REVIEW: A Wicked Gentleman by Jane Feather
Dear Ms. Feather:
The most recent issue plaguing your books have been the appeal of your heroes. One common theme for your heroes is that they often use the heroines for their own selfish motivations and then are seemingly “redeemed” by falling in love with the heroines as if the “love” word automatically excuses villainous behavior. Sometimes it works for me, as it did in Almost a Bride but not in Kissed by Shadows. A Wicked Gentleman fell somewhere in between. I will not re read it as I have Almost a Bride and I do not revile it like I did with Kissed by Shadows. It failed to evoke any type of strong response which is its real failure.
Harry, Viscount Bonham, works for the Crown as a spy. A piece of code embedded in an objct is taken and is purportedly at a house on Cavendish Square that is conveniently absent. After a few attempts at retrieval, the house suddenly becomes occupied making the capture of the spywork exponentially more difficult.
Lady Cornelia Dagenham has run off to England with her friends in order escape the country in which she has been immolated based on her role as the mother and guardian of the next Earl of Markby, Stephen, her five year old son. Cornelia longs for a more vibrant life but the purse strings are tightly held her son's trustees. Her friend, Liv Lacey, is left property by her great aunt and takes Cornelia and Cornelia's isster in law, Aurelia, to London.
Harry insinuates himself into the household, eventually seducing Cornelia, with the sole intent of obtaining the spypiece. Then, when the spypiece is obtained, Harry continues his affair with Cornelia for the pleasure of it. Cornelia cannot have a blemish on her reputation for one misstep and the Earl of Markby will remove Stevie from her care. When her children are endangered, Cornelia places their needs above her own pleasure.
When I was a young girl, I read the book, The First Violin by Jesse Fothergill, originally published in the 1870s. The heroine has a beautiful voice but is criticized that while technically proficient, she lacks emotive power that the great singers have. This is a technically proficient book by a master of the craft, but it failed to move me in anyway. Part of it could be because as a Regency set book with a spy hero, there is nothing fresh here. Part of it, I attribute to the lack of emotion from most of the characters, particularly Harry. You told me that these two loved each other and maybe Nell loved Harry, but I had real doubts about him. C.