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REVIEW: Lady Beware by Jo Beverley

Dear Mrs Beverley,

Book CoverI’ll be honest up front and state that your Georgian and Medieval books are my favorites. In fact, I haven’t really read that many of the Company of Rogues books outside of the “3 Georges” novels and the ensuing single title books that followed them. I liked them, I enjoyed reading them but…see the first sentence. In addition, I’m usually beyond anal about reading a series in order. But at this point, I’m so far behind on the CoR that I decided to just jump in with “Lady Beware” and see how well a new reader could do with it.

For generations, the Cave family has been marked by scandal, madness, and violence. But after earning a reputation for bravery in the army, Horatio Cave, the new Viscount Darien, has come home to charm London society and restore the family name. He means to start with the lovely Lady Thea Debenham.

The magnetism between them is immediate, but can Thea trust the dark, sexy “Vile Viscount”? And will Thea’s brother Dare-the most dashing member of the Company of Rogues-believe that Horatio does not deserve the cursed Cave reputation?

The novel starts almost explosively with the initial meeting between Darien and Thea. We instantly know these two will repeatedly clash and seek to control the other. They’re intelligent, stubborn and each determined to come away the victor. And then….they don’t meet again for what seems like ages. And this initial energy slowly seems to dissipate. We get to peek into the life of an influential peeress (Thea’s mother) and see her live her view of noblesse oblige. Then we get lots of information about how awful Darien’s life was while he was growing up. It’s nice to see that not all Regency women spent their time at a mantua maker or gossiping over tea cakes on afternoon calls and you certainly fill us in on how Darien’s childhood shaped him as a man but there was a lot that felt like unneeded padding. I wanted to see Thea and Darien together and I didn’t get to for a long time.

As for Thea and Darien: I like that Thea isn’t one of these wild Regency Misses. She’s actually a bit staid and aware of it. Her wilder cousin twits her often enough about it. She’s devoted to her family, especially Dare, yet not quite willing to totally martyr herself for him. As a non-fan of the “martyr heroine” I enjoyed that. Yet I find myself agreeing with the AAR reviewer’s opinion on when Thea takes the plunge into adventure. If it were a movie, I’d have been yelling at the screen “don’t go there, you twit! I can’t believe you’re falling for that old ruse.” And after reading or hearing about so many CoR books in which those men are admired by all and envied for their long term friendships, it’s a nice, wicked twist to see that at one point, they acted like typical teenagers and were less than honorable in how they treated Darien. And that Darien wanted to make them pay for it to his advantage.

As to the Rogues themselves, well there was too much time spend hauling in old Rogues, new Rogues, the Wraybournes, and all 3 Georges…..you did give a reason for needing all of them in the story (to ease Darien’s way into society) but the combined total was Rogue overload. Every time a character turned around, it seems he or she was tripping over a Rogue or Rogue wife. Yet, it does point out how small were the circles in which these people actually moved and how everyone knew everyone. And since you’ve stated on your website that you plan to feature the Rogues in some way in all future Regency set novels, I’ve been warned and should be prepared to suck it up if I read them. Also, must every scene with Nicholas and Eleanor be mushy, gushy baby stuff? Thank you for making Thea more than a little uncomfortable with it, though.

Also I appreciate wild cousin Maddy. Actually it’s kind of a relief to see a character who’s just self-absorbed (though the contrast to Thea was rather obvious) and who ends up bored out of her mind (is this suitable punishment in the eyes of society for what she did?) in Wales. Pup served as refreshing humor but can anyone be this happily oblivious and malleable his entire life? The costumes for the masquerade, and what they revealed about the Yeovils as a couple, were a treat too. And the men in this book are questionably easy for the women to order around (exception towards the end when the Duke of Yeovil puts his foot down a few times).

“Lady Beware” is interesting and I didn’t skim or skip anything but large chunks could be trimmed and increase the pace. Overall, it’s a pleasant addition to CoR series but not anything that really tugged at my heartstrings or brought out great emotion in me. I think it can be enjoyed by people who haven’t read any or all of the other books in the series but newbies would do well to check your website to brush up on who’s who. C+

~Jayne

Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.

9 Comments

  1. Estelle
    Jun 06, 2007 @ 04:29:51

    Jayne, what about the romance between Thea and Darien? was it satisfying or lukewarm?

    I prefer MsBeverley’s Georgians and Medievals too. None of the Rogues books I read have rated above a C so far.

  2. Jayne
    Jun 06, 2007 @ 04:55:52

    Like I said, they start out with sparks. Then there’s a lag time when they don’t meet. Then they still spar a little until they come to an agreement on how Thea and her family (plus all the CoR) will help ease Darien’s way into society so that his younger brother can offer for the woman he wishes to marry. At that point, Thea and Darien settle into more of a working together relationship and slowly start to fall in love. It was believable to me but a more gentle, slow kind of courtship.

    There is one scene at a masquerade that isn’t a consummation but it’s very intense. Then the two agree to separate for a series of months to see if they still feel the same about each other so things cool down again. That felt realistic for the times but I wish some tension had remained between T&D. Not that I want constant fighting or fireworks between a h/h (I usually don’t) but something more than I got here.

