Jaded Gentleman #2
by Renee Bernard
Published on August 1, 2010 by Berkley Books
Genres: Adult, Historical Romance, Romance
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Ashe Blackwell has enjoyed the life of an unrepentant rakehell ever since his return from India. But when his beloved grandfather challenges him to reform for a single social Season in London--or forfeit his inheritance--Ashe agrees to the ultimate wager.
Fearless when it comes to a dare, Ashe fails to anticipate the ace up his grandfather's sleeve. He will be assigned an unconventional chaperone--Miss Caroline Townsend, a young, independent, well-educated American woman with beautiful eyes and no patience for rogues.
The sparks fly from their first meeting as the pair squares off in a duel of wills. When passion and desire are added to the mix, they both battle to keep control as a dangerous seduction begins to unravel their lives and threaten their futures...
An American comes to town in this historical romance set in London (as many of them tend to be). Caroline Townsend, hailing from Boston, comes to the city across the pond to fulfill a request by an English nobleman, a friend of her late grandfather. The task? Chaperone his grandson to make sure he is well-behaved for the social season.
As a regency novel, this story worked well. I loved the concept of the adult man being tailed by this foreign woman who fits into his world about as well as a sheep among wolves. Not that I would describe Caroline as a sheep. She’s frank, “plucky” as the ton calls her. She speaks her mind and doesn’t allow her lack of knowledge or the proper etiquette get in her way of intriguing those she meets. In contrast, Ashe Blackwell, her charge, as a tendency for brooding in the corner and getting snippy anytime she does something improper. To him, she’s wasting her time and should just go him. To her, he’s a child in need of some serious discipline.
The fact that they’re immediately at each other’s throats offered up a lot of opportunities to bring the romance side into the novel. I don’t agree with the idea of anger-driven attraction but they had more than that base, a deeper chemical reaction to each other that the author could have played up more. Hell, Caroline sleepwalks and ended up in nothing but a nightgown in Ashe’s room… multiple times. And all that happened was he instantly began lusting before putting her back to bed. That’s it?
This covered the first portion of the book and then everything went downhill. Caroline began to grate on my nerves with every nagging comment, and then she became a simpering waste of time because of Ashe. He went from brooding to less-broody and more “we should have sex all the time.” There was a massive switch when they finally accepted their attraction to each other and there goes what was left of the decent prose.
Gushing details better left to a first draft littered the remainder of the story. The romance was lackluster at best and dreadful at its worst. Every characteristic I loved about Caroline left the room as soon as Ashe showed up and made reading the rest of this book a long and tedious process. I put it down several times by this point before finally finishing.
This is the first I’ve read of this series, which is a set of standalone novels featuring characters from the other books in each. I’m not sure if the first book is better but this one didn’t lead me to want to read it except to find out more about Galen and Haley, who are briefly introduced in Seduction Wears Sapphires. If you’re not as concerned with characters, the plot of this book warrants a read for those who enjoy the genre.