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REVIEW: Reckless by Anne Stuart

Dear Ms. Stuart,

Recently, I reviewed your book Ruthless and have been given the honor of doing the same for the second book in your House of Rohan series-’Reckless. If I may be so bold, I would like to address this particular review to you hero, Adrian, Viscount Rohan.

Ahem!

Reckless Anne StuartAdrian, Adrian, Adrian. I can't believe you're a blonde! It's so at odds with your personality-’which is dark. Shouldn't your hair match the contents of your black and jaded heart? But that's neither here nor there. To the point! I think we can both now say that the sins of the father shall be visited upon the son, especially when the son insists on committing all of his father's old sins, only in England instead of France.

Location, location, location.

Not that you don't do that beautifully. You do. You are a beautiful sinner, just like dear old dad. You and Pops also seem to share the same taste in women-’now, is that Oedipal or just genetics? Probably neither. I suspect it is simply a matter of taste, based upon the fact that you are both so clearly Scorpios. And if there's one thing I know about Scorpios is that beauty is less important then being interesting. Pretty women never stay weird, but intelligence is forever. (Stay in school, kids!)

Speaking of women, let's talk about Charlotte, shall we?

When your story begins, Charlotte is the 30 year old spinster companion to her cousin, Lady W-’, a recent widow who has been celebrating that change in lifestyle by blazing a trail of scandal through the London ton. Mainly she does this by associating with all the wrong people, particularly those debauched aristos belonging to the Heavenly Host. You remember them? They're your buddies, too. They were the product of one of your father's more asinine ideas. And by asinine I mean, they engage in behavior that does rather underscore all the many, many, many reasons why the French rabble decided to cut off their aristocracy's heads. In romance we tend to romanticize the aristrocracy, but two millenia of peasant's blood raging through my veins makes think they had a point. Especially, when all they do is throw parties. Who has that kind of time? Too bad that like the Hydra, rank elitism cannot be destroyed by head-chopping. Don't look at me like that, Adrian. We both know it's true.

Anyhow, back to Charlotte, who totally unlike her cousin, has been hanging out on the edges of the ballroom, dwindling into dowdiness. She's also been harboring a massive, heart-breaking crush on you ever since that one time you danced with her three years ago. She devours you with her eyes whenever she sees you, but avoids any actual contact on account of your having been so utterly rude to her after that ill-fated dance. Did you really have to make a snide comment about her lack of grace and skill on the ballroom floor? That wasn't very gentlemanly of you. But then, Adrian, you are kind of a bastard. Not literally, of course.We know very well who your parents are.

Things begin to change for both of you when Charlotte convinces her cousin-’against her cousin's better judgment, I might add-’to take her to one of the Heavenly Host's orgies. Charlotte's interested in sex. Not having it, mind you-’although really that's more her motivation. Ppsssst, she wants to have it with you! Shhh don't say I told you, kay? It was a secret she was keeping even from herself. But she says she just wants to see what an orgy is like so she won't live on in ignorance. I would have told her had she asked me. It's a really boring event. A bunch of people-’who are not particularly pretty-’get together and shag and drink to the shrill accompaniment of desperation, despair and syphilis.   Good times are had by all-’they frantically try to convince themselves. This particular incarnation of an orgy is being hosted by a mutual friend of yours and Lady W-’"s, Monty. Monty is dying, but like Macauley Culkin's character in Party Monster, the disaster that is his life is certainly not going to prevent him from party planning, match-making, or having a grand old time. Yeah!

Since Charlotte is there only to observe, she is dressed like a monk-’that is a man. Being so tall, she's under the adorable delusion that no one will recognize her. Of course, you do. Using your powers of acute observation you manage to see through this idiotic masquerade. Oh the dumb things a girl will do for love! Having seen through said disguise, you realize, being you, there's only one thing to do.   Abscond with Charlotte, take her to a private grotto and proceed to seduce her in the most rakish of fashions, obviously. Primarily you do this by kissing the hell out of her in one of the longest and most delicious kissing scenes in my recent memory. I mean, eventually, you get to the shagging bit but the kissing is what gets Charlotte. And me. Oh to be kissed like that! And on a Wednesday night. If she wasn't already in love with you, she'd have been by the end of that kiss.

He settled his mouth against hers, a second after she drew in her breath, a slow, deep kiss, then lifted his mouth.

