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Provocative in Pearls Mass Market Paperback – 27 May 2010
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About the Author
Madeline Hunter has published twenty-one critically acclaimed historical romances. Her books regularly appear on the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists. More than five million copies of her books are in print, and her books have been translated into twelve languages. She has won two RITA awards and is a seven-time RITA finalist. Madeline holds a PhD in art history, which she teaches at the university level. She loves to hear from readers and can be contacted through her website: www.MadelineHunter.com.
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The RAREST BLOOMS series continues with the revelation that quiet little Lizzie is a runaway bride, the same one moreover who has made one of Lord Sebastian's (Ravishing in Red) closest friends a laughing stock. With such humiliation to be laid at her hands, it's unsurprising that Hawkeswell is angry and a little prone to ordering his reluctant wife around.
Not that Verity helps much. Yes, she has reasons for what she did, but she is wilfully blind in her rebellion, childish and occasionally selfish, which makes her capitulations look spineless. She talks a lot, but her actions frequently prove otherwise. Hawkeswell is no saint either - he's arrogant, pushy and far to used to his own way - not to mention a little light on personality. We're told all about his anger, but he forgives Verity far too easily, and their relationship gets physical long before any of their problems are resolved. In truth, I found the first half bloodless and dull.
The second half does pick up as both characters settle and become more interesting. However, the erratic development of the secondary plot throws far too much light on their relationship, which isn't the best Hunter has ever produced. Nor is the climax and resolution of the secondary plot. It's rushed, light on details, with all the action occurring off screen. It feels very much an afterthought to throw difficulties in Hawkeswell and Verity's way.
One good thing, however, is the further development of the Duke of Castleford. He was unpleasant yet intriguing in 'Ravishing in Red', but here he really comes into his own. I cannot wait to see him come into his own (probably against Daphne next year).
Madeline Hunter can always be relied on to mix the less well-known aspects of England's history with a poignant and seductive romance. All of those hallmarks are here, but they simply didn't mesh for me. It isn't badly written, but I know she can do so much better. Here's hoping things pick up for Cynthia in Sinful in Satin.
Grayson Bridlington, the Earl of Hawkeswell has the title, but is losing his money. Two years ago, he agreed to marry heiress Verity Thompson to replenish his wealth, but no sooner than they'd spoken the vows, did she disappear. Evidence suggests she has drowned, but since there is no solid proof, he is unable to remarry and have access to her funds. Whilst visiting Cumberworth with Summerhays, a young woman keen to keep her face shielded from him draws his attention. His temper flags, and he soon realises this 'Lizzie Smith' is infact his wife. Once he's cooled down, Verity explains why she ran away, although she is surprised when he says he's still losing money. She doesn't want to stay his wife, but says she'll find a way to compensate him. Hawkeswell has no intention of letting her go, especially since he realises he's grown more attracted to her. Putting on a front to the world, Verity thinks she can still seperate from him. But over time, she realises this man with the sharp temper has a softer side, and soon she falls in love.
Overall, this book was very good. It's a little bit better than book 1.
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