Mrs. Drew Plays Her Hand, by Carla Kelly

>> Tuesday, July 26, 2011

TITLE: Mrs. Drew Plays Her Hand
AUTHOR: Carla Kelly

PAGES: 244
PUBLISHER: Signet Regency

SETTING: Early 19th century England
TYPE: Regency Romance

Young widow Roxanna Drew was fair game in the sport of cads. But the one man she could trust, the one that set her heart afire, had been betrayed once before by a woman... and he didn't intend to submit to love's desires once again.
I'm not a big Regency Romance fan and don't often read it, but Carla Kelly is one of the few exceptions. While I don't think she can do no wrong, I've enjoyed many of her books. Mrs. Drew Plays Her Hand is one I'd been hoarding, since it's so many people's favourite.

Roxanna Drew is a widow who has come under pressure by her smarmy brother-in-law to become his mistress. Unfortunately, her late husband was a minister and didn't leave her and her daughters very well off, so she has been relying on said brother-in-law's financial help. Rather than give in to the pressure, however, Roxanna uses the little money she's got to rent a run-down little house, the best she can afford.

That house happens to belong to a former military man, Fletcher, Lord Winn. He shows up one night, and not knowing that the house has been rented out, is surprised to find a young widow and her two girls occupying it. He likes them very much, though, and for the following weeks, helps them out as much as possible, growing fonder and fonder of them all as time goes by.

Then, when the villainous brother-in-law decides to take his villany even further, and threatens to take Roxanna's daughters away (arguing that she's making them live in dangerously unhealthy conditions), Fletch offers Roxanna a marriage of convenience. And of course, a marriage of convenience between two people who like each other very much is not going to remain purely of convenience for long!

Roxanna and Fletch are an absolutely delightful couple, and lovely each in their own right. They both have a bit of a history. Roxanna is a very rare widow in Romance-land, in that she loved her late husband very much and had a perfectly satisfying sex life with him. In fact, she very much misses both her husband AND the love-making, and is very enthusiastic about renewing her sex life with Fletch, to his utter happiness. Fletch has a much more unhappy history, with a former wife who cheated on him with everything that moved. He divorced her when he discovered it, and he's been villified for it by Society. They suit each other perfectly, and it was lovely to read about these two nice, honourable people getting the happiness they deserved.

In addition to Roxanna and Fletch's relationship, we also get to see Fletch falling in love with Roxanna's daughers, and they with him, which was really heart-warming.

A good one, one of my favourite Kellys.



SuperWendy,  26 July 2011 at 16:40  

Like you, I've heard so many readers say this is their favorite Kelly, and like you - it's been languishing in my TBR for a while now.  I have to be in the right "mood" to read a trad, but dang - this sounds like a good one.  I love it when the widow heroine actually ::gasp:: loved her dead husband and ::double gasp:: misses the sex.

Anonymous,  29 July 2011 at 06:52  

Wendy, I think it's worth waiting until you're in the right mood. It's good enough to wait!

Christine,  19 September 2011 at 16:44  

It's been quite a while since I have read this one and I really enjoyed it (as I do all of Carla Kelly's works.) My only quibble is how the ending with the villain of the piece worked out. I am glad that even though he basically terrorized the heroine she is kind enough to forgive him and treat him as a member of the loving family I felt bad for the poor hero. Didn't he lose a couple of toes to frostbite helping the heroine out of his clutches? I think a little comeuppance was due. Or maybe I am just not as nice a person! :)

Rosario,  20 September 2011 at 10:18  

Yeah, I think I would have wanted a bit less compassion there. Especially since it wasn't that he was a bit unkind, or something like that. He was a predator. It reminds me a bit of when in older books they used to send the villain off in exile to America, even if he was a murderer. I always found that so selfish -making sure this person got their comeuppance wouldn't have been about vengeance, it would have been about protecting the next people he would come in contact with!

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