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From Eloisa James's "READING ROMANCE" column on The Barnes & Noble Review
When it comes to romance writers, lifetime membership in the Optimists' Club is practically a prerequisite. More than the writers of any other genre, we must keep the faith: that a thoughtful, sexy, and loving relationship is possible, long-term. But that doesn't mean that we're optimistic about so-called "perfect" matches or, for that matter, "perfect" people. Perfection is highly overrated when it comes to love, as these five romances demonstrate.
Susan Elizabeth Phillips's Call Me Irresistible opens with two flawless people on the verge of marriage…until the bride's best friend shows up. Meg is far from perfect: she never graduated from college, and doesn't have a job, a decent car, or a career. But when she says -- skeptically -- of the groom, Ted (a gorgeous millionaire with umpteen degrees), "He sounds like Jesus. Except rich and sexy," the bride realizes that she's not ready to marry a deity. This plot could easily turn dizzy and light, but instead the novel offers a fascinating picture of two people who have made a lot of mistakes. Meg truly has wasted her life, and Ted is so overwhelmed by his own reputation that he can't emotionally connect with anyone: beneath her banter and his aloof demeanor is a deep loneliness. Yet for all their antagonism (Ted blames Meg for his failed wedding), it turns out that they are at their best together. Meg learns to be responsible, and Ted finds his wild side. But Susan Elizabeth Phillips doesn't pull her punches: a man who is unavailable emotionally is not a good lover, no matter how many orgasms are exchanged -- and it takes Ted a long time to reform. In fact, in the last chapters, when it isn't clear whether Ted will be able to win Meg back, I defy you not to be turning the pages as fast as you possibly can read.
In Elizabeth Hoyt's Notorious Pleasures it's the heroine, rather than the hero, who seems to gaze down from an unapproachable height. Lady Hero Batten is the daughter of a duke: she's beautiful, tactful, intelligent, and witty. Even so, she is mortified when her fiancé's brother Griffin mocks her with the title Lady Perfect. Griffin Remmington, Lord Reading, is Hero's polar opposite. His reputation is even worse than Meg's in Call Me Irresistible: he has made himself notorious for drinking, carousing, and general worthlessness. In reality that façade hides an even more terrible truth about his activities, as Hero discovers. One of the wonderful things about this novel is that, like Phillips, Hoyt doesn't underestimate the challenges of falling in love with someone who has made dreadful decisions. But it's the downfall of Lady Perfect that gives the book its tantalizing, seductive pleasure: when Hero wonders whether "she could ever resurrect her perfect façade again," you'll be rooting for Griffin, sins and all. This is a novel that laughs in the face of anyone who believes that romances can't or don't depict the dark side of life -- while still standing up for the idea of real, long-term happiness.
Courtney Milan's Unveiled also contrasts a high-born heroine and a flawed hero, but here again, the stakes are much higher than mere reputation. Lady Anna Margaret Dalrymple is in a dreadful position. Her ancestral home, Parford Manor, now belongs to a vengeful distant cousin named Ash Turner; discovery of her father's bigamy has resulted in his children's disinheritance. Margaret promises herself that "she would be noble, even if she was no longer considered nobility." But perfection comes at a price. Since her horrible father is dying in the master bedroom, Margaret poses as a nurse in order to stay with him. And when she falls in love with Ash, Margaret finds herself torn between her role as a dutiful daughter and sister, and the man she loves. Only after she realizes that Ash would sacrifice everything to make her happy does Margaret understand love is the real yardstick by which we should measure loyalty.
Jill Shalvis's Animal Magnetism pits the perfectly sweet, charming Lilah Young against a weary, battle-worn ex-soldier named Brady Miller. He's spent the last few years in battle zones where "grime and suffering trumped hope and joy," whereas Lilah lives in a Disney-ish small town named Sunshine, where everyone loves her and she loves everyone -- including the baby animals she's surrounded by. In short, she's a princess, and he's a cynic. Her real perfection (from Brady's point-of-view) is that she accepts his wandering nature and offers red-hot sex with no strings attached. But, as he comes to understand, that may sound "perfect. Only it wasn't. Not even close." This is a wildly sexy, sweet story, as Lilah and Brady realize that falling in love with a flawed person can be a passionate affirmation of love's ability to bring people together.
