Thursday, August 6, 2009
FOR THE EARL'S PLEASURE by Anne Mallory
Note: Spoiler alert!
This review will talk about a major plot point occurring in Chapter 3. I don't consider it a spoiler (as it occurs early on and is central to the book's plot) but for some reason, the publisher and author have kept it a 'secret.' As I think this secret is more frustrating than enticing, I won't be keeping it so if you'd rather not know the genre of this book, please don't read this review.
I picked up For The Earl's Pleasure in Walmart, read the first chapter, read the last chapter, read historical romance on the spine, and thought to myself 'What a wonderfully written Regency romance.' I bought it, read it, and loved it. The thing is… it is not a wonderfully written Regency romance. It is a wonderfully written Regency/paranormal romance and if readers don't like paranormal romances, they aren't going to like For The Earl's Pleasure. If readers love The Ghost Whisperer (as I do), they are going to LOVE For The Earl's Pleasure.
But the publisher and the author (but mainly, I suspect, the publisher) have decided to surprise readers with one genre when they spent their hard earned money for another. I don't know why they think we'd like that surprise. I love both genres but I buy them while in completely different moods. Sort of like licorice and chocolate. I love both but when I bite into a chocolate, I expect it to taste like chocolate, not licorice. Anything different and I get grumpy.
It is hard to be grumpy with For The Earl's Pleasure though because it is such an entertaining and well written romance. Abigail Smart is the Regency equivalent of The Ghost Whisperer. She sees dead people. All the time. This freaks out those not-as-tolerant Regency folks and she is in constant fear of being sent back to the loony bin. She's been there before and that's left deep scars on her personality (I can only imagine – shivers).
Valerian Rainewood is her nemesis, I mean, love interest. He doesn't believe her. They have that love/hate relationship that so often happens between two alphas (being an alpha married to an alpha, I can vouch for this being real – alphas love nothing better than solid push back). Then after an attack, he can not be seen by anyone else in society other than Abigail. Abigail knows what that means… he's dead, right? But she has trouble accepting that the secret love and not-so-secret torment of her life is gone forever.
If you love The Ghost Whisperer (as I do), you'll love For The Earl's Pleasure. Rainewood, at first, doesn't accept that he is in a ghost-like state. He thinks he's dreaming. And because he thinks he's dreaming, he does and says whatever he wants. This reveals his true feelings, feelings that he normally guards under layers of grumpiness and biting wit. He is not a nicey-nice hero. He says some terrible things. What he says isn't that important. It is what he does, again and again, often secretly, that shows who Rainewood really is.
Abigail is a smart, strong heroine. She is severely broken. Very few people believe her and the few that do wish to fix her. The cures have changed her, making her a bit paranoid and protective. Only when Rainewood is completely at her mercy and unable to harm her (not that he ever would physically), is she able to open up to him. This is a story where the paranormal element isn't added simply for shock value. It is there because these two people can't love without it.
There are some tough moments in For The Earl's Pleasure. The treatments for mentally ill females in Regency days weren't kind. Not at all. There is also one near sexual attack scene and the baddies get quite violent in the end.
I loved For The Earl's Pleasure once I adjusted to what the story really was… a fascinating and deep Regency/paranormal romance.
You can read more about For The Earl's Pleasure and other novels by Anne Mallory at http://www.annemallory.com/