Will he unlace all of her secrets?
Former captain Bladen Read knows respectable Caroline Falkner would never look twice at an illegitimate ruffian like him. But when he’s suddenly thrown into the role of her protector he discovers the undercurrent of tension runs both ways…
At first Caro tries to resist the pull of attraction, for Blade is a link to the scandalous past she buried long ago to protect her son. Although when the opportunity to explore this rake’s expertise in the bedroom presents itself, temptation proves too much to resist!
Publisher and Release Date: Harlequin/Mills & Boon Historical, April 2016
Time and Setting: England, 1820
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 2
Reviewer Rating: 3 stars
Review by Wendy
This is the fourth in Ann Lethbridge’s Rakes in Disgrace series, and as far as I can tell, the books are not associated, and can therefore be read individually. Captain Bladen Read, a hardened soldier and war hero is sickened by the actions of the military during the Peterloo Massacre. Ordered to act on behalf of the crown, Blade (as he is known to his friends), rebels after the killing and maiming of innocents, resigns his commission and is now at a loose end. He is a man who can see both points of view; born on the wrong side of the blanket, the son of a powerful earl and a prostitute, he is neither fish nor fowl, scorned by the ton but not accepted by the ordinary man in the street either. A lonely man, and, it seems, a man with a large chip on his shoulder.
The story opens with Blade thinking over his options when he spies a blast from the past, Caroline Falkener, whom he had worshiped from afar nine years previously when he was a gangly young ensign. Now a widow with a young son, she is still as beautiful as he remembers and just as enticing – moreso in fact. He still feels the inadequacies of his illegitimate birth and just as before, believes that Caroline, or Caro, as she is known, will not look his way. Caro is not what she seems and has a secret of her own – one which she will guard with her life if necessary.
The two are thrown together by mutual friends. Charlie, the Marquess of Tonbridge, heir to a dukedom, was Blade’s commanding officer and has remained a true and loyal friend. Caro and Charlie’s wife, Merry have founded a charitable home for fallen women and mothers with children in need, the idea being to rehabilitate these unfortunate ladies and give them some choices in life. Caro is passionate about their venture and does everything in her power for her charges, which is very commendable, but I couldn’t quite work out how Caro, who was cut off by her family and has therefore struggled to support herself and her son, could come up with the sum of fifty pounds from her own pocket to buy a girl from a brothel (nearly £4,000 in today’s equivalent). I’m sure by now, if you’re reading this review, Caro’s ‘secret’ is fairly obvious. Blade is offered temporary employment as Charlie’s house-steward and eventually becomes Caro’s lover.
This was not a book in which I felt invested and it was just too easy to put down. The development of the relationship between Blade and Caro has no real depth and certainly did not make me sigh – in fact I pretty much skimmed over their interactions. Blade lost a hand during his military service, something which would normally have my stomach in knots, as I love a wounded hero – but not so this time. I also found it hard to believe that at the age of ten, Blade was dumped into the middle of his father’s family, even though his father had been previously unaware of his existence – and was accepted by him without question or proof. Blade also suffers with abandonment issues – which I do understand, but the point is laboured quite extensively throughout.
The plot stretches credulity and I found it hard to believe that the parties involved would have behaved in such a way. I did get a little more involved and interested in the second half of the book and kept reading to the bitter end, but ultimately, there are too many inconsistencies in the story and the telling for me to be able to rate More Than a Lover more highly.