The Saint, by Madeline Hunter

>> Tuesday, January 11, 2005

The Saint (excerpt), is the second book in Madeline Hunter's Regency-set quintet. I've already read the first one (The Seducer) and the fifth one (The Romantic... I couldn't wait for that one!), and both were excellent.

The world thinks he is a paragon. A saint, by Zeus. If only they knew!

Vergil Duclairc is a man used to getting his way. As the newly appointed guardian and trustee of Miss Bianca Kenwood, he is determined to find her and bring her back to live with his family. The last thing he expects is to find his errant ward scandalously costumed and employed as a theatrical singer. He is even less prepared for the relentless attraction he feels for her, a desire that he cannot pursue lest it unmask secrets that he must hide, and unravel plans laid long ago.

Bianca has no interest in giving up her independence, but there is something compelling about this handsome and brooding viscount who seems to assume he owns her and her inheritance. She soon learns that Vergil is a man of secrets and sensuality, and that she is not immune to his power. Suddenly, in a moment that would change everything, their desire ignites and throws them into a scandalous passion, and into a world of dangerous intrigue.
Well, this one was excellent, too. I'd give it a B+.

I had a similar reaction to The Saint as to The Seducer. That is, at first, I detested the hero for being a controlling bastard, but once he started to lose his control a bit because of what the heroine made him feel, I really warmed up to him. I just hated Vergil for planning Bianca's future so cavalierly, for simply decreeing that she'd have to give up her dreams and for planning, all the while, to marry her off to his brother Dante, who will obviously make her miserable. But once he started giving in to his attraction to Bianca, he became much more human, and a wonderfully romantic hero, too.

I really liked Bianca, too. She's a very strong heroine, especially because she recognizes the limitations of her position and doesn't bother to stomp her feet and toss her hair in defiance, but simply does her best to work around them. She makes sound plans to get what she wants, and would have got her way, too. Except for a few stupid moments near the end, when she did certain things which I guess were needed to further the plot, she was a very nice heroine.

I enjoyed the resolution to the internal conflict, too. I very much respected Bianca for not giving up her dream of singing, and Vergil for understanding why she felt that way, and truly felt that the solution they arrived to was the best one possible. Both gave up a little bit and got a lot :-)

I'm really looking forward to reading the rest of the series, even Dante's book. And I say "even" Dante's, because the little idiot drove me nuts here. He's the worst kind of rake: a complete hypocrite. He's the type of man who expects to keep mistresses when he gets married and yet gets all judgemental and priggish about his potential bride's virtue. Creep. He worked fine as a character here because he contrasted with Vergil, whose disapproval was a much more tolerant one. Vergil actually is quite a saint, and yet he's not nearly as judgemental as Dante. Anyway, given Hunter's talent, though, I'd be interested in reading Dante's book, because I strongly suspect he'll be made to pay for his sins, lol!


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