"Breathe," he whispered before he slanted his mouth against her, changing the angle, reveling in the delight of her untrained mouth. He lifted his mouth to bite her lip.

"Again," he whispered. And used his tongue.

You are in love with her, too, after two days of orgy intensive honeymooning, but being your father's son you can't admit that. So you basically break up with her via the early 19th century equivalent of a post-it note. Not cool, dude. Not cool.

Meanwhile, your father's French cousin-’the one who has always resented him-’is busily planning your destruction. He's got this mad idea that if he kills you, he will inherit all the titles. Uh huh. I know. But this whole Charlotte thing has thrown a wrench into his schemes. Unlike you, cousin Etienne-’whose name I, for some reason always think is Bernard-’can totally see that you are bat-eating crazy about Charlotte. He's smarter than you. Not generally, just in this. Charlotte is a threat to his plan. What if you marry and breed on her before he gets rid of you? What if she's already preggers? She has to go. And he begins to plot her demise.

There's also a subplot about the dying Monty, Lady W-’, and Monty's new vicar, Simon. Romance blossoms for the latter two as they fight over who is best suited to care for Monty, and spend the rest of the book falling in love by arguing vehemently about nothing, ala Beatrice and Benedict. But you aren't overly concerned by their shenanigans. Just Monty's health.

Like most of Anne Stuart's heroes, I'm real keen on you. I have to say that for whatever reason I preferred this book to Ruthless. Who knows what alchemical processes are at work to make one story function better than another? Is it on the part of the author? Or the reader? Who knows? I don't. In many ways it had a very similar plot structure as your parents' story, but there really are so few plots in the world that's not saying much. For whatever reason, this particular incarnation of the rake meets spinster tale was delightful. The reason Ruthless didn't work for me was because I didn't believe your dear old dad was a bad as all that and the plot hangs on me, the reader, being convinced of his pure evil rakish-ness. Your story does not hang so much on your bad boy status. It's more about figuring out what that two days together meant. Plot-wise, not much happens. If I were two outline events there wouldn't be many of them-’especially for the lengith which digitally says somehting like 408 pages. Yet, this might be why the book works. The scenes are carefully teased out, expanded, lengthened. And they are well paced as well. I never felt rushed. I blushed, but I never felt rushed. Maybe it was the words. Words, as you know, Adrian, can be powerfully seductive and conver a host of sins.

When it comes right down to it, I believed in the relationship, both in the way you and Charlotte fell for each other and in the way you came together. It alaso seemed totally belivable that you could be the son of Francis and Elinor. Your blond hair was probably representative of that. You just weren't as awful as your father-’by which I mean dense. Yes, you weren't as dense as your father, much more in touch with you emotions, you are. I suspect that's on account of your mum and a good childhood.

The one thing that bothered me, was that I was perpetually confused by what year it was supposed to be. My galley copy said 1804, but textual references seemed to deviate from this year, both in the mention of hoops as being a part of women's clothing, the French still chopping heads, and not a word about Napoleon-’who would have just crowned himself emperor (ha! Bonaparte, you rascal.). More importantly, I can't figure out how this date relates to the date in the first book. I don't know if this is a mistake carried over from a draft that was never fixed in the galley copy or what.

All in all, I enjoyed this book very much-’particularly the kissing. B+

Lazaraspaste

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Lazaraspaste came to the romance genre at the belated age of twenty-six. While she prefers historicals, she's really up for anything . . . much like her view of food! Some of her favorite authors include Jo Beverley, Anne Stuart, Lisa Kleypas and Joan Smith. Once a YA librarian, she is now working towards an advanced degree in literature with the mad idea of becoming a critic and teacher. Though she loves romance, fantasy has always been her first love. She hates never-ending series and believes the ending is the most important part.

23 Comments

  1. Janine
    Sep 08, 2010 @ 12:41:00

    Hilarious review! And it makes me want to read the book.

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  2. Sunita
    Sep 08, 2010 @ 13:04:46

    Awesome. So glad you reviewed this.

    I actually liked Ruthless better than Reckless, largely because I saw Francis as screwed up rather than fake bad, so it worked for me. Adrian kept reminding me of Vidal in Devil’s Cub, and while I liked him (and the book in general), I kept wanting to slap him upside the head and thus dislodge the sense I knew was there, so that he could use some of it.

