Monday, March 26, 2012

Sally MacKenzie -- The Naked Duke

Rated: ♥ .   {1.80}
Action: ♠♠. / Emotion: ♣ / Romance: ♥♥♥ / Sensuous: ♦ / Suspense: ♠♠♠.
Action: 2.5 / Emotion: 1 / Romance: 3 / Sensuous: 1 / Suspense: 3.5 // Regency Flavor: 2.5 / Laughter: 2 / Tears: 0

Kudos to the person who decided on the titles in The Naked Nobility Series.   The word "naked" is very catchy . . .   the perfect word to make a romance reader want to read this series.   The titles are quick, easy, and memorable.

Abject apologies to Sally MacKenzie for not liking her debut book, The Naked Duke, the first book in The Naked Nobility Series.   This is going to be a particularly difficult review to write.   Mainly because hate to trash an author who struggled so to get her first book published.   And apparently MacKenzie has succeeded in entertaining many readers with her books because, to date, she has eight books and two novella's published -- which is proof positive that her books are well worth reading.   So take these words with a grain of salt and understand that this review is biased by personal preferences.

Sally MacKenzie did a phenomenal job of grabbing interest by writing an inspiring, exciting, refreshingly new idea for an introductory scene.   The penniless, red-haired Philadelphian Sarah Marie Hamilton alighted from the stagecoach at the Green Man posting inn having ridden for days from Liverpool after disembarking from the Roseanna -- the ship that brought her to England.   Sarah's politically-minded, republican father, David Hamilton, had ignored his daughter her entire life, but upon his deathbed told her to go to his brother, the Earl of Westbrooke.   The weary, worn, drably-dressed Sarah was thankful when a tall, red-haired man convinced the proprietor to let her stay and showed her to a room, insisting his room was down the hall.

James William Randolph Runyon, Duke of Alvord (Marquis of Waltingham, Earl of Southgate, Viscount Balmer, Baron Lexter) was in the private sitting room of the Green Man inn contemplating his future when his two best friends, Major Charles Draysmith and Robert "Robbie" Hamilton joined him for drinks.   Charles and Robbie were opposed to James's consideration of the Duke of Rothingham's daughter, Charlotte Wickford (frequently called the"Marble Queen"), as his future wife.   James told his friends that he felt he must marry quickly and beget an heir before his black-hearted cousin Richard Runyon (and current heir) succeeding in killing him for his title.

James was pleasantly surprised to find a doxy in his bed when he went to his room.   Since she didn't rouse when he first laid down, he decided to sleep first before enjoying himself.   The next morning James awoke to the doxy beating him about the head with a pillow and his seventy-something Aunt, Lady Gladys Runyon and her constant companion, sixty-something Lady Amanda Wallen-Smyth being at the forefront of the people gathered at his door to see him naked in bed with a very naked Sarah.

Found this opening gambit original, cute, fun, and intriguing.   James sent the crowd away, saying they would meet later in the private sitting room to straighten out this misunderstanding.   Even though James explained to Sarah that her reputation was completely shattered, she still refused to marry him.   Sarah's reasons for not wanting to marry this strange duke were tri-fold.   First her father and the Abington Sisters (who ran the Abington Academy for Young Ladies that she'd drudged for) convinced her that all titled Englishmen were, basically, worthless.   Second, as an American she did not feel qualified to fill the role of duchess.   And, third, Sarah wanted to marry for love.

It was also cute and original that the tall, red-headed gentleman who mistook Sarah for a doxy and sent her to James's room the night before was none other than her cousin, the new Earl of Westbrooke.   (David Hamilton's brother, Robbie's father had died last year.)   When James and Sarah joined the others in the sitting room, it was decided that she was stay at the Alvord Castle as a temporary companion to Elizabeth "Lizzie" Runyon, James's exuberant seventeen-year-old sister, while James pressed his suit for marriage.

If a reader can manage to persevere through the next, tiredly mundane, and less than stellar pages as James tries to convince Sarah she is the woman for him (with modern-day innuendo and constantly sporting an arousal) . . . they will find that the second half of the book is not quite as dull.   MacKenzie failed to draw any emotion as Sarah, who was physically drawn to the gorgeous hunk of duke who was pursuing her, constantly rebuffed his advances and didn't understand the constant references to bedsport.

"I am having a little trouble thinking clearly.   The image of your hair against the white of my pillow is quite, um, elevating."   (page 84)

"I believe your brother was giving Miss Hamilton a few extra riding tips," Major Draysmith said with a straight face, though his eyes were dancing wickedly.   (page 113)
Although did not feel any emotional connection to the "perfect" James (a duke that had not one, single, solitary negative attribute), the fact that never felt a moment of emotional connection to Sarah was even more disheartening.   Surely reading about a destitute woman, on her own, in a foreign country, with no signs of finding employment, living with strangers would dredge up some concern.   Never did warm up to Sarah.   She never felt real.   Never felt any of her supposed angst.

James, Aunt Gladys, Lady Amanda, Charles Drayton, Lizzie and Robbie have now gone to London to introduce the heretofore non-dancing, "had no fun in her entire life" Sarah to the ton.   Sarah dances with Richard, who sews seeds of discontent into the romance he sees blooming between Sarah and James.   He tells Sarah about James's nickname, Monk, and that he inherited it because he was anything but.   Add to that, Sarah constantly overhears about James's amazingly creative sexual exploits.   Sarah is even more determined that she cannot marry a rake -- a man who would be unfaithful.

