Guarding a Notorious Lady
Lady Rosalind Devine runs into Nicolas Kincaid in a bookshop, while she’s trying to spy on a couple. He stands in her way, deliberately blocking her view – because she’s being nosy. She has (of course) loved Nicolas for years, which is why she’s never married after seven seasons, even though she’s stunningly beautiful. She doesn’t want to marry for anything less than a love match.
Nicolas, on the other hand, doesn’t want a love match. His father loved his mother passionately, and when she died, his father all but threw himself on the grave (actually, he tried). Nicolas has learned that love means pain. His sole purpose for coming to London is to guard Rosalind. Rosalind’s older brother has recently married and is about to leave on a honeymoon trip, and he’s worried for Rosalind’s safety while he’s gone. The combination of her fortune, rare beauty, and a running bet at White’s as to who can get her to the altar means that Rosalind is constantly in danger. I might add that she lacks common sense, which exacerbates the problem. Rosalind doesn’t know who is guarding her, but she’s determined to find out. The fact that she’s a little slow on the uptake really hinders her here, since it would be obvious to anyone else that Nicolas is the guardian.
Basically, the story consists of Rosalind trying to figure out that Nicolas is her guardian, having little trysts which Just Can’t Happen but do, and then trying to anger and elude Nicolas once she finally discovers that he’s the one who’s watching her.
None of this is interesting or entertaining. Rosalind and Nicolas are nothing more than stock characters you’ve seen before, likely in more interesting incarnations. You can make matchmaking heroines interesting, and they can grow and learn through their mishaps. Rosalind doesn’t. Similarly, heroes scarred by the past are a dime a dozen, and Nicolas brings nothing new to the table. The whole scenario seems like so much shorthand. Since I’m not a huge fan of characters who decide based on their parents marriage mishaps that they can never (ever!) marry, he did nothing for me.
To add to the other problems, the language is stilted. Parker’s writing doesn’t flow well, so I often found myself wearing my editor’s hat as I mentally fixed awkward sentences so they’d read better.
Now, this isn’t really F material. There are lots of books out there that are much worse than Guarding a Notorious Lady. It’s main flaw is really that it’s so, so tired. I just can’t see any seasoned romance reader sprinting to the bookstore for this one.