Avon, $7.99, ISBN 0-06-000206-9
Historical Romance, 2003
How lucky are we mere mortals! While writing a sequel to Captain Jack’s Woman, Stephanie Laurens’ fingers on her laptop take a life of their own and before she knows it, she has written six friends for Anthony Blake, so much so that Ms Laurens now realize that she must write the stories of all seven men! This is also in between her ever-popular Bar Cynster books. We Stephanie Laurens fans have better give up our retirement funds now, because we will be buying this author’s books all the way to 2038.
The Lady Chosen, book one in the author’s “just like Oscar Wilde’s clubs, only heterosexual” The Bastion Club series, is much better than her last “Pellagra, Paraquat, and Aerosol” trio of unreadably lazy and shoddily-written books. Hey, the upcoming financial windfall will motivate even me to do extra fridge-cleaning sessions. However, the book is also filled with tried and true Regency historical clichés, so much so that one can pretty much say that this is just one of the better written rinse-and-repeat Stephanie Laurens books out there.
Seven men, of which our hero Tristan Wemyss the Earl of Trentham is one of them, are ex-secret agent sorts that have settled down to living a more unexciting life once they inherit their titles. But horrors, they have to marry or else (Tristan has to marry or he will have to support fourteen spinster relatives), and because they have to marry, they intend to go about it the way they conduct their secret missions. They will set up the Bastion Club and plan and plot their way to mastering what is left of their destiny. In this case, Tristan buys a house only to realize that what a hottie the neighbor woman Leonora Carling is.
Leonora is a typical heroine making sure the roof is still up there even as the two men in her family behave like typical absent-minded scholars. There have been two attempted break-ins at her house in the past, and she is sure that the people that wanted to buy the house next door are up to no good. She decides to talk to the new property owner Tristan. She bumps into him. He steadies her. He tells her that he’s not the same person that tried to buy the house earlier. Because the heroine knows that there is no such thing as a man that lies, she nods and tells him her story. Tristan is particularly impressed with her keen sense of logic, such as when she tells him that if Tristan tells her that he’s not involved in the previous attempt at buying the house, that means there has to be no connection at all between the break-in attempts and the attempts to purchase the house next door! At last, here is a woman with sound reasoning faculties. He must marry her. The fact that she hears a thief and follows that thief alone into the dark and scary place, only to be caught by Tristan and they then proceed to bicker and argue about Miss Independence issues even as the thief is still lurking around – this only solidifies Tristan’s keen appreciation of Leonora’s intellect and will. Oh, and that hot body of hers doesn’t hurt either, naturally.
While trying to untangle the convoluted mystery – although if you can make sense of Leonora’s logic and argument, you’re halfway there to getting it – Leonora also decides that while she must never marry, she must experience pleasures of the flesh just one time. Okay, one more time. Ah, alright, one more. One last time. Okay, she means it this time… oops, did she do it one more time? After this, no more! No – oh! Okay, so her flesh is weak… more more MORE MORE MORE MORE! There are the usual proliferation of scenes of Alpha Submission Kisses, the Foreplay on a Long Road to Paradise series of heavy pettings, the ultimate Finally Monday Comes All the Way to Sunday scene, and the Coming Back to Paradise All over Again encores. Of course Tristan will attempt to seduce her to say yes to his proposal. Predictably she will keep saying no even as she and he hop all over the place playing at being bunnies in heat.
It’s nothing new. A Stephanie Laurens book – like a Stephanie Laurens book review – is as always predictable. It’s a sometimes pleasant familiar song playing in the background, a habit, or soul food for readers searching for an undemanding, forgettable read. The best thing I can say about this book is that it’s just another Stephanie Laurens book but one that is better than the really awful stuff that comes before it. Is that a good reason enough to buy this book? You be the judge.