Setting: 1804 England
Series: #2 of the House of Rohan Trilogy. Can be read stand alone.
Pages: 408 (ePub)
FTClosure: I was given an ARC
Tropes: Older woman, the Rake & Spinster, There is no such thing as a frigid woman, and best of all, No-I-will-not-marry-you-even-tho-I-am-carrying-your-baby-because-you’re-not-in-love-with-me
Plot: Charlotte is a 30 year old spinster and poor relation living with her cousin, Lina. Charlotte has the hots for Adrian, Viscount Rohan, the greatest rake in all of bloody England. For convoluted reasons, Lina decides that it would educate Charlotte to view all the fornication that occur during one of the three day orgies at the Heavenly Host (a thinly veiled Hellfire Club) house party. Charlotte goes as an observor only but guess who is there? Adrian and Charlotte then engage in a 48 hour boink-a-thon, after which he might have possibly shoved Charlotte off a cliff as his “tip”. Strike that. Actually, his tip turns out to be a little nugget in her cave. (Wink wink, nudge nudge.)
There is also a secondary romance involving Lina & the local parson and a suspense plot that is marginally thrown in there.
Ramblings: According to my records, I have read seven of Stuart’s previous works. Altho I don’t consider myself a fan, I ‘ve always admired her clean, almost terse writing style which I think is especially suited to her romantic suspense novels. For those who have read her earlier historicals from the 1990s like the much-admired A Rose at Midnight, Reckless in comparison, is a much faster, more wallpaper-ish read. For about the first 250 pages, I was enjoying this very sexy story until I realized that Adrian & Charlotte do not have much of a connection beyond great sex . . . and aren’t going to.
Stuart’s specialty is the Bad Boy Hero so Adrian the Rake is a character she can do in her sleep. And probably did. He has no discernable characteristics beyond being beautiful, dumb, and slutty.
This is where I find the secondary romance bothersome. It is problematic because of the following – (1) I don’t like secondary romances as a rule. (2) Like most secondary romances, it is better and more interesting than the primary romance. Charlotte’s cousin, Lina, is arguably the most interesting character in the book. She is a widow who survived a horribly abusive marriage and unapologetically participates in the Heavenly Hosts orgies. Since she can’t have sex with the reformed sinner-turned-parson (think Russell Crowe’s preacher in The Quick and the Dead, yum!), they do a heck lot more talking and communicating than Adrian & Charlotte. (3) I couldn’t help thinking that if the secondary romance wasn’t present, maybe more depth could have been added to the primary romance, what there was of it.
As the story petered to the end, I was tempted to grade this a C- but decided that I might be a little harsh. After all, there is really nothing wrong with a shallow, smoothly written, by-the-numbers, sexy historical. It’s not Stuart’s fault that I wanted more.