The Viscount Who Lived Down The Lane by Elizabeth Boyle (Review)

The-Viscount-who-Lived-Down-the-Lane-Elizabeth-Boyle

A charming take on The Beauty and The Beast, this historical romance, the fourth in New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Boyle’s “Rhymes with Love” series, will leave fans of the genre truly satisfied. Make sure you enter the rafflecopter giveaway below for a chance to win one of ten print copies of the book, courtesy of the author. Also, scroll down for a sample of Ms Boyle’s excellent writing.

The Viscount Who Lived Down the Lane

Rhymes with Love # 4
By: Elizabeth Doyle
Releasing October 28th, 2014
Avon Romance

Purchase Links:

Amazon | Barnes | iTunes | Kobo

Cover (1)

My Review

Laura Tempest is a disaster magnet. And Lavinia, her identical twin, is even worse! But when they are offered a sponsored Season in London full of social life among the best of the ton, Lavinia drags Louisa with her. While Lavinia is set on finding a respectable husband, Louisa’s practical mind knows that their family’s tarnish won’t be covered with pretty frocks and intricate hairdos. She’s not the marriage sort, anyway. So she brings Hannibal, her devilish one-eyed tomcat with her. With him at hand, no one will bother her.

All Viscount Wakefield wants is his thick drapes shut and his bottle of Madeira full. After the retreat to Corunna, amidst the Peninsular War, that shattered his leg and his heart, he resents still being among the living. But when a cat from hell wreaks havoc in his household and his tempestuous mistress (Miss Tempest, indeed!) decided she wants to put everything to rights, including his life, he bans both cat and lady from his house. So she starts working on his garden. And suddenly that demmed drape insists on letting sunshine creep in even when he’s sure he left it hermetically shut. Just like his heart.

This historical romance was a delight! The language was as authentic as it gets, the plot, although not highly original, delicious, but what made the difference for me were the characters. True to themselves down to the bone, they never falter, and that’s including pets! From the elderly butler and the impertinent new cook to the two kids that are hired as extra help, and Hannibal the cat (unforgettable Hannibal) they all get memorable, fast-paced scenes that often made me think that I’m watching a farse on stage.

The dialogues are witty, the settings well-rendered (although maybe a bit underdescribed) and the main characters set so many obstacles along the way, I really wondered how the HEA would come about. If I must complain about something that would be that the final reconciliation scene was too easy, and there are loose ends concerning other characters, but Ms Boyle has promised that everything will be sorted out in the next installment where we’ll learn what Lavinia is up to. I’m surely picking that one up!

All in all, I truly enjoyed this delightful historical romance. In terms of character development, I would say that Ms Boyle is among the best. This new version of The Beauty and The Beast put a smile on my face–not an easy task with a swollen cheek after a wisdom tooth extraction. 🙂

Excerpt

London, Hanover Square

November 1810

“What is it, Haley?” Lord Charleton asked, sparing a glance at the door of the breakfast room where his secretary stood, hovering about like a nervous sparrow. “Is it Rowland? Tell me he hasn’t landed in the suds yet again.”

“No, my lord.”

The man’s brow furrowed a bit. “Couldn’t be Wakefield.”

“Certainly not, my lord.”

The baron glanced up. “Wouldn’t mind if it was. Demmed waste having him mope about, locked up in that house of his.”

“Indeed,” the secretary replied, and if Charleton wasn’t mistaken, there was a note of irony to the man’s declaration—one he chose to ignore, instead pinning a glance on the impudent fellow.

Under the scrutiny, Haley’s jaw worked back and forth as if the words were stuck there in his craw.

“Well?” Lord Charleton prodded. “Out with it. Before my kippers grow cold.” As it was, the baron shoved his plate forward and set down the paper he’d been reading.

Mr. Haley cleared his throat and held out a letter. “I’ve come across a small debt your wife owed—”

There it was. That cold stillness that came every time someone had the nerve to mention Isobel’s name.  How  Lord  Charleton  wished  he  could forget her passing so this wrenching pain would fade from his heart. Yet, still, even a year after her loss, it was a sharp ache he woke up with, one that haunted him even after he closed his eyes at night.

Now here was his secretary bringing her up when he’d quite forbidden the matter.

“Pay it,” he ordered in a tone that said he wanted nothing further to do with any reminders of her.

“But, my lord—” Haley shuffled about.

Lord Charleton removed his glasses and slowly cleaned them. Then once they were perched back up on his nose he stared coldly at the fellow. He was a good man, Haley. An excellent secretary, but why the man continued to bring up Lady Charleton, the baron could not understand. Speaking slowly and deliberately, so there was no mistaking the matter, he said, “You know what to do. Take care of the matter and leave me be.”

“If you insist, my lord . . .” Haley’s voice trailed off tentatively. It wasn’t so much a reply as one last prod.

Truly? He was going to ask yet again? If he wasn’t the most thorough and honest fellow the baron had ever hired—well, actually Lady Charleton had found him and insisted he be hired, but that wasn’t the point. Haley had become rather cheeky of late and Charleton wanted nothing more than to fire him on the spot.

But Isobel wouldn’t have approved, and so Charlton inclined his head, reined back his ire and said with a final note, “Just see to it as Her Lady- ship would have wanted.” Then he went back to his paper and ignored Haley, who stood for a few more moments in the doorway.