Too many little things about the book didn't feel correct.   {1} Aunt Gladys and Lady Amanda falling under Sarah's quaint, sad charm on the short carriage ride from Green Man inn to Alvord Castle and believing she is the perfect wife for James.   {2} One little wimpy scene where Sarah fussed about being outfitted in an expensive wardrobe.   A more stubborn, realistic heroine would have thrown numerous fits.   {3} How could the only son of the Duke of Alvord be allowed to go to war?   {4} MacKenzie subjected readers to this "just plain wrong" feeling emanating from Sarah the day after she confronted James about his hated nickname:

She saw him just a few yards away and faded further into the palms.   Mr. Belham might have difficulty locating her, but she'd rather risk that than James snubbing her."   (page 162)
James has been pursuing Sarah relentlessly and she thinks James will snub her simply because she called him Monk to his face?

Previously mentioned that MacKenzie make James a "perfect" duke.   She even went so far as to brand him with the stigma of being a twenty-eight year old virgin.   James's reasons for his rejecting his father's first attempt to introduce him to the world of womanizing rang true, but his motivations to remain chaste afterwards felt forced.   This facet of James's personality just wasn't believable.   A gorgeous, rich, powerful, charismatic Duke still a virgin at twenty-eight!   Nope!   Didn't buy it!

The pace and interest in the book stepped up a bit as MacKenzie introduced the point-of-view character, Philip Gadner, Richard's valet.   Philip has been in love with Richard since he was seventeen.   Philip is the tool MacKenzie uses to witness Richard's constant rages and future plans in his obsessive desire to wrest the dukedom from his hated cousin.   Mean-spirited, almost mad, Richard is featured as unredeemable as James is perfect.

Throwing another villain into the mix helped keep the suspense and interest alive in the story.   Richard decides to blackmail the corrupt, ruthless New York whore trader, William Anthony Dunlap into publically ruining Sarah.   Richard gets the tall, beautiful man invited into the houses of high society (another not quite believable action), to dance with Sarah and lead her to the garden for a little rape and ruin.   As expected, he fails in this endeavor.

One would think that after an entire book peppered with countless pages of almost unquenchable lust oozing from the pores of James and Sarah, that when they finally made love, there would be sizzle and heat.   But, opps, remember, James is a virgin.   Guess that is the reason for the lack of zest and zing.   But it could be because the sexual desire throughout the entire book is a bit drool:

His mouth came down to stop her acid words.   His tongue flashed in on her gasp of shock and plundered her sweetness.   He felt her sag against him and his hands slid down her back to cradle her bottom.   He brought her closer against the part of him that ached so badly for her."   (page 181)
Several other personal quirks added discontent to the story.   First did not feel that MacKenzie invested as much time researching the Regency era as other authors (such as Nicole Jordan, Madeline Hunter, Mary Balogh).   There was a decided lack of realism to the dialogue.   The book just didn't have that "Regency" feel.   Second, although could determine that the story took place some time after Waterloo (1815), wished MacKenzie had given a specific date in which the story took place.   Third, didn't know how old Sarah was.  The fact that she was a spinster was not very revealing.  Fourth, had no idea in which part of England this story took place.   Where is the Green Man inn, Alvord Castle, the Westbrooke estate?

Even though The Naked Duke, Sally MacKenzie's first book in The Naked Nobility Series was not a total wash (did finish the book), would not recommend it.   Yes, pick up and read this book if you have no other book handy, but otherwise, look elsewhere for a great read.
--Vonda M. Reid   (Saturday, March 17, 2012 : 11:34 p.m.)     [222]

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The Naked Nobility Series
# Date Title Hero Heroine
01.02-2005The Naked DukeJames William Randolph Runyon
Duke of Alvord
Sarah Marie Hamilton
Penniless Philadelphian
02.03-2006The Naked MarquisCharles Draysmith
Marquis of Knightsdale
Emma Peterson
Vicar's Daughter
03.04-2007The Naked EarlRobert "Robbie" Hamilton
Earl of Westbrooke
Lady Elizabeth "Lizzie" Runyon
Best Friend's Sister
04.04-2008The Naked GentlemanJohn Parker-RothMargaret Peterson
05.02-2009The Naked Laird
    in: Lords of Pleasure
Lord KilgornLady Kilgorn
06.05-2009The Naked BaronBaron DawsonLady Grace Belmont
07.06-2010The Naked ViscountEdmund SmythLady Jane Parker-Roth
08.02-2011The Naked Prince
    in: An Invitation To Sin
Lord Damian KenderlyJosephine Atworthy
09.06-2011The Naked KingStephen Parker-RothLady Anne Marston

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The Naked Duke Quotations:
69"Like they accept everyone -- with false smiles and backbiting and the hope that you'll do something really dreadful so they can talk about you . . ."
208"She was tired of being alone.   She was tired of trying to be strong."

