Tag Archives: Lost Lords of Pembrook

The Lost Lords of Pembroke Series: Deck the Halls with Love by Lorraine Heath

I continue to work my way through Lorraine Heath’s catalogue filling my time with b-list historical romance. This novella belongs to the Lost Lords of Pembrook series which includes:

She Tempts the Duke – tortured hero, kind and loving heroine
Lord of Temptation – so much meh
Lord of Wicked Intentions – really good, great heroine

Deck the Halls with Love was a quick read even for a novella. Lord Chetwyn was jilted by Anne, the heroine of Lord of Temptation. Specifically, he consented to withdraw from their betrothal when it became clear that she was in love with someone else, establishing his nice guy bona fides. Their engagement was the result of honour and duty as Anne had been engaged to Chetwyn’s brother and said brother’s dying wish was for Chetwyn to look after Anne. With the broken betrothal behind him, Chetwyn now realises that he could likely have found other ways to have a care where Anne was concerned. So amicable was their parting that Chetwyn is at Anne’s in-laws for one of those Yuletide house parties people in historical romances love to hold. He is also anticipating a certain guest. While his sense of duty is a nice thing, Chetwyn had thrown over his own lady to become involved with Anne. Meredith, referred to as Merry in a nice Noel-y touch, was in love with Chetwyn and did not understand why she went from being almost affianced to alone on the dance floor. Merry will be at the party, but she is not free. Caught in the least compromising possible of compromising positions, she is engaged to a seemingly nice man with a bit of a gambling issue. Chetwyn is determined to win Merry back over the course of the Christmas fete. Anne helps. It doesn’t take long to establish that Chetwyn and Merry are compatible and need to force a break in her engagement to be together. The weather cooperates, honour prevails, and some expeditious shenanigans put them on track for scandal, but one they will endure while sharing a home.

Lorraine Heath is a successful author with a formula that works well for her. She is a cut above the workaday writers in the genre and a cut below the ones I normally recommend. I have read a large number of her books, but I have only ever paid for one. Deck the Halls with Love passed the time, but I will not delay returning it to the library in favour of more time with the characters, despite the fact that she managed to make them very likeable in very short order.

Also by Lorraine Heath:
As the Earl Desires

The Scoundrels of St. James Series:
In Bed with the Devil
Between the Devil and Desire
Surrender to the Devil
Midnight Pleasures with a Scoundrel
The Last Wicked Scoundrel

London’s Greatest Lovers Series (snort):
Passions of a Wicked Earl
Pleasures of a Notorious Gentleman
Waking Up with the Duke

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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The Lost Lords of Pembroke Series: Lord of Wicked Intentions by Lorraine Heath

Lord of Wicked Intentions, now that is a proper title for a historical romance novel!

Lorraine Heath is on my romance B list. B- really, but this was the best book of hers I’ve read so far. It’s the third and last in her Lost Lords of Pembroke trilogy and so much better than the boring and annoying preceding novel, Lord of Temptation, and the overwrought first novel, She Tempts the Duke. You’ll note that despite the B- factor, I have indeed read all three books, but I only paid for one of them and I regretted it.

Following the romance series convention of the toughest nut getting his story last, Lord Rafe is the youngest of the three Easton brothers and the most damaged. Rafe, Tristan, and Sebastian (every romance writer has a Sebastian, eventually) fled for their lives from their murderous uncle. The 15-year-old twins went to the military, Sebastian the army, Tristan the navy, and they left their 10-year-old brother Rafe at a work house terrified and alone. Fifteen years later, he has clawed his way out of poverty through whatever means necessary and available to him, and is aged beyond his years by experience. Rafe, like so many self-made men in romance, runs a gambling establishment. He has wealth beyond the dreams of avarice, a kind heart he does his best to conceal, and some serious physical contact issues. He’s attractive and damaged in the way that is appealing in romance novels and RUN, RUN, RUN AS FAST AS YOU CAN! in real life.

The daughter of an Earl and his mistress, Evelyn Chambers has grown up very sheltered. Taken in by her father and raised in his home after the death of her mother, she is left vulnerable to the whims of her (legitimate) brother when their father passes away. After promising “she shall have all she deserves,”, her brother promptly sets up an auction of his sister’s innocence to pay off his gambling debts to Rafe. Disgusted by what he sees, Rafe forgives the debt and brings Evelyn home for himself. He’s not a good enough man to decide not to make her his mistress, but he is kind, they fall in love in the process, and Rafe exacts some rather lovely revenge on Evelyn’s feckless brother.

Evelyn is the strongest characterization in the book and a great heroine. Heath manages to make her naive and innocent, but not a fool. It’s quite a tightrope walk and Heath absolutely succeeds with it.  Caught off guard by the reality of her circumstances and its implications about her father, Evelyn rises to the occasion with a calm dignity and believable self-possession, while still being appropriately hurt and let down by the revelations. Evelyn matures and takes on responsibility for herself and her future in tandem with Rafe’s unburdening and the relinquishing of his demons.

Lord of Wicked Intentions was a compelling, romantic, and entertaining read. Romance readers buy a lot of books, but we don’t keep very many. There is both an assumed disposability and a sought after re-readability in the genre. There are books I have read many times (there’s that shame spiral I’ve been looking for) and while Lorraine Heath wrote a very enjoyable book, it doesn’t inspire revisiting.  It was a great distraction, but not a keeper. Just the same, thank you to Malin for giving it to me when a distraction was exactly what I needed.

If you’re interested, the ultimate “hero from the gutter” historical romance is Dreaming of You by Lisa Kleypas. Derek Craven is a tortured hero masterpiece and a magnificently rakish character. Lisa Kleypas also has the ultimate Sebastian in another classic, The Devil in Winter, as Rachi3879 recently discovered.

Also by Lorraine Heath:

Deck the Halls with Love – from this series
As an Earl Desires

The Scoundrels of St. James Series:
In Bed with the Devil
Between the Devil and Desire
Surrender to the Devil
Midnight Pleasures with a Scoundrel
The Last Wicked Scoundrel

London’s Greatest Lovers Series (snort):
Passions of a Wicked Earl
Pleasures of a Notorious Gentleman – bonus tirade in my review!
Waking Up with the Duke

The (Shameful) Tally 2014 and links to my other reviews.