cover image Something Fabulous

Something Fabulous

Alexis Hall. Montlake, $12.95 trade paper (380p) ISBN 978-1-5420-3629-0

Lest readers be tempted to take the latest from Hall (Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake) at face value as a Regency romance, attention is directed to the word “fabulous” in the title—as well as “lumberjack,” “debrief,” and any number of other anachronisms that pepper this wonderfully queer mash-up/send-up of buddy movies, Austen novels, and classic rom-coms. The result is a sometimes overextended comic skit with 19th-century set dressing, scant on atmosphere and feels, focused instead on the rapid-fire dealing of the next sparkling and implausible gag. It kicks off with runaway bride Arabella Tarleton, who is quite hyperbolically opposed to matrimony with the very correct (even prim) Valentine, Duke of Malvern. Their botched engagement leads to Valentine being dragged from his bed at four a.m. by Arabella’s outraged and very camp brother, Bonaventure, who is seeking assistance in intercepting her on her presumed flight to Dover. Hijinks ensue via a string of rom-com tropes alternately subverted and played straight as the men chase after her—and of course fall in love along the way. This is Hall playing in the shallow end of his considerable reservoir of talent, and it lacks the heartache and romantic apotheosis of his strongest works. Read it for the giggles, not the sighs. Agent: Courtney Miller-Callihan, Handspun Literary. (Jan.)