  3. Estelle
    Jun 06, 2007 @ 07:54:46

    Ah damn, I was hoping for a relationship with more tension and UST to it. It seems to me that Ms Beverley has been writing lukewarn romances (I compared the heroes/heroines to ‘wet firecrackers on another website) for the past few books and it almost never works for me.

    I don’t mind if it’s subtle and if you have to read between the lines (hey, I’m a huge Dorothy Dunnett fan after all) but the tension, love and passion *have* to be there somewhere for me to believe in the relationship and to make me feel the magic.

    Like you I don’t like the constant fighting and Co. but the sweet, gentle stuff just isn’t for me.

    She gave us a fine balance between UST and realism in Devilish but I haven’t found another book by her in which she does that since.

    But then maybe I’m too picky too. To each her own after all :o)

  4. Jo Beverley
    Jun 06, 2007 @ 14:06:03

    As this is dear author, I always feel entitled to comment. I never argue with a reader’s assessment, because every reading is valid, and, Jayne, I’m delighted that you enjoyed the bits that I thought special.

    Quite a few readers are saying that the connection between the couple in my recent books is a bit weak and I am paying attention. So if anyone here feels otherwise, please say so! Obviously, I’m not trying to do that and I feel the intensity, so I’m very interested in this.

    But I do have one comment. I clearly didn’t convey Thea’s mind well when she rushed off to help Maddy. Yes, it was a “don’t do it!” moment, but I saw it coming out of Darien’s pushing at her to be more adventurous, to take more risks. I think we’ve all seen that in real life. Someone’s encouraged to get out there and be bolder, but because they’re not used to it, they go crazy. Instead of dressing a bit more fashionably and meeting a wider range of men, they buy a leather mini-skirt, get a tattoo, and go off for a wild weekend with a biker gang.

    Best,

    Jo :)

  5. Jayne
    Jun 06, 2007 @ 18:27:30

    So Thea thought she was making up for when Maddy used her at the bookstore? Perhaps she’s gotten her “biker” urge out of her system now.
    I meant to say I loved the detail about her matching her lingerie to her gowns. Do you think Darien will be able to keep her in matching corsets?
    I’m looking forward to your “nun and rake” book. There’s just something about the Georgian era….

  6. Estelle
    Jun 07, 2007 @ 03:41:26

    I'm looking forward to your “nun and rakeâ€? book. There's just something about the Georgian era….

    Oh I do agree! That sounds like a very interesting book :o)

  7. Jess
    Jun 08, 2007 @ 00:12:18

    I haven’t read the book yet (seriously, so backlogged right now), but I have most of the CoR on my bookshelf. Actually, I really enjoy them as much as the Georgian series. I read the last one and was so-so about it, but not through the fault of the author. More like my mind state wasn’t grooving along properly. I should have been reading chick lit, or paranormal comedy romance type books, instead.

    At least Ms. Beverley tries to change up the heroines. Beth is not like Blanche who isn’t like Felicity. You can see why the women match up to the men. They’re certainly not interchangeable, which I’ve noticed is an epidemic for some writers. Each have their own minds, a complete blessing, because I don’t like thinking about heaving a book against a wall…mostly because the upstairs neighbors would be pissed off.

    Please don’t think I’m attacking the review. I’m not. I’m just speaking as someone that loves the series, and this review reminded me why I do. It also reminded me to put it on my library request list since I finished two books earlier this week. I knew I forgot to write a book down when my friend was talking.

  8. Jayne
    Jun 08, 2007 @ 04:45:46

    Jess, I didn’t think you were dissing the review at all…just stating your opinion. And I’m glad it jogged your memory to request a library copy. Always glad to help a fellow reader!

    I know what you mean about not matching your mood to the book. Sometimes I’ll’ve planned to start one book and when I finish the current one, the planned book just doesn’t “seem” right. I’ll press on if I’ve agreed to read it for some reason and maybe it’ll work out eventually but others….it’s a disaster and I realize it’s partly my fault for forcing a book.

    Thea does have her own mind and I think contrasts nicely with Darien. She’s always been accepted in the loving circle of her family and society as the daughter of a Duke while poor Darien has had to struggle his whole life.

  9. Jess
    Jun 08, 2007 @ 11:33:34

    Good deal. I couldn’t figure out if I was writing it out properly or not, then I just threw my hands up as the bed called for me to take a nap. *laugh* And you definitely helped me. I went put it on my list for the library, where they keep it so I can go back when I have a few more read that I’ve currently checked out.

    That’s exactly what I mean about moods. Case in point, I started a SFF romance one I’ve been waiting for almost a year to read, but I can’t decide if it’s been my mood or the book. If I’ve made a commitment, I’ll press on, but I won’t like it. Usually influences my thoughts on it, but sometimes you have to. At least I don’t have to review for a site like this one. Just randomly. Mostly if there’s been talk of it in my circles, and I throw mine in the kerfluffle, too. Except in the case of my last one, it went on for like four pages and no one in my circle wanted to review it or read, but wanted to know about it. Oops.

    See, I like it when they struggle. I don’t like instantly happy books. Well, I like happy endings, I just like to see the characters work for it. *grins* And it seems like it’ll be a good contrast to the easy and hard entries into society. I like those. I must admit to not liking Simon and Jane, but I’m looking forward to Thea’s story.

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