Tag: anders

Review: Lady Saves The Duke by Annabelle Anders

Posted May 4, 2019 by Mary Kingswood in Review / 0 Comments

I loved this book. It made me laugh, it made me cry, and for all the right reasons. It’s riddled with silly anachronisms and Americanisms and (shock, horror!) I didn’t mind a bit because it was so much fun to read.

Here’s the premise: our heroine Abigail is dwindling into spinsterhood after her only season in London went disastrously wrong. Her mother hasn’t quite given up on her, however, and wheedles her a place at a stylish house party, where she encounters the tragic figure of hero Alex (who’s a duke, naturally), whose wife and children died in an accident. They don’t seem to have much in common, until a wardrobe malfunction and a chance meeting in the library at night upends both their lives. Abigail is ruined again, and the duke has to make things right. Or he could marry her…

I liked both the main characters. They felt believably three-dimensional, especially given their personal histories. So many authors throw in a past tragedy to draw reader sympathy and attempt to give a character depth, but it rarely works. Anders, however, is a strong enough writer to pull it off, and the internal thought processes of Abigail and Alex, and their conflicting emotions, were very convincing.

There’s only one part of this book where, for me, the plot logic failed. Abigail’s decision to go for a midnight stroll around a house full of men, especially given her history, defies all common sense. And then, meeting Alex in the library, why on earth did she not simply run back to her room? But it’s an essential part of the plot that brings them together, so I’ll let it pass.

From then on, the whole story works wonderfully, and if there are a few over the top moments (Abigail getting to church, for instance), they never strayed from amusing to absurd. As a marriage of convenience story, with the two protagonists inching towards a working arrangement and then (surprise!) to love, this one is hard to beat. But be warned, the sex scenes are moderately graphic, so if that’s not for you, this one’s best avoided. It’s not perfect in the historical accuracy department, by a long chalk, but it was so well-written that it got a pass from me (something that hardly ever happens). However, if gotten and fall and so on will push your buttons, then avoid. For me, it’s a rare five star.


Review: A Lady’s Prerogative by Annabelle Anders

Posted May 3, 2019 by Mary Kingswood in Review / 0 Comments

This is the third book of the Lord Love a Lady series that I’ve read, although I got them out of order. I started with #3, to which I gave five stars, then #1, which mustered four stars, and then I came to this book, which is #2 in the series, and I started to get worried.

Let’s get the plot out of the way first, such as it is. Our heroine is Natalie, the girl who sensibly released the Duke of Cortland from their betrothal in book 1 so that he could marry his true love, Lilly. Now Natalie’s branded a jilt, and confined to the country estate of her parents to rusticate for a while. She’s bored and looking for a little excitement, when into her life wanders unredeemed rake Garrett. There could have been some interesting ways to take a story like this, but sadly the author chose the most obvious and well-worn one, and the first half of the book becomes in essence one long bout of foreplay.

I don’t have any issues with sex in a Regency romance, but it does have to conform to a degree of plausibility. This particular case has a number of problems in that regard. Firstly, Natalie. Having set her up in book 1 as the oh-so-cool and composed ladylike type, suddenly she’s a walking bundle of overwrought emotions, essentially throwing herself at Garrett’s head. Then there’s Garrett himself. He’s old enough and experienced enough to keep himself under control and not respond when the daughter of his host tries, in her innocence, to seduce him. And then there are Natalie’s parents. What on earth are they thinking, not merely to invite an acknowledged rake to a house party with their vulnerable daughter, but to allow them to wander off together unchaperoned and even, at one point, to hint that Garrett might be an acceptable husband for her? It’s unconscionable. It would serve them right if he did what rakes are known for, and got her pregnant.

So the first half of the book is the two finding a dozen different ways to sneak off and be alone, and do some of the things that well-brought-up young ladies shouldn’t even know about. But then the sub-plot kicks in, the book lurches into melodrama and suddenly the author’s talent shines through again, releasing all that soul-searching and emotion that I so enjoyed in the other two books. Now, there are plenty of issues with plausibility in the second half of the book, too, plus all the Americanisms that pepper all these books, but none of that mattered a bit. I got thoroughly swept up in the story, really enjoyed the way the two characters resolved their differences and got very teary-eyed when they got their happy ending. Extra brownie points for knowing the law regarding the earldom, as well. It doesn’t quite reach the heights of five stars for me, but it’s a very good four stars.


