This is another book read during my trip to Paris. Again, the author isn’t new to me. I’ve read one of Julia London’s contemporary romance, and her regency series, The Desperate Debutantes, and liked them all.
There wasn’t any synopsis on the backcover, but as I’ve been checking out the author’s website every now and then (Ms London has revamped her website, by the way, so go check it out!), I knew this book is the first in her Rogues of Regent Street series. It’s an old series which has recently been re-issued, and when I happened across this copy, I didn’t even realise that it’s the original cover.
Adrian Spence, a.k.a The Dangerous Gentleman, and one of the infamous Rogues, beguiled idealistic Lilliana Dashall into a marriage in an attempt to thwart his younger brother’s desire, after his father had disinherited him after he’d accidentally killed his cousin in a duel. At first, Lillie thought she was most fortunate to have married an enlightened husband who gave her the freedom to be herself.
It wasn’t long before she realised that Adrian is gripped in some inner tussle that prevented him from really opening up his shuttered heart to her. By day, he distanced himself with his many duties as lord of his manor, remaining unperturbed as Lillie indulged in outrageous behaviour such as dressing up in breeches and shirt and stealing his favourite horse out for a ride, to shake him up. By night, however, he becomes the lover of her dream. It was only when a freak accident rendered Adrian blind that things began to change.
Without giving the entire plot away, the undertone of the story sort of reminds me of The Hazards of Hunting a Duke. The estranged father and son story arc has a little twist here, a big-MIS. However, the estrangement underpins the way both heroes handled their relationships with their wives.
The heroine isn’t flawless. I thought she was a little too naïve when it came to discerning the true character and intentions of the men around her. I couldn’t help comparing her to Ava (of Hazards). Both women are equally stubborn, wilful to a certain extent, but Ava was at least socially more conscious and thus, appeared more mature. The only thing that really saved Lillie from being a washed-out heroine was her never say die attitude in helping Adrian deal with his loss of sight.
As she told the household of servants in front of her husband, “He needs my support. He needs me to help him live, because the rest of you would allow him to waste away like some old fool!” … “He is blind, not dead! I will not allow him or anyone else to think otherwise!”
It is her show of spirit and determination which kept her from being just another milk-and-honey heroine, and turned the story around. So, although my vote still goes to Hazards, this historical romance has what it takes to make it like it.