May 30, 2013
Mr. Peabody, it's time to get into the way-back machine!
This will teach me to read the second book in a series first. Now I'm going to have to go back and read Ruined by Moonlight. Why? Because, not only do we have a continuing husband and wife romance thread, we also have a continuing secret villain thread. This really wasn't a stand-alone book, at least not for me.
So here is the low-down. There are two couples in A Most Improper Rumor - Christopher/Angelina and Ben/Alicia. I believe Christopher and Angelina were supposed to be the main romance couple. Let me say this, Ben/Alicia stole the show. Ben/Alicia were introduced in Ruined by Moonlight and they seem to be detectives of sorts, along the line of Nora and Nick or Tommy and Tuppence. As I was reading this book, I found that my favorite parts were when Ben/Alicia were in it. I think it would be kind of interesting for a strong romance couple to continue on from one book to another. This might mean their characters would have to wander down into romantic suspense territory, maybe even have a TV series. Whatever the future brings for Ben/Alicia, they were a very strong couple and I really enjoyed their interactions with each other. It was great fun to watch as they worked together to solve the mystery and at the same time recognize their growing love for each other. I cannot express strongly enough how much I enjoyed Ben and Alicia!
On to some things I didn't enjoy so much. Let's start with Christopher/Angelina. Even though the plot revolved around them, they were relegated to second banana. I found myself not really caring about them or their problems. I'm not sure why, they were an ok couple, but I was more interested in the Ben/Alicia storyline. The story opens up with Christopher/Angelina in bed with each other and he's confesses he loves her. While I thought that this was an interesting way to begin a story, it also took away the tension that usually accompanies a romance. The tension in the story was created by outside forces and those forces, in my opinion were the main weakness of A Most Improper Rumor.
What are those outside forces? In this book they were two murder mysteries. You see, Angelina was rumored to have murdered her two husbands, she was a social outcast. No one liked her. Of course, that's all a lie. Someone is out to ruin all the pretty popular women of the ton and that person is our continuing villain. We also have a villain-stooge, someone who was helping the continuing villain. I had no idea who the villain was behind the main threat, ruining popular women, still don't. I have to say as far as murder/mystery/thriller set-ups go; this one seems a little feeble. What kind of a rube sets about to destroy pretty people in some really far-fetched ways? So, the explanation when it comes better be really good. The other helper stooge-villain I spotted right away, although I'm still not sure about this person’s motive. I wish I had not read this book out of order, I suspect there were some details that were needed to help the mystery feature of this story.
There was also another character, Mrs. Dulcet, a worldly woman who seems to have some kind of a past with Ben. I don't believe it's the kind of past Mrs. Dulcet wanted. She seems to be some kind of a covert person and she was also very fascinating. I see a novella in her future. I'm looking forward to seeing more of her in future works.
I will be picking up the next in the series, mainly because I want to see where Ben and Alicia relationship takes them. The best part of the story was Ben and Alicia working together and me getting to watch. Even though Ms. Wildes is a strong writer with a clever voice when it comes to romance, she seems to be just a little weak as far as the mystery element in the story. It's a nice change to have a relationship develop through a series of books instead of that mad rush to the end. I wish I could have given this story a higher rating, I loved Ben and Alicia, but I just could not find any enthusiasm for the suspense ingredient of A Most Improper Rumor. And yes, I will be catching up on this series immediately!
Time/Place: Regency England
Sensuality Level: Hot!!