Monday, January 9, 2012

Lord of Fire by Gaelen Foley

Book Description:
After years of preparation, he has baited his trap well, luring the depraved members of Society into his devil’s playground so he can earn their trust and uncover their secrets. Yet no one in London suspects that Lord Lucien Knight is England’s most cunning spy, an officer who has sacrificed his soul for his country. Now an unexpected intruder has invaded his fortress of sin, jeopardizing his carefully laid plans–and igniting his deepest desires.

Beautiful, innocent, Alice Montague finds herself at the mercy of scandalous Lord Lucien. But as he begins his slow seduction to corrupt her virtue, Alice glimpses a man tormented by his own choices, a man who promises her nothing except his undeniable passion. . . .

I'm afraid I just wasn't as bowled over by this second installment in the Knight Miscellany series as others before me.  It started out well when we are first introduced to Lucien Knight, who seems to be the leader of some sort of Hellfire Club, throwing orgies and wild parties in a cave beneath his house.   What makes him even more interesting is the idea he gets into his head to seduce his mistresses' oh so perfect and moral sister in law, Alice Montague.   But then we learn that Lucien is not all that he seems to be.  He's not a rogue at all.  It turns out he is a spy.  Oh no.  Another regency spy story... I'm growing so tired of these storylines, which must have been the thing back around 2002-2003 when many of these books were written.  All the romance authors seemed to have glommed onto the Regency spy bandwagon - or else their publishers insisted on it.  Whatever it was, this book lost all steam and credibility for me when the plot line turned toward the spy game direction.

Not only was I sick to death of this kind of scenario, (how many times do I have to read about how the hero is really good, but has to keep it a secret, so he acts the cad?) but as soon as I realized Lucien was a spy who was trying to gain secrets from all the debauched people that came to his parties, I was turned off in general.   The orgies in his grotto at his home?  I found it all a bit distasteful, no matter what his real reasons were for holding them.  

Alice's side of the story was slightly more refreshing.  She is an on the shelf spinster taking care of her adorable young nephew, Harry, whose father died.  Caro, her widowed sister-in-law (and mother to the boy) is a complete nympho who could care less about raising her son, remaining perfectly happy to have her sister-in-law do all the work in raising the boy.  When Harry comes down with the chicken pox, Alice tracks down Caro to bring her home to be with him (fat chance).  This is how Alice winds up in Lucien's grotto during one of his all night "parties." It was all extremely far-fetched and Alice was too naive to be believed.  Still, it threw Alice and Lucien together and of course, Lucien is bowled over by her innocence and incredible beauty as soon as he sees her.  But even more crazy, as innocent as she was, she comes mighty close to touching and holding his - ahem - staff of pleasure.  Huh?  I'd say the virginal Alice is one pretty fast learner.  Who knows what would of happened if her sister-in-law hadn't walked in when she did to interrupt their brief  interlude.

What gets me though is how Lucien, this highly clever spymaster, does the unthinkable as soon as he lays eyes on Alice for the first time.  Because he is so bowled over by her purity and beauty - he must have her?  He tricks Alice and a shameless Caro (who is now his ex-mistress) and manages to keep Alice with him for a week while her promiscuous sister-in-law goes off to be with her son (fat chance) while he's recuperating.  Did I mention the embarrassing spectacle Caro makes of herself over Lucien (in front of Alice)?  She resembled a cat in heat.  There were many WTF moments in this book, and in my opinion, Lucien lost all credence with me by the way he behaved over Alice, keeping her with him so he could seduce her in the privacy of his own home where she must remain for a week.  It was selfish and out of character for him. It just didn't seem to make sense to me.  If he really was a no good rake - then yes, I'd believe it.  But, he is just acting like one.  If he's really a good man and not a lecherous womanizer, why would he do such a thing?  Plus, I kept asking myself, "Why her? What did Alice have that made him ask her to marry him in a week?  Their special week together sure worked wonders!  They get to know one another and by the end Alice comes around to him and realizes, "Gee, he's really not that big a jerk after all - I think I'm in love with him!" - it boggles the mind!  Plus, all this time she's still unaware of his real persona as a spy.  Yet despite all this, she still thinks he's pretty neat, even though he's planning on holding another one of his orgies in his grotto in a few days! Warning bells would have been going off in my head non-stop! If I were Alice I wouldn't have had anything to do with him! 

Eventually, they all wind up back in London (surprise, surprise, Caro dragged sick little Harry with her because she wanted to be near all the fun!)  Alice goes after them and the plot turns to the hunt for the French spy, Bardou, who once tortured Lucien for five weeks.  Bardou is out to bomb London on Guy Fawkes night, which will kill hundreds of innocent people.  Lucien is busy looking for him, unaware that his slutty ex-mistress Caro has taken up with the evil Bardou, thinking he's some Prussian count!  Well, she rues that mistake before long.  Frankly, this plot-line was all over the place and ... believe it or not, I was kind of bored during some of it, despite the crazy, far fetched over the top melodrama!  It just didn't keep me interested.   As dashing and handsome as Lucien was, I really just don't like story lines with tortured misunderstood heroes who conveniently use their unhappy childhoods to behave like cads to try and prove something.  (Why is it then all wind up being spies?)  Lucien had an unhappy childhood because he had... asthma!  Heavens!  Alice started out as a strongish heroine and then turned into a puddle.  If only she hadn't turned into such a nitwit.  Her naivete and goodness added up to just plain stupidity!  I don't get it.  Before she met Lucien she seemed like a sensible, capable young women.  Then as soon as she meets him, she completely falls for him and believes she's in love with him and they're going to get married!  Of course, it didn't quite happen that way, she did give him a hard time at first - for about a day.  

I'm leaving tons of the book's plot line out and it really wasn't as bad as I'm making it out to be (pardon my sarcasm), but it was just so far-fetched!   I was disappointed in both hero and heroine as well, especially after being so revved up to read this book which I thought I was going to love!  And please don't get me started on all the talk she has with him about her "womanly courses" and his asking her about where she is in her cycle!?  As if they even knew about that sort of thing during Regency times, despite his excuse that he once studied to be a doctor! *another eye rolling moment*

Still, after all that, I like this author.  The writing itself was good as were the details and descriptions, but I had to roll my eyes several times throughout the novel.  On a final note, I found the teaser about his icy twin brother Damien an intriguing twist.  I like his type and the next book is about him - let's see if he's really going mad or not!



Julia Rachel Barrett said...

I read this book a year or so ago and I remember being disappointed. Barely finished.

Julie at Outlandish Dreaming said...

Barely finished. Yup, I know what you mean.

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