Dear Mrs. Landon,
After my great experience with “The Warlord’s Mistress” I was in a quandary. I wanted to go out and read every thing of yours I could get my hands on and at the same time, I was worried that nothing would match up to that first book. I’ve been burned by the backlist glom before. Fortunately, “Dishonor and Desire” was already in bookstores and on ebook sites. I chose the mass market route this time courtesy of a store coupon and sat down to try a very different setting from the last book.
I think most romance readers have read our fair share of Regency books by this time. The ton, the Season, Almacks, waltzing, war heroes, period cant…we’ve seen it all and it takes something a little different to engage our attention. While you do include some of these standard elements, they are mixed with enough variety to keep me from muttering, “yeah, yeah, yeah” and skimming pages like mad. Sure the story starts with gambling debts, phaetons, a country party and a wager but it quickly moves to center on two very strong characters — the almost Renaissance like hero Sir Chase Boston and his determined song bird heroine Miss Caterina Chester.
I’m not sure if your usual hero is always so determined to get his way or if I’ve just only read books featuring this type of man but Chase Boston is a man who knows what he wants and goes after it 110%. Yet while Chase is an alpha, he knows better than to rush his heroine. He steps back and gives her time to get over her hurt and anger at her stupid brother for gambling beyond his means (or so she thinks) and her father for accepting Chase’s wager to win her in lieu of repayment of the debt. She’s got a reason to be angry but can’t blow her stack at her relatives hence he’s got to act as the scapegoat for the moment. But while he keeps up the pressure – so to speak – he also slowly lets her fall for him.
I like that he’s gentleman enough to state his intentions to Seton and ask him for reassurance that there’s nothing between Cat and him. As a friend, Seton must truthfully say no yet he cares enough for Cat as a friend to still keep looking out for her interests. I am looking forward to Seton’s story. Even after Cat runs for Brighton – and I like that she’s got a plan for why she’s doing this and to whom she’ll run, not just taking off like some heroines – and Chase follows, he still lets her have her space, while all the time keeping her safe, until she’s ready to admit that they’ll marry. He also shows some vulnerability since he wasn’t as sure of himself as he wanted Cat to think hence he rushed the wedding a bit and then was content to woo her some more. And any hero who can make and who wants to make his heroine smile can’t be all bad.
Thank you for including some real reason for the conflicts between Chase and Cat. First she felt rushed into marriage to cover for her feckless brother and to allow her younger sister to marry. She’s mad and I think she has every reason to be. Then just before the wedding she discovers her father and brother’s involvement in some seriously shady dealings and due to the rushed marriage, is unsure if Chase is involved and if he is, to what degree. Does he want to expose her family to ruin? Blackmail them? Or is he a good guy trying to do the right thing? Cat has some major problems to work through and I like that she takes her time. She does rush to some conclusions about Chase before she gets to know him well yet she’s willing to change her opinion, even if it does take her a while.
Your obvious love of England and English countryside is very evident in descriptions throughout the story. While I liked these, towards the end of the book I was getting tired of them as many times they really didn’t advance the plot or serve any purpose beyond acting as a 19th century travel guide. Also I felt there were too many mushy, “my darlings,” “my dearests,” “my angel wuvie duvie sweetums” towards end of story.
Cat’s reckless, feckless, shown to be monstrous male relatives get their comeuppance and in believable ways. I had no problems with all the miseries heaped on them yet was glad that the innocent members of the family wouldn’t have to pay for the deeds — unknown to them — of the few. It’s also realistic that neither Mr. Chester nor his son looked like they will change overnight. I felt that the last little plot point was heaping a little too much on the story and could have done without Mara. By this stage, the point had been made and the spotlight already shone on what was going on in Liverpool.
Another nice thing was that while I tell that there was a previous book in this series, the enjoyment of this book wasn’t hindered by my not having read it nor did the past characters take over when they appeared. Though this book doesn’t quite live up to “Warlord’s Mistress,” I wasn’t disappointed in it and will still continue to gather your past books. B-