Thursday, November 14, 2019

Lorraine Heath - An Affair With a Notorious Heiress

The son of a duke and an infamous mother, Alistair Mabry, Marquess of Rexton, fought his way to respectability. Now, the most eligible bachelor in London, marriage-shy Rexton will take only a wife with an impeccable reputation, good breeding, and a penchant for staying out of the gossip sheets. But when he strikes a deal to be seen “courting” a sweet young debutante whose notorious older sister has blemished her chances for marriage, Rexton is unexpectedly drawn to the highly inappropriate, calamitous Tillie, Lady Landsdowne herself.
After a scandalous incident that sent shockwaves throughout society and disgraced her, Tillie refuses to cower in the face of the ton. Instead, she will hold her head high as she serves as chaperone for her younger sister, but Tillie is convinced Rexton’s courtship is shrouded with secrets—ones she vows to uncover. However, doing so requires getting dangerously close to the devilishly handsome and forbidden marquess…

Comment: This is the 4th installment in the Gentleman of St James series by Lorraine Heath and the last full length one. There's a fifth story which is a novella.
Of the four stories I've read so far, in general terms, this was my favorite but I must keep repeating what a pity it is that authors must add so many sex scenes when (in my opinion) they don't always add much to the plot.

In this story we have as protagonist Rexton, the oldest biological son of Franny and Sterling, from the series that antecedes this one and which I have read.
Rexton has known the love and the support of his parents bu he has also been the target of pranks because of his mother's background. He decides then that when he marries he will choose a wife with no dubious past whatsoever. 
This story begins when he agrees on a deal with another man to pretend he is courting that man's niece, so she can get more admirers. The problem is that Mathilda, lady Landsdowne, and his supposed intended older sister has had quite a scandalous divorce and no one receives her now. This means though, as Rexton tries to court her more innocent sister Gina, he gets Tillie as a chaperone nevertheless and the longer they spend time together, the more layers he discovers in Tillie and the more difficult it to ignore he likes her...

Everyone has preferences in how specific books should develop, isn't it? For instance, I like romances where the main characters interact and get to become attracted but don't jump into a situation just because. This is why I was so captivated by this book from the start. 
Unlike the others in the series, the main male protagonist was not assaulted by thoughts of inadequacy in relation to anything (being worthy, missed chances, etc) and his aspiration to have an unblemished wife made sense. 
I also really liked how the heroine is one of those characters people make assumptions of based on one detail but no one really knows who she is. Again, unlike other heroines, she was not hiding a secret or a desire which I felt then as meant as a way to create suspense about her.

Anyway, until the first time the protagonists were intimate, this was going on being a very good read and I admit I imagined five stars grading and so on. The conversations they had, the apparent passage of time that made me feel they were developing a relationship, the things they shared and the ones they inferred about one another by those moments really felt special. I also liked how they acted with other people, I liked seeing Rexton with his family and friends, he wasn't annoying like previous heroes and Tillie's sister Gina was not as ornamental as she was made to be.
Things were going well indeed but when they admitted their feelings and the author decided to speed up the action by putting the situation between the protagonists in such a point they decided to be intimate I was really disappointed.

I thought, well this has been going on so well, why this? It's not that the reader wouldn't accept they could have sex, after al this is a romance, that is an expectation anyway and they had established a connection too. However, it was really disappointing they acted on their feelings after the situation the author decided to use. I thought it downgraded things a little because to me it would have been much more romantic and special if they had waited more, if they had gotten things into an even more tensed point where they felt they had to be intimate, where they felt they couldn't be without the other person. I guess I'd have liked them to do that (whether they were married or not at that moment) after the other issues between them had been solved, finished, etc.

It's not that the way things happened is totally unlike many other books in this genre but I was having such a great time, it felt like such a pity the plot didn't follow a more romantic path (in my POV).
There's a HEA of course and I'm quite glad about it, I liked these two characters found each other and founded a relationship on mutual ground and interests. I liked reading this for certain and I liked seeing the characters interact, have a little bit of glance of this one and that one here and there.

This author is generally one whose work I like, despite the ones I didn't enjoy as much. Still, when she does it really well, I can't help really liking what she writes. Too bad perhaps specific demands ruin things a little bit (like the inclusion of too much sex thoughts, situations, scenes to be titillating?) but as a whole, this one in particular was better than average for me.
Grade: 8/10

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