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Characters Found In "The Naked Duke"
Character / Location Description / Relationships
James William Randolph Runyon
Duke of Alvord, Marquis of Waltingham, Earl of Southgate, Viscount Balmer, Baron Lexter
[Hero] golden eyebrows (13) war hero; 28-y-o (16) warm amber eyes; golden hair; sculpted lips (21) fine dusting of golden hair, slightly darker than that on head covered chest; muscles in flat belly (25) broad back (26) dark blond hair; mellow, deep, magical, warm honey voice (26) quite tall (28) long lashes tipped in gold (82) assumed title at 25 (83) Cambridge; in Spain in 1811 until April 1813, fought at Ciudad Rodrigo, Badajoz, Salamanca (105) strength in his face; assurance; unconscious power (121) clean strong angle of jaw (140) vast financial and political power (160) strong back that tapered down to narrow waist (246) muscles bulging in upper arms (247)
Sarah Marie Hamilton[Heroine] red hair (8) Philadelphia (13) beautiful; long fiery hair; high cheekbones; long lashes; elegant neck; young; innocent; smooth, warm skin (18) delicate cure of wrist and forearm; soft hair, short through with threads of gold; peach-tinged skin, not freckled; nose a little blunt; lips a little thin (19) nice, soft educated voice (24) tall; came to James's shoulder (28) narrow waist; delicate ribs; lovely small breasts; prickly independent American girl; refused to follow British rules (77) Marie (212)
. . .. . .
Abigail Abington[No Appearance] tall, thin sister (12) Abington Academy for Young Ladies; Sarah drudged there for the sisters (37)
Clarissa Abington[No Appearance] short, stout sister; gray ringlets (12) pudgy fingers (13) Abington Academy for Young Ladies; Sarah drudged there for the sisters (37)
Albert[Rare Appearances] new footman James hired for protection; shorter; beefier; Bow Street cauliflower-shaped nose (217)
Alf[Rare Appearances] Dunlap's hired henchman (239)
Billy Amesley[No Appearance] pockets to let; married Harriet Drummond (65)
Mr. Belham[Rare Appearances] fetching drink for Sarah at ball // young (161) not the most handsome; "looked as though he had been pulled into this world by his nose, with his forehead and chin left t catch up. They had not done so."; small chin; prominent nose (164)
Tom Bellington[No Appearance] New York City; Dunlap killed (223)
Charlie Bentworth[No Appearance] Pearson's cousin; in Navy (86)
Betty[Rare Appearances] Lizzie's maid; good with needle (57)
Walter Birnam[No Appearance] James's excellent steward (76)
Lady Felicity Brookton[One Appearance] in ladies room at Palmerson ball // came out this season; one of Sarah's least favorite (195) 17-y-o; pampered, protected by rich, influential papa (202)
Lady Carrington[No Appearance] Sarah was bait for Richard at her ball (284)
Mrs. Croft[Rare Appearances] dressmaker in village (57)
Walter Cunningham[No Appearance] Boston; Dunlap killed (223)
Lord Dearvon[One Appearance] old soldier; bald pate; hairy ears; at accident site
Dolly[No Appearance] madame of Dancing Piper; greeted James's father warmly; huge breasts; small woman
Major Charles Draysmith[Major Secondary Character] [Book 2 Hero] James's good friend; broad hands; curly brown hair (13) 30-y-o (16) shorter; broader (28) Light Dragoons (71) second son; Cambridge; excellent officer; nothing in common with brother (112) handsome man; military bearing emphasized width of shoulders; light blue eyes with dark rims were striking (136)
Harriet Drummond[No Appearance] no beauty (64) landed Billy Amesley because a heiress (65)
William Anthony Dunlap[Secondary Character] New York whore trader; competent; ruthless (157) liked his women fleshy; his boys young and skinny (158) 35-y-o (160) hired shrewd businesswomen to spy as they run his businesses; loved power more than wealth and sex (161) tall man; one of most beautiful Sarah had ever seen; thick chestnut hair; dark brown eyes; finely sculptured features; small scar by right corner of his mouth; slip bump on classically straight nose (163) predatorily male (164) accomplished dancer; entertaining conversationalist (165) dangerous (178) Anthony (215)
Earl of Easthaven[No Appearance] frequent guest at Dunlap's businesses (160)
Earl of Eldridge[One Appearance] playing cards with James at Carrington ball (287)
Miss Julia Fairchild[One Appearance] gossip (196) in ladies room at Palmerson ball // 17-y-o; pampered, protected by rich, influential papa (202)
Mrs. Melinda Fallwell[One Appearance] Amanda whispered something to her at Palmerston ball(194) one of Amanda's particular friends; gossip (288)
Fanny[No Appearance] Dancing Piper girl Dolly selected for James (150) painted lips; rotting teeth; smelled of garlic, onions, sweat, Richardson; mid-to-late 30s; sizeable breasts drooped (151) ample stomach (152)
Oliver Featherstone[One Appearance] road bare-assed down Bond Street on a bet (72) gravelly rough whisper (200)
Philip Gadner[Point of View Secondary Character] Richard's valet; in love with Richard at 17; tired of Richard's rages at 30 (118) bony knees (119)
Gilly[No Appearance] doxy Richard injured on his visit to The Rutting Stallion
David Hamilton[No Appearance] Sarah's father (12) old earl's younger brother (24) intensity; compelling (30) physician; very active in politics; impractical; gave money away freely; asked no fees from patients (31)
Robert "Robbie" Hamilton
Earl of Westbrooke
[Major Secondary Character] [Book 3 Hero] James's good friend; Sarah's cousin (9) tall man; reddish hair (9) slightly glazed hazel eyes; lopsided grin; found bottom of brandy bottle (10) broad shoulders; twinkle in eye; deep dimple in right cheek (11)
Elvira Hammersham[One Appearance] signing at Hammersham soiree; could not carry a tune (227)
Harrison[Rare Appearances] James's proper valet (245)
Duke of Hartford[One Appearance] particularly lustful conversation at Hammersham soiree; short; elderly; dressed in height of fashion (225) 80-y-o; deaf as a post (226)
Lady Huffington[One Appearance] attended Alvord ball; calculating eyes (126l)
