GUEST REVIEWER – Auralee Wallace
I will be completely honest. I am not a fan of the bodice ripper. Maybe I read too many of them, stolen from my grandmother’s bookshelf, as a young teenager. Maybe I studied too much Literature with a capital “L” in university which turned me into a book snob. Or maybe the market is just over-saturated with bad examples. Whatever the reason, for the longest time, if I saw a half-naked man or woman in period dress on a book cover, I would scoff and roll my eyes, before mentally droning, Next. This was the case until I was introduced to Sherry Thomas.
The Luckiest Lady in London is a perfect example of what I like best about Thomas’s work.
Rivendale, the Marquess of Wrenworth, is The Ideal Gentleman, a man all men want to be and all women want to possess. Felix himself almost believes this golden image. But underneath is a damaged soul soothed only by public adulation.
Louisa Cantwell needs to marry well to support her sisters. She does not, however, want Lord Wrenworth—though he seems inexplicably interested in her. She mistrusts his outward perfection and the praise he garners everywhere he goes. But when he is the only man to propose at the end of the London season, she reluctantly accepts.
Louisa does not understand her husband’s mysterious purposes, but she cannot deny the pleasure her body takes in his touch. Nor can she deny the pull this magnetic man exerts upon her. But does she dare to fall in love with a man so full of dark secrets, anyone of which could devastate her, if she were to get any closer?
In this novel, Thomas’s talent for description is, once again, at the forefront. She pulls and stretches the language to an almost ridiculous degree, deliciously mirroring a society obsessed with the beautiful – if not torturous – forging of decorum and manner.
Her gaze traveled up Lord Wrenworth’s expertly pressed trousers to the flute of champagne at the his side, dangling from his fingers. Many of the guests at the ball had such crystalware in their hands—Lady Tenwhestle, for one, held hers decorously before her person; Mr. Drummond , for another, idly turned his round and round. Lord Wrenworth’s champagne glass, however, gave the impression that it had leaped off a table of its own will into his hand, because it would never fit better elsewhere, or emanate a quarter so much ease and aplomb.
On that same hand he wore a signet ring, a coat of arms engraved upon a crest of deep, rich carnelian. The white cuff of his shirt extended a perfect quarter inch beyond the dark sleeve of his evening jacket. The cuff links were simple gold studs—or perhaps not so simple studs, for she could see lines and patterns to fine for her to make out the design from where she stood.
She was stalling, she realized, lingering in the same spot because she was…not afraid, exactly, but rather apprehensive about looking higher. But really, what could he possibly do to a woman as practical as herself?
Yummy. I admire so many things about this passage. She doesn’t go for the easy kill (height, build, face, hair) in describing her Ideal Gentlemen – at least not right away. She goes for the more subtle tells that speak volumes – from bottom to top, building anticipation. The way he holds the glass naturally leads to the question of what else he can handle expertly with those fingers. Next, his attention to detail in his dress points to easy wealth which – let’s face it – is an expected convention. And finally that question, But really, what could he possibly do to a woman as practical as herself? I can’t help but answer it with a, “What, indeed?” (Insert waggling eyebrows here.)
I have found in the four and five novels of hers that I have read, she always manages to fulfill my Cinderella/Happily Ever After expectations without the story going stale or my brain going numb. It is a little like being a child again and wanting the same bedtime story every night – I know I’m going to fall asleep with a smile on my face.
I doubt that period romance will ever be my favourite genre, but Sherry Thomas has stopped me from dismissing these books out of hand after a glance at the cover. In fact, lately, I have caught myself stopping to take a good look at the artwork for this type of romance, and, you know what? While I still may roll my eyes at the heaving bosoms, I have to admit, some of the dresses are really pretty…
- Malin’s #CBR5 Review #137: The Luckiest Lady in London (cannonballread5.wordpress.com)
- Review: The Luckiest Lady In London (loveshistorical.wordpress.com)