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Juliet Landon

REVIEW:  Betrayed, Betrothed and Bedded by Juliet Landon

REVIEW: Betrayed, Betrothed and Bedded by Juliet Landon

betrayed-betrothed-and-bedded

THE GAME OF LOVE IS A DANGEROUS ONE IN THE COURT OF HENRY VIIIā€¦

Betrayed by an ambitious father, forcibly betrothed to the handsome yet enigmatic Sir Jon Raemon and soon to be bedded by the covetous King Henry, Virginia D’Arvall is the female pawn in a masculine game of desire, power and lust.

Ginny is determined to keep her honor, but in these dangerous courtly games, she will need to have her wits about her like never before. Will she realize that in Sir Jon she may just have all the love and protection she needs to survive?

Dear Ms. Landon,

Recently I’d been thinking of how long it had been since I read a Tudor era book which lead me to try and recall what I might have in my TBR piles and files to satisfy my era itch. Then Lo and Behold a scan of the current Harlequin Historical offerings yielded this cover and (the slightly cringe worthy title) “Betrayed, Betrothed and Bedded.” Perfect timing. It’s also been a while since I read an arranged marriage plot. This trope usually only works for me in a historical and I like it best without any Fated Mates stuff so the book was a double treat.

First off, I thought it had good period feel. There’s cold, sweat, lots of laces to deal with on the clothing, slow travel, loyal retainers, bulky headdresses, not much mention of bathing unless one was hot and sweaty and travel stained, arranged marriages and a lusty king. It’s also a sad view of childhood and the way most parents would view small children as better off barely seen and not worth much interest. Of course the way parents manipulated and ordered even adult children around is hard to imagine these days. Marriages are power and dynastic unions in which love has little part.

Intrigues are front and center and the flavor of every day with the Howard family angling for power again while the nasty Thomas Culpeper tries to shove Ginny under the King’s nose in place of the woman he loves? lusts after? However half of Ginny’s family won’t win any awards for the way they tried to slide into favors based on the King’s plan to turn her into his mistress once she was safely married. The way the other half attempts to shield her from the King’s bed lead to some chilling scenes of frightfully close calls and fears for their ultimate safety.

The descriptions of life at court have a “you are there” vibe which allows us to see how the vapid sycophants who surrounded the king were at his beck and call while they schemed and plotted. It seems that court life was an endless round of courtiers attempting to fill their days and amuse the King. I also enjoyed the sympathetic view of Anna of Cleves and have always wondered if she ever realized how lucky she was not to have caught Henry’s interest. To me, this stuff was the true strength of the novel.

The romance and relationship of Jon and Ginny felt weaker. When they first meet, Ginny feels she’s fallen in love at first sight. Later thoughts of Jon lead me to believe he felt the same way. A socially advantageous marriage Jon enters instead then causes Ginny much heartache before his wife dies in childbirth. Then she becomes snubs him at court before their marriage is arranged. Ginny then weathervanes about how she feels for Jon. It’s almost “in this chapter I’m supposed to hate him” followed by “oh, now I love him.” But she is a young woman with little experience in men or falling in love so I suppose it makes sense even if it does get annoying trying to keep track of which way she feels today.

I also got tired of the “Big, Dark Secret that Jon can’t possibly tell her until he feels she trusts him” hanging over the story. When it’s revealed, it does make sense why he would wait to tell her something that could be used against him – after all she is young and not as adept at hiding her feelings from other courtiers. And the dark politics swirling around court wouldn’t lead to easily trusting when tomorrow you could lose your head. Still the fact that we come so close to the truth yet no one fills Ginny in on Jon’s first wife felt a bit of a tease after a while.

