Thursday, September 2, 2010
To prevent a dear friend from wedding Ian Lennard, the notorious Viscount St. Clair, Felicity Taylor reveals his shady past in her anonymous London gossip column. But the dauntless miss never imagined St. Clair's rage - for the dangerous rake is now short a bride and desperately needs an heir. Threatened with exposure and ruin, Felicity has no choice but to marry the hot-blooded lord herself. Ian needs a wife merely to secure his fortune, but in Felicity he has met his match in both wit and passion. And no danger is greater than the possibility that he might actually be falling in love with his fiery new bride!
Sabrina Jeffries is becoming a favorite of mine. I simply loved the second in her "Lord" series, The Forbidden Lord, but this wasn't quite as good. In fact, parts of it I found rather annoying. The heroine is a secret gossip columnist known as "Lord X" and the hero takes umbrage over being a target of her column. Ian, the hero has a complicated past. He is harboring a secret about why he abruptly left England at the age of nineteen. Bits and pieces and rumors come out about him, mostly scandalous, but the truth is he's been acting as a secret agent for England during the Napoleonic Wars, though no one really knows this, they all think the worst of him. Now back in England, he needs to marry due to a strange clause in his father's will that says he must sire a son by the time he is thirty years old - or thirty-one, something like that.
Felicity is a young lady of quality (alas, with no money) who is in charge of raising her four younger brothers - three of whom are unruly triplets. Their architect father has died leaving them with a pile of debt, and Felicity must earn a living to support her house and family by writing a gossip column as "Mr. X." Ian happens to be Felicity's number one target in her column. Hence, Ian and Felicity meet when Ian succeeds in finding out where Lord X lives (he is a secret agent after all) so he can force Lord X to stop writing his scurrilous tales about him! When he succeeds in finding our Lord X, Ian finds out he's not at all what he expected!
Now, this all had a great premise, but gradually Ian's character appeared too manipulative for my liking. Everything he did regarding Felicity was a game played against her. He won over her brothers to get to her, he won over her housekeeper too and then threatened exposing Felicity to the ton. I don't know why she even fell for him eventually. Don't get me wrong, he wasn't all bad, we find out why he has such a manipulative nature, but I thought the gossipy plotline and his deceptions in this Regency were a bit over the top, yet it was still an enjoyable read.
Felicity through the majority of the book is trying to find out about his secrets. She's like a terrier with a bone! She won't give up. Ian realizes one way to stop her is to marry her - and it doesn't hurt he's terribly attracted to her as well! He likes her strong and fiery personality, a natural match for him. He tries to get her to marry him by first asking her (she says no) and then compromising her (which I abhorred!) and even that had no success, so then he asks her to help him find someone else to marry, since he blames her for "ruining" his reputation so no nice girl will marry him. He knows full well she'll realize how much she wants him herself - and he's right! It finally works in part with the help of the two heroines from the first two books in the series who have married his best friends. Felicity does become jealous and eventually succumbs to his masculine wiles and allurements. ;) But still, I couldn't stand how everything Ian does is a ruse to get her to agree to marry him! I got so tired of this game of his! Because of his games, Felicity had a hard time believing him, particularly in regard to whether he was keeping a mistress or not. She would not give up on the idea that he was! More than once I had to grit my teeth over her stubborness to believe him!
I liked Felicity and I really blame it on Ian for this problem. I didn't like the way he was treating her and lying to her all the time. His methods were less than charming. I felt they were more on the boorish side, frankly. But, eventually she does fall for Ian, soon marrying him after she gives in to him one night - actually, I did like that part immensely. ;) After a marriage ceremony that she nearly misses, her identity as Lord X is revealed, blah, blah, blah, Ian's evil uncle threatens them and Felicity must save the day coming toe to toe with London's most notorious gossipmongers! It was all a little ridiculous, frankly. Add to that, my less than enthusiastic reaction to Ian for much of the book, the whole thing left me with a bit of a bad taste in my mouth. I now realize I don't like these kind of manipulative heroes all that much. They're usually arrogant and deceitful and if anything I feel sorry for the heroine ending up with them. Yes, yes, it all comes out in the end why Ian acts this way, I guess his lousy childhood, etc, makes it all right. Maybe you'll feel differently.
Despite this hero's lack of appeal, the romance wasn't bad and I'm eager to read the rest of Ms. Jeffries backlist for her books are well written and entertaining!
P.S. Someone get this book a new cover, you can barely see what it's a picture of through it's murky purple-ness!