Avon Impulse, $4.99, ISBN 978-0-06-268562-9
Historical Romance, 2017
Just Another Viscount in Love is not just another romp by Vivienne Lorret. Unlike many of her previous offerings, this one is actually quite serious. However, I’m not sure whether I can take the heroine seriously.
Gemma Desmond’s father was a criminal responsible for a spate of scams. He is out of the picture now, but his taint remains – she is considered tainted goods, and her aunt, currently her guardian, is ostracized by the Ton for taking Gemma in. Aunt Edith is determined to marry Gemma off, and our heroine feels that it is her responsibility to oblige, as doing so will free her aunt from her taint. Mind you, I have serious doubts about “simply” marrying and changing her name would erase the scandal that is Gemma’s father, but, then again, Avon historical romance. Moving on, you know how heroines can be when they have to marry someone that they don’t feel compelled to fall in love with in order to justify their randy horniness to have sex with that man. She waffles, hee-haws, and then announces that she feels so guilty about being her aunt’s baggage, so she must try to marry some guy, waffles again, repeat and rinse.
Samuel Wortham, Viscount Ellery, is handsome and wealthy, loves his parents, and is genuinely ready to commit and settle down with a woman for all the right reasons. Unfortunately, every woman he set out to woo in the last few books in this series ended up marrying another guy. He encounters Gemma by chance, and is immediately smitten.
The rest of the story is all about Sam doing his best to woo Gemma and make her understand that he doesn’t care about her past, all he wants is her. He’s a dreamboat and a big reason as to why there is one extra oogie in the final rating of this book. Unfortunately, the story is as long as it is because Gemma has to be the one to set up the conflict, and my goodness, this darling is so predictable in her drama and hence, so boring. If you have read enough historical romances that have heroines determined to be a martyr come what may, you have Gemma all figured out already. She’s tedious and so stubborn in her determination to be a martyr, sigh.
To give the author credit, she’s aware of this. Gemma’s martyr complex is her character arc – it is she who will get the epiphany at the penultimate moment of the story that, oh, here is one man who accepts her warts and all, and she’s being a big dumb dumb by trying to push him away. That’s fine, but it doesn’t change the fact that our heroine’s coming to her senses makes for a predictable, tiresome read. At the end of the day, it’s probably a good thing that this is a novella, as if it were any longer, Gemma may end up being more exasperating to follow.
Still, Just Another Viscount in Love demonstrates that the author is capable of giving her characters some emotional nuances and inflection. She’s come some way since her initial “Haw haw haw, stupid heroine antics are all that matters!” offerings a few years back. It’s just a shame that the premise of the story as well as the heroine are so played out.