Jo Beverley’s books have always been comfort reads to me. Lady Beware, the latest in her Company of Rogues series, fits nicely into this category.
Lord Darien returns a hero from the Napoleonic Wars to claim a title that is blemished, to say the least. Because of his wastrel ancestors, lecherous father, and insanely murderous brother, acceptance in polite society is nearly impossible and all of London regards him as the Vile Viscount. However, Lord Darien has a plan. He intends to use a school nemesis, Lord Dare Debenham, and his family, as his ticket into polite society. By coming to Dare’s rescue, Darien hopes to earn the loyalty of the Debenham family.
Part of Lord Darien’s plan involves Dare’s sister, Lady Thea, whom he attempts to coerce into a fake betrothal. Thea, however, is well aware of his motive and her mission is to keep him from harming her family, especially Dare, who is still recovering from an opium addition. As he forces his way into her family, the Company of Rogues, and eventually society, Thea is mistrustful. Nevertheless, she gradually develops tenderness for Darien as he struggles to obtain the respect for the family name that will allow his younger brother to make a respectable marriage.
Darien’s struggles are many. His older brother brutally murdered a young member of the ton and Society holds that murder against him. He has a house filled with bad memories and servants who are literally stealing everything out from underneath him. To top it all off, he and Thea also acquire themselves a nasty enemy.
Now, I must be honest: Lord Darien is my type of hero. He is a good combination of alpha and theta (see the Lost Soul archetype in this AAR article) mixed to create a cocktail of which I’d request seconds. He’s also a fighter, something that makes Thea apprehensive of him. Yet, you also see his vulnerability as his past is explored and as he copes with the cruelty of the ton. Likewise, Thea is an admirable heroine about 90% of the time. She is not adventurous, admits to herself that she is dull, and realizes that she is sheltered. And though she is apprehensive, she admits that Darien is attractive and she sets her cap for him.
However, as much as I liked the book, there are a few problems. They begin when the heroine decides to get brave and responds alone to a cry for help she believes to be from her incredibly stupid cousin. At this point, scenes from Halloween and Friday the 13th ran through my head, where you scream at the TV, “No, idiot! Don’t go in there!!” Furthermore, Darien becomes too self-sacrificing towards the conclusion of the book for my taste. Finally, the ending carried on too long with the last three chapters being entirely unnecessary.
Ultimately, the story is sound and the characters are believable with realistic vulnerabilities. I enjoyed Lady Beware and recommend it to those looking for a light read.