Friday, April 6, 2012

The Last Woman He'd Ever Date …The First Twenty-First Century Regency!

Perfect Picture of Heroine

Stop What You're Doing!
Get this book as soon as you can!
It’s too much fun to put off!

Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Mills & Boon (20 April 2012)
Note: While this review employs a paranormal motif, “The Last Person He’d Ever Date” is a Contemporary RIVA romance.

The year is 1812.  It’s the second year of the English Regency period. In two more years General Robert Ross will invade Washington D.C. and burn down the White House. Today, William Makepeace Thackeray, is celebrating his first birthday in Calcutta, India -- Vanity Fair is still many years in the future.  

Jane Austen is thirty-seven years old. Sense and Sensibility was published last year  in 1811, Pride and Prejudice will be published next year in 1813, while Mansfield Park will have to wait until 1814.

Again, it’s 1812 in Maybridge, England. A troubled young man, of dubious parentage, discovers a great secret. In anger he rides his mount up the steps and into the Great Hall of  Cranbrook to confront the Lord of the Manor. (The Tudor style Hall was already four hundred years old in 1812.)

And then:

The very fabric of time is torn and the young man, along with all the important people in his life, are thrust two hundred years into the future. (End of paranormal elements.)

As the story continues, it’s 2012. The characters are the same, Cranbrook Park is the same (only older), the estate grounds are same,(only shabbier)  the local village is the same,(with electricity added) the gardens, the animals, the river, the Twelfth Century Abbey and the old conflicts -- are all the same.

In the flash of time travel, the boy’s horse becomes a motorbike and the boy becomes a man – a man of great wealth. At the same time, Sir Robert, the wastrel Lord Cranbrook, has become a bankrupt. He has lost the estate that has been in his family since the 1400’s.

The time for revenge has come!

Rule #1 for reviewing a Liz Fielding romance:
If the author wants to write a Regency, she’s going to write a Regency.

I love a good Regency and The Last Woman He’d Ever Date,” is a very good Regency – it’s just that the dates are a little off. If you’re a Regency fan, this will probably be the most fun book you’ll read all year! It was for me.  (I could have used a tinge more ton but the charity auction and heroine’s gown were quite satisfying.)

Rule #2 for reviewing a Liz Fielding romance:
Never think you know what to expect with the author’s new book.

I think Liz Fielding has too much talent to just write a simple romance. There is always much more going on in a Liz Fielding romance than there appears to be at first sight. Even the characters have to deal with loads of subtext.

From “The Last Woman He’d Ever Date”, p.160

“I tickled a trout this morning. It’s years since I’ve done that but I had it there between my hands, purring with pleasure before I let it go.”
          “Really? Can you really do that?”
          “Want me to teach you now?” he asked and her heart rate seemed to slow to match the way a smile moved across his face. The slow-motion deepening of the creases bracketing his mouth, straightening of his lips, lifting of hard cheekbones. The faintest contraction of lines fanning out form eyes that gleamed with a dangerous light. The kind of smile that could burn a woman who didn’t have an asbestos guard around her heart. A warning that they wre no longer talking about fish.
          “I thought it was just a tall story, a fisherman’s yarn,” she said.
“You have to know where the fish hide, stand perfectly still, be endlessly patient.’
          And in her mind’s eye she could see herself standing in the shallow water, Hal behind her, his arms around her as he guided her…”
          “You stroke them so gently that they don’t know you’re there. Mesmerise them with your touch, make them want more…”
          “I hate fish, she snapped, as her hormones jangled, uncomfortable, certain now that he wasn’t talking about any old trout.’

Rule #3 for reviewing a Liz Fielding romance:
Show how the author understands the importance of location as few others do.

Liz Fielding believes in the importance of ‘Location, Location, and Location’. Her locations take on the importance of a major character, they make the story possible, they add texture as they breathe life into every other aspect of the story. “The Last Woman He’d Ever Date” could only have happen in the Maybridge location.

Rule #4 for reviewing a Liz Fielding romance:
Be sure to catch and mention all the various motivations.

The author employs multiple motivations for everything that happens in her books. This not only makes “The Last Woman He’d Ever Date,”  more realistic, it makes it seem like it is the only way the story could have happened. This is a depth of richness only found in very experienced authors. Read my review of the author's expert use of motivation here.

Rule #5 for reviewing a Liz Fielding romance:
No matter how smart you think you are, remember Liz Fielding wrote the book on writing romance. "Liz Fielding’s Little Book of Writing Romance" (See my review.)

Rule #6 for reviewing a Liz Fielding romance:
Be sure to stop and savor the unique sentences the author creates. (This is a particular joy to aspiring writers.)

