Friday, January 4, 2013
A Lady Never Surrenders
Mrs. Hester Plumtree was tired of seeing her grandchildren ignore society's rules and buck conventions, so she laid down the law and demanded that all of them marry within one year or they would all be disinherited from her very sizable fortune. One year later and the youngest and most headstrong, Lady Cecilia Sharpe, is the only one of her siblings to remain unmarried, but she also has a plan. She knows she wants to marry for love but does not have enough time to find the love of her life, so she plans to throw a house party and invite several eligible gentlemen in an attempt to prove to her grandmother that she is desirable and does plan to wed, she just needs more time. She asks the Jackson Pinter, a Bow Street Runner who has been helping her family investigate her parents' death, to investigate her three potential suitors. Jackson is reluctant to help Cecilia and believes that none of the men are suitable for Cecilia and has numerous excuses as to why, but Cecilia continues to try her best to convince one of them to propose so she can use that to get her grandmother to rescind her ultimatum. Meanwhile, she confides in Jackson about a conversation she overheard between her mother and father arranging a meeting on the morning they were shot and Jackson promises to look into it.
Watching Cecilia flirt with the staid, uptight, and old men of the ton infuriates Jackson and many people at the house party notice that they cannot keep their eyes off of each other. Hester is not pleased by this and makes it clear to Jackson that he can expect no monetary reward for marrying Cecilia and could possibly earn a promotion at work if he leaves her alone. Though Jackson has no interest in the money, he knows that he cannot expect Cecilia to give up the lifestyle she has gotten used to in order to live off a mere policeman's salary. Cecilia cannot understand why Jackson has been running hot and cold; sneaking off to kiss her one minute and the next refusing to acknowledge her presence, but she knows that there is something special between them. When she insists on accompanying him to investigate her parents death, their lives are put in danger and they both realize that there is nothing more important than life together. However, the first must deal with a vengeful murderer bent on covering up their crimes and a grandmother who must be made to understand that love triumphs over all.
I have followed the Sharpe siblings from the beginning and the investigation of their parents death has been an integral part of all the stories, as has their grandmother's ultimatum. I find the meddling grandmother figure incredibly obnoxious and Jeffries definitely tried to mellow her in this novel by having her, at the end, loosen up a bit, admit her mistakes and work with her grandchildren and this change was much appreciated. The parents death was very slow to get off the ground and not much happened in the previous novels so there was quite a lot to cover in this one. I felt like making Jackson a Bow Street runner was a genius move because it made him incredibly involved in the investigation so it wasn't a side plot, it was his job and it meshed with his relationship with Cecilia. I really enjoyed discovering what happened to the Sharpe parents and uncovering lots of little mysteries and clues along the way. I was completely shocked by the outcome and the way it manifested itself at the end and all in all it was a very pleasant surprise.
Cecilia was rather immature and her interests, namely shooting, were so far in opposition to everything I enjoy, that it was really hard for me to appreciate her character. Her plot to end her grandmother's scheming was utterly ridiculous, obviously hatched up by someone with no common sense or real world experience, but I did like learning about her very real feelings of inadequacies and how she was still working to build up her confidence. Jackson was a bit underwhelming, with no real distinguishing personality traits except for his unorthodox upbringing as the abandoned child of a lord. Their relationship was based, for the most part, on mutual dislike of each other and a refusal to admit that they had any warm feelings for the other. I am not a fan of these types of romances and it seems like they are becoming more and more prevalent and it just strikes me as completely unromantic and a horrible basis for a relationship. There were some nice scenes between the two of them, often overshadowed by their interactions the next day when they were nasty to each other, but I liked his helping her overcome her insecurities and her helping him to grips with his past. There was very little sex in the book, it was lukewarm at best, and was entirely in the last third of the book.
Rating: Two so-so characters in a sparring match that was uninspiring and unromantic, but rare moments shone through and I enjoyed finally discovering who killed the Sharpe parents.