Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Untie My Heart by Judith Ivory *****

Whew!! I was really starting to think I had a bad attitude, and that every new author I read on the AAR Top 100 was going to be something I didn't like.

Imagine my relief to say, I loved Untie My Heart! It was a fun romp, incredibly romantic with some unusual and hot love scenes.

The heroine is Emma. She's the vicar's widow, a sheep farmer in a small village far from London. Oh wait, and she's also a former con artist, with talents in forgery and stolen art and such. Yep - no blushing virgins here!

Our yummy hero is Stuart, the Viscount of something or other. He had a miserable childhood, and as soon as he was able, left England to roam the world as an adult. He could hardly get far away enough from his father - well, he managed to get far away enough to almost be declared dead after his father's death left him the heir. His rascally uncle managed to steal some things and lots of money from his estate before he showed up, alive and well.

It was fun too to have it set in the 1890s, so there were lots of things around that we don't get to hear about in the usual historicals set in the Regency period.

It's Stuart's bad luck - or maybe his good luck, but the lamb's bad luck - that his coach kills Emma's lamb. In the area, this is taken very seriously, and the usual penalty would be the sum of several sheep that the male lamb would have sired. However, since the coach was the Viscount's, the local law is hesitant to do anything, which really riles Emma up. She manages to make an enemy of the new Viscount while trying to get him to cough up the dough for the lamb, and then she falls back on her old ways and finds a clever way to swindle him out of it. It makes sense that he will never miss the mere 56 lbs that comes from a bank account she manages to create. Unfortunately, he does remember the 56 lb cheque and follows up on it...

Once he has caught her in the act (he assumed it was the uncle doing it, which is why he was so adamant about following up), he decides to blackmail her into helping him retrieve the items the uncle stole. He also manages to befuddle and addle her into a little challenge - I loved this scene, where afterwards he thinks he's accidentally shagged her.

It did walk perilously close to forced seduction which, if you aren't in the right mood, sounds perilously like rape. Frankly, Stuart's sexual tastes and proclivities are a little outside most romance novels I've read - and it's actually refreshing if a little edgy.

The writing and the humor were really delightful - Emma uses first the alias Molly Muffin, and Stuart has many hysterical thoughts and innuendos involving this name. Her next alias is Peep, although she did not use Bo as the first name. When Stuart asks her, "Whatever will Mother Goose think?", I laughed out loud.

Wow. I'm really overjoyed - another great book, a new-to-me author, and I liked it a lot even though it's on the AAR Top 100! As soon as I get my REAL computer back, I'll have to do some research and maybe some glomming on Judith Ivory/Judy Cuevas.

5 stars.

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