And if the baron had looked up, he might have seen the wry, wily smile that had led Lady Char- leton to hire Mr. Haley in the first place.

CHAPTER 1

London

Six months later

Areowwwwww!  The unholy complaint filled the

carriage.

“You should have left that foul creature back in Kempton,  Miss  Tempest,”  Mrs.  Bagley-Butterton complained for about the hundredth time.

Which equaled the number of times Hannibal had let out that ear-piercing yowl from the basket in which he was trapped.

“He  doesn’t  like  being  penned  up  so,”  Miss Louisa Tempest said in defense of her cat. “And I couldn’t leave him behind.”

There  was  a  sigh  of  resignation  from  beside Louisa. Miss Lavinia Tempest, Louisa’s twin, made a very deliberate show of looking out the window. She wasn’t about to rise to Hannibal’s defense.

Never would.

Louisa suspected her sister shared Mrs. Bagley- Butterton’s exasperation and wished poor Hannibal back in Kempton as well.

“I only hope your godmother is an understanding sort,” the matron continued, shifting in her seat in the carriage and eyeing the large basket on Louisa’s lap with an air of disdain and suspicion. She had protested vehemently against the cat being brought along, but she could hardly prevent the matter when the carriage conveying them to London belonged to the girls’ father, Sir Ambrose Tempest. “I know I wouldn’t have that cat in my house.” She sniffed loudly.

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Elizabeth BoyleAuthor Info

Elizabeth Boyle was an antipiracy paralegal for Microsoft before settling down to write full-time. Her first novel, Brazen Angel, which won Dell’s Diamond Debut Award in 1996, also won the Romance Writers of America’s RITA Award for Best First Book, and was a finalist for Best Long Historical Romance. She lives with her husband in Seattle, Washington. She is also the author of Brazen Heiress.

Author Links

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

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A Rogue by Any Other Name (3/5)

by Sarah McLean

When I try out a new HR author, I know it’s more often miss than hit. I’ve got my favorites but they can’t have new titles out whenever I decide to take a break from my gritty contemporaries and my PNRs, and that’s how I ended up reading A Rogue By Any Other Name by a new—to me—author. So here goes:

Penelope: 4/5 Penny’s had enough of being the proper, well-bred daughter. She needs to be loved and not traded between her father and a future husband, and, most of all, she needs an adventure. Being kidnapped by her childhood friend and claimed as his wife because of her inevitable ‘ruination’ is a good start, at least for her adventure aspirations—because he soon shatters all hopes for love and not being treated as a commodity. Penelope retains her composure throughout the book, and even though she ventures into uncharted territories, risking her reputation, she’s always frank, straight-forward, unyielding and ‘adventuresome’ (as Bourne calls her) till the end. I liked her.

Bourne (Michael): 2/5 As a Hero, he’s awful. He treats Penelope in the worst possible way, and she’s not some stranger he decided to take advantage of to win his lost land back (his Holy Grail) but a dear childhood friend who’s been nothing but kind to him. Okay, he’s bent on his revenge and reclaiming his father’s land, and the reader expects that, for the best part of the book, he’ll mistreat Penelope, reminding her that she’s nothing but “a means to an end” (that was endlessly recycled!) but it never lets up till the very end! He keeps behaving in a god-awful way, and when Penelope thinks he’s finally made a move indicating he’s come to his senses (and that’s in the final scene, mind you) it’s not even him! It’s someone else, and I’m still quite unclear as to who it was and what their motive was. Also, his internalized one-liners in italics that contradicted what he actually said were really annoying: “I don’t need her.” But I do. I found this constant ‘self-annulling’ tiresome. So no, I didn’t like Michael’s character.

Prose: 3/5 Penelope’s part in the dialogue is enjoyable. She surprises with her resolve and this shows through her words. Other than that, there was a lot of repetition that dragged the book down, the tone is not too formal (maybe too informal for a historical) and the characteristic wit found in popular titles of the genre was missing.

Heat: 4/5 The erotic scenes were detailed and nicely rendered with some originality, but they don’t work well into the plot. You’d think that after “the most incredible, mind-altering sex” (who spoke like that in 1831?) Michael would reconsider his ways but, no. After his wedding night, he left his new bride alone in a strange house.

And now, it’s time for some real nitpicking:

Penelope is plain. See how much:

“She’d become too old, too plain, too tarnished.”
“He’d likely not had a single moment of considering her as anything more than plain, proper Penelope…”
“She closed her eyes tightly, taking a deep breath, preparing for him to turn away at her plainness. Her imperfections.”
“She didn’t like the insinuation in the words. The implication that she was plain and boring…”
“She was never going to be considered beautiful. Plain, yes. Passable, even, on a good day, in a new frock.”

But tell me this: beautiful blue eyes, silken blond curls, soft pale skin, tempting pink lips… equal plain?! The girl was gorgeous! There’s absolutely no hint at ugliness based on something being wrong with her features. And when Michael is asked whether she’s “horsefaced” he doesn’t reply!! What a jerk! And these are his thoughts at the very end:

“How was it possible that he’d ever thought her plain? She was a jewel in the cold, grey mid-February sleet, all rosy cheeks and blue eyes and lovely pink lips that made him want to carry her to the nearest bed.”

What was the girl? Cursed, so that only when someone fell in love with her saw her for what she was?

I was having qualms going for the second book (One Good Earl Deserves Another) but Stacia’s review made me reconsider.