REVIEW: Lady Beware by Jo Beverley
Dear Mrs Beverley,
I’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+