Wednesday, March 23, 2011

How to Treat A Lady by Karen Hawkins

Book Description:
Does She Dare?

To save her family from ruin, Harriet Ward invented a fiance - a wealthy sea captain.  But now the bank wants proof of the captain's existence.  Just as Harriet despairs, fate drops a mysterious stranger into her arms, who she believes has no idea of his own identity...  Does Harriet dare mislead the disturbingly handsome stranger? And if she does, what will be the cost?

Will he win?

Chase St. John knows exactly who he is. While quitting London, Chase was waylaid by footpads and left for dead.  Awakening in the care of Miss Harriet Ward, Chase is astonished when the tempting maid brazenly announces that he is her betrothed.  Chase, ever a rogue, decides to play the part of adoring lover.  But the price is rich, indeed, when it might mean losing his own heart.

This is the third book in Hawkins' Talisman Ring Series.  So far, I've loved the series, but this book was sort of a let down.  Maybe it's because I never caught on to Chase, the youngest of the St. John brothers and somewhat of a scapegrace.  His older brothers worry about him and his profligate ways, primarily his drinking and hanging out with undesirables.  Because of this, I'm afraid I was a bit biased.  I like the strong, reliable types - the older brother types.  Chase just didn't do it for me as a hero.

Chase has gotten himself into a fix.  He doesn't want his brothers to know about it, so he decides to flee the country and go to Europe to get away from his problems.  He's being blackmailed by a slimy "friend" who's taking advantage of Chase's guilty conscience over an accidental death.   Right there, Chase didn't endear himself to me.  While running away, he is set upon by thieves and knocked out.  Harriet Ward, a young lady who's family is virtually penniless but still barely surviving, finds him and brings him home to nurse.  Harriet has money problems and due to a crazy scheme hatched up by her mother, Chase winds up posing as Harriet's fiance - a sea captain who can help keep the bankers from taking away their house. 

Even though it was a harebrained idea, it had its amusing merits.  By helping Harriet's family, Chase is able to redeem himself in the reader's eyes and regain some honor that he badly needs.  He helps them with their sheep, rounding them up for shearing so they can sell the wool to market and pay the mortgage on their house.  The idea of an aristocrat getting down and dirty shearing sheep was a novelty, but still didn't grab me.   It would have been just as simple for him to anonymously give them the money to avoid losing the house as well.   I did like the way Chase posed as her affianced, but I grew tired of Harriet constantly waffling back and forth over how she felt about him.   A relationship develops between Chase and Harriet, though I found zero chemistry between them.  She is incredibly naive when it comes to the opposite sex and things like kissing, much less jumping into bed with him and allowing herself to be deflowered!  I just didn't see what he saw in her.  They were thrown together haphazardly, but for me, it wasn't enough to make a good romance.   It bothered me that he was deceiving her family most of the time, pretending he had amnesia too.   Did I mention that?  The whole plot was convoluted in the extreme.

Finally, his brothers find out where he is, and as usual, they help save the day.  Chase finds out he didn't kill someone, he'd been tricked into thinking he had, so all is well.  In sum, this was a lacklustre romance compared to other regencies I've read, it was somewhat forgettable.  Still, I have hopes for the rest of the books in the series. I love this author and won't let this one dissuade me from reading the rest of the series.


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