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REVIEW: Libertine Lord, Pickpocket Miss by Bronwyn Scott

Dear Ms. Scott,

I noticed the new category of Harlequin Historical this month called “Harlequin Undone.” I assume this is sort of a historical novella kind of thing as this story (in Microsoft Lit) formatted to 101 pages on my reader. I also assumed that it would skew more towards erotic romance though that didn’t happen, at least for this one.

Julian Burke and Sophie DuPlessy are both after the same thing though for different reasons. Julian is charged to retrieve the priceless diamond jewelry for the English Royal family while Sophie has been hired by an Italian Count. He knows the jewelry was looted after the English Civil War while she’s been told that the jewels were stolen from the Count’s family. Right now, they’re in the possession of a French nobleman in Vienna and so it’s to there that both principals have traveled.

At a ball given by the Comte, Julian tries to use Sophie as an alibi to divert any pesky attention that might follow the loss of the jewels while Sophie returns the flirting and raises Julian some hot sexual petting in the stakes to claim the diamonds. When both discover that the other is somehow involved, they decide to settle their differences with some strip piquet. But when a determined Count comes after the diamonds, there’s only one way for Sophie to get out of Vienna and that involves Julian.

Novellas are tricky. There’s precious little space for an author to introduce the characters and plot then spin the story to a conclusion while making me believe in a HEA. It’s even harder if the hero and heroine don’t already have some kind of history together. “Libertine Lord, Pickpocket Miss” has this major handicap and while I enjoyed the characters and story, it was just too fast for my tastes.

I also didn’t enjoy being teased about Sophie’s level of experience only to discover otherwise. It goes along with the fact that though she essentially steals things, she makes sure that she’s in reality only retrieving goods stolen from their rightful owners. So she’s a thief but not really a thief. I’m tired of heroines who aren’t allowed to be truly bad but must be whitewashed for Romance consumption.

Julian is a good egg. He quickly realizes that Sophie is in trouble and doesn’t try and turn the danger she’s in to his advantage. He pulls a fast one during their wager yet he only plays on her assumptions. For someone involved in the type of shady shenanigans he is, he’s a straight shooter. Minuses for him: the fact that the hero, a younger brother of an Earl, is supposed to have a courtesy title. I have my doubts about this and, due to what happens in the epilogue, I wondered why it was even necessary. He also contains his sexual encounters to sophisticated, older women who “know the rules” so while he’s bad, he’s not really bad.

I’m not overly thrilled with this story but it’s more because the romance wasn’t handled well in the length of the novella and the fact that the heroine and hero are standard “bad” character wannabes. But I like the writing style and the secondary character who you mention will get his own story next year. C+

~Jayne

This is an e-novella that is not available in print. You can purchase the ebook at Harlequin.

Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.

8 Comments

  1. Wendy
    Dec 08, 2008 @ 16:22:53

    I liked this one a bit more than you did – and my grade skewed a little higher, landing in B- territory. I particularly thought the dialogue was very well done – and it had that “witty banter” quality without coming off snide or childish. My main quibble was that I found the ending really rushed, sort of like being trapped on a runaway train. That being said, this was my first introduction to Bronwyn Scott, and I’ve already picked up her January HH title, which features Viscount St. Just…that secondary character you mentioned.

  2. Jayne
    Dec 08, 2008 @ 16:34:51

    Yes, Wendy, I saw that the Viscount’s book would be out in January. Yippee.

  3. mary b
    Dec 08, 2008 @ 17:19:21

    I loved the set up, but the denoument was so rushed. I think they have their parameters set a bit too short. The max allowed for Historical Undone is 15K. It doesn’t allow for much of a resolution and I found the same problem in all of the shorts they offered. (I nommed them all for half price.)

    I was disappointed in the revelation that Dun Dun Dun…she’s really a nice girl. I liked her better as a sexually advanced jewel thief. But it was an engaging story and very tasty during my lunch.

  4. Jayne
    Dec 08, 2008 @ 20:08:01

    It doesn't allow for much of a resolution and I found the same problem in all of the shorts they offered.

    Hmmm, I have one more to try and it’s another one that’s tied to an upcoming full length Harlequin Historical. Hopefully it’ll work better for me. We’ll see…

  5. Terri Brisbin
    Dec 08, 2008 @ 21:57:19

    An FYI — Harlequin Historical UNDONES are short stories, not novellas, so there’s even less time and room and words (10-15,000 vs. 20-25,000) to tell these stories than in a novella. These were launched in November with four and there will be a new one each month…all available in eformats only (for now).

    Terri

  6. Bronwyn Scott
    Dec 19, 2008 @ 10:04:41

    Thanks for the thoughts! I did enjoy reading the comments. Consistency is always a big thing for me, I did like that pretty much the comments were same–the ending was too fast. For me, I like fast endings but it was good to hear, it gives me something legitimately work on with the next shorts. The next short is called “Pleasured By The English Spy” and it features Julian comrade Andrew Truesdale. Please read it! I slowed the ending down ALOT and I think the resolution seems much more believable! Come visit at http://www.bronwynswriting.blogspot.com Thanks for being so interested in the Viscount. He’s out Jan. 1 and it got a 4 STAR REVIEW in Romantic Times!
    All my best,
    Bronwyn

  7. Bronwyn Scott
    Dec 19, 2008 @ 10:08:04

    By the way, those who liked Sophie better when she was a bad girl, check out Pickpocket Countess, the heroine really is a thief, really breaks into people’s houses (all for a good cause) but she’s truly a criminal AND she’s no secret virgin. She is sexually advanced (at least for this genre). She ties the hero to the bed, she takes his clothes away, and drinks with the best of them. Pickpocket Countess came out in March 08 and can still be attained on Amazon or as an e-book at Harlequin. It got a 4 Star Review in Romantic Times and was my debut novel at Harlequin.
    Bronwyn

  8. REVIEW: Shipwrecked and Seduced by Amanda McCabe | Dear Author: Romance Novel Reviews, Industry News, and Commentary
    Dec 31, 2008 @ 21:54:30

    […] just about everything in the plot. Like the first of the new Harlequin Undone line I read, “Libertine Lord, Pickpocket Miss” by Bronwyn Scott, it’s a short story – a very short story – about two people who meet […]

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