Saturday, December 8, 2012

Review: In the Barrister's Bed by Tina Gabrielle

Jack Devlin lived his entire life believing he was a duke's bastard but refused to let it hamper him and he has set up a successful career as a barrister. Imagine his surprise when his grandmother comes to his office to announce that he is the rightful, legitimate heir to his late father's dukedom.

The first thing Jack does is to recover everything that was part of the late duke's estate, and he begins with Wyndmoor Manor, which holds special memories for Jack.

Imagine Jack's greater surprise when he discovers that the house he bought already has an owner! Bella Sinclair had suffered seven years in a repressive and abusive marriage and she's finally free (but not completely as she is suspected to have had a hand in her husband's unfortunate demise). Purchasing Wyndmoor Manor is Bella's first act of freedom -- and her one shot at fulfilling her dream of becoming a published writer.

When Jack shows up at her doorstep claiming ownership of the house, Bella has no choice but to fight for her right. No. Choice. literally: Bella has limited funds, resources and connections -- losing the house would mean losing everything she's worked so hard to get.

I featured this book for my Sample Reading feature and really enjoyed the initial premise of the story -- Jack and Bella both have a valid deed showing ownership of the same property and the unscrupulous seller had run off with both their money. My impression was it would be a story about searching for the seller and then sorting through the legal issues of who truly owns the property.

I also loved the idea of a barrister-turned-duke and having to deal with a woman who was done with being a doormat and is finally standing up for herself. The first few chapters in the sample showed two characters who were dynamic and exciting --

I had issues about the "under-telling" a story a few reviews back where I felt the story lacked details and exposition -- but this one suffers from a bit of over-telling. Beyond the conflict of ownership, there are other story threads that (I felt) bogged down the main plot:

1. There's the very subtle suggestion of the author that Bella is hiding something (or running away from something) -- and the appearance of someone from her past changes the whole direction of the story.

The focus (and the story) moves to London and the search for Bella's husband's ledgers -- and lives are now in peril.

2. There's Jack's relationship with his estranged grandmother and half-brother. (And his half-brothers fiancee.)

3. There's Jack and his fellow barristers. (I think the author is building up Brent Stone and Anthony Stevens -- getting ready to tell their stories in the next Barrister installments.) Tina Gabrielle succeeded nicely in introducing the two other barristers. I am very curious about their stories. ^_^

I will say that the author tied everything up neatly in the end -- I also liked that she was able to maintain a clear focus on the development of Bella and Jack's relationship -- but I did wish to see more of Jack's barrister background being utilized in the story and I felt the story was overlong in some parts.

I actually also order the first book in the series (In the Barrister's Chamber) and I'm still waiting for it to arrive.


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