Barbara’s rating: 4 of 5 stars
Series: The Worthingtons #4
Publication Date: 2/27/18
This book is filled with excitement, danger, and romance as it shows us the underbelly of the sex trade during Regency times. Abductions were common and for a variety of reasons – no female or child was safe regardless of their rank. Yes, that is a dark theme, but this book isn’t dark even though it explores some of those very real issues during Regency times. Even though Charlotte totally annoyed me, I thoroughly enjoyed the story. It was exciting and I couldn’t wait to turn the page to see what happened next.
I have not read all of the books within this series, but that didn’t detract from my enjoyment. I did read the first book and those characters are prominently featured in this book. ** Smiles ** You might want to sit down with a pen and pad before you start to read – there are a LOT of characters (including dogs and cats) you’ll need to keep straight and most of them are delightful!
Constantine, Marquis of Kenilworth is a happy man – he has his mistress that he likes very much and his other pursuits and the last thing he wants is any sort of entanglement with innocent young ladies of the ton. As he is driving his curricle to visit his mistress, he is run down by the butler of his friend, the Earl of Worthington. He’s a bit annoyed when the butler asks him to rescue the lady who was just kidnapped. (Now, I have to tell you – I didn’t like him at this point and figured he was irredeemable. Not so!) Finally, after turning his curricle and being convinced nobody else was around to rescue the lady – he takes off in hot pursuit. Where in the world are they heading? They are on backroads and he doesn’t recognize his surroundings.
Lady Charlotte Carpenter has just been kidnapped from the street right in front of her home! She doesn’t panic, she assesses her situation, inventories what tools she might have and plans her escape. At this point, I really liked and admired her for her intelligence, intrepid strength of will and undaunted spirit. That didn’t last long. Ongoing, she was a very hard character to like. I love strong, intelligent female leads – and Charlotte was both strong and intelligent. However, she was also naïve in the ways of the world, pig-headed, stubborn, unwilling to compromise, etc. Everything had to be her way and only her way – her opinion was the only correct one. If the hero misstepped (in her eyes), then the relationship was over. Her holier-than-thou attitude made me wonder why in the world he’d want her at all. Quite often, I found her moralistic, intractable attitude overpowered the story and just made me want to slap her. She did get better – sort of – but ONLY after he totally bowed to her and her views. I can understand his having an epiphany about mistresses not always being in that life by choice, but – sadly, the story made him sound pretty weak-willed when he bent to her every whim. I would have continued to admire her and her strong beliefs if she had been willing to give him a chance and have a logical two-sided discussion with him. She did finally give him a chance, but it was all his give and her take.
When Con first rescued Charlotte, she found him attractive and was drawn to him. Then she discovered who he was – and she remembered that she had seen him at the opera with courtesans – one of whom was his mistress. She immediately shrank from him and was physically afraid because – anyone who kept a mistress was an abuser of women. (I told you she was naïve in the ways of the world). Con senses her shrinking away and doesn’t understand why. His goal is to get her back to London before anyone sees them together and her reputation is ruined. You’d think she’d be grateful. However, since they took backroads and Con wasn’t sure where he was – he got lost and missed a turn. Charlotte had worked herself into a lather by that point imagining what an awful, debauched, woman abusing man he was – and she leaves the curricle and heads back toward an inn (so much for her intelligence). Con is intent on maintaining her reputation (frankly, if I were Con, I think I would have let her march herself into the inn and fend for herself) – he follows her and as the innkeeper is questioning her – there is also a notorious gossip there. So, Con announces that they are betrothed and they are visiting his mother who lives nearby – still in order to save her reputation.
She finally told Con why she shrank away – well, actually she blasted him and accused him, etc. There was no discourse, no discussion – he was automatically guilty of the most heinous abuses of women and she was going to have nothing to do with him. At one point she did challenge him to question his mistress, Aimee, to find out what she really thought of her role in life and if she was there willingly. He was shocked – absolutely, completely and totally shocked – to learn that Aimee did not choose that life and would dearly love to lead a respectable life with her family in France. Con’s response was to immediately make it possible for Aimee to do that – he deeded her the house in which she was living and provided funds for her to return to France and live a decent, respectable life. Then, he admits to Charlotte that he was wrong and told her what he’d done. Finally – a crack in Charlotte’s armor.
The story and the mystery don’t end there – there are more kidnappings, more chases, and more rescues before Con and Charlotte get their HEA.
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