5.0 out of 5 stars A True Fairy Tale
Lady Edwina Bollash knows a real challenge when she sees one. This challenge is in the form of taking an outspoken, unpolished, but oh so handsome ratcatcher with a unique Cornish Cockney accent, and transforming him into a smooth-talking gentleman. Edwina is a renowned linguist, and she finds Mick Tremore's way of speaking simply fascinating. Actually, she finds all of...
Published on July 12 2004 by klpepsi
3.0 out of 5 stars Spoiler alert - lovers of fairy tales, revised, will like...
There is a growing trend to rewrite and revise fairy tales as romances. For example, Julia Quinn's latest book in the Bridgerton series, at least two books by Katherine Kingsley, and several books by Judith Ivory. In some senses, the romance novel (or novella) can be viewed as a modern day fairy tale for women, with the Happily Ever After (HEA) ending. [Well, it is true...
Published on Sept. 11 2001 by bookjunkiereviews
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5.0 out of 5 stars A True Fairy Tale,
Lady Edwina Bollash knows a real challenge when she sees one. This challenge is in the form of taking an outspoken, unpolished, but oh so handsome ratcatcher with a unique Cornish Cockney accent, and transforming him into a smooth-talking gentleman. Edwina is a renowned linguist, and she finds Mick Tremore's way of speaking simply fascinating. Actually, she finds all of him simply fascinating.
Brought up in wealth, but having most everything taken away from her by her cruel cousin once her father died, Edwina is prim, proper, and generally regarded as a plain spinster. However, one wouldn't think she was plain by the way Mick regards her, and his thoughts of her are none too proper either. Mick happens to know first hand that Edwina is the proud owner of a first class pair of legs, and he's been obsessed with them since gazing on them without her knowledge.
Edwina has six weeks to transform Mick into a proper gentleman, and pass him off at a London ball as a Viscount. But Mick may not be the only one transformed by their time together. And what will happen if he attends the ball and life-altering secrets are revealed? And will Mick and Edwina, who obviously come from different worlds, be able to find enough common ground to remain together after the six weeks are finished?
I've been continuing to broaden my reading horizons by trying the work of authors new to me. Unfortunately, I'm finding that out of every three to four untried authors, odds are I'll only find one whose work is superior. Judith Ivory's work here is most assuredly in that superior category. Even though I recognize the premise of "My Fair Lady" with a role reversal, this story is fresh, funny, and endearingly romantic. These beautifully flawed characters showed an emotional depth, and it was a real pleasure to watch them grow and change together while falling in love. Ms. Ivory is obviously a masterful storyteller who penned a flowing, seamless story filled with romance, wrought with sexual tension, and an ending worthy of a true fairy tale. This has to be one of the best books I've read to date, and I will now be in search of her backlist titles.
2.0 out of 5 stars Not as funny as it thinks it is,
After a really fun and promising start, I found this novel, "The Proposition" quickly degraded into endless silly dialogue and flat plotlines which went nowhere. The hero "Mick" started of quite amusing, but I quickly grew bored with the way the author chose to portray his speech patterns (yes I know this was a major plot point, but I still found it grating). The Cornish-Cockney "Ye'll be excusing me duck" and "Idden me choice to stand 'ere with me shirt done up..." soon had me roll my eyes in frustration. Plus the first few chapters are filled with almost incomprehensible paragraphs of unattrributed dialogue wherein a mob of characters voice their opinions for pages which grew annoying. Eh.
Further, the proposition's attempts at humor fell flat for me. I found nothing 'charming' or 'cute' about Mick bargaining with the heroine to look at or touch her legs in exchange for him shaving his mustache. I dunno...It just struck me as silly and vaguely perverted. I still like class in my heroes even if they are supposed to be poor and uneducated.
I won't even go there about the amazingly trite ending. This light-hearted novel just fell flat for me. I prefer my historicals more realistic and with tighter more succinct dialogue.
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply and Outstanding Love Story,
Sometimes there are really special stories...this is one. I almost tossed this book aside when into the first chapter I figured that this was going to be a take off of "Pygmalion" or "My Fair Lady" only with a male lead being the metamorphous, rather than the flower girl turned into a lady. I am so happy that I persevered and read on, as this story was so very special! The plot of course is the simple story of a bet made that within six weeks, a genteel woman, Lady Edwina Bollash, and a noted linguist, would take a cheeky, incorrigible, Cornish rat catcher, Mick Tremore cleaning up both his speech and himself, and pass him off as a Viscount at the Duke of Arles ball.
