Memories Schmemories, Part X, Christmas Angel, 1992 and Forbidden, 1994 by Jo Beverley

Christmas Angel, by Jo Beverley, is the third in the Company of Rogues story, and so far my favorite. As to date, it is the most romantic.

Leander is a wonderful character. He's not out to save the country, he's not spying, and he doesn't have a mistress. He is a returning war hero and all the women of England are falling in love with him. He is lonely but he wants a woman who will not fall in love
with him. Fool! Doesn't he know that he is the hero of a romance novel? So, he picks a woman who is grieving for her husband, still in widow's weeds. She loved her husband so much that she'll never love again. At least that is what he thinks. Little does he know that the only reason Judith is in widow's weeds is that she can't afford a new outfit. In a pretty amusing scene, he rides up on his horse and introduces himself and then proposes. She thinks he's nuts and turns him down. However, in a fairly short time, he talks her into a marriage of convenience, which turns out to be anything but.

Of course, Leander is such a nice guy, it doesn't take Judith long to fall in love. You know, if Leander didn't want her to fall in love, he shouldn't have been such a nice guy - he buys her a new wardrobe, he's gentle with her and a great father to her two adorable children. (By the way they are written as befits their age.) Who wouldn't love this guy?

This is a gentle, charming story, a little light on the sexual tension, but sweet nonetheless. So far, this is my favorite - no adultery, abuse or "smart" villains (there is a villain but he's pretty stupid). And the characters from the other books make their appearance, but they enhance the storyline, so it's good to see them again.

Time/Place: Regency England

Sensuality Rating: Warm

Sometimes books are hard to read, not because they are horrible books, but because the people in the book are very troubled characters and they are just painful to read about. That's what happens in this book... this is not one of Beverley's light fluffy books. (Actually, does she have a light fluffy book?) The last one was probably the lightest and it was still pretty intense.

Anyway, Forbidden is extremely intense. This has a virgin hero and a sexually abused widow, Francis and Serena. Serena has been trained in how to please a man by her former husband (his nickname was "Randy") since the age of 15. She is stunningly beautiful, but she has been so emotionally abused that her self-worth... well, she doesn't have any. Serena's "horrible" brothers are going to force her into another marriage, so she runs away and ends up being rescued by Francis, and in true Romanceland tradition, they spend the night together at an inn. Serena believes the only way to thank Francis is with sex, so our virgin hero is a virgin no longer. This is also where the misunderstandings begin. Francis only knows about sex from what he's read and considers Serena nothing more than a tart. But he takes her to his aunt thinking that he'll go get himself engaged, then return and set her up as his mistress. But nature steps in, and whoops! Serena the Barren isn't exactly barren and three months after the inn encounter these two people who don't match are married.

And it was
watching this marriage, with all of the misunderstandings that I found painful. I could shout "talk to each other," but Beverley writes in such a way that you know why they can't talk to each other. I was getting to the point of disliking Judith's constant "I'm sorry" routine, when she finally exhibited some backbone. We have another hero striking a woman, however, this time he gets clobbered in return and Judith throws a wonderful mad fit. Great scene!

This was a well written book, but I must say it isn't the happiest of books, so if you do read it just be prepared for some down moments. The Rogues make another appearance and their characters continue to grow, unlike other books when the previous cast just shows up for the picnic.

Time/Place: Regency England

Sensuality Rating: Warm

1 comment:

Victoria Janssen said...

These are two of my faves of her books. CHRISTMAS ANGEL is one of my top favorites ever.

Fool! Doesn't he know that he is the hero of a romance novel?