Saturday, May 4, 2013

Review: An Unlikely Suitor by Nancy Moser

Book Cover and Synopsis:
New York dressmaker Lucy Scarpelli befriends socialite Rowena Langdon as she's designing her summer wardrobe. Grateful for Lucy's skill in creating fashions that hide her physical injury, Rowena invites Lucy to the family mansion in Newport, Rhode Island, encouraging the unusual friendship.

One day Lucy encounters an intriguing man on the Cliff Walk, and love begins to blossom. Yet Lucy resists, for what Newport man would want to marry an Italian dressmaker working to support her family?

Rowena faces an arranged marriage to a wealthy heir she doesn't love, but dare a crippled girl hope for anything better?

And Lucy's teenage sister, Sofia, falls for a man well above her social class-but is he willing to give up everything to marry a woman below his station?

As the lives of three young women-and their unlikely suitors-become entangled in a web of secrets and sacrifice, will the season end with any of them finding true happiness?

My Thoughts:
This book was a real conundrum for me. Initially I was quite intrigued by the story and most of the characters...I liked Lucy and enjoyed seeing her provide for her mother and sister, scoring them jobs at a high-class dress shop and finding better living accommodations. Lucy's idea to help Rowena, a client at the dress shop, hide her physical limitations through specially made dresses was really a neat idea and quite interesting to read about. Though they're limited to secretive conversations held in whispers in the back of the dress shop (due to the extreme differences in their social standing), Lucy and Rowena form a quiet friendship that I found rather charming... until about the half-way point in the story, when the whole setting of the book suddenly changes.

For various reasons most of the characters end up leaving New York to spend a few weeks in Newport. This not only changes the setting, but also the personal dynamics between the characters. Rowena tries to pull Lucy further into her high-class world, but in my opinion this just accentuated even more the differences between their social classes, resulting in awkward and strange situations that simply didn't match the tone or feeling of the first half of the story.

I generally don't like to give 3 star or lower ratings, but in this case I just can't help it. Ideally the Newport setting should've been the best part of the book, as it's where the main characters meet their romantic matches, but oddly I found it rather bland. Towards the end there is a twist involving one of the girls' suitors, which no doubt was meant to be "shocking", but several chapters prior I had started to get an inkling of what was coming... when it turned out my hunch was right, ultimately I found that I didn't really care how the situation would be resolved. The character in question behaved in questionable ways, yet everyone seemed to just brush it off as if it were a matter of little consequence, which I found troubling and somewhat strange.

I don't want to steer anyone away from "An Unlikely Suitor", yet at the same time I can't really recommend it either. As I said previously, it started out well, but various factors combined to drag the story down and into the realm of unbelievability. I do intend to give the author another try at some point, so hopefully my next venture into her work will resonate with me a bit more.

My Rating: 3 stars


  1. Thanks for the great, honest review, Val. I am not likely to read this one for various reasons so it was nice to find out I am not missing much. :)

  2. Well done on writing this review. I'm in two minds about Nancy Moser, and this review shows me this isn't the book to read to decide whether or not I do like her. Maybe another one...

    And isn't it much harder to write reviews like this? I always find it much easier to review a book I enjoyed.