What a simply divine story with so many light hearted and touching scenes. Lady Edwina - nicknamed Winnie by Mick, has never considered herself attractive or loveable. Her self esteem was basically non-existent in spite of the fact that she did believe herself to be accomplished as both a lady and of course successful in her profession as an instructor in elocution and deportment. What she did not do, was fool herself into believing that she was in any way pretty or attractive. Mick Tremore, outrageous, handsome, cheeky, personable and extremely down to earth - was an absolute delight and while he was initially the student - he also became an instructor as well.
There are so many scenes in this story that are memorable - one episode in particular, that was absolutely hilarious - were the negotiations that took place between Edwina and Mick to shave his mustache off - priceless! And the dialog as this very earthy and honest man compliments her nose "Yes, it's a good-sized smeller, loov. If it weren't so pretty, I might have sympathy for you." - I will say, you have to love Mick - he may not have been born to royalty but in terms of humanness - he is a prince! When you think of the metamorphous angle of the story, I think the more important one was in the mind-set of Edwina who finally came to the conclusion that in the eyes of the man she came to love - she was beautiful! This story is simply outstanding with a surprise ending and you should definitely give it a read! I truly enjoyed this book!
4.0 out of 5 stars An Imperfect Hero You'll Love,
The Proposition is certainly a unique historical romance novel. Throughout the first three chapters we see a most unlikely hero. He is not a gentleman, he is not rich, he has ragged clothes, he can't speak proper English, and he is a rat catcher! But don't let those first chapters influence you - this hero already is or will be all you want him to be.
Lady Edwina (Winnie) Bollash is a well-known linguist and is presented with the challenge to transform Mick Tremore into a gentleman in six weeks. She accepts the challenge and Mick comes to stay in her home for the six-week period of training. We soon discover that Nick is not weak, undisciplined, or without principals. He is a person that unconsciously demands respect and he has a very good self-image. Of course, he is impossibly handsome as well. Soon Winnie, a spinster and a very proper daughter of a Marquess, is finding her first impression of Mr. Tremore was dead wrong. She sees the magnificent man he is and he learns much more quickly than she thought possible because she finds he is incredibly intelligent. A mutual attraction and admiration develops between Winnie and Mick and it soon envelops them.
The communication between the couple is straightforward and at times heart wrenching. Mick is honest and up front and attempts to open Winnie's eyes to her own beauty and overall attractiveness. It is refreshing to read a romance novel in which both the hero and heroine are imperfect individuals. Winnie is not portrayed as a beauty although Mick believes she is. It's good to see regular people (although Winnie is a daughter of a marquess - she has very little wealth) growing individually and together.
The story is told without the drama of overused ridiculous misunderstandings or lies. Around the middle of the book, the story begins to drag (thus the 4 star rating) as Winnie talks to herself again and again about her feelings for Mick and the impossibility of a relationship between them. Although the book dragged during this period of Winnie's self examination, I do believe a woman of her upbringing would have needed a hefty amount of self-talk if she feared she was falling in love with a rat catcher. Even in the USA today, it would be quite a bridge to gap in six weeks.
We become certain that Mick will find his way once this six week period is over and whatever he chooses to do with the rest of his life will be admired by others and done with a great deal of self confidence. The sensual scenes are few and don't come until late in the book. But when Judith Ivory does write these times of physical intimacy, it is a definite 4 out of 5 rating (see "more about me" for scale guidelines).
While this is a story of Mick and Winnie, Mick is definitely the strongest part of the book. He stands out because he does not have a mean nature at all and he is no less a man for it. It is great to see such a mature and nicely rounded character - a man in a romance novel with so many good traits and with so few poor ones. He is completely male and yet is so kind and gentle. This is quite an accomplishment in today's romance novels.
4.0 out of 5 stars Terrific characters; sweet love story,
A sweet couple that bring out the best in each other. Edwina, so buttoned-up, self-conscious and chronically worried, needs some of Mick's fun loving, free spirited, spontaneous outlook on life. Mick needs a bit of Edwina's self control, polish (both verbal and physical) and understanding of the behaviour and habits of the gentry he has heretofore only observed from the outside. As another reviewer pointed out, it's a bit of a mix of "Cinderella" and "Pygmalion".
