May is going to be a very romantic month on this blog – as we promised you in the previous post there is going to be plenty of reviews covering all kinds of romantic fiction. Let me start with a classic: Loretta Chase and the first part of her ‘Scoundrels’ series, The Lion’s Daughter.
Varian St George, baron Edenmont, is an English peer who knows Davies and Byron. He is also a handsome, penniless whore, shamelessly sponging money off naïve women whenever he can. A jackal and an opportunist – that’s him. While he was traveling through Italy, seducing different rich and bored wives in order to earn his upkeep, the fate made him accompany a young boy, Percival, for a fee of course, to Albania.
There he meets the love of his life – a scrawny girl with green eyes and a mop of red curls, known as ‘a little warrior’ or ‘the Red Lion’s daughter’. Some people also call her ‘a spitfire’. Her name is Esme and her father, Jason Brentmor, has been just assassinated while in service of the Vizier of Janina, Ali Pasha or so they say. Esme needs a white knight rather badly – another suitor, far less civilized than Varian, is waiting impatiently to wed her and she doesn’t fancy him, not even a bit.
Varian, although hardly as noble as a real knight should be, falls in love, seduces the girl and marries her properly which is like a huge leap of faith for him – Esme is poor as well. Still she has a rich, eccentric grandmother who might or might not provide for the young couple. Unfortunately the old lady is hardly willing to throw good money after bad – and who can blame her? Varian is facing a big challenge : he must try to rescue whatever can be rescued from a shambles called his life and persuade everybody, his young wife and his own family included, that this time he means it. You must admit it is a scarier task than slaying a dragon.
What I liked:
The main heroine, Esme, was a great character. She was intrepid, funny, intelligent and far more independent than your average female romantic interest – a fearless rebel with a tender heart but a temper that runs hotter than fire and her flaming red hair. It always bodes well for a book, romance or not, if I like the main lead so don’t be surprised by the rest of my review : yes, I did like this one, I liked it very much. How not to like a book after reading such a scene?
“Esme’s lips were twitching as she gave the letter back to her grandmother.
“It ain’t funny,” the old lady growled.
“Not only amusing but imaginative,” Esme said. “They say I have tattoos on my hands, wear a ring in my nose, and in this garb—and nothing else—I dance lewd dances in your rose garden. By the light of the full moon. Mrs. Stockwell-Hume does not mention my howling at the moon as well, but perhaps her London friends will think of that in time.”
Her beloved Varian wasn’t bad either; as his name, St Georges, indicates, he was simply predestined to save virgins from dragons even if he was the dragon itself. 🙂 Still he will feature in the ‘dislikes’ section as well – I suppose carping about romantic heroes is my second nature. One thing is sure: I really appreciated the lack of misunderstandings between Esme and Varian. Practically from the very beginning they had a degree of trust, or at least a degree of strength of character that allowed them to put themselves in the other person’s shoes and not jump to conclusions about nefarious motivations if anything went wrong.
What I didn’t like:
Here you go.
Varian was too pretty, too honourable and reformed too fast for an inveterate womanizer, a rake and a coxcomb. If only he was given more time…By the way imagine what Jane Austen would say: a baron, possibly married but with two younger, eligible brothers, is never visited by any of his curious neighbours while reparing the crumbling ancestral mansion. No curious maiden ever set her foot in the proximity, no hen-pecked husband, forced by his wife to make the acquaintance for the sake of his daughters, called with a visit, no intrepid servant appeared near the Mount Eden estate…was it a desert or an English countryside? It seemed as if the poor man worked in a complete void.
Apart from that the political intrigue in the book was overdone to the point of being incredibly complex and confusing. I enjoyed Albanians customs but the rest hardly made sense. Fortunately it was also very skippable.
If you want to read something “mindless” after all the “heavy” stuff you’ve done recently this is a perfect position. Don’t think too much about the plot concerning the politics of the region, focus on relationship and you’ll be fine. The humorous parts are quite enjoyable and the book is definitely different, good enough to read at least once.
BTW the other parts of the series were reviewed by me as well: here you can find Lord of Scoundrels and here Captives of the Night – enjoy!