>> Friday, June 03, 2005
I've been eagerly awaiting reading Slightly Dangerous (excerpt), by Mary Balogh since the very first book I read in the series. I'd actually been anticipating this so much that I was half-worried it couldn't possibly live up to my expectations.
When Viscount Mowbury invites Wulfric Bedwyn, Duke of Bewcastle, to his sister's country house party, Lady Renable has to scramble to find another lady guest to balance numbers. Christine Derrick, widow and part-time schoolteacher, is persuaded much against her will to be that lady.I'm very, very glad to report that it did live up to my expectations. I loved every word of it. An A. And that's two new-to-me books that get As in less than a week!
The cold, aloof duke and the fun-loving, accident-prone Christine are about as mismatched as a couple could possibly be, and they dislike each other from the start. But there is a definite attraction between them too, and soon Wulfric, much to his surprise, is in determined pursuit of an elusive Christine--even after the house party is over.
While I enjoyed Christine, this A is all about Wulfric, Wulfric, Wulfric. It was just so, so satisfying to see this arrogant, rigid man go practically nuts for Christine. She's all he shouldn't like, she's nothing like the image of the duchess he should have, but he just can't help himself.
The story takes place in longer time-frame than usual, almost a year. There are even a few separations, which I don't usually care for, but, in this case, they work wonderfully to show how a little time and distance doesn't dim Wulf's obssession in the least.
What I liked was that by the end of the book, he hasn't really changed who he is, he simply lets the real man inside the duke (who he calls Wulfric Bedwyn, as opposed to the Duke of Bewcastle) show his face more often. And he does this as much for himself as for Christine, though it's showing her that he can give her what she wants that prompts this.
Christine was really a lot of fun and a very sympathetic character. I loved how she refused to let Wulfric cow her and I didn't get the contrived feel I sometimes get when the heroine keeps refusing the hero for no good reason. Christine does have very good reasons for not wanting to spend the rest of her life with Wulf. We know she's wrong about him, but there's no way she could know it, so her reservations make sense. And Wulf's reactions to knowing what she thinks of him make for some powerfully emotional reading.
I loved that he didn't simply discount her fears and try to bully / pressure / manipulate her into changing her mind. He took her opinions seriously and put himself and his pride in the line to try to show her she was wrong about him.
I loved Slightly Dangerous so much that the minute I finished it (pretty much in one sitting), I turned right back and reread the choicest bits. The true mark of a keeper!