My last romance poses a particularly modern conundrum: what if the person you fall in love with online, your Tweetheart, isn't really as unblemished as his electronic persona seems to be? Teresa Medeiros's Goodnight, Tweetheart moves between text and tweets to depict a love story between a struggling novelist, Abby Donovan, and an English professor on sabbatical, Mark Baynard. Their tweets are fascinating, as they joke about everything from Project Runway to Velveeta. It's impossible not to fall in love with someone as witty and sweet as Mark (he signs off as Goodnight Tweetheart), even though Abby does realize that he's using humor as a defense mechanism. Can someone so glowingly "perfect" ever live up to his Twitter feed? Of all the novels, this one falls most firmly into the "no one is perfect" camp. When Mark reveals a shocking truth about himself, Abby realizes that perfection is deeper than tweets: it's Mark's smile, the smile that says "I will always love you no matter what you've done and no matter what you'll ever do."
My latest romance, When Beauty Tamed the Beast, has just been published -- and as you can imagine, my hero is definitely less than perfect. I chose to rewrite this particular fairy tale because I think that a love story between all-too-human persons is far more interesting than that between "golden boys and girls," as Shakespeare had it. In fact, these novels are a splendid antidote to an overdose of sickly sweet Valentine's Day sentiments. Buy your beloved a card that insists he or she is the perfect match for you -- and then remind yourself that love trumps all those flaws the card pretends don't exist.
So this was how it felt to be a conquering hero.
Ash Turner—once plain Mr. Turner; now, so long as fate stayed Parliament's hand, the future Duke of Parford—sat back on his horse as he reached the crest of the hill.
The estate he would inherit was laid out in the valley before him. Stone walls and green hedges hugged the curves of the limestone hill where his horse stood, breaking the brilliant apple-green growth of high summer into gentle, rolling squares of patchwork. A small cottage stood to the side of the road. He could hear the hushed whispers of the farm children, who had crept out to gawk at him as he passed.
Over the past few months, he'd become accustomed to being gawked at.
Behind him, his younger brother's steed stamped and came to a halt. From this high vantage point, they could see Parford Manor—an impressive four-story, five-winged affair, its brilliant windows glittering in the sunlight. Undoubtedly, someone had set a servant to watch for his arrival. In a few moments, the staff would spill out onto the front steps, arranging themselves in careful lines, ready to greet the man who would be their master.
The man who'd stolen a dukedom.
A smile played over Ash's face. Once he inherited, nobody would gainsay him.
"You don't have to do this." The words came from behind him.
Nobody, that was, except his little brother.
Ash turned in the saddle. Mark was facing forwards, looking at the manor below with an abstracted expression. That detached focus made him look simultaneously old, as if he deserved an elder's beard to go with that inexplicable wisdom, and yet still unaccountably boyish.
"It's not right." Mark's voice was barely audible above the wind that whipped at Ash's collar.
Mark was seven years younger than Ash, which made him by most estimations firmly an adult. But despite all that Mark had experienced, he had somehow managed to retain an aura of almost painful purity. He was the opposite of Ash—blond, where Ash's hair was dark; slim, where Ash's shoulders had broadened with years of labor. But most of all, Mark seemed profoundly, sacredly innocent, where Ash felt tired and profane. Perhaps that was why the last thing Ash wanted to do in his moment of victory was to hash through the ethics.
Ash shook his head. "You asked me to find you a quiet country home for these last weeks of summer, so you might work in peace." He spread his arms, palms up. "Well. Here you are."
Down in the valley, the first ranks of servants had begun to gather, jockeying for position on the wide steps leading up to the massive front doors.
Mark shrugged, as if this evidence of prosperity meant nothing to him. "A house back in Shepton Mallet would have done."
A tight knot formed in Ash's stomach. "You're not going back to Shepton Mallet. You're never going back there. Do you suppose I would simply kick you from a carriage at Market Cross and let you disappear for the summer?"
Mark finally broke his gaze from the tableau in front of them and met Ash's eyes. "Even by your extravagant standards, Ash, you must admit this is a bit much."
"You don't think I would make a good duke? Or you don't approve of the method I used to inveigle a summer's invitation to the ducal manor?"
Mark simply shook his head. "I don't need this. We don't need this."
And therein lay Ash's problem. He wanted to make up for every last bit of his brothers' childhood deprivation. He wanted to repay every skipped meal with twelve-course dinners, gift a thousand pairs of gloves in exchange for every shoeless winter. He'd risked his life building a fortune to ensure their happiness. Yet both his brothers declared themselves satisfied with a few prosaic simplicities.
Simplicities wouldn't make up for Ash's failure. So maybe he had overindulged when Mark finally asked him for a favor.
