MIRA, $7.99, ISBN 978-0-7783-1861-3
Historical Romance, 2016
Check out the face of the guy on the cover – he looks like he’s about to face the firing squad, the poor thing. Fortunately, our hero Declan Frobisher has a much better time in The Lady’s Command.
Declan has just married Edwina Delbraith when the story opens. He knows that she will be his wife the moment he saw her, and now, she is his. He assumes that she will be the stereotypical prim and proper wife, but it is only shortly after they have exchanged vows does Edwina lets it be known that she isn’t going to be left behind at home to sit pretty while he goes off to sea on his many business trips. Declan is actually pleased that his wife is a spirited creature, but he knows that women are helpless and weak (his words, not mine), so he is greatly reluctant to subject his wife to the possibility that she may get hurt. I suppose I should give him some credit for not imprisoning the wife in a glass case – for her safety, naturally – while he is off doing his manly man things. Edwina doesn’t give up that easily; she has a trunk delivered to his ship. When he opens the trunk – well, hello there, missus.
The thing is, Declan is actually a spy, and his latest trip to West Africa is actually an assignment to figure out and stop some nefarious happenings in Freetown. The pride of the British motherland is at stake, you see. If there is more unrest, the natives may get the idea that they don’t need the British colonists, and that will be a bad thing. Has Edwina landed herself in hot soup?
The Lady’s Command is the first book in a new series revolving around Declan and his three seafaring brothers – they head the family business and generally sail all over the world like the bosses, spies, millionaires, and supermen they are. Judging by the large secondary cast and some convoluted background of Edwina, however, along with some married sequel baits, I would wager good money that this book is also closely connected to some of the author’s previous books. I mean, a male sequel bait that is already happily married? Definitely the hero of a previous book. Still, this one can still be easily followed by someone like me, who haven’t read those previous books.
This story is more heavy on the intrigue and suspense than romance, though. It’s probably for the best, as the romance is pretty played out, The author has a formula that has made her a lot of money, and she’s not changing the formula anytime soon. Therefore. Declan is arrogant, alpha, and treats women in such a creepy jealous/possessive/protective manner that his attitude towards Edwina resembles a complex. Edwina is feisty, sassy, and passionate. The marriage has already happened, so all that is left is these two getting adjusted to one another’s quirks and expectations.
Fortunately for Declan, Edwina turns out to be naturally awesome at being a spy despite having little training, so she’s more of a partner than a liability. Not that this makes Declan less creepy in his single-minded notion that Edwina will die without him snorting loudly over her shoulder, and Edwina getting captured by the bad guy in the obligatory hero-to-the-rescue scene isn’t going to disabuse him of that notion anytime soon. Still, given how rare a capable heroine is in this genre, Edwina being what she is is a great thing, even if her remarkable competency is a bit on the unlikely, unrealistic side.
Unfortunately for me, the mystery is quite blah. The author treats the mystery like a shopping checklist. Do this, tick; go there, tick; talk to suspect, tick, tick, tick. The characters being so ultra-competent kills any hint of suspense, as it’s pretty clear that the bad guys are outclassed from the get go. Twists and turns are familiar, leading up to the oh-so-predictable heroine-needs-rescue moment.
Also, alas, the author’s one-sentenced paragraph style is really apparent here. She loves to use this technique to describe scenes of passion.
She glanced up as he lowered his head.
Their eyes met; their gazes held.
He raised one fingertip and gently, slowly, traced the fullness of her lower lip.
Her lids lowered, screening her eyes as she tipped up her face, and he leaned closer.
The carriage slowed, then halted.
And an elephant fell onto the the carriage, killing them both.
Fortunately, there are no long-winded love scenes or tortuous and repetitive descriptions of eyes and lips this time around, so things aren’t that bad.
The Lady’s Command is everything one can expect from a book by this author, only, like Jayne Ann Krentz, the author seems to be heading towards a suspense and mystery bent. Just like it is with Ms Krentz, the author has a dull and simplistic way with suspense, however, so her efforts end up diluting the romance and causing the book to be stuck in that place called boredom. But it is far less irritating than the author’s last few books, so I suppose things could be worse.