Friday, June 28, 2013

Review: Lady Eve's Indiscretion by Grace Burrowes


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A new Season is about to begin and there are only two unmarried Windhams left: Eve and Jenny. Eve isn't really looking forward to another round of proposals and rejection. She wants to settle down but, on her own terms. Eve wants a husband she can manage -- preferably one with heirs already so Evie can enjoy a white marriage.

Lucas Denning, Marquis of Deene isn't looking forward to the Season as well. Because of his title, he is considered one of the catches of the Season and he's tired of dodging marriage-minded mamas and misses. He finds a very good companion in Lady Eve, who saves him on several occasions from such awkward encounters.

Lucas has been friends with Eve and her family for many years -- but this is the first time that Lucas is looking at Evie and seeing something ... more.

Which is what Evie is afraid of. She wants a man who will fawn over her petiteness and appreciate the dowry and connections she brings to a marriage. She doesn't want a man wo is interested in her and her life -- for Evie hides a terrible secret from her past, which no one -- not even her own family talks about.

Two events in Evie's past has changed her life forever: A riding accident has left Evie forever wary of horses and riding -- and the other incident has left her forever wary of men. There are hints about the second incident as seen through Eve's reaction to certain sights, smells and experiences -- but she never names it. It is a shadow that rules over Eve's life and dictates what she can and cannot do.

This story is Evie's journey of healing. She is fine in body but not in spirit and hasn't been in a while -- her family doesn't know how else to help her and all they can do is give her their love and support. And stand quietly by her side through her ordeal.

This story is also a tale of two families: one seemingly whole, one seemingly broken. The Windhams are an amazingly close, congenial and very symbiotic family. There doesn't seem to be any friction or tension between the siblings or their parents. But they are not perfect -- one could see how burdened Eve feels, how badly she pretends to be "fine" for the sake of her family.

At services, Eve had volunteered to attend the children in the nursery, and this time -- this time -- she'd looked at all those boisterous, healthy children with their clean faces and broad smiles, and considered that her life would be devoid of the blessings of motherhood. For the rest of her life, while her sisters were raising up children, and her brothers were raising up children, and her cousins were raising up children, she would be ... childless.

That was infuriating too.

And now, Louisa and Jenny would hop into the gig and tool over to Kesmore's without a backward thought for their safety, their nerves, their ability to cope with a darting hare or approaching storm.

Eve loved her family, but still, there was much to be angry about.
- p. 104

Lucas, his cousin and his niece are the last of the Dennings and he is trying to repair his family by gaining custody of his sister's only child but Georgie's father is making things very difficult for Lucas, who is forced to consider less legal, more forceful means.

This is the major sub-plot: Lucas and Patrick (Georgie's father) have a difficult history together -- Lucas believes his sister was unhappy in her marriage to Patrick and Lucas was powerless to ensure his sister's happiness. Now Lucas is determined to protect his niece, Georgie -- but he and Patrick couldn't seem to agree on how to do so. I wondered how this fit into the main story and I think Burrowes wanted to show this side of Lucas. He is a man intent in protecting those he feels responsible for. It also shows both his gentle and ruthless side: Lucas isn't an idle aristocrat with nothing in his brain. He is actually quite intelligent and very, very relentless.

"Allow me to say, Hooker, that you will not be paid for all this painstaking research -- which I do appreciate, of course -- until such time as I have pleadings in my hand, suitable for submission to a court of appropriate jurisdiction. I bid you good day."

He had the satisfaction of seeing Hooker's brows crash down.

"And, Hooker? One more thing. I dipped my toe in the law at university, at least to the extend a man likely some day to serve as magistrate ought to. Those cases listed on your precious paper relate to trade agreements and civil contracts. While not a lawyer, I'm hard put to understand how custody of a girl child involves those aspects of the law."
- p. 80

Grace Burrowes writes Lucas and Eve very well. They are a wonderful pair and this is, perhaps, the first time that hero and heroine seem to be on equal ground -- but Marcus and Eve do face troubles and theirs are felt and not seen. Which leads one to reflect, would one prefer an outright villain to battle with? Or prefer to battle one's own demons?

As with all Grace Burrowes stories, there is a distinct rhythm to Lucas and Eve's courtship: they dance, they talk, they kiss and they engage in light flirtations -- lyrical and elegant are two words that I would use to describe their dialogues and encounters. Like a minuet, there is a deliberate slowness in Burrowes' pace -- and her characters get to know each other not in haste but in a very natural way. Love comes not on a high speed but on a leisurely promenade.

..."Did you enjoy our kiss, Evie?"

Evie. Only her family called her that -- and him. He said it with a particular intimate inflection her family never used though.

She sat up very straight. "Your question has no proper answer. If I say no, then I am dishonest -- I flew at you, after all, and you had to peel me off of you -- and if I say yes, then I am wicked."
- p. 23

Finally, I have also come to appreciate the thoughtful humor that I find in Burrowes' stories and I love how they come at just the right time for both the characters and the readers.

Lady Eve's Indiscretion is book 7 in the Windham Family stories (it is Book 3 in the sub-series, The Duke's Daughters). To find out more about Grace Burrowes and her books, click below:

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