Jakes[Rare Appearances] innkeeper; greasy hair (9)
Jonathan[Rare Appearances] new footman James hired for protection; over 6' tall; shoulders as wide as door; hands size of melons; Bow Street (217)
Paul Draysmith
Earl of Knightsdale
[No Appearance] Charles' older brother (112) Paul; born Earl of Northfield; became Earl while at Eton; life not his own (138)
Pierre Lafontaine[No Appearance] Paris; Dunlap killed (223)
Landers[No Appearance] James's schoolmate in Dancing Piper (153)
Layton[Rare Appearances] Alvord butler; very proper; very elderly (54) thick mane of white hair; very imposing nose (55)
Lady Leighton[One Appearance] first guest to meet Sarah at Alvord ball; said about time she returned from Americas (123)
Earl of Lugington[No Appearance] Chuckie Phelps's father (160)
Susan MacDonald[No Appearance] Sarah's mother; soft voice; flame-colored hair; her father a Philadelphian flour merchant (48)
Mrs. Mandley[One Appearance] Robbie's housekeeper (110)
Lady Rosalyn Mannerly[One Appearance] in ladies room at Palmerson ball // gossip (196) 17-y-o; pampered, protected by rich, influential papa (202)
Earl of Mardale[No Appearance] daughter coming out; fine figure of a man (65)
McGee[One Appearance] James's stable hand; short man; gray hair (104)
Molly[Rare Appearances] local doxy; bright red hair; purplish bruise (42)
Honorable Felix Muddleridge[One Appearance] involved in accident with James and Robbie (298)
Nan[One Appearance] local doxy (42)
Newtonhorse James got when came down from Cambridge (105)
Lady Palmerson[One Appearance] hosting ball; faded blue eyes (191)
Marquis of Palmerson[No Appearance] hosting ball (190)
Walter Parks[Rare Appearances] James's investigator (183) little man; excellent soldier; excellent shadow; grown up poor in Totfield Hills; learned to be obtrusive (214)
Viscount Paxton[One Appearance] playing cards with James at Carrington ball (287)
Becky Pearson[One Appearance] James took Sarah to visit Pearson's // James's tenant; Tom's wife; short; comfortably plump (87)
Billy Pearson[One Appearance] Tom and Becky's 8 month old son (87)
Jane Pearson[One Appearance] Tom and Becky's daughter; large brown eyes (86)
Maggie Pearson[One Appearance] Tom and Becky's daughter; large brown eyes (86)
Ruth Pearson[One Appearance] Tom and Becky's 2-y-o daughter (87)
Thomas Pearson [One Appearance] Tom and Becky's son; twin (85)
Timothy Pearson[One Appearance] Tom and Becky's son; twin (85)
Tom Pearson[One Appearance] James took Sarah to visit Pearson's // James's tenant; Becky's husband; James's childhood friend; short; stocky (87)
Colonel Pendergrast[One Appearance] at Palmerson ball; jaw-me-dead conversation (199)
Chuckie Phelps[No Appearance] Lugington's heir; ended up dead in Dunlap's Paris house with Dunlap's drawers around his neck (215)
Pythagorassemi-retirement; huge brown horse; James got on his 15th birthday (105)
Sir Joshua Reynolds[No Appearance] painted portrait of David Hamilton and his parents
Mr. Roland Richardson[No Appearance] James's Greek don; Fanny's current customer (150)
Rosebudhorse for Sarah to ride (103)
Duchess of Rothingham[Rare Appearances] disliked Sarah; wanted James for her daughter // short; sharp, beaky nose; calculating eyes; Charlotte's mother (126)
Duke of Rothingham[No Appearance] Charlotte Wickford's father; hinted about marriage to his daughter at Whites (17)
Rufus[One Appearance] hackney driver (290)
Lady Elizabeth "Lizzie" Runyon[Major Secondary Character] [Book 3 Heroine] James's sister (39) seventeen; bit of a handful (40) James's sun-streaked hair (52) volatile mix of poise and exuberance (53)
Lady Gladys Runyon
"Aunt Gladys"
[Major Secondary Character] James's Aunt // wrinkled face; bright inquisitive eyes (22) James's father's older sister; tall; angular; over 70-y-o (22) raised James after his mother died when he was 11 (36) heart of gold (38)
Richard Runyon[Major Secondary Character] attempting to kill James to become Duke of Alvord // James's black-hearted cousin (13) long, pale face; high-bridged nose; icy blue eyes; looked like devil in her father's copy of Paradise Lost (7) black hair (42) Runyon (43) thin black eyebrows (45) hates James with a passion bordering on insanity; a nasty customer (79) devious (97) sharp angles of nose and cheekbones (158) whiff of madness about him (159)
Captain Rutledge[No Appearance] James used his ship to remove Dunlap from England // captained Flying Gull (267)
Scruggs[Rare Appearances] Alf's partner; henchman (305)
Lady Amanda Wallen-Smyth[Major Secondary Character] short; wrinkled face; bright inquisitive eyes (22) Gladys' constant companion; mid-60s; small; delicate looking; gossip ferret; shrewd brown eyes (23)
Mrs. Stallings[Rare Appearances] Alvord housekeeper; short; plump; brown hair beneath cap liberally streaked with gray; solid form (55)
Lord Stevenson[One Appearance] biggest prig (195) stopped Symington from claiming his dance with Sarah at Palmerson Ball (195)
Lucinda [Symington][No Appearance] Symington's wife (130)
"Simple" Symington[Several Appearances] looking for new wife; pursuing Sarah // short balding man; prominent stomach; widower (130) ample eyebrows (131) bulbous nose; liver, onions, garlic breath (131) three strands of hair over pink scalp (175)
Thomas[One Appearance] Alvord footman (56)
Baron Tundrow[One Appearance] playing cards with James at Carrington ball (287)
Lady Wainwright[One Appearance] holding ball Sarah and Runyon's attended (179)
Charlotte Wickford[Secondary Character] James's plans to propose; "Marble Queen"; cold as stone (15) duke's daughter; been out a few years; will know how to run household (16) blond hair; did she have blue eyes; petite; never said much of interest (17) delicate features; cool, serene manner; looked like expensive porcelain doll (127)
Wickam[No Appearance] James's schoolmate in Dancing Piper (153)
Wiggins[Rare Appearances] Alvord London butler (120)
Viscount Wycomb[One Appearance] involved in accident with James and Robbie (298)
{no name}coachman; small brown eyes, warm with concern, thick graying brows; beefy fingers (8)

