Monday, March 19, 2012

Suzanne Robinson -- Lady Dangerous

Rated: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ .   {4.85}
Action: ♠♠♠. / Emotion: ♣♣♣♣ / Romance: ♥♥♥. / Sensuous: ♦. / Suspense: ♠♠♠.
Action: 3.5 / Emotion: 4 / Romance: 3.5 / Sensuous: 1.5 / Suspense: 3.5 // Historical Flavor: 4 / Laughter: 22 / Tears: 0

Absolutely loved the heroine of Suzanne Robinson's first book in The English Gunslingers Duet, Lady Dangerous.   Wish had the depth of psychological understanding that explains how a woman born to a tyrant of a father and a self-concerned, nay-saying mother could become a woman with so much self-confidence, strength of character and sense of integrity that she can successfully overcome the myriad of road blocks thrown in her path -- all without the guidance or support of a mentor.

Elizabeth "Liza" Maud Elliot learned at the tender age of six that she was an unwanted child and that her parents only had room in their tiny little hearts for their second-born child, William Edward Elliot.   Rather than curling into a ball and succumbing to the devastation a little girl must have felt at learning she was incidental, Liza used the tools at her disposal (governesses, intelligence, determination, perseverance, books, lack of parental supervision) to grow into a woman who knew her own mind and stood up for what she believed.

Liza may have inherited her backbone from Richard Elliot, the son of a butcher who used any means necessary, be they fair or foul, to become a wealthy, powerful man in the world of banking and investments.   Overcoming the commonness of his birth was the one thing that Richard Elliot could not accomplish alone.   When the daughter he had ignored her entire life turned seventeen, Richard saw his opportunity to gain entry into high society -- by buying himself a titled son-in-law.   (Robinson described the monstrosity that was the Elliot home, revealing that Richard would never be high society material -- that money can't buy class.)

Assuming that his daughter was just like his empty-headed wife and would listen to his counsel, Richard threw his heretofore ignored daughter at society's young men.   Rather than find himself a prospective son-in-law, Richard's learned, outspoken daughter managed to get herself ostracized when she insulted five bigoted young men at a ball.   To teach his daughter her role in his life, Richard disowned her, expecting her to come running home with her tail between her legs -- and kowtowing to his demands.

Liza showed her father she was just as intelligent and skillful as any man and would not be told how to live her life.   With the aid of her mother (giving her a reference for employment) and taking the jewels she inherited from her grandmother, Liza not only survived, she prospered.   She built her own business, The Pennant's Domestic Agency.

Before leaving Liza's parents behind, want to mention a skill that Robinson utilized that showcases her talent as an accomplished author.   She took a very important character, like Liza's mother, painted a vivid picture of her personality by inserting insightful, character developing clauses throughout Liza's story and still managed to leave Iphegenia Beaufort Elliot entirely in the background.   After Robinson revealed that Iphegenia "hardly ever finished her sentences . . . her husband usually spoke for her or told her what she meant to say" she then went on to entertain readers with humorous scenes between Liza and Jocelin utilizing that characteristic.

Enter the hero, Jocelin Paul Marshall, Viscount Radcliffe, who feels the same way about women as Liza's father.   Found it incredibly ingenious of Robinson to include a conversation between Jos and his best friend, Nick Ross, as they discussed the characteristics Jocelin was looking for in a wife . . . after his father blackmailed him into actively pursing a woman to bind him in matrimony and give him grandsons.   Jocelin described a woman who is the antithesis of Liza.

Jocelin: "I require certain attributes of a wife -- softness, delicacy, modesty.   A woman should concern herself with her household and children.   She needn't concern herself with matters outside her home.   I don't require great intelligence, just the ability to listen when I speak and the sense to be guided by me.   And all the usual accomplishments she must have for entertaining and keeping me satisfied."

Nick: "And she's got to let you do what you want without interfering."   (page 114)
When Jocelin meets Liza she is wearing a disguise and is serving as a maid in his household.   Liza is on a mission to find the man who murdered her brother.   Liked the fact that Robinson did not make Liza a hard-hearted, bitter sister because her parents doted on William Edward.   Instead, Liza loved her fastidious, snobbish, a bit full of himself sibling.   Liza knew that her brother would never go to Whitechapel and since the Metropolitan police did not believe his death was murder, she was conducting her own investigation.

