A Reckless Desire (Breconridge Brothers #3) by Isabella Bradford

This title is third in a Georgian series about three sons of a duke who is longing for some grandsons. I read the second book, A Sinful Deception, first (reviewed here), and liked it so well that I checked out the first book, A Wicked Pursuit. I was fairly eager to get my hands on the book about the youngest brother, Rivers. Did it meet my expectations?

A Reckless Desire Front Cover (Ballantine Books)

A Reckless Desire Front Cover (Ballantine Books/Random House)

THE PLOT: Backstage at the theater, Lord Rivers Fitzroy has been complaining to his friend about the lead actress’s lack of talent. When Rivers bets his friend that he could make anyone into a fine actress, his friend picks out Lucia di Rossi, a drab servant, as the person he must transform.

Lucia is the cousin of one of the dancers (Rivers’s former mistress), and acts as her maid. She is treated with contempt by her family because she failed as a dancer, but she has acting talent in spades. Agreeing to the bet gives her the opportunity to get away from her prima donna cousin and make something of herself. She and Rivers leave for his lodge in the country, where he will train her to speak properly and memorize Shakespeare.

Although it starts out as a purely platonic relationship, the two gradually learn about each other and fall in love. But to what end? Rivers is the son of a duke, and Lucia is, at best, an actress. In what possible circumstances could they defy convention and marry?

MY TWO CENTS: This is a sweet Pygmalion story that has readers rooting for the heroine from the start. Lucia knows she could be an actress if only she had the opportunity, and when fate throws that opportunity her way, she grabs it with both hands. As far as acting goes, she’s almost a little too perfect; you know the real tension of the story is going to be the romance, not whether Lucia is successful. Because of her obvious talent and Rivers’s gentle nature, the reader knows early on that the bet itself is kind of irrelevant.

And Rivers IS a nice guy. He has no problem telling Lucia he loves her. What he doesn’t get, though, is his ingrained classism. He assumes that once Lucia is his mistress, he’ll be buying her a house and jewels. He assumes he’ll be keeping Lucia on the side while marrying some highborn lady and trying to produce his father’s long-awaited grandson. And after all, the heir to a duke cannot have an actress for a mother. So up until almost the very last moment, the reader is wondering HOW this is ever going to resolve in the way romances must. The ending is gift-wrapped and tied up with a neat bow, almost to the point where I said, “Really? It was that easy?” So in some ways I felt like it was “suspense, suspense, suspense…oh, it’s over.”

BOTTOM LINE: A romance where the tension is created by social mores rather than a hero who’s afraid to fall in love. The heroine will have readers rooting for her. It may be resolved a little too neatly, but definitely worth the ride.

TEACUP RATING: Four out of five teacups.

ON SALE DATE: Available now in paperback and e-formats.

Note: Review is based on an ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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A Sinful Deception (Breconridge Brothers #2) by Isabella Bradford

I keep saying that I’m not reading any more new-to-me romance writers, and then I keep doing it anyway. This one pulled me in with its tagline  of “For fans of Julia Quinn, Eloisa James, and Sabrina Jeffries.” Since those are three writers on my auto-buy-as-bound-books shelf, I had to check this out. I’m happy I did.

A Sinful Deception Front Cover (Random House Publishing)

A Sinful Deception Front Cover (Ballantine/Random House Publishing)

THE PLOT: Serena Carew would seem to be a perfect catch in Georgian London. She’s a beautiful, exotic heiress. She is also keeping a huge secret from everyone and believes that this secret will prevent her from marrying. She immediately captivates Lord Geoffrey Fitzroy, but he thinks he only wants an affair with her. Serena naively believes that she can have an affair since she doesn’t plan to marry…but her family isn’t going to allow her to be disgraced.

Geoffrey and Serena find that they have a true love match, but the devastating events of Serena’s past haunts her. One person will benefit most from revealing her secret, and he has absolutely no fondness for Serena.

MY TWO CENTS: I’m so glad that Serena’s secret was out of the ordinary. I won’t say what it is, but thankfully it’s not that she had been ruined or borne a secret child. I do wish the evil uncle had been introduced a little earlier in the book.He seemed almost added in to first get Serena to accept the protection of marriage, and then to cause trouble in the marriage. At first, Serena is surrounded by loving family, and then, suddenly, there’s the uncle.

As far as the “Fans of Julia Quinn, Eloisa James, and Sabrina Jeffries” tagline…I would say that’s a pretty good assessment, with one exception. Those three usually provide a fair amount of humor in their novels (especially Julia Quinn), and there is really no humor in this book. Perhaps there was in the first book, A Wicked Pursuit…I haven’t read it yet, but I could see Gus inspiring a few humorous situations.

I also have to admit, I love Georgian novels. This one is set in 1771. There’s something slightly more decadent about this period than the very polite Regency.

BOTTOM LINE: An unusual heroine; a couple in love throughout the book; a heartbreaking past; a loyal family; a few steamy love scenes. What’s not to love?

TEACUP RATING: Four-and-a-half out of five teacups. I’ll be checking out the other Breconridge Brothers novels.

ON SALE DATE: The book will be on sale in paperback and eformats on February 24, 2015.

Note: Review is based on an ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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