"Shepton Mallet would have been quiet," Mark said, almost wistfully.
"Shepton Mallet is halfway to dead." Ash clucked to his horse. As he did so, the wind stopped. What he'd intended as a faint sound of encouragement sounded overloud. The horse started down the road towards the manor.
Mark kicked his mare into a trot and followed.
"You've never thought it through," Ash tossed over his shoulder. "With Richard and Edmund Dalrymple no longer able to inherit, you're fourth in line for the dukedom. There are a great many advantages to that. Opportunities will arise."
"Is that how you're describing your actions, this past year? 'No longer able to inherit?'"
Ash ignored this sally. "You're young. You're handsome. I'm sure there are some lovely milkmaids in Somerset who would be delighted to make the acquaintance of a man who stands an arm's length from a dukedom."
Mark stopped his horse a few yards before the gate to the grounds. Ash felt a fillip of annoyance at the delay, but he halted, too.
"Say it," Mark said. "Say what you did to the Dal-rymples. You've spouted one euphemism after another ever since this started. If you can't even bring yourself to speak the words, you should never have done it."
"Christ. You're acting as if I killed them."
But Mark was looking at him, his blue eyes intense. In this mood, with the sun glancing off all that blond hair, Ash wouldn't have been surprised if his brother had pulled a flaming sword from his saddlebag and proclaimed him barred from Eden forever. "Say it," Mark repeated.
And besides, his little brother so rarely asked anything of him. Ash would have given Mark whatever he wanted, so long as he just well, wanted.
"Very well." He met his brother's eyes. "I brought the evidence of the Duke of Parford's first marriage before the ecclesiastical courts, and thus had his second marriage declared void for bigamy. The children resulting from that union were declared illegitimate and unable to inherit. Which left the duke's long-hated fifth cousin, twice removed, as the presumptive heir. That would be me." Ash started his horse again. "I didn't do anything to the Dalrymples. I just told the truth of what their own father had done all those years ago."
And he wasn't about to apologize for it, either.
Mark snorted and started his horse again. "And you didn't have to do that."
But he had. Ash didn't believe in foretellings or spiritual claptrap, but from time to time, he had premonitions, perhaps, although that word smacked of the occult. A better phrase might have been that he possessed a sheer animal instinct. As if the reactive beast buried deep inside him could recognize truths that human intelligence, dulled by years of education, could not.
When he'd found out about Parford, he'd known with a blazing certainty: If I become Parford, I can finally break my brothers free of the prison they've built for themselves.
With that burden weighing down one side of the scale, no moral considerations could balance the other to equipoise. The disinherited Dalrymples meant nothing. Besides, after what Richard and Edmund had done to his brothers? Really. He shed no tears for their loss.
The servants had finished gathering, and as Ash trotted up the drive, they held themselves at stiff attention. They were too well trained to gawk, too polite to let more than a little rigidity infect their manner. Likely, they were too accustomed to their wages to do more than grouse about the upstart heir the courts had forced upon them.
They'd like him soon enough. Everyone always did.
"Who knows?" he said quietly. "Maybe one of these serving girls will catch your eye. You can have any one you'd like."
Mark favored him with an amused look. "Satan," he said, shaking his head, "get thee behind me."
Ash's steed came to a stop and he dismounted slowly. The manor looked smaller than Ash remembered, the stone of its facade honey-gold, not bleak and imposing. It had shrunk from the unassailable fortress that had loomed in Ash's head all these years. Now it was just a house. A big house, yes, but not the dark, menacing edifice he'd brooded over in his memory.
The servants stood in painful, ordered rows. Ash glanced over them.
There were probably more than a hundred retainers arrayed before him, all dressed in gray. He felt as sober as they appeared. Had there been the slightest danger of Mark accepting his cavalier offer, Ash would never have made it. These people were his dependents now—or they would be, once the current duke passed on. His duty. Their prosperity would hang on his whim, as his had once hung on Parford's. It was a weighty responsibility.
I'm going to do better than that old bastard.
A vow, that, and one he meant every bit as much as the last promise he'd sworn, looking up at this building.
He turned to greet the majordomo, who stepped forwards. As he did so, he saw her. She stood on the last row of steps, a few inches apart from the rest of the servants. She held her head high. The wind started up again, as if the entire universe had been holding its breath up until this moment. She was looking directly at him, and Ash felt a cavernous hollow open deep in his chest.
