Sunday, July 4, 2010

His at Night by Sherry Thomas ***

I'd been looking forward to the 4th book by the author of Delicious and Private Arrangements. Sherry Thomas' first 2 books reminded me of the style of authors Jo Goodman and Loretta Chase. They seem to all use wordplay to bring the story to life - rich, full characters and descriptions, with an underlying sophistication and humor. This style is still evident in His at Night but somehow the story itself didn't rise to the occasion for me.

Lord Vere is the elder brother of Freddie, a character from the previous novel Not Quite A Husband. He pretends that an accident in his teens included a head injury that rendered him an idiot while he is actually a spy in the service of the British Crown, around the turn of the last century. His idiocy - mainly he blathers on and on and on about subjects he knows nothing about - is the cover that allows him to do his work.

Elissande is a desperate woman, trying to escape the horrors and abuse of her uncle. Desperate enough, it seems, to trap an idiot into marriage, although it almost goes beyond even what she would do to save herself.

So - we have the cliche of the forced marriage, because she puts herself in a compromising position with him so that he'll marry her and save her. He is immediately attracted to her, but sees through her smiles to the scheming witch she is, or rather, appears to be. He wants to remain as far away as possible, and lets her know it fairly early on - he'll spend whatever it takes for an annulment as soon as she is safe.

Of course, there is also a mystery around the circumstances of her uncle - why is he under the scrutiny of the Crown if he is actually a successful diamond miner? What would make someone like him be considered for murder or blackmail?

And poor Freddie, left by his love in the previous book, turns to his best gal friend - a woman who has done everything she knew to throw herself into his path and get him to see her as a woman, and not just a childhood friend.

So, Vere slinks about investigating the uncle, Elissande quickly picks up on the truth about Vere's intelligence, the uncle is b-b-b-bad to the bone, and Freddie takes a while to wake up and smell the coffee.

It was ok - I liked it, 3 stars, but it just didn't carry me away to exotic locales (ok, now I'm quoting that voiceover in Harlequin audio books). At least I have several more books to start - and maybe even finish! - this holiday weekend!

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