Title: Her Wicked Proposal
Author: Lauren Smith
Series: League of Rogues #3
Genre: Regency Romance
Available: Jan 19th
He doesn’t need his eyes to uncover her true beauty.
Cedric, Viscount Sheridan, is cursed. Once the ton’s golden boy, the loss of his sight has left him a reclusive shell of man. His days of womanizing, horse racing and pistol shooting lost forever.
Offered the chance to recapture a small part of his old life, he can’t refuse—even if it means accepting the shocking proposal of the infamous ice maiden, Anne Chessley.
Still reeling from her father’s death, Anne’s deepest wish is to avoid the hordes of fortune hunters who will soon be beating down her door. Proposing marriage to Cedric is an act of desperation, his unexpected acceptance a strange and wonderful dream.
His only stipulation: she must respond passionately and wantonly in his bed. Her agreement barely crosses her lips before he begins a sensual assault on the icy walls bitter secrets have built around her heart.
Yet even as they catch a glimpse of true happiness, betrayal is poised to sweep them away on opposing tides of danger.
Warning: Contains an outwardly aloof heroine with a secretly tender heart, a once-notorious rake who isn’t quite as rusty at seduction as he feared, and a band of rogues who join together to make sure happily-ever-afters do come true.
Source: ARC from Samhain Publishing via NetGalley
I think I was just in the wrong mood to read this book right now, because although it started off well I soon found myself all out of patience with a bunch of spoiled, egotistical men who have zero respect for women unless they’re related to them and/or married to one of the group. I know they’re rakes and rogues, but even Ash, who I thought was the most decent of the lot, has some really offensive thoughts and views about the one woman who dares to try defying him – even though I have my own doubts about how successful a woman would have been in such an endeavour at such a time. The way he treats her – or plans to treat her – is pretty offensive, but everyone laughs it off as suitably roguish.
And that’s another problem I had with this book – the way it drifts away from the main characters every so often to catch up with one of the other rogues. Some of the scenes are important to the plot (if a little far-fetched – Jonathon), but others are just boring and an excuse to put some sex in because the romance between the main characters is a little slow.
The main characters, ah, yes, them. I was really impressed with Cedric’s blindness at first, the way he’s struggling to adapt and the changes he’s going through because of it. However, once there was a throwaway remark about how the doctors couldn’t really account for it and that it might not be permanent, I sighed. Because it was obvious from that moment on where this story was going, and that definitely irritated me.
Then there was Anne, supposedly cold-hearted but not really, although she has a sexual assault in her past that would more than explain it. Which we really didn’t need to see in a flashback, by the way, especially as the flashback revealed all kinds of unlikely behaviours at Almacks of all places (at least I think it was). She should have had a female chaperone at least, not just her father, and the idea of Cedric even being in such a place when he was so against marriage didn’t fit, let alone what he gets up to (and what a romantic hero that showed him to be). The idea that no one noticed anything afterwards as well was just ridiculous – so she wasn’t even mussed or acting differently? No one saw or heard anything, even though it was a very busy evening? The more details that were added to the whole thing, the less sense it made. Instead of making me feel for Anne, the entire thing just had me scratching my head at the unlikeliness of the whole bloody thing.
On top of that we have a kidnap plot from a nefarious slave trader – which seems entirely to rely on the uselessness of household staff, since they’re all missing at the vital (and noisy) moment – and a ridiculous memory-loss accident that is conveniently forgotten about a few chapters later when it no longer serves the narrative purpose of removing any impediments to sex. Which just… what was the point?
Which is my main thought on finishing this book. What was the point to any of it? Anne’s rape and memory loss are flimsy plot devices that get forgotten about when they start to get in the way. Cedric’s blindness was again just a prop to make him change his ways enough to make an otherwise dull rake interesting, and even that was made good again with a nice bit of magic fixing. It was obvious from the start that they’d make a good couple, since Cedric had been interested in Anne for years and they had so much in common, but that would have been boring, wouldn’t it? So instead they need a far-fetched tale in which deep-rooted problems last only as long as they serve a purpose before being magically removed.
This could have been a really good romance between two wounded people getting to know each other through their grief and marriage, with a little help from their friends. If it had focused just on these two, I think I would have loved it because at times their romance is quite lovely. However it isn’t just about them and other things kept intruding in silly and unbelievable ways that all ends up with an exploding ship that just… I don’t even have the words for that. I had a few reservations about the first book in this series, but still enjoyed it on the whole. This time, nope, sorry, all the good was swept away. I like a silly historical every so often, but this wasn’t playful fun, it was just annoying.
Maybe I’m just extra grumpy right now, but I don’t think I’ll be reading any more from this series. To the relief of everyone, no doubt.
Her Wicked Proposal is out January 19th.
Visit Lauren Smith for more details.