Viscount Radcliffe was Liza's prime suspect.   William Edward had served in Balaklava with Jocelin and the night before he died, he attended a political meeting at the Viscount's home.   Robinson did a wonderful job of keeping the edge of suspense alive during the entire book by keeping the officers that served with Jocelin in close proximity to him by involving them in politics.   The men meet regularly with Jocelin to promote his support of his ex-commanding officer, friend and mentor, Asher Fox for his position in the House of Commons.   Those men included: {1} Harold "Harry" Airey, a calvary officer -- garroted in Whitechapel before William Edward; {2} the Honorable Alex Stapleton, who was drinking to deal with the horrors of Balaklava; {3} stiff-necked Lawrence "Buggy" Winthrop; {4} Reginald Underwood, Earl Halloway, who rivaled Jocelin when it came to seducing women; and {5} Arthur Thurston-Coombes, the youngest, a son of mere gentry.

Robinson developed several parallels in the book.   First, the aforementioned comparison of Jocelin and Richard's expectations of an 1857's wife.   Second, the relationship between Liza's parents mirrored that of Jocelin's; particularly, the mothers -- who were not strong enough to stand up to the fathers for the sake of their children.   And third, she revealed the ravening beast inside the head of the killer, and led readers to compare it to the darkness that sometimes overtook Jocelin.

Jocelin is a very complex character.   Not only is he fighting to deal with the horrors of war, but his fourteen-year-old soul was deeply wounded by first, his beloved uncle Lord Yale Marshall, the Duke of Clairemont's brother, and second, by his father who choose to believe his brother's lies rather than his son's truth.   (Reminiscent of the movie, The General's Daughter, with John Travolta.)

Jocelin has joined forces with Nick to rid the world of as many predators as they can unearth.   Am looking forward to reading the second book of this series because it features the unique and really likeable Nick Ross.   Jocelin found Nick in Houndsditch years ago after he'd run afoul of a procurer in a gin shop and developed a deep, lasting relationship with him.   Nick was a wonderful supporting character, who saw the toll that their "jaunts" were taking on Jocelin -- and suggested that Jocelin give up his vendetta before it painted his soul entirely black.

On to the relationship that developed between Jocelin and Liza.   Jocelin first met Liza as the plump, peevish maid, Miss Gamp.   Jocelin does not understand why he is attracted to the maid, but is determined to have her -- probably because the maid keeps dodging his advances.   Robinson reveals the uniqueness of a woman not falling at the feet of the magically sensual Jocelin when he asks Miss Gamp, "Do you know how long its been since a woman refused me?" (page 89)

Cannot remember a book that had me in stitches so many times.   Really enjoyed Robinson's use of the scent of lemons in Jocelin's and Liza's relationship.   After cornering Miss Gamp in the hall and noticing she smelled of lemons, Jocelin was thinking of having tea . . . with lemons.   Later, Tessie, the maid, came into the kitchen wailing because the Viscount hollered at her because there were no lemons on his tea tray.   Just the scent of lemons had Jocelin becoming aroused.

Robinson developed another supporting character that, most surprisingly, invoked laughter.   How such a proper, incredibly dignified man could engage in dry, reprimanding conversations with Jocelin and bring out laughter was a true work of art.   Loveday began serving sixteen-year-old Jocelin as his valet and "duenna."   Robinson threw in descriptive statements like Loveday's "I've just smelled rotten pork" expression to add a rich lightness to what could have otherwise become a very dark story.   Jocelin's snappy rejoinders back at Loveday (who always spoke using the royally plural 'we') were frequent entertainments throughout the book.

"If I may say so, it has not been our custom to dally with the maids in our service.   We have prided ourselves on this small virtue."

Jocelin flushed and propped his foot on the ottoman.

"Well, Loveday, we can't be so proud of our virtue anymore."   (page 30)
When Liza finally did decide she was willing to give herself to Jocelin, she did so in the same way she approached everything else -- on her terms.   Robinson did a great job of keeping the romance and sensuality in the forefront of Jocelin and Liza's story -- as Jocelin took every opportunity to put his hands and mouth on first Miss Gamp and then Liza.   For a reason he couldn't fathom, being around the lemony Liza took away the blackness that permeated his soul.   Robinson did a great job of including a touch of sizzle to the emotional, entertaining love scenes in the book.

Several other secondary characters added depth to the story.   Although not richly developed, Toby Inch, the man who helped Liza when she first arrived in London and then later posed as Mr. Hugo Pennant was an interesting, loyal figure in Liza's life.   Briefly met Jocelin's mother, Delia, the Duchess of Clairemont and his sister, Lady Georgiana Marshall, who was just as stubbornly determined to live life on her terms as Liza (and the heroine of book two of this duet).   Finally, there was the fun, priceless scene when Liza gathered her staff from the Pennant Domestic Agency and led them on an invasion of Jocelin's sitting room.