He'd never seen the woman before in his life. He couldn't have; he would have remembered the feel of her, the sheer rightness of it. She was pretty, even with that dark hair pulled into a severe knot and pinioned beneath a white lace cap. But it wasn't her looks that caught his attention. Ash had seen enough beautiful women in his time. Maybe it was her eyes, narrowed and steely, fixed on him as if he were the source of all that was wrong in the world. Maybe it was the set of her chin, so unyielding, so fiercely determined, when every face around hers mirrored uncertainty. Whatever it was, something about her resonated deep within him.
It reminded him of the cacophony of an orchestra as it tuned its instruments: dissonance, suddenly resolving into harmony. It was the rumble, not of thunder, but its low, rolling precursor, trembling on the horizon. It was all of that. It was none of that. It was sheer animal instinct, and it reached up and grabbed him by the throat. Her. Her.
Ash had never ignored his instincts before—not once. He swallowed hard as the majordomo approached.
"One thing," he whispered to his brother. "The woman in the last row—on the far right? She's mine."
Before his brother could do more than frown at him, before Ash himself could swallow the lingering feeling of sparks coursing through his veins, the majordomo was upon them, bowing and introducing himself. Ash took a deep breath and focused on the man.
"Mr.—I mean, my—" The man paused, uncertain how to address Ash. With the duke still alive, Ash, a mere distant cousin, held no title. And yet he had come here as heir to the dukedom, on the strictest orders from Chancery. Ash could guess at the careful calculation in the majordomo's eyes: should he risk offending the man who might well be his next master? Or ought he adhere to the strict formalities required by etiquette?
Ash tossed his reins to the groom who crept forwards. "Plain Mr. Turner will do. There's no need to worry about how you address me. I scarcely know what to call myself."
The man nodded and the taut muscles in his face relaxed. "Mr. Turner, shall I arrange a tour, or would you and your brother care to take some refreshment first?"
Ash's eyes wandered to the woman in the back row. She met his gaze, her expression implacable, and a queer shiver ran down his spine. It was not lust itself he felt, but the premonition of desire, as if the wind that whipped around his cravat were whispering in his ears. Her. Choose her.
"Good luck," Mark muttered. "I don't believe she likes you all that much."
That much Ash had gleaned from the set of her jaw.
"No refreshment," Ash said aloud. "No rest. I want to know everything, and the sooner, the better. I'll need to speak with Parford, as well. I'd best start as I mean to go on." He glanced at the woman one last time, and then met his brother's eyes. "After all, I do enjoy a challenge."
From her high perch on the cold stone steps, Anna Margaret Dalrymple could make out little in the features of the two gentlemen who approached on horseback. But what she could see did not bode well for her future.
Ash Turner was both taller and younger than she had expected. Margaret had imagined him arriving in a jewel-encrusted carriage, pulled by a team of eight horses—something both ridiculously feminine and outrageously ostentatious, to match his reputation as a wealthy nabob. The man who had taken everything from her should have been some hunched creature, prematurely bald, capable of no expression except an insolent sneer.
But this man sat his horse with all the ease and grace of an accomplished rider, and she could not make out a single massive, unsightly gem anywhere on his person.
As Mr. Turner cantered up, the servants—it was difficult to think of them as fellow servants, when she was used to thinking of them as hers—tensed, breath held. And no wonder. This man had supplanted her brother, the rightful heir, through ruthless legal machinations. If Richard failed in his bid to have the Duke of Parford's children legitimized by act of Parliament, Mr. Turner would be the new master. And when her father died, Margaret would find herself a homeless bastard.
He dismounted from his steed with ease and tossed the reins to the stable boy who dashed out to greet him. While he exchanged a few words with the majordomo, she could sense the unease about her, multiplying itself through the shuffling of feet and the uncertain rubbing of hands against sides. What sort of a man was he?
His gaze swept over them, harsh and severe. For one brief second, his eyes came to rest on Margaret. It was an illusion, of course—a wealthy merchant, come to investigate his patrimony, would care nothing for a servant clad in a shapeless gray frock, her hair secured under a severe mobcap. But it seemed as if he were looking directly inside her, as if he could see every day of these past painful months. It was as if he could see the empty echo of the lady she had been. Her heart thumped once, heavily.
She'd counted on being invisible to him in this guise.
Then, as if she'd been but a brief snag in the fluid silk of his life, he looked away, finishing his survey of the massed knot of servants. Beside her, the upstairs maids held their breath. Margaret wished he would just get it over with and say something dastardly, so they could all hate him.
