Friday, April 6, 2012

Unwrapping: Review of HOW MISS RUTHERFORD GOT HER GROOVE BACK by Sophie Barnes

As cute as this title is, I have to wonder why it was chosen for a Historical Romance Novel for the story, I believe, is a bit more deserving of a more dignified title. Be that as it may, HOW MISS RUTHERFORD GOT HER GROOVE BACK by Sophie Barnes is a Historical Romance. It's also Ms. Barnes' debut novel at Avon Impulse. Yes, this was another benefit of being an Avon Addict. I received this one as a print ARC so it was a delight to actually hold a book in my hand and use a bookmark. All the same, I had this read in about a day and a half. 


Emily Rutherford is having a very bad day. Of course, having the man you’ve loved forever, announce his engagement to your (now very former) best friend will do that.

Emily is sure nothing good could possibly come out of this horrid situation. But she lets her sisters and Adrian’s cousin, Francis Riley, the delectable but brooding Earl of Dunhurst, convince her a season in London will be just the thing.

Now Emily has a choice: sulk in a corner while her sisters enjoy the glitter of the ton. Or become the belle of the ball, dazzling everyone on an earl’s arm. But as Francis helps Emily get back on her feet, she quickly realizes that a childhood crush is nothing compared to the power of true love.

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When I first began reading this Historical Romance, I was immediately struck by the influence the works of Jane Austen had on the creation of the characters. The three Rutherford sisters reminded me of a cross between the sisters of SENSE AND SENSIBILITY and the sisters of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE. The male characters, Lord Francis Riley in particular, were easily built upon the characters of Mr. Darcy and Mr. Willoughby with a bit of Mr. Wickham thrown in for good measure. This is a good thing.

Emily Rutherford is the middle sister with an older sister, Beatrice, who is reminiscent of Eleanor Dashwood and Jane Bennett to Emily's cross between Elizabeth Bennett and Marianne Dashwood. Their younger sister, Claire, is a compilation of no one in particular which left her to be the most unique character of all. Emily Rutherford has spent many years living with the belief that she would some day marry her best friend, Adrian Fairchild. When her childhood friend, Kate Clemens, returns from London, Emily's world is turned upside down for the man she believed was hers soon informs her that he has asked Kate to be his wife.

Everyone, including Adrian's mother, is shocked by the announcement. The only one who finds any hope in the event is Francis Riley, the brooding Earl of Dunhurst. Francis sets out to help ease the pain of Emily's disappointment by inviting her and her sisters to stay at his homes in London for the Season. Their hope is that they might meet eligible men in hopes of gaining suitable husbands to rescue them from the poor state in which the deaths of their parents have left them. Whereas all of his intentions seem sensible and compassionate, Francis' real goal is the hope that Emily will fall in love with him as he has been in love with her since their days of friendly times as children.

Emily believes her feelings for Francis have been lost to the dark and brooding demeanor that overtook him in his youth and withdrew him from her and their circle of friends. She begins to see the dark wall surrounding him begin to crumble even as her desire for him begins to grow. The man has dark secrets that hold him back, causing him to treat everyone as if he abhors being in their presence. Emily is determined to discover what those secrets are even as she finds herself falling in love with him. It doesn't take long to realize that it was he, and not Adrian, that truly stirs her heart and her body.

HOW MISS RUTHERFORD GOT HER GROOVE BACK by Sophie Barnes is entertaining, lighthearted even. Whereas I truly did enjoy it, I feel it lacked something toward the latter part of the story. Perhaps the love connection is revealed too soon or Ms. Barnes just didn't know how to get her hero and heroine to the conclusion without losing sight of the tension that originally existed between the pair.

Ms. Barnes' characters are full of life and humor just as old friends might be who have grown to age together. I enjoyed the sense of the characters channeling Jane Austen's classic characters but instead of them holding true to how they were presented in the beginning, I felt they waned. Emily showed signs of boldness and independence yet acted impetuously to the point of foolishness and Francis, who I began to actually see in my mind's eye as Mr. Darcy, lost his edge as he and Emily grew closer. I felt the mystery that surrounds Francis and his family's honor should have had a more important role in the story. Unfortunately, it seemed to come off more as an after thought than an integral part of the tale.

With this being Sophie Barnes' first novel, exceptions can be made because the premise of the story is a solid one and I am truly sorry it fell short toward the end. Perhaps Ms. Barnes' next endeavor will be more pulled together and I look forward to giving it the benefit of the doubt. Even though the latter part of the story was less than it could be, I found HOW MISS RUTHERFORD GOT HER GROOVE BACK to be a charming, enthusiastic, and delightful read. Ms. Barnes' talent is there, it transcends the less than charming title and the weak ending but it holds great promise for future novels. I will gladly read her next one with enthusiasm.

Whereas, I cannot recommend HOW MISS RUTHERFORD GOT HER GROOVE BACK by Sophie Barnes with wholehearted enthusiasm, I can suggest it as a wonderful way to pass the time. I believe anyone who is a fan of Jane Austen will enjoy the wonderful way that she created characters with the influence of Miss Austen's voice, humor, and charm.

Happy Reading Everyone!

HOW MISS RUTHERFORD GOT HER GROOVE BACK by Sophie Barnes, an Avon Impulse release now available in ebook and print format.



Beebs said...

Unfortunately, I think the title immediately put me off this one. IMO it's too modern for a historical. :(

Amy Valentini said...

Hi Beebs,
I really have to agree with you on the title. I think based on the title alone I probably wouldn't have read this one if Avon hadn't sent it to me. It is a good story even with some flaws. I do wish they had given it a less cutesy and yes, modern title.
Happy Easter Girlfriend!! xoxo

Anonymous said...

Now Amy I felt like it was 2 stories in one. The first half of the book was the coming together of our two main characters while the second half of the book was more of what we usually know what happens AFTER the couple gets together. I really enjoyed this book, but the title was a bit off as far as the era of the story being told.
I would REALLY like to see, if not their own books, at least an anthology of Beatrice and Claire's stories. You KNOW there was a lot going on which we were privy too, and I, for one, want to know what it was!!! I'm nosy that way. LOL
Amy Conley

Anonymous said...

OOPS typo! I meant to say : lots we were NOT privy too"


Amy Valentini said...

Hi Amy,
I'd like to think that it was two stories in one but I just can't help but feel the problem with Charlotte could have been made stronger. I agree that there is a lot more going on in the background but that's good and gives Ms. Barnes fuel for future stories. I would love to read Beatrice's and Claire's romances. Hope you are having a wonderful Easter weekend. : )

Nicola O. said...

I actually liked the title, I don't know why because the movie/song title things are a turnoff for me 99% of the time. Also, even before I got the Avon box, I was remembering the title, so I guess it did its job.

However, I wasn't a big fan of the book, unfortunately. I do thing it will have appeal to certain readers though. (in otherwords, Miss Rutherford, it's not you, it's me.)

Nicola O. said...



Amy Valentini said...

Hi Nicola,
It's as I always say, thank goodness for different tastes or it would be a dull world. I agree the title is cute and catchy, I just couldn't connect it with a historical. I've read some reviews where the reviewer raved over this book and as I said, I liked it in an odd way - it was like watching a cutesy romantic comedy that you're glad you waited until it was on cable rather than spending money on it - however, I can't fully recommend it but only suggest it.
I'm glad I'm not the only one! Thanks for coming by and don't worry 'bout typos, we're all human. : )