In summary, Lady Dangerous, the first book in Suzanne Robinson's The English Gunslingers Duet was an intriguing, attention-grabbing, 'cannot put this book down' read.   Liza was one of the strongest, driven, inspiring heroines to grace the pages of a historical romance.   Loved that she would kowtow to neither her father nor her hero.   Jocelin was a typical, gorgeous, angst-filled, womanizing hero who had to learn that even though she loved him, his heroine would not be owned.   Liza and Jocelin's path to a happily-ever-after was filled with {1} humor, {2} suspense, {3} villains, {4} wonderfully-developed supporting characters, {5} emotion, and {6} warm sensuality.   Found it to be a fun, entertaining, worthwhile read.
--Vonda M. Reid (Monday, March 12, 2012 : 10:00 p.m.)     [220]

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The English Gunslingers Duet"
# Date Title Hero Heroine
01.03-1994Lady DangerousJocelin Paul Marshall, Viscount RadcliffeElizabeth "Liza" Maud Elliot
02.06-1996The EngagementNick Ross (St. Giles raised)Lady Georgiana Marshal

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Lady Dangerous Quotations:
112"Beautiful women tend to be like that Wedgewood cup on my mantel.   Excellent on the outside, old fellow, and empty of substance.   They learn early that all that's required of them is appearance, so they devote their entire beings to taking care of themselves.   And deep inside they're frightened that one day they'll lose their beauty."
123"mama enjoyed misery and helplessness . . . being incompetent meant Mama didn't have to take responsibility for herself or anyone else."
335"if you take abuse, you invite abuse."

