Friday, March 27, 2009

The Bishop's Widow

Lady Be Bad
By Candice Hern

The Premise: Grace Marlowe was married at seventeen to a famous clergyman thirty years older than she. After eleven years of marriage, Grace knows how to be a dutiful, pious and exemplary Bishop’s wife, but she knows nothing of passion. After the Bishop’s death, she becomes a dutiful, pious and exemplary Bishop’s widow, devoting herself to good works in his memory. And so she might have remained, were it not for the intervention of a few friends, other titled ladies who have lost husbands and style themselves “The Merry Widows.” They vow to avoid marriage, but take lovers so that they may experience romance and passion without sacrificing their independence. Grace is both aghast and fascinated by tales of the other women’s exploits. The Bishop had taught her that women should suppress their passionate impulses; to do otherwise was sinful. Yet she knows her friends are good people, kind and compassionate and as devoted to charitable endeavors as she. She is struggling to reconcile the two viewpoints when she meets John Grayston, Viscount Rochdale.
For his part, John has never met a wager he couldn’t win or a woman he couldn’t seduce. Though his title is inherited, his fortune is one he made – or more accurately won – on his own. Having dealt with the results of more than one love affair gone bad at an early age, John approaches love as a game of seduction, and has built for himself the reputation of notorious libertine. When fellow gambler Lord Sheane bets John that he can come up with a woman impervious to his wiles, John scoffs. Within minutes, both men have wagered the best horse in their respective stables pitting the virtue of Grace Marlowe, the Bishop’s Widow, against the seductive skills of John Grayston, Lord Rochdale the notorious rogue.

What I liked: Both the hero and heroine were likeable characters whose actions made sense in light of their personal histories. Although this is the third book in the series, it’s the first I have read, yet I was still able to follow the story easily; it could have been a stand alone novel.

What I didn’t like: I did not get as great a sense of some of the secondary characters as I would have liked, but this may be due to the fact that several of them have their own books in the Merry Widows series. I also would have liked to see Grace’s stepdaughter get some sort of comeuppance, but then I’m just mean like that…..

Overall: A very enjoyable historical with a lively premise. If you can read the Merry Widows series in order, go ahead, but if not this book is fine as a stand alone.

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