Dear Ms. Laurens:
I’ve taking to reading a Laurens book every other release because I find that a year is a good buffer between books. There’s a certain, well, similarity between your novels and while your writing is quite good, sometime the stories seem to be copies (and not in the plagiaristic sense, but in the sense that the characters often seem interchangeable from book to book). The last Bastien Club novel I read was last year’s release, Beyond Seduction.
Christian Allardyce had left for on a mission and Lady Letitia Randall nee Vaux had promised to wait for him. But she hadn’t waited. Instead she married another man in a purported love match. Christian has always felt betrayed. The true and somewhat unhappy circumstances of Letitia’s marriage become apparent to the reader, although not to Christian when Letitia seeks help for her brother who is accused of murdering her husband. Christian agrees to help because the embers of his love have only been banked, not totally snuffed out.
I had some issues with the construct of the story and the actions of the characters which I felt weren’t consistent with the period or with the type of setting you had created. The basis of a Laurens book has a lot to do with the knowledge and inner workings of the ton. For example, Letitia is a master manipulator of the ton and she strives to teach her sister how planting gossip and refuting it works. One of the pleasures of reading this series is kind of the insider workings of this powerful and mysterious group.
Yet the entire message of how important social standing is and how easily it can be taken away from a family with the slightest whisper is undermined by Christian and Letitia’s quick assumption of an affair. She was just recently widowed and was seen everywhere with Christian including walking out his front door in the early morning hours to scamper off to her house supposedly so that his servants wouldn’t know of her overnight slumber parties.
Christian uses the threat to Letitia’s reputation to get her not to do things (such as caper about in the evenings with him investigating the death of her husband). The whole pursuit of justice for Justin, the brother, by complete exoneration is so that Justin can continue to live and marry well within society no matter that he will be an earl one day. Christian’s reputation would be marred if he would marry Letitia with the stain of Justin’s crime hanging over her head. She would refuse to marry him on those grounds. This provides the impetus for him to seek a quick resolution.
I would have appreciated some insight as to why the openness and immediacy of the affair would have been considered acceptable.
I found the constant reference to "the Vaux" strangely Suess like. This could be due to the fact that my reading is highly influenced by children’s literature of late, but it still seemed odd.
One thing that really irked me was this
Despite the irritations, I read this Laurens in one long sitting (it’s a long book) and I enjoyed myself quite a bit. I think that these books are comfort reads for me. I recognize their imperfections but the types of characters (the alpha male and the purportedly strong female character), the ton interactions, the social manueverings, and the heightened sensuality entertain me nearly everytime. B-