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Sally MacKenzie

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The Naked Duke Reviews:
RatedPostedSiteNotes, Comments, Etc.
C+ / warm02-26-2005All About Romance 
3.51 average{35 reviews}Amazonas of: March 25, 2012
3.34 average{9 reviews}Barnes and Nobleas of: March 25, 2012
3.0012-06-2004Books For A Buckalso on: Amazon [qv]
2.5002-13-2010Book N Aroundalso on: Library Thing
--09-24-2007Book ThinkLengthy, but interesting interview
3.0005-13-2011Books With LoveOn "The Naked Nobility Series"
5.00--Fallen Angels[qv]
3.17 average{53 reviews}Good Readsas of: March 25, 2012
3.38 average{4 reviews}Library Thingas of: March 25, 2012
64--Mrs. Giggles 
3.91 average{28 reviews}Paperback Swapas of: March 25, 2012
--05-06-2009Risky RegenciesInterview
2.6008-24-2010Romance, Old Schoolalso on: Good Reads
5.0004-05-2008Romancing The Booklink on: Library Thing, Shelfari [qv]
3.56 average{9 reviews}Shelfarias of: March 25, 2012
D04-07-2005Smart Bitches, Trashy BooksR-rated vocabulary
--03-03-2005Smart Bitches, Trashy BooksArticle linked to review
--05-11-2005The Best Reviews{positive inflection}
3.5003-16-2011The RomanceAholicshorter post on: Amazon
2.0003-04-2005The Romance Reader 
1.8003-26-2012Wolf Bear Does Booksshorter post on Amazon, BN, GR, LT, 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 The Naked Duke review link to table, just ask

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Suzanne Robinson -- The Engagement

Rated: ♥ ♥ .   {2.80}
Action: ♠. / Emotion: ♣♣. / Romance: ♥♥ / Sensuous: ♦♦ / Suspense: ♠♠.
Action: 1.5 / Emotion: 2.5 / Romance: 2 / Sensuous: 2 / Suspense: 2.5 // Historical Flavor: 3 / Laughter: 7 / Teary: 1

The Engagement, Suzanne Robinson's second book in The English Gunslingers Duet was a disappointment.   Was so looking forward to reading Nick's story after meeting him in book one, Lady Dangerous.   Robinson started out the book with a bang, but it quickly developed into a whimper of "I love [him] [her], but . . ." thoughts.

The premise for the story line was a clever one -- just imagine the pairing of an ex-thief from St. Giles and a duke's daughter.   There could have been all kinds of witty repartee and fascinating twists and turns to take in the story.   There were a few twists and turns, but mostly the book consisted of misunderstandings and stand-offs between the hero and heroine.

Robinson quickly drew the reader into Nick Ross's life as he turned his horse, Pounder, around to gallop back to his best friend's ranch in Texas when he heard gunfire -- to stop a drunk, rifle-bearing ranch hand from killing Jocelin Marshal.   While Jocelin was being tended by the doctor and his heavily-pregnant wife, Liza, stood by his side, a letter from the Duchess of Clairemont (Jocelin's mother) arrived from England announcing twenty year old Lady Georgiana Marshal's engagement to eighty-something year old John Charles Hyde, the Earl of Threshfield.

To stop the wounded Jocelin and pregnant Liza from crossing the ocean to stop his hair-brained sister from making such a mistake, Nick agreed to go to England and end the engagement.   Nick arrived at the Threshfield estate, again galloping Pounder across the oak-lined avenue to land in front of Georgina with an impressive display of horsemanship, then proceeded to call her "George" and told her to pack her bags, it was time to go.