Taken at random from “The Last Woman He’d Ever Date.”

   “His response was vigorous enough to suggest that while he might have had a humour bypass – and honestly if you didn’t laugh, well, with the sort of morning she’d had, you’d have to cry – he was in one piece.


“He was insolent, provoking and deeply, deeply disturbing but, even as the urgent ‘no!’ morphed into an eager ‘yes…’ she told herself to get a grip. He had been bad news as a youth and she’d seen, heard nothing to believe that had changed.”

Rule #7 for reviewing a Liz Fielding romance:
Be sure to point out the extensive 5-sensing that makes the author’s writing among the most sensuous being written today. (See my review of the author’s sensuousness here).

From page 198 of “The Last Woman He’d Ever Date”.

“The noises of the countryside drifted in through the open doorway.
   A chainsaw whining as it cut through a branch somewhere, a thrush declaring territorial rights, a tractor…
          She heard none of them as his lips touched her. All her senses were concentrated on Hal. On the touch of his fingers, entangled in her hair, on the taste of toothpaste, fresh and sharp against her mouth, the scent of his skin…He’d come to her fresh from the shower after his early walk.”   

Rule #8 for reviewing a Liz Fielding romance:
Be sure to try and catch all the hidden literary tit-bits.

From page 177 “The Last Woman He’d Ever Date”.

“…but you know what they say, a man with a couple of hundred acres, must be in want of a dog.”

Rule #9 for reviewing a Liz Fielding romance:
Notice how the author makes it easy for aspiring writers to learn from reading her romances. Here’s an example to indicate where an ARC is completed. (How sweet it is.)

From page 228,  “The Last Woman He’d Ever Date”:

“It was just as well. It wouldn’t do for her daughter, her neighbour to come walking in on them sharing breakfast.
          Sensible Claire would never let that happen.
          She swallowed, turned away. Whatever happened now, she would never be the same. Never be that carefully focused woman who had always only ever had one goal in life…

   “It was like shattering glass.
          She’d put herself back together the first time…
          This time was different.
          The glass had not just broken, it had fragmented, been blown to the four corners of the land and in a sudden panic she opened her evening bag, dug out her phone.”  

Rule #10 for reviewing a Liz Fielding romance:
Show the amazing way the author can describe and bring two characters to life in a single passage.
From the start of Chapter Ten, “The Last Woman He’d Ever Date,”

“She smiled at him. Everyone smiled at him, Clair thought. The waitress at the Birdcage, women having lunch there, Willow and Ally. Especially Ally. Hell, she had smiled at him herself as he’d entertained them effortlessly over lunch. And not just smiled, she’d laughed and for the life of her couldn’t have said why, or what they’d talked about. She’d just felt relaxed, happy, hadn’t thought once about grilling him…”

Rule #11 for reviewing a Liz Fielding romance:
You may or may not want to point out the double entendres.

From Chapter Ten, “The Last Woman He’d Ever Date”.

“Something man-size?” Jane guessed.
“It’s not the size, it’s the character he said.”

Rule #12 for reviewing a Liz Fielding romance:
Remind the author in your review not to forget to enter her book in the RITA awards – judges will love this book.

Final Rule for reviewing a Liz Fielding romance:
If you borrow (steal) one the author’s cute ideas to use in your review, be sure to credit the author.

From page 217, “The Last Woman He’d Ever Date”:

Hal North Rule Number Five: Do not mention the fact that you’re not wearing a bra…”   

Note: Liz Fielding’s Rules are funnier than mine.

The Plot? The plot is a wonderful Regency plot. Don’t worry about the plot. There are too many great things in this book to put off reading it any longer than it takes to get a copy.

Reviewer Disclosure: I always buy the books I review. Even when an author gives me a book, I buy the book for my Kindle. However, I won “The Last Woman He’d Ever Date” in a romance writing contest! You can read my entry here and see the announcement of the win here. I’m so glad I didn’t have to wait until April 20 to read it. (North Americans have to wait for an eternity.) However, I do feel a little sad now that I have read it. To paraphrase Mark Anthony:

“'The Last Woman He’d Ever Date' is now read!  Whence come another!!!"

This is not an ordinary romance – It’s a Treasure Chest of Delights!



  1. Hilarious! I love it, Vince. This book was a comedy of errors from start to the finish when the wrong (very wrong) version was typeset and there was mad scramble to get the right version into print - any missteps were because I didn't get to read the page proofs and correct my slips.

    So glad that it passed muster.

  2. Hi Liz:

    If there were any missteps I sure did not see them. Thanks for coming by.