Review: The Spurned Viscountess

The Spurned Viscountess, by Shelley Munro, is a gothic romance novel at its finest.  Smugglers, murder attempts and secrets abound in this charming tale set in eighteenth century Sussex.The Spurned Viscountess cover

Having lost his memory three years ago, Lucien is not at all sure that he’s the missing George St. Clare, Viscount Hastings, despite the old Earl of St. Clare’s insistence.  He’s willing to play along in order to seek out the mysterious Hawk, a smuggler who murdered his wife and unborn child, but an arranged match and a second bride were not part of the plan.

Rosalind Chandler has a gift; she can read the minds of others when she touches them.  Rosalind desperately wants a husband and children, but due to her power, and the rumours that she is a witch, her only hope of marriage lies in the betrothal contract arranged by St. Clare and her uncle when she was a child.  Regardless of the fact that her prospective bridegroom has no interest in marrying her, and demands that she cry off.

Even after the wedding Lucien shuns her company, far more interested in tracking down the local smuggling ring than in bedding his new bride.  Which Rosalind would very much object to, if she weren’t busy trying to survive conveniently-arranged accidents and find out more about the notorious smuggler known as Hawk, who terrorizes the village and seems to wish to harm her husband.  Lucien has no desire to work with an interfering young miss who gets into scrapes every which way she turns, but he soon finds his heart softening towards her, much to his dismay.

After urban fantasy and the hordes of Regency romances I’ve been reading lately, this step back into the early eighteenth century – 1720, to be precise – was both welcome and refreshing.  Unlike many romance novels where the dramatic plot is mainly outside impetus to throw the characters together, this almost felt like a gothic mystery novel that just happened to have a romance included.  Whilst the main characters do bond over the story’s dramatic events, an equal amount of conflict came from the relationship between them, from mis-reading each other’s emotions and responses, and from Lucien’s reluctance to become involved with Rosalind while he still mourns his late wife.

Rosalind herself began the story timid and afraid of her eccentric new family and their gloomy castle, but quickly seemed to find her backbone and take what actions she felt were necessary to secure her future, and to provide Lucien with his help whether he wants it or not.  In a lovely twist on the stereotypical hero-rescues-heroine trope that has frustrated me before, this time it’s Rosalind who puts the plot together and does the rescuing whilst Lucien stumbles blindly into danger.

I enjoyed the development of the relationship between Rosalind and Lucien, and the slow building of affection and trust between them.  The secondary characters were interesting, though some of them lacked some development, and parts of the Dramatic Plot were a little odd.

Overall I liked this book and would recommend it.

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  1. December 1st, 2010

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