It is true. For the past two weeks I have been on a ‘historical romance’ reading Binge! I have read from 7 in the morning to 11 at night with the obligatory food, door-opening/closing and potty breaks. also, I ate lots of chocolate 5-star bars and considering I hate sweet stuff that was another new high for me. My poor husband had a tough time as I refused to speak to him because he failed to swoop me off my feet when he came home. To make matters worse he doesn’t even know why I was snapping at him as I haven’t enlightened him. Anyway, now that I have finally decided that I have had enough hopefully peace will reign in our home again.
Lets start with Jo Beverley’s Malloren series
I think there are only 11 books in the series as far as I know. I have read 7.
The Malloren family with the Marquess of Rothgar at its head is an extremely powerful and influential family during the second half of the 1700’s. There are six siblings who having lost their parents early on, cleave to each other for love and support. All but one of the siblings are unmarried at the beginning of the series. I liked the parts of the interactions between the siblings and for some reason took a sort of dislike to the oldest Malloren who is the most intelligent, influential and scheming one of all the lot. He wields great power having had the ear of the ruling monarch and has a cruel streak in him when dealing with people not related to him by blood. although all the younger siblings are fiercely loyal to him and the family they do occasionally rebel against his controlling ways and try to solve their shenanigans themselves, only to run to him in the end when things becomes a trifle out-of-hand.
My Lady Notorious is the story of Cynric Malloren, youngest of the brothers and twin to Lady Elfed Malloren. When his coach is held up and he is kidnapped, Lord Cyn, who has been convalescing under the eagle eye of his older brother seems to have found the adventure that he craved for. When his captor turns out to be a troubled and headstrong young woman, the adventure becomes all the more intriguing. The novel is light and easy reading and even though there are certain parts that are more disturbing than normal regency romance novels, it can easily be read once or maybe even twice.
Tempting Fortune is the story of Lord Arcenbryght Malloren, the second of the Malloren brothers and Portia St. Claire who happens to be a neighbor of his sister-in-law’s country property. His story actually begins during the second half of the earlier novel when he is sent by Rothgar to retrieve some hidden property and meets his lady love for the first time. Again, there are disturbing elements in the story that show another picture of the times than the sanitized version we are used to in the novels of Georgette Heyer etc.
Something wicked is the story of Lady Elf and Lord Fort who is the brother of her twin’s wife. Fort hates the Malloren’s and takes his time coming around.
Secrets of the Night is the story of the third Malloren brother Brand who meets a Lady with an unusual request on a trip North.
Last of course is Devilish with the love story of the eldest Malloren brother Rothgar, and countess Diana who is the cousin of Brand’s wife Rosamunde and is introduced in the previous book. Rothgar has sworn off marriage because of fear that he may carry the taint of insanity that drove his mother to kill his younger sister, until he meets the beautiful and in her way formidable countess Diana.
This is where the Malloren series should have officially ended, but it carries on with the stories of people who are either related in some way to the Malloren’s or run into them by circumstance.
I read two more of the series Winter Fire and A Most Unsuitable Man which revolve around the Marquess of Rothgar’s estranged cousin Marquess of Ashart and his close friend and appointed bodyguard Mr. Fitzroger. The Malloren’s here are part of the moving background scenery and that too only with regard to Rothgar. They could have had a series of their own instead of clubbing them with the Malloren’s.
I like the fact that in each of her books the author picks up a different social/ political evil to highlight. Though not discussed in detail or allowed to overwhelm the premise of a strictly ‘romance” novel the almost casual insertion of the scandalous social rituals of the time is at times almost chilling. There are one or two truly beautiful romantic lines in the books which I have already forgotten, and which I knew I should have bookmarked. All in all, if the frequent smoldering looks and the heavy breathing doesn’t bother you these are perfect for a lazy Sunday afternoon or a rainy weekend.