Given the choice, few of us would marry the spouse our parents chose for us. More than likely we would do everything in our power to prevent such a fate. In Gentleman Jack, John Fortesque, Viscount Warrington is faced with such a dilemma. It is with grim determination that he accepts his father’s wager – give up gaming for a month or marry the woman of his father’s choice.
According to the bet, the somewhat spoiled, moody viscount must leave London and not use either his title or name. En route to Shropshire, Warrington is set upon by thieves and robbed of everything. Beaten and left for dead, he wakes up to find himself at the mercy of an angel, one Miss Antonia Richards.
An unappreciated governess, Antonia is quite unprepared for her attraction to the handsome stranger. Still, she helps him despite her employer’s disapproval. She is intrigued by his gentile manners and way of speaking and the way her heart beats faster whenever he is near.
Warrington accepts a position in the stables, where his refined personality soon earns him the nickname “Gentleman Jack.” Every day spent near Antonia increases his attraction to her. Even though he must hide his identity from her, he cannot hide the passion he feels in his heart
Gentleman Jack lacks some of the wit and humor commonly found in Regency Romances, but Warrington’s transformation from spoiled snob to likeable hero was believable. His determination to marry Antonia despite his parents’ misgivings makes it easy to over look what few flaws he has. On the other hand, Antonia is somewhat flat as a character. Auditioning to join the circus wouldn’t inject any life into her. Passion is a rare emotion for her. Even when she discovers Jack’s true identity her mood barely rises above grim. As for the rest of the characters, they’re entertaining, but fairly two dimensional, serving only as villains or fools. Warrington is the only character with much depth, and he somewhat makes up for the rest of the cast.
In addition to the flatness of most of the characters, there were other problems as well. One was Summerville’s constant reference to Warrington by his title or as “the viscount” even when he was supposed to be in disguise. It was very confusing and a little annoying when Antonia would look in and see “the viscount” sleeping, especially since she thought he was just some poor man. Another problem came in the form of the rushed ending. Warrington and Antonia resolved everything very quickly and neatly, especially for two characters who hadn’t seen each other for a while, and all loose ends were neatly wrapped up in an epilogue.
If you make it a point to read every Regency Romance you find, I imagine you’ll want to read Gentleman Jack. While a fast-paced read, it’s lacking in character development. Sometimes a terrific hero or heroine can make up for a so-so mate, but Antonia simply drags this book down. You’d be better off spending your money elsewhere.