Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Book Review: The Lady's Command, by Stephanie Laurens (TLC Book Tours)


The Lady's Command
(The Adventurers Quartet, Book 1)
Stephanie Laurens
Mass Market Paperback, 312 pages
Mira, Dec. 29, 2015
Historical Romance

Book Synopsis:
The instant Captain Declan Frobisher laid eyes on Lady Edwina Delbraith, he knew she was the lady he wanted as his wife. The scion of a seafaring dynasty accustomed to success, he discovered that wooing Edwina was surprisingly straightforward—not least because she made it plain that she wanted him as much as he wanted her.

Declan’s vision of marriage was of a gently-reared wife to grace his arm, to manage his household, and to bear his children. He assumed that household, children, and wife would remain safely in England while he continued his life as an explorer sailing the high seas.

Declan got his wish—up to a point. He and Edwina were wed. As for the rest—his vision of marriage…

Aunt of the young Duke of Ridgware and sister of the mysterious man known as Neville Roscoe, London’s gambling king, even before the knot was tied Edwina shattered the illusion that her character is as delicate, ethereal, and fragile as her appearance suggests. Far from adhering to orthodox mores, she and her ducal family are even more unconventional than the Frobishers.

Beneath her fairy-princess exterior, Edwina possesses a spine of steel—one that might bend, but will never break. Born to the purple—born to rule—she’s determined to rule her life. With Declan’s ring on her finger, that means forging a marriage that meets her needs as well as his.

But bare weeks into their honeymoon, Declan is required to sail to West Africa. Edwina decides she must accompany him.

A secret mission with unknown villains flings unexpected dangers into their path as Declan and Edwina discover that meeting the challenge of making an unconventional marriage work requires something they both possess—bold and adventurous hearts.


https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25361433-the-lady-s-command?ac=1&from_search=1


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The Regency period has always been my favorite when reading historical romance. I was therefore excited to be offered the chance to review a Regency novel penned by Stephanie Laurens, who is a well-known historical romance writer.

I was disappointed to discover that this novel was not quite as good as I had been expecting it to be.

The premise of the story is certainly an interesting one, as it deals with a couple who are already married. In the case of Edwina and Declan, it was love at first sight, and things just went on naturally from that point forward. 

Although I do prefer romance novels which portray all the excitement and angst of meeting someone special and falling in love, I can also appreciate those which begin the story with an already-married couple. The fun in such novels comes from seeing how the couple deals with the inevitable conflicts that will arise once the wedding and honeymoon are over.

This story starts with the honeymoon, as the two protagonists begin their rounds of fashionable society through soire├ęs and grand balls. Laurens makes it very obvious just how happy Edwina and Declan are to have found each other, and how determined Declan is to protect her, as she is totally precious to him.

Then there's the additional ingredient of a mystery, as Declan's family, who owns a fleet of ships, has long rendered services to the Crown -- in the area of secret trade missions and espionage.

I was delighted to discover that Edwina had no intention of being the typical aristocratic wife who is content to stay in her palatial residence and stoke the home fires while her seafaring husband goes on secret government missions. Instead, she wants to be an equal partner in his adventures. When Declan tells her that he cannot take her along on his urgent trip to Freetown, in colonial West Africa, she is undaunted. She seems to accept his decision at first, but then, she simply stows aboard his ship.

I was ready for the fireworks I thought would surely ensue. After all, the novel is set in 1824 I was therefore surprised when Declan, after a half hour or so of "ranting" (no dialogue was presented) seemed to calmly accept his wife's presence on board the ship. In fact, he was even glad to have her company, and blithely accepted her assistance in the investigation he had been asked to perform. I found this to be totally unrealistic, given the time period. 

Just as unrealistic is the fact that Edwina totally adjusts to being on board a ship that would not have had the amenities she had always been accustomed to, as the daughter of a duke. Her whole stay on the ship is simply glossed over. I also found the crew's acceptance of her presence on board very unlikely.  

As much as I liked the two characters -- they are both genuinely good people -- I could not totally enjoy their relationship. It was just too perfect, too bland. Yes, they were very much in love with each other, and I did find this delightful. Also delightful were the touches of humor in their dialogues. However, I was expecting Edwina to be a spitfire, and Declan a typical man of the time -- one who, with the best of intentions, insists on being lord and master in his marriage and home. While these two had plenty of passion between them, which was great, they hardly ever argued. There were never even any misunderstandings in their relationship. With Edwina being as unconventional as she was, I would have expected some major showdowns. Declan's family was also regarded as unconventional, but still, the patriarchal system of the time would surely have influenced his behavior to some degree.

As far as the plot went, it was interesting, but not riveting. In fact, the pacing was pretty slow until the last third of the novel, when there are some surprising twists, and the action does pick up a little. I started skimming a lot, though, as I got too impatient. I had been expecting lots of action throughout most of the book, and that simply didn't happen.

The prose style was mostly excellent, but was a bit on the flowery side when Laurens was describing the sex scenes, which, thankfully, were not graphic.   

While I am somewhat disappointed with this book, I can say that I find the concept a great one: a newly married couple gets involved in international intrigue. The story would have sparkled if, for instance, the dialogues -- especially between the two main characters -- had been wittier, and even snarky

One thing I did like a lot was the very original idea of a hatpin turned to a very unusual use. I didn't see that one coming, and it was great!

This novel certainly does have potential, but the plot needed to be more complex, the action heightened, and the characters much more dynamic than they were. I am giving it three stars, though, precisely because I did like the concept, and the writing style was, for the most part, excellent. 

I have another Laurens novel sitting on my shelves -- By Winter's Light, which looks really good! It's part of the celebrated Cynster series, so I definitely want to give it a try!    


MY RATING:







New York Times bestselling author Stephanie Laurens originally began writing as an escape from the dry world of professional science. Her hobby quickly became a career; she has been writing historical romance novels for more than 20 years. Currently living outside Melbourne, Australia with her husband and two cats, she spends most of her days writing new stories in her signature ‘Errol Flynn meets Jane Austen” style.

Website/Facebook/Goodreads





To access the complete tour schedule,
just click on the button below.

http://tlcbooktours.com/2015/11/stephanie-laurens-author-of-the-ladys-command-on-tour-january-2016/
  

2 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Hi, Heather,

      I wish I could have enjoyed this one more, but I did like parts of it. As I stated in the review, the writing style was mostly excellent!

      I do intend to give other Stephanie Laurens books a try, like the one I mentioned above. She does have a great reputation, after all!

      You're very welcome for my participation in the tour. : )

      Delete

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