Posted September 18, 2014
Posted July 30, 2014
Posted July 22, 2014
Posted May 8, 2014
My first Courtney Milan book and the first in her Turner series. I was inspired to read this because twice in one week tantalizing quotes from the Tumblr blog, quotesfromromancenovels, as well as an excerpt from Sarah Wendell’s non-fiction tribute, Everything I Know About Love I Learned From Romance Novels, mentioned this book. So, of course, I had to read it.
This was a family story about an inheritance dispute and, as expected, it was emotional and heart-wrenching. At its center, was a passionate and seductive love story. Wealth, power, and love were all at stake for the Dalrymples and the Turners.
Margaret, the name of the heroine, was a jumble of contrasts; a buttoned-up and serious name for a woman filled with deep passions. She lost everything and was left behind by her brothers, scorned by her father, and secretly posing as a servant to spy on Ash. “Maybe it was her eyes, narrowed and steely, fixed on him as if he were the source of all that was wrong in the world. Maybe it was the set of her chin, so unyielding, so fiercely determined, when every face around hers mirrored uncertainty. Whatever it was, something about her resonated deep within him. It reminded him of the cacophony of an orchestra as it tuned its instruments: dissonance, suddenly resolving into harmony.” (p17)
Ash wasn’t anything like Margaret expected. He was kind, honorable, and unpretentious. “The man who had taken everything from her should have been some hunched creature, prematurely bald, capable of no expression except an insolent sneer. But this man sat his horse with all the ease and grace of an accomplished rider, and she could not make out a single massive, unsightly gem anywhere on his person. Drat.” (p19)
Ash’s unwavering devotion and love for Margaret. He understood her, cheered for her, supported her. “'…I want you to paint your own canvas. I want you to unveil yourself.'” “You matter. You are important.'” (p56)
Ash’s complex relationship with his brothers, Mark and Smite, whose stories I assume will follow in this series. He did everything for them, to make up for their miserable childhood. Yet he felt separated from them. “It was as if they were an extension of him, so close to his heart that he could not guess at the topography of their emotions. He could see no secret way into their hearts.” (p174)
The lovely and devastating note that Margaret left for Ash to find in his study.
Mark, Ash’s younger brother, and his treatise on chastity was both serious and funny. I hope to read more of Mark in a future story. “’Chastity,’ Ash said dryly, ‘is far more arousing than I had anticipated.’” (p125)
Margaret’s struggle with defending her brothers amid her growing love for Ash. “She could live without society’s blessing. She could not live with her own condemnation. Betraying Ash’s secret would be like spilling dark paint on the picture of herself that she was only now beginning to comprehend.” (p119)
The sizzling passion between Ash and Margaret, especially the closet scene. “He was going to set her aflame, coaxing every last desire from her body.” (p105)
Margaret’s ineffective and selfish brothers, Edmund and Richard. Heaven help a woman with inept and unsupportive brothers. "How had a family that produced such a faint-hearted coward also come up with Margaret?" (p205)
“It was the rumble, not of thunder, but its low, rolling precursor, trembling on the horizon. It was all of that. It was none of that. It was sheer animal instinct, and it reached up and grabbed him by the throat. Her. Her.” (p17)
"Margaret had always thought a man seduced a woman by making her aware of his charms: his body, his wealth, his kisses. How naive she had been. Ash Turner seduced her with the promise of her own self." (p75)
”’The measure of male familiarity is the degree of barbarism to which one reverts in the absence of female companionship.’” (p84)
“He wanted to be more than her defiance. He wanted to be her strength, her amusement. He wanted to be her lover. He wanted to be her every wicked desire and her safe haven, all at once.” (p127)
”’Either it’s an honor to marry a woman, or it’s not to be done at all, not at any cost.’” (p141)
“But what lit his face when he saw her was more than a smile, more than a grin. It was as if someone had thrown aside the curtains of a sickroom on a glorious morning, to let sunlight spill into every darkened corner.” (p239)
A gorgeously written love story. I will definitely be reading more Courtney Milan.
0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 14, 2013
Posted September 22, 2013
After reading some of the reviews i was prepared not to care for Ash, the hero. But i have to say i was more than pleasantly surprised by hia character. He is the man who truly comes to rescue a damsel in distress. I dont want to give anything away...but I did internally sigh a few times wishing there were real men like that in the world.
As far as the story goes...it was decent and a little slow moving. I was not riveted, but definitely wanted to finish the novel. The author also educates you in society edicts back then including women's attire and what is expected at social gatherings whether they be balls or fetes.
This book does have graphic sex scenes, but not the most graphic that i have ever read. It is dedinitely not for junior readers.
