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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Scandal of the Black Rose by Debra Mullins


There is a mysterious society that only London's most select gentlemen may join. And once members, they may never leave it. . . alive.

Anna Rosewood is determined to discover the truth about the death of her twin brother. Following a single clue--the symbol of a black rose crossed with a sword--she dons a mask, infiltrates a secret gathering that only a disreputable woman would attend, and encounters a dashing stranger...

Were it not for a promise to a dying comrade, Roman Devereaux would never have met this enchanting doxy who seems quite naive for her profession. But he is shocked to later discover that the lady is, in fact, the fiance of his cousin--and that she and Roman both seek information about the sinister Black Rose Society. But working together could prove disastrous, for there is no resisting the passionate fire that sears them--or the forbidden desire that could only lad to scandal. . .or far, far worse.


A few years ago I was introduced to romance novels. The first I ever read was a contemp by Julie Garwood. I enjoyed it, but it wasn't enough to make me swoon with delight. Shortly after that, my mother found her historicals...and so my passion was born.

After reading all historicals by JG I could find, I went a little crazy and started picking up historical romance novels as often as possible (which I'll admit was more often that it should have been...ok, ok, I admit it, I went absolutely crazy and spend hundreds of dollars feeding my obsession. *sniff*). It was during this time that I discovered Debra Mullins.

Quite by accident I picked up Three Nights. It was an amazing historical. Not at all predictable - well, ok, so it was a bit predictable, but really, what romance novel isn't? - like so many others. The story was fresh and I fell in love with characters. Yes, even the heroine.

As soon as I finished, I made it my mission - terrible glommer (in case you were wondering, to glom is to horde..or collect an item. In this case, books) that I am - to buy all of her books for my collection. I found an auction of her books on Ebay and ordered them just as fast as my pointy finger could click "buy".

It pains me greatly to report that I found them lacking. They didn't live up to the expectations I'd come to have after reading Three Nights. While they weren't terrible reads, they certainly didn't leave me feeling warm and fuzzy.

Therefore, I have to admit I was reluctant to pick up this newest book. I wasn't sure if Three Nights was a fluke or if she had gotten better as time went on. Unfortunately, this book falls into the former category.

We first meet our heroine, Anna Rosewood, as she sneaks away from her family at Vauxhaul Gardens. Now, while her motives - to search for clues, and possibly gain information, about her twin brother's murder - may seem admirable and courageous, I found the entire situation to be rather...done. How often does some brainless chit in a romance novel sneak away from her family and find herself in a compromising position? Hmm...all the time?

Exactly.

Of course, this is where we meet our dashing hero, none other than former soldier Mr. Roman Deveraux. While Mr. Deveraux - Rome for short - is there to watch out for the younger brother of a friend, he mistakenly assumes our lovely Miss Rosewood is none other than *gasp, brace yourselves* a whore. Why, you ask, would he make such an atrocious assumption? Because she was pretending to be one to ferret out information, of course. Oh, the horror.

After a rather steamy encounter (I quite enjoyed that part, actually) she flees, and he vows he'll find her, one way or another. Oh, did I forget to mention that she was masked? I apologize for my error. Yes, she was masked...and therefore felt rather safe after her - dare I say shocking? - encounter with a complete stranger.

Oh, but wouldn't you know it, our dear Anna's stranger is none other than her intended's cousin. Well, will wonders never cease?

Of course, there was some intrigue involved in the storyline and I'll admit to being unsure of who the actual villain of the piece was until a few chapters from the end (and even then I wasn't completely sure...a rare occurrence for me). That part of the story was rather fascinating. But the excellent plot was overshadowed by our poor heroine constantly fretting over being attracted to her intended's cousin...and our darling hero berating himself for being attracted to a woman that belonged to another man. To make matters worse - you didn't think that was all the drama, did you? - our hero's family suffered a terrible scandal years before. One that practically mirrored his current situation.

While the storyline was good and the hero a dashing man, I found myself mostly bored with the entire thing. It was so bad, I even stopped reading for a bit and just skimmed several chapters...something I absolutely never do. Perhaps I would have enjoyed the story more if the heroine hadn't been one of those 'I can do anything a man can do even though I'm smaller and weaker and basically an idiot' types. You know, the ones who rush off to the worst part of town to buy information from whores and find themselves accosted because of it? Yeah, it was like that...and so I give it a....

2.5 out of 5.

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