The Corset Diaries by Katie MacAlister. NAL. 2004. Library Copy.
The Plot: Tessa gets a weird call from a good friend -- an opportunity to make a lot of money. Is your hair still long? Do you have a valid passport?
Thanks to an old friend, she has the chance to be in a historical reality TV show, A Month in the Life of a Victorian Duke. She'll play the American heiress wife.
What could possibly go wrong?
The Good: What could possibly go wrong?
Tessa is doubtful that she is really the ideal person to play the role of Duchess: she's 39, she's not skinny (do not tell anyone she is a size 18) and corsets, really? But the money would help give her chance to pay debts occurred from her late husband's medical bills. Plus, it may be kind of fun, right?
But who can have fun in a corset?
I laughed a lot at The Corset Diaries, at Tessa's trying to stay on-script while having a hard time with eighteenth century manners, servants, and, yes, clothes.
Plus, romance! Max is the man playing the Duke. He's five years younger than Tessa, which Tessa thinks is too big a difference ("when I was a ripe, womanly twenty, . . . he was a spotty, adolescent fifteen. . . . In dog years, our age difference is thirty-five years.") And she may have accidently thrown up on his shoes when they first met.
Bottom line: a funny, hot romance with an older man and younger woman? And a story where they actually give a size to her shape? (No, seriously, usually body may be talked about with words like "curves" and "voluptuous" but it's refreshing to have an actual number mentioned). Plus tons of historical clothes and manners, with a modern attitude?
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© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy