Avon, $5.99, ISBN 0-380-80927-3
Historical Romance, 2000
As much as I love the first two of the Lord trilogy, The Dangerous Lord makes me want to pull my hair out in exasperation. Or more specifically, a sanctimonious, judgmental, and utterly irritating Felicity Taylor makes me want to pull my hair out. She created the major part of the conflict, almost dragging it into a murky big misunderstanding mess, all because of her holier-than-thou attitude. And she’s loved for it. I feel as if I’m reading a particularly preachy version of Social Reform 101.
Ian Lennard, the Viscount St Clair, needs to get married and produce an heir for a Big Secret Cause. When he pays court to Felicity’s friend, the woman takes it into her head to write a half-baked gossip in the social-reform/gossip column she runs under a pseudonym Lord X. She makes everyone believe that Ian has a mistress. Ian, enraged, wants Lord X’s head on a silver platter on his dinner table. He goes rampaging all across London, but instead of a sanctimonious old prig, he finds a sanctimonious young woman with triplet siblings instead.
Ian gets all hubba-hubba at Felicity’s shapely bottom, and starts pursuing her. Just to put her in her place, of course. And Felicity starts getting the shivers each time she looks at the handsome Viscount. But also in the story is Ian’s nasty uncle who wants his inheritance.
Now, I adore Ian. I adore the triplets. I even adore Lady Brumley. But Felicity spends so much time getting kissed (and more) and then pushing him away because Ian isn’t completely honest with her, it gets really irritating. It’s as if poor Ian is bashing his head bloody against a wall. Felicity at first refuses to believe any decent thing about Ian, and then later she crucifies him for her own inability to listen in the first place. Where on earth did they find these sort of irritating, judgmental women? What the heck did Ian see in her?
Whatever chemistry the two have is dimmed completely by Felicity’s irritating personality. Hence, the whole courtship makes me wince. Ian, I want to tell the poor man, give it a rest. Find someone else. Maybe Emily has a long-lost sister somewhere. I really like Ian, who is smart, decent, and all he wants is to start life anew without anymore gossip besmirching his name. The last thing he needs is Felicity the Prig.
And Felicity gets rewarded for her nosy judgmental antics. Adding to the whole tone of preachiness of the story is the somewhat over-the-top moral justification of the main characters’ behavior, especially Felicity’s. Every untruth Felicity makes has a reason that is repeated to me again and again, as if I would alienate her for not being perfect. And I’m made to bear witness of her many, many silent tears or guilt of telling a white lie or… And Lord X’s column which prefaces each chapter becomes more and more lecturing in nature too.
Hence, I really feel as if I’m being preached at. It’s not nice. I want to be entertained, not lectured at. And I would like to believe that I can accept my heroine telling a small lie here and there without balking in outraged horror.
So what if Felicity is poor and have hungry siblings and loyal staff to feed? Big deal. Every Regency heroine more or less face that problem too. There’s no need to get all Marie Corelli at me, really. As much I would love to recommend The Dangerous Lord, I can’t stand the heroine and the overall moralistic tone of the story. Maybe next time.