My final grade is a bit of this crossed with a little of that. The romance is frustrating as it seems to circle back around over old ground a few times before finally getting home. But the behind the scenes view of a spoiled King to whom one did not say no and how events and lives could turn on a penny and said King’s whim was truly frightening. B-

~Jayne

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Dear Author

REVIEW: Dishonor and Desire by Juliet Landon

Dear Mrs. Landon,

Book CoverAfter my great experience with “The Warlord’s Mistress” I was in a quandary. I wanted to go out and read every thing of yours I could get my hands on and at the same time, I was worried that nothing would match up to that first book. I’ve been burned by the backlist glom before. Fortunately, “Dishonor and Desire” was already in bookstores and on ebook sites. I chose the mass market route this time courtesy of a store coupon and sat down to try a very different setting from the last book.

I think most romance readers have read our fair share of Regency books by this time. The ton, the Season, Almacks, waltzing, war heroes, period cant…we’ve seen it all and it takes something a little different to engage our attention. While you do include some of these standard elements, they are mixed with enough variety to keep me from muttering, “yeah, yeah, yeah” and skimming pages like mad. Sure the story starts with gambling debts, phaetons, a country party and a wager but it quickly moves to center on two very strong characters — the almost Renaissance like hero Sir Chase Boston and his determined song bird heroine Miss Caterina Chester.

I’m not sure if your usual hero is always so determined to get his way or if I’ve just only read books featuring this type of man but Chase Boston is a man who knows what he wants and goes after it 110%. Yet while Chase is an alpha, he knows better than to rush his heroine. He steps back and gives her time to get over her hurt and anger at her stupid brother for gambling beyond his means (or so she thinks) and her father for accepting Chase’s wager to win her in lieu of repayment of the debt. She’s got a reason to be angry but can’t blow her stack at her relatives hence he’s got to act as the scapegoat for the moment. But while he keeps up the pressure – so to speak – he also slowly lets her fall for him.

I like that he’s gentleman enough to state his intentions to Seton and ask him for reassurance that there’s nothing between Cat and him. As a friend, Seton must truthfully say no yet he cares enough for Cat as a friend to still keep looking out for her interests. I am looking forward to Seton’s story. Even after Cat runs for Brighton – and I like that she’s got a plan for why she’s doing this and to whom she’ll run, not just taking off like some heroines – and Chase follows, he still lets her have her space, while all the time keeping her safe, until she’s ready to admit that they’ll marry. He also shows some vulnerability since he wasn’t as sure of himself as he wanted Cat to think hence he rushed the wedding a bit and then was content to woo her some more. And any hero who can make and who wants to make his heroine smile can’t be all bad.

Thank you for including some real reason for the conflicts between Chase and Cat. First she felt rushed into marriage to cover for her feckless brother and to allow her younger sister to marry. She’s mad and I think she has every reason to be. Then just before the wedding she discovers her father and brother’s involvement in some seriously shady dealings and due to the rushed marriage, is unsure if Chase is involved and if he is, to what degree. Does he want to expose her family to ruin? Blackmail them? Or is he a good guy trying to do the right thing? Cat has some major problems to work through and I like that she takes her time. She does rush to some conclusions about Chase before she gets to know him well yet she’s willing to change her opinion, even if it does take her a while.

Your obvious love of England and English countryside is very evident in descriptions throughout the story. While I liked these, towards the end of the book I was getting tired of them as many times they really didn’t advance the plot or serve any purpose beyond acting as a 19th century travel guide. Also I felt there were too many mushy, “my darlings,” “my dearests,” “my angel wuvie duvie sweetums” towards end of story.

Cat’s reckless, feckless, shown to be monstrous male relatives get their comeuppance and in believable ways. I had no problems with all the miseries heaped on them yet was glad that the innocent members of the family wouldn’t have to pay for the deeds — unknown to them — of the few. It’s also realistic that neither Mr. Chester nor his son looked like they will change overnight. I felt that the last little plot point was heaping a little too much on the story and could have done without Mara. By this stage, the point had been made and the spotlight already shone on what was going on in Liverpool.

Another nice thing was that while I tell that there was a previous book in this series, the enjoyment of this book wasn’t hindered by my not having read it nor did the past characters take over when they appeared. Though this book doesn’t quite live up to “Warlord’s Mistress,” I wasn’t disappointed in it and will still continue to gather your past books. B-

~Jayne

This book can be purchased in mass market or ebook format.