The flavor of the rest of the story could almost be reduced to Georgiana's thoughts as she figured out that this slow-drawling speaker was Mr. Ross, friend of her brother.

"Georgiana wasn't the daughter of a duke for nothing.   Giving this barbarian a chilly nod, she turned on her heel and spoke to the Threshfield butler, who had come out of the house upon the arrival of the stranger.

"Randall, send this person on his way."   (page 20)
If ever there was an action and phrase sequence that Robinson over-used during the entirety of Georgiana's story, it was Georgiana stiffening her spine and remarking about her standing as "the daughter of a duke."

Robinson told no revealing, sympathy-inducing stories about Georgiana as she grew up under the rule of her tyrant of a father, who subdued and ruled his more intelligent sensitive wife by the simple virtue of his being male.   No sense of Georgiana's sorrow was established when Robinson briefly explained about the one instance where Georgiana felt a moment of magic because Lord Silverstone asked for her hand in marriage -- only to find that Silverstone felt he was making a great sacrifice by marrying a giantess.   Robinson failed to engender sympathy with the few paragraphs about Georgiana feeling inadequate and vulnerable as a clumsy debutante in society because of her height.

Robinson tried to stir up a bit of a connection with Georgiana by having her explain to Nick during several of their confrontations that she was not a typically-spoiled blue blood -- that her life was not all tea and crumpets as her father sought to marry her off to a man who would then own her.   Certainly it is not fair that personal experience ensured that could understand and sympathize more with Nick's mother and sister than with poor, misunderstood Georgiana.   Nick's mother was no less owned by her brutal husband, yet the reader is supposed to feel just as sympathetic for Georgiana, who didn't spend her life rubbing her hands raw scrubbing floors and fireplaces.

Even thought it was easy to understand where Nick was coming from when he believed himself beneath Georgiana on the social scale (the story did take place in class-conscious England), Robinson pulled about as much sympathy for Nick as she did Georgiana.   There was just no deep emotional connection to these two protagonists as they fought their mutual attraction.   Nick pursued Georgiana relentlessly and when they finally made love (with some sizzle and heat), he felt guilty for betraying the man who saved his life.   Then Nick and Georgiana spent the remainder of the book angry at the other because she thought Nick wouldn't marry her because she was so tall and Nick thought her stiff spine meant she was embarrassed that she had lowered herself to be with St. Giles refuse.

Robinson threw in some secondary characters to add some plot and intrigue to the story line -- and give Nick a reason to stay close to Georgiana.   A prominent secondary character was Georgiana's betrothed, the Earl of Threshfield.   Threshfield took great glee in tormenting his family by telling lies and leaving them to wonder what they would inherit upon his death.   Threshfield displayed his intelligence and freely spoke his mind -- even telling Nick that he should wait to pursue Georgiana after she was a widow.

Thresfield's family members were a unique collection of aristocrats.   Thresfield's nephew and heir, Evelyn Hyde, was the typical handsome aristocrat, who acted just like Georgiana's father -- had that air of entitlement and assumed he was superior due to an accident of birth.   Additionally, Nick jealously noticed the lustful glances Evelyn constantly threw Georgiana's way.   Basically, Evelyn was an unremarkable character.

The only reason Evelyn married the rolly-polly, beringed, social-climbing Lady Prudence Hyde was for the immense marriage settlement he received.   What found really amazing was that these two characters even managed to beget a son.   Nick not only noticed Evelyn's lustful glances, but he had to dodge Prudence's prurient interest as well.

Georgiana spent the bulk of her time in the Egyptian Wing with Evelyn and Prudence's son, Ludwig Hyde.   Ludwig and Georgiana were indexing the Earl's vast collection of artifacts.   The egg-shaped Ludwig was so passionate about his Egyptian studies that he was very absent-minded about the social amenities -- often appearing late for meals, with an artifact in hand.

Threshfield's unmarried sister was also in residence.   The elderly Lady Augusta Hyde approached Nick when he first arrived believing him to be sent by Wellington to get rid of Georgiana, Napoleon's spy.   Nick later learned, after fleeing with Georgiana into the woods when Augusta started shooting at her, that this was a regular occurrence.

Augusta was not the only gun-toting senior in the story.   Lady Lavinia Stokes was Georgiana's breeches-wearing spinster aunt (the duke's sister).   Aunt Livy was Georgiana's chaperone on her visit to her betrothed's county house.   It was Aunt Livy who prevented Nick from riding off with Georgiana when he first rode up to Thresfield House.   Although Aunt Livy was not richly developed, she seemed to be the only sensible-headed individual in the book.

Robinson did add a little intrigue to the story by weaving in accidents that revealed that someone was out to kill Georgiana.   There were enough Hyde relatives in residence and Thresfield was enjoying playing with their psyche's by telling lies that had them up in arms regarding their individual inheritances to give readers several suspects.

Robinson failed in her attempt to bring Nick's learned valet, Theophrastus Pertwee, to the same degree of interest and humor that she met with in Lady Dangerous with Jocelin and Loveday.   Pertwee engendered no interest and only added to the Nick's penchant to quote more verse -- a prominent feature in all Robinson's books.