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Characters Found In "Lady Dangerous"
Character / Location Description / Relationships
Jocelin Paul Marshall
Viscount Radcliffe
[Hero] cold beauty of an aristocrat; cat-green eyes with no soul; spent several years in Texas and California; reckless reputation; marauder of Society's ladies (2) fearsome (4) tall (7) black, black hair; thick lashes; straight nose; chin bore a day's stubble; hot, heavy drawl (8) left-handed (10) expressionless face; brown hands (12) straight, dark brows; harsh planes of face softened by smoothness of skin that stretched over the sharp angles (12) Marshall (13) wide shoulders; aristocratic sneer (14) taunt buttocks; part gunman, part nobleman (15) House of Lords (19) anger always just beneath the surface of his emotions (24) attended Sandhurst Royal Military Collage at 16; precocious (24) great personal beauty; seductive (37) "Jos"; Paul (51) tall, muscular build required to be member of Heavy Brigade cavalry (55) exotic; wondrous; dangerous (70) moonless-night black hair, soft and gleaming as though sprinkled with starlight (84) straight, dark brows; wide lower jaw; dented chin; a sensual fallen angel; changeling temperament; dazzle, beguile; brooding, remote (152)
Elizabeth "Liza" Maud Elliot[Heroine]"Miss Gamp" her alias (10) brown little oval face, wide of forehead (22) cascades of hair neither so pale as to be blond, nor so dark as to be brown (32) papa disowned for stubborn unmaidenliness and quarrelsome nature (33) spoke mind to suitors; different from other girls (37) good sense; not silly and vapid (38) name (39) intimidation only infuriated her; intelligent; gift for strategy (62) father rich as King Solomon; witchy bluestocking shrew (68) in business three years (71) 24-y-o spinster (108) wide, gold-brown-teal eyes; slim; long legs; graceful; short nail; long fingers (111) no beauty (112) beautifully played the piano with passion (113)
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Harold "Harry" Airey[No Appearance] calvary officer; garroted in Whitechapel (35)
Lady Alberta[No Appearance] Jocelin's mistress (24)
Honorable Miss Ida Birch[Brief Appearances] Jocelin's mistress (24) Ida (274) high little girl's voice (275) amiable disposition; good mistress (276) dark; voluptuous (283)
Miss Burdett-Coutts[Actual Historical Character / No Appearance] starting a school to pay poverty-ridden children to go to school (199)
Nappie Carbuncle[No Appearance] name found on Viscount's hidden paper (79)
Cardigan[Actual Historical Character / No Appearance] involved in battle of Balaklava (34)
Lieutenant Cheshire[No Appearance] killed in battle (77)
Caroline Chisholm[Actual Historical Character / No Appearance] recruiting emigrants to Australia (206)
Choke[Brief Appearances] Radcliffe butler (2) graying head; spindly shoulders; moved with stateliness and care; pale face (3) gaunt frame (4)
Duke of Clairemont[Secondary Character] Radcliffe's father; lived nearby in Grosvenor Square (6) white hair (8) thick hair (9) straight Marshall nose, well suited for looking down on others (48) pale green eyes (49)
Delia, Duchess of Clairemont[Brief Appearances] Jocelin's mother; cultivated pale complexion; mourning Charles; too weak to stand up to husband (50) Delia (51)
Old Clarendon[No Appearance] had three marriageable daughters
Elihu Driver[No Appearance] Pennant's employee; ex-seaman and ship's cook; in great demand as Monsieur Jacques (70)
Iphegenia Beaufort Elliot[Secondary Character] Liza's mother; enraptured of William Edward; "her one real interest in life -- herself" (74) dressed in fashion of previous decade; fading blond hair in ringlets to either side of her face; hardly ever finished a sentence; husband spoke for her; told what she meant to say; married for her position as eldest daughter of one of the country's oldest families (104) complained and catastrophized without end (123)
Richard Elliot[Secondary Character] Liza's father; son of a butcher (72) spent life building a fortune in banking and investments; slyly clever (73) parsimonious and close-fisted with love (74) taller than Jos; majesty of his frame suffered because he wore side-whiskers, turned gray; corners of mouth turned down (104) had great influence with liberal members of Parliament (160) small-eyed gaze of a usurer, hard bargainer, penny-pincher (211)
William Edward Elliot[Secondary Character] [No Appearance] not the kind of man to skulk about the brothels and gin shops of Whitechapel and get himself garroted; Liza's brother (33) snob (35) brightest and most loving of men (36) father doted on; to Eton; tour of Europe at 14; Cambridge (72) lackluster student (73) fastidious; snobbish (80) bit full of his consequence (201)
Elsie[One Appearance] Ida Birch's maid (275)
Emmeline[Brief Appearances] Liza's maid; recruited to join Pennants (119)
Mrs. Eustace[Brief Appearances] Radcliffe housekeeper (31)
Frank Fawn[No Appearance] name found on Viscount's hidden paper (79) manager of boardinghouse (90) found floating in river; witnessed fight with gentry; boardinghouse raided (91)
Lady Augusta Fowell[One Appearance] attending Elliot house party; dowager; relict of Lord Watkin Fowell; wallowed in piety (147)
Asher Fox[Secondary Character] House of Commons (19) best lieutenant colonel in regiments (34) tall, muscular build required to be member of Heavy Brigade cavalry; bit taller than Jocelin (55) brown curls; heavy-lidded eyes; crusading spirit (55) older man (57) Jocelin's commander during the war (58) from family of military heroes, grandson of General Lord Peter Bingham Fox (Waterloo); father, Lord Peter served with distinction with Horse Guards (81)
Reginald Underwood
Earl Halloway
[Secondary Character] served with Jocelin; participated in political meetings; martinet of the drill field and parade ground; connoisseur of women; resented Jocelin's attraction to the ladies (81)
