(The Westruthers, #3)
Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)
Can an Indecent Proposal
Eight years ago, a tall, handsome stranger entered Lady Alexandra’s bedchamber and consummated a marriage of the utmost necessity. The Marquis of Steyne had agreed to wed and bed Lord Brute’s admittedly lovely daughter to pay off his mother’s gambling debts. But once the deed was done, Steyne’s lawfully-wedded wife vanished into the night…
Lead to Everlasting Love?
Years later, Steyne has nearly forgotten about his runaway bride. But when he suddenly finds himself in need of an heir, he has no choice but to track her down. Living happily in a small village under an assumed name, Alexandra is surprised to see her husband—and to feel such a strong attraction to him. But she is downright shocked when he asks her to bear him a son. How can they possibly repeat the heated encounter of their ill-fated wedding night…without falling hopelessly in love?
Throughout this series, I have been intrigued by the cold, cynical Xavier. Such an enigmatic character and the surprise ending of The Greatest Lover Ever held lots of promise for his book but I was really disappointed.
I was fascinated by the destructive relationship between Xavier and his mother. Nerissa’s machinations are central to the story and it was interesting to see Xavier’s ambivalent attitude towards her. Despite everything, he had always felt the need to protect her.
Try as he might, he could not entirely eradicate the last vestige of chivalrous instinct where Nerissa was concerned.
I liked Lizzie. She had sufficient backbone to run away from her brutal father and make a new life for herself in Little Thurston. Her sunny disposition and caring nature were a perfect counter to Xavier’s darkness.
My main problem was that the romance between Xavier and Lizzie just didn’t work for me. I felt there was a lack of any deep emotional connection between them. Given the malignant influence of his vicious, narcissistic mother, I could understand why emotionally Xavier was such an “impenetrable fortress” but I didn’t like the way he blew hot and cold towards Lizzie, seducing her one minute then being autocratic and distant the next. I couldn’t believe that, in no time at all, Lizzie was falling in love with him. There was no building of any relationship between them to convince me because, before their eight year separation, the only time they spent together was their wedding night when Xavier was so impersonal and detached. The romantic element in their relationship seemed sadly missing…no tender or truly romantic moments. Yes, there were some steamy love scenes but, to me, they lacked that element of intimacy that I look for.
There were some interesting plot twists but I felt the climax verged too much towards the melodramatic.
On a positive note, I loved the secondary characters, especially Xavier’s cousin, Viscount Lydgate and Lizzie’s friend, Clare Beauchamp and perhaps there is romance in the air for these two in the next book. The other Westruther cousins and their wives and characters from Ministry of Marriage series make a welcome appearance. This helped boost my rating from 3 stars to 3.5 stars.
I loved the first two books in this series and I hope that, in Viscount Lydgate’s book, Ms Brooke will recapture some of the magic that made those books so enjoyable.
REVIEW RATING: 3.5/5 STARS
SENSUALITY RATING: HOT
Read December 2014
The Westruthers series so far (click on the book cover for more details):