Sunday, December 12, 2010
Pleasures of a Notorious Gentleman
Mercy Dawson arrives at the Duke of Ainsley's residence to tell the Duke and his family that Stephen Lyons, the Duke's brother, had had a child before he passed away. She is already in love with the baby boy and she tells them she is his mother so that they will keep her on as a nanny. She is shocked to discover that Stephen's death was a misprint and worries that he will reveal that there is no way she can be the baby's mother because their relationship never progressed to sexual intimacy. Stephen does not remember Mercy, in fact he does not remember anything that happened during his two years fighting in the Crimea, but he does not want to insult Mercy by telling her he does not remember her, so he claims the baby as his. His family immediately accept Mercy as one of them and it is not long before his mother is hinting that he should marry Mercy.
Stephen has always been a ladies man and has quite the reputation, but he has never contemplated marriage. Seeing Mercy with John, knowing how caring she was as a nurse serving in the war and hoping that she can make him remember what he can't and that she can make his life better, he decides that marriage to Mercy could be wonderful. She has always been in love with him, jealous of all the other women he showered attention on, and she agrees to marry him and can only hope that he will never discover the truth about John's birth. For a few months both are blissfully happy, even while Mercy is hoping that Stephen's attempts to remember what happened will come to nothing. But when they make an appearance in the ton Mercy is confronted by John's birth money who threatens to ruin their happiness. Mercy knows she must hide the truth from Stephen, but it cannot be hidden for long and Stephen feels betrayed and kicks Mercy out of the house and out of John's life. However, he cannot deny that they both made mistakes and that he needs Mercy in his life.
The first thing I noticed in this book was how very much Mercy idolized Stephen and how her feelings for this seemed to be set and unmoving even before the book started. She loved him enough to risk being ostracized, rejecting by her family, and ending up alone all because she was in love with him enough to take in his son. I don't criticize her taking John in, it was written as the only reason she was involved with him was because he was Stephen's son and a connection to Stephen that she so desperately wanted. Aside from her unbelievable feelings for Stephen, Mercy was a great character and her independence and confidence, she did go all the way to Crimea and serve as a nurse in a time of war, made her unwavering faith in Stephen all the more confusing. In everything else in her life she was strong and reasonable. Stephen was a great side character in the previous book, but I did not feel as though he really pulled off being a hero in his own right. He had his memory loss and he had his actions in the war, of course he's a great hero who put his men's needs above his own, but as a hero he didn't do it for me.
I cannot really put my finger on what it was about him that just feel flat with me, but I can say that I enjoyed the scenes where he was with John and learning how to be a father. Toward the middle, when he and Mercy were doing well, he was fun and interesting to read about and I liked reading about them getting along as their happiness made getting over the tragedy of finding out the truth more realistic. Him kicking her out when the truth was revealed was heartbreaking and cruel on his part, but I like that she was not able to wallow in misery for long and that people were rooting for her all along. There was some decent, but not really that hot sex between them that I almost skimmed over really. I like secret baby plots and the twist of having Mercy not be the mother added a great element to the story. I especially like the way it was accepted by everyone that Mercy was John's mother even though she did not give birth to him.
Rating: The book was decent and there were definitely elements I enjoyed. I wouldn't recommend it, but I'm giving it three because I didn't necessarily dislike it. A low 3.