Only In Your Arms

The Prince's Bride

Flight of Fancy by Tracy Cozzens
(Zebra, $5.99, PG-13) ISBN 0-8217-7350-0
There is a lot to enjoy in Tracy Cozzen’s start to her new trilogy, Flight of Fancy. However, there were a few things that didn’t work well for me and this ultimately left me feeling dissatisfied.

Hannah Carrington is the eldest of five Carrington sisters. They are “new money” in New York society in late 1889. The “old money,” led by Mrs. Astor, seeks to keep them from being accepted and Hannah is deemed a failure in her first season. Hannah could care less. She is more interested in science, with her current interest being flight.

However, her mother has four other daughters to find husbands for. In order to make a splash in the London Season, a shopping trip to Paris is a prerequisite. Hannah is thrilled because the World’s Fair and the new Eiffel Tower is in Paris at this time. She hopes to test her theories of flight at the Tower by throwing a wooden bird she has made off the top of the tower and observing its descent.

Benjamin Ramsey, the Earl of Sheffield, has just inherited his title and is almost penniless. But he is also interested in science. He is concerned with weather, specifically the atmosphere. He was part of a failed experiment years before that sent up a balloon to 30,000 feet, causing his friend and partner to die. He is haunted by his death and is determined to prove their theory.

He is at the Eiffel Tower to take some readings and is arrested because his permit to perform an experiment is expired. Hannah throws her bird and as it descends, it smashes into the Mayor’s wife and causes a nose injury. She too is arrested! While in adjoining cells, Hannah and Benjamin determine that they have similar interests, that Hannah is fearful of this escapade ruining her sisters’ chances at matrimony and Benjamin is in need of money.

Thus they agree to help each other and marry. Hannah gets a coveted title and Benjamin the money to restore his house and pursue his scientific endeavors. Hannah thinks she has found the kind of man who can appreciate her mind and Benjamin thinks he has found a Countess to help him manage his societal demands. Immediately upon their marriage they discover that they are both wrong.

Cozzens makes a real effort to share how both are feeling and to keep up the communications between them. The two talk all the time, but neither is willing to give. Complicating this is a misunderstanding that keeps them from consummating their marriage. This is prolonged when although they are attracted to each other, they wait for the other to make the first move.

What doesn’t work is the length of time they wallow in this state of awkwardness and discontent. There are several scenes that are most uncomfortable. One involves a dinner party that is disastrous. Hannah has few servants, and uncooperative ones at that, yet Benjamin gives her three days to plan and execute a dinner party for his scientific community. The scene holds one humiliation after another for Hannah and Benjamin is angry at her for not coming through for him. I wanted to throw something at him for being so insensitive.

I struggled with how I felt about Benjamin. He has traits that are not usually seen in romance heroes. He is a bit of a chauvinist and self-centered. I found myself disappointed with the rest of the story, although Benjamin does redeem himself in the end.

The writing is clear and concise, giving facts about science without boring the reader. However, I do wonder how many of the items presented as historical fact actually happened, as this man is credited with a pretty significant weather discovery. Since the copy I was reading was an unedited proof, I hope that the author adds some information about how this story fits in with history.

Many of the secondary characters are interesting, with Hannah’s sister Lily being one of the most delightful. She too is smart, even though her interest is in clothing and her coming out. She will be the main character in the second part of this trilogy and it will be interesting to see how her story turns out.

Flight of Fancy is worth a look if you enjoy a smart, intelligent heroine and an obtuse hero who finally sees the light. For me, he just didn’t see it soon enough.

--Shirley Lyons

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