Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Surprising Lord Jack Book Review *Sally MacKenzie*

Synopsis: Frances Hadley has managed her family’s estate for years. So why can’t she request her own dowry? She’ll have to go to London herself and knock some sense into the men interfering in her life. With the nonsense she’s dealt with lately, though, there’s no way she’s going as a woman. A pair of breeches and a quick chop of her red curls, and she’ll have much less to worry about…

Jack Valentine, third son of the famous Duchess of Love, is through being pursued by pushy young ladies. One particularly determined miss has run him out of his own house party. Luckily the inn has one bed left—Jack just has to share with a rather entertaining red-headed youth. Perhaps the two of them should ride to London together. It will make a pleasant escape from his mother’s matchmaking melodrama!

Surprising Lord Jack is the second book in SallyMacKenzie’s Duchess of Love series. This latest about Jack Valentine, the third son of the Duke and Duchess of Greycliffe will surely please fans. Sally’s trademark humor and slapstick adventure is here, but some may find Jack, the so-called rake, and Frances, the twenty-something spinster on the run, looking for her brother, tepid. But overall, the Jack and Frances interactions are very cute and there’s always Venus and Drew, Jack’s, still very much in love parents, bringing much needed flavor to the overall story.

Frances is traveling alone disguised as a boy to London where she hopes to find with her brother because her annoying aunt wants to marry her off to an odious man. Without any thought to her safety, she ends up at inn and is given a bed for the night from the innkeeper’s wife who thinks Frances is some poor lad. Unexpectedly, Jack arrives wanting to stay the night also. He’s headed to London not only to escape his matchmaking mother, but to visit an orphanage he helps run and makes sure the children there are safe. London is in the grip of some serial killer madman known as the Silent Slasher who cuts women’s throats, mainly Covent Garden prostitutes. Jack ends up in the same bed with Frances. She fools him into thinking she’s a “he”. Jack will escort young Francis to his brother. Frances has no choice but to go along with Jack. She thinks once they get to London, she’ll be able to give Jack the slip. But then when they reach London, Jack puts two and two together and figures out what gender Frances is. Jack is not happy at all.

Jack feels protective of Frances, and when his parents, along his brother Ned, and his new wife to be, Ellie come, he expects Frances to stay with them as their guest. It appears her brother has eloped to some theater actress and her grandparents, The Lord and Lady Rothmarsh, she never knew because her deceased mother refused to keep in touch, are more than happy to welcome Frances back into their lives. Along with Venus and Ellie, Frances is taught to navigate the social aspects of London. Jack isn’t sure what to think of the change in Frances now that she has a better wardrobe and isn’t as opinionated as she once was before he knew Frances was a woman. What he does know is that he misses the closeness they shared, and he wonders if his feelings for Frances are more than just protectiveness and friendship. Frances in turn is confused about Jack and what she wants from him. And then he kisses her and that changes everything between them.

Surprising Lord Jack is an appropriate title mainly because of all the surprises that pop up in the story, mainly regarding Frances and how she makes Jack feel. She throws him for a loop and he’s not sure how to deal with the situation. Jack isn’t ready to settle down, although he isn’t this rakish Lothario the public believes him to be. He also doesn’t want to give into his mother, who wants all her sons to be happy, and thinks marriage is the best way because of her wonderful marriage to her duke. But as in most MacKenzie romances, we all know the hero is sunk the moment he meets his heroine.

I found the Silent Slasher storyline dull (you know who it is a mile away, so no big surprises there) and it didn’t really add anything to the story. Also at certain times, Frances comes across as a sad sack because she feels she’s lacking in every way, and the close members of her family such as her brother and her absentee father make her feels horrible. I really wanted her to stand up more for herself, and although Jack is a great support, I feel he wasn’t enough. Also the chemistry and attraction between these two were very subtle and they act more like friends than two people in love.

Surprising Lord Jack was enjoyable but it was missing that special spark I was looking forward to. Still, it’s always a joy to see Venus and Drew’s interactions, as well as the whole family unit together. For those looking for a simple minded regency type romance with some moments that will make you smile, Surprising Lord Jack might be the book for you. (Zebra)

Final Grade: B-

A few other Surprising Lord Jack reviews:
Books of Love
Goddess Carlie
Oh My Books