Thursday, July 24, 2008

A Lady's Secret by Jo Beverly ****

I lucked into a stack of romance novels while on my road trip - Vicky's niece admitted to being a romance reader, although I got the feeling maybe she hadn't read some or any of the books she offered me. Not wanting to appear greedy, and not really having much room, I only took 8 of the bagful she offered, books she said were on the way to some charity to be resold. I could only look at them and see PBS credits... but didn't even take the one I had already read and knew to be on the wishlists.

A Lady's Secret was one, and I didn't learn until after reading it that it is in a series - now of course I have to go and collect the series and read it! I imagine it might even be the last in the series. Oh Well.

It's a fun and witty book - my first by Jo Beverly. She doesn't write with a lot of depth, in my opinion, and I found some details off-putting (toothbrushes in 1794? well, someone did produce toothbrushes in 1780, so maybe...). Not that her research wasn't good, or in depth, but it wasn't Jo Goodman or Loretta Chase, who both write in such luscious prose, with layer upon layer of detail. It also wasn't a romp, like Julia Quinn. But light, and funny, and I enjoyed the ride.

It was a road trip, an earl returning from Versailles meeting an Italian woman posing as a nun, escaping a possessive lover. They travel together, both keeping secrets about their true identities from the other, and of course they fall in love. However, Petra is afraid she brings too much danger to Robin and escapes him to finish her journey on her own.

When her biological father is found, and his past revealed, I admit I wished for a different history for him. I didn't realize at that time he had already been featured in a previous book - so obviously his history couldn't now be changed, but it seemed a little... contrived. Apparently he did not want to have any children of his own because he was afraid they would turn out mad like his mother. Petra was born a bastard, without his even knowing of her existence, from a tryst while he was on a Grand Tour at a very young age, maybe 18, I guess? That seemed pretty lame to me (his reasoning about not having children) and I would have preferred he didn't marry until age 40 because he carried a torch for his married Italian lover, who actually died about the time he married. Oh well, I'm not the author!

There was a little intrigue, and lots of adventure and even a swashbuckling moment or two - as well as a cute little dog. 4 stars and hopefully a future PBS credit for this book!

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