Games of Pleasure
Games of Pleasure is that frustrating thing – a pretty good book that could have been a better one. In this case, the fly in the ointment is a nauseatingly self-sacrificing heroine who, believe it or not, manages to be one of the most annoying “I’m not worthy” types I’ve come across in a while. And, as you can imagine, matters aren’t helped by her equally nauseating name that might well provoke a gag reflect when I reveal it to you. Ready? It’s Miracle Heather. And, no, I’m not kidding.
Our hero is the one of those perfect aristocrat types who spends his every waking moment living up to his lofty position in life. When Lord Ryderbourne comes across a dinghy floating aimlessly in the sea and spies a lifeless young woman aboard, he dives in and brings her to safety. Initially refusing to tell him anything about herself, the two end up soon enough in a cozy inn where both end up enjoying the best sex of their lives.
Of course, Miracle has a secret and it is her desperate fear of it being revealed that causes her to leave the inn the next morning without telling Ryder. Determined to find her, Ryder travels to London where he discovers that his mysterious lover is none other than Miracle Heather, a notorious courtesan and the recent lover of a man he despises.
I don’t want to give away too much about the plot, but the story here largely involves a journey – both of the heart and mind – for Ryder and Miracle as they seek to defeat a man determined to see Miracle hang for a crime even she believes she committed.
Julia Ross is always an engaging writer and the characters and story here are both above average. Ryder is a bit of a cliché, but he’s a fully three dimensional one for all that. Miracle is another matter, however. Okay, she’s three dimensional, but that kind of adds up to three-dimensionally nauseating if you want to know the truth. The author goes into some detail about her heartbreaking past and even gives her a believable interest in astronomy, but ultimately it’s pretty easy to forget all that when she goes on and on (and on and on) about Miracle’s perfection in anything and everything. She’s beautiful! She’s kind! She’s great in bed! She’s not worthy! (Oh, my is she not worthy! Honey, I know he’s the son of a duke and all, but your self-sacrifice is . . . well, w-a-a-a-y too self-sacrificing. Have a spine, woman!) Honestly, this chick is so perfect in a perfectly self-effacing kind of way that she didn’t seem even remotely real to me –especially when compared to Ryder.
But with all that said, I was mostly engaged in the story and found myself happily enough turning the pages. This isn’t one of those all too familiar “light” Regency-set historical romances found everywhere these days that often turn out to be downright bad and that, in itself, is refreshing. But, still, there’s just not that much here to get too excited about either.
Yes, Games of Pleasure is a satisfying enough read. Yes, it’s better than a lot of historical romances out there. However, before you rush right out to buy it, know that this author’s backlist contains far better books than this one.