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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Malorie Phoenix by Janet Mullany

The Malorie Phoenix by Janet Mullany
Publisher: Self Published
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (162 Pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fennel

She plays a deadly game, but nothing is as dangerous as love.

Benedict de Malorie, Earl of Trevisan, can never forget the masked woman he met one night at a London pleasure garden. The clever pickpocket stole his heart and his family’s prized jewel – the Malorie Phoenix. But the family treasure reappears in Benedict’s darkest hour, returned by its thief, along with the unexpected gift of his infant daughter.

Believing that she is dying, Jenny Smith leaves her daughter in the custody of the baby’s blueblood father. Seven years later she finds herself in good health and alone, yearning for her only child. To raise enough money to support them both, she takes part in a daring escapade that requires her to impersonate a woman of quality. She fools the ton and Benedict himself.

When Jenny finds herself entangled in a murderous plot against Benedict, the father of her child, her carefully laid plans begin to fall apart. All she wants is her daughter back, but she never thought she’d fall in love with Benedict. Revealing her part in the plot means she will almost certainly lose Benedict and their daughter forever. But continuing to play her role puts them all in terrible danger.

False identities, murder, mystery, and kidnap, The Malorie Phoenix has it all. It would be a mistake to dismiss Ms. Mullany’s book as ‘just another’ same-old-same-old. It is not.

While the plot is not new, the treatment is refreshing, the writing clean, sometimes poignant, well paced and vivid. And the editing, sometimes the bug-bear of the self published, is tight and accurate.

If I had to retrace my reading steps at the beginning and a bit near the end, perhaps it was more a matter of this reader familiarising herself with the writer’s style than plot holes.

Jenny Smith, Ms Mullany’s heroine, is no sweet, simpering pre-Regency Miss. She’s surviving in a harsh environment the only way she knows how. And yet from the start we are shown her integrity and her weaknesses. She's a character who caught my attention and empathy from the beginning. If Jenny made a couple of mistakes that seemed totally out of character, while I found them irritating I had to acknowledge the author had my emotions raised and therefore was succeeding in involving me in her story and characters.

The circumstances of Benedict de Malorie’s meeting with Jenny had me anxious to see how it would pan out. The hero’s subsequent actions took a little believing and perhaps that particular scene was only one of two I had a little trouble accepting. But it plays a pivotal role in the rest of the story which more than makes up for it.

The story plot is well thought out and well paced. The supporting characters all have substance and had me either loving or hating them.

Ms. Mullany offers a few unexpected twists in The Malorie Phoenix which added to the suspense, and I am so glad that the Stanleys took Jenny into their hearts.

I enjoyed The Malorie Phoenix for its story, plot and characters. This is the first book of hers I’ve read, and I would look out for more. If you enjoy a London-based romance set just before the official Regency period, then this is a book well worth considering.