Sunday, August 19, 2012

Review: Educating Elizabeth by Kate Pearce

Another day. Another debt. Another house and family to serve. Elizabeth has no control over her life -- or her sleep. She's woken up one more time by her stepfather, in order to pay for another of her stepfather's gambling debt -- but, this time, she's not being sent to an average, run-of-the-mill family but to serve the Duke of Diable Delamere.

When the Duke misunderstands what kind of service she provides and her family casts her out fearing the stain on their reputation, Elizabeth realizes she's tired of her unsettled situation and decides it is time to take matters into her own hands.

Wanting a life where she will be in control of herself, her finances and her future, she asks the Duke to teach her how to be a courtesan --

Gervase past and his current profession as a spy working to uncover a plot to assassinate the prince have taught him not to trust anyone. Not even Elizabeth. He agrees to tutor her but remains suspicious of her and her true motives.

Unlike some of her kind, she had not succumbed to the temptation to steal any of the small but expensive knick-knacks scattered around the room.
- loc 82 (One of Gervase's early impressions of Elizabeth)

When it is discovered that Elizabeth has a natural talent for cracking codes, Gervase reluctantly allows her a glimpse into his real world.

Gervase strikes me as a man who keeps his life compartmentalized -- he's a very different person inside the bedroom and outside. He also treats Elizabeth differently when she serves as a code breaker and when she's his lover.

But when the parts of his life start to meld together because of Elizabeth, he does not know how to feel or think anymore. He does what he usually does to people: push them away.

"My dear, I see the beginnings of hero worship in your beautiful eyes. I've told you on several occasions I'm not a good man. Please endeavor to remember it."
- loc 1565

Many of the conflicts in the story stem from the unwillingness of the characters to tell the truth. Pearce establishes that neither our hero nor our heroine have a profound capacity to trust, which is why they hide so much of themselves from one another. (See latter part of Chapter 18.) Some secrets are revealed but more are kept hidden -- Elizabeth doesn't tell Gervase about her brother Michael and arranges secret meetings with Michael's caretaker, Jack Llewelyn. Elizabeth doesn't know that Gervase has her followed and that he suspects her family to be connected to the plot against the prince.

There's a nice mix of intrigue and romantic tension in Educating Elizabeth and this story has a potential to be amazing but, unlike her Simply series, Kate Pearce seems to have held back. There's emotion -- but not enough. There's tension -- but not enough. Even as the story reaches its critical point: when Gervase discovers the minds and hands behind the plot, somehow it all fell flat.

That being said, this is still a story worth reading because of Gervase's transformation -- I especially enjoyed the sojourn Elizabeth and Gervase take in Chapters 24 to 25. Plus, there is Lord Vincent who I find very intriguing. ^_^

To find out more about Kate Pearce and her work, visit her website. (Please note that her Simply series is considered erotic and has adult themes.)


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