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Oh, What A Large Riding Crop You Have!

A review of Meg Cabot's tongue-in-cheek romance novel, Nicola and the Viscount.

Oh, What A Large Riding Crop You Have!

BOOK REPORT for Nicola and the Viscount by Meg Cabot

Cover Story: Brown Bag It
BFF Charm: Of Course
Swoonworthy Scale: 6
Talky Talk: The Silly Side of Meg Cabot
Bonus Factor: The Season
Relationship Status: Beach Buddy

Cover Story: Brown Bag It

Unless you're very secure in your identity as a strong, smart person who doesn't care what people think (and OF COURSE you all are), you'll want to brown bag this one. Because here's what this one says:

Lord Sebastian: I say, Nicola, you're looking smashing today

Nicola: titter Why, thank you! That's a lovely cravat you're wearing.

LS: Thanks. My valet is indispensable. Would you like to see my new horse?

N: Only if it's as beautiful as you are, my lord. Your eyes are like the sea after a storm.

LS: La! You fillies are so flighty.

The Deal:

Nicola is an orphan, and has no income save the measly 100 pounds a year she gets in rents from the land surrounding her dilapidated ancestral home, Beckwell Abbey, but she's lucky enough to be spending her first Season with her friend Honoria, lady Something-or-other, and her family -- which includes Honoria's brother, the gorgeous Lord Sebastian. Lord Sebastian -- known as "The God" to Nicola and her BFF Eleanor Sheridan -- is practically perfect in every way, and seems to adore her. Unfortunately, Eleanor's super hot genius brother Nathaniel HATES Sebastian, and it starts to look like it's not just out of jealousy (did I mention Nathaniel is hot?). Besides, Nicola wouldn't WANT Nathaniel to be jealous, because even though he's hot, with his wavy, black hair, hazel eyes and giant ... brain, he's Eleanor's brother and so practically HER brother. On top of all that, her obnoxious guardian and his wimpy son are majorly harshing the buzz of her coming out season with talk of selling the Abbey.

BFF Charm: Of Course

Nicola's by far not my favorite Meg Cabot heroine, but she's STILL a Meg Cabot heroine. She's feisty and funny, plus she has a totally excellent fashion sense and can remake clothes to look like couture straight from Paris. She does get a little blinded by sappy Romantic poetry, but what 16-year-old doesn't? I mean, Lord Byron was totally the emo angst pop star of 1810, and this book is an Avon True Romance for Teens. People have EXPECTATIONS.

Swoonworthy Scale: 6

What? Only a 6? I KNOW. But it's 1810, yo. And as tingly as a clasped elbow and some longing glances can make me, I'm like a heroin addict -- my kissing tolerance is way high in a book that's ONLY about kissing. I NEED MOAR RAWR. And there's only so much RAWR you can get in a teen romance book set in 1810. That said, there ARE some rather sloppy-grin-inducing drawing room scenes.

Talky Talk: The Silly Side of Meg Cabot

I absolutely freaking ADORE Meg Cabot's romance novels because she sticks firmly to the romance novel conventions AND teases them at the same time, the way you always affectionately tease your best friend about her weird habit of sleep-talking in Russian, or her strange penchant for gold lamé. Some examples:

But, Nicola reminded herself, she wasn't there to muse over how her future husband might look twenty years from now. She was there to snoop. And so, accordingly, Nicola commenced to snooping.

and

Lady Farelly, who had come along for the ride most reluctantly, as she disliked missing luncheon, and besides, had a dressmaker's appointment later in the day, looked about without enthusiasm. To her, London began and ended with Mayfair, and anything outside of it was simply tiresome. "I hope, Jarvis," she said to her husband, "that wherever we're going, there aren't going to be monkeys. You know how I feel about monkeys."

Don't we all, Lady F. Don't we all.

Bonus Factor: The Season

The Season! HOW is a meat market so alluring? The silk gowns made by child laborers! The sticky punch at Almacks, which probably stinks of sweat and gaggy perfume and hair oil and horse shit! Being traded to a toothless, hairy old man with halitosis for a few thousand pounds to ensure your family's honor! And yet it's SO ROMANTIC. In books.

Casting Call:

For once, this was easy PEASY.

Freddie Stroma as Lord Sebastian

Ethan Peck as Nathaniel

Relationship Status: Beach Buddy

I don't really think about this book much during most of the year, but when the weather gets hot and sticky and it's time to head to the beach, this is definitely who I think of. It's the perfect companion with whom to share my bottle of SPF 1 million and drinks with little umbrellas, and I can count on it to not only have the best fashion mags but also to help me pick out the perfect bathing suit for my body type.

Meghan Miller's photo About the Author: Meghan is an erstwhile librarian in exile from Texas and writer for Forever Young Adult. She loves books, cooking and homey things like knitting and vintage cocktails. Although she’s around books all the time, she doesn’t get to read as much as she’d like.