    Also, given how Bernard (definitely!) was portrayed in Ruthless, I had trouble believing that anyone would be unable to see through him. Loved the secondary love story, and I would have liked to see more of them. So far in both books I’ve preferred Couple #2 to Couple #1. Oh well, that’s Stuart for you.

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  3. Elyssa Papa
    Sep 08, 2010 @ 13:13:42

    Hilarious review. I laughed so many times. Thank you for that. Makes me want to read the book, too; only if to read a sexy blond hero, which we need more of.

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  4. GrowlyCub
    Sep 08, 2010 @ 13:16:53

    I could not get past the historical errors you mention at the very end of your review, so the whole book was tainted for me.

    I agree with Sunita in preferring book 1.

    It seems to me, Stuart wanted to write Georgian, then decided to go on with offspring instead, but never got out of that Georgian mind-set. The clothing and make-up are so totally off, I couldn’t really get to the story, even though I read to the end.

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  5. Sarah
    Sep 08, 2010 @ 13:54:05

    I’m not really a big fan of Anne Stuart at all. She’s a romance author I avoid. HOWEVER, this review made me laugh and well, the kiss scene sounds delicious so I’m willing to give it a go. Excellently written!

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  6. EGS
    Sep 08, 2010 @ 14:07:12

    After reading Ruthless, I’m looking forward to this one, although I didn’t realize the hero was Elinor and Francis’s son.

    The cover art on this one seems really awkward to me, though – it looks like the woman has a tutu on.

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  7. Cecilia Grant
    Sep 08, 2010 @ 14:41:57

    I love your reviews so much.

    ReplyReply

  8. DM
    Sep 08, 2010 @ 14:44:03

    Enjoyed the book, but also had a hard time placing the period. And the cover threw me. Looks like the heroine is sitting on an Eastlake sofa. Maybe it’s secretly a time travel story!

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  9. Lynn S.
    Sep 08, 2010 @ 16:12:01

    Sweet review. I smiled, I laughed, I became increasingly intriqued with the book. Probably have to try this one out, still not sure about Ruthless though.

    Stuart’s does deep, dark, disturbed heroes like nobody else. My personal favorite would be Luke from Ritual Sins. Adrian sounds more naughty than bad but naughty boys need love too and great kisses can never be overrated.

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  10. Vi
    Sep 08, 2010 @ 17:14:16

    I think Stuart is my crack author. I love the Stuart alpha/ pseudo-alpha hero. I hope you get to review Breathless, which plot-wise, seems the most intriguing.

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  11. pamelia
    Sep 08, 2010 @ 17:57:05

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who kept being surprised whenever Adrian’s haircolor was mentioned! I loved this one, but I also loved Ruthless. I’m going on a mini Anne Stuart binge.

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  12. Kaetrin
    Sep 08, 2010 @ 21:13:22

    Funny review!:)

    I loved Ruthless and thought Francis Rohan was to die for. But, I thought this book was more “even”. In bk1, because the hero was such a bad boy, I didn’t totally buy the ending where he was “tamed”. Something about it didn’t quite work – maybe I felt a bit sad that he wasn’t going to be the wicked man anymore or I wasn’t shown how he could be wicked but only with Elinor or something but the ending was (just a little) disappointing which is why there was a minus on my A grade.

    In Reckless however, Adrian was naughty and a bit jaded but he wasn’t wicked like his dad and so I didn’t have any trouble accepting the HEA. It didn’t have the emotional high for me of Ruthless but I did enjoy it.

    I would have liked more of Simon and Lady W – I could have had a whole book of them actually. And I had some minor quibbles about how Rohan had returned to England and with an extra title too – when he was exiled he was a Viscount but the title had been stripped from him and returning to England meant a death sentence. In bk 2, we are back in England, Adrian is the Viscount and daddy has suddenly picked up a new title and he’s obviously not been executed. I was a little bit ‘hur?’.

    I have Breathless in my TBR and I’m looking forward to that one too.

    Anne Stuart posted at AAR last week that she’s trying to get her older titles digitised so here’s hoping I can soon get hold of those OOP books which have been recommended to me.

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  13. Sasha
    Sep 08, 2010 @ 23:38:13

    This series was my introduction to Stuart, and I can’t believe it took me this long to read her. Her heroes, so very risky. It’s been a long time since I devoted myself to a romance series, and this was an awesome reintroduction. Thank goodness for NetGalley. [Although I'm going to get myself physical copies as soon as they're all available.]

