Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Review: The Lost Soul of Lord Badewyn by Mia Marlowe


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As one reads through Meg and Samuel, Lord Badewyn's story, one gets a sense of the author's fascination with the angel/fallen angel mythos -- and this is confirmed in her Author's Notes at the end of the book. The Lost Soul of Lord Badewyn is wonderfully researched, and well-presented, with the details of Lord Badewyn and Grigori's lives nicely interspersed through the story -- the author made sure that the backstory did not overshadow the love story between Meg and Samuel.

Meg Anthony is the Order's Finder -- a power that has far greater implication beyond it's name because, whenever Meg goes to "find" something, she actually leaves her body behind and risks death if she cannot return to it. Her uncle and cousin used her abilities for nefarious purposes, but Meg was able to escape, and has been under the care and tutelage of the Duke of Camden's sister. Meg has been spending the recent years of her life learning how to be a lady, a necessary skill if she is to move smoothly through London Society during her missions for the Order, but her past is quickly gaining on her, and, for her protection, Meg is being sent to Wales, to Lord Badewyn's very, very remote estate.

Samuel is a Watcher, and, while he isn't officially a member of the Order, he has assisted the Duke of Camden in several endeavours. Samuel is happy to live in Wales, and he bristles at the unexpected arrival of Meg Anthony at his doorstep.

Samuel was hiding. That's what monsters did, wasn't it? If they weren't disposed to terrorizing the populace, they burrowed themselves away, only appearing when the moon was full, cloaked in legend and half-truths.
- loc 292

There's a bit of Beauty and the Beast, and a bit of Cinderella in how Samuel and Meg's courtship unfold. Samuel isn't very sociable, and keeps to himself. (And he has a really awesome library.) But Meg charms him with her freshness and honesty. Samuel is half-(fallen) angel and half-human, and lives with his uncle (father) Grigori, and, before Meg's arrival, they seemed to have a very good father-son relationship. But, the ugly side of their relationship is revealed when Samuel falls in love with Meg, and he must protect Meg from Grigori's lascivious intentions.

Samuel closed his eyes. If he got the kiss he wanted, it wouldn't be enough. Once his lips touched hers, he'd want to sweep into her chamber and seduce her thoroughly. A jumble of conflicting desires warred inside him. He could lose himself in her.

And maybe find himself as well.
- loc 778

This is the part that confused me -- I wondered why it was necessary for Samuel to remove himself and Meg from his own house and run away to an even more remote part of Wales. As I was reading through this part, I felt that the author was looking for a convenient way to get her hero and heroine alone together -- however, in the later chapter, Samuel explains the urgency, and why he needs to protect Meg from his father. (Read about The Grand Cycle from loc 1458)

While I loved Marlowe's take on the Fallen Angel story, what I loved even more was the side story between the Duke of Camden and Vesta LaMotte. They are on-again, off-again lovers, and they are currently off, because the Duke of Camden is still consumed by guilt and questions surrounding his wife's sudden death. The Duke's motivation for creating the Order of the MUSE was to find a person who could help him contact his late wife from the beyond. In the previous books, the Duke was unsuccessful in his search for a true medium -- but, it seems, he has finally found the real deal.

I loved Camden and Vesta's story for several reasons: there's the obvious class difference: he's a duke, and she's a courtesan. That alone would have made for an interesting story. But, there's the added element of their powers: Camden is the head of the Order, and Vesta is one of his associates. It's tricky to form a relationship with someone you work with, trickier still to maintain a good working relationship once the love/desire has fizzled. There was always a lot of tension between Camden and Vesta, sexual and otherwise -- but I appreciated how, as senior members, they maintained a professional front when they were dealing with the Order's business.

Vesta is amazing in her steadfastness to Camden. A lesser woman would have given up the battle. (Really: how do you win against a ghost?) She was patient and understanding and supportive -- but she also lead an independent life away from Camden. I'm imagining if the medium weren't real, if Vesta would give up on Camden -- but, I don't think she ever would. Vesta strikes me as the kind of person who would stick around.

The Duke of Camden holds himself responsible for his wife and son's tragic deaths, and he wants, no, he needs answers. Camden is a man stuck in a moment of time, and he refuses to move on until he can settle things with his wife. He has been searching for a way to communicate with his wife, and has been disappointed by pretenders -- there's a bit of selfishness to Camden's pursuit, and I really wanted to dislike him for how he has been dealing with Vesta. But, I could not ignore the selflessness that he has exhibited in opening his home to members of the Order.

The Lost Soul of Lord Badewyn seems to be the last book in the series, and, I have to admit Marlowe ties up all the loose ends very well -- resolving everything from the first two books up to this one.

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