Monday, September 5, 2011

The Bed and the Bachelor

The Bed and the Bachelor by Tracy Anne Warren 831

Lord Drake Byron is more concerned with his mathematical theorems and scientific experiments than about women or his house so when his housekeeper abruptly quits he needs to find a new one quick. Anne Greenway is young and beautiful, but she has all the credentials and Drake convinces himself that he will avoid her and not act on the attraction he feels for her. But Anne is actually Sebastianne and has been placed in Drake's home by a French agent in order to find the mathematical cipher that Drake designed for the English army to communicate in code. Her "handler" Vacheau has made it clear that if she fails, her two younger brother and her scientist father will suffer, so Anne agrees to the mission even though she does not like the idea of spying or of betraying anyone. Unused to her new housekeeper duties Anne relies on the help of the other servants in the house, who are far nicer and more accommodating than she had expected and makes her upcoming betrayal even harder to contemplate. And her attraction to Drake proceeds to get in the way of everything.

Drake has the best of intentions but Anne's scent lingers throughout his house and he cannot get his mind off of her. In an attempt to get the key to his safe that he wears around his neck she gives him a sleeping potion, but when she goes to retrieve it he wakes up in a daze and, in the haze of sleep and lust, they mutually seduce each other. Drake knows that there is something special with Anne and although she refuses to become his mistress, he accepts her becoming his secret lover. Anne wants nothing more than to continue this new idyll, but Vacheau is hounding her to get the cipher and she knows her newfound love is destined to end horribly. She knows what she must do, even if it leaves her heartbroken and Drake hating her, but she holds something back from Vacheau to use as leverage. Drake too has been falling in love and he realizes that he needs Anne in his life, so he is horrified to find that she has left him and then determined to get her back. He is willing to risk everything to find her and will do anything to save the woman he loves and bring her back into his life forever.

I have found the previous books in the Byron series enjoyable, if rather bland, and I expected this to be about the same and for the most part it was, except I found it lacking in some of the elements I have come to expect from Warren. Having Anne be a spy for the French was certainly a surprising change to the book and I was torn between liking her for being different and being annoyed at the copout explanation we were given to explain her actions. While I found her dedication to her family and her willingness to do anything, to protect him, I was confused as to why she was even asked to perform this task as she seemed like just a random person in France. Aside from her spying, which was not really done in a heart-racing manner, there wasn't much about Anne that set her apart and I felt like she was rather bland as a character in general which I know is weird to say about a spy, but is indeed true. Drake was a great mathematician and while I like the idea of a handsome and studious hero, he also fell rather flat to me and I just didn't get any feeling that he was a something special.

I have problems when the author has to tell the reader how attracted the characters are to each other because it does not come across naturally in the book, and this was the case here. I definitely feel the lust or steam and even when they (fairly early on) consummated their relationship, I felt like it was rather lackluster and altogether unimpressive. Their relationship never picked up momentum in my opinion; it just dragged on and on and on with very little being accomplished. Suddenly she was in love with him and he was giving up his bachelorhood to marry a woman he barely knew. It did not make any sense to me because they spent so little time together, just learning about each other in their relationship as master and servant which isn't appropriate. The spy sup-plot took over the book to me and took over the romance and I felt like the author wanted to write a mystery and threw a romance in there only because it was expected. As usual Warren's writing style is superb and I enjoyed the flow of the novel, but I did not like the numerous appearances by previous characters to let us know how happy everyone was.

Rating: Two uninteresting characters engaging in a slow and sedate romance with a side-plot I did not enjoy, but the book was readable and I did find moments that I liked.

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