Friday, February 11, 2011

After Dark with a Scoundrel

After Dark with a Scoundrel by Alexandra Hawkins 209

Regan Bishop, sister to the Earl of Chillingsworth, Frost, grew up running around her brother's club and making friends with the other Lord of Vice. Soon Lord Hugh Modare, Dare, realizes that Regan is growing up and after a mishap at the club Frost catches the two of them kissing. Frost knows it is beyond time for Regan to become a proper lady and he sends her to finishing school under the care of a distant cousin. For years he refuses to allow her back to London, but she maneuvers her way back to town and he has no choice but to allow her to stay, but only after making it clear to Dare that she is off limits. Despite the warning Dare has a hard time maintaining his cool with Regan around and flirting with other gentleman. Unfortunately he has family problems of his own as his brother is carousing around town and impregnating women willy nilly. There is also his sister-in-law Allegra, whom Dare had fallen madly in love with as a boy before she betrayed him and left him unable to love again. Despite her marriage, Allegra continues to meddle in Dare's life, taunting and teasing him, even while her inability to produce an heir causes problems in the Modare household.

Spending time with Dare and the other Lords of Vice has made it clear to Regan that she is not cut out to be a typical society miss. She wants to sword fight, she wants adventure, and she especially wants a passionate love affair with Dare. Even though he had recently been looking at another lady of the ton, Regan's appearance captures Dare's complete attention, but he does not want to risk anything that could hurt his friendship with Frost or bring the attention of his sister-in-law. But Dare's good intentions are no match for Regan's innocent seduction and the two succumb to their desires. When Frost finds out Dare is forced to admit he has no intention of marrying Regan and she is crushed, thinking that he is still in love with Allegra. Things get worse when Dare is attacked in the street, the lady he had been after before Regan winds up dead, and Regan is pushed into the street in front of carriage. The events force Dare realizes that all of the problems the two are facing are not worth making Regan unhappy and he proposes. The two marry in a quick and very private ceremony, heedless of how upset Frost will be.

I have found Hawkins other books mildly enjoyable, but nothing special and this one fell into the same category. The writing is oddly emotionless as far as the romance went, with no real discussion whatsoever about either of them being in love and the characters were also lacking in that arena. I could not get a read on either of them or figure out why they loved each other or why I should like them. Regan seems to like being reckless and drawing attention to herself, but she doesn't actually enjoy it; she doesn't get any pleasure from anything she does. She has been in love with Dare for years because he treated her well and taught her how to act like one of the guys, but I could not see why that love continued to burn so hotly years later. They had very little quality time alone together and none of the relationship building time where I like to get a feel for how they are falling in love. Dare was slightly better than Regan because he had the great family history and the anger still burning from his brother marrying the love of his life. But, there were no examples really of how this affected his emotional state, just lots of talk that it did affect him.

There was plenty of sex between Regan and Dare, especially for a book of only 290 pages, and it was pretty hot but nothing spectacular. Perhaps I didn't enjoy it so much because I was hoping to finally get some emotion from these two and I did not. There was a great little mystery about who could possibly want Dare hurt, his almost lover dead, and Regan injured and I was completely left guessing until the end. This plot was well integrated into the story for the most part and it was certainly a welcome addition as the book would have been quite short without it, but it did not at all make up for the lack of romance in the book. I also rather liked reading about Dare's relationships with the various members of his family, but found them a really bad excuse for his refusing to marry Regan when they were first found together. The other Lord of Vice make infrequent appearances in this book, less so than in her previous books, and while I like that their happiness is not shoved in our face, I would have liked more from the unmarried men because I began to have a very hard time telling them apart. Indeed, I am beginning to sense that the Lords of Vice are all going to be remarkably too similar to each other, which rather makes me wonder if I will continue to read them.

Rating: I found the lack of emotions in this book to be an unforgivable fault that just made the book impossible to truly enjoy, even while I could admit that it was mildly entertaining at times.

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