The Lady Chosen, by Stephanie Laurens

>> Monday, March 21, 2005

The Lady Chosen (excerpt, etc) is the first book in Stephanie Laurens' Bastion Club series.

There is more than a touch of the wild adventurer in each of them, and they are loyal to the bone. Seven of London's most eligible bachelors band together to form The Bastion Club, an elite society of gentlemen dedicated to determining their own futures when it comes to that most important step of all - marriage.

Tristan Wemyss, Earl of Trentham, never expected he'd need to wed within a year or forfeit his inheritance. But he is not one to bow to the matchmaking mamas of the ton. No, he will marry a lady of his own choosing. And the lady he choses is the enchanting neighbor living with her family next door. Miss Leonora Carling has beauty, spirit and passion; unfortunately, matrimony is the last thing on her mind.

To Leonora, Tristan's kisses are oh-so-tempting, but once bitten, forever shy, she has determinedly turned her back on marriage. But Tristan is a seasoned campaigner who will not accept defeat. And when a mysterious man attempts to scare Leonora and her family from their home, Tristan realizes he's been given the perfect excuse to offer his services--as protector, seducer, and ultimately, husband.
I have a strong suspicion that I should stop reading Stephanie Laurens' books right here. This was a C-.

There's nothing really wrong with the characters or the plot of the book. I liked both Leonora and Tristan, I confess I like heroes in pursuit (even if Laurens has written this plot a thousand times before), and the external plot, about who was trying to break into Leonora's house and what he was looking for was interesting and suitably mysterious. And I really enjoyed the ambience of the neighbourhood in which both Leonora's house and the Bastion Club were situated.

So, why a C-? Well, it's just that Laurens managed to make this quite a bit boring. First problem was the style. Is it just me or has she changed, from the first few Cynster books? I'd read a few pages and find my mind wandering. Even in love scenes! I'm not one of those readers who routinely skip love scenes -nothing further from the truth- and Laurens is usually great at them (think Scandal's Bride ... yum!). And yet, in this one, I just HAD to skim, or I'd have been bored out of my skull.

And no, it wasn't just my mood. I read two other novels while I read this one (when my mind wandered off too much, I'd put it down and read something else for a while) and I had absolutely no problem getting engrossed in them. So I strongly suspect the author just doesn't sound like she used to.

Oh, and another negative was the whole rationale behind the Bastion Club. Oh, come on! The whole "refuge from the attacks of marriage-minded women" was just stupid.

Also -and this is a spoiler, so stop reading right here if you plan to read the book- I was very uncomfortable with the way they end up dealing with the formula for blood clotting that was what those foreign interests were looking for. They keep it out of other people's hands to basically keep it to themselves. It's probably very naive of me, but I really do think this was certainly something which should have been freely circulated, to help everyone who got wounded, not just the British. By doing this, they are just as bad as those foreigners who wanted to steal it.

Anyway, I don't think I'll be reading the next in the series, A Gentleman's Honor. What with my problems with this one and the fact that it got an F at AAR, it doesn't sound like it'll be worth the trouble.

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