Saturday, November 19, 2011
Their lives were perfect . . .
Lady Hero Batten, the beautiful sister of the Duke of Wakefield, has everything a woman could want, including the perfect fiancé. True, the Marquis of Mandeville is a trifle dull and has no sense of humor, but that doesn't bother Hero. Until she meets his notorious brother . . .
Until they met each other.
Griffin Remmington, Lord Reading, is far from perfect - and he likes it that way. How he spends his days is a mystery, but all of London knows he engages in the worst sorts of drunken revelry at night. Hero takes an instant dislike to him, and Griffin thinks that Hero, with her charities and faultless manners, is much too impeccable for society, let alone his brother. Yet their near-constant battle of wits soon sparks desire - desire that causes their carefully constructed worlds to come tumbling down. As Hero's wedding nears, and Griffin's enemies lay plans to end their dreams forever, can two imperfect people find perfect true love?
I loved this romance, second in the Maiden Lane series. I even thought it was better than it's predecessor. The series continues with Lady Hero Batten, daughter and sister to a duke, who is the perfect, respectable young lady. Set during early Georgian times, which is one of my favorite romance time periods, Hero is engaged to be married to the oh so respectable Marquis of Mandeville. She doesn't love him, but it's a good match that her brother has arranged for her. Everything seems to be coming along smoothly until she meets his disreputable brother, Griff.
I admit, I was a bit taken about by how they meet. Our first impression of Griff is that he is just as his reputation says, a womanizer, a philanderer, reckless and dissolute. Basically, he's a dog. When he and Hero first meet it is at a ball. Griff is busy getting it on with with a married lady as Hero walks in on them. Ever cool under pressure and a lady in any circumstance, Hero then proceeds to help cover it up to the lady's husband who is about to enter the room! What a first impression! Memorable, to say the least!
Despite the fact he's a known rake, can the respectable Lady Hero throw caution to the wind and give in to the passion she develops for her future brother-in-law? They are thrown together over and over again and before long they can't deny they are crazy about one another. Not only is it a sticky situation, but he's the owner of a gin still in London's East End! Will she go ahead and marry his staid brother, the Marquis (who has his own secrets and issues)? Or will she run off with Griff? What will her brother do when he finds out about her affair? It will not exactly keep her in his good graces, plus he can ruin Griff, especially when he finds out that he runs a gin still!
I know this is off the wall, but in regard to her brother, I couldn't help comparing the way that Hero's parents were murdered to that of Bruce Wayne's parents in Batman. While attending the theatre in the East End, they were set upon and murdered. Very similar. Bruce Wayne becomes the crime fighting Batman and Hero's brother, the Duke of Wakefield rabidly hunts down all the gin stills in London in order to clear them out. Is he the mysterious sword wielding minstrel that pops up from time to time in this series? It would really be similar to Batman if that were the case - but I don't think so. I have my suspicions of who it is but I won't reveal them just yet.
As much as I loved this book, I did have trouble believing that Hero could fall for such an obvious womanizer and commit the unthinkable! She must be crazy to fall for him but as she gets to know him better, the two seem to go together well, like (as he says) "bread and butter." But, they're also like oil and vinegar. What will she do? If she breaks her engagement and goes with Griff, she'll be ostracized by society. Plus, there's an old rumor that the reason Griff and his brother, the Marquis, don't get along with one another is because Griff slept with the Marquis' first wife who died in childbirth - supposedly with Griff's baby! Was it true? Can we trust Griff or not? I had a lot of issues with him - primarily his connections with the gin still. Turns out he's the financial brains behind the family and keeps it so that he can support his family and their expensive lifestyle. If he married Hero, she is an heiress and that would solve his money problems. Of course, that makes Hero wonder - does he want to marry her for her money or because he loves her?
I'll keep this brief, but the whole thing winds up with an exciting conclusion and we get a glimpse of what's coming in the next book in the series... more of the seamy side of London's East End and it's Hogarth-like descriptions.
Overall, I liked this hot and steamy follow up to the first in Hoyt's Maiden Lane series. Elizabeth Hoyt is one of my favorite romance authors, so I'm eager to get to the next. Her writing is first rate, the clothing, settings and characterizations are all very, very well done. The chemistry and snappy dialogue between Hero and Griffin really makes the book, despite their implausible relationship. I would have rated this higher except for the fact Griff was a little "too much" of a bad boy for me. Still, he does manage to redeem himself, but the relationship between them was a bit far fetched - enjoyable and sizzling - but far fetched.