Posted April 4, 2013
Posted March 28, 2012
Posted January 28, 2012
Posted March 20, 2011
I don't think my heart has ever beat so hard while reading a romance - and certainly I haven't giggled with delight for quite some time at some of the mishaps that happen between the two main characters! Courtney Milan definitely has another heart-thumping winner with her latest release Unveiled! The great thing about Ms. Milan's romances, I think, is how flawed - and yet how adorably so! - her heroes are - and Ash is certainly cut from the same cloth! I admired his fierce loyalty for his younger brothers and his drive to provide them with everything he believed that they deserved after living an impoverished childhood, even stealing a dukedom through legal channels. He comes across as a powerfully built, fair, charming, and ruthlessly loyal man - but deep down, he is still with insecurities and shameful secrets that he cannot share with anyone, even his brothers. Margaret is a strong woman - another thing I like about Ms. Milan's romances - who certainly has a sturdy backbone to face the intimidating Ash who basically ruined her life. She too has a deep sense of family commitment - and it is this that prevents Ash and Margaret to embrace their passion for each other. She wants to protect her family, and he his - and at the heart of the matter lies the dukedom and who owns it. Unveiled was a romance that had great strength, unwavering loyalty, and exuberant romance at its backbone - and I definitely am itching for its sequel Unclaimed in the fall!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 6, 2011
While this was an entertaining read, I thought it fell a little short of its promise. This was a great story but the secondary characters were almost more compelling than the main characters, I found a number of their reactions at key moments to not be "in character" and much opportunity for the characters to develop seemed to be missed. I sort of felt like I had been promised a bowl of silky creamy mushroom soup and got something made with skim milk and canned mushrooms. The flavors were there, but the body was not.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 11, 2011
This is my first Courtney Milan book, and boy does she know how to put beautiful words on the page. This will definitely not be my last read by her. I was most impressed with the way Milan delivered the blows in the story. She distracts with wonderfully crafted writing and quick dialogue, and then bam! things start coming to a head that you didn't think were going to happen for pages and pages. You don't know when anything is going to happen, and you learn quickly that you will never guess how she's going to do it. You can't block the surprise. My favorite part of story was the vulnerabilities Milan gave the main characters, and how she used them in the story. To watch them at work was something else. Margaret and Ash are so vulnerable to each other it was like watching two young teenagers fall in love through innocent flirtation, and small fits of giggles. All the while you are terrified that at any moment they are going to use those vulnerabilities to strike out at one another. Which you expect, what with all the vengeance, deception, and human determination spinning around the characters. It's a whirlwind. The entire story is laced with a build up that catapults in one direction, but lands in a spectacular other place. And in the end there's a bit of something all of us can take home: Paint your canvas, and never let anyone hold the sheet over it. You must be unveiled. Kudos to the author! -Posey, Everybody Needs A Little RomanceWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 16, 2010
In 1837 the scandal in Somerset rocks the Ton in London and elsewhere as the adult children of the dying duke of Parford turn out to be illegitimate. Instead of an offspring, a distant cousin formerly Mr. Ash Turner found the proof that he now Lord Ash Turner is the legitimate heir. His younger brother Mark begs Ash not to do what he has wrought to the Duke's children Richard, Edmund and Anna Margaret Dalyrmple who have become social pariahs, but they also file a countersuit asking parliament to pass a bill making them the legitimate heirs.
Parford's shunned daughter Anna Margaret goes undercover to spy on the upstart Ash by pretending to be the dying Duke's Nurse Miss Margaret Lowell. Her brothers want their sister to find proof to support their request for a royal proclamation of legitimacy. Ash and Margaret are attracted to one another from their first meeting. This tears her heart asunder as she falls in love with the kind enemy but wants to remain loyal to her brutish siblings.
This is an engaging early Victorian romance starring an obstinate lead male who vows vengeance against the Dalyrmple brothers for what they did to his siblings. However, Margaret's emotional predicament makes the historical entertaining as she brings intensity to the storyline. Her brothers are rude and shallow, while Ash's relationships with his family except somewhat with Mark are ignored for the most part. The Dalyrmple efforts to persuade Parliament to act on their behalf are a refreshing concept though if enacted is an abuse of power. Sub-genre readers will enjoy this intriguing nineteenth century tale.
Posted August 18, 2011
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Posted September 22, 2014
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Posted June 3, 2011
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Posted March 22, 2011
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Posted February 17, 2012
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Posted April 21, 2013
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