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Suzanne Enoch

REVIEW:  The Handbook to Handling His Lordship by Suzanne Enoch

REVIEW: The Handbook to Handling His Lordship by Suzanne Enoch

Dear Ms. Enoch:

The best thing about the romance was how it brought up and addressed the repercussions of an interclass relationship during the Regency period.  Often you have dukes and maids or shopkeepers getting married but there is no resulting social approbation.  Given how classist society was during that time period, these romances are always tainted with the specter of unbelievability.

The Handbook to Handling His Lordship  Suzanne EnochEmily Portsman is a woman with a secret.  That’s why she’s working at the Tantalus Club.  What started as one woman’s way to earn a living and gain independence has blossomed into a haven for other females.  No one asks too many questions which is a good thing because Emily has a lot of things to hide.

Nathaniel Stokes is man who people hire to ferret out secrets.  He had to retire from as a spy when a distant cousin died and the title of the Earl of Westfall passed to Nathaniel.  He isn’t a very good Earl but he has continued to help people find things, accepting a nominal fee in exchange.   The Marquess of Ebberling hires him to find a governness he once employed, accusing her of having killed his former wife.  The Marquess is set to marry another woman and wants this extraneous detail taken care of.

After not much success in looking for  the governness, Nathaniel heads to Tantalus where he raises the interest of Emily with his not so discreet probing of the Tantalus Girls.  Emily is attracted to Nathaniel and scared of him so she takes him to her bed, hoping that in between the sheets he will divulge enough information for Emily to know whether she has been compromised.

The murder mystery is resolved fairly early on.  Nathaniel puts two and two together and decides either his instincts about Emily are completely off or the Marquess of Ebberling hasn’t told him everything.  But Nathaniel is an Earl and Emily is not only lowly born but she works at the Tantalus Club where, for all its protections, is not much more than a Casino with a few backrooms that the girls can use for their own pleasure and private business.  Marriage between the two of them would be fairly outrageous.  Moreover the specter of the Marquess of Ebberling’s accusation continues to hang over Emily.

Emily and Nate are intelligent and while they are dancing around their half truths with each other, they are insightful enough to know that the other isn’t being fully forthcoming.  The fact that neither are deceived by the others’ half truths and omissions makes this work.

And even though Nate is an Earl and Emily is a Tantalus Girl, they seem to be equal in power.  Emily takes Nate to her bed because she wants him; not because she has to.  She has support in the form of other Tantalus Girls and the owners. Emily is not alone.  Nate wears his earldom uncomfortably.  He was a spy and feels most at home when he is doing detective work, instead of idling at the club and memorizing Debrett’s.  They match.

While the resolution to the class issue made sense and was seeded from nearly the first page, the way in which the Marquess of Ebberling was handled seemed farcical and not intentionally so. You aren’t much for epilogues and I think your books, out of all books, could use a few.  Definitely the end of this book met the romance standards but I could have used another chapter seeing both of them easing into their married life together. This is my favorite so far in the Tantalus Girl series but probably because I liked Emily so much.  Her pragmatic demeanor and adult manor when it came to sex was refreshing.   B

Best regards,

Jane

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REVIEW:  Rules to Catch a Devilish Duke by Suzanne Enoch

REVIEW: Rules to Catch a Devilish Duke by Suzanne Enoch

Dear Ms. Enoch:

The Scandalous Bride series as this is called has been a challenge for me. I really appreciate the thoughtful presentation of women and their powerlessness in the Regency period. Through the Tantalus Club, set up in Book 1 of the series, women of all backgrounds have found a safe haven. As Diane, Lady Haybury notes, the club was to provide for her own future. It was “not a home for lost women or a refuge for the scandalous and ruined.” Yet it had become one. Within its walls, a woman could earn a living, have a warm and safe place to sleep, and aspire to some level of independence. Sophia White, the unacknowledged by-blow of the Duke of Hennessy, had been there two years when the Duke came with a threat. Marry a vicar in Cornwall or he would see the entire club brought down.

Rules to Catch a Devilish DukeSophie accepts an invitation to the Duke of Greaves holiday party, a sort of last hurrah (my words) before Sophie goes to Cornwall to marry this unknown vicar. The bridge is washed out right as she arrives and therefore is his only guest for two weeks. Adam Baswich may tell himself he invited Sophie for the fun of it, because she is friends with Keating Blackwood and Keating’s new wife, but it soon appears that Adam invited her because he would like to sleep with her.

He lightly extends an offer of protection, at least clothes and some fripperies, to take the place of all she had lost in the bridge collapse. Sophie denies these things but eventually gives in to an affair. She’s not a virgin but she’s also a woman of independence. She does not need his money and does not want the term mistress hung about her neck. She would like to meet his as a friend or an equal of sorts.

The first half of the book, the two enjoy a good romp but I found it a bit dull. The story turns the corner, however, when the bridge is repaired and the other guests arrive. Adam must marry by the age of thirty and he invited a number of young misses to evaluate. He’ll marry one of them before February or many of his properties and a great portion of his wealth will go to his sister whom he hates.

The second half of the story brings everyone’s demons to the surface. Adam’s father was notorious for his mistresses, often parading them in the family home in front of his children, humiliating his wife. When he died, his mother and his sister, Eustace, turn their hatred toward toward Adam.  Eustace is constantly reminding Adam how he is no better than their terrible father and how she wishes Adam were dead.

Sophie cares little about what society thinks. They’ve shunned her since she was born for simply existing. She’s managed to keep a good attitude about it – recognizing the flaws are in those that look upon her and not in herself. She’s remarkable in her good sense and self acceptance. This is not to say she is immune to the slights of those around her.

Adam actually cares quite a bit about what people think even though he tries to live like he doesn’t. He chooses the coward’s way more than one despite his lofty position.

I thought that there were enough warnings about the life he would lead marrying Sophia. Keating Blackwood and his wife, a daughter of a Marquess but both mired in scandal, haven’t received one invitation to a society event until Adam’s invitation. The perils of marrying Sophia are not shied away from and I appreciated that. But Adam and Sophia are both creatures of London, both enjoying the company of others. I would have liked to have seen an epilogue or something that showed them content in the decisions that they had made.  B-

Best regards,

Jane

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