Series: Royal Four
Author: Celeste Bradley
Read copy: Mass Market Paperback
Published: April 4, 2006
Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks
For years, Lady Julia Barrowby has acted the part of an old man's ornamental bride, never revealing that she has secretly helped the ailing Lord Barrowby in his work with the Royal Four. Now that her husband has died, Julia believes his place in the Four is hers by right. But convincing the remaining members will not be easy, especially with Marcus Ramsay, Lord Dryden, distracting her at every turn. Somehow, the mysterious Marcus seems to see into her very soul, effortlessly satisfying all her secret, forbidden longings…
Marcus stood next in line to be chosen for the Four, and he is not willing to be displaced by a woman, no matter how intriguing or beautiful she may be. Under orders to investigate Julia, Marcus discovers her diary, overflowing with years of loneliness and yearning. Fulfilling Julia's fantasies is the perfect way to get closer to her, but seducing this fascinating creature is fast becoming more than a means to an end--it is his soul's deepest desire…
Marcus Ramsay’s day has finally come. With the death of Lord Barrowby, the former “Fox”, member of the elite (and mysterious) Royal Four, it’s Marcus’ turn to take the coveted seat.
Unfortunately, he didn’t count with the competition. There is someone else “applying” for the position of the most cunning of the Four. To add insult to injury, the upstart is a woman.
Lady Julia Barrowby has been acting as the Fox for the past three years, ever since her elderly husband’s collapse. She knows full well her gender alone will keep her from being readily accepted into the Royal Four, but she would never suspect they’d send someone to infiltrate her house.
Marcus’ initial plan is to find all the dirty secrets the beautiful, tempting widow keeps and use them to discredit her. So when he finds a stash of explicit-content diaries, he jumps at the opportunity to use them against her...Little does he expect that after only one kiss, he’d forget about his nefarious plan and want to help her fulfill her fantasies instead.
Of all the books in the Royal Four series this was by far the worst. The plot was too slow (the “chapters” from Julia’s steamy diaries didn’t help at all), the humor flat and the action kept to a bare minimum (until the last few chapters).
I just couldn’t relate with the characters, there seemed to be no drive behind their actions, no great motivation – not even Marcus could inspire more than a yawn with his mercurial changes, endearing as they might be.
Julia was a total bore (thank Celeste for the little insight into the Jilly alter-ego) and her diaries were a little too much. She was nearly a virgin, how could she have such profound knowledge (and vocabulary) of what goes on between lovers? I don’t think they sold erotica novels in the Regency period.
Out of all the characters, Elliot (a supporting character) was the most fun “to spend time with”. He was hilarious and the tension and male-banter between him and Marcus was one of the few bright points of this novel.
Another good thing about this one was the character-from-previous-novel cameo. Dalton just gets better and better with every novel and the romance between him and Clara is still strong...Stronger and “cuter” than in his own book (The Impostor), unfortunately and much, much better than what was between the leads in this book.
Although Ms. Bradley tried valiantly to pick up the pace with the action-packed ending, this book just couldn’t muster enough stamina to stay afloat. I just skimmed the pages, hoping for the Chimera to just get it over with already! *yawn*
This is sort-of recommended only to those who (like me) are adamant at reading the series from first to last book, but other than that this one doesn’t have much going for it.
I hope Falcon’s story - Seducing the Spy - will end the series with the bang it deserves.