One other minor, barely necessary character was the addition of Dallas Meredith.   Dallas was on Jocelin's ranch at the beginning of the book and Nick kept noticing the silent exchanges between Jocelin and Dallas as they discussed Georgiana.   Then Dallas popped up at the end of the book to deliver letters to both Georgiana and Nick and explain what all those silent glances were about.   (How did Jocelin even get Nick's letters so quickly?   Wouldn't it take at least a month for mail to get from England to Texas?)

In spite of Robinson's valiant efforts to write an enjoyable book, The Engagement will never be a must-read book -- would only recommend it to someone who wanted to read Nick and Georgiana's story after meeting them in Lady Dangerous (book one of The English Gunslingers Duet).   (Have a feeling that Robinson enjoyed writing this particular book because she spent a lot of time describing many of the artifacts found in the Egyptian Wing.)

A Pet Peeves Moment:   Hate it when authors change the spellings of characters and locations that span more than one book.
As Found In:Lady HellfireLady DangerousThe Engagement
  Family Surname . . . . .  . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  Marshall . . . . .  Marshal_ . . . . .
  Battle Location . . . . .  Balaclava . . . . .  Balaklava . . . . .  Balaklava . . . . .
--Vonda M. Reid (Friday, March 16, 2012 : 1:04 a.m.)     [221]

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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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The Engagement Quotations:
42"You're a mean-spirited little snake who hides his appetite for cruelty behind a guise of honesty.   You admire frankness?   Here's frankness -- you have no chin, sir, and you're short, but neither of these mattered to me.   However, I do object to marrying a self-important ass."
46"if the lord had done his lovemaking right, he wouldn't be worried about his wife finding a replacement"
167". . . daughters stiffened their spines and got on with the business of living, even if life seemed to offer only the prospect of unending, bleak grayness."

