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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

How to Woo a Reluctant Lady by Sabrina Jeffries

How to Woo a Reluctant Lady by Sabrina Jeffries
Publisher: Pocket Star Books (division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.)
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (345 pgs)
Heat Level: spicy
Rating: 5 Books
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

When a charming rogue proposes she marry him to meet her grandmother's ultimatum, the Sharpe clan's strong-willed sister makes a tempting counter-offer that preserves her inheritance and ignites his imagination.

Lady Minerva Sharpe has the perfect plan to thwart her grandmother's demands: become engaged to a rogue! Surely Gran would rather release her inheritance than see her wed a scoundrel. And who better to play the part of Minerva's would-be husband than wild barrister Giles Masters, the very inspiration for the handsome spy in the popular Gothic novels she writes? The memory of his passionate kiss on her nineteenth birthday has lingered in Minerva's imagination, though she has no intention of really falling for such a rakehell, much less marrying him. Little does she know, he really is a covert government operative. When they team up to investigate the mystery behind her parents' deaths, their fake betrothal leads to red-hot desire. Then Minerva discovers Giles's secret double life, and he must use all the cunning tricks of his trade to find his way back into her heart.

I so adore a feisty and smart heroine pitted against a secret agent rogue for a hero and Ms. Jeffries has delivered another sure winner for historical romance readers to enjoy.

This little epic of a story starts off when they were younger and it sets up what is to come with heartfelt detail. The stars are Minerva and Giles. She is a young woman who wears her heart on her sleeve and Giles is a young man who makes a choice that has repercussions beyond his imagination. One night their paths cross in such a way that a reader knows that fate and Ms. Jeffries has a master plan to take this couple, have life mature them and then throw them at each other again to see what happens.

What fun!

I liked Minerva. Being a romance reader, I have visited many author loops and one of the things that have been said for a writer to do when a nasty and mean person crosses their path is to write them in as a villain and have them get their just desserts. I was completely entertained and was tickled pink that Minerva did exactly that but not because someone was getting away with something dastardly. Oh no, it’s much more delicious than that. Minerva wrote a series of books or chapters that have a decided similarity to a certain person and event; it was noticed and became the catalyst for all the fun that followed.

One of my favorite things about Minerva was her dedication to her family, despite her annoyance with her grandmother. I liked her clever wit, her willingness to try risqué and naughty things and her steel spine. She’s not afraid to speak her mind and stand up for those she is loyal to and I enjoyed the merry chase she led Giles on. He won’t ever be bored with her.

Giles is quite the complicated and endearing character. He plays a deep game and unbeknownst to him, he’s mired in quicksand and sinking fast. As to what kind, well that doesn’t get revealed until later, when he’s finally ready to listen to sense and reason. First he has to win a very reluctant and scheming Minerva and outwit her clever plot without letting her get wind of it. He doesn’t get away with it for long and the scene was an amusing free for all especially when her brothers and their wives join the fray. Poor Giles. I have to say, the interaction between Giles and Minerva’s brothers was very well written and I could visualize the conversation vividly. In fact, there were quite a few scenes sprinkled throughout the book that were of the same caliber. At times it seemed the characters should have been able to jump out and start acting on the silver screen, there was so much going on and it was so rich and full.

Suffice to say, Giles is a man who actually has a rift in his heart that he’s never really stopped long enough or felt brave enough to examine. It took Minerva’s faith and trust in him to give him the means and the reason to want to do it. As hard as it had to have been for him to do, the emotional rewards made for some excellent storytelling.

There is a clever red herring thrown into the tale that although it didn’t turn out to be quite what everyone thought, there is enough to whet a reader’s appetite to wonder what is really going on. I suspect there is a subplot going on that might have been introduced in the books where Minerva’s brothers met their wives. The mystery deepens in this book and even though I’ve not read any other books about the Sharpe family, this book, a great stand alone, has hooked me. I’ll be getting the back list and will be on the lookout for future books about this family. I too want to know what happened and Ms. Jeffries has made this book entertaining enough, intriguing enough to inspire my curiosity and interest.

How to Woo a Reluctant Lady gets high marks from me and a definite recommend for historical romance fans everywhere. I laughed, I sighed and was completely committed to seeing Giles and Minerva get their well earned happily ever after. There is intrigue, light suspense, a wealth of well written characters to showcase the strengths and foibles of the hero and heroine and some very spicy scenes between the two. This book is going on my keeper shelf.