Sunday, October 12, 2008

Sophia Nash - A Dangerous Beauty

Rosamunde Baird has lost everything and has no choice but to accept an invitation to spend a season with a dowager duchess and her clandestine Ladies Club. Determined to stay in the shadows and live quietly, she has sworn never again to come face to face with adventure and temptation, two things that brought her ruin years ago. But then the Duke of Helston dangles before her the very things she craves most…

Mysterious Luc St. Aubyn has a much-deserved reputation for exuding blistering passion at night and frost in the morning after. What demons drive this audacious war hero to hide secrets about the dowager’s club and his devilish dictionary? When he’s blindsided by his reactions to a virtuous siren, he has no choice but to reveal all during a scandal that will doom them… or save them, if only they dare to believe in love.

Sometimes while reading a story, you just instantly know that you have a new favorite among the many books you have read. Well, here I thought I was just going to read another nice regency story, I was wrong, this story blew me away. Yes, it is very much regency, all the principle ingredients are present, a roguish duke, a lady in distress, lots of gossip and of course as always the upper level of London’s society, the ton. But it is the unique combination of characters, plotlines and the brilliant and fluent writing of Sophia Nash that gives this story an unique and refreshing vibe that exceeded my expectations.

Rosamunde Baird is not the typical virginal, innocent regency heroine we all have grown accustomed to. As a young girl of 17 she was seen kissing Henry St. Aubyn, her father who had placed her on a pedestal did not want to listen to her explanation. To avoid scandal they were forced to marry, but Rosamunde knew that Henry did not love her so she escaped with another man and married him. After her father disowned her, her darling husband turned into a dictator who controlled her every move, when he perished he left her penniless. The only one who supported her, was her sister Sylvia.

Rosamunde who used to be a passionate, vibrant young lady full of life changed into a submissive, obeying person. She withdrew herself from society who already shunned her and vowed to live a quiet life together with her sister Sylvia who stood by her. But underneath this quiet fa├žade she is still that passionate, vibrant and strong young lady who needs her father’s love and acceptance of society. Now she is about to be kicked out of her home and she has no choice then to keep her head high, face the rejection of the ton and accept the invitation from the same family that caused her downfall so many years ago…

Luc St. Aubyn is the kind of man you drool over, he bears the emotional scars of his upbringing. The dukes in his family were all first-class dictators and his father was no exception. He loves books and likes to write, but his passion for books was quelled by his father. He joined the navy just to provoke his father, never thought he would end up being the Duke of Helston, for both his father and his older brother Henry passed away. His greatest fear is to become like his father, therefore he has vowed to never marry or get involved with a woman other then on an one-night-stand-basis. Except he forgets all his intentions when it comes to Rosamunde.

He dotes on his grandmother Ata, the duchess dowager. Ata is a very strong character in this story, she is cunning, social and a real matchmaker, this old lady will steal your heart and she is as important as Luc and Rosamunde for this story. She has found happiness late in life after the dictatorship of her husband and son ended. She has made it her mission to help other widows find happiness again or peace of mind. Luc fulfills all her wishes but she doesn’t know that they are on the verge of bankruptcy.

Luc to Ata and vice versa:

“Give me that. You ‘ve never limped a day in your life.” “I carry it to keep gentlemen away from the ladies in my club. Do I need to remind you that Mrs. Baird is recently bereaved?’ “Bereaved? Don’t you mean relieved?”

The love between Ata and Luc manifest itself in the sarcastic and cynical bickering, it is hilarious. They both use humor and sarcasm to deal with everyday life and they value people for their character not their title. It is them against-the-rest-of-the-ton and they bend the rules of society and get away with it. The interactions between Rosamunde and Luc mirror their personalities, they simmer and grow more intense with every page you turn but always have this mocking undertone.

The cast of secondary characters is fantastic, the ladies of the widow club are charming and I am sure we will meet them again in their own story. Sophia Nash is also great in outlining the ton and all their gossiping and prejudices. There are many characters in this story, for example Rosamunde’s family, and they all enrich it, they give you a good insight how society worked in the regency period and how fragile a woman’s reputation was, once it was lost it could not be retrieved.

I love the way Sophia Nash writes. It is fluent, easy to read and utterly compelling. The plot is uncomplicated but still surprising. Rosamunde, Luc and Ata have to face the prejudices of society, the persistent gossips, rejection and a mysterious disease. On top of this all Luc and Rosamunde have to deal with their impossible attraction to one another and they are trying against all odds to restore Rosamunde’s rightful place in society. But the one thing that makes this story special is the sarcastic humor that you can find on almost every page, it keeps the story playful to read and makes you laugh out loud.

A Dangerous Beauty is one of those stories that you will cherish forever and will read over and over again. Sophia Nash’s unique writing combined with fantastic and well fleshed out characters, a compelling plot and hilarious humor will keep you spellbound to the very end. I loved and devoured every page! I am eager to find what the future holds for the other members of the widow club.

5 stars

No comments:

Post a Comment