To Tame a Dangerous Lord by Nicole Jordan
When Madeline Ellis' employer dies she heads to London to look for a new job but an overeager lecher forces her into the room of Rayne Kenyon, Earl of Haviland, who realizes that her father had saved his life during a war. Rayne feels a tad protective of this very stubborn young woman who has resigned herself to being a spinster and who is determined to take care of herself, and her newly married brother, all by herself. He insists on taking him to Freemantle Academy where his friend Arabella, Lady Danvers, is looking to hire new instructors to teach her bourgeoisie students how to mix with the ton. Madeleine gets the job and the more Rayne comes to think about her predicament, and his own need to find a wife and start creating heirs, the more he comes to believe that Madeline could make a perfect wife. He does not want to risk falling in love with a woman after a former love interest had used his connections to save her family from the blade in France while secretly being in love with another man. He thinks Madeline will make a good, if not precisely biddable, wife and he won't need to worry about losing his head.
Madeline is wary of entering into a marriage of convenience as she has always wanted to find true love like her parents did, but when her brother is accused of stealing an heirloom necklace from a peer to make his new wife's family happy, Madeline thinks that having a connection to the ton could be helpful. And there is also the fact that she has fallen in love with him. Their wedding gets off to a rocky start as after quite the passionate interlude Rayne abandons her to return to London so he can investigate a supposed plot to assassinate Prinny. Madeline seeks the help of the Loring sisters and their friend, courtesan Franny, to discover ways to seduce her husband into loving her. Unfortunately the more Madeline tries to get Rayne to love her the more suspicious he becomes of her and her out of character actions. He recognizes that his feelings for her are changing and tries desperately to fight them. But when he discovers that Madeline has only been trying to help her brother and has been trying to protect him, he knows that it is up to him to show Madeline that he has made a mistake and that he does love her.
Madeline often got a little irritating because of her stubbornness and inability to ask for accept anyone's help. The "banter" between them regarding said stubbornness, as well as that regarding her feistiness, was quite irritating and not at all cute. I also wondered why a grown woman was determined to support her grown brother and his new family- seriously she kept giving and giving and giving him money and I wanted her to put her foot down. However it was nice to see a female who could take care of herself. Rayne was interesting and his spy background got a little boring, especially when it was given to us in some very large and awkward information dumps. I am always a little wary of heroes who are determined to not fall for the heroine but I recognize that without those types of heroes we'd have like 10 romance novels total. In this book it does drag on a little long, but I like that there was the added element of suspicion against her because her secretive and changing behavior. I recognize that some readers wouldn't exactly like this, but it works well here and the explanation behind his behavior is adequate and understandable.
This is going to sound a little weird and I am having trouble adequately putting it in words but: despite lots of sex and it being interesting enough it was rather bland overall. I can not quite put my finger on why it was this way- but I really wanted to skip over most of them and get on with the rest of the book. I was a tad bit irritated with the re-emergence of the Loring sisters even though it wasn't overdone. Mainly I was irritated by how nice and sweet and understanding everyone was to Madeline- I wanted someone who wasn't a horrible excuse for a human being (like Rayne's very stickler grandmother) but who wasn't just so genuine and wonderful and Madeline's best friend. No acquaintances in this book. Surprisingly my major pet peeve was the author's portrayal of the French Revolution: she was very sympathetic to the escaped aristocrats (and they are deserving of some sympathy surely) but she made it seem as though the ignorant and awful French rabble was purely after them because they were aristocrats- completely ignoring that whole starvation thing.
Rating: I believe I would give the romance of the book a 4, but the poor writing quality and the annoying-ness of her brother's plot bring it down to a 2 1/2. I'll give it a 3 though.