Grace Burrowes's The Heir is a litmus test book -- people either love it or hate it. Not many people online have read it and said, "It was just okay. I didn't love it but I didn't hate it."
Most of the chatter has been about the historical inaccuracies. It's true -- the book is studded with them. You could make a drinking game out of it: take a drink every time she has a character mention something that didn't exist in early 19th century England, or do something they just didn't do, etc.
Actually, I enjoyed the first two-thirds of the book because Burrowes has a pleasant voice. Her characters didn't sound like refugees from the twenty-first century, even when they were spouting nonsense. I was expecting to be much more enthusiastic, but she lost me with the intrigue that has to be resolved at the end for the protagonists to marry. It wasn't very compelling, particularly as one would imagine a duke could marshal enough solicitors and cronies in the House of Lords to get the heroine's situation sorted out. Oh, well. Whatever. I'm hoping Burrowes will get better, building on her strengths and diminishing her weaknesses.
Supposedly the hero is fond of lemonade with a lot of sugar. But if you just dump a lot of sugar crystals into some lemonade, the sugar doesn't dissolve. The way around that is to make a simple syrup of equal parts water and sugar, heat it just enough for the sugar to dissolve then cool it down, and sweeten the lemon juice and water with that. Anyone who's made lemonade in any quantity would know that.
Burrowes's heroine, Anna, comments on the prohibitive cost of sugar in the early 19th century, and Wiki bears that out. But where were the lemons coming from in mid-August? Someone's orangery, presumably, but whose? The hero's family estate might have a source of lemons -- but that many? The characters were chugging lemonade like it was water from a well. (Except for the brother who insisted on drinking "cold tea." I mentioned that to Brit Hub 2.1, and he said, "Oh, my gawd!" Cold tea is anathema to the British. And don't even get me started on how it's impossible to find iced coffee -- even today and even during a British heat wave.)
here's the Wiki article), including throughout Europe. It just wouldn't have been called a "cookie" in early 19th century England.
Finally, muffins. I suspect that Burrowes was imagining our sort of muffins -- cup-shaped with a rounded top -- but actually the "English muffin" sort of muffin -- flat and dusted with cornmeal -- was eaten in 19th century England. The "muffin man" shows up in Austen's Persuasion, and muffins are consumed by characters in Dickens' Nicholas Nickleby. Here's the Wiki article on the flat, intended to be toasted, sort of muffin.
The real problem with such gustatory anachronisms isn't that they ruin the book -- that's still a matter of taste (heh heh) for the reader -- but that they take one, at least someone food-oriented like me, out of the story. Every time Burrowes had her characters quaff some lemonade or eat a cookie, I would think about the history of food more than the characters.
Here's my real question, though: where's the editor in all this? Aren't we all supposed to be steeped in the basic elements of the Regency romance? Wouldn't an editor have circled the first instance of the word "lemonade" or "cookie" and scribbled in the margin, "Are you sure?" With global search-and-replace, it would have been so easy to change that to cider. Or tea -- regular hot tea, which yes, the Brits drink in ALL weather. (Or, as it's known in my transatlantic household, "the sweet elixir of life." Someone here is an addict.)