Saturday, April 27, 2013

What I've Read This Week

What I've Read This Week . . . 

Scandalous Brides by Amanda McCabe -- Regency Romances

Scandal in Venice

Lady Elizabeth Everdean was in distress. Her stepbrother had returned home from the wars and was not himself. He's forced her into an engagement with a fat, lecherous old Duke who tried to ravish her. Elizabeth was forced to fight back with her chamber pot and was shocked to discover the Duke died as a result. Terrified, she fled to Italy to stay with her old friend Georgina Beaumont. In Italy she can be free to be herself: a spirited young lady and a very talented artists. In Italy there are parties every night during Carnavale, moonlight gondola rides, the wine flows freely and the men are so handsome. Only one man stirs Elizabeth's passions like she's never experienced before. Sir Nicholas Hollingsworth, a notorious rake, has come to Italy to find Elizabeth on her brother's orders. Nick owes Peter his life and is determined to repay the favor. He thinks it will be an easy task to bring home a spoiled, petulant young miss but when he meets Elizabeth he realizes that she's not what he expected. Inside Elizabeth is a loving heart and a spirit which longs to be free. How can he crush her by dragging her back home? He owes Peter his life but
his growing love for Elizabeth keeps getting in the way. If Elizabeth finds out Nick's task, she may never forgive him and Nick may lose the one thing in life he's finally come to value. This story is Amanda McCabe's second ever book and first Regency and it shows in the writing. The dialogue is silly and cliched in many spots and the plot is very gothic. I wasn't expecting the darker elements of the story from the depictions of the characters in Lady Rogue. I had a hard time reconciling their completely different natures in this book. Nick is a distasteful libertine. He seems to be suffering from PTSD and issues from his past. Peter has severe PTSD and grief issues and is entirely unlikeable. His motivation doesn't make much sense. I don't know why he insisted on dragging Elizabeth back home. Elizabeth is pretty scandalous. I find it hard to believe that a young miss would be allowed to behave like that, even in Italy, if she was among English companions. Georgie too is very scandalous and I was a bit shocked at her behavior. The romance happens too quickly to be believable. I really wanted to like this story because I loved the characters so much in Lady Rogue, but I just couldn't enjoy it. The story is clean but there are some sensual parts.

The Spanish Bride -- Traditional Regency Romance

Lord Peter Everdean is haunted by the memory of his Spanish bride Carmen, whom he believes betrayed the allies to the French before her death. Conde Carmen de Santiago, a beautiful Spanish widow, appears bright and gay to Continental Society, but inside she mourns the death of her English soldier husband and is worried about blackmail letters she has been receiving. She wants only to protect her young daughter Isabella and keep the child from harm. She has traced the source of the letters to England and enters English Society to find the blackmailer. At her first event, she comes face to face with the husband she believed was dead. Peter is cold and awkward and Society gossips have him linked with a young milk and water miss. Carmen's traitorous heart still beats for her husband, but what if he no longer loves her? Worse still, what if he takes Isabella away? Fiercely proud and independent, Carmen is determined not to give in her to feelings. Peter is shocked to see Carmen again after all these years. How he has suffered because of her! He can not deny the physical attraction is still there and perhaps more. What of the lady's feelings? What if she no longer loves him? This is a tender love story of two wounded souls coming together. Amanda McCabe's writing improved by leaps and bounds by the time she wrote this story. It's rather different with darker elements stemming from the war setting, but it makes for a deeper, richer love story. The characters have to find a way past their stubborn pride to come back together. They also have to search for the blackmailer before they can come together at the end. The plot kept me reading far too late in the night. I thought I knew who the blackmailer was but I had to keep reading. I was quite surprised by the conclusion to the blackmail plot. It didn't happen the way I expected. The love story went on way too long. It was repetitive and could have been concluded about halfway through but the blackmailer had not been uncovered yet. The characters are decently constructed. I liked Carmen and her wild soul but I didn't understand why she didn't try to contact either the Home Office or Peter's family. Peter is still a bit of an enigma. He suffered "ill spells" PTSD in the past and he's still angry and uses women for physical reasons. There is a good reason Carmen loves him which is revealed towards the end but I didn't quite get that impression from the plot. My friend Irish, and other readers who like more depth to their love stories will enjoy this one, especially those of you who like wounded heroes.

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