Intrigued is the latest in Bertrice Small’s Skye’s Legacy series. The heroine, Autumn Rose Leslie, is the youngest daughter of another Small heroine Jasmine Leslie, now Duchess of Glenkirk, and the great-granddaughter of the famous (or infamous, depending on your point of view) Skye O’Malley. This is also the first book in Kensington’s new steamy romance line, Brava. While the steamy aspect is right on target, I’m reluctant to call this book a romance.
Lady Autumn Rose Leslie is restless. She is nearly 19, has no prospects for a husband, and with England in the middle of a civil war it doesn’t look like she’s going to find a prospective husband anytime soon. When Cromwell’s Roundheads attack the home where her brother and his family live, with very tragic results, Autumn’s mother, the newly widowed duchess Jasmine, decides that it would be better if they left for France. Not only will Autumn be safer, but with all the uncertainty back in England, Autumn should find it easier to find a husband on the Continent. Following a dazzling debut at the French court, where Autumn promptly gains the attentions of the very young King Louis XIV, she meets and marries Sebastian d’Oleron, Marquis d’Auriville.
If you’ve read Bertrice Small before, you know that just because Autumn has found marital bliss doesn’t mean she and her husband are getting a Happily Ever After. Indeed, Sebastian dies unexpectedly, leaving his young wife and daughter to grieve. Autumn eventually embarks on a couple of royal affairs, with a more grown up Louis XIV as well as King Charles II, and she even bears a royal son like her mother did. Neither king, of course, is the man Autumn finally ends up with. That man is someone she is determined to dislike as well as someone the reader barely knows. This lack of a strong hero is the main reason Intrigued didn’t fit my idea of a romance.
Autumn Leslie is a typical Small heroine. Just about every man who claps eyes on her becomes besotted – be it the man who heads the attack on her brother’s home, the King of England, the King of France, and so on. Autumn’s effect on the male of the species, like the overdone love scenes, becomes predictable very early on. Speaking of love scenes, all the purple prose and foreign words used to describe body parts ended up being more funny than arousing. Given Ms. Small’s reputation for strong sexuality, and that this is the first book in the highly-touted erotic Brava line, the love scenes didn’t go as far off the scale as I’d expected.
I found it somewhat of a struggle to get through the book. Characters declare rather than speak, they address each other by their full names, and there are lots of historical details and background information that slow down the story. I enjoy reading erotica, and although there are entertaining moments amidst all of Autumn’s adventures, it was not quite enough to tempt me to try the next book in the series.