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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Viscount For Hire by Barbara Miller

Viscount For Hire by Barbara Miller
Publisher: Ellora’s Cave
Genre: Historical
Length: Short Story (94 pgs)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 4.5 books
Reviewed by Freesia

The wealthy Kate Hamilton must marry the wounded viscount she is sheltering in her London townhouse, as saving his life has ruined her. But he’s a perfect candidate—especially since Kate’s already falling in love with him. Dancy seems reluctant, so Kate proposes hiring him as her husband to disguise her true feelings.

Dancy has never met anyone like levelheaded Kate, thrusting herself into a scandal to save his sister from gossip. He resents Kate trying to solve everything with money, even as he admits her heart is in the right place. Just as they are to wed, his sister elopes and he is captivated by the unconventional Kate as they ride across England together to prevent yet another scandal.

If I found a viscount like Lord Dancy, I’d hire him to be my husband in a minute. Kate Hamilton has the great good sense to do just that in Barbara Miller’s delightful Regency romp, Viscount For Hire. And the pairing of these two sets off sparks that twinkle brilliantly throughout the novella.

Strong characterization and fast paced action drew me straight into the romance of Kate and Dancy. Ms. Miller’s skillful depiction of the American heiress and the nobleman through action and dialogue engaged me in the story and made me immediately sympathetic towards the feisty heroine and chivalrous hero.

In fact, the use of dialogue rather than narration gives the book a lot of its momentum, though a few more dialogue tags would have been helpful. You simply fly through the pages trying to find out what the next crisis is and how Kate will manage it. There is something of a lack of description of the physical settings, but leaving these details up to the reader’s imagination seems a small price to pay for such an engaging read.

Dancy, too, is wonderfully drawn and a great foil in contrast to Kate. His hotheadedness is tempered by his sense of honor, and Kate is won over by these very traits. “He is the first man who ever defended me without being paid to do it. One hardly looks for so much courage.” Meanwhile, Dancy is in awe of this efficient woman who takes command of a situation like a soldier. And a bit skeptical about how they will get on together, until he witnesses the depth of Kate’s compassion and the tenderness of her feelings. Part of the fun of this book is watching them negotiate their way towards a rewarding life together.

Captivating from page one, Viscount For Hire is a must read for anyone who loves the Regency period, historical romance, well crafted, engaging characters, and the spice of a little action/adventure. As Dancy remarks, “I have gotten myself skewered, assisted in an act of piracy, careened all over Oxfordshire on a fool’s errand, taken a bruising fall, and now…may witness the social disaster of the season. If you consider that dull, I shudder to think what would comprise excitement for you.”

Oh, yes, I’ll take one just like Dancy. And I’m betting you will too.