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Characters Found In "The Engagement"
Character / Location Description / Relationships
Nicholas "Nick" Ross[Hero] grew up in festering sore of east London; dodged father's fists; learned to scavenge in refuse bins for food; picked pockets; robbed houses to buy moldy bread and rancid meat for mother and sister; town house near Grosvenor Square in London; several country houses in several counties (2) disreputable accent and language (7) perseverance; intelligent; charm the ladies without even trying (11) tall; lean; long, shaggy chestnut hair streaked with sun-bleached amber; gun belt slung low on his hip (19) dark blue gaze (20) rough low, throaty voice; sun-brown; sweaty; two days' worth of beard (21) elegantly savage protégé of Jocelin (21) blue eyes tinged with sapphire; wide shoulders; shallow indentation in the middle of his chin (21) charm of Byron linked with the ruthlessness of a Cossack; list of society conquests (29) sunset-blue eyes; handsome; mysterious past; ladies and duchesses quiver in their boots when he rides by in Hyde Park (46) transformed into an aristocrat; smelled of sandalwood soap (49) "a tall, muscled impudent inferior" (50) long, slim fingers; gold ring engraved with winged griffins (83) hair a deep, warm brown, like antique wood, sun-lightened strands formed a spray of polished bronze and amber though the darker hue; fine, almost imperceptible frown line marked a path from his nose past his mouth; straight, neat brows ran parallel to his mouth; wide, yet slender lips; sculpted hollows in his cheeks below the jawline (101) belligerently firm jawline; taller than Jocelin; strong shoulders and arms; a born master (102) bravery; impudent humor: championed misused children; emancipation from iron rule of Society (166) father traded him for settlement of a debt (186) tawny beauty; irreverent humor (195) off-center smile (229)
Lady Georgiana Marshal[Heroine] black hair; emerald eyes; tall enough to tower over most men; gold-rimmed spectacles gave her look of blue-stocking; nose and cheeks were sprayed with light freckles; tripped over her train as she'd back out of the royal presence; stepped on toes of dance partners; spilled tea on callers; sneezed in face of prince consort, Queen Victoria's husband (9) tall young woman, attempted to hide her stature by walking bent forward; gold wire-rimmed spectacles brightened her already astonishing green eyes; studious air prevented people from discerning the vulnerability in those jewel-bright eyes; air of stately dignity (13) had never been able to distance herself from sympathetic pain (18) not a great beauty; too determined; delightful nose (27) thick length of hair (42) love of ancient world (45) steel spine (61) good at planning (74) spine straight as a fence post; shoulders square; nose in the air (90) sensitive; vulnerable (115)
. . . . . .
Catherine of Valois[Actual Historical Character / No Appearance] widow of Henry V, married Owen Tudor (195)
Owen Tudor[Actual Historical Character / No Appearance] clerk of the wardrobe (195)
. . . . . .
Duchess of Clairemont[No Appearance] duchess; Georgiana's and Jocelin's mother; prolific writer (8) more intelligent and sensitive than duke; duke had to approve the newspapers, books, magazine she read, the clothes she wore, the friends she made; rarely saw more than a few pounds of real money at any one time (43)
Duke of Clairemont[Secondary Character] Georgiana's father; bungled his finances (18) emerald eyes; erect military bearing; "surveyed the world and everyone in it with the cold disinterest of one who knew that he ranked above all that he observed (263)
Lady Mary Drille[No Appearance] selfish; soft-brained; left her husband of 23-years to chase after Nick (109)
Lady Augusta Hyde[Secondary Character] Threshfield's unmarried sister; bats in her belfry // half-century old apparel; the Hyde eagle's-beak nose; air of daintiness; red-rimmed bean-brown eyes; high squeaky voice (31) earl's unmarried sister (32)
The Honorable Evelyn Hyde[Major Secondary Character] Threshfield's nephew and heir; Ludwig's father (44) disliked threats to his inheritance (45) handsome (53) younger, more energetic replica of Earl (54) air of entitlement; assumed he was superior due to an accident of birth (60)
Ludwig Hyde[Major Secondary Character] Evelyn and Prudence's son; indexing Earl's antiquities (14) domed, slightly bald head shaped like a cabbage; egg-shaped body (14) wispy mustache (15) took refuge in Egyptian wing to evade spiteful great-uncle and parents (45) cabbage-shaped head; parents wanted him to give up studies (78) forgot times; kind; gentle; mannered; well-born (228)
Lady Prudence Hyde[Major Secondary Character] Evelyn's wife (44) far-reaching plans that ended in acquiring a dukedom for Evelyn (45) short like queen; ran to fat; rings on fingers; features repeated roundness of body; circular eyes (52) bulbous nose; mouth that pinched into tight , round little button; customary snipping tone (53) dumpy little person; Evelyn only married for immense marriage settlement; dressed in height of fashion; sallow complexion; oak-brown hair (53) bean-colored eyes (54)
Sir Nigel Mainwaring[No Appearance] justice of the peace; Evelyn's old school chum (185)
Jocelin Marshal
Viscount Radcliffe
[Brief Appearance] [Book 1 Hero] (4): Nick's closest friend (1) more brother than friend; jet-black hair; "Jos"; failed at ruthlessness; served in Crimea; crusaded against debauchers of children (4) sparkling emerald eyes; military bearing; Horse Guards (6) heir to dukedom; difficult family life (7)
Liza Marshal[Brief Appearance] [Book 1 Heroine] Jocelin's wife; ash-blond hair; hazel eyes; pregnant (3)
Uncle Yale [Marshal][No Appearance] Duke of Clairemont's younger brother // progressive ravages of a disease visited on the promiscuous (17) plague was eating his brain (18)
Dallas Meredith[Brief Appearances] ranch hand (4) from Deep South; blue-blooded (7) Dallas was grandson of Threshfield's youngest brother; sent to American in gambling disgrace (263)
Nellie[Brief Appearance] upstairs maid; caught glimpse of Nick (46)
Theophrastus Pertwee[Secondary Character] Nick's valet; orange hair slicked down with oil; monocle dangled from ribbon on his coat; clothing pristine and free of wrinkles; so thin as to resemble a stick insect; father had been a stuffy old schoolmaster (33) glided as if moving on oiled wheels (34) implacable glance (37)
Poison[No Appearance] ranch cook (5)
PounderNick's horse (2) enormous roan horse (19)
Randall[Minor Secondary Character] Threshfield butler (20)
Rebecca[Secondary Character] Georgiana's maid (39) short; delicately fashioned (70) receding chin (76)
[Mr.] Ross[No Appearance] Nick's father; coachman; drank himself out of every position he held; taken his failures out on his wife and children; flew into rages (35)
Tessie Ross[No Appearance] Nick's sister (35) died at the hands of a man who bought her for an evening; just a little girl (168)
Lord Silverstone[Brief Appearance] asked for Georgiana's hand after one dance; she was in daze until first conversation; heir to a great title; beautiful in a round-chinned way; Georgiana smitten with his artistic sensibilities, refinement, heavy-lidded and sad brown eyes; shorter than Georgiana (40)
Snead[One Appearance] Duke of Clairemont's henchman // mountainous man; broken nose; fists the size of beef joints (265)
Lady Lavinia Stokes[Major Secondary Character] Georgiana's spinster aunt (10) Aunt Livy (17) silver hair; face devoid of all but the finest age lines; wore breeches, riding coat and boots (22) married young to a man more interested in his horses than her; refused to be put on marriage block when widowed (43) steel spine (61)
John Charles Hyde
Earl of Threshfield:
[Major Secondary Character] vicious old blister; old enough to be Georgiana's grandfather (8) chief delight in life is tormenting his family; great deal of income, independent of entail, holds over family; collects strange objects from all over the world; cackles when he laughs; rolls around in creaky wheelchair; spry old skeleton when he wants to be (10) brilliant mind; amazing imagination; allowed bitterness derived from his own uncaring parents, and a love of power over people to sour his soul (45) still tall; over 80 years; majestic Hyde nose; thick white hair swept back from his forehead (47) ever-present glitter composed in part of devilment, curiosity and cynical amusement in watery eyes; silver eyebrows (48) contrary (52) mean old conniver (198)
Nan Tusset[No Appearance] stay maker in Worthbridge (143)

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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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The Engagement Reviews:
RatedPostedSiteNotes, Comments, Etc.
4.00 average{2 reviews}Amazonas of: March 24, 2012
3.00 average{1 review}Barnes and Nobleas of: March 24, 2012
3.50 average{2 reviews}Good Readsas of: March 24, 2012
3.13 average{8 ratings}Library Thingas of: March 24, 2012
3.30 average{9 ratings}Paperback Swapas of: March 24, 2012
3.00 average{2 reviews}Shelfarias of: March 24, 2012
2.8003-24-2012Wolf Bear Does Booksshorter post on Amazon, B&N, GR, Library Thing, 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 The Engagement review link to table, just ask

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)
. . . . . .
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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