Saturday, January 3, 2009

Review: He Said Never by Patricia Waddell

Title: He Said Never
Series: Gentleman's Club
Author: Patricia Waddell
Read copy: Mass Market Paperback
Published: October 1, 2004
Publisher: Zebra
ISBN: 0821775030
ISBN-13: 9780821775035


Returning home to Belgravia from a certain boudoir in Trafalgar Square, Viscount Rathbone is surprised to see a beautiful young woman in the street at twilight—when no lady should be walking alone. Yet she is none other than the ward of the powerful Duke of Worley, Prudence Tamhill, whose virtue and charm have been singled out for praise by the Queen herself. Rathbone insists on escorting her safely home in his carriage, though her presence at his side will prove a singular temptation to a lord who knows very well that a stolen kiss is the sweetest kind.


Never had Prudence imagined that one kiss could mean so much—or that it would change her life forever. Why did she allow him such liberties? The viscount has a reputation that would shame Casanova, and his friends are little better. When Prudence finds out that they staked a fortune upon a scandalous wager, daring Rathbone to enter her bedchamber at midnight, she is furious.
To save her reputation, her guardian insists that they marry. And her troubles have only begun...because his passion for her is too tender to resist.

My rating:

Just as Benjamin Exeter, the scandalous Viscount Rathbone, is returning home from a "visit" to a joyful widow, he spots Miss Prudence Tamhill, the virginal heiress without a single spot on her perfect reputation, standing alone (and drenched) at the exit of Green Park. Despite his reputation he's still a gentleman at the core, so he offers her assistance by escorting her back to her guardian's house...Assistance she seems to not want, hence sparking his curiosity.

He's so curious in fact, he cannot resist a kiss...or several of them, leaving the lady (and himself) in turmoil.

Prudence has no idea what to make of it all. For the past two years he's never paid any attention to her, now he invites her to dance and steals kisses (and more) in darkened gardens.

When she opens her eyes one night and finds him looming over her bed (only to win a bet by obtaining a ring she always wears), she's incensed, but only until he kisses her again. But their passion is a bit on the loud side and he's discovered.

Of course, her guardian and protocol demand they marry, despite the fact Prudence knows Rathbone doesn't love her. Will she be able to change his mind and philandering ways or is she destined to follow in her mother's footsteps to a love-less marriage?

What a lovely conclusion to the series. I've been waiting for Rathbone's story ever since I picked up the first book (He Said Yes). He is such a charming rascal that despite him being a total man-slut you cannot help but know there's much more under his rakish veneer.
And let me tell you, I wasn't wrong in my presumption. Once Ms. Waddell got to him, he turned out to be a wonderful character, proving once more the fact that rakes make for the best of husbands. It was charming watching him so bewildered by his reaction to Prudence (although in the previous book He Said Now—when Prudence was launched into Society—we could already glimpse that he isn't as indifferent as he would like the world to think). And when he discovered his true feelings for her and hadn't a bloody clue on how to proceed with telling her...Awww.

In comparison to him, Prudence seemed a little bland, despite the author trying to give her a greater purpose with her quest. The quest, which in my opinion offered no further development of her character (we already knew she was stubborn), but added even more depth to Rathbone.

I was hoping for a little more strength in the conflict between them, a little more effort from Prudence's part to make him realize his true feelings. In the end, despite being told many, many, many times by the author that Prudence loved him, Rathbone's feelings for her seemed much stronger, making Prudence's love for him appear only youthful infatuation or (I hate to say this) lust.

The ending (the resolution of Prudence's quest) was absolutely fantastic and almost prophetic if you've read the whole series and loved the interaction between the "lads" and the Duke of Morland as much as I did.

Despite Prudence's lukewarm presence, Rathbone is still a force to be reckoned with, resulting in this book being a definite keeper.


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