    The transition between Ruthless and Reckless had me backpedaling a couple of times. In the lines of, “So, this guy’s the son of that guy?” And what I found more admirable was that Stuart didn’t right a happy-dappy family, all epilogue-y and Bridgerton-y. I love me my Bridgertons, but it’s gratifying to come across a romance family who can hate each other now and then.

    That said, it wasn’t a good idea to read the three one after the other. I haven’t yet gotten over Francis, and three days later, he was a gahdamned grandfather. Augh.

    Still, hunting down more of Stuart, definitely.

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  14. Bella F.
    Sep 09, 2010 @ 03:40:34

    You have sold me on this book! I didn’t finish reading the review because I want the rest to be a surprise when I read it, but already I’m loving what I read from that excerpt. And as a fellow scorpio let me just say that you definitely hit the nail on the head with, “And if there's one thing I know about Scorpios is that beauty is less important than being interesting.”

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  15. Rachel Randall
    Sep 09, 2010 @ 04:40:19

    Oh man, I want more reviews written to characters. That was an awesome read. I haven’t read Anne Stuart in ages, but for a fantastic kissing scene I might be persuaded.

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  16. Bronte
    Sep 09, 2010 @ 05:28:57

    Loved this book. I think the reason why I bought Adrian being a bad boy and a rake was that he actually seduced Charlotte whereas in book 1 there was a lot of messing around before the actual seduction and I didn’t actually buy that he was such a rake. Still enjoyed book 1 though.

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  17. Rosie
    Sep 09, 2010 @ 08:39:27

    Great review! Loved it.

    I was on the fence about this book, but now I’m gonna give it a go. :)

    ReplyReply

  18. Joy
    Sep 09, 2010 @ 10:22:52

    My reaction to this book: “Didn’t I just read this book last month when it was called _Ruthless_?” So very many similarities…I did like seeing Frances and Elinor being parent-y, but it was Simon and Lady W– who made this book. I would have rather had a whole book about them than a half-re-hash of Ruthless.

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  19. emdee
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 08:28:17

    I am currently reading this book and really like it. I have avoided her novels in the past because I absolutely hated Black Ice, but her historicals seem to be much better. I am glad I picked up this book and will read its predecessor.

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  20. Randi
    Sep 16, 2010 @ 15:33:07

    I’ve never read an Anne Stuart historical. Her “Ice” contemps are my sekret crack though, and based on this hilarious, subtle, and yet thorough review, I’ll have to try out Reckless as my first Anne Stuart historical.

    @Rachel Randall: there is some je ne sais qoui about reviews written to characters, rather than the authors, isn’t there?

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  21. neha
    Sep 28, 2010 @ 12:07:33

    i didn’t like this book at all. Ruthless on the other hand, i loved.

    What i didn’t get was why was the hero so damn tortured. There is no back story. Why was he jaded ? By all means he had a happy family and loving parents. It seemed there was darkness for darkness sake.
    Also, in ruthless the characters talked more, connected. Here it was just 2 days of sex and wham! they are in love. Well, she was already in love when she danced with him a couple of years back and he insulted her. Cute na?

    Rather than the lead pair, i thought the secondary romance had a lot of potential. The girl had a cruel marriage. The guy was a former rake turned into a priest. They hinted on something truly dark in his past but never got to it. So much more interesting. I would have liked a book on them instead of the hurried resolution.

    All in all a disappointment .

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  22. ashipper
    Nov 19, 2011 @ 19:59:26

    I love all things Anne Stuart and what a welcome read the House of Rohan series are. These rakes are too delectable in their alpha male mode. However I must add that the secondary romances that AS weaves into her romances make it all happen for me. Almost like a 2-1 romance lol. Lina & Simon was by far (for me) the most interesting characters to read and like other reviewers agree their story warranted a standalone romance.I could not wait for their charged dialogues. However once again AS did not disappoint :)

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  23. REVIEW: Never Kiss a Rake by Anne Stuart
    Aug 24, 2013 @ 11:02:05

    […] in your The House of  Rohan series (not to be confused with the Kings of Rohan). The two books, Reckless and Ruthless, featured classic Stuart heroes: gorgeous, sexy men with power and wealth who […]

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