Wooing the Oracle of Delphi is all that stands between Christopher Hardacre and his inheritance. If only she hadn’t already fallen head over hooves in love with his neighbor, Tarquin Bough, the man who holds a hatred for all things Hardacre. The prize-winning pig has made herself quite at home with Tarquin and his dogs, content to eat apples and carrots, sleep near the stove, and maybe — just maybe — try her hoof at playing cupid. Beardsley Hardacre left everything to his nephew with one stipulation. To claim the money, he had to take care of the pig. To sing to her, take her for walks, let her visit her children on their birthdays, and read naughty books to her. If he didn’t, it would all be gone. The pig and the money given to Tarquin who Beardsley knew would take care of her — for the money, if nothing else; she comes with a sizable stipend to keep her in a comfortable style — and one hundred thousand at her death that she might have a fitting mausoleum, funeral, and proper mourning.
Tarquin Bough is insecure, flighty, a bit of a braggart, and the sort of man who will always come in second. He enjoys the simple things in life, such as his horse, his dogs, and puttering about the house. What he doesn’t enjoy is fuss, for all that he took to fighting with his neighbor with a passion that bordered on glee. He and old Hardacre picked at each over everything, from the trees that marked the property line to the gate, to who was huntmaster for the local hunt. Now that the old git is gone, Tarquin thinks he finally has a chance to be respected, to get his place as the man about town — in a village named after one of his ancestors. If only Hardacre’s nephew wasn’t so … so perfect. And handsome. And everything Tarquin ever wanted.
Christopher can put on a good show. He can laugh and smile and act perfectly at ease in a crowd of strangers. He’s clever and gracious and effortlessly charming. He’s also quite captivated by his neighbor, and amused by the rather risque collection of historic toys — and we’re not talking about the ones you find in the nursery. But Christopher is also on the edge of being homeless, and if he can’t convince the Oracle to come back home with him, he’ll lose everything. The house, the money, and his chance at love. He’s got one month, and is determined to give it everything he has.
I’m going to be honest. I did not enjoy this book, and it’s not because of the writing or the story or the characters. It’s — well, okay, it’s somewhat the writing, but not in the way you may think. This book is meant to be funny. It’s rife with corny plots, stereotypical small village hi jinx, and ribald humor, but none of it landed for me. I was bored through almost all of it, struggling to get through it, and it wasn’t the most pleasant reading experience.
I found Tark to be a jerk. He’s a puffed up blowhard who goes from clever to clueless depending on the scene. I’m not sure if this is an archetype I’m missing because I’m not familiar with the character tropes, but I really didn’t like him. He felt very much to me like a 60-year-old man who stood around shaking a fist at the kids on his lawn. I get that it’s supposed to be a running joke that Chris — like his uncle — mispronounces Tark’s surname (Bough should sound like Boff, but Chris and his uncle always said Bow), but after the fourth time it’s brought up, I was already long over it. I found it to be more tedious and mean spirited that Chris kept calling him Bow, not funny. Fortunately it stopped, eventually, but all of the humor felt much like this. A joke repeated several times over, which was — for me — several times too many.
Again, humor is so very subjective and you may find that this book is something you enjoy, but I can only state my opinion that I did not find this to be an enjoyable book. The writing is decent, the plot and pacing are fine, but between characters I didn’t like; a token, tepid romance; and having to fight my way through feeling like I was being force-fed a very “I’m more English than you” bit of whimsy, I honestly can’t say that I would recommend this.