*Today I asked a good friend of mine, also named Nikki, to review a historical romance for us. Nikki is an avid reader, an upcoming author and someone I am lucky to call friend*
Type: Historical Romance
Reviewer: Nikki L
A secret society of younger sons, sworn to aid and abet each other, no matter the scandal or cost . . .
After the scandalous demise of her marriage, Lady Olivia Carlow knows the rakes of the ton will think her fair game. So when a letter arrives bearing an indecent offer from the incorrigible Roland Devere, she seizes the opportunity. Turning the tables on the notorious rogue, she blackmails him into playing her betrothed for the season. But no matter how broad his shoulders or chiseled his features, she will never fall prey to his suave charm.
When Roland boasted he’d be the first into Lady Olivia’s bed, he couldn’t have imagined that behind those brilliant blue eyes lurked a vixen with a scheme of her own. Still, Roland is not about to abandon his original wager. If anything, learning that the lovely Olivia is as bold as she is beautiful makes him more determined to seduce her into never saying “never” again.
Let’s start with what was stunning about Carr’s third offering in The League of Second Sons series. Initially the first few chapters flew by for me. They are lushly detailed and the characters are charming and well formed. Having not read the first two books in the series I didn’t feel like I was missing any pertinent information in the development of this story, something that not every author can pull off effectively.
Olivia Carlow, or Livy, is in the untenable situation of being a widow without the benefits since her marriage ended in a scandalous fashion. Her husband, though now dead, had been a bigamist and the scandal had been realized before his passing. She returns to her father’s London home at his request for the season.
Inevitably the men of the ton will see Livy as sport. She is aware that she will be hounded as damaged goods and if she is not careful she will make enemies as she turns down their unwanted advances. Enter Roland Devere, or Rolly, to save the day. Unfortunately, we meet Rolly the morning after an evening of binge drinking with the Second Sons where he has foolishly sent a missive to Livy. In this letter he drunkenly propositions Livy based on a bet with a friend to be the first to bed her upon her return to London.
Livy is smart and obstinate, which I admire in any heroine, though I often felt her blackmail of Rolly was a weak reason for them to stay together. If Livy is so smart and obstinate could she just not have chosen to avoid the games during the London season? This thought is later reinforced as you meet her father, Phillip Carlow or Lord Arlington, who is as equally smart and obstinate. One open conversation between them would have cleared up Livy’s position in moments and left the need for the blackmail plot in the dust.
That being said, I thoroughly enjoyed Carlow’s secondary plot. So much that I felt Carlow and Rolly’s sister should have had their own book. Instead the author weaves very interesting subplots throughout the book- all of which were more interesting than the main plot of Livy and Rolly. Not only was I far more interested in Carlow and Margo’s love story, but there is another subplot involving a Miss Bence-Jones and a friend of Rolly’s. They are betrothed, but her brother does approve of the match and
threatens to have her “compromised” to force her into a marriage with a man of his choosing. So, basically he will orchestrate her rape. Which is appalling and barely touched on other than to offer a reason for Livy to doubt Rolly’s intentions later in the book.
Rolly steps in to remove Miss Bence-Jones from her brother’s keeping and hides her away. This inevitably looks like he’s keeping a mistress and will later be thrown in Livy’s face just as she’s about to make a match with Rolly, not as blackmail but as a true love match. I found this subplot very interesting and would love to have seen more detail regarding these characters, but they are merely a way to progress the plot between Rolly and Livy.
There is of course a villain that is set to ruin everyone’s happiness in an effort to secure his own, but I won’t offer any spoilers on that front, but overall I found the villain to be weak and I could have avoided all the pages where we read from his point of view. It was unnecessary and rather boring.
Overall, I struggled with the last third of the book. I felt we lost some of the momentum of the earlier chapters and was often bogged down with the various subplots. I also found that, though richly detailed, some of the details of setting were overly wordy and often felt like a history lesson on set dressing. This is a minor issue and I’m sure some readers will relish the history lesson, but I found it distracting to consistently be tripping over unfamiliar words.
Lastly, I enjoyed the characters and the overall arc of the story, but often found myself setting the book aside without any urgency to read further. The sex scenes are inventive and relatively steamy and I found them to fit well with the overall story. I received an ARC print copy of this book in return for an honest review.
I give Ripe for Seduction by Isobel Carr 3 out of 5 stars!