Signet Eclipse, $6.99, ISBN 978-0-451-22191-9
Historical Romance, 2007
Lady Be Bad is easily the best book of the author’s The Merry Widows series to me, and if you read my reviews of the previous books, you will see why, heh. Unfortunately, this one never rises above being nothing more than a pleasant and rather unbelievable read.
The story is simple. John Grayson, the Viscount Rochdale, is the debauched bad boy who has never found a bet he can turn down or an attractive female he can’t bed. Bored, he enters a wager with a friend – he will seduce Grace Marlow, the widow of the late Bishop of London, and this friend will give John a prized mare. Seducing a woman for a horse – there’s a joke in here somewhere, I’m sure. If you have read the previous two books, you may remember Grace as this bitchy disapproving hag (who’s actually gorgeous, of course). In this story, she proves that the words of the wise are true: sometimes, all that prude needs to loosen up is to get laid. Not that this story is deliberately sexist against the fairer sex – this story also upholds the notion that deep inside, every bad boy is secretly a good guy who only needs the right woman to emasculate him and turn him into an obedient lap dog of that woman. All that woman needs to do is to give out to him and play his mother until he has this dreamy glazed look in his eyes.
On the bright side, these characters aren’t particularly objectionable. There is a silly misunderstanding scenario late in the story that has them behaving in less than admirable manner, but that is about it. Grace is a recognizable frigid heroine who is the way she is because her previous marriage to a much older man has her thinking that the bedroom rumba isn’t what people made it out to be. She has some do-gooder trapping for window dressing. John is bad, et cetera, but just as quickly as Grace puts out to him despite her whiny lip service to all that is prim and proper, he just as quickly starts having finer feelings for her.
These two characters meet, shag, and fall in love in such a short time that I can only wonder how real their feelings are for each other. I also have to wonder about how possible it can be for two characters to be in love, when being in love means that they have to make themselves become a completely different person in order to be together with the other person. Is the sluttier Grace the real her? Is the domesticated John the real him? What will these people do when the novelty of their relationship fades?
I find that the best thing about Lady Be Bad is how it doesn’t grate on my nerves the way the previous two books in the series did. This one is an easy read and folks with higher threshold for predictable Regency historical romances may find this one a pleasant read.