Monday, October 18, 2010

The Dangerous Viscount / Miranda Neville. 2010

Let me state up front that I found Miranda Neville's third release, The Dangerous Viscount, to be a highly entertaining read. My favorite sub-genre has been, and probably always will be, the Regency-set historical. Neville's books show great respect and affection for the period. In addition, she gives us characters who are usually a step or two removed from the London ballroom for a taste of something a little different. There is both humor and emotion in this book and I worked hard to squeeze in some quality reading time between all the game-watching and quilt-making I've been doing these days. It was worth the effort.

The hero of TDV is Sebastian Iverley, is a shy, bookish, misogynistic young man who has traveled to his uncle's country estate to use the library there. He is dismayed to find that his cousin Blakeney is hosting a small party. One of the ladies' attending the party is a wealthy widow, Lady Diana Fanshawe, who happens to have grown up nearby, and she has set her cap at Blakeney who will one day be a Duke. In spite of himself, Sebastian is strongly attracted to Diana. He is further entranced when he has an opportunity to meet her eccentric, but loving family. Sebastian is shy and socially inept; he doesn't know how to handle this attraction he feels, but he can't help seeking her out. Meanwhile, Diana is the confident, self-possessed half of the pair. See how the normal conventions are turned upside down?

There is a strong undercurrent of dislike between the cousins Sebastian and Blakeney. As a result, Diana finds herself making a bet with Blakeney that she can get Sebastian to kiss her. She succeeds, but her misgivings over the event have her hoping that Sebastian will never find out. Unfortunately, he does learn about the bet (although Diana is unaware) and that reinforces his misogynist attitudes; Sebastian leaves the party abruptly and Diana re-dedicates herself to winning Blakeney.

The action skips forward 6 months. Sebastian's elderly great-uncle has died and Sebastian is now the Viscount Iverley and the possessor of a huge fortune. He returns to his home and book club in London and sets himself to the task of exacting his revenge on Diana for the bet. He goes to his friends (characters from the previous book in this series) for advice. They tutor him on how he should dress and behave in society. Neville's website calls Sebastian "a Regency nerd who is about to get an extreme makeover." That's an apt description. Eventually Sebastian and Diana reconnect and their romance takes place among the deceptions they are both guilty of.

Sebastian and Diana are flawed human beings who must confront their respective wrongs and seek forgiveness. Especially because their relationship has unexpected consequences. In addition, both Sebastian and Diana need to confront Sebastian's past to understand why he is the way he is. All of this is gently and steadily revealed with flawless pacing and engaging secondary characters. I loved how Diana is the "alpha" in this story and how Sebastian learns that women are not the enemy. These two are a well-matched pair and their relationship is highly believable.

Already I'm looking forward to Neville's next book (Aug. 2011?) and hopefully the one after that will be about Diana's wonderful little sister, Minerva. I also think that Neville left room for Blakeney to be redeemed and become the hero of a future book. If you've read this, what do you think?

9 comments:

  1. "a Regency nerd who is about to get an extreme makeover."

    I love that! Great review - you've totally intrigued me!

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  2. Thanks Lori! Isn't that a great line? As I said, I swiped it from Neville's website, so I can't take credit. I hope you get a chance to read this.

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  3. Janet W: This is one terrific book. Every time Neville had an opportunity to walk down Cliche Alley, she takes an interesting segue. Really enjoyed it: her books are getting stronger w/each outing!

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  4. Exactly, Janet! It's so refreshing; I wish she wrote faster. Isn't that rude?

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  5. Phyl! You know why I'm here... :( It was a great, exciting year for both of us - let's think of it that way. There's always 2011 and I'm looking forward to next summer already. (I've had 2 days to calm down and stop my screaming *g*)

    I'm putting this series on my TBB list, Phyl. It looks really good. Thanks for the review.

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  6. Darned disappointing, that's for sure. We had some genuine chances that were wasted last night. I'll probably root for the Rangers while you root for the Giants, LOL!

    Meanwhile, there are lots of good books out there to take our minds off it. And this is one of them. I hope you enjoy it!

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  7. LOL Phyl, how did you know?! I was hoping to root for the Phillys, but now I'll definitely root for the Giants. Not because the Rangers beat the Yankees or anything, but I just never root for Texas teams, lol! They're not my first choice, but at least the Giants are from SF and originally from NY. (See how I rationalize things?). ;P

    And yes, now that the excitement is over, I'll be concentrating on my reading again.

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  8. You know, I was planning on meeting Miranda Neville at the NJ RWA literacy signing last weekend before my commitments had to be rearranged which prevented me from going at all. It was my intention to pick up what ever books she had on her table since I read your review of her previous novel. I'm going to grab these anyway--sounds like this author is one of those hidden gems! Thanks, Phyl! :D

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  9. Well, that's a bummer, Christine, that you couldn't go to NJ RWA, but stuff like that happens to me, too! Nonetheless, I'm glad you'll be looking for her books. I think you'll enjoy them.

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