This romance in the "Bar Cynster" series is numbered 16 in the table and family tree which appear at the front of the book, although if you count the prequel, (The Promise in a Kiss (Bar Cynster)
) and the "Barnaby Adair" adventure "Temptation and Surrender" this is actually the eighteenth Cynster novel.
Like almost every one of the previous "Bar Cynster" and "Bastion Club" stories up to this point, and the majority of the author's other novels, this story is a variant on the theme of a battle royal between a strong-minded heroine who is determined only to marry for love, which must be openly declared to win her hand, and an almost equally strong-minded hero who wants to marry her and does love her but is most unwilling to admit the fact even to himself, let alone to her.
"Viscount Breckenridge to the rescue" is the first of a trilogy in which the latest generation of Cynster young ladies are trying to find the hero who will sweep them off their feet, but also face a threat to their honour and reputation from a source which is a strange mix of honour and evil.
The hero of the story and holder of the eponymnous title is Timothy Danvers, who is the heir to an Earldom and previously appeared in The Ideal Bride (Bar Cynster)
, in which his stepmother Caro (who has a minor part in this book) married Michael, younger brother of Devil Cynster's wife Honoria.
The heroine of this story is Heather Cynster, daughter of Martin Cynster (Devil Cynster's youngest uncle). About half way through the book, she is given a special Rose Quartz pendant and necklace, denoting love, which she is to wear until she has secured the love of her life, at which point she will pass them in turn on the same basis to her sisters Eliza and Angelica, then her cousins Henrietta and Mary, before it finally returns to "The Vale" in South West Scotland and goes to Lucilla, daughter of Richard and Catriona Cynster, who were the hero and heroine of the third Cynster novel, Scandal's Bride: Bar Cynster series: Book 3
and are both important characters in this book.
I'm not giving away anything which isn't stated on the back of the book by saying that the heroine is kidnapped early in this story and a large part of the first part of the novel tells the story of the attempts by Timothy, Viscount Breckenridge, to rescue her.
Similar challenges await Heather's sisters Eliza, in the following book, In Pursuit Of Eliza Cynster
, and Angelica in the book after that, The Capture Of The Earl Of Glencrae
The third of those books concludes a major story arc, but Miss Laurens is about to publish two more books in 2013 with Henrietta and Mary as the heroines: these are "And Then She Fell: Number 4 in series (Cynster Sisters)
" and "The Taming of Ryder Cavanaugh: Number 5 in series (Cynster Sisters)
Presumably there will be yet another book at some point with Lucilla as the heroine, but she is only eight at the time of "Viscount Breckenridge to the Rescue," I presume Lucilla's book will be part of a different story arc.
"Viscount Breckenridge to the Rescue" starts with a prologue at an unidentified castle in Scotland, where an un-named arch-enemy of the Cynster family is plotting vengeance by blackmailing her own son into kidnapping one of the Cynster daughters. At this stage it is not quite clear whether it has to be one of the three daughters of Martin and Celia Cynster, or whether any unmarried adult female from the family will do. She will ruin the entire clan unless he brings a Cynster girl to the castle so that she can have her revenge.
Her son, the Laird of the castle and estate is torn between strong disapproval of what his mother wants him to do and what he sees as his duty, because she is threatening to harm not just him but all the people he is responsible for.
Without wishing to give too much away, this results in the laird giving unusual and unlikely instructions to the kidnappers he hires to grab one of the Cynster girls, which significantly tie their hands, and the author has the heroine work this out, and take advantage, responding to her kidnapping in a heroic but implausible manner. If like many readers you have difficulty suspending disbelief for the sake of enjoying a book when something unlikely or out of character for the period happens, you should probably leave this book alone.
Certainly I had real trouble suspending disbelief at this stage of the story, because I could not believe that the kidnappers could be both clever and competent enough to bring off the original abduction in the way that they do and also stupid enough to let certain events in the story happen. (I don't want to be more specifice to avoid spoiling the story.)
I did like the main characters and the ongoing romantic tension building between them, and it was interesting to revisit the heroes and heroines of some of the earlier books at a slightly later stage of their lives.
Overall: if you like the other recent Stephanie Laurencs novels, you will probably like this.
The Bar Cynster books are usually described as Regency novels and they did begin at that period, but stricly speaking this is a Georgian romance rather than a Regency one, as it is set in the last year when "Prinny" was King in his own right as George IV.
The Cynster series to date consists of
1) Devil's Bride (Bar Cynster)
(Devil and Honoria)
2) A Rake's Vow: Cynster Family Series, Book 2 (Cynster Novels)
(Vane and Patience)
3) Scandal's Bride (Richard/Scandal and Catriona)
4) A Rogue's proposal (Harry/Demon and Felicity)
5) A Secret Love (Rupert/Gabriel and Alathea)
6) All about Love (Alistair/Lucifer and Phyllida)
7) All About Passion (Bar Cynster)
(Lord Chillingworth gets Rachel for Leah)
8) On a wild night (Amanda Cynster and Martin)
9) On a wicked dawn (Amelia Cynster and Luc)
10) The Perfect Lover (Simon and Porchia)
11) The Ideal Bride (Martin and Caro)
12) The Truth about love (Gerrard and Jacqueline)
13) What price love? (Dillon and Priscilla)
14) The Touch of Innocence (Charlie and Sarah)
15) Temptation and Surrender (Jonas Tallent and Emily)
16) This book, "Viscount Breckenridge to the Rescue"
17) In pursuit of Eliza Cynster (Eliza)
18) The Capture of the Earl of Glencrae (Angelica)
19) And then she fell (Henrietta, forthcoming in 2013)
20) The Taming of Ryder Cavanaugh (Mary, ditto)
As mentioned above there is also a prequel "The Promise in a Kiss" which tells the story of the romance between Devil Cynster's father and mother, and the Barbaby Adair story, "Where the heart leads" which tells the romance between Barnaby and Porchia Cynster's sister Penelope Ashford.