My Lady's Pleasure, by Julia Justiss

>> Thursday, January 23, 2003

Yesterday I also read My Lady's Pleasure, by Julia Justiss

Widowed Valeria Arnold has experienced little of the delights of love—until a chance encounter with half-Irish gambler Teagan Fitzwilliams leads to a stolen interlude that bedazzles them both. Wistfully they part, expecting never to meet again.

Then an unexpected invitation brings Valeria to London for the Season. Teagan knows he should keep his distance, lest Valeria's reputation be tarnished by his own, but when the lady requests his escort, he cannot refuse. Once again under Teagan's spell, Valeria must decide what she really wants: remarriage to a proper ton gentleman—or a passionate affair with this most improper rogue...

I liked this one very much in spite of it having the mother of all clichés: the virgin widow. This is a bit of a non-issue, though, and over in no time at all, so no problem!

The best thing here were the characters. I loved Teagan. He broke my heart: I really felt for him, trapped in a lifestyle he hates. And when he loses everything, and faces having to start again (paraphrasing) his stomach churning, counting cards, calculating bets. God, that was so heartwrenching. And Valeria was good too, very mature and level-headed. I loved how she put Lady Winterdale and her chaperone and Sir William in their places when they tried to dictate to her what to do.

This was one of those few books where I notice the author's writing style. Usually I notice it only when it bothers me (except for some honourable exceptions!), but not here. It felt a bit trad regency-ish, and I loved it. My only quibble was how every character seemed to stutter at the beginning of sentences when they were excited, or nervous, or scared, or... you get the picture.

I had a couple of problems with the ending, and this is what kept the book at a B+ grade instead of at an A range. The solution to all those insurmountable difficulties seemed much too easy. Why didn't Teagan do this earlier, instead of spend years doing something he hated? And the way he seemed convinced he was somehow destined to leave his wife, as his father had done! And he doesn't decide he isn't because he realizes this theory is really lame, no! He finds out his father didn't leave his mother, so suddenly everything's ok. Added to that, a too-long separation. A necessary one, but this is something I never like.

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