To his surprise Mick finds that his usual charm is apparently having little affect on Winnie (though it has a definite affect on the reader - he's adorable, sweet, sexy). She's skittish, incredibly insecure and it takes all of Mick's patience and charm to slowly earn her trust and pull her out of her shell. Winnie does not want to be pulled out of her shell, but she slowly begins to see that there is fun to be had out there and that she wants at least a small bit of it! There were some terrrific scenes - when Mick negotiates with Winnie to look at her legs and when Mick takes Winnie into his world (a pub in the East End) where Winnie really lets her hair down! But one complaint I have is that some scenes seemed to go on too long giving a dragging effect. Some quibble with the oh-so-convenient ending, but hey, it's a spin on a fairy tale - why not have a happy ending! An enjoyable read.
3.0 out of 5 stars Spoiler alert - lovers of fairy tales, revised, will like...,
There is a growing trend to rewrite and revise fairy tales as romances. For example, Julia Quinn's latest book in the Bridgerton series, at least two books by Katherine Kingsley, and several books by Judith Ivory. In some senses, the romance novel (or novella) can be viewed as a modern day fairy tale for women, with the Happily Ever After (HEA) ending. [Well, it is true that a very few fairy tales have unhappy endings...]. If you think of this point, reading and appreciating Judith Ivory's works becomes much easier, as does appreciating the romance genre in general.
From the point of realism (and I tend to be a bit of one), this novel has plenty of faults, beginning with Edwina's lack of wealth, her social status, her lack of family, and the knowledge of the author about the peerage in general. The contrived ending is a major problem, as is the idea that a ratcatcher, even a highly intelligent one, can be converted into a gentleman within a few weeks - a process that takes even Professor Henry Higgins (MY FAIR LADY, PYGMALION) several months.
If you set these problems aside, the story is quite enjoyable and also rather unusual. While one of Christina Dodd's books and a book by Stephanie Laurens both feature finishing governesses of good birth as heroines, this book differs in making the hero not a peer but - a ratcatcher. Some readers will react with disgust, but that made the story intriguing enough for me (coupled with the excerpt featuring the bet about the legs) to pick the book up. The first half is indeed quite interesting, although Edwina is too quick to agree to the bet (ladies were usually far more prudish, especially when Mick makes an even more outrageous suggestion). That she accedes quickly suggests that she is more than willing to go along, which says all kinds of things about her, Mick, and their relationship.
The book drags a bit in the middle. The real problem I had was with the ending. Firstly, the hero is oh-so-conveniently the lost grandson of the mean cousin who has succeeded Edwina's father. Secondly, it is oh-so-easy for this Duke to name Mick as his heir, and assume that it will be easy for Mick to prove his claim. [Such a claim would usually drag on for years, with the Tichborne case being one example. And there, the claimant had inside help from a member of the family. Same here, except that Edwina supposedly has no big desire to be a duchess, or does she?].
While I enjoyed the first half of this book (even swallowing the various incongruities initially), I cannot say that I was happy with the ending. While I love a happy ending, I also want the ending to be realistic. It is curious, though, that I was willing to accept that the hero in A LONDON SEASON (Joan Wolf) was actually an earl's lost heir, but not so willing to believe the same of the hero of this book. Perhaps the difference lies in the circumstances - the hero of the former was discovered by his features and by the place of his birth and his mother's maiden name; there are no such details for THE PROPOSITION's hero to make this believable. Nor is it easy to believe that the law and polite society would look as kindly on Mick's claim. Alas, reality intrudes into my fairy tale visions of Edwina and Mick.
2.0 out of 5 stars A fair book,
I started out really wanting to like this book. The number of positive reviews, the premise of the story all made me buy the book.
Initially the story was great, a twist on "My Fair Lady" by having the man be a ratcatcher and the Lady a former duke's daughter and now teaching speech. The characters were likeable and the book had its moments, unfortunately ... that's where it ended.
I found the book a little too slow moving, especially for a large chunk of the middle. Eventually I just skipped to the later part of the book, to the 'party' where the ratcatcher/viscount was to make his public appearance. And really, I don't think I missed much at all.
Some of the interesting characters in the book like the 'evil' duke who threw his niece out at 17 was not developed at all. Neither was the reason for his being mean and later simply giving the entire dukedom to the ratcatcher (who turns out to be his long lost grandson).
