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Book: Something Fabulous by Alexis Hall
Genre: Regency romance
Publication date: 2022
Source: Print book borrowed from the library
Summary: Valentine Layton, Duke of Malvern, is every inch a duke — serious, duty-bound, elegant, and superior. He is used to people catering to his needs and acquiescing to his requests. When Miss Arabella Tarleton turns down his proposal of marriage, even when both of their families had long expected a wedding, he finds it hard to countenance that she told him ‘no.’ She made it even more clear by running away in the night, putting her twin brother, Bonaventure “Bonny” Tarleton into a tizzy. Bonny insists that Valentine accompany him to find his sister.
A series of adventures ensue, and Valentine learns about whole new ways of being in the world, some of which look more appealing than the life that he lived before or any life that he imagined for himself.
Thoughts: I continue to be amazed by how Alexis Hall nails every genre he writes, earning his tagline of “genrequeer.”
There are two broad subgenres of romance novels set around the turn of the 19th century in Britain.
One is the historical romance where one or both of the lead characters have experienced trauma (often in the Napoleonic Wars). Settings and events in these novels are drawn from historical fact, including some of the harder facts that don’t provoke nostalgia. In these stories, love proves to be the path to healing. The reader is more likely to be moved to tears than laughter in historical romances set during this era. A Lady for a Duke is this type.
The other is the Regency romance. The time period is the same, but these are much lighter and funnier stories. Something Fabulous is a Regency romance in this vein. In the acknowledgements, Hall describes this as a “frankly very silly book” — which is exactly what the Regency romance reader is looking for. We already knew that Alexis Hall could be funny, because the contemporary romances that I read for Pride Month were hilarious. So is Something Fabulous.
Appeal: Something Fabulous is a perfect light summer read for those of us who enjoy a jolly scamper through the English countryside, featuring inns, country cottages, and hunting lodges.
Challenges: I’m celebrating Pride Month with books by Alexis Hall. Here are my previous posts:
- Winner Bakes All — a series set backstage of a British baking show
- A Lady for a Duke — a romance in the aftermath of the Battle of Waterloo
- The Affair of the Mysterious Letter — a steam-punky, multiverse, case in the style of Sherlock Holmes
- London Calling — a series set in contemporary London among a friend group of people tiptoeing into full adulthood
Like the above books, Something Fabulous counts for the 2023 Diversity Reading Challenge and meets the LGBTQQIA mini-challenge for June. In a historical novel, the characters don’t have modern terms to fit those letters, but the author provided this note at the beginning:
Some linguistic choices are intentionally modern. Also, almost everyone in this book is queer.
A further challenge is to read about characters this month that fit as many letters as possible in LGBTQQIA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex and asexual). Something Fabulous adds the first Q. So for June, I enjoyed getting to know characters who were lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer.
Since Something Fabulous is a historical romance, it also counts as the second of five books that I intend to read for the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge.
Have you read this book? What did you think?