Envy by Anna Godbersen

I was really, really looking forward to reading Envy over my vacation.  Good, light, lusty historical fiction – an excellent vacation book.  And I enjoyed its two predecessors, The Luxe and Rumors; though they’re not great literature, they are engaging and have just enough history in them to balance the blueblood romantic shenanigans.  Like chocolate frosting on a saltine.

But what a disappointment Envy was!  The writing is simply atrocious in spots, plodding in others, never sparkling, never fun.  It feels as if Godbersen was rushed to a deadline and the book was under-edited.  Or perhaps she is sick of writing about these people and her heart wasn’t in it this time.  Or both.  Whatever the reason, I winced at word usage more times than I can count, and I got very tired of reading detailed clothing descriptions when a bit of romantic action would have been much more interesting.

Which was the main problem with the story:  there wasn’t much of a story.  Unlike the two previous books, the characters don’t end up very far from where they started 416 pages earlier.  Diana is still pining for Henry, Penelope has become a bore (what happened to the Penelope we loved to hate?), Liz is stultifyingly dull, and Henry is just a sad drunk.  Carolina makes the most progress, and she was the character I liked most at the end of Rumors, but even her journey in this third book left me bored.  Bored, bored, bored. 

Lisa, another Luxe series fan, also read Envy last week, and had much the same reaction that I did (though she did cite a particular plot point that had slipped my mind, using a highly descriptive word, and challenged me to “put THAT on your blog!” – which I won’t).  Lisa pointed out that this third book seems to have been written simply to set up the reader for the fourth book.  I wonder if either of us will even want to read that fourth book when it comes out…I doubt that I will.