Vexing the Viscount
Daisy Drake had a crush on the half-Italian Lucian Beaumont, the Vexed Viscount, when they were children and spent some time together while their elders were doing business. It’s been ten years since they’ve seen each other, but Daisy immediately recognizes Lucian when they meet again while looking over Roman antiquities in a display. Lucian is at the Antiquities Society to drum up investors for the excavations going on at his estate. He’s found a tablet that records a missing Roman treasure – a year’s pay for the entire Roman Legion in Britain. He is spurned by all, except Daisy, whom he spurns in return, in retaliation for a business deal years ago between the families that ended badly, with Lucian’s family bankrupt and his father a broken man.
They meet again at a masked ball which Daisy, longing for adventure, attends dressed as a French courtesan. Seems her aunt is a former courtesan and Daisy has been reading the naughty memoirs of Mlle. Blanche La Tour found in the library. Lucian may not want anything to do with Daisy, but Blanche is another matter entirely and heavy petting rapidly ensues. “Blanche” also invests in Lucian’s Roman excavations, sending Daisy as her intermediary. Daisy is an expert in ancient Latin and is very handy in finding clues to the missing treasure. Soon Lucian is spending his days in easy companionship with Daisy and his nights getting to third base with Blanche.
Thankfully, Lucian soon works out that Blanche and Daisy are one and the same and once that lame plot contrivance is set aside, I liked them both the better. But until then there’s a lot of eye-rolling (on my part) for Lucian confesses to Blanche that he’s a virgin (something that seems wildly implausible to me) and Blanche agrees to give him kissing and petting lessons – which sets her furiously reading Blanche’s diary to stay ahead of her pupil.
Then there’s the Roman excavating storyline. It really got tedious when every single mosaic and urn uncovered was of an erotic nature whose phallic subject was described in minute detail. You know, I’ve seen Roman antiquities in England; there are – occasionally – other subjects depicted. It just got really boring and wasn’t at all titillating. Then, suddenly, we are thrust back into Londinium, A.D. 304 for a few chapters scattered throughout the first half of the book, telling the story of the steward who absconded with the treasure and his motivations. It was unnecessary to the telling of this story and was just intrusive.
In re-reading this review, it sounds like it should be a D, rather than a C. And, really the only thing about Vexing the Viscount that I truly liked was the relationship between Lucian and Daisy once they left off their disguises and started working together as themselves. I liked them well enough that they offset my dislike of the rest of the book to a degree, but not enough to recommend it.