All in all a fair read, with such great concept. But the storyline fails to deliver.
5.0 out of 5 stars Bugger me! What a wonderful surprise! I just simply LOOV it!,
The Proposition has been on my TBR pile since May. I read the first chapter in May then stopped because I did not like the profession of the hero as a ratcatcher. Ugh, I thought and simply dismissed the book. Fortunately for me a good friend borrowed it, read it and told me that I definitely MUST read it. So I did and I was glad I read it because THE PROPOSITION IS VERY GOOD BOOK TO READ!
Even though the plot is an old one - My Fair Lady, Pygmalion - the characters of this book are the ones that carried it. The way Judith Ivory portrayed Mick and Winnie was just, simply said: Well done!
Mick is a wonderful hero! He was so charming, so good looking, so adorable, so very sexy and so honest about his feelings for Winnie it left me quite breathless. I just "loov" him!
Winnie, on the other hand, is supposed to be a sort of ugly duckling. A tall, gangly woman of 29 who is not sure about her own sexuality. But Mick, oh yes Mick - sigh, sigh, sigh, - just simply adored her! Who would'nt feel adored if a hero like that gave you his attentions?! Loving everything about you, no matter what, making you feel like the queen of all queens.
I know now never to judge a book because of the characters profession. Rich or poor, a marquis, earl or duke, a story with so much romance, hilarity and with great characters, is a story worth reading.
The Proposition has no big misunderstanding. It is wonderful to read about a man who just simply adores a woman who finds herself unatractive without being such an arrogant fool.
The Proposition is a joy to read! It will make you laugh and cherish the wonderful moments in life. It will make you understand the saying "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" or "love has no bounds" or something like that. I'm ranting...
Anyway read The Propositon. It will leave you with a smile on your face and make you fall in love again!!!!
4.0 out of 5 stars The Proposition,
By A Customer
This was an interesting, beautifully written book. The premise was darling--a role-reversed Pygmalion/My Fair Lady. The characters were well-developed. Mick, especially, was a treat. I get so tired of reading about arrogant cads. This guy was confident without being arrogant, and sensitive without being a wimp. Oh, what a doll! I even liked it that he was a ratcatcher, since I thoroughly despise rats and mice. Any man who will keep those vile creatures out of my house is a guy I can love!
The table scene had me panting. That was one fine piece of sensual writing.
I loved how the heroine wasn't a perfect beauty, and that the hero saw the beauty inside her.
What I didn't like:
The plot draggggggged along. A little less exposition and more action would have helped.
Winnie's obsession with being ugly wore thin.
The process of transforming Mick could have commanded more attention and details. Even the smartest people take a while to learn all the nuances of becoming a different type of person--and he apparently had a lot to learn. That he learned it in an amazingly short period of time was unrealistic, but I can accept his high intelligence as the reason for that better than the other implied in the book: learning an upper-class accent and customs all came so easily to him because he was a duke's grandson.
The ending was terrible! I would have much preferred for Mick to use his new polish to make a success of himself on his own, than to be the "long-lost" heir to a duke. The book seemed to be heading in the direction of having Nick firmly in charge of his own destiny. I'm disappointed that Ms. Ivory didn't follow through with that.
I would actually give this book 3 1/2 stars for the flaws, but it definitely wasn't a 3 star effort. Hence, the 4.
5.0 out of 5 stars Opposites Attract,
What characters could be more diverse than Edwina Bollash, a prim, impoverished spinster linguist and Mick, the handsome Cockney ratcatcher? Set in Victorian London, this romance is a retelling of old tales, a mixture of "Cinderella" and "Pygmalion." Winnie, who has been disinherited by her Scrooge-like cousin, takes on a bet to transform Mick into a perfect British peer in six weeks time. While trying to concentrate on rounding his vowels and sprucing up his appearance, she becomes increasingly aware of his fun-loving personality and his impressive physique. Mick sees a selfconcious innocent, who is unaware of her physical beauty. Sexual tension crackles page after page as the protagionists are attracted like magnets to each other. Ms. Ivory has written a beautiful story, one even better then her previous works, "Beast" and "Sleeping Beauty." I loved this book! I cared about the characters and loved them at the end as much as they loved each other. They were meant to be together; they complemented and completed each other. Brava, Ms. Ivory! I'll wait impatiently for your next Victorian fairytale!
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The Proposition by Judith Ivory (Hardcover - July 2000)
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