Unveiled takes place during the reign of Queen Anne (early 1700’s) – a time I have not encountered in a romance novel before. The hero is Alexandre Rawlings, Earl of Carlton, known as the Devil Lord – a tall, dark and dangerous man (aren’t they all?). Alex is on the fringes of society – his father was an English nobleman, but his mother was French and England and France are at war. Alex has a tendency to say “Alors” and “Dieu” a lot, just so we don’t forget he is half French. He also has an English-hating Scottish cousin Rorick, who serves as his valet/coachdriver. Despite (or because of) his rakish reputation, Alex is very popular with the ladies especially his mistress Baroness Elizabeth Rowan aka Bawdy Bess.
Queen Anne is worried. A group of upper-class thugs who call themselves the Mohocks are roaming London terrorizing the people. Anne is incensed that her noblemen would behave in such an uncouth manner and asks Alex to try and infiltrate the gang to stop it. Unknown to Alex, Anne has sent in another spy to keep an eye on him, she does not fully trust him – he is half French you know.
The heroine is Lady Victoria (Tori) Wynter. Her mother is dead, her father is off running around Italy with his mistress and she lives in London with her brother Charles who is either 16 or 17 (the book gives both ages). Charles spends most of time in a drunken fog, running around with disreputable companions while Tori tries to do her best to keep things together – she’s the only one in the family with any sense. She meets Alex at a ball and later he rescues her when she has disguised herself as a boy to run after her idiot brother – they are very attracted to each other.
Alex joins the Mohocks and takes the code name Raven. In order be initiated, he has to something bad, so he breaks Tori’s window. She comes over to chew him out, but soon they are chewing on each other. Alex promises Tori to watch out for her brother and he spends a lot of time with the Mohocks. They hang around seedy taverns, drinking bad liquor, pawing ugly serving wenches and dancing on tables when they aren’t passed out under them – fun, fun, fun!
One night, after fending off a really ugly serving wench – Alex overhears the head of the Mohocks – known as the Emperor – making plans that involve treason against the Queen. He continues to lay low and observe until he discovers a truly fiendish plot involving arson, assasination and Jacobites.
Unveiled is written in the best overblown historical romance style – lots of adjectives with purple prose scattered liberally throughout. Here’s a description of one of those serving wenches: The brown corsellete she wore laced about her waist raised pendulous breasts into profusion. Reminds me of one of those statues of Cretan fertility goddesses who are portrayed with dozens of breasts.
Here is Tori after she has been captured by the Mohocks: “Touch me again sirrah, and I shall see the revulsion I feel revisited upon you as pain, ten thousand fold.” That’s telling them, Tori!
The climax is unintentionally funny. Tori and Alex get captured and are thrown into a cell where they make love for the first time – somehow I don’t think that would be my highest priority if I were in that situation. Tori’s brother Charles does a total about-face in attitude and all sorts of characters come out of the woodwork. I just laughed and laughed, but I don’t think that was the reaction the author was going for.
Unveiled is a fairly short book and it is written with a lot of verve, but that’s about the best thing I can say about it. You might like it if you are a fan of the old fashioned over-the-top historical romances Valerie Sherwood used to do, but I’m afraid I found myself laughing at places where humor was not intended. Alors!