Lucian desires respectability and a wife above all else, but the woman of his choosing lacks the social graces to be accepted by the aristocracy. Catherine can help Lucian gain everything he wants. But what she asks for in exchange will put their very lives in jeopardy. When danger closes in, Catherine discovers a man of immense passion and he discovers a woman of immeasurable courage. As secrets from his dark past are revealed, Lucian begins to question everything he knows to be true, including the yearnings of his own heart.
Comment: This book caught my eye a long time ago and I was curious about it because I was used to read the author's historicals set in the US, with a different flavor and atmosphere...so I was curious how I would react to read her "voice" in a regency styled story. This title is the first in a series of five installments and if all are as engaging as this one, then this will be quite the successful series for me.
In this first book of the Scoundrels of St. James series, we have Lucian Langdon, a man with a earldom conquered after he killed the rightful heir of the time. However, the heir's father claimed Lucian was actually he lost grandson and decided to raise him as such. But Lucien couldn't forget his childhood among the scoundrels of London, pickpockets and orphans and always felt like an impostor. Having his own personal wealth, he is thinking about giving up the title to the son of the man he killed, but after meeting and talking with Lady Catherine Mabry due to a request of hers, he starts to doubt his past and wonder if happiness is what he thought he wanted or something he never imagined he would have...
I liked this story. It wasn't overly complicated despite some more intricate details concerning Lucien's past and some mystery surrounding his origins, but overall I was quite pleased by the way the story developed.
The plot revolves mostly around Catherine's request for Lucien to kill someone, considering his fame and all but he also asks something out of her in return, for her to teach etiquette to Frannie, the woman he has always wanted to marry. Frannie feels not good enough to behave in polite society, coming from a rough childhood as well, but Lucien believes Catherine, being the daughter of a duke, will help her. But the more Lucien and Catherine spend time together the more attracted to each other they become. When things get really decisive, Lucien must weight who he really loves as a man loves a woman. Of course we can guess how the HEA will be and I must say I loved seeing these two falling in love, slowly and step by step. I think the author did a good job in placing them in a position where their lives aren't only about the other one - we see them interacting with other characters many times, or on their own - but when they are together, even for the simpler of reasons, there's chemistry and emotion between them.
The author's voice is visible but the tone and atmosphere are clearly different from her other works. I had the feeling this book wasn't as heavy in the drama as her books set in the US were. Or maybe I haven't read enough to confirm that.
The plot wasn't complicated like I said but I liked how everything seemed to have a purpose and the reader gets to enjoy the story and still pay attention to several aspects without one of them domineering or some things not having the same importance.
The romance was good in my opinion. I liked the pace and how their relationship developed and how they got to know each other well slowly but in a steady way. I was convinced of their love for each other by the end of the book and it was important that the author took the time to show us, whether by small or more detailed scenes, how their feelings were getting more and more serious with time, even when they didn't explicitly admit it.
Lucien is a fascinating character and all his friends as well, so I have good faith the following books will be as interesting as this one. Catherine wasn't always what I expected, she did seem quite forwards, even despite her position in society allowing her to feel more free and firm in her decisions and actions, and in certain situations I thought a bit more care would have been nice, but overall, a good heroine.
All in all, the story is quite successful for me. Some details didn't win me over completely and I think at one time or another the pace seemed to not aid in the developing but thinking about it globally, it was a very entertaining historical and something I enjoyed quite a lot. So, this first installment won me over and made me curious about the other books, which I consider a success.