REVIEW: A Lady’s Secret by Jo Beverley
Edited to add: Caution There’s a major spoiler in paragraph 3.
Dear Mrs. Beverley,
When you posted to one of my earlier reviews that your next book would be back in the world of the Mallorens and feature a rake with a ‘nun on the run,’ I started salivating. Me wuvs the Mallorens and Georgian historicals so I was bugging Jane to make sure we got a copy. Then silly me got it in my head that it was due out in June so I sorted it after a few other books I wanted to finish. Well, yesterday afternoon I saw it listed at Fictionwise. I said a bad word. I reshuffled my book stacks and read half of it in one evening. Today I finished it off and here I am, lost again in the world of the English aristocracy where “all things are possible.”
I enjoyed reading your “how I wrote this story” entry after I finished the actual story. How you figured out exactly who this cursing nun is whom Robin overhears in a French inn, how they get together, how it turns into a road romance and ends so happily. When Petra and Robin end up in England at about the halfway mark, I did wonder, “okay, so what’s she going to do with the rest of the book?” Drive your hero mad and show us how enterprising Petra is, that’s what. Oh and let Robin finally prove both to himself and to his family, servants and tenants that he’s ready to admit that he’s grown up.
I’ll also admit that up until right before you revealed it, I was wondering how these two tied into the Mallorens. I kept muttering the name “Robin” to myself and trying to place him in past books. Then it all fell into place and I said “AHA!” Perfect. It makes total sense, ties in with the well established “Grand Tours” young men of good family made at the time and gave me the delightful chance to (major spoilers here)
Lemme see – other things I liked. That Robin grows and matures as the book progresses. I’ll be honest and say that, like Petra, I would have been annoyed with him some during the early stages. But as he tells Petra at one point, he can ‘do’ serious if the need is there. I like that we see him do it and come to the point where he decides to fully take up the responsibilities of his Earldom – something he’d put off since the sudden death of his father a year ago. And any man who’s willing to deliberately lose a 1000 guinea bet in order to win his lady love is a man in love. His declaration as he asks her to marry him is great. Kudos that he asks her before he finds out who she really is.
In this day when people think nothing of a single woman hitchhiking around South America, I feel we probably won’t have as much an appreciation for the job Petra does in dodging the villains who are after her and managing to make her way across Europe without the aid of a man. We see how men were ready to take advantage of a woman traveling without a male to make arrangements for them in the tale of Lady Sodworth. By the way, my eyes popped open when I read that title! If I didn’t know you were English, I would have guessed it was a really bad name choice by someone unfamiliar with British slang. Oh and I heart the fact that Petra remembers the little people who helped her along the way. Nice touch.
I liked learning about the everyday life of the 18 C English countryside as Petra progresses from Folkstone to her final destination. However, she seems to do this without as much difficulty as one might imagine. I especially like the fact that you have your noblemen characters doing nobleman things and more concerned about that then trying to be Lord Spy. Sure Robin does a little on the side while he’s romance a lady at Versailles, but I think he’s now put that behind him with his decision to really be an Earl. I love Coquette who certainly doesn’t suffer from any size inferiority complex.
So, what didn’t work so well pour moi? The villain Ludo – man he’s really obsessed. I just don’t like villains like this as the real life versions scare me. This is a personal preference and obviously might not bother others. Did Petra have to get preggers? It’s not as if this really propels the proposal as Robin has already sincerely asked by the time he finds out. I would also have loved to see Lady Sodworth find out exactly who Petra is.
Is this the set up for Thorn and Grandison? From your author’s note, I would think so. Please, pretty please. But oh, another Duke. What happened to ‘plain misters and misses can be high born in England?’ I’m sure Bryght and Portia were glad to hear Diana’s news.
I’ve gone on and on about what I liked about the book but I think the best way to show how much I like it is to say that after I read the free arc we got, I went out and bought my own copy. A-