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Too Clever By Half*

Witty Banter and Amusing Games, but Too Short

This book has a delightful beginning. The hero and heroine are in competition to get a grant for their worthy causes. The author did a good job portraying the hero’s chauvinism. The heroine wanted to win the grant for the higher education of women; the hero at first could not understand why women would need or want such a thing. After all, if they could run a household, raise children, and provide good dinner parties, of what use would more education be and how could it possibly help them fulfill the role of their sphere? The heroine does educate him somewhat, and he starts to come to some new conclusions on his own. It is hard to imagine being a woman of those times, straitjacketed into a narrow societal role, even if you wanted more.

Watching their interactions at the beginning was a delight. Tessa, the heroine, is indeed a smart woman who is underestimated by the men around her, but she’s not afraid to use her feminine wiles to get her what she wants. She is quite amusing. The hero is much more uptight, and he wants the money to help worthy young men who would not be able to afford a Harrow education to get one. I liked watching their relationship evolve. I quite enjoyed the banter and the games that went on between the hero and the heroine, especially at the start of the book, but I felt that this novella was too short to fully give much in the way of true conflict or show in-depth characterization. I also have an issue with the cover. This book is supposed to take place in Victorian England, and the cover dress looks more like it belongs at a froufrou high school prom (or is perhaps a really bad bridesmaid’s dress). Victorian women would have never shown so much skin. All in all, though, I did find a story very enjoyable, and what I got to know of the characters, I liked.