Review: Nobody’s Lady by Annabelle Anders

Posted May 2, 2019 by Mary Kingswood in Review / 0 Comments

Michael Redmond, now the Duke of Cortland, has been ambushed on his way to London by highway robbers, who have stolen his coach and horses. He makes his way on foot to an inn, where he bumps into a face from the past, Lilly Bridges, now the widowed Lady Beauchamp. There’s a lot of history between them, but he’s now embarked on an urgent political mission and is betrothed, to boot, so that past must stay buried – if it can.

So right from the start, it’s clear that there’s a whole heap of sexual tension between these two. We see their past history unfolding in parallel with the present day events, but we’re already aware of their tragedy – that they should have married, but because of a misunderstanding, it never happened. She married the widower of her older sister, and he never married, although he’s recently betrothed himself unemotionally to the daughter of a political ally.

I’m not normally keen on the overworked trope of the Great Misunderstanding, but the author here makes it more credible than most such scenarios. There’s one major flaw in the logic, though. Lilly married her dead sister’s husband (a baron), a union frowned on by the church, because when a man and woman marry, they become ‘one flesh’. This means that her sisters are theoretically his sisters too, so a marriage to the deceased wife’s sister becomes incestuous. In theory. In practice, this was such a pragmatic solution to the problem of a widower with children that it actually happened quite a lot. One of Jane Austen’s brothers did exactly this. And, contrary to the statements in the books, such marriages are not illegal. It’s far, far more complicated than that. Such a marriage was voidable. That meant that it was perfectly legal until someone challenged it, at which point it became void, the marriage no longer existed and any children were rendered illegitimate.

That uncertainty made it unlikely in the extreme that any responsible nobleman would contract such a marriage because of the risk that a male heir might be suddenly disinherited. On the other side of the coin, no responsible father would push his daughter into such a union, either, because of the risk that she would be left without the protection of a husband. It would be disastrous. The whole premise of the book is that Lilly’s father persuades her to marry for security, when in fact he was putting her into a very uncertain and potentially ruinous situation.

That aside, the question of whether such a marriage would be scandalous is an interesting one. Lilly’s baron husband would have been listed in Debrett’s Peerage, together with the names of both his wives, so the matter could hardly be kept secret. It wasn’t a sensible choice for a peer, but I don’t know just how much of a scandal it would cause. These are interesting questions, and I applaud the author for treading in such murky legal territory, even if she doesn’t quite get all the complexities straight.

But this is just the background to the romantic difficulties faced by our two protagonists. Michael and Lilly find themselves thrown together by circumstance, and increasingly unable to keep their hands off each other. Neither of them is the restrained Regency type so beloved of Georgette Heyer. Lust overcomes them with increasing frequency and in a range of implausible al fresco settings. The sex scenes are tastefully done, but moderately graphic, so beware if that’s not your thing. It’s fairly obvious where things are going, but how they get there is always interesting. The ending is fairly dramatic, with a huge coincidence and an over-the-top villain, but I enjoyed it nevertheless, and everybody got what they wanted in the end.

Of the characters, I liked Lilly very much. She was enchantingly natural and genuine, following her heart more than her head but never regretting what she’s done. Michael I had a bit less sympathy for. Considering the position he was in, with his marriage fast approaching, he really was very bad about keeping his breeches buttoned with Lilly. He was constantly overcome with uncontrollable lust, and then swamped with guilt afterwards. Pro tip: feeling guilty doesn’t excuse the lapse in behaviour. By contrast, compare the actions of Michael’s friend Danbury. He’s a very contented bachelor, but he happily agrees to pretend to be a suitor to Lilly to deflect attention from her relationship with Michael, and when things go pear-shaped, he gallantly prepares to marry her to get everyone out of the pickle. That is a true hero.

Now, for those who are sensitive about anachronisms, this book is riddled with them, and the Americanisms are so egregious that I can’t believe the author even tried to avoid modern usage. The one that made me shudder from horror is ‘go potty’ (in a toilet context). This isn’t a British expression even today, and certainly not in the Regency era. I found myself sufficiently swept up in the story not to mind too much, but if swathes of ‘visit with’ and ‘passed’ and ‘off of’ and ‘gotten’ would upset you, this author is best avoided.

It’s actually a pity the author didn’t let a (British) proofreader loose on the book, because if the anachronisms could have been ironed out, this would have been a fine story indeed. The romance and the heart-breaking situation the protagonists find themselves in are examined in unswerving detail, the other characters are quite properly kept in the background, and there’s plenty of angst and deep emotion to satisfy even the most discerning reader. I loved it, and only the horrible anachronisms keep it to four stars.