In the Arms of a Marquess
Grade : C

I would wager that most of us have had this experience. You’re reading a book where the characters are fully drawn, the premise is interesting, and the writing is competent, but you just don’t like the book. This book was like that for me.

The story begins dramatically with Octavia Pierce, freshly arrived in India, nearly being abducted in the streets of Madras, and Benjirou Doree riding to her rescue. She is immediately smitten by her handsome savior and carries a torch for him for years to come. Nine years later, Ben is still the man who sets her heart aflutter, but he has returned to England to assume the duties of Marquess of Doree after the deaths of his father and older brothers. Tavy also returns to England in order to marry Lord Marcus Crispin, as she believes Ben cares nothing for her.

Crispin is not all that he seems though. On an outing to the theatre Tavy overhears a disreputable fellow attempting to blackmail Lord Crispin. When Tavy questions him about the conversation he is evasive. Determined to assist Crispin, Tavy seeks help from the one person she knows is intimately familiar with trade in the East Indies: Ben Doree. Ben agrees to assist Tavy even while unhappy that she is betrothed to another man. As more details emerge concerning Lord Crispin’s true endeavors, Ben and Tavy reach a crossroads in their relationship.

Normally I’m a sucker for “love rekindled” stories, but this one left me cold. Octavia and Ben never sprang to life as a couple. The individual characterizations were done well; however, I did not feel the spark between them. They are attracted to one another, but I didn’t feel that their desire was a driving force of the story. The relationship between them suffered because too much time was spent with Tavy misunderstanding Ben’s actions and motives, and vice versa. We frequently speak here at AAR about the “Big Mis” being a least favorite plot device. While there is not really a true “Big Mis” in this novel, there are multiple smaller misunderstandings that grew just as tiresome for me.

The book suffers from a plot that tries to be intricate, but just came off as convoluted to me. There are mysteries surrounding the blackmailer, such as who owns which ship, to whom each ship is sold, and what the ships are actually transporting in their cargo holds. For me, it all overshadows the romance developing between Ben and Tavy. Fortunately, the final third of the book improves vastly over the beginning and middle, as plot points are tied together and Ben and Tavy’s feelings for one another become clear.

Tavy is an intelligent young lady with a strong love for adventure. Even though I found her determination to help Crispin with his problems odd considering she was not particularly close to him, I thought her loyalty was admirable. Ben’s characterization was even stronger and there is much to love about him. I appreciated the fact that the racism Ben encounters due to his Indian heritage was addressed and not glossed over. This made him more than just a different character that existed for the sake of having a character that is beyond the norm. Also, he is not one of the typical world-weary rakes that populates the majority of historical romances which I found quite refreshing.

Though I didn’t love this book I think Ms. Ashe is a talented writer and clearly has original ideas. I would be willing to try her other books to see if I enjoyed those more. This book concludes the Rogues of the Sea trilogy, but it is unnecessary to read the prior books in order to read this one.

Reviewed by Heather Stanton

Grade: C

Sensuality: Hot

Review Date : November 9, 2011

Publication Date: 2011/09

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Recent Comments …

  1. This author (Judith Ivory) used to appear frequently in “best of” lists for historical romance; and it seems that this…

Heather Stanton

I read romance of any sub-genre, but particularly love contemporaries. Well-written stories of any variety interest me though and I'm always on the hunt for my next favorite book. I love smart-mouthed heroines and tortured heroes, unusual time periods and just about anything medieval. On a personal note, I'm a political junkie, Cushing's Disease survivor, mom to 11 rescued dogs and too many cats to actually count.
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