A Reckless Beauty
Despite some tried and true cliches that normally annoy me, I enjoyed A Reckless Beauty, the latest installment of the Romney Marsh series. The majority of the story takes place in one of my favorite settings for romance novels: Belgium, right before the Battle of Waterloo.
Fanny Becket, one of Ainsley Becket’s many adopted children, follows her brother Rian off to war when Napoleon returns to France. She runs away, steals a uniform, and joins a military unit in order to find Rian – who’s not really her brother at all – because she thinks she’s in love with him. Now, for a while, I rolled my eyes so much that they honestly began to hurt. Fanny finds her way to him, and needless to say, he’s not pleased. He’s on the brink of becoming an aide to Wellington, all thanks to Valentine Clement, the Earl of Brede.
Brede is a man who is literally sick and tired of war and he’s lost so many friends and good men he doesn’t even keep a batman anymore. As a result, he’s rumpled, unkempt, and just plain dirty while running reconnaissance (he’s a spy) for the Duke of Wellington. However, he’s been asked to look after Rian and the best way to do that is to make him an aide to the Duke. Brede is quite put out when Rian’s sister shows up and he’s required to keep her safe too. To prevent scandal and to protect her, he sends Fanny off to his sister in Brussels. But much to his chagrin, he can’t get Fanny and her trousers out of his mind. He slowly realizes that she might be just what he needs if Napoleon is ever out of the picture.
As the battle approaches, Fanny and Brede’s attraction grows and she begins to realize the truth of her relationship with Rian, one that developed as a result of bonding through childhood horrors and the common need for security and protection from an evil threat that has always stalked their family. Brede takes precautions for Fanny and his sister in his absence, but, of course, in typical feisty heroine tradition, Fanny ignores Brede’s concerns and makes her way to the battlefield (during the battle, I might add), and a few days later, distraught by her inability to find her brother, she agrees to marry Brede for protection.
Fanny finally confides to Brede the secrets of her family’s past and the fear that she feels. With her family, they discover that her fears of their old enemy are grounded and that enemy may have something to do with Rian’s loss.
Many of the cliches that normally bother me like the chick in pants plot, the older hero, the moments the heroine bordered on TSTL (cowering in a barn at one point, even though she bravely rode into battle), didn’t bother me too badly because it was overshadowed by the chemistry between the hero and heroine and the fact that I enjoyed the story. I simply loved Brede. He is my favorite type of hero – all man, a little tortured, in need a good woman he will do anything for. The only major problem I had with the story was that I felt many of the problems were not resolved. The issues between Brede and Fanny were solved, but the threat that hangs over the family is to be continued into the next book of the series. In this time of instant gratification, I hate having to wait for all the issues to be neatly wrapped up. Additionally, because this was my first in the series, it took me a little longer to figure out who everyone was at the beginning. Because of that and the unresolved issues, this is not really a stand-alone story in my opinion.
I enjoyed A Reckless Beauty and recommend it, especially to those who have followed the series. I’ll definitely have to pick up the next one both because I need the closure and because I simply want to see what happens next.