and female...that is, the woman is the teacher and the man is the ruffian in "need" of improvement. I found that to be a fun little twist, and it worked out to wonderful effect here in this book that takes place in late-Victorian England (where accepted gender roles make such a dynamic important).

I just devoured this book. The two lead characters were simply delightful, and I found their budding connection to be mesmerizing and charming. Scene after scene with the two of them, first struggling to tolerate each other, then later struggling with their was always engaging. It was sweet and slightly tragic that each felt themselves not good enough for the other. But, I got my HEA so I'm not complaining. ^_^

Edwina's naivete provided some very humorous moments, and were perhaps my favorite bits in the book. In one scene she ruminates on the word widge, a colloquial term for a man's privates:
His word seemed friendlier. A fond name. Were men fond of that part of themselves? It was certainly not the best part of statues; she made a point not to look there. And it changed, it grew. She'd read that astounding piece of information in a book. That was the worst part, the horror—or it had been the worst until this very moment, when it occurred to her that, goodness, a man might have hair there, too. She did. Oh, something that grew larger, up and out of a tangle of hair. How disgusting.
...oh my gosh, I was giggling so hard at that. That she is a linguist and learned woman, a successful professional...who is so squeamish about more intimate topics...well, I found it supremely amusing. And endearing! Edwina was supremely endearing.

It is really too bad that the part I was sort of underwhelmed with was the very end...because I finished the book with so much less enthusiasm than I had throughout most of the book. The word that keeps coming up in my head is discordant...the last 15% of the book felt so much different than what preceded it. The tone, the voices of the characters (primary and secondary), and (most obviously) the plot. It's not that it was bad so much that I didn't feel it fit with the absolute excellence of the rest of the story. But I won't go into further detail so as to avoid spoilers.

Overall, this was an easy and enjoyable read.

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