Sir Morris Harter[No Appearance] name found on Viscount's hidden paper (79)
Hester[Brief Appearance] Pennant employee; turned away from her job (234)
Mr. Humewood[Brief Appearance] Pennant employee; turned away from his job (234)
Betty Inch[Brief Appearances] Toby's daughter (70)
Toby Inch[Secondary Character] retired thief, turned butler; hired to pose as Mr. Pennant when Liza opened agency (40) tall man without much bulk, appeared more frail than he was; convicted of assault, served short sentence (63) gray hair (64)
Mrs. Kettle[One Appearance] Reverie's housekeeper (262)
Duke of Lessborough[No Appearance] using Pennant's services (70)
Loveday[Major Secondary Character] more dignity and countenance than Choke; demeanor of pope; intimidating; slight paunch; high glowing forehead ringed with brown hair; sedate (4) Radcliffe's valet (14) "I've just smelled rotten pork" expression; drill-like gaze (17) had served Jocelin since 16; fanatical and intelligent duenna (24) habit of appearing magically; had "the ability to know exactly when he would be required, no matter what his master was doing" (29)
Lucy Lyttleton[No Appearance] scandalous widow of Lord Lyttleton; seduced Jocelin when he was 16 (55)
Charles Marshall[No Appearance] Jocelin's older brother; death 3 years (50)
Lady Georgiana Marshall[Brief Appearance] [Heroine of Book Two] Jocelin's sister (46) gold-rimmed spectacles (50) Marshall black hair and startling green eyes; 17-y-o (51) "once she decided upon a course, she could seldom be diverted from it" (52) cynical attitude toward parents (53)
Lord Yale Marshall[Brief Appearances] Duke of Clairemont's brother (6) much younger than brother; same thick hair; black, graying at temples; high stature; personified doomed beauty and chivalry; same startling green eyes as nephew (9) preyed on innocents (49)
Millie[One Appearance] Jocelin, Nick rescued; girl; James Pryne's cousin (132) ten (133)
Lady Honoria Nottle[One Appearance] attending Elliot house party; couldn't pronounce l's, called her Wiza; life filled with oozy dripping sentiment (144)
Lady Octavia[No Appearance] Jocelin's mistress (24)
Lord ___[No Appearance] Lady Octavia's husband; called to France on business of Foreign Office (25)
Palmerston[No Appearance] Asher seeking his support (19)
Sergeant Pawkins[No Appearance] served with Jocelin (34)
Griffin Poe[No Appearance] name found on Viscount's hidden paper (79)
James Pryne[One Appearance] Jocelin, Nick rescued; boy (132) barely fourteen (133)
Raglan[Actual Historical Character / No Appearance] had his soldiers charging artillery (34)
Mrs. Ripple[No Appearance] Pennant's cook (234)
Nick Ross[Major Secondary Character] [Hero of Book Two] (57) young man; brown hair; pale angel-blue eyes; Jocelin found in Houndsditch years ago after he'd run afoul of a procurer in a gin shop (19) handsome; easy of manner (147)
Dr. Lucius Sinclair[One Appearance] name found on Viscount's hidden paper (79) respected medical man in Harley Street; house in Wiltshire (121) Larch Lane led to house (131) middle-aged (131) apparel spoke of prosperity; neatly cut graying hair and side whiskers; a successful professional man; a churchgoer; a pillar of the community (132)
Sledge[Brief Appearances] Radcliffe footman; big fellow; young; proud of his physical skills; boxed; constantly alert for opportunities to test his talent in the pubs and rowdy streets of East London (4)
Barbara Leigh Smith[Actual Historical Character / No Appearance] reformer (299)
Honorable Alex Stapleton[Brief Appearances] served with Jocelin; nose red from drink (54) drank himself to death (70)
Mr. Tapley[No Appearance] ran afoul of Comanches on stage from Texas to California (17)
Tessie[Brief Appearances] Radcliffe maid (2)
Arthur Thurston-Coombes[Secondary Character] served with Jocelin; joined in political meetings; son of mere gentry (81)
Maisy Twoffle[Brief Appearances] Pennant employee; barely nineteen; 3 little girls now husband; selling violets near Parliament in winter (233)
Peg Twoffle[One Appearance] Maisy's daughter; round, rosy face; unending black curls; great, dark eyes of spaniel brown (237)
Ronald Varney [One Appearance] young man; pale; thin; ascetic; ethereal in appearance; silky receding gold locks; air of poetic delicacy (196) Liza's solicitor (197)
Queen Victoria[Actual Historical Character / No Appearance] current ruler (10) proper little German hausfrau (56)
Vincent[Brief Appearance] Duke of Clairemont's butler (48)
Lawrence "Buggy" Winthrop[Secondary Character] stiff as judge instructing bailiff (54) chin and hairline were in a race to see which could disappear faster; his mother offspring of a liaison between daughter of one of queen's uncles and Earl of Mumford (81)

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Suzanne Robinson
♠  Website
♣  pseudonym used by: Lynda S. Robinson
Suzanne Robinson Book List:
♠  Fantastic Fiction
♣  FictionDB
Lynda S. Robinson Book List:
♠  Fantastic Fiction
♣  FictionDB

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Lady Dangerous Reviews:
RatedPostedSiteNotes, Comments, Etc.
4.34 average{3 reviews}Amazonas of: March 19, 2012
4.00 average{2 ratings}Barnes and Nobleas of: March 19, 2012
4.50 average{2 reviews}Good Readsas of: March 19, 2012
3.13 average{4 ratings}Library Thingas of: March 19, 2012
3.75 average{3 reviews}Paperback Swapas of: March 19, 2012
5.00 average{1 review}Shelfarias of: March 19, 2012
4.8503-19-2012Wolf Bear Does Booksshorter post on Amazon, Good Reads, Shelfari

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♥  Disclaimer:   I Purchased This Book
♥  Very Subjective Rating
♥  Willing to share Cheat Sheet
    ♦  in whole or in part
    ♦  WordPerfect or PDF
♣  Will add your Lady Dangerous review link to table, just ask

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