With This Ring Series: Reforming a Rake, Meet Me at Midnight, and A Matter of Scandal by Suzanne Enoch

More B+ romance from an author I go to in a pinch and only if the price is right. Suzanne Enoch is almost really good. Her romances leave something to be desired, but I can never quite put my finger on what. It may be that she’s not good at conveying passion, or maybe intimacy, or even besottedness.  Love beyond the initial attraction? I’m still trying to puzzle it out.

Reforming a Rake

Amazon is giving a publication date of 2009, but the cover art tells a different story:

rake

Despite appearances to the contrary, the hero is not Kevin Sorbo of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys.

Lucien Balfour, a rake and some sort of noble, needs a social tutor/guide for his country cousin. He is impeded by both the cousin’s gauche behavior, and the young woman’s vulgar, grasping mother. He hires Alexandra Balfour, a genteel-y impoverished lady, to act as her governess; not because of sterling references or experience, but because he really wants to have sex with Alexandra, and he figures she can teach his cousin to be alluring to men as well and thus get the young woman off his hands and out of the house with alacrity. Lucien and Alexandra fall in love, he locks her in his basement (in a fun way) for reasons I cannot begin to remember, they get married, the end.

I feel behooved to mention that only in romance novels can a name like Lucien, or Sebastian, be ruggedly masculine, although, truth be told, I actually like the name Lucien. Not enough to burden a child with it, but certainly well enough to aggrandize a cat, if I weren’t violently allergic to them, which I am.

Meet Me at Midnight

rake midnight

The woman’s 1987 prom dress appears to be sliding off her body.

I almost always like romance novels when they get married at the beginning. This is one of those.

Victoria Fontaine, nicknamed Vixen, is beautiful (Regency Elizabeth Taylor), bright, and vivacious. Tired of her “my eyes are up here” life, she’s a hoyden whose parents don’t know what to do with her; fortunately, she gets caught making out with her new acquaintance, Sinclair, Marquess Althorpe, at a party in Chapter One. Victoria’s parents know an out when they see one, so they insist these two gorgeous, sexy people marry right away.

Sinclair, nicknamed Sin, louche by all appearances, is the standard indolent-younger-son-who-was-never-supposed-to-inherit-and-now-has-to-make-good. Lucien (Kevin Sorbo up there) was in the same position. Sin has recently returned from a life of endless indulgence on the continent, but he was really a spy, of course. Victoria figures it all out pretty quickly and sets out to help him with the maguffin-y sub-plot.

Speaking of sub-plots, Vixen has a menagerie of animals that she brings to Sinclair’s house with her. Animals that, once again, are you listening romance novel authors?,cannot be house-trained. Plus there’s a parrot that repeats what was said during love scenes. It’s kind of charming, but also kind of COME ON! PARROTS DON’T LEARN PHRASES THAT QUICKLY!

Regardless of the bluebirds on her shoulder, Victoria and Sinclair are rather delightful together, and I enjoyed their jaunt to a happy ending. There were moments of genuine humour and Enoch did a good job at the falling in love narrative. I didn’t even mind their nicknames, Vixen and Sin, since they represent the personas they had hi— RECORD NEEDLE SCRATCH!

I just discovered that there is a third book in this series, A Matter of Scandal, and I scooped that sucker up on Amazon for $1.99 in 1.3 seconds flat. There will now be an indeterminate delay while I read the book and add it to this review.

[Muzac version of The Girl from Ipanema]

I’m about a third of the way through. So far, so good. Great banter, good chemistry. Funny.

Greydon Bsomething, Duke of Wycliffe is helping his uncle reorganize his finances and the first step was a huge and long overdue rent increase for all of his tenants. That’s endearing. The lovely redhead, Emma Grenville, who owns and runs the finishing school on the estate is displeased, to say the least, so she and the Duke enter into a wager to prevent the increase. She has to come up with a better plan than the Duke’s to fix his uncle’s finances. He has to teach a class at her school for some reason. Translation: They have to spend a lot of time together.

Wycliffe is gorgeous (natch), large (obvs), thinks all women are trying to ensnare him ( ’cause, you know, Duke), and is magnetically drawn (of course) to the bluestocking who doesn’t give a toss about any of it, except his dismissal of her school and efforts (natch).  Apparently,  the best way to improve someone’s opinion of women is to make him spend extended periods of time with a group of teenage girls. Has the author ever met a teenage girl?

Wycliffe is annoyingly arrogant so far. I’m hoping he’ll be taken down SEVERAL pegs.

[Muzak resumes]

There is a hilarious moment when Emma is giving Grey what for at a dinner party and his entire response is to silently wish everyone else would go away so he can enjoy her insults without interruption.

[Muzak transitions to We’ve Only Just Begun]

A Matter of Scandal

rake scandal

 Why is Clint Eastwood pushing her into that rose bush?

Well, that was Enoch’s best effort: very funny, great chemistry, a romp; and once again, it was lacking something I can’t quite put my finger on. Do the leads need to talk to each other more? Talk to each other differently? Is there only sexual chemistry and no intellectual connection and therefore although that part works, it doesn’t go deeper? Is it something about the intimacy? Blargh!

I discovered another book in the series, The Rake, but it’s $7.59 on Amazon, so this won’t be happening any time soon:

rake rake

Pity.

Also by Suzanne Enoch
The Rake (Tristan/Georgiana)
England’s Perfect Hero (Robert/Lucinda)
The Devil Wears Kilts  (Ranulf/Charlotte)

Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful.

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