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REVIEW: Secrets of the Night by Jo Beverley

Dear Mrs Beverley,

Once again you manage to take an almost unbelievable plot and get me totally involved in it. This is book four of the Malloren series and truly exemplifies the unofficial Malloren motto: With a Malloren, all things are possible.

Rosa, Lady Overton is in a fix. Well, actually everyone on her husband’s estate is in a potential fix. Sir Digby and Rosa have no children and Digby is in failing health. He is much older than Rosa and married her after she was badly scarred in a carriage accident. If he dies without a child, his estate will be taken over by a nephew who adheres to an extreme religious sect who will make life for the tenants a living hell. Rosa, with Sr Digby’s unspoken consent has set off on a mission to get knocked up at a masquerade ball. Only she chickens out and leaves only to find a drunk man left by the side of the road. Moved by Christian charity she takes him to the dower house of her cousin, the Countess of Arradale. Once there she screws her courage to the sticking point and asks the recovering man for a favor for having saved his life. One night of sex.

Lord Brand Malloren awakes without knowing where he is or who this mysterious masked woman is. But she asks a simple boon and he feels obliged to accommodate her. So simple really and he’s on his way with a debt paid. And, hey, what man would turn down this particular way to pay off a debt? What follows is not just a simple night of passion as Brand senses that his lady is not some cheap, cheating wife off for a fling. She is uncomfortable with this and something is compelling her on to do it. He soon finds himself stirred by her in more ways than one and proposes that he stay another night.

During the next day, Brand and a stilled masked Rosa find they share a common interest in estate management and animal husbandry programs. Each is aware of feelings stirring for the other but it takes the last night to cement them into love. A last night of bedspring breaking, headboard banging, soul searing sex during which Brand desperately tries to convince this mysterious soulmate of his to escape with him. He knows she’s married but he thinks to a neglectful husband who doesn’t truly appreciate the treasure that is his wife. Rosa is in agony at the thought of leaving this man she has swiftly come to love but even if she didn’t truly love her husband, there is still the need to provide him with an heir and keep his estate and tenants out of the fanatical hands of his nephew. Plus she knows who Brand is now and with that comes the knowledge that the son and brother of a marquess can never be for her.

So with the help of her young cousin the countess, she drugs Brand, leaves him for his brother to find and tries to disappear from his life. And almost succeeds. But the Mallorens are tenacious and Rothgar is determined to find this woman who hurt his brother and Brand knows he can’t rest until he has a chance to win the woman of his heart.

I love Brand and Rosa. They are honorable people trying to do the best they can for those who depend on them. Rosa only agreed to try and get pregnant to help her tenants and keep her estate safe. She never looked to find love and even once she’s found it, she renounces it and heads back to her duty. I’ll be honest and say martyr heroines usually leave me cold but Rosa’s reasons are beyond the general “my sisters need a Season and baby brother just has to go to Eton.” Brand never thought to have a night of debt payment lead him to his heart’s delight. And once he knows the stakes involved, he leaves with the determination not to try and take his child. Or create problems for anyone involved. It’s a wild tangle and tests the limits of Malloren ingenuity to work all things toward their end goal but it is managed in the end with a small sacrifice and dignity for all.

I got a better feeling for the people of the Yorkshire dales with this book than with others I’ve read. And once again saw how a bit of it must have been when the aristocracy ruled supreme. Plus got introduced to the two women who have anaged to do the almost impossible: thwart the powerful Marquess of Rothgar. I ended this book salivating at the thought of watching Rothgar and the countess cross swords again. I was kind of bummed that we didn’t have the usual decadent Georgian England upperclasses sex debauchery scene but I guess sex with a masked stranger will have to suffice. There is some running around and a subplot involving the religious sect that got a touch outlandish at times. But, this one is a strong B/B+ for me even with its admitted faults.

~Jayne

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. Jan
    Apr 09, 2007 @ 21:02:42

    I didn’t realize you were reviewing these books. I loved this one. You’re so right about martyred heroines. Most of the time I can’t stand them, because there’s no foundation of truth under what they’re doing. But in this case, the situation felt very real to me. OK, the evil religious guy pushed it, but I’m sure a number of wives were faced with this problem of a passing inheritance and could do nothing but what Rosa did.

    I also liked the fact that she loved and honored her husband, despite her love for Brand. Lots of authors would have made the husband an impotent sadist with a thing for farm animals and small children. She made him a decent guy.

    The ending was a quandry too. There was no “best” way out of the situation, and although she did avoid an impossible situation at the very end, it was by no means the standard “everything is perfect now” wrapup we find in many romances. There was no deus ex machina for the child and parents. I really respected that.

    I love this series.

    ReplyReply

  2. Estelle
    Apr 10, 2007 @ 05:08:32

    This is the one Malloren book I haven’t read. Lucky for me I have it in my TBR pile. The backblurb didn’t appeal to me so that’s why the book is still unread but your review intrigued me.

    Will you be reviewing Devilish too? I’d love to hear what you thought of Rothgar’s book.

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  3. Jayne
    Apr 10, 2007 @ 12:25:26

    Will you be reviewing Devilish too? I’d love to hear what you thought of Rothgar’s book

    Yes, indeed I will. I have the review ready but you have to wait for Rothgar! until, maybe, next week.

    I read this series in order (I’m anal about that) but I think it’s one that can stand to be read out of order and not lose much.

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  4. Jayne
    Apr 10, 2007 @ 12:28:11

    Jan, martyr heroines usually make me want to stab myself in the eye with a dull spoon. Martyr heroes (yes, I’ve read a few) are as bad. And I totally agree with you about Rosa’s husband. It was so nice that Beverley didn’t turn him into a nasty piece of work.

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  5. Jo Beverley
    Apr 18, 2007 @ 17:53:14

    Hi,

    I’m really not sure if I’m supposed to be here! It says “dear author.” I hope that means it’s okay. :)

    I was directed here because you were saying nice things about my books, and I want to say thank you. I don’t think readers always realize how precious positive reader feedback is to authors. You probably feel we’re awash with it, but it’s rare to have such detailed, well thought out analysis and praise.

    I really don’t have anything to add, but I’m open to questions.

    But I hope popping in here won’t inhibit anything. I truly won’t get upset if there are aspects to books that you don’t like.

    Thanks again,

    Jo

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  6. Jayne
    Apr 18, 2007 @ 19:58:40

    We’re wide open to authorial comments. After all as you say, it is Dear Author.

    My question is do you plan on further Georgian era books? Malloren or otherwise? Perhaps second generation Malloren? I just adore men in lace who carry deadly swords.

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  7. Jo Beverley
    Apr 18, 2007 @ 20:57:52

    ” I just adore men in lace who carry deadly swords.”

    Oh, me, too, Jayne. :)

    As it happens, I’m working on a new Georgian now. It’ll be out next year but I don’t have a title yet. Someone tagged it as the rake on the take and the nun on the run.*G*

    Jo

    ReplyReply

  8. Jayne
    Apr 19, 2007 @ 03:28:06

    Cool! Just a Georgian setting alone is enough to sell me on trying a book. I’ll be looking for this one.

    ReplyReply

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